What did you give up for Lent? I gave up chives again. Forty-five days of deprivation. According to the ecclesiastical calendar I am allowed my first chive on Saturday — but do you know what? I’m going to say no. My willpower has become a marvel to myself; I’m saying no to chives all the way through to May. I might have one then, and then again, I might not. The power of my faith enables me to crush utterly any bodily craving for chives.
Elizabeth Pascoe, a granny in her sixties with a fondness for pink cardigans, is an unlikely heroine, but she is one to me. For when Liverpool city council and a government agency told her, four years ago, that they wanted to compulsorily purchase and demolish her fine Victorian home in the Edge Lane area for no particularly good reason, Ms Pascoe chose to fight.Sitting in her cardigan, surrounded by piles of paper, Elizabeth fought two public inquiries and two high court actions against compulsory purchase orders (CPOs), which are the battering ram of the Pathfinder regeneration schemes, the 1960s-style urban clearances reinvented by John Prescott.
Even Sylvia Plath (though usually pretty downbeat about life) viewed pregnancy as an exalted state. In her diary she characterised gestation as ‘the Great Experience a [woman’s] body is formed to partake of, to nourish’, while in her poem ‘Morning Song’ she celebrated feeling ‘cow heavy and floral’. Bringing children into the world clearly fulfilled a profound need for Plath. But I suspect that even she would have felt differently about the joys of maternity had she experienced it not in London in the early 1960s, but in Manhattan circa 2009.
Harry Mount celebrates the 60th anniversary of Carol Reed’s masterly film The Third Man with a tour of Harry Lime’s postwar Vienna — the true star of the movieViennaSix times a week, the Burg Kino cinema in Vienna shows The Third Man in its small Studio Theatre. ‘It’s best that you book,’ said the polite young man behind the counter in perfect English, when I came along in the morning to see if there were any tickets for the 10.