Curiosity may have once killed the cat, but today it landed on Mars and sent back a tweet. ‘Landed on Mars’, it said, or words to that effect. ‘Weather terrible, wish you were here.’
But! Here on earth, though it seems like heaven, Andy Murray has won gold!!! It was a terrific match; sad they didn’t win the mixed doubles but Azarenka played better than Robson, who was good in the first set but then faded. They didn’t even play best of three, just just a ‘best up to ten points’ in the third. I was so on tenterhooks during the men’s final that I hardly relaxed and enjoyed it – but it was so great to see Andy playing like the champion we all know he can be. Federer didn’t play his best by any means – but the match was won by Murray every bit as much as it was lost by Federer. Afterwards Murray swung up through the stands, Tarzan-like, to embrace his girlfriend and his mother and everyone else he found there before coming back to earth for the medal ceremony. Whether through emotion, forgetfulness or an understandable Gallic reluctance to sing the National Anthem, he just mouthed a couple of words and generally stood there dazed with happiness.
A great moment.
But sometimes, when you want something – and have wanted it for so long that your heart aches with wanting – there’s a sense of anti-climax when it finally happens. It takes a while to sink in – and then you start to enjoy it. And so it is: I’m enjoying this now, as I write about it, much more than I did at the time.
And then we watched ‘Vertigo’. It’s a great film: I hadn’t seen it for decades, and it reminded me at times of ‘Last Year in Marienbad’ as well as ‘The Prisoner’ in the unpeopled emptiness and dreamlike atmosphere of some of the scenes. It’s a Pygmalion-like murder mystery: a man dressing and arranging a woman for a purpose of his own, and then another man doing the same thing with the same woman in order to uncover the original story. In the end it’s clear that she has to die – she is guilty of being implicated in murder – but equally the James Stewart character can’t kill her because that would show him in an even worse light – so in the end she dies in an accident which, Nemesis-like, mirrors the original faked accident (really murder).
But Hitchcock is not so much a moralist as an instrument of dramatic nemesis: he understands that certain things must happen in order for the drama to be ‘right’ – and so like one of the Fates he cuts the strings of his puppet-characters and down they fall.
In terms of modern crime stories the plot of ‘Vertigo’ is somewhat naive – but I think we’ve got rather too hung-up on plot nowadays at the expense of other aspects of drama.
And now I must get on with the vacuuming. Such is fate…