Happy New Year, everyone! Apologies for having temporarily vanished, but I have had a wonderful January: seeing friends, watching good films, reading good books and (amazingly) keeping my New Year’s resolutions; I hope you have too. After a lovely Christmas with my parents I am back in London and itching for another year of cinema, theatre, music, literature and whatever else happens to cross my path. Here are some of the highlights of the last couple of months:
- Attending a public dress rehearsal of Coram Boy by the Bristol Old Vic theatre company at the Colston Hall. I didn’t see the National Theatre performance of this a few years ago, so had no idea what to expect. It was a shocking and moving story, with solid performances from both the adult and child actors, and Melly Still’s imaginative direction brought the scenes to life, despite the very limited stage space. Being a rehearsal, there was something slight am-dram about it (we had to stop twice while the cast hunted for the little boy playing Toby, who had missed his cue), but this was quite fun. I wasn't entirely won over - some of it was a little overacted, and I found the ending to be more convenient than plausible, but I can only applaud the triumphant conclusion, which involved the entire cast blasting out Handel’s Messiah. Rousing stuff and – followed by a kebab from the Cyprus Kebab House on St Michael’s Hill – the perfect tonic for a winter's evening.
- Carols by candlelight in our village church on the Sunday evening before Christmas. Every bit of it is evocative for me: the path through the churchyard lit by flickering night-lights; a chill in the air; the church crowded with people; the old carols… For me, this night is the sign that Christmas has really started. My only regret is that the readings are now taken from a modern translation of the Bible, not from the King James version, as they were when I was little: I miss its grandeur and its poetry.
- The Downton Abbey Christmas special. Yes, I know: it’s ahistorical, perpetuates the class system and all those other things that self-proclaimed liberals find abhorrent. But, when I'm curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine, leftover turkey and some bubble-and-squeak, I rather enjoy watching something that makes me feel warm and fluffy inside. Even though I could see the ending coming a mile off, that didn’t stop me getting a slight tear in the eye.
- Discovering the BBC TV series Sherlock, which I've enjoyed so much that it has a post all to itself.
- A trip to New York in late January, which was a fantastic introduction to a complex, exciting and bewitching city. I spent hours wandering around the Metropolitan Museum of Art, admiring the glories of the Frick Collection and browsing the books at the Strand Book Store, where I proceeded to spend more money on books in one go than I've ever done before. And, since I was actually in New York on business, I spent a fair amount of time at the office in Central Manhattan as well.
- Taking up running, three mornings a week at the gym. In order to have something to work towards, I signed up today to run the BUPA London 10k, to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I have three months of training left but I have no doubt it will be a challenging, thoroughly rewarding day.
Hope your Christmases were full of magic, happiness and relaxation. Let’s now raise a glass to 2012 and plunge into February together!