Monday, 20 September 2010

Drewe fails to draw

Just a short note. I'm away from my books but want to recommend some film-related ones. The prompt is going to see Posy Simmonds' story of Tara Drew enjoyably turned into a film, albeit one which struck me and Penny as more 'TV-sized' than up to the big screen. We went to see it in its first week of release at the Leeds-Bradford Odeon in Thornbury. Do you know how many other people were in the cinema? Six. Guess how many giggles there were apart from our own, fairly regular ones? One.

It was an interesting cultural experience which I haven't yet worked out. I'm sure it packs them in amid much hilarity at the Screen on Islington Green. But I think that it is a very metropolitan subject and world, seen with a very metropolitan eye, for all that its very metropolitan characters are operating, uneasily, in a region of great distinction, Thomas Hardy's Wessex; specifically Dorset.  They didn't really seem to be there. The landscape was just scenery, and that would have been still more the case had Posy chosen instead our Northern Cotswolds such as the lush county swathes of the North Riding or parts of Lancashire's Furness. 

There's a bit in True North about the way that Hardy's land is affected by superficial imagery as badly as the North, and Tamara Drew is further evidence. No offence to Posy. She, Penny and a colleague once played cricket for Cosmopolitan against the New Statesman, and the Guardian's then, delightful, film critic Derek Malcolm, also batting for Cosmo, wrote a poem which started: 'Penny, Pandora and Posy - a trio of which to dream.'  I only dream of one. The match was also notable for Martin Amis's playing for the New Statesman and being determined to win at all costs, bowling at the heavenly trio as if they were Test players.

Welcome blaze of colour

No I am not dead. Sorry once more for another lacuna (the title btw of the excellent Orange Prize-winning book I'm reading by Barbara Kingsolver). It just takes too long to do the cover-scanning etc to add to the bibliography in these busy times. Fear not, though, it will be completed. 

For now, I just want to hail a new set of postcards available at Leeds tourist office in the station. The colour may be a bit over the top, but I sympathise with that, so relentless is the tide of grey, grim Northern images. Still. Yes, I am perhaps becoming obsessesd and will maybe go mad, but it is lovely that another publisher has seen the bright, light, exciting side of Leeds (as Keith Waterhouse does in City Lights, very warmly recommended many posts below).

It is not a minority view. London publishers exert far too powerful a hold and they want a grim North, troubled childhoods and the rest. But the very cheerful woman who sold me the cards was as delighted as I was. We also compared notes on the city's new open-top sight-seeing bus (a blindingly obvious butt of metropolitan scorn but excellently previewed by the Guardian's Leeds blogger John Baron on and agreed that the commentary is ace and told us both things we didn't know. Hope they're true...

You can also tour Leeds at weekends by canal and river boat.  So bin all that stuff about 'capital of empty flats' etc and come and enjoy. The two cards I've featured show (below) St Paul's House, which is that colour, and (top) offices in Park Row, which aren't quite, except during outstanding sunsets or when you've been smoking something you shouldn't have been. The sky above St Paul's House is also genuine. Leeds is dryer than Barcelona, remember.