Jan 302011

I really wanted to like this…

One Saturday afternoon, when I was about twelve or thirteen, I found myself- to my horror- trapped in a well-dressed, respectful theatre in the West End watching Swan Lake. My dad was sitting to my right, my thrilled mum and rapt and awed sister to my left. About twenty minutes into the first Act, dad turned to me, pulled at my sleeve, whispered, ‘Shall we go?’ and led the way out of the place and into a crisp, white, sunny, free London. We walked down the river to see HMS Belfast- and I loved it.

A thousand years on, I’ve lost much of my class- and gender-resistance to the posh, to the ‘feminine’, to high culture and art, to strong and graceful men in tights making me feel inadequate and to women spinning lithe, sensual, sinewy emotion into and around narrative and metaphor and melody. I have in fact, I hope, tried actively to embrace all of that (with the exception, so far, of men in tights) and, belatedly, opened myself up to so much more than the phallic guns and shells, insularity and barely-suppressed rage of the Englishman. Continue reading »


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