SARTRE, WINE AND CONVERSATION
A shorter blog today, Saturday, yes it is still Saturday in my mind because I am not yet asleep, a short blog due to the fact that I’ve just returned from a marvellous dinner party which apparently involved the imbibing of three different genres of wine; more of that later – more writing about the soiree not more drinking of wine, really, no more wine, thanks awfully.
So after Wednesday’s surreal acting gig portraying a writing implement, this afternoon’s acting venture was almost in the same genre. I met seven other actors and actresses at The Royal Festival Hall in order to read a Jean Paul Sartre play in a vacant lounge area on the sixth floor. Jean Paul Sartre is usually described as an existentialist philosopher; he also wrote a lot of plays. He was responsible for my late teenage obsession with French drama and Gauloise cigarettes. I wrote my thesis on his plays with special reference to Huis Clos (English translation: In Camera) the basic tenet of which is that “hell is other people”. Being somewhat of a rebel I almost walked out of my college viva because the first question a tweed-jacketed academic asked me was: “Could you not have found an English playwright about whom to write?”
Anyway, this afternoon I had persuaded members of an ad hoc play-reading group to circle read “Nekrassov”, Sartre’s most biting political satire. Written in 1955 it is amazingly relevant today with its diatribes about the manipulation of the press and society’s fear of the different which, in this case, is Communism. I wonder if Richard Bean, author of Great Britain about the hacking trial, has read it. Nekrassov is extremely funny yet rarely produced probably due to the fact that it runs for nearly four hours. However, it was a joyous if slightly absurd afternoon.
Then this evening we semi safari-dined. Living in a block of flats we have this wonderful system of dining on the floor below ours, with various residents at our favourite neighbours. They have young children so when it is our turn to cook rather than they paying out for a baby-sitter we bring dinner to them.
This is a wonderful system. It means I can make my usual creative mess but not have to worry about clearing up before guests arrived. Tonight I made a salmon and pasta starter with butter tossed asparagus, roast chicken and very, very, very fat oven chips with three salads and speciality bruised coloured Brussel spouts which were on special offer from Waitrose. Our friends (a socialist, Catholic, business woman and her husband a left-wing Doctor of History) provided white, red and pudding wines, a magnificent cheese board and an additional guest of a South Carolinian, Republican, Christian USA intellectual to enliven the conversation. Said Yank (I do hope that is not now considered to be a derogative word) was extremely pleasant and delightfully inconsistent in that he believed in gun control and would most likely vote for Hilary Clinton were she to stand for the presidency.
Such is the wonder of London Life with all its contrasts and opportunities.
And such is my enthusiasm for life that this blog is no shorter than the others!