Saturday, March 31, 2012
an excerpt from:The Hearing Trumpet
by Leonora Carrington
by Leonora Carrington
When Carmella gave me the present of a hearing trumpet she may have foreseen
some of the consequences. Carmella is not what I would call malicious, she just
happens to have a curious sense of humour. The trumpet was certainly a fine
specimen of its kind, without being really modern. It was, however,
exceptionally pretty, being encrusted with silver and mother o’pearl motives and
grandly curved like a buffalo’s horn. The aesthetic presence of this object was
not its only quality, the hearing trumpet magnified sound to such a degree that
ordinary conversation became quite audible even to my ears.
Here I must say that all my senses are by no means impaired by age. My sight
is still excellent although I use spectacles for reading, when I read, which I
practically never do. True, rheumatics have bent my skeleton somewhat. This does
not prevent me taking a walk in clement weather and sweeping my room once a
week, on Thursday, a form of exercise which is both useful and edifying. Here I
may add that I consider that I am still a useful member of society and I believe
still capable of being pleasant and amusing when the occasion seems fit. The
fact that I have no teeth and never could wear dentures does not in any way
discomfort me, I don’t have to bite anybody and there are all sorts of soft
edible foods easy to procure and digestible to the stomach. Mashed vegetables,
chocolate and bread dipped in warm water make the base of my simple diet. I
never eat meat as I think it is wrong to deprive animals of their life when they
are so difficult to chew anyway.
I am now ninety-two and for some fifteen years I have lived with my son and
his family. Our house is situated in a residential district and would be
described in England as a semi-detached villa with a small garden. I don’t know
what they call it here but probably some Spanish equivalent of ‘spacious
residence with park.’ This is untrue, the house is not spacious, it is cramped,
there is nothing resembling even faintly a park. There is, however, a fine back
yard which I share with my two cats, a hen, the maid and her two children, some
flies and a cactus plant called maguey.
My room looks onto this nice back yard which is very convenient as there are
no stairs to negotiate — I merely have to open the door in order to enjoy the
stars at night or the early morning sun, the only manifestation of sunlight
which I can abide. The maid, Rosina, is an Indian woman with a morose character
and seems generally opposed to the rest of humanity. I do not believe that she
puts me in a human category so our relationship is not disagreeable. The maguey
plant, the flies and myself are things which occupy the back yard, we are
elements of the landscape and are accepted as such. The cats are another matter.
Their individuality puts Rosina into fits of delight or fury according to her
temper. She talks to the cats, she never talks to her children at all, although
I think she likes them in her own way.
I never could understand this country and now I am beginning to be afraid
that I never will get back to the north, never get away from here. I must not
give up hope, miracles can happen and very often do happen. People think fifty
years is a long time to visit any country because it is often more than half a
lifetime. To me fifty years is no more than a space of time stuck somewhere I
don’t really want to be at all. For the last forty-five years I have been trying
to get away. Somehow I never could, there must be a binding spell which keeps me
in this country. Sometime I shall find out why I stayed so long here, while I am
happily contemplating reindeer and snow, cherry trees, meadows, the song of the
England is not always the focus of these dreams. l do not, in fact,
particularly want to install myself in England although I will have to visit my
mother in London, she is getting old now, although enjoying excellent health. A
hundred and ten is not such a great age, from a biblical point of view at least
Margrave, my mother’s valet, who sends me post cards of Buckingham Palace, tells
me she is still very spry in her wheel chair, although how anyone can be spry in
a wheel chair I really don’t know He says she is quite blind but has no beard
which must be a reference to a photograph of myself which I sent as a Christmas
gift last year.
Indeed I do have a short grey beard which conventional people would find
repulsive. Personally I find it rather gallant.
England would be a matter of a few weeks, then I would join my lifelong dream
of going to Lapland to be drawn in a vehicle by dogs, woolly dogs.
All this is a digression and I do not wish anyone to think my mind wanders
far, it wanders but never further than I want.
So, I live with my Galahad, mostly in the back yard.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
The parts of the movie that work, do so brilliantly, like nuggets stuck in dough. Two French women named Marie (Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau) meet up in South America and become revolutionaries while also working in a traveling circus. The magician’s bird can appear and disappear in wondrous ways, and later delivers bombs, flying in through one window, out the next, followed by the boom! But, for me, Bardot stole the show. Daughter of an Irish revolutionary, she starts out life as his accomplice, and is most accomplished with all manner of weaponry, such as blowing up bridges. Later, in South America, she is also completely sexually unabashed, and chalks up the names of lovers till she runs out of wall space. George Hamilton is a revolutionary peasant leader, who wins Moreau. Changing their names to Maria, the two women create a popular circus act that incorporates the striptease they invent. Although Moreau won a foreign actress award for the film over Bardot, this was for me Bardot’s film. She runs around in men’s clothes and a cap like a little elf. She walks off as if transfixed into a carriage with three waiting men, and returns the next morning with her gown all tore up, with bruises on her arm, declaring to the effect that no experience was ever more glorious. There is virtually no nudity despite the striptease theme, but there is the proposition that women can be extremely sexy and “feminine” while being superior in warfare, and can lead a revolution to boot. I’d recommend it for that and for Bardot’s performance. Louis Malle directs.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Cabin in the Sky is a musical film that had its genesis as a Broadway play starring some of the same actors—Ethel Waters as Petunia, for example. The play was choreographed by George Balanchine, which helps to explain the high class of the movie directed by Vincent Minnelli in his directorial debut. Up to this time, there had been no other mainstream Hollywood movie featuring black characters. Minnelli broke new ground. Black life is accorded its recognition as autonomous and independent of mere servitude to whites. There are no white actors. Not totally unlike black communities of today, people, though relatively poor, are in touch with wealth and glamour, since they are not geographically segregated by income level. The main characters—Petunia and husband Little Joe—live in a simple cottage, but they might be seen dressed to the gill at the local nightclub, and there the drapery and valances are immensely elaborate, and gamblers (like “Shine”) earn great sums of money, and are almost worshipped. Black people know how to party, and like to look good. Lena Horne as Georgia Brown, a temptress out to snag Little Joe (Eddie “Rochester” Anderson), never looked lovelier, with her white floral midriff tied under her breasts, her black slinky skirt, and a white flower in her hair. There were two musical performances that I, idiosyncratically, take away from among the jam packed great musical numbers. One is where Horne is lying beguilingly in a hammock singing a duet—“Life is Full of Consequences”—with Little Joe. Her voice is as silky and kittenish as his is gravelly and like a drill sergeant’s—a perfect contrast. The other piece that had me swooning was Duke Ellington’s “Going Up,” performed by his band, where people dance in a Busby Berkeley-choreographed amalgam of a realistic nightclub dance grafted onto a staged performance. Miraculous. The Faustian plot—Joe gets a reprieve from death and Hell in order to prove himself worthy for heaven--was too gooey for my taste, but the screenplay, performances and magnificent visual style more than made up for that. Highly recommended.