Upon waking this morning grief I found has exhausted me. It is so tiring remembering, often such painful things. I find myself admiring Penelope Wilton’s performance as the doubly widowed Mrs Isobel Crawley (her beloved husband cut off early on, now her son killed suddenly when he has barely begun his adult life): it’s the silent moments, how Wilton appears exhausted whenever we see her, tired. She has thought about what grief and sorrow does to someone, how it affects them inwardly. I see the same wisdom in Joanna David’s performance of the long-widowed Duchess of Yeovil and Allen Leech as Tom Branson. Again what is lacking except in the case of Tom is the intensification of grief as the widow or widower confronts the way others treat him or her now — with indifference, hostility even. But that is what keeps such a drama a comforting experience.
This morning letters to and from friends by email, breakfast, and then posting to listservs and talking with friends there about books and films. Letter from board of Oscher Institute about strong possibility for me of teaching retired people at GMU too, starting next fall.
Now it’s afternoon and I have come across this promotional comical shot:
I do enjoy looking at it for its sense of kind good nature — that’s David on the left and Leech on the right — later this evening I’ll be working out some modus vivendi for re-beginning my film study book.
It’s snowing now and very very cold out. Yvette gone out for a walk and measuring spoons. Campbell’s Mushroom soup for lunch for me. And salty crackers. I talked with my portfolio consultant’s assistant (in Florida) to try to understand my money. A little of that goes a long way.
Now I have my girl pussycat on my map as I read the first of several books I’ve promised reviews for: Simon Heffer’s High Minds: The Victorians and the Birth of Modern Britain. As a check I am reading alongside A.N. Wilson’s The Victorians and Susie L Steinbach’s Understanding the Victorians (the best of the three, but clearly written for students not the general public).
Late afternoon Marlen Haushofer’s distopian ironic Robinson Crusoe fiction, The Wall, as translated by Saune Whiteside. Soon I’ll turn to a few letters by Jane Austen for my Austen reveries blog.
I’ve been listening to classical NPR music all day, just heard a Brahms. I love flowing piano music: Mendelsohn, Songs without Words.
For supper we did pork chops, pomi chopped tomatoes and rice. I drank wine, Yvette orange juice. I read some of Lawson’s life of PL Travers, but then too tired to go on so I watched the exquisitely touching Ladies in Lavender — with a stellar cast, not just Maggie Smith and Judi Dench, but fine actors given small parts, Miriam Margoyles, Toby Jones.
The basic materials of the original text must be something like A.E. Coppard or H. E. Bates (remember Love for Lydia?) at their best, a Cornwall story, but this one goes beyond those to offer a universal story of generosity, love, sex, loss, and yes grief in the context of polite daily life of two loving aging sisters, one (Maggie Smith, Janet) a widow (or near widow if she never married her Peter who died in WW1) and the other (Judi Dench, Ursula) never married.
Pussycat near me and now it’s time to go to bed and I shall take a film study of some sort, a script for a half hour more.
Lonely oh so lonely. But quiet, no anxiety after the mail came and I saw nothing from the DMV. Tomorrow driving Yvette to the doctor and the computer ordeal. Huge amounts of snow in the freezing cold to be shoveled away too.
A day in the life of a widow.