I went into stasis last week: it was very pleasant, not to be for a whole week. I watched the whole of ‘I Clavdivs’ – about 13 hours – and did a deep clean of many areas in the house, including the Augean stables which we call Under the Desk, where I found a Gordian Knot of wires, 80% of which (surprise, surprise) were not being used for anything at all, unless you count being part of a seething serpentine tangle as ‘being used’. Having smartened the entire area I decontaminated it with the hoover, swallowing a whole zoo of little fluffy animals composed of dust.
And so back to ancient Rome. It was very satisfying to spend a week in this way, forgetting all about writing apart from the limericks pounding in my brain. If you haven’t seen ‘I Claudius’, do so immediately. Though rather studio-bound, as many of those old productions were, it’s a tour-de-force by Derek Jacobi as the lame, stuttering, idiot boy who became Emperor. What I find fascinating about the Romans – apart from the sheer level of their achievements – is the mix of intimacy and authority, at least as Graves portrays them: citizens address Caesar face to face, with familiarity, even though the next moment he can have them tortured and killed. Also, though brutal in conquest, they respected their enemies: the conquered King Caractacus of Britain makes a defiant speech in the Senate and is given a standing ovation. This respect for a ‘worthy adversary’ is something you don’t find nowadays, where enemies are demonised in order to persuade the populace of the need to fight them. Another thing that doesn’t happen now – but ought to – is that political leaders took the battlefield and led their armies into war. If Thatcher had had to embark at Port Stanley and lead her troops onto Goose Green she might have thought twice about starting her pathetic little post-colonial Falklands war.
Here’s the link to the TV series:
and to the books:
Robert Graves also wrote poetry: I once recited one of his for some school event. It was called ‘Welsh Incident’ and I can still remember the first line:
But that was nothing to what came out of the caves of Criccieth yonder…
My Mum had a Welsh colleague record it for me so I could get the accent right.
5 thoughts on “To be, or not… for a week”
Yes, I do remember watching ‘I, Claudius’ on the telly and being enthralled … as I was by ‘The Forsyte Saga’ (especially Nyree Dawn Porter) … which we’re due to see at the Little Theatre tonight …the second visit to the theatre this week being on Friday to Curve where a bunch of us are spouting our flash fiction to the poor unsuspecting patrons who thought they had come only to see ‘Wah Wah Girls’.
I wanted to go and see the Forsyte Saga – let me know what it was like
The prompt had to help early on – I’m always so embarrassed when that happens. But from then on it was very good indeed – the best we’ve seen for a long time, and we go regularly. New faces did well. You must go, even if it involves criminal activity of some sort to make it happen.
Yes, it’s horrible when people forget their lines. Glad it was good. I’m hoping to audition for ‘Calendar Girls’ which they are doing in the autumn
I’ll watch the calendar carefully!