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Amaryllis’ Arts

Another day, more sad news, albeit melancholy sad rather than earth-shatteringly awful sad… Leonard Cohen has died. Just when we need these ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world’ more than ever, this terrible year has seen the death of three of the best. These three were also the soundtrack to my university days: days which now seem increasingly halcyon with student grants, a certain surety of job opportunities and some kind of independent living to look forward to leaving time and enthusiasm to engage with issues of the day and a positivity that it could be possible to make a change. All to a background of glorious, exciting music which was so much more than a catchy tune and a handsome face…
In fact, if anything can save us, it is the Arts, whether books, films, music, theatre, radio, photography, painting, box sets etc. During the dark hours of Wednesday, we were saved by the fact that our Classics bookclub fell upon that day. We were discussing Vanity Fair, the first half, which seems pretty timely in today’s concurrent obsession with ostentation and frivolity. However, I was able to forget the present for that hour as we were all completely absorbed in the narrative sweep, humour, pathos and unforgettable characters. All governments should have a monthly discussion of a good book and they would be better politicians for it as it would help them to understand and empathise and hopefully show some humility and compassion – well, I say hopefully… Anyway, I can only say that we all felt a lot better for our time with Thackeray even if I did force JAM and FD to read an extra chapter as they were woefully behind in their reading…
Fortuitously, it has been a very good week for reading: I read Linda Grant’s The Dark Circle, which I loved, set in a TB hospital in Kent just after the first world war and just as Nye Bevan is seeing his wonderful vision of a National Health Service being born. I also re-read a couple of Edith Wharton novels, The Custom of the Country and Ethan Frome. She writes brilliantly about the position and fate of women in turn of the century New York. I am now reading the new Zadie Smith, Swing Time, which is great especially for a Fred and Ginger fan!
But it has also been a great week for film. My son and I went to see Nocturnal Animals, based on the great Austin Wright novel, Tony and Susan. It was so good in every way: the acting of all the characters: the cinematography: the Hitchcockian music: the slow, graceful development of the story.
And also a great week for box sets, as I settled down to the third series of Peaky Blinders which is just so exciting and inventive: a story set in the 1920s counterpointed with fabulously loud and dissonant modern music and the man with the bluest eyes since Paul Newman!
Just even thinking about the above, I don’t feel quite as bad…

About Amaryllis


Amaryllis is our bookshop blogger.


Her pen name is taken from Alice Thomas Ellis’ Other Side of the Fire, which is unfortunately and scandalously out of print. One of the funniest bits in the book is the bodice-ripper that one of the characters is writing and the female - who slays the men with one toss of her raven locks and one glance from her fiery green eyes as she strides among the glens, faithful wolfhound by her side - is Amaryllis! And the name just seemed to suit so here we are.

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