Sunday, June 18, 2017

Saturday 17 June


I managed to watch two episodes of Little Dorrit - #3 and #4. The first starts with a visit by Arthur Clennam to his mother - although she basically kicked him out, she's not happy that he is moving out or that he plans working for someone else, "using the fruits of an education I have provided". One thing I have noticed about this version is that it makes very quick shifts to something completely different: so, we see Mr Pancks going about his assignment of finding out the history between the Clennams and the Dorrits, by seeking out the tenant he almost evicted last time (who is naturally terrified to see him). This tenant confirms that Mrs C is being unusually kind to Amy.

Mr Dorrit is inclined to be a bit of a speechifier, quite self involved: funny to see Amy's friend Maggie steal his bread while he goes on about something. Her accent and speech are much coarser than Amy's - not sure how they even know each other, but they spend a fair amount of time together, including a visit to Arthur, where she goes to sleep but bursts out of bed at the mention of cake. She'd happily go to China, just because they have chicken and duck. Amy is visiting Arthur because she's learned that "a gentleman" paid Tip's debt - they circle around this, she telling Arthur that she'd like to thank this mystery gentleman, he saying he's sure the gentleman would be gratified.

He gets all worried about Amy out at night, which set up some fear for me and, certainly they go through some dodgy streets but nothing actually happens to them. They visit Fanny in a music hall, but are in the way, as she has a "gentleman" paying her attention: she's made up as a caricature of a prostitute, so we can make our own deductions.

Amy is first in the gate at Marshalsea when John opens up - I'm pretty sure he'd have let her in earlier. He has become concerned that Arthur is a rival for his affections, is told by his dad that he should go after her, she's not royalty, faint heart never won fair lady. She goes into the snug to dry off, but doesn't stay long - is it because John is talking about how they've been friends since they were playmates? She gets more when she goes up to her dad. The actress playing Amy (Claire Foy) reminds me a bit of Keira Knightley - thin, very pretty, fresh looking (odd given where she lives) but I guess this signals her innate goodness.

As for Arthur, he's down at Twickenham visiting the Meagles - clearly because Mr M is worried about the man his daughter is associating with. Her godfather is there as well: a great man in terms of inventing things, but no head for business. There's more going on with Miss Wade and Tattycoram/Harriet - the Meagles don't like the former, and maybe there's reason - it seems she's trying to seduce Harriet: they get very close to a kiss.

In the Clennam household, Mr Flintwinch has a go at Mrs C over Amy: "Have you forgotten how her mother died, how her father lives (sic), the injury inflicted on the family?" Mrs C sees employing Amy as some sort of penance or redemption. Mr F then bullies his wife, almost beats her.

The episode finishes with John staring up at Amy's window like a lovesick Romeo: she is busy looking at a button she keeps wrapped up. The "romance" comes to an abrupt end in the next episode: John dreams of Amy becoming Mrs Chivery, gets all dressed up and takes an airing by the river. Amy does seem pleased to see him, but her face clouds when she hears her dad told him where to find her. He does actually stumble his way to a proposal - she's shocked, says she can never feel about him that way, will probably never marry, just spend her life looking after dad. "But I set my heart on you!" That's life, mate. She then pulls out the mysterious button. Back home, Mr Chivery says the Dorrits have always been a proud lot. John has another dream - of him dying of a broken heart.

Down at Twickenham, Harry, the unsuitable bloke, enters the scene. The daughter (I think her name is Pet) is singing and playing piano, with Arthur turning the pages - all very genteel. Harry takes over - they sing a duet, giggle - a very different relationship. This is also demonstrated when Harry and Arthur leave - she's very formal with Arthur. Her godfather (Daniel) has revealed that they've been abroad twice to try to break the attachment.

Mr D is not very happy: he brags of having visitors and the money they left behind, but the reality is that he's dependent on the Chiverys, doesn't want them upset, can't afford to - he damn near asks Amy to marry John, lays a big guilt trip on her "What does it matter if my life comes to an end...", then cries. It seems to have some impact - Amy seeks advice from Fanny, who is very practical, can't see what love has to do with anything. Mr D seems oblivious when he is talking with Mr Chivery, going on about what a great fellow John is, doesn't notice Mr C's coolness (he nearly slams the window into Mr D!).

Finally, Rigaud's story intercepts. He and his cellmate are both in London - the latter runs as soon as he sees Ragaud, is injured by a waggon and is helped by Arthur to a Mrs Plornish. I guess its because he's Spanish, but he starts flirting with her. Meanwhile, Rigaud is in a pub, notices another bloke sitting by himself (Mr Flintwinch's mate) - they get drunk, R leads him astray and murders him - takes the box of papers belonging to Mrs Clennam which F had entrusted to him.

A seed sown in the 3rd episode takes root: Arthur visits Daniel's factory, is very impressed and offers to be his man of business and thus the firm Doyce and Clennam is born.

I've acquired a handful of DVD's from trademe: Lorna Doone, The Shipping News, Annie Hall and Casablanca. I've actually only seen the last of these, although I have read the books of the first two. I popped into JB Hifi and was surprised to see that Olive Kitteridge was only $4, so grabbed a copy: I've not read any of Elizabeth Strout's novels but the folks on the Guardian TLS site rate her highly, and this TV miniseries version has Frances McDormand.


I'm finding Denise Mina's Still Midnight to be a quick, engaging read. She emphasised that when Eddy and Pat went into the Anwar's house, they were looking for a bloke called Bob. The whole family, however, tell the Police that it was "Rob" they were after. Why were Omar and his mate Mo sitting outside anyway? We learn a bit more about the Anwars from old Mr Anwar - they're from Uganda, and only just escaped - his mum gave some soldiers what they were looking for. She is very present to him now, holding his hand, talking with him. The only other insight we're given is from Alex Morrow's perspective - she's very observant, and notices that when one of the family called emergency services, he said Eddie was looking for Bob. She suspects Omar and has a secret half brother who is well connected with the Glaswegian underworld who gives her a great lead. There's growing tension between her and Bannerman, who interviews the Anwars and misses all the clues. Luckily Alex is watching to catch them. The other important relationship is that between Pat and Eddie: the latter likes to think he's in charge, has them dressed almost as military men, plans the whole gig but he's useless - on the verge at all times of breaking apart. Eddie is calmer, nicer, completely unsure why he has got involved with this mad scheme but it turns out that he's connected with a family to be feared.


I don't listen to anywhere as much music as I used to, but I still follow up leads I come across on RNZ or twitter (sometimes facebook). This led to me buying a couple of CD's while in JB's - the second CD by London Grammar and the first by the Miltones (I have tickets to see both later in the year). Also exciting me: Aldous Harding's second CD turned up in the mail. After all the noise, and hearing her talk a couple of times, I also succumbed and bought Lorde's newly released CD.


I guess it counts. Since the sun was up and I've just spent a couple of grand getting the brakes and suspension fixed on the Jeep, I went for a "wee" drive - it turned out to be quite a long one. I left home thinking it would be nice to go to Brighton, to see about a new cafe I'd heard was opening there (not open). This led to me driving down the coast a bit further, following byways and exploring several dead-ends. I went through Taeiri mouth, then followed the Toko river out to its mouth - it was as still as a mirror, brilliant in the winter sun and gave off perfect reflections. If only I'd taken a camera with me. I carried on down the coast road as far as Kaitangata, where there is no way forward so turned inland to Balclutha. It was getting dark, but I still managed to linger there for an hour or so, checking out the new discount supermarket and the Warehouse. This put me at Waihola at around tea time, so I had a pint at the pub before grabbing fish and chips - confusingly, they deep fry marinated mussels, which took me a wee while to get my head around.


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