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Archive for April, 2009

On Sunday 26th April 

2.30-3.30 Discussion of Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age (see questions for discussion below).

You can also read my review of this book.

3.30 onwards: deciding dates, times and books (and any other business) for the next meeting. Please bring along any book suggestions/ descriptions.

5.00 onwards. You are also all warmly encouraged to stay on in The Rocket till 5pm when author Mez Packer will be reading from her novel Among Thieves. If any of you have a chance to read it before Sunday, this  will be a great opportunity to ask questions, etc. If you think you’d like to attend, please let me know on  tonya@wordplay.org.uk so I can gauge numbers. 

Here are some questions to ponder for Sunday’s book ‘A Golden Age’ by Tahmima Anam

Questions for Discussion (courtesy  of Hachette Australia)

1.A Golden Age opens with the lines: ‘Dear Husband, I lost our children today’. How important is Rehana’s relationship with her dead husband and how does this relationship change throughout the novel?

2.Maya is shocked when Rehana uses her treasured saris to sew blankets for the troops. How significant is Maya’s own choice of clothing and why do you think she dresses the way she does?

3.Tahmima Anam was not alive during the Bangaldesh War of Independence. Instead, she relied on the memories of others to help her to write this fictionalised account of the period. What role does fiction play in helping us to understand the historical and political events that have shaped our world?

4.When they first meet, the Major thanks Rehana for giving up her house to help the cause and says, ‘The whole nation is grateful’. Has Rehana given up her house for the nation or for her children? Find another example in the novel when a character acts for reasons that are clear to themselves but perhaps not to others.

5.Early on in Sohail’s time as a freedom fighter he refers to a dead person as a casualty. Are there occasions in the novel when the horror of war is shown to affect Sohail in a more emotional way?

6.Towards the end of the novel, Rehana feels that she belongs to Bangaldesh, but it is the love for her children that ultimately binds her to the country. What does it mean to belong to a country? Do you only belong to a country if you are born there?

7.How does Rehana feel about her past and her family in Karachi and how is this divide between past and present echoed in the changing geography of Pakistan?

8.Rehana refuses to save her brother-in-law from being arrested for war crimes. Do you think she did the right thing and would you do the same?

9.Rehana has to make several critical decisions in order to protect her children. Does she ultimately sacrifice her own happiness as a woman so that she can fulfil her role as a mother?

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I didn’t know much about Bangladesh before I read this novel. There were scattered images in my head of children running from flooding, poverty, mud, cloth serving as clothing… deposited but not processed in memory from television news programmes I presume I watched all those years ago. When Bangladesh was finally granted independence in 1971, I was six. And in 1970, Bangladesh (which was then East Pakistan) had suffered severe flooding. I certainly had no idea Bangladesh was previously divided into two parts, the ‘horns of India’, West Pakistan on the the top left hand side, and East Bangladesh on the right, with a thousand miles and no common border between them.  

Why were they ever conceived of as one country? 

Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age doesn’t spell these thing out for you: it is not a history book. But it does fill you with the curiosity to know and understand the non-fictions behind the fiction. Now, looking back, I find the historical indicators that I skimmed over on a first reading, so eager was I to find out more about the characters and their stories:

Ever since ’48, the Pakistani authorities had ruled the eastern wing of the country like a colony. First they tried to force everyone to speak Urdu instead of Bengali. They took the jute money from Bengal and spent it on factories in Karachi and Islamabad. One general after another made promises they had no intention of keeping. (p.33) 

Of course, this is the story of independence told from a Bengali perspective – Anam was born  just 3 years after independence, in the city of Dhaka (the centre of events in the novel: the largest city of the east wing that should by rights have been the capital of Pakistan, since the majority of the population lived there)  and has inherited the story from her parents who, she tells us in the acknowledgments (a place I always look to for insights) told her ‘so many stories about the war that I couldn’t help but become a writer’. 

She chooses though to tell the story from the point-of-view of a character normally sidelined from such stories, Rehana, a mother of two whose husband dies suddenly, leaving her with nothing except a large patch of swampy land. Her two young children (whose fate reflects the national struggle rather like Saleem Sinai’s in Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children) are literally annexed by her rich brother-in-law and his wife, and taken to live in the west horn (West Pakistan) where, they argue at  a court hearing, the children would be safer. Their mother can not cope they say, and Rehana can not find the strength to disagree. After a year’s hard graft she builds a large house on her land and rents it out to a Hindu family: it is with this money she convinces the judge to give her children back. And it is the house she built (‘there to remind her of what she had lost, and what she had won. And how much the victory had cost. That is why she had named it Shona, gold) that becomes the centre of her family’s struggle for independence – at first, it simply houses the Hindi refugees, escaping from an infamous night of massacre, then later,  when her son joins the rebels, he returns to bury the resistance weapons in the garden. It is where Rehana will later agree to nurse back to health the wounded major who will save her son’s life a second time…

Rehana’s passions come unbidden and unexpected.  ‘She had married a man she had not expected to love; loved a man she had not expected to lose; lived a life of moderation, a life of few surprises.’ (p.7)  Her love for her country is reluctant and confused. Listening to Nina Simone singing, ‘she had a melting feeling in her mouth, as though she had bitten down on a pink, overripe guava’ (144) and ‘In the midst of all the madness I found the world seemed right for the first time in a very long time’ (274).

But more than this, A Golden Age is an open, unprejudiced  story about the wonders of unconditional love: the lengths we will go to to protect our children; the life we will sacrifice for our lover; the torture we will endure for our country. In this, it is a tale of extreme but universal passion and one that continues to resonate with me days after reading.

This is a complex, honest novel and I wish you would read it.

 

 

 

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I finished reading Tahmima Anam’s A Golden Age today – and will write about it tonight if I get the chance. But at dinner this evening, my daughter sat next to me and said, ‘So mum, how’s it going?’ in a jokey adult sort of way. I told her that actually my head was still in the story I’d just finished reading. I said that I had met the woman who wrote it, that she was a student on the M.A. at Royal Holloway while I was teaching there temporarily and that it turned out later, she was going out with one of my oldest friend’s brothers … It was the hook my daughters needed: ‘wow! really! what’s the story about?’ So I tried to tell them, imagining it would be far too complicated to explain. But actually the nuggets of the story rolled from my mouth and I felt gifted like Sheherazade, and I appreciated all over again the story itself, without the distraction of the perfect wording.

‘It’s a story about a country called Bangladesh and the war when they tried to become independent.’

‘What’s independent?’ piped up my 6 year old.

‘When you want to do something on your own, without other people being in charge, and this country didn’t want to belong to Pakistan anymore. But it’s also a story about a mother whose children get taken away from her and she does whatever she can to get them back.’ And I just carried on telling them the story, including how Rehana was too poor to look after her children and her brother-in-law took them himself to another country a thousand miles away because his own wife couldn’t have children, but Rehana promised she would bring them back, and one day her friend suggested she could build a big house in her own garden and rent it out for money. And she went to get a loan from the bank but the man wanted to kiss her and she didn’t like that so she left the bank with no money and instead she found a very rich blind man who had married a very young woman who had died after only three years and he was looking for another wife and he said to Rehana that he would marry her if she didn’t mind him keeping a big portrait of his wife in the house… it is such a story, in its contortions and circular patterns, each end finding its beginning. And they loved it!

‘Will you read it to us mummy?’ I said I’d give it a go, I wasn’t sure if they’d understand it – and it might be very upsetting. But they insisted. So I read the first few pages to them snuggled up in bed. From the very beginning my little one was in tears.

‘Why did the children have to go away, mummy?’ It was a heartfelt horror-filled question. And the only way I could hope to dispel the nightmares that might come was by making up a story for her,  a different kind altogether.

‘What shall I tell you a story about?’ I asked her.

‘About a rabbit and a raspberry.’

‘Okay’ I said. 

So here it is…

The Rabbit and the Raspberry

Once upon a time there was a rabbit called Riccardo who absolutely loved raspberries. But this year, 1971 [you see, I was still a little bit in the story of Bangladesh], there were very few raspberries to be found. There was a severe drought for one thing, and for another, the gulumphalumph was eating them all up. The gulumphalumph was a very odd looking creature: he had three ears, a long tail, short stubby legs and a long waffly nose. But he could bounce and spring on his legs, and he could rustle along the ground. This meant he was exceptionally good at finding raspberries. He could jump up to the highest thorny places and stick out his long sticky tongue and swallow them whole, or he could snuffle under the leaves and find them where other bunnies couldn’t.

But the galumphalumph didn’t particularly like raspberries and he was very lonely. None of the bunnies would play with him. They thought he must belong with some different animals, that looked like him. But the fact was, there were no other animals like him anywhere. So he continued collecting raspberries.

Meanwhile, Riccardo the Rabbit was getting quite desperate for a raspberry. The fewer he found, the more he wanted. He began hallucinating, imagining that he could see a raspberry before him, and he would swipe out his paw to pick it, but there was nothing there! All the other bunnies would laugh at him, so he would pretend he was playing a game, and soon all the bunnies were joining in, swiping the air with their paws. But Riccardo didn’t enjoy the game. He had become addicted to the idea of the sweet juice of raspberries trickling down his throat.

Now the galumphalump heard about Riccardo and so he collected thirty of the juiciest, purply-pinkest raspberries he could find and placed them carefully in his best bowl. Then he arranged some leaves around the top, placed the bowl on a cushion and placed the cushion behind a curtain. Then he wrote an invitation to Riccardo,

Dear Riccardo,

Please come to tea at my house tomorrow at 5. There will be something to eat that I know you like very much,

The Galumphalumph. 

Riccardo wanted to tear the letter up. Tea with the galumphalumph. What an absurd idea! All the rabbits knew you didn’t mix with the galumphalumph! But ‘something to eat that I know you like very much’ – what could that be but raspberries! He must go, just in case. And that night, in his sleep he drooled, as he dreamt of raspberries galore.

At 5 the next day, he arrived at the galumphalumph’ s house – a cave scratched out of a tree trunk , with a carpet of moss and ivy hanging in the doorway. The galumphalumph wasted no time.

‘Welcome Riccardo, come inside, and see what I have for you.’

And he swept back the little curtain and Riccardo couldn’t believe his eyes. He thought, again, that he must be hallucinating and he didn’t dare swipe his paw and get laughed at by the galumphalumph of all creatures. So the galumphalumph took one of the biggest, best raspberries and begged Riccardo to try it. Riccardo opened his mouth, shut his eyes and the juice, just as he’d imagined, trickled down his throat. 

‘These are all yours,’ said the galumphalumph, ‘on one condition…’

Humph, I knew it!  thought Riccardo.

‘That you come here everyday at 5 to have tea with me.’

‘Oh – and what will there be for tea?’ asked Riccardo, suspiciously.

‘Raspberries. Just like these.’

What! This must be a trick. Why ever would the galumphalumph give him what he really wanted for nothing in return. No, Riccardo turned his back on the creature and left with a haughty, ‘Thank you, but no. I don’t like raspberries.’

A little bunny had been listening outside. This bunny also had a weakness for raspberries. He knocked on the tree trunk.

‘Excuse me Mr Galumphalumph, but I will be very happy to come to your house every day at 5 for tea.’

The Galumphalumph was overjoyed. And so he had a friend. And the bunny had his tea.

Riccardo was left only with his suspicions.

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Living in Trieste means you can be in Slovenia in 5 mins and Croatia in less than an hour. We got to the heartland of Croatia in a couple of hours (we’re staying at Casa Matiki, just past Kanfanar). The scenery is a continuation of the Carso – a rocky limestone plain that forms the crenellated ridge above the narrow strip of coastline that is Trieste and continues  throughout ex-Yugoslavia. When we lived in Trieste twenty years ago, this scenery felt barren and austere; now it feels full of life and hope. It’s not the scenery that’s changed. April and May must be two of the best months, the grey rocks and green fields forming the perfect backdrop to blossoming fruit trees, and the low-lying yellows, reds, blues and purples of occasional wildflowers. Plus this weekend it has been hot and sunny.

The B&B we’re staying at in some ways defies and confirms the post I wrote earlier on the virtues of a good view: from our balcony we overlook a bright yellow truck and the girders of a construction factory; beyond that travels a busy road. But if you look the other way, it’s truly picturesque; a gentle green hillside garden full of flowers and blossoms, a chicken run, a wendy house, and further up, far from the road, the perfect outdoor pool. There’s a rustic table and bench in the shade and a swinging garden seat; and a basket ball pitch in the orchard. Between the main house and the renovated apartments there’s a tasteful rustic courtyard where Paco and Obama (two rescued dogs; no need to say which one of them is black..) greet the guests and feed on the homemade bread and omelettes left over from breakfast.

Sonja, who runs the place, makes you feel at home in the literal sense of the phrase: I felt I was back in Acton! She’s full of ideas and plans and community missions. In her sixties, she runs the place single-handedly. This includes changing all the beds, cleaning the rooms, baking bread, making marmalade (apple and coffee flavour, plum and green pepper), feeding the sheep, horses and donkeys, overseeing new building projects and running the whole online business.  I spent an hour helping her write a couple of e-mails in English today: she didn’t know how to cut and paste let alone save a file in a certain folder and yet the place is fully booked and immaculately run. It was guilt that drove me to help actually – earlier we had enthusiastically taken the dogs for a walk down to the sheep pen and the horses and donkeys had escaped. We came back with Sonja in the early evening to round them up. So I made signs for her saying ‘Please keep this gate closed at all times’ and, since I was sat at the computer anyway,  ‘It is absolutely forbidden to chase, disturb or touch the chickens’. Next to the sheep pen is evidence of Sonja’s creative entrepreneurship: she has converted part of the concrete barn into a room for ‘relax’: she envisages massages and meditation and general hanging out for her guests. The piece de resistance will be a keyhole staircase that twists up into the roof where guests can take siestas on fresh hay: the traditional method for farmers taking a break throughout Croatia. 

It was at Sonja’s insistence indeed that I set off this morning for a full body massage at the hands of a white-suited young man (my husband nervously dropped me off, saying ‘I leave her in your capable hands’). We didn’t talk much. I had never had a proper massage before and didn’t know the extent to which physical intimacy would ensue. Suffice it to say his well-oiled hands went to places very few men have been. Yet they didn’t feel intrusive or sensual – just incredibly knowing. I realised that I was completely in the moment: aware of every muscle that was being touched, every joint that was rubbed, every nerve that was released, and felt myself following the movements of his hands and tracing their effects. I wondered about all the bodies this man knew so intimately: the moles he would notice, the raised veins, the dry skin, the ridged nails and the care he would take to restore them to dignity.  It felt like such an important job and a work of  skillful empathy. 

In the evening we went to a restaurant on the nearby Fjord (Limski Kanal) with a German/ Polish family who have been staying here for a week. Their two girls are the same age as ours – and though they don’t share a language, they communicate well enough. Mostly by diving into the pool together and tipping over the air mattress. And they hid easter eggs around the garden.

Tomorrow we leave but Sonja has given us permission to spend the day by the pool (why would we want to go anywhere else after all?) and I want to continue my discussions with her: maybe Casa Matiki could be the base for my next writing retreat? It has most of the requisite ingredients (though getting here will be an issue) – and a whole added load of quirkiness.

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Well, the bucolic paradise behind our soon-to-be house, turned into a rocky horror yesterday when, standing at the bus stop with the kids a couple of hours later, I noticed first one, then another tiny shiny ball clinging to Francesca’s neck. Spent a couple of hysterical (Francesca, not me) minutes pulling the buggers out with my bare fingernails, before turning to Micky, also attacked, and myself – hands crawling with them. Then, a trip to the chemist’s to get advice. After spending the summer in New Hampshire last year I know you don’t take ticks lightly: the bearers of lyme disease, a poison that can insinuate itself slowly and imperceptibly,  attacking your nervous system. The chemist sent us to A & E (pronto soccorso) at the children’s hospital (known to Triestines as Il Burlo). 

So, a bus ride later we experience our second public institution of the day (we’d spent the morning visiting the kids’ new school). We follow signs to nowhere in particular and end up outside a door with a mysterious notice saying press the bell once , wait, then press it again. Anxious parents pop up intermittently to ring the buzzer – to no effect. Two children (from entirely different families) both with one alarmingly swollen eye (one child’s is red, the other purple); another child wrapped by her clammering parents in a blanket; me and my two, who are cheerfully playing with toys and looking annoyingly healthy…(as ever at A & E it’s the life-threatening cases that get sent to the front: we were obviously in for the long haul). But nobody has even seen the various maladies yet to make a judgment: what if someone were dying out here? They’d still have to ring the bell once, then twice, then wait….

Weirdly, today also has to be the day the hospital cleaners decide to spring clean the waiting room with a vengeance. So, all the desperate families are camping in the corridor while the cleaners get down on their hands and knees –  taking out chairs and disinfecting them, brushing the ceilings and walls, bleaching the coat hooks. Fine. Very good. Inspiring, actually. Maybe that’s the way to obliterate MRSA. (Or, more worryingly, maybe a recent case of the aforesaid is why they’ve come over all conscientious?) But cleaning the waiting room right now? Leaving infectious kids to spill out all over the hallway, grubbing around on the dusty floor? Maybe those kids’ eyes are an allergic reaction to all the bleach in the atmosphere…

Finally, I get to explain the situation: le zecche….The nurse doesn’t even look at the red patches on my kids’ necks I point to, or the remaining tiny leg I’ve spotted on Fran’s collarbone. She gives me a pitying glance ‘Signora..’ and I know what she means..I come in here, wasting her time with ticks when there are children who are getting infected in the corridors this very minute! She tells me there’s nothing she can do, we should just look out for big red circles on our skin in 3 weeks’ time. I protest that the chemist had mentioned blood tests and antibiotics…she says ‘Signora‘ again and explains that it’s fine if I insist, but it will be a very long wait.

Needless to say, we leave the hospital feeling ridiculous (every trip to a doctor makes me feel this way – and I am not a  hypochondriac). But that’s okay, time-wasting like this is de rigeur in Italy (and anywhere else you end up living… ). This is not really a holiday after all but a reckie..and we’ve learnt an important, salutary lesson: we cannot play in the woods behind our house. How sad is that?

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This is my thought for the day: is a good view really worth it? I mean, literally, the price it costs to have one. Trieste is situated right on the Adriatic Gulf. The main city square, Piazza Unita’, leads down to the water; if you went inter-railing like I did in those days when everyone did, you always came through Trieste on your way down through Yugoslavia to get to the cheap sea and sun of the Greek islands. And although the first thing you would have noticed was the Slav women wearing 5 pairs of Levi’s jeans under their voluminous peasant skirts, the second thing that would have taken your breath away, was the glistening light on the water as the train chugged around the Gulf. If you live in Trieste, it is possible for the many houses that line the coast, perched on the hillsides, to have sun and sea pouring in through their windows (though like architects everywhere, they never seem to put enough windows, or put them in the right places, but that’s another story…). I remember the first time we lived here and were looking for a home, in 1990 (ommigod!), the advertised view always turned out to be a glimpse through a crack with a telescope, while balancing on one leg on the side of the toilet.  Anyway, the reason I bring this up now is because Stefano was pretty keen on a view. That was a priority. What was the point of being here if you couldn’t see the sea? It turned out the price of a view was literally too high and so we opted instead for a lovely house up on the hills in a smaller town called Opicina, but with no sea to be seen (not even from the bathroom). However, to compensate, Stef was keen to have the ‘view experience’ when he got his own little bachelor pad for the 4 months before we all come to live out here. And that’s where I am right now. And that’s why I brought up this subject. This evening, as every evening since we got here on Saturday, I have sat on the balcony that, while directly overlooking the car park, does also, if you point the chairs in the right direction and ignore the vast concrete column holding that very balcony up, look out onto the most spectacular expanse of water, silhouetted birds, setting sun, and a blinking lighthouse. From our daughters’ bedroom you can look to the east and see the lights of the city spread out in a semi circle; from our bedroom you can look to the south and see the shimmering white crenellations of the Castello di Miramare, where Emperor Masimilliano set sail for Mexico and never returned.    

car park with a view
car park with a view

 

laundry with a view

laundry with a view

 

the view towards Trieste

the view towards Trieste

 

...il castello di miramare

...il castello di miramare

But my sense of frustration is heightened because I can’t quite do anything with this view. It is there, through the window, it is there in the evening Prosecco, but it is so nearly but not quite perfect: the concrete column, the overgrown trees hiding the sun just as it melts into the sea, the cars that rev into the car park, the fact that it’s the bedrooms (where you shut your eyes) that have the picture windows while the living rooms (where you live) look onto more mundane scenery. And then it’s the accompanying guilt of not being satisfied when you have everything, of always wanting more than you have, of always feeling cheated, that others (the people in the flat above, for example, don’t suffer the car park or the trees) have more …that makes the view instead a kind of daily torture. Why do I not love this life? Why am I not a sailor, on that sea? Why am I not capturing in oils as the wind blows my hair the tinge and hue of the irises waving below me?  And so I think we made the right decision: the room without a view is the one for me. Then I’ll have every right to yearn for what I haven’t got.

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I’m writing this after a glass or two of Prosecco, sitting on the balcony, looking at the sun set behind the Faro. Yep, me and the girls arrived in Trieste yesterday for the Easter holidays.

We went to see the Rocky Horror Show this afternoon! I tell you, The Rocky Horror Show on a Sunday afternoon in Trieste is something else. The audience was to die for. If they’d have been English, they’d be called The Blue Rinse Brigade – but here it’s more like The Silver Highlights troupe. I don’t know what they were thinking, but they certainly didn’t get the innuendos. Exactly, there weren’t any. Still, they were probably also pondering what my six year old could have made of the graphic exhibitions of fellatio (in varying gender configurations) albeit shadow versions behind a screen. In fact she was mostly distracted by the amazing ceiling of the fabulous Teatro Rosetti – more like the planetarium in Rebel Without A Cause – midnight blue with clouds and sparkling lights:

rebel without a cause planetarium scene

So you know the story – or at least the gist – of The Rocky Horror Show. Staid American couple Janet and Brad (or ‘Branet’ as my six year old insists: “it rhymes with Janet and planet, dammit”) get caught in a storm on their way to visit a professor friend. And they have a flat tyre. They go for help at the nearest castle (as you would) even when the door is opened by the freakiest looking butler you ever saw, and the lightning flashes, and thunder crashes (lots of references to midnight movies). They have happened upon a Transylvanian transsexual convention (or somesuch) headed up (in all ways) by Dr Frank ‘n’ Furter’. This Furter (Rob Morton Fowler apparently: a fowl and furtive Frankenstein) is in every physical way perfect – a God; sooo tall, broad, muscular..and he looks great in high heels – his voice is pretty spot on too – but he is just lacking the downright drooling menace alongside overwhelming magnetism that Tim Curry must have brought to the role. And also, he just wasn’t camp enough for me. Give me Eddie Izzard or Julian Clarey any day – that knowing glance at the audience you get from a good stand-up.  

Anyway, after some flirting, strutting and chemical concocting (and lots of great visual and audio effects), Furter produces his own version of the monster – a buddy for himself ; the eponymous Rocky – whose pecs, ladies or gents, were pretty spectacular (and highlighted with eyebrow pencil from what I could tell). Furter managed to seduce both Brad and Janet (though not at the same time) and the corrupted pair are left pondering the state of their relationship, the universe and everything. Which they need to, because it turns out Magenta and her brother Riff Raff are aliens from planet Transylvania (p-lease) – and so is Frank! Except Raff wants to do a runner without his master so shoots him dead with a laser – and takes out Rocky and another minion along the way (have you lost it yet?). The show ends with Brad and Janet singing to the castle as it takes off into the distance…

My favourites of this production were Brad (whose struggle to resist the inevitable slide from all-American clean nobody to experimenting, avant-gard some body was perfectly portrayed). His voice in the ballad solos was especially moving and pure. Magenta, too,  was gorgeous. Fab body, fab costumes, great voice, great part. Janet was good enough – though I wish she hadn’t had to spend 2/3 of the show in that unflattering combination of Madonna’s bra and Bridget Jones’s knickers. Much better in the Alexander McQueen style leather corset. 

The audience hated the Italian narrator (here played by Erik Arno, intriguingly described by the Italian press as ‘a local actor who has become famous in German-speaking countries’). One woman shouted out ‘Stai a casa!’ – (you should have stayed at home!) – which may well have been in the Rocky Horror spirit of audience banter (although it was notably the only intervention in the entire show)- but I at least agreed. He just seemed out of place. As though it were insulting to have these pitiful threads of Italian when we’d managed to sit through all the songs in English. His manner, we felt, was condescending. He seemed to be trying too hard to get in on the act. I can’t see Christopher Biggins giving that impression, or Michael bloody Aspel for that matter. 

So this show certainly wouldn’t have lived up to its first incarnation in the 63-seater Theatre Upstairs at the Royal Court in 1973. Or, after its immediate critical and commercial success, its second outing on the King’s Road before transferring to the West End. It wasn’t as good as the film version, or very probably the Broadway version, and any others that followed. But it was still a great way to spend a rainy afternoon in Trieste. And made me feel happy and relieved to be here. I like these kind of productions after all. Slightly displaced, like this city, but leaving you with room to breathe.

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