While eating my dinner, instead of watching another episode of Hercule Poirot on You Tube, I read this great blog I came across last month. In one entry this woman, who wasn’t inclined to exercise, decided to set a goal for 2008 to run thirty minutes one hundred times in the year. She made it and she had all these adventures doing her runs which made me almost wish I felt inclined to such self-torture (almost) but reading through the comments…one person remarked that the entry had brought to mind the song “I Ran So Far Away” by A Flock of Seagulls (one of stupidest names ever thought up for a pop group). She was right…and as I thought about it I had to go buy it. I’m listening to it as I sit here digesting my pizza and fighting off the temptation to go eat a slice of chocolate cake (topped with cream and cherries and cranberries). It should be my theme song (if you know the tune sing along) And I ran…I ran so far away….so so so far away…from the chocolate cake!
Since finishing A Companion for Life I’ve been taking a mental break from writing or thinking (All you have to do is go onto You Tube and type in Poirotfilms and you get this long list of episodes of Agatha Christie movies…many with David Suchet who is the best Hercule ever.) I hated Hercule Poirot until I saw an episode with Suchet. For years that lovely character was ruined by the mental image of Peter Ustinov. Whoever thought in a billion years to type cast him as the Belgian detective? Obviously someone who’d never read any Agatha Christie! Bad casting of well known characters is something that gets up my nose. In-between watching Hercule Poirot I looked up Jane Eyre out of curiosity and found a number of snippets from all the past movies including the latest. This was self-torture. If you’ve never read Jane Eyre, the book then you won’t care (maybe you’ve read it and you still don’t care). I love the book and I hate every single film version ever made. The casting is always wrong and the scripts (especially of all the best parts in the book) are hashed together in ways that make me cringe and want to scream, “No! It doesn’t go like that!”
I hadn’t seen the latest movie attempt because I didn’t like the look of the woman cast as Jane and having watched several clips I can’t help wondering, “Why are so many tall actresses with weird looking lips cast to play Jane? Jane is short and she’s plain, not weird looking. OK…I think I need to change the song I’m listening to before I end up running so far away insane!
Ah Elton John…”Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” that’s better. For years I’ve had this insane desire to make what I think is a proper movie version of Jane Eyre, just to make one that was right. I don’t even care if anyone else sees it; I just want to know that it was made right at least once. If I had a fortune to waste…I’d make a film of Jane Eyre! This is one of my more crazy dreams, but dreams are like stars…they’re too far to reach yet they beckon… I was at a friend’s one day quite a few years back (she was recovering from another surgery and I was helping/torturing her.) While I was there she went to lie down and I decided to watch one of her DVD’s. I unwisely chose Jayne Eyre…the 95′ version…and as I was watching, getting more irritated by the minute, someone I knew from church showed up to deliver a chair to my friend (it was a special chair). The person delivering the chair also happens to be a talented actor, but he’s very short. So there he was putting this chair together and I, trying to make polite conversation, started ranting about how I hated all the actors ever cast for Jane Eyre and he said, “Do you think I could play Rochester?” and without thinking I said, “No!” I think I told him he was too short. My brain froze as I comprehended my faux pas. So I sat there feeling awful and hating the casting of Jane Eyre even more for putting me in a position where I’d unwittingly insulted a very nice man who I don’t remember ever speaking to me after that, but he did move away and not because of me, I don’t think. Even if he wasn’t short, he didn’t look like the Mr Rochester in my head. If I’d been thinking I’d have said, “No, you can’t play Rochester, you’re too good looking!”
Did you know the character, Mr Rochester, was named after the Restoration rakehell John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester who went blind before he died? Can prolonged alcoholic poisoning make you go blind? For some reason I’m thinking it can; he certainly drank himself to death. Charlotte Bronte’s Mr Rochester was plain, but John Wilmot was very good looking at least he was before his dissolute lifestyle ruined his looks. There’s a really good painting of him in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Some heartless curator hung him directly above a medieval Wassail bowl. Wassail was ale heated with apples, sugar and nutmeg. There’s another painting of him in armour, I don’t know where it lives, but he looks like he’s raked through hell and lived long enough to tell the tale. I suspect that’s what he looked like near the end.
And did you know John Wilmot was an ancestor of Princess Diana? I came across this fact by combing through his descendents one wasted day of my life. John Wilmot is one of my favourite dead Englishmen. Why? I don’t know; he just fascinates me. If you’ve read my book, An Unlikely Hero, Agent 1680 is John Wilmot. When Agent 1680 talks about himself he’s talking as if he’s Wilmot. In real life one of Wilmot’s most hated rivals/enemies was The Earl of Mulgrave (John Sheffield). Mulgrave thought he was a most superior individual in every conceivable way. He actually had the nerve to try to woo Princess Anne for a wife before getting a royal boot in the backside. In the end he married a royal bastard, but he never had a legitimate heir. Mulgrave (who became the Duke of Buckingham and Normanby) is the man who built the original house that has now mutated into Buckingham Palace. The remains of his house is the back part of the giant square. One day a descendant of Rochester will live in the house Mulgrave built, crowned as King…ah the irony of history…I love it! Mulgrave’s ghost must be gnashing his teeth while Rochester’s smirkes in triumph.
I’m glad I wasn’t born a Royal. I think that would be hell. It would be like being born in a gilded prison. Some will now interject, “But they’re rich!” True, but they can’t do
anything without the whole world looking on and judging every action. You’d be expected to conform to some other person’s idea of what your life should be…and the guilt…the awful guilt if you chose to turn your back and go your own way. You’d never be free; you’d either be a prisoner in the gold cage or an escapee on the run. What a nightmare. I’d rather be me any day. I’m not rich, but life is good. I had a good year and a peaceful happy Christmas. One can never know what the future holds, but I’m feeling positive for 2009. I think it’s going to be a great year. That opinion could change, but for the moment I’m putting my money on the positive. No matter what I don’t have, there’s always some else worse off or dead. I like being alive. One of my big goals for 2009 is to appreciate life more fully; to be more aware of the beautiful gifts life offers to all as we pass by. When I take a “wrong” turning I hope I’ll stop and smell the roses hanging over a wall or stop and admire the scenery and remember the two people I know who have no sense of smell and the people who are blind or nearly blind who can’t see the scenery. I don’t want to be like the 1040 people who walked past Joshua Bell (busking at a Washington D.C. metro for one hour where he played his Stradivarius in an experiment to see how many people would stop to listen to the gorgeous free music) most of whom didn’t even turn their heads. Indeed some who weren’t listening to headphones couldn’t even remember hearing any music. They weren’t living that day; they were marching machines to the ticking of an internal clock pressing them on pass the roses of life towards an ignoble death. I wonder how many ghosts haunt undergrounds…passengers eternally waiting for the clock to allow them to go home. I don’t want to be one of them. Here’s to 2009, may we all notice all the beautiful free gifts life offers!