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The Original "Getting Real"

The Original "Getting Real"
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Sunday, 24 October 2010

The Correspondence Of the Empress Alexandra of Russia..."

It's exciting to know that a new book of previously unpublished letters of Russia's last Empress is about to be available! No matter how many biographies appear, nothing ever quite compares to the feeling that comes with reading the actual letters exchanged between people. Queen Victoria’s letters to her daughter are far more interesting than any biography, as are the original letters of any other historical person. This book is entirely new as these letters have not been seen before. The book is: The Correspondence of the Empress Alexandra of Russia with Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore, Grand Duke and Duchess of Hesse. 1878-1916 collected, edited and compiled by Petra H. Kleinpenning. Below is a description of the book, which will soon be available on Amazon:

As young people, Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine (1872-1918) and her brother, Hereditary Grand Duke Ernst Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine (1868-1937), were always together. They remained on close terms when Alix married Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and became the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna. This book presents the complete collection of letters and postcards, written in English and German, that Alix wrote to her brother over the years 1878-1916, from moving children's notes to poignant letters written during the cataclysm of World War I. Also included are Alix's letters to Ernst Ludwig's second wife, Grand Duchess Eleonore, some letters from Tsar Nicholas II to Ernst Ludwig, and the few letters and postcards from Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore to the imperial couple that survived the days of the Russian Revolution of 1917. Alix's letters to Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore focus on the weal and woe of her family and friends, on official receptions and military manoeuvres, the concerts and performances she attended, her charities and her war work. This unique private correspondence between Alix and Ernst Ludwig and Eleonore provides additional first-hand details about the everyday lives of these important people in the history of Russia and Hesse and increases our understanding of their characters, interests, and relationships.”

(I am afraid that the links are not showing up on this page - please cut and paste the above link to find out more...)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

From the Sublime to...Botox

In my opinion, two of the greatest actresses alive today are Maggie Smith and Judi Dench and, while watching ‘Downton Abbey’’ last week, realised that what is so brilliant about them is that they can say so much without speaking. Their expression is everything! They say more through a glance than could be said in a whole Shakespearean soliloquy. Maggie Smith in ‘David Copperfield’ was utterly superb and, in Mrs. Brown’ Judi Dench captured Queen Victoria so beautifully (almost as beautifully as Irene Dunne, in the much earlier film, ‘The Mudlark’)

I wonder if younger actresses will ever have the same ability if they continue to paralyse their faces with Botox. If eyes cannot smile and lips cannot show disapproval, but everyone is cloned into the idea that in order to be beautiful one must look identical to every other actor or actress, how are they ever going to portray, with nothing more than a glance, the true beauty and brilliance that comes with age.

It’s a trivial thought but I don’t think Botox bodes well for the future of film.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

"...And all that mighty heart is lying still."

In spite of my unnatural antipathy to Wordsworth’s later works, I really, really love this poem! It captures autumn and awe of London – or any city! - so beautifully! Any morning, waking up before everyone else is awake, and looking at the surroundings...the last two lines say it all. Still more, it captures the sense of pre-Victorian London, when industry was thriving and the ships were busily trading all over the world. I know that the Victorian and earlier 19th Century London - primarily as depicted by Dickens - was filled with squalor and deprivation but it was also giving birth to the many, many advances we enjoy today. Nostalgic, beautiful and just so lovely....

“Upon Westminster Bridge”

Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of heart who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a mantle wear

The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air

Ne'er did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Miners

I don’t tend to follow the soaps on TV but this evening happened to catch some parts of 3 of them, after following the fabulous story of the Chilean miners. For two days the news, normally so depressing that it’s best to avoid it since it only reports that dark stuff and seldom the all the good that is happening, has been dominated by this wonderfully uplifting story of human spirit, love, dedication and euphoric outcome!

The news is normally depressing and other TV programmes are meant to be light relief, I think. However, the 3 soaps that I happened to glance at tonight were the most depressing things ever!! The first (Emmerdale) centred around a young man lying in a coma on a life-support machine; the second (Eastenders) was about some young boy who had died; and the third (Coronation Street – which used to be good for a laugh!) was about a man dying of cancer.

Good grief! If this is the state of the art, no wonder the NHS is stretched to the limit and people get depressed. Entertainment isn’t meant to be about doom and gloom. People can create enough of that in their own lives so why would anyone want to watch it for entertainment? If art/entertainment is meant to reflect realty, then why not focus it on the finest, most uplifting aspects of reality?

Hurrah for the Chilean miners! And hurrah and congratulations to the people of Chile who know just how to celebrate and express themselves fully and so inspiringly! It was lovely to see the miners, as they emerged, fall to their knees in thanksgiving....more lovely to see the beautiful smiles on all the people’s faces!

Monday, 4 October 2010

Francis of Assisi

Today the sky was bluer than I have ever seen it in my life, I think, and the leaves are just turning with their myriad of shade of amber, orange, green and gold! What a perfect day for the feast of Francis of Assisi and what could be more appropriate than the beautiful lyrics by Donovan, for the wonderfully joyful film "Brother Sun and Sister Moon"?

If you want your dream to be
Build it slow and surely.
Small beginnings, greater ends.
Heartfelt work grows purely.

If you want to live life free,
Take your time, go slowly.
Do few things, but do them well.
Simple joys are holy.

Day by day, stone by stone,
Build your secret slowly.
Day by day, you'll grow, too,
You'll know heaven's glory.