Monday, 4 October 2010

Felicity, Indeed

Last night I dreamed a dream and thought it true. Now, when an Englishman of a certain age happens to dream about Felicity Kendal, he generally ought to count himself lucky and shut up about it. Alas - and despite there being quite a lot of impropriety in the backstory - none of it was onstage, or with me, and it was not that kind of dream at all.

The basic conceit of the dream appeared to be that Kendal's characters in The Good Life and Rosemary and Thyme are in fact one and the same person, at different stages of her life, the latter being a self-reinvention after the catastrophic failure of her first marriage. This was mostly Margo Leadbetter's fault, and of course my fabulator decided to dramatize not the mildly kinky comedy-slashfic episode implied, but its lasting emotional fallout many years later. Played absolutely straight. I wonder about my Muse, sometimes.

So, you pointedly refrain from asking, just what did I and the fair Rosemary spend this dream doing? I will tell you. We spent most of it trying to rescue my maternal grandmother (here alive, but about eighty and desperately infirm) from the high-tech Villain Compound of a vile and brutal SFnal dictator. We never ran into the Big Bad himself, nor did I know nor care about his name; but supremely unreliable sources have since dropped me a heavy hint.

We went in as sneakily as we could, but inevitably got involved in enough unarmed action heroics that both Ms Kendal and I will certainly have to resort to the services of stunt doubles in the forthcoming blockbuster movie. At some point we became separated, and I never did ascertain whether Rosemary made it out. I managed to break out with Nan, and to get her to a hospital - where the docs also detained me, since I had incurred rather a lot of damage along the way. The end of the dream was devoted to bluffing and dodging searching stormtroopers, whilst waiting for medicines, test results, and emergency surgery. In this phase I also contrived narrowly to avoid being eaten by a big shark, though precisely how this became an issue in a hospital A&E department is now strangely opaque to me.

This morning I am ever so much tireder than I was when I went to bed last night. And yes, it is because I spent most of the night dreaming about adventures with Felicity Kendal. I would not previously have expected that total experience so closely to resemble that of dreaming about being shot to shit by the Governator!

However, at least I did unearth a good Goat Quote, during what passes for my research when perpetrating posts such as this. Interviewed about her rôle in Mrs Warren's Profession by the Independent's Rhiannon Harries, Kendal makes this timely observation:

"...the classics are the classics because human nature does not change. The emotions are the same – love, loss, jealousy, greed. We haven't invented a new emotion.

"But what we don't have a lot of these days is the acceptance. It's all 'Look – baddy! Baddy broke the rules!' My question is, maybe we have to change the rules, because at the moment it doesn't seem like there are enough people able not to break the rules. And if people think that it's only the wealthy or famous, I really think we have no hope."

Very true. It's not just the way the state sets up more rules than I like - it's also the prevailing tone of shrill, frivolous, and hollow-hearted legalism across so much of our culture, which sets up the foundation upon which our evil overlords' high-tech Villain Compounds must rise, or else sink ignominiously into the clay. Zero Tolerance. That Is Not Considered Appropriate. He Broke The Rules, End Of. She Must Be Accountable For Her Example. Love It Or Leave It. Obey Or Die...

Here is another rule, for those whose entire business model does not depend on maximizing the rattling of empty vessels. An honest gentleman faced with the same urgent question as Kendal once resolved it thusly:

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. (John 8:7, King James Version.)

And who better than Kendal to highlight how that peaceable ridgeway, and not the stony slide downwards, is the only path with any hope of leading through a Good Life?

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