FALLING FOR PETER EGAN
M O N D A Y, 1 1 D E C E M B E R
English was double poetry – very interesting. Mrs Huggett talked about the similarities between scientists and poets.
Mummy, Granny and Grandpa picked us up from school. Grandma was in a good mood for her birthday - thank goodness! And I’m very relieved – the doctor said Mummy’s dreadful back is just rheumatism. Changed into my new black dress, matching shoes and bunches in black ribbons, and at quarter to six we left for the Yvonne Arnaud. First had a lovely supper in the theatre restaurant (prawn-stuffed tomatoes, roast duck and mince pies) then at 7.45 ‘Ordeal by Marriage’ began. It was marvellous. There was only one scene: a Victorian living-room. It was all about Ruskin, the 19th-century architectural critic, his wife Effie, and the artist Millais. But whereas in Beatrix Potter’s Diary Millais is about 55, in this play he’s about 25.
I suddenly realized he was the dandy in An Italian Straw Hat! He’s now let his hair grow and he was wearing velvety 1840-ish clothes - just like mod types wear today!
The story is true. Ruskin loves his wife but is very cold towards her, and she falls in love with his friend, the up-and-coming Millais. The other characters are Ruskin’s parents who are terribly Victorian and foully puritanical (especially the mother), the butler Thomas who looks like Rosko, and the hilarious and marvellous maid. The poor thing was in a terrible state because she was pregnant, and the chap who’d done it was the 16-year-old boot boy. Effie herself was absolutely sweet, she put on a marvellous Scottish accent and she had lovely clothes. While Ruskin and his parents were disgusted with the maid, Effie felt terribly sorry for her. I felt terribly sorry for Effie living in such a beastly Victorian time.
Once it was so dreadfully embarrassing. Effie came on in her nightgown and Granny whispered “Marks & Sparks” - the whole audience heard!!!
I have completely fallen for Peter Egan. I even feel like writing him a fan-letter.