What have I been watching?

I have to say that the new season of TV programmes have been very entertaining. I’ve been enjoying watching The Bodyguard despite the fact that ten minutes into the first episode I turned to Jack and said – If I had realised this was about terrorism I wouldn’t have started watching it. But it dragged me in and I’m beginning to think that Richard Madden who plays the bodyguard police sergeant David Budd would make a great new James Bond. Well the best Bonds are always Scottish!The Bodyguard
Mind you I tend to watch anything with Keeley Hawes in it too.

I’ve also been watching Vanity Fair. I had a bit of a moan when I saw a trailer for this new version, it doesn’t seem long since it was on TV in another version, but I enjoyed the book and I think that Olivia Cooke is a perfect Becky Sharp. As this one is on ITV we’ve been watching it on catchup, that way we avoid most of the adverts.

The Great British Bake Off is a must watch and although I still miss Mary Berry it’s really the personalities of the bakers who are entertaining so I’m sticking with the show.

I wasn’t sure about watching Press and after watching the first episode I’m still not sure about it. It somehow has a very old-fashioned feel to it, a bit like newspapers would have been like in the Fleet Street days, but I’ll watch the next episode anyway.

The Repair Shop is a very gentle programme featuring talented craftspeople who can restore just about anything that’s broken and damaged it seems – whether it’s an old teddy bear or a Georgian table. People seem to get very emotional when they’re re-united with their treasures. It’s just fascinating watching people work and having so much pride in the end results.

On Saturday evening I watched a film that was only made in 2016 called This Beautiful Fantastic – and I loved it. I believe that the whole film is available on You Tube but you can see a trailer below which will give you an idea of what it’s about.

Have you been watching any of these programmes and is there anything good on now that I’ve missed?

Vanity Fair by W.M. Thackeray

Like many Victorian novels Vanity Fair was first issued in monthly
parts, from January 1847 to July 1848. It was also issued in book form in 1848 but the edition which I read was one that I bought from the local second-hand book shop and is the revised 1864 edition with a whopping 878 pages.

Vanity Fair is a social satire which Thackeray wrote in the middle of his writing career. The action begins in London with Amelia Sedley and Rebecca Sharp about to leave Miss Pinkerton’s Academy for young girls, the wealthy Amelia for a life of comfort and the penniless Rebecca as a governess.

Rebecca has no intention of staying poor and immediately ‘sets her cap’ at Jos Sedley, Amelia’s brother. George Osborne, Amelia’s fiance, can’t bear the thought of being related by marriage to someone like Rebecca and scuppers her plans.

Undaunted, Beccy secretly marries her employer’s son Rawdon Crawley whilst Amelia marries George Osborne, the upshot of which is that both young men are disinherited by their fathers.

Thackeray’s writing is much more comical than I had expected it to be :

In a word George had thrown the great cast. He was going to be married. Hence his pallor and nervousness – his sleepless night and agitation in the morning. I have heard people who have gone through the same thing own to the same emotion. After three or four ceremonies you get accustomed to it, no doubt; but the first dip, everybody allows, is awful.

Well, it is funny until you remember that some men in particular could easily have got through three or four wives with so many women dying in childbirth.

As George and Rawdon are in the army they take part in the Battle of Waterloo, 1815.

Thackeray wasn’t born until 1811, he must have done a good deal of talking to men who were actually at the battle. I think that anyone studying this period would benefit from reading the book, even if they can only manage the run up to the battle and the aftermath.

At school I studied Waterloo to the Great Exhibition, 1815 – 1851, a very busy time in British history and I wish I had read the book as a schoolgirl.

As human nature never seems to change the characters are all recognizable and still with us today. Beccy and her husband Rawdon sail through life happy to live at other people’s expense with no thought to the harm which they inflict on others. Chapter 36 is entitled -How to Live Well on Nothing a Year-

As always seems to happen in books published first in periodical form, the story does drag at times as the author pads out the story at whatever the payment per word was in those days. But I thoroughly enjoyed the book even although the characters are nearly all very flawed human beings. I think that they all have their moments when they know how ghastly their behaviour has been.

I suppose ‘society’ has always been full of social climbers but I couldn’t help thinking that Beccy Sharp reminded me of Emma, Lady Hamilton, who behaved in very much the same way.

Although according to a very interesting book (if you are into that era) which I read a few years ago, Nelson’s Women by the historian Tom Pocock, Emma Hamilton had almost certainly been a very lowly prostitute before her climb up into high society and many people at the time couldn’t understand Nelson’s fascination with her.

I digress. Don’t be put off by the 878 pages of Vanity Fair. It’s definitely worth ploughing through.