Saturday, March 20, 2010

Betty and the Real World

I love it when The Venerable Neels mentions real, actual verifiable objects or events in her books. She's wonderful when it comes to churches and museums, every reputable eatery from London to Harwich and freeway loo stops. More rare are other pop culture mentions that seem to tether The Betty to reality like rope anchors hanging from a Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade float.

In Grasp a Nettle we have at least two:
  • Jenny is reading to young baron Oliver--...she opened Winnie the Pooh. "Shall I start reading?" "Yes, please." I think The August Betty had to have said these words out loud at some point in her life, "I'm rumbly in my tumbly", "Oh bother" and "I'm just a little black raincloud." On a side note, when I wiki-ed (yes, it can too be a word) A. A. Milne it related that he was a critic of P.G. Wodehouse--"captured at his country home in France by the Nazis and imprisoned for a year. Wodehouse made radio broadcasts about his internment, which were broadcast from Berlin. Although the lighthearted broadcasts made fun of the Germans, Milne accused Wodehouse of committing an act of near treason by cooperating with his country's enemy." Well, my lands.
  • While on the cruise they come into Puerto de los Marmoles. ...he pointed out anything which he considered she might be interested in--dragon trees, the house built by Omar Sharif when he had filmed on the island some years previously... When I see pictures of Omar Sharif I can't help but think of his tooth-gap gesticulating with winning charm in Funny Girl. And my heart sings, "Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein, Nicky Arnstein..."
Mr. Sharif's bower of love.
In The Gemel Ring we've got at least one:
  • Mr. and Mrs. Boekerchek take Charity to see La Boheme which she watches with her eyes closed as the Mimi was "a strapping size twenty, exuding splendid health with every note." I do love me some opera but wonder why it is that composers and librettists so often have their sopranos die of consumption--a disease most calculated to get in the way of the singing, no?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, well, inconsistencies in opera -- where do I start? There's the one where the tenor sings to the soprano, in effect, "We must leave here without arousing suspicion, so be very very quiet," at the top of his lungs. There are those stories of Tosca where she leaps over the wall and bounces so vigorously on the mattress that the audience can see her again, like she's on a trampoline.

    But then you see Anthony Minghella's staging of Madama Butterfly, and it's so emotionally riveting that I could cry now, just remembering how I sobbed when we saw it at Covent Garden (or the English National Opera...) four years ago.

    Tuberculosis was such a scourge 100 years ago that it was the HIV of its day. That at least explains why Mimi and Violetta (among others) succumb to it.