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Showing posts from August, 2011

A bit of night-poetry

Maybe it’s the coffee, but there’s something owl-like and night-birdish about tonight. A night for contemplating one’s mortality; your ghostly reflection in a window. When the summer began, it seemed to stretch forward limitlessly. Now there’s just a month to go and half of that will be spent abroad or with family.

In preparation for Michaelmas we’ve been attacking (or rather slogging through) our lists of Middle English romance & the Renaissance. My vote is all for the latter: I may have started off wrongly by reading the most exciting: the plays of Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, John Webster, Thomas Kyd, and John Marston. That leather-and-sweat world of the playhouses and the pox, Walsingham’s spies, the censors and the uneasy hand of royal favour. Elizabeth & Mary, James and Charles. The age of cross and conquest, the stake and ship. (The best line so far goes to Marlowe’s Tamburlaine: ‘I will confuse those blind geographers/ That make a triple region in the world…’) And…

England in August

Friday was my first English birthday, my golden birthday, and the day was as thoroughly English as I could have hoped. It began in a shower of rain. Disappointment tempered with the promise of Wellies. A and I went up the road, clinging to each other beneath my gaudy umbrella, to the Jericho café for a delicious English breakfast. There is nothing like being indoors and eating beans on toast with hot coffee and seeing all the poor passersby miserable and beans-on-toast-less.

From thence we braved the buckets of rain on a dirge-march to the train station, our launching pad to the morning outing to Gloucestershire. A had been to Stroud for a wedding a month before and her praise of the Cotwolds village’s sweetness and many virtues made for an excellent excuse to get out of Oxford. And who can avoid the pleasures of a train? (So fast, so transportative.) And who can deny themselves the experience of waiting at Didcot Parkway? (Or Didders, as insiders assure.)



We arrived in Stroud at mid…

Thronesing

An apt diptych from last week: the mornings were spent teaching the elements of plot to German high school students; the evening spent indulging in HBO's new fantasy series, Game of Thrones (indulging my respect for stoic Sean Bean with a ponytail, and and my perving over the Northern English accent).



In brief, Game of Thrones is about a kingdom on the brink of internal war. Destined for conflict are those loyal to the King and his family, and those loyal to his right-hand man, Lord Stark, Lord of the North, and his clan. The King's wife's family, the Lanisters, are gold-laden schemers, and the King, considered a usurper by some, faces another family contesting his right to hold the throne.

Game of Thrones offers nothing to the viewer tiring of convention. There is little evidence of originality in the plot (aside from the interesting concept of a winter which comes not yearly but without much warning, and after years of summer, to devastating effect), and no 'realisti…