As I mentioned in last week’s post, it is with the darkening evenings that my fingers itch for a project and I want to get cosy with some crafting. There is something so fabulous about my sewing basket, apart from the Libertyesque print on its’ exterior, it is the contents as a whole that make my heart sing. Fabric, scissors, seam rippers, cottons, bobbins (don’t you just love the word ‘bobbin’?) quilting pins. These simple things collectively make for the tools that will create something truly special. That’s what I love about being creative, the wonder of simple things changing into beautiful mini works of art. Well, in my case perhaps not, but I do love the process of making and crafting and the satisfaction it brings me to make something pretty.
My latest project, among many others that are on the go (read unfinished) is a baby quilt for my son, and I’ve started cutting out squares for one for my daughter too. Matty is now three and a half and for that space of time I have been collecting my favourites of his clothes. Little stripy tops, sleepsuits with monsters on, bright red corduroy trousers, bodysuits with tractors on, slogan t-shirts, I’d saved them all in a big bin liner, dumped in the bottom of my wardrobe, destined to sit there until the boy reached his eighteenth birthday and I still hadn’t done anything with them! Well, I was determined for that not to happen so I dusted off the bin bag and started wading through the pile and began to cut several 15cm by 15cm squares. I’ve even sewn two rows of them together, so the quilt is now in its’ inception and must be finished. I’ve made it as easy for myself as I possibly can, by not having any rules about colour and where to place squares, and it’s very simple, just squares sewn together, no triangles or rectangles or diamonds, just plain and simple. My daughter is only six months old and already I’m cutting out squares for her quilt, to save stashing tons of clothes in my wardrobe for another three years! I thought it would be a nice idea to make them a single quilt each which they can use on their beds as children, perhaps even teenagers if it’s not considered too babyish. The quilts could even be passed down to their own children if they’re not too tattered by then! I thought it was a nice idea and a good way to preserve all of those darling little baby and toddler clothes I so love.
I’ve recently watched A Room with a View for about the millionth time, though the first time in a very long while. When I was a teenager this film was on repeat for a significant amount of time! It still is one of my favourite films and is a masterpiece in film making and I think because it is so truly faithful to the book. The casting is impeccable and though Julian Sands is a little bit wooden this is more than made up for by the amazing portrayal of Cecil Vyse by Daniel Day Lewis. Helena Bonham Carter is perfect as Lucy and I adore Maggie Smith’s Charlotte Bartlett and Denholm Elliot’s Mr Emerson. Another classic turn for me is Simon Callow as Mr Beebe and Rupert Graves and Freddie Honeychurch.
I started to re-read the book again in May but got waylaid by reading deadlines for book groups I’m involved with and I sadly haven’t picked it up again since. I want to save it for the right time and place to truly enjoy and savour it, as it is most definitely in my top ten favourite books. For anyone who hasn’t read any E.M. Forster, I strongly urge you to do so, though there is a contingent out there who are a bit anti and think that he’s all about the silver linings. Well, I’m all about the silver linings too so he suits me down to the ground. I love his slight obsession with the young girl who is ‘transfigured by Italy’ and his social commentary is fairly cutting in a nice, E.M. Forster kind of way. I read Howard’s End and Where Angels Fear to Tread as a teenager and though they were enjoyable, I didn’t quite take them to heart in the same manner as A Room with a View, and now I realise it is most likely due to the film.
There is something about a Merchant Ivory production that cannot be beaten when it comes to pulling off a period drama. There is something so precise and yet not over the top in detail about the way the actual period is depicted and visualised. The casting is always top notch and the acting of course second to none. But there is something else about the way in which the cast is assembled into a charming array of eccentrics that seems to make the mark of a Merchant Ivory film. Of course, they clearly had a love affair with E.M. Forster, having made several of his books into films. But it is the lavish sets and the incredible costumes that really bring the films to life and make them so sumptuous.
My favourite moments of the film are many but there is little to beat the scene in the poppy field, the scenes in and around Florence, the bathing scene (hilarious, particularly Lucy’s reaction), and any scene showing Cecil Vyse. I truly love that character – he is so stuck up and insufferable yet sweet and deluded at the same time. Another aspect of the film that makes it is the use of Puccini in the score. There is so much beautiful, breathtaking music in this film, and O Mio Babbino Caro is now synonymous with A Room with a View. What an outstanding film, and one that is very close to my old fashioned heart.
My husband has set himself a challenge to write each of Shakepseare’s thirty seven plays as a limerick. Here’s Romeo and Juliet:
Romeo and Juliet were lovers
Their families were enmeshed in brutal war
They couldn’t cope
So swallowed dope
And lay there cold and dead upon the floor.
He has inspired me to come up with a challenge of my own. Writing is not my forte but I am, as you know, a keen reader, so I thought that some kind of reading challenge would be worth pursuing. I’ve already set myself a longer term reading challenge to read all of the Persephone books in five years. But I fancied something a bit more short term to aim for. I tend to see my professional new year as September and my personal new year as my birthday and tend to disregard January 1st as nothing more than another day in the year. So, by the end of my 40th year, I want to have read the complete works of Jane Austen, that is, including Lady Susan, The Watsons and Sanditon, as well as the other main novels. I wanted to read them in order of publication so I’m starting with Sense and Sensibility. It’s just a joy to read Austen and I’m hoping that over the coming eight months as I immerse myself in her writing that I glean more of a sense of who she was and what her inspirations were. I’d like to join the army of Jane Austen fans who are able to quote from each of her novels and talk about them at length. As with A Room with a View, it is the screen adaptations that have brought Austen to life for me. I have only ever read Pride and Prejudice yet have seen either TV or film adaptations of all her novels with the exception of Northanger Abbey. So I know the stories and I have certain actors in my head for certain characters and I hope that this does not spoil my enjoyment of the books. They do say, don’t they, that you should always read the book first?! Well, too late!
As the months progress I will fill you in on my reading challenge and post about each book I read. I’m keen to share my views on Sense and Sensibility already but I’ll wait until I’ve finished! Off I go to read some more. There’s nothing more cosy than cuddling up in bed with a cup of coffee and a good book!