Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Must You Go?

"I offered him coffee. I actually gave him champagne. He stayed until six o’clock in the morning with extraordinary recklessness, but of course the real recklessness was mine."  
-- When Harold Met Antonia (from "Must You Go?" by Lady Antonia Fraser)

Proof that I'm an incurable romantic: Lady Antonia Fraser spoke at the Los Angeles Central Library last night, interviewed by Howard Rodman, who may be the best interviewer I've ever seen at the ALOUD series.  At 78, Fraser is still luminously beautiful, witty, erudite, charismatic, a humanist.  She is self-effacing as only the English upper class can be (wish I'd taken more notes on that.)  Had the whole evening been written as a play, it would not have set a foot wrong.  With a lightness, she spoke of her life with Harold Pinter (they met when she was 42 and were together for 33 years), enduring his illnesses and death, and how she always holds a piece of him with her.  Rodman recalled how the always brilliantly subversive Joe Frank, then his high school English teacher, took the whole class to see The Homecoming in 1967, at a time when students were being taken to see The Sound of Music or The Music Man,  and how it changed his life completely.  It was from that moment on that he knew he was a writer.  The whole night was enchanting, heart-beatingly so, and I drove home on the 101 amidst the city lights thinking about desire and destiny and the road not taken.

A few take-aways: 
bonhomous -- adj. full of cheerful friendliness.
a shop in Compton Marbling, Wiltshire
"the warp and woof of married life"
sanguine -- adj. cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident
 Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall
Pinter pauses: "what lays behind the silences?"

I have "Must You Go?" on my desk now. I've been reading it all night.

Julia Cameron talks about an artist date in her "The Artist's Way" and it is notable how an evening in the presence of a fine mind can bring out one's better self or at the very least a more generous way of looking at the world.

The Guardian review of "Must You Go?" is here.
Read an excerpt from the New York Times here.
UPDATE: You can listen to or download the podcast of this event here.


That's Not My Age said...

Sounds fantastic - I must get myself a copy of the book.

Sally Whittingham said...

Loved this account and it has certainly inspired me to buy the book- or maybe ask Santa for it. I love such stories of lifelong love affairs- also loved Sheila Hancock on her life with John Thaw. Both these women are an inspiring example of how women can age with grace.

Sharon Longworth said...

Lovely post - and like your others commenters, you've made me want to go out and buy the book.

AQ: said...

This is definitely on my to-read list, gonna Goodreads it now. Enjoyed your thoughts though!

Miss Whistle said...

@TNMA I don't think you'll regret it.

@Sally Thank you so much for your lovely, kind words. I hope that the podcast works in the UK (click on the link at the bottom of the post) and you can hear her for yourself. She was SO inspiring and gave one hope for love and longevity.

@Sharon It's good that Christmas is coming!

@AQ Thanks. I thought you might be a fellow romantic :-)

legend in his own lunchtime said...

She is quite a lady. I love Pinter's plays. The Homecoming was a turning point for me. I didn;t realize the power of the unspoken word until i had seen this. Pinter has colored my life in so many hues, I have lost track of my own.

tedsmum said...

Oh, that feeling when humanity has touched a chord and you feel alive in the world. Mustn't lose it......

kairu said...

After our conversation about Dalmatians on Twitter last night I wandered around a little bit and stumbled upon this post, which delighted me. I remember reading 'Must You Go' after attending a series of Harold Pinter readings here in Seattle. It was a grand way to experience the breadth of his body of work, which gained a sort of tenderness in the years he was with Antonia Fraser. It seems strange to describe Pinter as 'tender,' but there is a softness to the way his characters throw their verbal daggers at one another. The way only people who really know each other (or love each other, which isn't quite the same thing) can.