Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Mrs. Dalloway and the Queen and Me
Mrs Dalloway said she'd buy the flowers herself.
I'm reading out Mrs. Dalloway from a free e-pub version online and watching a certain Youtube video, where a female dancer is shown pirouetting to the right or left depending on what part of the brain you are using. As a kind of mental five finger exercise in creativity.
I am writing out longhand a first clean draft of Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, the follow up to Threshold Girl as I have a slight injury to my cervical disks in my neck. Threshold Girl is about Canadian women in the 1910 era. It is Virginia Woolf who famously wrote that something changed dramatically in 1910.
I'm writing it out in a big fat Hilroy notebook, using one of those new gel pens that write so smooth. I feel so old-fashioned.
The first few pages were uncharacteristically neat. I didn't recognize my handwriting: it seemed a bit high school or even elementary school. I guess I still have some school girl in me. Like Mrs. D.
But now after 40 pages or so, I'm back to my sloppy, almost unintelligible chicken scratches.
Mrs. Dalloway and all the other shoppers on Bond Street that post WWI day see a mysterious limousine and everyone wonders who it is. The Queen? The Prime Minister? They all feel touched by some kind of magic. The ugly long war is over and they need some magic in their lives.
Reminds me of 1984. I was visiting friends in Toronto and going back to Kingston (where I was working in a TV Station)when I came face to face with Her Majesty.
It was odd though. A very Virginia Woolf moment.
Let me copy her style or try.
And Dorothy Nixon, working as a television operator in Kingson, a rather inept one, as she is a copywriter by profession, a radio copywriter, an English copywriter working up until recently in a province where English (good or bad) is not encouraged, no, not encouraged at all, drops her two heavy white fiberglass suitcases, right in the middle of Union Street, to give her tired hands a rest, and looks up to stare the Queen right in the face, the Old Lady, her Royal Highness whose limousine has just finished its long tour of the grey Toronto streets and has stopped but for a moment, as it readies itself to speed the beloved Monarch away, (no doubt keeping to a a meticulously planned schedule) but the Queen.her Majesty, Ye Olde Grrrl always the trooper, continues to wave, mechanically, distractedly, with a far away look in her glazed over eyes at this tired young Canadian woman, who is wearing a very used even ratty Muskrat coat she picked up at a thrift shop on St. Hubert. The girl wonders, Are thoughts of a young Albert Finney swimming in Her Majesty's queenly brain?and Dorothy knows that even if the Queen, Elizabeth Regina, is staring right at her, the Regal One is registering nothing but images of, perhaps, Tom Jones in tight pants. (She'd like to think so anyway.) Pity. And here she is, an ordinary middle class Canadian girl, by fate, by happenstance, on the feather-tip of history, for once in her life - her still young life, as it happens. At the very least she has bungled up someone`s meticulous plans by stopping right there right then in the middle of Toronto`s Union Street.
It is 1984 and Dorothy (who is named after her British grandmother hence the Victorian first name) still young and full of dreams and the Queen the same age as Dorothy is today, typing on her laptop, in bed, with an tiresome cervical disk problem (caused by old age, her son has told her and NOT from stooping over a laptop- so don't bug me) that provokes her husband (whom she met at said Kingston TV station, so all was not wasted) to come into the room and say, "You aren't supposed to be doing that." And she replies, "I'm just writing my blog and then I will stop."
I love Mrs. Dalloway, although my favorite is To the Lighthouse. But as I read Mrs. D this time I have more context. 1) I am older, like Mrs. Dalloway and 2) I know a lot about post WWI Britain, especially having recently read Juliet Nicholson's The Great Silence.