Remembering Anna Russell

By a strange coincidence, Thomasina and I have both been thinking of Anna Russell lately.

In Thomasina’s case, AR has been called to remembrance by an exhibition including a dress made out of old patchwork quilts and Mrs Prendergast’s talk on “how to make patchwork quilts out of old skirts” and the catch phrase “I’m not making this up, you know

In my case, the occasion for the reminiscence is more obvious, even though, as with so many memories, it turned out there was a false element. Last night was the last night of my first traverse of the Cologne-Shanghai Ring. As the curtain rose for the first scene of last act of Götterdämmerung, where the Rhinemaidens accost Siegfried and ask for the ring back, I murmured to my neighbour, “Remember them?” In fact further research on the internets subsequently revealed that this particular scene is omitted from AR’s celebrated synopsis, though the rise of the Rhine from its banks at the end does elicit a similar aside.

More of the Shanghai Ring in due course. But I can’t help reflecting that Anna Russell’s type of comedy belongs to a kind of high-brow-middle-brow nexus (which includes, in its own way, Disney’s Loony Tunes) which has pretty well vanished from the cultural landscape these days. There is probably more which could be said about that from a point of view of cultural history, but just now I am off to buy some stamps to send postcards to those who will be expecting them and possibly a few who will not be.

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