Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Week

Sometime late last week, winter crept in. Not the winter solstice true winter which is still a month or so away, but the London day when the sunset is edging toward 4 p.m. according to the BBC weather website, and at half past three I wonder if bedtime is near at hand. Then I catch myself and remember the day is still only half over, even if the daylight is over, and the electric lights are needed to take over. I take great joy in the turn of seasons, and for me the day winter arrives is the day I turn on the TV, guilt free, to watch whatever ancient series have been disinterred from US or UK graves for a long winter's late afternoon of knitting. At the moment, I am a week or more behind on Woolly Wormhead's Annual Mystery Hat Knit-A-Long (or KAL in knitter-ese jargon). Woolly is a woman who lives in a bus, is dogged by depression, and designs hat patterns, from the gossip I pick up on Twitter and in blogs (including her own tweets and posts). Apparently knitters wait all year for the Annual Mystery Hat. For a £2 payment, I have received three sets of instructions, beginning on 1 November, for the Brim, the Body, and the Finish. I haven't opened the final set of instructions because it took me an extra week to knit the brim, and now I am in need of an extra week for the body too. But with those long afternoons stretching ahead, a mystery hat will not take too much longer.

Tuesday - Wednesday
Thanksgiving Week isn't the same when the world is still carrying on around you as if there is no holiday on the horizon. I miss that moment when the world as usual holds its breath for a moment to concentrate on the ritual of the meal. Is there enough cream for the creamed onions? Do we always have to include Brussels Sprouts? Will one bag of Pepperidge Farm be enough?

This year we are doing Thanksgiving, but doing it a day early to celebrate two birthdays. Our friend Pam and Bob share tomorrow as their birth day. Bob will be 66, and Pam will be 95. Susan says a Thanksgiving Eve celebration is perfectly alright, so that's the final word as far as I'm concerned. On a positive note, when the holiday is not everyone's holiday, you can pick up the turkey when you are ready to pop it in the oven, and there is no fear of forgetting anything since the shops are open. Of course the guests who work are not granted a holiday, so the meal needs to be planned for 8 p.m. And on another positive note, that gives you extra hours to make the pies.

Our celebration was a success. The turkey was the best ever. The cornbread stuffing was excellent with apples and chestnuts and sausage and turkey liver, but no onions or celery to be kind to Susan. Sadly, Cato was feeling under the weather so he couldn't come because we all follow the rule that it's not good to hang with 95 year olds if you might be carrying extra germs. Susan packed up and took home most of the leftovers including the turkey carcass, so Cato at least had the best of the leftovers, which some people say is the best part of Thanksgiving anyway.


Knitted my favourite angora booties for a baby boy born yesterday in Michigan to Susan and Cato's Best Man and his wife.

Went to see a new play in the West End with lots of buzz. A two-hander with Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall in Constellations, which was supposed to have something to do with theoretical physics and quantum mechanics. Events (and dialogue) repeat with different outcomes, but they all end with a brain tumour and a clinic in Switzerland. Also a one-act-er that lasted barely an hour. I was not impressed, but great reviews. The young playwright wins awards, so I am irrelevant.

We have seen such great theatre this autumn, my standards are impossibly high. The Judas Kiss with Rupert Everett as Oscar Wilde destroying his life with his obsession for the beautiful boy Sir Alfred "Bosie" Douglas played by Freddie Fox, of the extensive Fox acting dynasty, who is also one of the most beautiful boys I have ever seen. A fact which added a layer of comprehension to Wilde's tragic demise. Also at the Hampstead Theatre, we saw 55 Days, an amazing drama leading up to the execution of Charles II with confrontations between Royalists and Oliver Cromwell's supporters on how to justify regicide. Interesting side note, the person sitting next to me in the theatre was the national treasure Alan Bennett!

We saw King Lear with Jonathan Pryce that was amazing and very bloody.  Also at the Almeida, a fascinating new play The Dark Earth and the Light Sky about the English poet Edward Thomas who was encouraged to write poetry by Robert Frost. The Frost family lived in England for 3 years, and Robert published his first two books of poetry while in England. The men became friends when Thomas reviewed the books favourably. Thomas was a difficult man, depressive, sometimes suicidal, and against his wife's wishes he volunteered for the war, and was killed in 1917 at the Battle of Arras. The play explores the difficult relationships between Thomas, his wife, his father, his close friend the Hampstead children's writer Eleanor Farjeon, and Frost. Superb intelligent theatre. The kind of evening where you come away enlightened, but wanting to know still more.

Finally, last week, in a stroke of luck I hit the website of the National Theatre at the moment when two tickets became available for the completely sold out until the end of the February run of the new hot play The Effect, by Lucy Prebble who wrote Enron which we loved, in the little Cottesloe Theatre at the National. Billie Piper and Jonjo O'Neill play participants in a drug test for an anti-depression medication. The doctor who runs the pharma trials is an advocate of drug treatment. He hires a former lover to handle this trial because he feels guilty about leaving her because she was a depressive who refused treatment with pills. The issues raised are compelling, and the play is gripping, especially since our seats were on the sofas that ring the stage, making us part of the set.

And I haven't spent a minute knitting my funny looking hat, so now I am at least two weeks behind!