from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Friday, 27 March 2015

Mr Mark(heart)RylanceCromwell

I've been rather tied up with wrestling into shape a big commission that has involved weeks of research, hence my absence from here. I'm not quite there yet, but it's now just a question of editing and especially getting out the word-scalpel. 

In between, it's been greenhouse-erection and seed-sowing time of year here in the tender climes of the South Hams; tending to geriatric and sick but improving dog; oh and doing masses of admin for a whole new swathe of courses this year - ahem, 10% discount applies till the end of April on my new ecosoul week retreat in France: And sorting out the new Brittany project.

Normal service will soon, etc. How I'm longing to go for a huge tramp, write a poem (if I can still remember how), turn my attention to the book of essays and the upcoming Islands of the Heart retreat on Iona.

Meantime, here are a few words from erstwhile flavour of the year, Mark Rylance. (I say 'erstwhile' as he seems to have been displaced in the English public's romantic imagination by whatsisname who plays whatsisname in Poldark). 

A confession (or maybe it's a boast) is that I have never had a TV until I moved in with The Man; and unaccustomed as I am (etc) it never occurs to me to watch it (though we do watch DVDs on it). Therefore I invariably miss the starts of series like 'Wolf Hall' (and 'Poldark'), and by the time I hear of them because everyone's raving about them it's too late to start. (Don't even mention attempting to watch them online – at the very best of times the price we pay for living out in the sticks is 0.5MB download speed. Yes, that's right. Add in rain, low cloud and the other 50 houses [or whatever] in the 8 miles of cable between us and the station all logging on at Popular Times, and there's no hope.)

Anyway, seems Mr Rylance was the wasp's knees as Thomas Cromwell in 'Wolf Hall'. 

Here's another small boast: Mark Rylance contacted me once, way back last century, when he was Artistic Director of the Globe. Turned out he'd read my book on myth, the psyche and the Grail quest, Riding the Dragon, and was currently exploring, a la Robert Bly (don't know where that 'a' accent is on my Mac keyboard – anyone?) notions of kingship in the archetypal sense, in the psyche. He wanted to bring women and queenship into it, and in my brief starburst moment it looked like I might have been The One to do that. 


It never happened.

But I have retained a huge fondness for the man, entirely reinforced by an article by Catherine Shoard in The Guardian's G2 on 16.03.2015, read on the long and lovely sea crossing back from Brittany (on which, you might remember, we watched dolphins leaping in the bow-wave. In between being entranced by them, and enticed by the very good onboard food, I was adolescently seduced all over again by said man.)

There's a passage from the article I want to quote. He was speaking of the prescience of some of the text of 'Wolf Hall'; in particular the beheadings and immolations of that epoch, echoed in our own. He makes the point, not original but maybe still relevant, that the barbarities of Tudor times happened 'in the 15th century of Christianity and my understanding is that we're in the 15th century of Islam.' 

At that time, he notes, Europe went through a long period of sectarianism, like Islam today. 'We, of course,' he adds, 'didn't have the Americans and the English bombing the hell out of us, and poisoning our children for [the next] 50,000 years with depleted uranium. I can't believe even in The Guardian people ask the questions "Where did Isis come from?" "How did this happen?" "Why do young Muslim women go off to join them?" Maybe because we've been degrading their people since 1917. Maybe their teenage years are a little bit more stressed than that of Christianity.'

Hear hear, Mr Rylance. Well said.

Now, about that queenship...


  1. Well! Only thing I/we can say is: a case of the great being touched by the great. (And I hope that doesn't sound sycophantic – it's not meant to be!)
    Quite agree, of course, having been glued to him throughout Wolf Hall. Have you read the books, btw? Much better than the TV, I think, though still riveting. Maybe it's wrong to try to compare them. All the time I read the books, I couldn't help seeing Holbein's painting of Cromwell. I far prefer MR's image. Any chance of enticing him to Iona?! (Too great a distraction, I guess.)

    If you get the chance and can borrow – as we did – the DVD of the all-male Globe prod of 12th Night, I'd be interested to know what you think of it. Although just a bit too pantomimic perhaps, it's an ebullient production with great music. Well worth seeing for MR's superbly amazing Olivia; quite the best I've seen. Also, Feste and Maria are unforgettable. Stephen Fry's Malvolio almost does it. I'll say no more in case you watch it.
    We saw MR and the director of WH interviewed on TV where he said many of the things I imagine he said to the Guardian. So glad he speaks out. He is A Good Thing. And though self-effacing he doesn't mind being congratulated if you meet him, as a friend of ours did. He thanked her by taking her hand and reciting Shakespeare. Completely sincere. Imagine it!

    J is emailing you about A acute (actually grave, I think). Like you I hadn't found it until you prompted me to ask him.

    Good luck with the writing. Mine's in the doldrums just now for annoying, unavoidable reasons. I hope to get going properly again over April.
    Miriam x

  2. Miriam - that made me smile! And thank you for the huge compliment. Swelling with something-or-other now :-). Didn't finish WH the book, though I like Mantel. Have rented the film though on DVD!

    Didn't see 12th Night; did it for O level and not sure I could face another screening, even for Mr (Heart) Rylance.

    SO appreciate J's knowledge of the grave whereabouts (I knew the acute). Have been repeating it on the keyboard, reminding myself of Eeyore and the honey jar/balloon. Was pleased to be able to tell J where the circumflex was!

    With love



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