The Day After
I was walking down Portobello Road and a Muslim stallholder offered me a sample from her scent stall. I would have refused anyway, but on that Saturday morning,the morning after , my thought was that it would smell of blood. Unreasonable? , probably. Natural?, certainly. When football fans wreak havoc their club is held responsible. Why not a similar rule for religions. When you are threatened reason doesn’t come into it, emotion does.
Later that day I crossed Hungerford Bridge on my way to the National Theatre to see Jane Eyre. This walk offers one of London’s great sights. The City lit up, eternal St Pauls, the new sky line, the other bridges, the royal Thames. That evening even more moving as the National Theatre,The London Eye,the Maxi Cinema and round the corner Tower Bridge were illuminated red, white and blue,the colours of the tricolour. Official London was showing its sympathy with the tragedy experienced by its fragrant cousin, Paris.
And so onto the show Jane Eyre. Life goes on,let others talk about death cults and the rest. First a great show which brought music, dance and laughter,not to mention brilliant staging, into one of the most gothic and successful of novels. There is a reason that so many films and TV series have been made of this love story. On the surface as one web site summarised,its about a “ mousy governess who softens the heart of her employer and soon discovers that he’s hiding a terrible secret”. But it’s a great story with twists and turns, as all good love stories must have; boy meets girl and lives happily ever after, only happens in TV ads for banks.
For an Anglican the wedding interruption in the Jane Eyre makes our service. Rochester’s brother in law disrupting their marriage adds a drama to every church wedding. Supposing someone pipes up. Mrs Rochester, mad in the attic, is the epitome of the gothic nightmare.
But the attraction of two unattractive people with horrendous baggage finding happiness is universal. What boorish man does not feel that somewhere some lady will see the real him . What dull woman does not think that somewhere a man will see the angel beneath the bad skin. What successful couple does not think that the other besides all the evidence is the most handsome person on the planet.
And now we know because of the recently published biography by Claire Harman, that Charlotte Bronte’s inspiration was all to do with her unrequited crush on her French teacher in the Belgium boarding school she was sent to in 1843. Her letters declaring her thoughts and fantasies were kept, but sensibly the older man did not reply. What plain Jane has not had a crush on a relatively glamorous teacher? She wrote Jane Eyre on her return in 1846, Charlotte went onto marry a vicar and die in child birth. For a moment one forgot the real life drama in Paris.