11 February 2011

my dear Cassandra...

When I read that Cassandra Austen burned most of the letters she received from her sister Jane, I was distraught - how could Cassandra do such a thing? To destroy the words of one of the English speaking world's greatest prose writers seemed unforgivable.

Then when I watched the BBC telemovie 'Miss Austen Regrets' I saw the intense relationship between the sisters - even though Cassandra is off-screen for most of the drama - and could understand why she might want to destroy those reminders of her sister, who she'd never see again, never receive a letter from again.

The intensity of feeling between Elinor and Marianne Dashwood is, I imagine, based on the closeness between Cassandra and Jane Austen. However similar or different they might be, they meant so much to each other, no other friend or family member could replace that trust and intimacy of spirit.

I'd sort of watched 'Miss Austen Regrets' a year or more ago, but skipped in and out of it while - I can't remember - channel flicking, or Facebooking, or ringing my mum... The main things that struck me that time were how well suited Olivia Williams and Greta Scacchi were to play sisters,

and how much Imogen Poots, the actress who plays their niece Fanny Knight, looks like Our Cassandra - Australian author Cassandra Golds.

This time around I also realised that both Williams and Scacchi had previously been in adaptations of Emma -

Olivia Williams played Jane Fairfax in the 1996 BBC version of Emma

and Greta Scacchi played Miss Taylor/Mrs Weston in Douglas McGrath's film of the same year.

(A film better known as Gwyneth Paltrow's Emma, although I think Paltrow and Toni Collette would've been better cast in each other's roles - not that Collette wasn't great as Harriet Smith, but she would've made a better Emma than Paltrow did).

That film was also the one with beautiful, talented Ewen McGregor looking hideous as the dashing Frank Churchill in a dreadful wig, which was needed cos his hair was still very short from playing Renton in Trainspotting.

And in a lovely coincidence, Ewan McGregor was later in a film called Cassandra's Dream

These images are of course all copyright the owners - presumably the BBC and the relevant film studios. I mean no infringement of copyright; I am not profiting from the use of these images, and will happily remove them if required to do so by the owners.

08 February 2011

the chair in the park

I've just watched two eps of Bones on telly, one last night, one tonight, so I'm using a Bones-style title for this post.

I loved that the ep screened on Channel 7 tonight had a character called Harriet, who was in industrial espionage - Harriet the Spy :-D

so the chair was sitting under some lovely big gum trees (will get photo of them next time) in the park where I go to feed the street cats. there are a couple of park benches installed by the local council, but this was a dining chair, with nice red patterned fabric on the seat. it came in very handy when I decided that if Lenny wasn't going to come to the food, then I'd take the food to Lenny.

after going to the optometrist for a check-up, and buying groceries at the supermarket at the end of the street, I went back to my car to stash the groceries and pick up the catfood that I'd brought from home - 3 sachets and a tin of fish/meat/chicken, a box of dry food/biscuits, and several containers that had had muffins in them, which make good dishes for the food and milk.

Smoky was waiting under my car - I know she and the others of her family that are still around do recognise me as someone who will feed them and not hurt them, but that's the first time I've thought she recognised my car, presumably by smell. they know me by sight, and know my voice when I call 'puss, puss, puss', but my car looks just like every other little red Hyundai, so it must be the smell of my cats that Smoky recognised (if she did - it could've been coincidence, cos they do sit under other cars sometimes, and I'd parked near where they usually hang out).

oh, this was meant to be a shorter post! I do ramble on, sorry. hopefully either you skipped the previous paragraph, or you find speculations about animal intelligence/memory/senses as interesting as I do.

before I put food out for Smoky, I called 'puss, puss', hoping Sandy and the others would turn up. No one else showed, so I left Smoky eating and went to the house where Sandy had raised her kittens from 3 weeks to 7 weeks.
there used to be some very friendly Korean guys living there, who put food out for Sandy & her babies (but weren't too keen on any of the other street cats, and were a bit hostile to Lenny).

now there are different guys living there, who are generally unsympathetic to all the street cats, and very hostile to any that they find in their vegie garden, which they put a lot of work into.
Two of the guys were sitting in the backyard smoking & chatting; I greeted them and asked if there were any cats around, and they said no, quite emphatically, so I went back to the park.

I stood guard while Smoky ate, smiling at passers by, chatting with ones who seemed friendly, and wishing them a happy new year if they looked like they might be Chinese, Korean, or Vietnamese. After Smoky'd had most of a sachet, some dry food & milk, and was washing her face, I heard a tom caterwauling at the other end of the park, so I went calling, hoping it might be Lenny.

no sign of the tom, but Sandy appeared, meowing loudly back to me, so I was able to smooch with her and give her food too. after she'd eaten, and was washing her face, Tabby leapt over the fence from the front yard of the jungle house, so she, like her sisters, had most of a sachet, some dry food & some milk (and Sandy & Smoky had a bit more wet food, so they wouldn't try and steal Tabby's).

then I realised that Lenny was sitting on a wooden frame covered in shade cloth, in the backyard of the jungle house, overlooking the park. he was obviously keen to get some food, but too wary of me, and the frequent passers-by, to come down into the park. I put the last of the third sachet of wet food, and some dry food, into one of the muffin-tray lids, and, standing on tiptoes and hanging onto the fence for balance, managed to push it up onto the shadecloth a metre or so away from Lenny. he did retreat while I was doing that, but the lovely stinky fishy food drew him back, and once I'd backed off, he tucked in.

meanwhile, Sandy and I played and smooched, Tabby and Smoky sat and watched, and I chatted to passers-by. one woman stopped and took photos of them with her phone. another admired the cats, Smoky particularly, and I told her about their history. she said she'd like to adopt one, but only if they were friendly. I said that there was a young cat who was quite friendly, who I might be able to socialise enough that she could be adopted - I showed the woman a photo of Ember on my phone.

shortly after the woman continued on her way, I saw Ember, crossing the road from the jungle house, heading away from the park. I called, and she came (once she realised who I was) and I opened the tin catfood, thinking I probably would have to take some of it home, as Sandy & her sisters all seemed satisfied, and Lenny wasn't coming down to eat.

however, the sound of the tin opening, and the smell of the jellymeat, got everyone interested again, so I gave plenty to Ember, while doling out spoonfuls to Sandy, Smoky and Tabby, who did quite well at fitting in some more. Lenny came right to the edge of the shadecloth frame and looked so plaintive that I decided to give him some more dry & tinned food, and to try & give him some milk. that's when I spotted the upholstered chair sitting under the trees a little distance away.

I dished up portions of wet & dry food into three cups of a muffin tray and poured some milk into the fourth, made sure the chair was propped firmly against the fence, and clambered up carefully, putting my weight only on the edges of the chair-frame, as the seat itself seemed pretty dodgy. Lenny fled, but I put the muffin tray carefully in the area he'd been sitting in, then moved myself and the chair a good distance away. the four girls by now had finished eating, Ember tried to smooch with Sandy, who smacked her, and Smoky & Tabby decided to sit under or next to the chair.

it was so good to see Lenny cautiously approach the muffin tray and eat some more - he was so absorbed in scoffing food that I was able to take a couple of photos, and once he'd eaten, and I'd not made any attempt to grab him, he relaxed enough to come and sit right at the edge and observe Sandy and me playing chaseys with long twigs from the gum trees.