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Charlotte’s Castle, Fashioning the Beatles: fall is busytime

Though the weather continues sublime, I know it’s fall, because the garden is shutting down and suddenly there’s so much going on. My slothful self missed the big events — the massive film festival, the almost equally massive international festival of authors. But there’s lots else.

On Sunday evening, to the Hot Docs cinema as a guest of Suzette and Pierre, to see Jamie Kastner’s doc Charlotte’s Castle. It’s set in an elegant mid-rise apartment building in the Annex, built in 1904, with airy high-ceilinged rooms peopled through the years with artists of all kinds – the editor Louise Dennys spoke of the famous writers who visited her there; opera singer Maureen Forrester lived there with her children, one of whom is my neighbour Gina, interviewed on camera. Enter the villain – the building was bought by a Dutch conglomerate that wants to oust the tenants and renovate, rip out all the beautiful old things, the bevelled windows, the mouldings and wood, everything that makes the place unique and charming, turn it into a soulless grey space with lots of marble, and triple the rent.

The fight is on. We follow the ragtag band of tenants as they fight back. Hooray! They finally win heritage designation for the exterior of the building and some of the interior. The battle isn’t over – now the developer has applied to build additional stories on top. But the essence of the building is safe.

A friend pointed out that the film should have gone deeper into what’s happening in cities around the world – developers buying affordable buildings, ejecting tenants, renovating and jacking up the rents. It’s horrifying that we’ve allowed this to happen for decades. But here’s at least one success story. Citizen activism for the win!

Last night, to a book launch as the guest of my friend Curtis Barlow – Deirdre Kelly’s book Fashioning the Beatles, about how the Beatles’ style was part of their groundbreaking success. Apparently Deirdre read and loved my sixties memoir All My Loving — a fellow Beatlemaniac and kindred spirit. The event was at the Liss Gallery which was plastered with Beatles art; the owner must also be like us. It looks like a terrific, much-researched book, beautifully produced by Sutherland House Press. I thought I’d know no one at the party besides Piers Hemmingsen, Beatles expert, consultant on the book, but ran into Rick, whom I know from the Y, and Christopher, who lives up the street and whose older son was our first Jesus in the Christmas pageant. That’s what happens when you’ve lived somewhere for so long.

Through all this, Nettie Wild is here until Thursday and we sit in the mornings nattering endlessly until the day calls. She met Sam. At UBC in the seventies she was in acting classes with his dad, so he was eager to hear her stories.

Had a note from the writer whose 65,000 word manuscript I edited recently.

“I can’t thank you enough for this analysis of my manuscript. You are, without doubt, an insightful and talented editor, and I appreciate every word you have written. I’m so glad to work with someone who became involved in the story and understands the intensity of it for me.”

A satisfied customer.

Yet again I do, however, like many others, have a bit of a bug. My downstairs tenant and several friends have Covid, but I’ve tested negative twice, so it’s just a little cold. But phooey – so much to do. So so much to do. Time for a nap.

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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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