Tuesday 14 October 2008

Reasonably demanding his 454 grams of flesh

No idea; 7.0 units of alcohol yesterday (it was my way of coping with the whole cat trauma); 1,210 more days to fill; The Old Lady of Grey Street.

Two lives hung in the balance today. The cat’s, judging from the rather gloomy bulletin I received from the vet when he dialled the wrong number at 10 this morning, hoping to speak to the Less Tall Cheshire Brunette. And my own, after I nearly fell asleep on the A1 while driving home to Northumberland after a not particularly heavy and most definitely alcohol-free lunch. Perhaps it had something to do with my choice of listening material on Radio 4: a programme about Louis Armstrong’s recording of “What a Wonderful World”, The Archers, a play with Sir [sic – at every mention] Anthony Sher as the Prime Minister and finally an earnest half hour about the history of Eyemouth. It pissed with rain all the way, too.

I had an early supper at my aunt’s, the highlight of which was some “very special” potatoes presented to her as a great favour by her sometime gardener. She could not name the variety, but observed that they had been “very nobbly” before she peeled them. Which had not really been worth the effort as they had the texture of wax candles (not that I have ever eaten a wax candle) and tasted of nothing at all. Could this be another illustration of my theory that now rare breeds of plants and animals became so because they were crap?

After this we went to the Theatre Royal in Newcastle for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of The Merchant of Venice. My aunt kept telling me that playing Portia had been the highlight of her school theatrical career, but luckily after 70 years she could not remember enough of the lines to make a nuisance of herself by blurting them out just before they were uttered on stage. It played to a packed house and went down well, particularly with the younger contingent upstairs who whooped at the curtain call like those people we are no longer allowed to call Red Indians. I did not care for the modern dress, found the jolly opening and closing dance routines a bit out of place in a tragedy, and wondered whether it was right for Shylock to be played with such extreme understatement that one felt he was actually being pretty reasonable about the whole thing (as was no doubt the intent). Antonio looked unsettlingly like a former client I particularly disliked, while Portia kept exposing arms that seemed to be a couple of decades older than the rest of her, perhaps as part of a Government propaganda effort to draw public attention to the appalling shortage of limbs for transplants.

I rang the LTCB when I got home at almost midnight and received a gloomy bulletin about the cat, which was refusing to eat and was so desperate to go out (contrary to the vet’s orders) that she had smashed all the crockery on the kitchen draining board in an attempt to get out of the adjacent window. I sensed that a troubled night lay ahead.

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