Odd’s fish, m’dear…

… (as Sir Percy Blakeney would say), an old love has been reignited!

A while back I did this 10 days, 10 fictional crushes challenge and on the 11th day I wrote an addendum of extra crushes. One of them was Sir Percy Blakeney from The Scarlet Pimpernel (as pictured above) and the other was Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited, both portrayed by Anthony Andrews. “Ha!” I thought to myself after I had posted that, “I haven’t watched those two adaptations in ages, let me go and watch them again!” And so I did. I went down a rabbit hole again and I’ve been there with Anthony Andrews ever since…

When I re-watched Brideshead I didn’t watch all of it, as it is quite depressing, but just the Sebastian bits. Anthony Andrews slipping away into despair and an addiction is quite heartbreaking to watch. I first saw Brideshead in 1988 while studying for my school finals and I remembered I had written about that in my diary at the time. I looked it up, and boy did I write a lot! It’s a lot to read, but I will copy and paste it here anyway.

A little background to the diary entry: the last two years of high school I went to an international boarding school in The Netherlands. My school building was an old castle…

I vividly remember such a beautiful misty view of the castle on some mornings when I walked to the castle for breakfast. I lived in a building next to the old coach house, together with 4 other girls and our ‘house mother’, an elderly lady in her late 50s who was also the school nurse. The red arrow in the picture below points to the building I boarded in (it was known as the Blokhut), the little red square is where my room was…

So, back to the diary… this is what I wrote on Friday, April 29th, 1988. I was only just 18 and was supposed to be studying for my German International Baccalaureate final exam…

I just watched the second part of Brideshead Revisited with Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons. I think Anthony Andrews is one of the best actors ever. The first time I thought that was when last year I saw him in The Scarlet Pimpernel.

[Note: looked it up, found the mention in the summer of 1987. I only saw part of Pimpernel because I had missed the beginning.]

I hadn’t even planned to watch that but then I did and I was fascinated. Same thing with Brideshead. I didn’t know what to expect but I love it.

I was thinking about Sebastian Flyte, the character Anthony Andrews acts. It is so heart wrenching to see him become a serious alcoholic. To me, Sebastian seems a character who is trapped by his rich family, always feeling he is somehow in their shadow. In part 1 of Brideshead he told his friend Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons) that he didn’t want him to meet his family because they are all so very charming. He prefers having Charles to himself. In today’s part Charles, who is the narrator of the story, said something like the closer he got to Sebastian’s family the more distant Sebastian became. Sebastian didn’t share his solitude with him anymore, he remarks at one point. It seems to me that Sebastian needs someone who he can have completely to himself, someone who would never become involved with his family, someone who would stay kind but distant. It’s as if he never had something he truly called his own. Maybe that explains his attachment to his teddy bear Aloysius. Thinking of it, Aloyisius played a far bigger role in part 1 than in part 2. The last image of today’s part is that of Sebastian sitting crouched in his windowsill, hugging his legs, a coat around his shoulders, the room all messy, telling Charles who is knocking on the door to go away and leave him alone. It makes you want to go up to Sebastian and hug him and tell him all is fine. I find Sebastian more intriguing than Charles. Well, maybe I am prejudiced because I prefer Andrews as an actor to Irons. Both are actually portraying very interesting men, Sebastian is however more complicated than Charles. There is somehow a mysterious air surrounding Sebastian. I wonder how Andrews can portray so many different expressions. It all seems to be so natural. Sometimes I catch myself thinking, “this must be for real, this can’t be acted.” I find it amazing.

Wow! Just now I realized that I wrote practically 3 pages about this [Note: pages quite small and handwriting quite large]. Didn’t realize I have so much to write about this.

Tomorrow, at 11, I have my IB German oral exam. The final exam. It’s now 10:15 pm. I think I’d better get back to work.

I was just thinking about the nurse. At the moment I’m all alone in the Blokhut.  She is mothering me. It gets on my nerves but I guess it’s the thought that counts. [Note: a paragraph on the nurse being annoying follows].

I guess I have to get back to work but I keep on thinking about Sebastian, trying to analyze and understand him better, wishing someone would understand him so that person could help him out and give him what he needs. I’m sure there are a lot of people like him. He seems to cover up so much hurt and jealousy, jealousy of his far too charming family (as he thinks – personally, I prefer him to any members of his family, but then of his family, he’s the one we get to know the most of.)

This is going to be a pensive night, confusing Sebastian and the German books. Confusing reminds me of a dream I had last night that scared the shit out of me. [Note: long description follows of terrifying dream that I actually still remember clearly to this day].

I have this strange melancholic feeling. I’m going to sleep. I can manage finishing the rest of my stuff tomorrow morning. I know myself, I’ll reproach myself for not having done more work (as usual) and I’ll panic. Maybe I’ll even have an uneasy night. I tell myself that, because I didn’t study the “life and civilization” part of the German oral, I’ll fuck up the whole thing. [Note: long paragraphs follow about getting good grades despite not working too hard and feeling like I’m therefore ‘smuggling’ my way through school – not working enough for school is like Sebastian as well, by the way].

Do you know what? Actually I have lost track of what point I’m trying to get across. I didn’t even plan to write about all this. All I wanted to write about was Sebastian. Sebastian put me in a melancholic mood, in melancholic moods I think of the past and then discover strange ideas. Actually it feels good to write it all down.

Heavens, this is a lot. The last time I wrote this much probably was at some point where I poured out all my unhappy love for J. Help, I almost forgot about him. You know, now I really feel like laughing. It almost seems misplaced to mention J., so I won’t mention him.  [Note: a paragraph about my weird mood follows].

Do you know what I was thinking today? I don’t think the perfect partner for a human being exists. All this stuff about being born for each other and made for each other is crap, bullshit. I don’t believe there could be anybody who would be solely and wholly right for me. There is no such thing as a perfect match. My, my, aren’t we being philosophical this evening – I blame it on Sebastian, my love.

It’s 11:20 pm . Bedtime.

Before I write much more I’m forcing myself to stop. While writing this I keep on pronouncing all the words in a British accent in my mind, so unlike my real way of speaking. Again to blame on Brideshead Revisited, I assume. I even have the feeling that I’m expressing myself more elegantly than usual, is that not so? “Oh, jolly British, aren’t we?”, “A cup of tea?”, “No thank you very much.”, “How do you do?”, “How do you do?”, “The lady is in the library, sir.”, “Oh, I do think you should stop laughing, James”.

What’s gotten into me? Heaven knows. I’m feeling far more jolly now then I have in the past few weeks. Somehow more content. I wouldn’t say ecstatically happy. Oh, I really don’t seem to be able to get to bed. If I continue like this I won’t be able to get up at 8:30 am. I already have so much trouble getting up lately. I still sound British don’t I?

Genug! Sense! Finito! Goodnight.

There ends the diary entry. The next day’s German oral went well (I got top marks for my German finals), but Sebastian was still churning around in my head…

And I know why Sebastian appealed to me so much. He feels like a fraud and like he’s the least interesting person in the family, just like I did. l even wrote about it once, how my family seemed more interesting than me, around the time I also mentioned The Scarlet Pimpernel. Part of my diary entry on Wednesday, July 22nd, 1987:

(Conference is about the yearly international conferences my father used to organize and we, his children, used to help out and were ‘famous’ to the 300 or so international conference participants).

Like Sebastian, I too used to get annoyed with some of my friends who would end up crushing on one of my brothers. I remember that happening in at least four cases with four different girls who came to my house. The worst one was a girlfirend who came home with me for spring break and ended up virtually stuffing her boobs into my oldest brother’s face. The friendship soon ended. Sebastian was also all about Catholic guilt, but that was something I identified less with.

While I could understand where Sebastian was coming from, I luckily never developed addictions like he did. I always wished that I could have saved him. Anthony Andrews was so good at portraying these kinds of emotions in Sebastian Flyte, that even now, 32 years after first seeing it, I still feel a great affinity with him and I still feel like Andrews did a phenomenal job.

Let me end with a final diary entry on Anthony Andrews, written on Sunday, May 22nd, 1988:

Saw Greg Peck last night on the BBC in The Guns of Navarone. Strangely enough he still is my favourite actor. Anthony Andrews belongs to that category now too. I find it breathtaking to see how he can fascinate by making a character come to life. He is a superb actor. He’d make the most lousy and strangest character seem credible.

Somewhere in time the love ebbed away somewhat, but I am now (re-)watching all kinds of Anthony Andrews work and I have to say that, despite a whole lot of dud film and TV projects, the actor still is really good.

Work at home pictures

After no-motivation Monday, work from home has been going better. Mr Esther was working like this, this morning, during a very long video conference call…

And this is me working at the dinner table. Wasn’t going to share this image at first because of the double chin, but then figured if I share Mr Esther so openly, I can’t really justify not honestly sharing myself…

Used my lunch break and an hour after work to finish watching season 3 of the really enjoyable The Syndicate (from 2015) with Anthony Andrews (I’m reliving my youth in a renewed full on Anthony Andrews crush) and there’s a working at home image of him as well in The Syndicate!

I feel in good company here, sandwiched in this post between Mr Esther and Anthony. Only one more working day and then the weekend is here. Dinner is served now, I’m off!

Counteracting prejudice with movies

I saw this tweet late this afternoon and read the little article behind it…

… and it has made me feel completely sick! That comment about Jews, I will not repeat it here (don’t want those words on my blog) but I didn’t understand it at first. I’d never heard it before so I stared at it for a few seconds. Then it dawned on me what it was supposed to signify and I felt a punch in the gut, tears springing to my eyes. I literally couldn’t believe that such a cruel term existed! How disrespectful and hateful can someone be? How can anyone refer to survivors of the Holocaust like that? I just cannot wrap my head around such an awful comment. Ever since that antisemitic rant of that actor (he is also not worth mentioning) I have cringed at his name. Being drunk doesn’t excuse racist behaviour, it just exposes what is ingrained in a person. And that comment about gay people… wow… how can such a thing be said, even in jest?!?

Just before I read that I also read today (thank you Guylty for premiering the news for me!) that Richard Armitage will be making an LGBTQ+ movie called “Now and Then”. The article says it’s about: “Laura, in her 60s and Chris, her gay, middle-aged son, are forced to undertake an exploration of their past mistakes and regrets to try and make sense of their present condition and their relationship with each other. To find peace with now, it’s necessary for them to make peace with then.” Richard says it’s a role that resonates strongly with him (I would love to hear him speak more about that) and it sounds like a story with great potential. I’m really excited for this one!

We need movies like that to counteract the prejudice voiced by people like in the article above. We need more movies about antisemitism (that are not solely related to the Holocaust). Gregory Peck once made a good one in 1947 called Gentleman’s Agreement that may be a bit dated, yet still rings true today. It’s about a journalist who has to write a piece about antisemitism and to do so poses as a Jewish man for a few months…

In more recent years, we’ve also been getting some really good LGBTQ movies that have made it big, like the Moonlight movie last year that I loved about a young black man struggling with being gay, told during three key times in his life…

… and The Imitation Game about World War II code breaker Alan Turing who had experienced the necessity and cruelty of hiding that he was gay…

… and the movie Colin Firth made a decade ago called A Single Man about a college professor in 1962 wanting to kill himself after his boyfriend dies.

For Colin, this meant his first Oscar nomination and a turning point in his career when finally much better roles started coming his way again. I hope something like this will happen for Richard too, that this will be the door opening to other and better roles for him as well. Most importantly, though, this movie is a great thing in the fight against prejudice! The arts are so important…

Popping up with Richard

I’m a bad Armitage fan right now. Still haven’t gotten up the courage to see My Zoe yet and I admit to not minding so much that Richard is relatively quiet on social media. So much happening on social media these days that it gets exhausting to follow and him not being around so much is almost bliss – one less thing to occupy my mind with. Now Richard has popped up again and this time it’s not someting I want to ignore, so here I am, popping up as well with a blog post.

So, Richard Armitage is now promoting again, this time the audiobook of selected Chekhov tales he is reading. Yeah, really not interested in another audio book, but I do like seeing a new picture of our Richie again…

The image was used in a recent NME interview called “The Soundtrack of my Life” which was published yesterday. Not too revealing an article but a fun enough read.

He really is of my generation with his Abba and Eurythmics and Queen memories/choices. Imogen Heap I have heard of by name, listening to that song he shared I don’t think I need to hear more, it’s not for me. His Tina Turner story intrigued me as I remember wanting to go and see her as well during that tour but although I liked Tina Turner I was never a real fan and in the end felt it was too expensive. I thought I’d check the tour dates to see when Armitage would have been in Amsterdam to see her but according to Wikipedia she did her Dutch concerts in Arnhem not Amsterdam! Memory is a tricky thing, even for Richards. Maybe he stayed in Amsterdam, which is about an hour and a half away (or a little less) from Arnhem. That last video he shared of that Icelandic band’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest was awesome. I had seen part of it before, never the whole thing, and it just cracked me up.

Then yesterday evening another item appeared about Richard being in an Empire podcast. My brother had come by unexpectedly, so I chose him and a nice cheese evening instead of the podcast…

Richard still wasn’t a priority during the day today when I decided to spend it finally finishing my Audrey Hepburn in World War II book (post on that will be forthcoming). This evening after dinner I finally did make some time and listened to the podcast. I skipped ahead till I got to the Richard bit at 1 hour and 10 minutes.

So, the man is in New York. Lots of audiobook and Chekhov talk that were mildly interesting to me (I’m sorry, I just can not get hyped up about audiobooks!). I liked the latter part of the interview better when chat turned to other things. I really liked that little stage door story of when he realized that Toby Jones had played Dobby the house elf. Until this evening I too hadn’t realized that Toby had played Dobby.

I could identify with the getting fat and grey at 50 comment, because that’s what’s going on with me, but I somehow don’t think that will happen with him just yet. He commented on being semi-introverted and slightly anti-social, so that going into lockdown was alright for him (alone I wonder?) and with that too I can identify. He mentioned about staying off social media (yeah, noticed that) but that it was maybe time to come out of hiding now. The tombstone epitaph that he thinks would be fitting for him saying, “He was fully committed” – yeah, I can see that too. There wasn’t that much new in this interview but it was nice hearing him speak again.

A nice little Armitage distraction, but now it’s back to other things again for the rest of the evening, here in our garden with a little outside fire burning and a glass of white wine. The son is out, the daughter is watching a movie in her room, the husband is reading and I am tryping this…

… while I listen to the two little hedgehogs that live in our garden waking up and moving around in the undergrowth. Mr Esther was able to take a picture of them 3 days ago…

I think I may go back to Anthony Andrews land again when I sign off here. Been in that land for a little while now, ever since I posted about him in that fictional crush challenge I did…

… or I may pick up another book again. Needs to be a good one because I had quite some frustration with the Audrey Hepburn one and I don’t want to be frustrated again. Enough chat for now. Over and out

Fictional crush challenge addendum

I just finished my 10 days, 10 fictional crushes challenge yesterday but as I am someone who develops crushes all the time, I decided on a bonus edition. So, here are some images of other fictional crushes that I’ve had that didn’t make it into the 10 days. This time I’m sticking to few or no explanations, as was originally intended.

Let me start with a daddy crush on Charles Ingalls/Pa (Michael Landon) in Little House on the Prairie

Gilbert Blythe (Jonathan Crombie) from Anne of Green Gables from when I was a teen.

I also really like Anne with an E‘s Gilbert (Lucas Zumann)…

…but he’s the age of my son, so it’s more like a mommy-crush. I keep on wanting to take care of him because he is an orphan and I keep on wanting him to be happy with his girl. I made a ton of Anne with an E (and Gilbert) videos, viewable here.

Joe Bradley (Gregory Peck) in Roman Holiday…

James McKay (also Gregory Peck) in The Big Country...

Captain Keith Mallory (Gregory Peck) in The Guns of Navarone

Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews) in Brideshead Revisited

Sir Percy Blakeney (also Anthony Andrews) in The Scarlet Pimpernel

Don Pedro (Denzel Washington) in Much Ado About Nothing. Beatrice should have accepted him…

Harry Kennedy (Richard Armitage) in The Vicar of Dibley

John Porter (Richard Armitage) in Strike Back….

Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) in The Hobbit

Neo (Keanu Reeves) in The Matrix

Alex Wyler (also Keanu Reeves) in The Lake House

Remington Steele (baby Pierce Brosnan) in the 1980s tv show of the same name…

Daniel Rafferty (Pierce Brosnan) in Laws of Attraction. For me, sexier than James Bond…

I made a couple of Pierce Brosnan videos for Remington Steele, Laws of Attraction and Love is all you need, to be seen here if you’re so inclined.

Not normally a Mr. Bingley fan but I love this Mr. Bingley (Naveen Andrews) for this scene in Bride and Prejudice. I can’t tell you how often I have seen this clip. This is the sexiest Bingley I know.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) from the Thor Avengers movies.

Doctor Lucien Blake (Craig McLachlan) from The Doctor Blake Mysteries. This is the only one on the list where I’m not so fond of the actor himself but I do really like the character and he does a great job bringing that character to life.

And finally, Sebastian Lacroix, or Bash, (Dalmar Abuzeid) from Anne with an E

OK, now this really is it and I am finally, truly ending this challenge. These were the honorary mentions; I’m probably missing a few more but it should still be enough.