Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Grey Gardens

Yesterday, on arriving back in London, we fell asleep for a few hours, and then forced ourselves to get up and stay awake until midnight so that we could give ourselves the best chance of beating the jet lag.

Touching the nearest wooden table, it seems to have done the trick, because we were able to wake up at 8am this morning feeling vaguely refreshed and ready to face the world, which was just as well because we spent the entire day filming a documentary in Cambridge.

We largely based ourselves at the maths department at the university, which is a curious place, fairly reminiscent of the canteen in The Big Bang Theory, and peopled by rather wonderful-looking geeks. Nathan happened upon one group of young students who appeared to be studying a Rubik's Cube. They were, I'm told, staring at it as though it were some kind of religious icon.

The sound recordist on the shoot was rather worried by my hairy chest, and the concept of mic'ing me up without the permanent sound of hair rustling against the microphone like trees blowing in the wind. He was forced to use a special device called a "hush lav" to compensate. Mortifying.

I watched an amazing film on the plane last night called Grey Gardens, which told the somewhat iconic story behind the extraordinary 1975 documentary of two women (a mother and a daughter), both called Edith Beale, who live a somewhat tragic co-dependent life in a once-grand, now-utterly-ramshackle house in East Hampton. The women are the cousin and aunt of Jacqueline Kennedy and sit rather squarely on the outer edge of the line which separates eccentricity from lunacy. The film fills in the parts of the story which are covered by photographs and somewhat bitter reminiscing in the documentary. We essentially watch two glamorous society figures in the 1930s crashing and burning over the course of almost 40 years and ending up in a house which is literally falling down around them with nothing but the friendship of a tribe of semi-feral cats. The two Ediths in the film (which was made in 2009) are played by Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore. Barrymore is particularly remarkable in the role. I wept uncontrollably for ten solid minutes after it finished (and not just because I was terrified of the turbulence which had accompanied much of the film!)

Right. Bed time for me. It's midnight... and I'm off to Spain first thing in the morning. (I know!)

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