Portable Magic – Part I

There’s a hash tag on Twitter entitled Shakespeare Sunday. Today, I tweeted a quote from The Tempest  – Prospero speaks wistfully of the worthiness of books: “Knowing I loved my books, he furnish’d me/From mine own library with volumes that/I prize above my dukedom.”  I come from a family of voracious readers, the house teemed with books: in the library – my father’s and the family’s, in everyone’s rooms, left on side tables, and of course huge piles next to one’s bed. I think my mother’s was the highest of all. Looking back, I am so grateful that I came from a family of readers – it’s a wonderful gift. I still read, but less than in past  years – I am busy with work, like most of us, in the nice weather I am outdoors, I started this blog – and I am drawn to the competing force of legion television/movie availability. We have Netflix and a fairly loaded cable package which needs to go. Our local provider raises their rates monthly, and we’ve reached the point of whether it’s a little luxury or a huge bill. Even at the risk of missing something EVERYONE will be talking about, and will eventually be aired somewhere, I think we shall reduce.

The startling revelation came to me that if I wasn’t doing so much viewing I would be doing more reading (duh!). I’ve started again – mostly catching up on past issues of The London Review of Books, The Guardian and The New Yorker which is still a standard of fine writing. In a past issue there’s an article on Julian Assange and Protest Theory – both deserve a look wherever you fall on these issues. I also love how once you delve in, the author leads you somewhere else. The Assange article mentioned Philip Dick’s book The Man in the High Castle which reminded me of Dick’s other prescient works that inspired blockbuster movies: Blade Runner, The Adjustment Bureau, Total RecallThe Minority Report et al.

I am delighted for the return of that gemutlich feeling reading elicits. There’s more I could mention from these three issues – but I’ll end here. With a little bit of time management (ha!), I will post Part II in a few days which starts with a memory, a book in the overall, and includes a recipe! Imagine that!

Happy Exploring

Clare Irwin

N.B. The title of this post is taken from Stephen King’s widely well-known book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”

Hugh Grant Revisited

I can’t say that I’ve ever given the actor Hugh Grant much thought. I have seen a few of his movies, not many. I think the disaffected man-child roles that he perpetually plays have worn thin, and are a bit absurd now that he is in his 50’s. However, I did like him in Emma Thompson’s and Ang Lee’s Jane Austen adaptation of Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet, and I thought he was wonderful in the charming About a Boy — a great script and spectacular cast with Toni Collette and Rachel Weisz.About a Boy I know of him since he has been in the tabloids consistently over the years, being connected with glamorous and beautiful girlfriends.  I have seen the Brigit Jones movies only because they play constantly on the 700 channels or how many we have beaming into the house. Recently I’ve thought about him in a different light; I think he may be more substantial than his cultivated public persona reveals. The first inkling was when he went up against Rupert Murdoch and testified in a London court over phone hacking of public figures. Hugh Grant TestimonyHere’s where a classical education from Oxford comes in handy folks! Then, over the summer, I was watching a talk show on Bravo, Watch What Happens Live (my secret shame), and Elizabeth Hurley was on with Ralph Fiennes. They were both fun and game for the silliness, and they both looked pretty amazing. Hurley mentioned that after all this time she and Grant are neighbors and friends, and that he has taken to fatherhood, all be it late in life, but taken to it fully. I thought that was moderately interesting. Then a month or so ago, Hugh Grant was on the same show. First I was struck by how well he looks too. Of course most celebrities have a lot of work done, but it looked good on him and he still has that nice shock of hair. I can’t remember what he was plugging. This was after The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which I did not see, and it wasn’t for the next Bridget Jones sequel. To Grant’s credit he did not sign on for that one. Rene Zellweger and Colin Firth are reprising their roles (what’s up with that?), but they had to get someone else to play the irresistible rake. I think in this movie Brigit doesn’t know who the father of her child is?!  Aren’t they all eligible for Social Security by now or whatever the equivalent is in the UK?

I read online that Grant was irritable during the “after show” on Bravo, but maybe his discontent is a product of someone smart and talented that took too easy a path on the rise to stardom. Perhaps there’s a great actor in there. On the other hand why shouldn’t he be happy? Handsome, smart, early fame, beautiful women like Elizabeth Hurley and Jemina Goldsmith, money, still has his looks, still working — I mean life seems pretty good for Mr. Grant. Time to hang around with lesser mortals, regular people, and count his blessings! Hugh Grant

Now that Grant is a father and older, I think it’s an auspicious time for him to reveal and revel in his substance. Take smart roles, play against type — the risk is small, don’t you think?

Clare Irwin