Saturday, 23 July 2011

Poor Amy

I was curiously distressed by the news today that Amy Winehouse has died. She was a hugely talented girl, and her death feels like such a terrible waste. I guess, at the end of the day, she couldn’t have wanted to live very much. She’d had plenty of scares, and plenty more opportunities to pull herself together, but it’s sad, and it makes me think of my friend Kevin, and what a short and wasted life he lived.

I’ve also been pretty perturbed by the terrible events in Oslo. It seems almost inconceivable that 80 people could have been murdered by one gunman. There’s a lot of pain and death out there at the moment.

I spent the day with my goddaughter and her mother in and around Columbia Road. We went to the park, which in Hackney is a sort of ghetto where homeless people go to drink meths, and addicts inject themselves in the bushes. Apparently one of Philippa’s friends had planted some pumpkins in one of the empty flower beds, which the council had removed with lightning speed, but when it comes to used syringes, it’s apparently a different matter! The play area was filled with Dads today, which seemed odd to us until we realised it was a Saturday, and therefore the day when scores of very relieved mummies get to hand their children to their husbands and disappear for a few magical hours to shop, swim, or simply try to feel like humans again.

Deia, as usual, was great company, and Philippa gave her permission to watch 20 minutes of her favourite film, which happens to be The Wizard of Oz. She absolutely loves it, and will, apparently, regularly sit and watch it from beginning to end. It’s astonishing how some things never change. I remember sitting and watching the film on various rainy bank holidays and being absoutely transfixed. You can fill a film with special effects and million dollar car chases, but magic is magic. It was astonishing to sit and watch Deia as she lived the film with a series of impulsive, excited hand gestures and a look of absolute joy and wonder on her face. I felt very jealous of Philippa that she gets to re-live her own childhood and re-explore and share all those incredible films and places and pieces of music that meant so much to her at various stages of her own life.

350 years ago, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Pepys celebrated his first day back in civilization by visiting the theatre. He watched Brenoralt by a playwright called Sir John Suckling. He thought it was a good play, but felt it was ill-acted. On the bright side, he got to sit in front of the Countess of Castlemaine, who, by this stage, was probably already the lover of the King, and had definitely become Pepys’ pin-up girl. He wrote that that he very much enjoyed “filling his eyes” with her, which makes me feel a bit funny.

When Pepys got back home, he heard, no doubt through a nagging Elizabeth, that his sister, Pall, who Pepys had taken on as a servant, had become “proud and idle” to the extent that Pepys wondered if he should “keep her” any more. I wonder if Pepys ever stopped to wonder how awful it must have been for his sister to become his servant purely because she was “too ugly” to find a husband. Still, her time would come. She eventually found a bloke and provided Pepys with a nephew and heir.

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