Monday, January 18, 2016

23.12.69 - clothes, Christmas shopping and Ben-Hur in 70mm

Dear Mum, just a note to let you know all your recent parcels and letters have arrived safely, and to let you know as well that I now realise why I am a less than thrifty person. I’ve obviously inherited it from you. Fancy sending so much money! Next time I hear from you the address will no doubt be The Poorhouse. I was sort of thinking in terms of maybe two or three quid with which, as I said, I could buy a book. With this lot I’ll be able to start a library! No, actually, as you say, I’ll get me some clothes. I was thinking of a suit, but I really think some sort of sports clothes would be better. A coat and pants anyway. I seem to have a fair few shirts, and other odds and ends. My present pair of pants are wearing very well, though naturally the pockets aren’t too happy.
Did I ever tell you I’d altered the crease on them? They used to drive me mad, because when the tailors had altered them originally the leg crease went towards the centre making me look as though I was bandy-legged! You can barely see the original crease now, and my own creasing is ‘permanent’ apparently.
The other blue trousers I brought with me just don’t fit anymore ˗ I lost so much pudding round the middle that they won’t stay up. Anyway, they are going very thin at the knees. Do you remember the pair I bought just before I came away? They were very trendy (!) and had flared leg-bottoms (?) They seem too long actually, so one of these days I’ll take them up an inch or two and they’ll look quite normal. I’ve also got thin enough for them to look ‘decent’ as well, though all your young men here wear hip-fitting trousers. (They’re a bit of a curse, really; you can’t get your hands into the pockets, let alone carry anything in them. It looks as though you’re malformed!)
My sports coat is lasting well, of course, but the right sleeve cuff has worn away entirely and is a bit of an embarrassment. I don’t quite know what to do to repair it. Any suggestions?
The fudge, by the way, arrived some time ago, did I say?, and has gone the way of all your superb fudge ˗ and not even all into my mouth either.
As usual I left all my Christmas shopping till the last ˗ and on Saturday went along Oxford St to see what I could see. (Nothing but the best for Crowl’s recipients.) But in spite of the most wide selection of stuff imaginable it was very difficult to decide what to get, and I finished up with nothing. However, yesterday (Monday) I set out again with firmer intentions and more idea ˗ I’d had no clue as to what I would get anyone on Saturday ˗ and wound up with a pair of cups for Reg and Mavis (glass cups with copper holders; I’d wanted something copper for them ˗ and they already have everything!), a modern type of brooch for Margaret, and an Indian scarf for Nina. I was originally going to get Margaret the scarf, and to get some serviette rings for R and M (they use them all the time) but my plans got changed as I went along. I got Mike a record, as I’m going to his place for dinner, and Kathy (Tither) I’m going to give a copy of Zorba the Greek that Marilyn sent me ˗ after I’d bought my own. Or does that seem mean? But I don’t see the point of it hanging around doing nothing.
The amount of jewellery that is around is incredible. Lots of it is very cheap (well, above a pound, but under three) and very individual and very attractive. The trendy people these days are wearing about three rings on each hand (!) and so the variety is enormous. And they do such interesting things to make jewellery. I saw one shop where they had butterfly wings (an incredibly vivid blue) encased in gold surrounds, and another shop where sea plants had been enamelled and coppered, etc. And the variety of colour of jewels, whatever they are, is dazzling. Of course if you’re well off, in London, and like lots of ‘trinkets’, you can have a fabulous time. I have a fabulous time, just shop-window-gazing.
In Burlington Arcade, for example, or in White’s (?) Galleries (an old cinema, I think, now filled with tiny one room shops) [I can't identify this place.]. The pendant I sent you (and which I hope arrived), is a goldstone ˗ from Indonesia, I think the girl said. It’s about as small as pendants come just now ˗ I’m presuming your taste hasn’t altered that much ˗ because the average one is three or four times as large, clustered around with trimmings, and even with little bells in some cases.
I actually quite enjoy Christmas shopping ˗ it isn’t only the wares that are varied; the people are an incredibly fascinating mixture, and just as interesting. And I like wrapping up things too ˗ though last year was a bit of a mess, and not the most pleasant Christmas I’ve ever spent.
Margaret’s brooch is the shape of a flat orange-quarter, with an enamel content, but with an abstract painting on it, somehow varnished in. Sounds a bit weird, but it’s rather attractive. I thought of lots of things I could get the Crowls, but they wouldn’t go with their house. I found an old typewriter ribbon case for the brooch and padded it out with tissue paper left over my cold! I must have picked up some of the Hannagan ingenuity after all.
Since I started this letter I’ve made 30/-; Pete Lyon rang me up the other day to get me to do some coaching, today. And I went to a trade showing of Ben-Hur (back, in 70mm) on Sunday (!) morning with Trevor Neilsen from work [he was the Australian manager I’d mentioned previously]; I found a lot of it quite moving, though I hadn’t remembered enjoying it much the first time. It’s still very much a Hollywood piece and a lot of it is a bit rubbishy. The 70mm process is often disconcerting: hills sloping off at the side of the film turn out not to be hills, and the sea bends! Ships coming at each other in one scene from the sides of the shot are coming uphill at each other!!

Love Mike, and Happy New Year!