I spent Wednesday evening, through the first part of the night until 2am, with Diana, Melly, recent widow of George Melly, the bisexual Jazzman, writer, raconteur, art lecturer, fisherman and British Institution. I was reading the last third of her book, Take a Girl Like Me, and was full of thoughts and reactions about the work when I woke in the early hours after only four hours of sleep
Wednesday had been a solid work day when I broke the back of the work backlog, although I did not complete all that I had intended. I also over eat which has put back the weight control and was unable to focus on anything after the evening meal until I made a determined effort to read the book and became increasingly impressed to the extent that I went back to the beginning to remind myself of several issues
The day commenced with finding out what had happened to Oxford overnight and because of the number of tributaries and the planned flood plain, the city appeared to be surrounded by water, especially to its south and to the west. Yet the number of properties and evacuee was small by comparison elsewhere in the country and in Gloucestershire and neighbouring areas to the rivers. It is difficult to obtain an accurate picture of the overall situation as the media tends to concentrate on particular areas.
Because I was devoting time to taking photographs of work and attending to registration and record making work it was also possible to keep one eye on television.
One of the earliest films I can recollect seeing in theatre is an Alistair Sim light hearted mystery Green For Danger made just after the second world war but set during the war and towards the end of the film a V2 rocket goes overhead and engine cuts out just as I remember. The film also starred Trevor Howard and Leo Genn. I believe I watched part of the film once before on TV, but taking account that I was between six and eight when the film was first viewed in theatre it is remarkable that I remembered the core of the plot, although I now realise that it would have contributed to my fear of anaesthetic and hospitals since.
I also switched between three films during the afternoon. Cattle Drive had also been seen on TV before but I could not remember aspects of the plot. The film achieve a sense of justice for its hero who loses his reputation, goes to prison for five years and loses his girl, on the basis of rumour, misrepresentation and falsehood. He regains his freedom and self respect by forgiving his enemies and deciding to move on physically and psychologically. You are given the feeling that he has a lot of life ahead of him, so it was an enjoyable fairy tale. I had also previously seen a horror film in witch a secret cult uses doll look-a-like to wield power over others. I only briefly kept an eye on this film to confirm that I could remember the main plot, which I did. The reason for deciding to switch between the films is that I had seen some of a two part four hour Sidney Sheldon epic Memories at Midnight staring Omar Sharif as an aged villain, and a mature Jane Seymour. The film is typical light TV drama where the story is predicable and where I was pleased to work out who had been sent to kill Ms Seymour in the second part, and who had not.
Even when I am fired with writing or other work, it has become rare for me to able to continue until exhaustion and on Wednesday, by doing work which did not fully engage, I was at a loose end for the first time in, well I could do not remember the previous occasion, so I turned to reading a book of which I had expected so much, too much perhaps, and where after only a few pages, I had to stop and think and reflect, so only about two thirds had been read over several weeks.
Diana Melly's Take a Girl Like Me is an amazing book, full of blistering frankness about herself, her relationships and about George. As one reviewer is quoted as saying it is a book about exceptionally good gossip but this is no more than a front to protect writer and reader from the pains of the reality of such an extraordinary life.