Now, for the most recently written story in this first series of May’s Miniatures: your most arcane of Lockdown entertainments!
Muriel Spark was born in 1918 in Edinburgh, so this was published when she was eighty years old. There is no sign here that the writer of such sharp, vivid and strange novels as The Ballad of Peckham Rye (1960) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961) was in decline or losing her salience. In 1998, Britain was entering its seventh full year without a recession. The average person was doing reasonably well, economically. The home owner, say, with a permanent job, was doing extraordinarily well and these people happily voted for Blair’s New Labour in 1997.
A shout out is due to the formidable, incredible actress Tilda Swinton. My selection is really down to her selection of this story in a recent issue of Sight and Sound. I remember how she spoke on a DVD extra about the great British film director Derek Jarman and paid tribute to his profound creativity and adventurous. It is really a great shame he never got around to adapting a Muriel Spark story or novel. Expect funny. Expect pointed. Expect a dissection of that perennial British obsession: social class.
Broadcast on YouTube here on Tuesday 21 July 2020:
Further analysis to be published here, subsequently.