Sunday, 24 November 2013

The 'How To' memoir course

The 'How To' memoir course room
Well, we all got on like a house on fire, expertly led by Peter Parker whose distinction and industry (biographies of J. R Ackerley, Christopher Isherwood, A E Housman in progress) sent us all scurrying off to GET ON WITH IT

Friday, 22 November 2013

Cold War memories in Chelsea

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy - George Smiley's house no. 9 Markham St Chelsea  
 On Tuesday evening this week,  I watched the first in the BBCTV series The Cold War, followed by the first two  episodes of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and a documentary about Kim Philby. On Wednesday, I passed the house where George Smiley,  the fictional protagonist of John le Carre's novel lived: no 9 Markham St. My house a little further down the King's Road was used for one scene in the series. The first floor drawing room was transformed for a week into George Smiley's bedroom. Alec Guiness sat in my little office on the ground floor, or in the garden, between takes. I am indebted to the BBC for the fee which allowed my two daughters and me to swan off to Sardinia for a very good summer holiday. On our return, I discovered that our cat had given birth to a litter of kittens behind my filing cabinet, and the office carpet was alive with fleas.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Chinese paintings at the V & A

It is well worth the return ticket to London to see Masterpieces of Chinese painting at the V& A

Launch of UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014

Here is the bright hard-edged logo for the UK-Russia Year of Culture 2014, which Moffat Book Events will be supporting  in half a dozen events through the year.

Alan Bennett's cat

A highly recommended book of letters is just out: 'Love, Nina' by Nina Stibbe (Penguin £12.99). The joke is that Nina aged 20 arrived from Leicester to look after a household in north London that resembled the late lamented 'Stella Street' - the John Sessions comedy show where everyone on an anonymous street with a corner shop was famous. I had a glimpse of this world one evening when in the course of the job my husband was doing at the time running cultural relations with the Russians we went for supper with Ursula Vaughan Williams in the same street where Nina went to be a nanny. Ursula, widow of the composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, had invited her next door neighbours the author V S Pritchett and his wife to meet us. During dinner, a cat strolled in to the room. 'Oh bother. That's Alan Bennett's cat!' said Ursula - Alan (known as 'AB' in Nina's letters) lived in the house on the other side to Ursula. Two doors down were Michael Frayn and Claire Tomalin, and - read on to know exactly how far down the street - was Jonathan Miller.