Saturday, May 21, 2005


There is a gorgeous blackbird sitting on my window box singing away. He can't see me, but I'm practically sitting next to him on the other side of the window, being serenaded.

Last night I watched
Bright Young Things, the adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies by Stephen Fry. It takes place amongst the fast-living upper-crust set of 1920s London. It was funny, but disturbingly so. At first it made me uncomfortable. There was something maddening in the pace of their lives. But at times it made me laugh, and then cringe. It was a beautiful, excessive, wild, exciting, tumultuous, and dissipated time. Interrupted by World War II and the reactionary conservatism of the 50s, Society didn't return to such dissipation - or short hemlines/short hair - until the 1960s.

While I did my laundry, I watched Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Sidney Poitier as the black Dr Prentice who is in love with JoJo, the white daughter of a newspaper publisher. Both mothers are for the marriage. Both fathers against. The cook, who is black and who brought up JoJo, is also against the marriage and even gives the Doc a good telling off for his presumption. The entire situation is held together well in a finely balanced tension. Everything has to be resolved in one evening, before the Doc flies to Geneva.


I chatted with my mother tonight, and she too watched a Sidney Poitier movie today, all the way in Texas. What is it, his birthday today? It was To Sir With Love. I haven't seen that one yet, but I mean to. It's from the book by Ted Braithwaite, who would become Guyana's first ambassador to the UN (probably after independence). My mother met him in the 60s - there's a photo entitled "Ted's cocktail at Vernon's". Mr Braithwaite (in characteristic bow-tie) has his arm around her shoulder as he's chatting away with some ladies, wives of the local doctor and lawyer, and Mum has turned to smile at the camera, cocktail in hand.

I once asked my Mother, "What does the olive in a cocktail taste like?" She replied, "Like vodka."
FYI, a cocktail made with gin is of inferior quality.

She did have a nice colonial life, the last generation to do so before Guyana gained independence from Britain in 1964. Anything the Mallay daughters did got into the papers because their father was such a pillar of the community. Miss Edward travels across the country as a model ambassador for Fluff detergent. Tea with the Argentinian ambassador and the founder of Bic pens, dances at The Pegasus Hotel's Palm Court, The Races.

Coincidentally, the Pegasus was one of the hotels worldwide that Hodge's father managed in the early 70s, but by then the people who could afford to get out, did so - including my mother and some of her siblings. One of them stayed to live through the privations of Communism - even down to receiving weevily Soviet rations. Fortunately it is now a republic with a re-opened economy and lots of expats are returning with businesses.

One of her aunts was a forward-thinking woman who started wearing trousers in the 30s, before it became fashionable, so people called her the eccentric one.

Another was called Evangeline, and indeed looked like an angel in her wedding dress and curly locks - for years I wanted to use that name for a daughter of mine, but found it rather too tragic that she ended up an invalid with a back injury.

One of the cousins is Guyana's Agriculture Minister and President's Special Envoy to the UN ((not to mention whatever it was he did when he went to Russia)). I've never met him, but decided to skip his visit to my aunt's house last month.

I'm always drawing circles, making connections. (Is there a technical term for this?) ...Thus it is telling that an IQ test recently pointed out Pattern Recognition as one of my strongest abilities. Order out of chaos. Building block for logical thinking, etc.

I always feel guilty after talking about myself in this way, but then, it is one reason for the existence of Blogging.

OK, have I had too much red wine? Yes, get me some water...!


Jia Li said...

I'm always drawing flowers, I wounder what that would mean...and Lazy Boy(Karsten) emailed me..karzy or wa?

Steliano Ponticos said...

I really think the 20s must have been a great time to live in, if you were rich like in new york or london.

But you know how it all ended, one friday..yes with a big stock market crash. I guess this even makes it better, its like living the last days before the end of the world.

Is the technical term "free association" or something like that? I think its fun to do free always end up so far from you original thought.

Jia Li said...

you know I think it is called Free Association writing

Olivia said...

Yes, Free Association. Duh, this ex-psych major should know! (Or maybe that's why I'm EX) But sometimes I manage to come full-circle.

As for the 20s, if I could be there, I Soooooo would.
But woe is me, I completely forgot about the Crash and the Depression. Possibly the power of suggestion in the movie's framework: It skipped that step. One minute they were doing the Charleston and the next, in the battlefield.

Anonymous said...

hmm, I just learned a new term.....

Olivia said...

What new term, Vee?
And I thought you were going to Greece today!

Anonymous said...

Excellent, love it!
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