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good and cold

When I last wrote, the air was mild and the sun was bright, but those fine days are over. Fini, no more Mr. Nice Guy, that bitter bite is in the air and the sun is already much further away. Baby, it’s cold out there.

My new tenant, Susan from Germany, arrived just in time to get hit with a big blast of Canada. Poor girl – I took her for a walk around the neighbourhood her first morning, and she nearly froze. Her first purchase was a pair of nice warm slippers. She’s 25, doing cancer research at Princess Margaret and curious about everything. Her ordinary home south of Berlin has its water heated with solar panels – so we’re a bit behind in some ways. But so far, she really likes Toronto. She hasn’t seen a picture of Rob Ford yet.
We had a fantastic celebration for Patsy on Wednesday night with some of her oldest friends, two of whom flew in for the event. As I told them, she threw my 20th birthday party in 1970, so I threw her 65th in 2010. (Where does that expression come from, to “throw a party”? I imagine trying to explain it to Susan.) The guest list was a who’s who of Canadian acting and directing talent, besides the guest of honour, once renowned as Mrs. Donnelly in James Reaney’s The Donnellys, and Wayson Choy meeting everyone for the first time.
There was a mountain of food and much joyful reuniting and reminiscing; some hadn’t seen each other for 30 years. Her East Coast friends brought produce from their farm in Nova Scotia; I have two fat garlic bulbs I can’t wait to squash, and the birthday girl got a big jar of honey.
On Friday, Patsy and I, critical former actresses, went to see The List, a one-woman show by a Quebecoise writer. It has received very good reviews, and I was interested simply because it’s about a woman who makes compulsive lists, and I am a woman who makes compulsive lists. Well – the two former actresses were mighty disappointed. It’s a heartfelt but flawed play clumsily, no, badly directed, as far as we were concerned. It closes tonight so I don’t have to write SPOILER ALERT: translated from French, it’s about a snobbish woman, called The Woman, who moves her family to a rural community and disparages the locals. Despite that, Caroline, a local woman with many children, befriends her. When Caroline becomes pregnant once more, she asks her wealthier friend for the phone number of her doctor, because Caroline’s own is incompetent. The woman puts “Find doctor’s phone number” on her list, transfers it from list to list for many months and keeps forgetting. Finally, Caroline has her baby with her own doctor and dies as a result.
The Woman is portrayed as someone who is obsessively neat; her kitchen is a caricature of pristine white tidiness. Yet the plot hinges on the notion that she has absolutely no idea where to find the phone number of her doctor. Absurd. And once again, as so often in North America, the actor was directed to convey every emotion at top volume. With many British actors, less is more, and much less is much more; they draw us in with subtle intensity, with stillness and quiet ferocity. Instead, here, actors are directed to shriek and bellow and pretend to cry.
MEOW, as a friend would say. Well, I’m an opinionated bossyboots. When have I ever not called it like I see it?
And right now, I’m calling it winter.



One response to “good and cold”

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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