I could have gone on. I enjoy going on here about whatever comes to my ears or opens my mind’s eye; and even the realization that too much else is going on to warrant such going-ons generally won’t stop me from sharing it all in this journal. What did stop me (from going on about my recent trip to Prague, I mean) was our phone line, which is just as unpredictable as the Welsh weather—and apparently under it whenever it gets wet. Once again, we have been without phone or internet, owing to wires that seem to have been gnawed at by soggy sheep or are otherwise rotting away where the valley is green with mold.
What with our satellite TV on strike as well and my partner away overnight, it has been quiet here in our Welsh cottage. Just Montague and I (and an academic paper on pottery and communism I had agreed to edit some time ago). Listening to the blustery wind, the mailbox flapping in it with nothing for me in it, and the dog barking at it just made me feel all the more cut off from the world, as if being around had been postponed because of rain.
Anyway. That was yesterday. In the meantime, life has returned to the old cottage. I got to hear from a former colleague who happened to Google me after over a decade of silence; thank a friend for returning me to Prague by recommending The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, the first chapter of which I read today, and was presented with this set of Ross Filmsterne, miniature photographs of my favorite leading lady, Ms. Claudette Colbert. I thought I’d spread them out here before adding them to my Colbert page. And I thought I’d share as well (and for once) just how much glad I am to be in the presence of the slyly (mis)leading man who came home and surprised me with those pictures today.
Now, had I been online yesterday, I might have noted the minor anniversary of Ms. Colbert’s participation in an all-star promotional broadcast titled “Movietime, USA,” a Lux Radio Theater special aired on 24 September 1951, ostensibly designed to commemorate the opening of a movie theater in downtown Los Angeles some fifty years earlier.
“Movietime, USA” features Colbert and co-star Ann Blyth in a scene from Douglas Sirk’s Thunder on the Hill, which had its premiere that month. Producer-host William Keighley sets the scene, which contains one of my favorite lines in movie melodrama:
This is England. The countryside near the North Sea. For two days now, an angry flood has engulfed the lowlands, and the villagers have fled to the only place of safety, the convent and hospital of Our Lady of Reims. Among the new arrivals are a woman and a girl . . .
That girl is rain-drenched Valerie Carns (Blyth), who doesn’t seem to care much about catching cold. When one of the nuns, Colbert’s Sister Mary, expresses her concern, the young woman explains that she was on her way to the gallows. She bursts out hysterically: “Can you see the notices. Hanging postponed . . . because of rain!” Never mind that some folks just can’t seem to find that proverbial silver lining. I settle for a working phone line.