Oh, go on then, I'll just mention them very briefly. My office is on the front line at the moment, with helicopters circling overhead and lots of helpful people in brightly-coloured jackets scattered around the nearby streets. Yesterday, as London basked in humid sunshine, the torch relay finally came to town. Up until then, I'd been as cynical as anyone else, because the press has taken delight in telling us all the disasters: the security shortfall; the official drivers who don't know their way around London; that issue with the North Korean ladies' football team... But yesterday I thought: 'No: enough armchair cavilling! I'm going to go out there and join in with the Olympic spirit.' Forging my way to Regent Street, I found myself caught up in a crowd bubbling with excitement, waving flags and taking photos while, high above us, people leaned from office windows. The sense of anticipation was infectious and everyone was in high spirits. It was a long wait, and perhaps rather overshadowed by the corporate buses flanking the actual torch, but it was worth it. For a moment it was there in front of us, a golden flicker of fire, and all the Olympic ideals it symbolised - a small moment, which I'll never have again. And rather wonderful. I'll be going to one of the Paralympic events in September, but for the time being my Olympic participation amounts to watching the Opening Ceremony tonight - I have house guests, so we'll make a little party out of it.
There are plenty of other things going on, so I just thought I'd round up a few things which have slipped under the radar of the longer posts.
- I'm very proud of myself for actually following through this year, and booking tickets for the Globe. So exciting! In the end I threw thriftiness to the wind and bought tickets not only for Henry V but also for The Taming of the Shrew. I intend to be completely Shakespeared out by the end of the summer.
- On that note, I must watch The Hollow Crown at some point: this sequence of four history plays - Richard II, Henry IV Part I, Henry IV Part II and Henry V - was screened by the BBC as part of that faintly nebulous concept called the Cultural Olympiad, and I've read very good things about it. I did actually start watching Richard II, although I only saw a few minutes before I was called away; but that looked remarkably vivid: full of rich colours and painterly cinematography. Plus, Ben Whishaw can usually be relied upon to turn in a good performance. In Henry IV I'll have not only Jeremy Irons to look forward to, but also Simon Russell Beale (as Falstaff), whom I've admired ever since I saw him as Hamlet when I was at school. And, in Henry V, Tom Hiddleston certainly looks the part in those screen-shots, which show him brooding on horseback, with the flag of St George floating frayed behind him. It'll be very interesting to compare his take on the role with that of Jamie Parker at the Globe.
- Last weekend I ventured down to Bankside to see the Munch exhibition at Tate Modern. It was a rather spur-of-the-moment visit, as I had a free pass. I didn't take the audio guide and now wish that I had, because I actually found it a rather unsatisfying show. If I had understood more about its aims, then perhaps I would have appreciated it more, but I went into it expecting a fairly conventional monographic exhibition and it turned out to be much more focused than that. Specifically, it explored the way that Munch took advantage of modern technologies to record his world. From that perspective it was fascinating to see his variety of photographic self-portraits and even some experimentation with cinematography. The exhibition made some interesting points about how Munch borrowed the compositional language of photography (a figure heavily cropped in the extreme foreground, for example) to infuse his paintings with different moods and perspectives. Undoubtedly it's refreshing to see an exhibition on Munch that doesn't feel obliged to include one of the versions of The Scream or The Madonna (though The Vampire is here), but the problem is that Munch tyros like me come away feeling that they've missed out on part of the artist's Symbolist essence. But I think I need to go back. I wanted to understand more about Munch's psychology and his relationship with the world and the sense of harrowing, terrifying isolation that you get from The Scream - but perhaps that was actually what this exhibition showed: a man so wrapped up in himself, so obsessed with recording his own image, because so much else in the world was unstable and unreliable. Please don't castigate me for having missed the point - I'm sure there was one, and I'm sure I'll spot it when I return. Perhaps I shouldn't have gone immediately after the British Museum Shakespeare exhibition...
- And, just to finish, I have created a page for The Idle Woman on Facebook. It's an alternative way for you to keep up with new posts if you prefer - by 'liking' the page, you will get a notification whenever anything new goes up. (Assuming, of course, that I remember to add said notification.) If you use Facebook, please do consider it. It's interesting for me, too, to see the people who are reading the blog. Thank you!