Yes, just like the couple themselves I decided to give ‘Burton and Taylor’ another go. I found the acting convinced me better than I had thought; it takes a while to get used to Helena B-C as Taylor and I was never quite sure about the accent, but the character was there. Similarly Burton emerged as a convincing version of the man himself. The trouble was that the more the programme went on, the more I remembered just how tedious the couple were in real life: how bored I got with the endless stories (his alcoholism, her drug-taking, the never-ending will-they-won’t-they? of their thrice-spliced relationship) I was bored to death with it all, so that in the end all this programme did was to remind me of just how tedious I had found them in real life. So I haven’t finished it. I may go back and watch the end but frankly, watching people squander their talents and behave like spoilt children has never been my favourite form of entertainment, whether in fiction or real life. Anyway, it’s still there if you want to watch it:
But today is supposed to be about book reviews: and at the moment I am finishing a review of ‘Ideas above our Station’, a short story collection, for Thresholds. The premise of the book is stories about railway journeys; however it is nothing of the sort and often the stories don’t involve journeys of any kind at all. Some are set in airports, some at motorway service stations and one – the most depressing but also my favourite – in an underground toilet where a woman has imprisoned herself after an abusive marriage. My second favourite, however, does take place on a train and is a kind of antidote to the first in that it tells the story of someone finding happiness by paying off the debt of a stranger. Ironically she is on her way to a conference to give a talk on ‘how to be happy’ and at the end she realises that all she needs to do is to tell this story; the story of what happened to her on the journey.
There’s some good writing in this collection. Uplifting it is not, but worth a read all the same: