.... when you have 'bath wrinkles' on the tips of your fingers. In my seven years in the job I have only experienced a few days as thoroughly, disgustingly wet as today.
But last night was so lovely I would rather write about that. I went with my book group to Chipping Norton Theatre to see 'Bright Star', the story of John Keats and Fanny Brawne.Now I am not particularly fond of romantic poetry, at least I have never read much, but the whole film was just so beautiful. It was pure atmosphere, because in reality very little happens in the story. The two of them get to know each other, then over time fall in love, events and illness conspire against them. All you have in the film is the passing of time, marked by the seasons changing outside the house that Fanny's family shares with Keats and his best friend Charles Armitage Brown. Fanny's mother and Mr Brown try to thwart their developing relationship; she by constantly reminding Fanny that Keats has no income and cannot marry, and he by blatant disapproval and attempts to keep them apart. But eventually they both have to admit defeat. The romance is quite chaste but there are some wonderfully sensual scenes, my favourite was where they have both pushed their beds against the wall of their adjoining rooms and they lie and press their hands against the wooden panelling, the shots passes back and forth between the two of them, just lying, thinking of each other.
So the two hours were punctuated by his poems, providing the auditory atmosphere, and her fabulous dresses, providing the visual one. She sews. There is the wonderful opening show of her needle and thread, blown up to full screen, going back and forth through the fabric, and her first meeting with him is marked by her assertion that poetry is a bit pointless and at least she can make money with her skill. She then comments that he needs a new jacket, and I was thoroughly disappointed that, in spite of her remarkable talent, she does not make him a new jacket. And she referrs to him as 'Mr Keats' through the entire film, it felt kind of important, as if it says something about them, until the final moment when she learns he has died and she calls him 'John'.
It was probably the only time I have seen the entire audience sit through the credits, a poem was being read as they rolled up the screen and we all wanted to hear to the end. A deeply romantic and heartbreaking tragic tale, though I was left wanting to know more about Fanny and how she passed the rest of her life.