One good thing about the lockdown is that I no longer feel guilty for watching too much TV instead of going out. Going out is now simply Not An Option, so from 7 pm till bedtime I’m glued to the old box. Actually I do read a bit too and last night we went out with saucepans and spoons to do the clap for the NHS and carers. I must say I do wish the government would pay nurses and doctors as freely as they pay MP’s; god knows they deserve it.
So what am I watching? Last night we finished the mini-series Quiz (I always like to hyphenate that word because otherwise it looks like miseries) about the so-called ‘coughing Major’ on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Now obviously this was a drama not a documentary but from watching it, the truth seems much less clear-cut than it did at the time, given the news reports and the guilty verdicts. Then again it’s the defence counsel’s job to shed doubt on the evidence and this was a drama so who knows what liberties they took with the facts? Still whatever the truth, it’s compelling stuff and demonstrates the quite gob-smacking lengths some people will go to to try to win large amounts of money. It’s an interesting counterpoint to Slumdog Millionaire, the dramatisation of Vikram Seth’s novel Q&A in which the protagonist knows the answers because of the trials he’s been through.
After that I returned to Wolf Hall, the quite stupendous series spanning Hilary Mantel’s first two novels which I rate even more highly the second time around, having read the entire trilogy. The casting couldn’t be better; Claire Foy is superb as the flashing, ambitious and thoroughly nasty Anne Boleyn, Mark Gatiss horribly oily as Cromwell’s enemy (one of many) Stephen Gardiner, and Bernard Hill terrific as the outrageous braggart Norfolk. But better than all these is Mark Rylance’s Cromwell, a figure in the shadows who works his way into the heart of government by keeping his eyes and ears open and his mouth shut.
I haven’t yet got to the third series of Killing Eve but I will arrive there soon; in the meantime I have to catch up with The Nest, a Scottish drama set in a lochside house where a rich but childless couple take their last chance at having a child when a strange young woman enters their lives in a dramatic way. But there’s an awful lot about her past which she hasn’t told them…
In between times I’m still struggling with Beloved – struggling not because of the writing but because it’s so heartbreaking – and working my way through The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende’s novel which spans most of 20th-century Chile and the rise of socialism.
So that’s me up to date. How have you been?