This month's write-up comes courtesy of David:
As David ushered us into his mother’s flat in leafy Brondesbury, we gave a sigh of relief to be back once again back in the KR fold. For some of us, these five week intervals can feel like an eternity. Juliet exclaimed “I just had to come even though I’m coming down with something bad and feel like death”. It’s precisely this spirit that keeps us coming back and back, through rain or hail. But enough shameless advertising (as if we need it, given how many new members are clamouring to join), we were here to discuss “I am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb and the film “Youth” starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel and directed by Paolo Sorrentino.
First things first however, we needed to bond over wine and nibbles; David had sweetly left out bowls of salt and vinegar crisps and before long the noise of excited chatter was so loud you could hardly hear yourself think. We covered such diverse topics as work, children and where’s the best place to live. Mary informed us that she had rented a house in Mallorca and was intending to spend much of the year there. Whereupon David said he was going to live in Barcelona
and could easily visit her and what an amazing coincidence that was.
David then gave us a tour of his flat which didn’t take long because it’s actually quite small without any stairs. Still, it was all there and both bedrooms had beds and the views were quite impressive; if you squinted, you could just about make out the London Eye 8 miles away. We tried to look out of the back window but David couldn’t open the window and it was so dark you couldn’t see anything anyway.
We still hadn’t discussed the book because it was now time to marvel at our host’s culinary excesses; organic chicken with a jus of pomegranate molasses, soft prunes, caramelised onions an indulgent glug of red wine accompanied by new potatoes and crispy green salad. With our plates piled high, we could start to relax and duly Mary kicked us off: “I quite liked it”. Ian, never a man to mince his words was less enthusiastic: “the writing was so ordinary; surely a group like us deserve something a little more intellectual”. Looking around at the nodding heads, it was clear that this was the consensus opinion. Michelle however was not going to give in so easily: “ah yes, but think what this girl has achieved; she stood up to the Taliban, was consequently shot in the head, had to flee her country and despite all that, she continues to campaign for girls’ education”. Well, that shut us up and with our plates of plenty we were now staring at humble pie. “Yes, I hadn’t thought about it like that” reflected Ian. The tide was turning. AC: “And I loved the description of the Swat Valley; it sounded so lush, wild and magical”. Again lots of nodding heads all be they slightly spinning. “And think” said Juliet “what this book has achieved in the wider world. We in KR may be well informed to the plight of Afghan women but millions of people reading this book will be learning about their horrendous treatment for the first time. Put it another way we discuss change, she affects change”. Rather shamefully, we all nodded in agreement.
It was all getting a bit awkward and we moved onto the safer subject of the film “Youth”. In contrast to the book, this was largely a success. “So cinematic, what amazing photography; I loved it when he conducted the cow bells in the meadow; it was like a dream” enthused Mary. “Wasn’t Miss Universe amazing when she took off her clothes and joined the men in the pool” sighed David, sitting next to Ian who was making grunting noises. “Yes”, said AC, “I agree, she was fantastic. You expected a dumb bimbo and she floored them with her intellect”. As the subject opened out, there was general agreement that the Miss Universe competition had let itself down by allowing breast implants. The film’s drawbacks however were it was too long and the characterisation a little suspect; the friendship between the two main characters wasn’t credible and Harvey Keitel’s motivation to commit suicide wasn’t convincing.
Time waits for no one and as the clock chimed eleven, eyelids began to sag. “I must get back to my baby”, yawned Mary. With heavy hearts, we got up and helped each other with our coats. There was a bitter wind outside; thick grey clouds circled ominously but it was going to be okay. For whatever slings and arrows come our way, in five weeks we would be back reunited with tales to tell and hugs to share and all would be good.