My Summer Holiday: I’m still in Ontario, about 3 hours’ drive north and west of Toronto, on a 50-acre property with a large pool, a forest, 2 Malamute dogs, and four brilliant women writers with whom I am humbly pleased to pass two days. Too content. It’s difficult to get worked up about anything when I am so blessed and pampered.

But I hear in my head the screams and cries of fellow human beings fleeing the horrible war-torn countries and I see the physical devastation caused by the bombs and destruction and I feel guilty and apologetic for being so blessed and fortunate, and yet I sit here and do NOTHING. And I apologise (again) for being so maudlin and useless. I live on the periphery of experience and on the outskirts of life and I indulge in twaddle. No excuse.

I remember reading what Jane Austen said after hearing reports of another battle (remember she lived during the Napoleonic wars): “So many thousands killed. How dreadful. And how glad I am that I know none of them.” Me too, I’m ashamed to say.

I remember when one of my children (my older daughter) had her appendix out. The day after surgery (slow by our standards today, but there were complications), she walked across her hospital room with difficulty and pain,and I shuddered in utter sympathy, feeling (?) her pain. Not exactly, of course, but so involved. It occurred to me then that if we were all caring, genuinely caring, human beings, we would feel that pain and that involvement with all other human beings, not just those who are related by blood.  And do something.

We’re all related by blood.

still blown away

I scarcely slept the night before last, still reeling and thinking about The James Plays. Lying in bed I was analysing the effects, noting the visual metaphors, recognising the factors that drove the characters and the plays, and the brilliant continuity. I was reviewing it/them, writing in my head all night, and then trying to figure out what to say on paper (well, not paper but you know what I mean). I realised that there's a lot I can’t say or comment on because it would be a collection of spoilers. Everything is so integrated: an object or a word, even a smlle or a glance in one scene, leads to a major turning point further on. It’s great writing but it’s also fine directing and superb acting.

Full disclosure: I love Scottish men. (Scotsmen?) (My husband was a Scot; born in Canada but from a long line of Scots.) The acting company of the Scottish National Theatre comprised a number of great looking - and acting - men. I loved them. The women were fine, too, especially Malin Crépin who played Queen Margaret in James III. And then we come back to the script(s), written by a woman (Rona Munro) with some meaty parts (that one, especially) for women.

I guess I can give you one example of visual metaphor, dramatic and superb, without giving anything away. In James I, there is a battle waged over and around the marriage bed, centre stage, on which James’s wife is giving birth. He actually leaps up and fights, standing on top of the bed (a four-poster with (very) strong supports). The action is exciting and the metaphor is all too clear. Again I say WOW.

I ordered the scripts and had a notice this morning that they are on their way to me.

So more anon.