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The Blindfold / James Bond

I'm reading The Blindfold by Siri Hustvedt. I read her great novel, 'What I Loved' in July 2008, whilst staying for a week in the Ribble Valley in the aftermath of my Mum's death. The Blindfold is nowhere near as long but just as intelligently written and structured. I'm not far from the end and it reminds me of an edgier Bell Jar, by Plath. Mental illness of the main woman, a literature student, is the story - or is it the Jungian 'creative illness' in which she seeks, through male cross-dressing to exemplify Freud's theories of male envy?

I went to see the latest James Bond - SkyFall - last week and I loved it. It was nowhere near as sexist as its predecessors, thanks to director Sam Mendes, and of course the writer, whose name escapes me, but who co-wrote Scorcese's Hugo. I also detected much anti-imperialist subtext - or was it a reconciliation with an imperialist past? One line goes something like. 'we don't fight countries any more - it's individuals we need to watch' - hinting at the leftist internationalism and multi-culturalism that was a main trope of Danny Boyle's Olympic opening ceremony. Can these two great collective cultural events - the Games and the new James Bond - serve to more firmly turn the tide of collective consciousness than a few twitter campaigns? Or did these two events merely respond to it?

Both events were London, though. And this weekend I am playing tour guide to my niece and nephew's first visit to their capital. The cousins - Keenan 8, and Kya, 7 - whose fathers are my younger brothers (twins) - will have their three aunties, myself and my two sisters, for the whole day. We shall be doing the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, a boat up the Thames (the best way to experience London) to Greenwich and the planetarium, then back downriver to Tate Modern to see some Jackson Pollock, who my nephew likes. Kya likes most art, it would seem, standing or sitting and looking up at huge pictures, shifting her head at different angles as though listening for the secret language. I realise that, as an auntie, I write a script with them, one which helps to determine their own, and that they will choose to have with the children in their lives when they're adults. More anon.

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