Sunday, January 16, 2011

Less Miserable

I spent over a hundred quid to take my wife to the Queen's Theatre in London to see Les Misérables.

This is what it looked like:

They also sang the words, like an opera, which made understanding them a bit of a challenge. So, between not seeing and not hearing, this is what I think the plot was about:

Some woman named Fountain got up the duff and had a child called Courgette. Fountain sang a cover version of Susan Boyle’s “I Dreamed a Dream” then died. Some guy named Marcus fell in love with Courgette. Meanwhile, Courgette’s childhood acquaintance, Epitome, is secretly in love with Marcus (Epitome’s dad, Thaddeus, kept Courgette as an indentured servant for a time—don’t ask, it’s complicated).  Before the love triangle can get fully underway, Epitome is killed by a sub-plot. This allows Marcus and Courgette to get married without having Epitome moping around the reception making goo-goo eyes at Marcus.  So they are happy. Everyone else dies, though. The clue is in the title.

I understand that, in the sequel, Marcus and Courgette have a daughter, named Aubergine.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Maintaining Balance

Some weeks back, we had a pre-holiday clear out. This focused mainly on clothing and books, as we have a surfeit of each in our flat. I confess to being an equal partner where book hoarding is concerned, but clothing…well, let’s just say our flat holds two wardrobes, numerous drawers and various cupboards, and my entire clothing collection is folded over the back of a chair.

My wife will say I am exaggerating, but who are you going to believe?

At any rate, we purged the clothes racks and the book cases and came away with an impressive collection of “used, but still perfectly good for someone, just not us” items to be taken to the collection point. We meant to do it right away, honest, but before we knew it the festive frenzy was upon us, so we bunged the jettisoned junk into bags and tossed them into the guest bedroom—along with the broken heater, my guitar, bagpipes, cigar humidors and associated paraphernalia, an antique sewing machine that my wife still uses, two clothes drying racks, an old computer, several industrial-sized tackle boxes filled with art gear, a large roll of material that we acquired somewhere or other, stacks of my unsold books (come on people), a paper shredder, a tub brimming with accumulated bills awaiting shredding and eight…no, seven…make that six…bottles of wine.

(If you’re planning to visit, give us plenty of notice; it will take at least two weeks to find the guest bed in all that clutter.)

Guest room storage aside, everything remained happily out of sight and mind during the holidays, but yesterday we de-decorated (undecorated? disdecorated?) and, after all the festive bric-a-brac was securely stowed in the loft for another year, we found the bags, still waiting to be taken to the goodwill, having ignored our obvious hint that we would have preferred them to make their own way there without our intervention.

So we bundled up, loaded the bags onto the pack mule and headed for Sainsbury’s car park, where the drop-off bins live. The operation went smoothly which, from a comedy standpoint is somewhat disappointing. The irony is, after dropping off our excess books and clothing, we went into town to wander through the shops and bought—you guessed it—more clothing and books.

Odd as it seems, there is really nothing surprising in that—how do you suppose we ended up with so much stuff in the first place? And I like to think, that aside from maintaining balance in our life, our frequent hunting and gathering expeditions are giving Britain a much-needed shot in the economic arm.

If Britain, once again, becomes Great Britain, it will be because people like us continue to seek balance.