Mrs. Christie and Don Joe

I have been reading Agatha Christie's autobiography recently - started when she was 60, and finished some 15 years later. It's a brilliant read; no mystery about it at all, just a good self-deprecating, humorous and frank account of her life. It's not written in chronological order (well, rough chronological order at best), but in terms of what she remembers first, and how these memories remind her of others.

Every the academic, I was able to distil important information from her seemingly frivolous account. What gems of have I gleaned, I hear you ask. Well. Did you know that according to Agatha Christie's Nanny, "The Queen of Spain has no legs; we call arms and legs, limbs, dearie".

How lovely. I shall forever refer to legs and arms as limbs henceforth.

"You haven't a limb to stand on!"

"The pansies are becoming limby - you must pinch away the dead flowers ruthless"

"Goodness, what a hollow limb DWE has - in fact, one might even think he has two hollow limbs!"

Mrs. Christie comes across as a lovely woman. No airs nor pretensions about her, easy-going, adaptable and doesn't fuss overly. She travelled a lot - and her favourite journey was probably on the Orient Express which she took many times between the wars, and was quite disappointed when the service was finally stopped. One piece of advice from her travels: "If you're going to sleep on a wooden bed, you must watch out for bedbugs". Apparently, these clever things ensconce themselves in little nooks and crannies in the wood, then come swarming out when they sense your body heat. Poor Mrs. Christie was prone to insect bites, and her legs and arms would swell - so much so that she had to slit her sleeves more than once. This I think puts ML's reactions to shame when he's chased around by a mosquito.

I think though, one reason that endeared me to Mrs. Christie was the way she got started on a new novel or play, or short story. She started in despair, and would pace, wander around finding anything - but anything except write - to do, wail to her those near and sundry, while all the time, the story or plot was formenting within her. Finally, it would be ready, and the story (and writing) would spew forth, and she'd sit and write, write and write.

That's exactly the way it happens when I have to write an article, or a grant application. The ideas swirl around, the strategic directions swim about, and the catch-phrases and statements of intent (horrible things, but so dearly loved by administrators) come and go for weeks and sometimes months. Then all of a sudden, the wheat is separated from the chafe and it's off to the races we go. The unfortunate thing about the way this happens is that the separation tends to occur a few days before the grant application is due, which makes for stressful times.

What makes it more stressful are the lovers of red-tape who send around blue forms asking for information from the application to be summarized so they can 'track metrics'. Ha. Metrics, I've yet to see a single metric report come out from them yet. In fact, an e-mail came around last week asking for blue forms to be filled in.

I answered.

"No.", was my reply. Short and succinct.

I've not heard back yet, but upon a second request, a copy of the application will be sent to them with this message:

"Here. Extract the information yourself."

I adore being in my late 40s. You can get away with stuff like this because I no longer care that much. 

So, DWE, you'll be pleased to hear that I've finally reached the second part of Tito where clemenza lurks. I won't go as far to say that I've actually come to one (much less dispense freely) with clemenza, but at least I'm no longer shrieking away about vengeance against Tito like Vitellia, daughter of the deposed Emperor Vitellio. 

But maybe you prefer that I not be so forgiving. In that case, I have some good news for you. I've started listening to Don Joe again - trying to decide between the Roger Norrington version done using ancient instruments (or do I mean authentic?) and one recorded by Guilini. I'm torn between two scenes now: The first is when Don Joe slices and dices the Commendotore in the beginning, and the second is when the Commendotore consigns Don Joe to the flames of eternity. Here's the problem I can't decide which is better - to slice and dice or to consign. Which would you prefer, and why? Which, really, is more au courant with present-day mores as it were?

This weekend I have much that needs to be done. There's a list of things which have to be done in fact, but I can't quite get myself to working down the list. Maybe after another blueberry tart to give me energy first.

Last night I was so disgusted with certain people and their incompetent actions that I ate three Rogers Chocolates Creams (chocolate, coffee and ginger). They were delicious, fatty, sugary and very bad for the vascular system, but delicious nonetheless. Today, I could do penance and eat only fibrous, dry and sugar-free things, but really, would Mrs. Christie do this? I rather doubt it.

 Back to Mrs. Christie, I used to think that she was the template for Ms. Marple, but after reading about her life, I think Mrs. Ariadne Oliver is the better bet. She (Mrs. Christie) also collected houses. Imagine - collecting houses! Goodness, I too would like to collect houses, but unfortunately this is beyond my means. Especially when Andrew Bell of Dead Zebra keeps putting out collections of bugdroids.

So there you go - another distracted weekend where I would like to be like Mrs. Christie, Don Joe and Tito all rolled in one. Isn't life complicated sometimes?