Since I love poetry and ...  "my one weakness" , Richard Armitage, yesterday someone who has known me for a little time but already knows me very well sent me a very pleasant gift : a short poem read by RA I had never heard before.

The life that I have

Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.

The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.

A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

A love poem, you'd say, wouldn't you? Not at all, instead. It is a code-poem from WWII, written by Leo Marks.
Marks was a cryptographer in World War II and he wrote this as a code-poem for Violette Szabo, an agent sent to work in France who was later captured and killed.
Who better then Lucas North / Richard Armitage in person could have recited this poem? Since he is the best secret agent/actor, he actually seems to recite a LOVE poem! But he did it disguised as Mr John Thornton.  A good spook has got at least 5 different identities! Listen and watch. ( I made this photo album from North and South 2004 adding a song I truly love, "I'm yours" - The Script)

Richard Armitage read this poem and others in A War Less Ordinary  for BBCRadio2 on 10th November 2007.
A War Less Ordinary was broadcast  as part of the BBC's range of programmes marking the weekend of Remembrance Day. Using poetry, song and archive recordings, it commemorated the work of those who did not fight in war-time, but who nonetheless contributed to the war effort in Britain during the two world wars.

By the way, SPOOKS is back next Wednesday 4th November on BBC 1 at 9.00 pm (it'll be 10 in Italy) and I 'm behaving very well, as a very good girl usually does,  and even better, hoping my little fairy will make another dream of mine come true: to see the new series 8 as soon as possible ... CAN'T WAIT!!! Please.
N.B. My little good fairy has already made one my dreams come true: to see BBC EMMA 2009 as soon as possible. Isn't she lovely?

There are plenty of new articles and interviews on line. Not so many new photos. Richard is still shooting STRIKE BACK in South Africa and , unfortunately, he won't be round for Spooks promotion and premiere. My favourite recent interviews with RA about SPOOKS and himself are on :


EMMA 2009 - You will not ask me my secret? Yes, you're wise but I cannot be... So, I must tell you...

The blogosphere, or at  least many of the blogs I regularly follow, are full of reviews, slides and beautiful pictures of BBC Emma 2009.  It's too great a temptation to me, I can't resist. I must confess. Just like Mr Knightley's, my secret, too, must come out in the end.
I've longed to see it and wished it so thoroughly that a good little fairy has made my dream come true! Did she have a magic wand? Maybe.
So...I saw the four episodes, enjoyed the crescendo of emotions and came, at last, to such a gratifying finale  ... you can't imagine what joy it gave me. I'd had mixed feelings half-way down, I mean, after the first two episodes but , the third one, with the incandescent ball scene, and the last one with its touching -  incredibly still touching,  despite my having read the novel several times and having watched all the adaptations available in English - finale have knocked my doubts out.

While I immediately loved or liked, Romola Garai as Emma, Michael Gambon as Mr Woodhouse, Tamsin Greig as Miss Bates, I had an awkward sensation at recognizing My Mr Knightley in Jonny Lee Miller, My Frank Churchill in Rupert Evans and  My Jane Fairfax in Laura Pyper. My greatest perplexity was just Mr Knightley. But, do you know what happens when love is not at first sight ...You suddenly start seeing an old friend as beautiful, generous, extraordinary and see him/her as if it was the first time? Something like what happens to Emma. Something like that  happened to me. And little by little I came to appreciate JLM's Knightley. Much, indeed. He won my resistence with his mild, tender, benevolent George Knightley. Was it one of Sandy Welch's liberties from Austen? Wasn't Jane's  Mr Knightley a surly old friend, ready to scold and reprimand young Emma? Might be, but I decided I wanted to look for clues in the text. And here's George Knightley in Jane Austen's words:

                                                                                Excerpt 1.

Emma: “What a comfort it is, that we think alike about our nephews and nieces. As to men and women, our opinions are sometimes very different; but with regard to these children, I observe we never disagree.”

Mr. Knightley: “If you were as much guided by nature in your estimate of men and women, and as little under the power of fancy and whim in your dealings with them, as you are where these children are concerned, we might always think alike.”

Emma: “To be sure—our discordancies must always arise from my being in the wrong.”

Mr. Knightley: “Yes,” said he, smiling—”and reason good. I was sixteen years old when you were born.”

Emma: “A material difference then,” she replied—”and no doubt you were much my superior in judgment at that period of our lives; but does not the lapse of one-and-twenty years bring our understandings a good deal nearer?”

Mr. Knightley: “Yes—a good deal nearer.”

Emma: “But still, not near enough to give me a chance of being right, if we think differently.”

Mr. Knightley: “I have still the advantage of you by sixteen years’ experience, and by not being a pretty young woman and a spoiled child. Come, my dear Emma, let us be friends and say no more about it. Tell your aunt, little Emma, that she ought to set you a better example than to be renewing old grievances, and that if she were not wrong before, she is now.” ( from Chapter 7)

                                                                                       Excerpt 2.

“My dearest Emma,” said he, “for dearest you will always be, whatever the event of this hour’s conversation, my dearest, most beloved Emma—tell me at once. Say ‘No,’ if it is to be said.”—She could really say nothing.—”You are silent,” he cried, with great animation; “absolutely silent! at present I ask no more.”

Emma was almost ready to sink under the agitation of this moment. The dread of being awakened from the happiest dream, was perhaps the most prominent feeling.

“I cannot make speeches, Emma:”—he soon resumed; and in a tone of such sincere, decided, intelligible tenderness as was tolerably convincing.—”If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more. But you know what I am.—You hear nothing but truth from me.—I have blamed you, and lectured you, and you have borne it as no other woman in England would have borne it.—Bear with the truths I would tell you now, dearest Emma, as well as you have borne with them. The manner, perhaps, may have as little to recommend them. God knows, I have been a very indifferent lover.—But you understand me.—Yes, you see, you understand my feelings—and will return them if you can. At present, I ask only to hear, once to hear your voice.”

Isn't he loving, caring, gentle? Just like JLM's George Knightley.
Have you noticed? The script for the proposal in 2009 adaptation was not so distant from the original text and Romola and Jonny delivered their lines with such deep involvement: she was wonderfully good , from fear to desperation, from hope to joy to heaven. And he... he was so anxious he could hardly breathe, so nervous and agitated he could hardly move, so uncertain of her response that he looked so pale and his eyes seemed wet with tears (especially when he said "I cannot make speeches.. .if I loved you less, I might have been able to talk about it more...")
Last summer, while on holiday, I had a long watching marathon with all the Emma adaptations I have in my DVD collection: 1972, 2006 ITV and 2006 the movie. I wrote and posted about it ( for my EVERYTHING AUSTEN CHALLENGE) and added the clips of the three different proposal scenes. I , then,  asked : Which is your favourite one? Who's your favourite Mr Knightley?  If you don't remember, CLICK HERE , read and watch. But before deciding how to answer, have a look at THIS CLIP from Emma 2009...

Now, tell me... Which is your favourite scene? Who's your favourite Knightley?
If you haven't changed your mind, never mind. I DID.



Like every Sunday, yesterday I tried to watch something  new while working at home. I managed to see the second episode of  "IL FALCO E LA COLOMBA" and I've taken some caps and attempted at creating a photo story for you. Hope you'll like it.First time with caps, first time with a photo story.

 If you've missed  my review of the first episode, have a look at it before watching what follows.


Lisetta, in love with Giulio and very jelous, gets to the Campireali's Palace and warns Elena's mother that Giulio has spent the night with her daughter, in her bedroom, and is still there.

When Elena's mother arrives in the room, Giulio has just left. She advises her daughter to be reasonable and careful: she must marry Prince Savelli.

Cardinal Colonna asks his soldiers about Giulio. They tell him he is quite distracted by his new love affair with Elena.

Ranuccio, one of Giulio's soldiers and best friends, wooes Mariuccia, Elena's maid.

Lisetta, decides to get Giulio back. She goes to Fabio Campireali, Elena's brother, and reveals him that his sister has got a lover: one of his enemy's soldiers, Giulio Brancireale.

Elena must meet her future husband, Prince Savelli.

Fabio, angry for what Lisetta has revealed to him,  is waiting for Elena's return. As soon as she gets home, he hits her and orders her not to see Giulio anymore. Since now on she will be kept prisoner in her house.

Fabio decides to kill Giulio.

Giulio succeeds in entering the palace disguised as a servant.

Elena, kept prisoner, goes on reading Paolo & Francesca's story.

Giulio and his mates watch a meeting between Colonna and a messanger from emperor Charles V

Lisetta becomes Fabio's lover in order to get Giulio back. She reveals him that Giulio and Elena communicate thanks to a dove carrying their messages.

So Fabio , through a message carried by Elena's dove, draws Giulio into an ambush.

Elena disguised as a friar runs from the house, gets to the place and saves Giulio's life.

When she goes back home, after spending the night with Giulio, she confesses to her family that she does not want to marry the Prince any longer: she belongs to Giulio now.

She is locked in her room, again. Fabio is appointed Cardinal by the Pope.

Giulio's mates fight against the Pope's army without him during the night he is with Elena: Ranuccio is caught and is going to be hanged.

Giulio, Colonna and their army are ready to fight to free Ranuccio. Giulio can't keep his promise to Elena not to fight any longer. Not now.

Giulio and Fabio Campireali fight one against the other: Fabio dies.

But Giulio's efforts are useless: Ranuccio is murdered while waiting to be freed.



One of my tasks for the Everything Austen Challenge, has been rewatching Sense & Sensibility in the two adaptations I have in my DVD collection. I compared the two versions and found them different but equally beautiful, accurate and effective. The 1995 film starring Emma Thomson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, Greg Wise and Alan Rickman was the first I saw and is the one I know best – I’ve seen it so many times! The more recent BBC 2008 three-part series has just renewed my appreciation of this great story with new awesome locations and very good actors: Hattie Morahan, Charity Wakefield, David Morrissey, Dominic Cooper, Dan Stevens, Mark Williams, Janet McTeer , Mark Gatiss.

My ideal cast

 I want to make it clear first, that I consider the actors I’m not going to mention - just for fun – all very good, I'm only trying to imagine what it would be like if I could have the ones I liked best from the two different casts:

I'd love to see Kate Winslet and Greg Wise as Elinor and Edward, as they would be too mature as Marianne and Willoughby now ; then Charity Wakefield and Dan Stevens as Marianne & Willoughby and, finally, David Morissey as Colonel Brandon . Just a game. Try to do the same. What would your ideal S&S cast be? You could put in new names , if you wish.

As I told you, it is not that I don’t like Hugh Grant ( I loved him in About a boy, Bridget Jones films, Notting Hill, etc.) but simply I didn’t like his Edward Ferrars. Too stiff and clumsy. As for Emma Thomson, she is such a talented actress! Only, maybe, she was … too old an Elinor? She didn’t just fit my ideal Elinor Dashwood? I don’t exactly know why, but I preferred Hattie Morahan as Elinor while re-watching them in these days. Ok. It’s just a game. Thomson’s , Rickman’s & Grant’s fans, please, don’t feel offended because I really “think highly” of them, I do appreciate their talent!

Some reflections on S&S

These are the notes I took while re-watching the two S&S and while leafing , once more, through my favourite parts of the book.

Comedy or tragedy?
- It is meant to be “comedy” with its irony and love stories but it opens rather tragically on the descent to poverty of the Dashwood sisters. Though narrated through JA ‘s light touch, what Elinor, Marianne, Margaret and their mother live, is a real shocking tragedy: Mr Dashwood, their father/husband is dying and he knows his patrimony is due to be inherited by his only son from a previous marriage, John. He knows life will be very hard for his second family, daughters and wife, if John doesn’t help them.

Due to John’s wife’s influence, he won’t help them as much as he could or had to. The girls lose their father and their welfare all at once. They have to live their home and move far in the countryside.

Conformist or rebellious?

Jane Austen is usually consider quite a conformist writer: she agrees with the code of good manners and propriety, she accepts social roles and respects rank . But I’m sure she, instead, couldn’t bear so many things of the society she belonged to and she would have protested, if she could, much more openly against all that. What do I mean? For instance, the laws regulating inheritance, which were terribly discriminating toward women. Daughters and wives were victims of social/economic discrimination, they had no rights. Estates were entailed on male heirs, patrimonies were inherited by sons; if a woman, anyhow, owned a patrimony her husband took it over once they got married. Women were forbidden to get a living from a profession: working was considered dishonourable if they were of a good family. I’m sure Jane didn’t easily accept such unequal rules. Can’t you feel her rage beyond her bitter irony?
Romance or social criticism?
While we live Elinor’s and Marianne’s tormented romances, while we sigh at Elinor’s silent sorrow at watching Edward keep his promise to Lucy Steele , while we deeply feel for Marianne’s sorrowful disappointment at being turned down by her beloved Willoughby, we learn a lot about the restrictive social conventions which certainly made Jane Austen angry and willing to satirize the country gentry and their stiff clich├ęs and good manners.

Willoughby, Brandon or Edward ?

 I love, really love… Willoughby. I had always imagined him just like Wickham in P&P 2005: long blond haired with blue eyes. But I went on loving him also when he got to have Greg Wise’s handsome face and wavy black hair in 1995 or Dominic Cooper’s fresh, saucy look in S&S 2008. Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon, though morally impeccable, are a bit … grey and flat characters if compared to John Willoughby’s vivacity, complexity and roundness. Are you sure JA meant to draw the stereotype of the unscrupulous libertine with him? I’m not that sure. I especially love the final scene in the book – included in 2008 TV series but not in 1995 film – in which Willoughby visits Elinor and tries to apologize, to make his reasons clear, to make her and her sister hate him less. I, just like Elinor, can’t avoid feeling sorry for him. I go on imagining him on his horse, watching down to Marianne’s life from a solitary hill, sad face, sad look, just like handsome Greg Wise at the end of 2005 movie. I know, most of you won’t agree with me but … you know, it’s fatal attraction, you must forgive me .

Marianne or Elinor?

As for the two sisters, they represent two completely attitudes to life, the two completely different outlooks on life at Jane’s time: classicism (Elinor) and romanticism (Marianne). Though Austen wants us to take Elinor as our model - sensible, reasonable, generous, self-controlled, balanced, great strength and unaltered will-power through hardship – I love, really love, Marianne. Mind you, I’ve never been like her. I’ve always been more like her elder sister , only… I strongly admire this 17-year-old girl’s temper. Austen’s message is an open condemnation of romantic ideals, Marianne is almost killed by her strong disillusionment. Despite all that, I’ve always envied her the beautiful romance she lives with Willoughby – I’m sure she’ll never forget him and will always think of him while devoutly looking after old Colonel Brandon . I’ve always thought Marianne as one of the best heroines I’ve ever met in novels: so full of impetuses , ideals and poetry and, at the same time, so contemptuous of those who can’t abandon themselves totally - like her- to their own feelings and emotions, so excessive both in her love and in her sorrow, so fragile and lively at the same time,


S&S greatest fan

To close in the right mood for a wonderful Saturday Night and an even more wonderful Sunday, I need a bit of fun and a bit of RA. You can find both in this hilarious clip.
Geraldine Granger, better known as the Vicar of Dibley, is one of S&S greatest fans! She's there just  re-watching the movie , when someone incredibly charming and very kind knocks at her door ...



Winning books: what a delight!
Today I received, surprisingly soon, the copy of "The sinful life of Lucy Burns" I won at ANECA'S WORLD just last week.Yesterday I was quoting Calvino and his idea of the Inferno we all live in and today here is Lucy Burns and her devilish story. Thanks, Ana. You've been so kind to send this book immediately. Congratulations for your beautiful blogs. Yes, BLOGS. Because Ana T. is a very active blogger and runs and writes several blogs. You should know her amazing LIGHTS, CAMERA ... HISTORY , there she posts about period movies and drama with other two portuguese young ladies Alex and Ana O. It's one of my favourite blogs!

Italian Guy or English Gisborne?
In many countries in Europe English and American TV series and films aren't dubbed. The result is that you watch TV or go to the cinema and familiarize with the English language, while you understand what you are watching with the help of subtitles in your own language. Scandinavian countries do that, as well as Belgium for instance. Italians are quite lazy, so they prefer to dub everything and the result is they do not do any effort but are terribly bad at foreign languages (most of them, not all of them, of course!)
As for me, since I studied and learnt some English, I have had a certain dislike for dubbed versions. If I have to enjoy a film, I must watch it in the original version. I enjoy it much more. I know we have very good actors dubbing American stars. Luca Ward, for instance, Russel Crowe's Italian voice, is extremely good. But we are not always that lucky. Listen to what happens to poor Guy of Gisborne when he loses Richard Armitage's deep velvet voice and starts speaking Italian... I've made a comparative short clip with the same scene in Italian and in the original English version. Try to be patient and see and compare the two. I'd like to know your opinion.


I think the emotion and great pathos Richard Armitage (Guy of Gisborne) and Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood) conveyed while shooting on spot is completely lost in the dubbing made in an Italian aseptic soundproof  recording studio. Finally, to be honest, to watch Guy without listening to RA's wonderful voice is absolutely unbearable to me! What do you think?

Mrs Gaskell & Italian Translations

You know I particularly love Elizabeth Gaskell and I'm currently reading her thick- but -lovely WIVES AND DAUGHTERS. You also know I've got wonderful Bloggy Friends all over the world with whom I share many of my little great pleasures. One of them, who has recently often spoilt me, sharing wonderful things she finds on line  and knows I love with me, is  MissKarenBlixen. This  is only one of her nicks and she's wonderful, indeed.
I know and she knows - she is Italian like me -  that it is impossible for an Italian who doesn't read English,  to read Gaskell's novels, apart from Cranford. But she has found this interesting document in a library: an abridged Italian translation of North and South by Ada Borrelli , published in the 60s by Casa Editrice Giuseppe Principato. If I were a good translator, I'd like to translate all of Gaskell's novels and I'd propose them to an Italian publisher. But I'm not good and I'm too busy doing my job.

Thank you, MissKarenBlixen,
 for this precious information, supported by photographical evidence.



 "Less foreign languages, less subjects, less lessons" . What is it? It is not the manifesto of  a students' protest but the "revolutionary" reform of High School which our  Ministry of Education is planning to enact by the next school year! Help! It's a nightmare. They want to "improve" the quality of Italians' education by reducing the number of lessons per week, by reducing the number of subjects they study,  by reducing their English or French lessons, by drastically reducing the study of Latin. Apart from totally disagreeing with the absurd philosophy of cutting & reducing to improve (what?!?), I'm really and selfishly worried for myself. I'm even  desperate.I'll try to explain what is going to happen to me. I'll have less lessons to give each class but more classes = I'll have to teach how to understand written and spoken English, how to write and speak in English, the grammar of the English language and maybe even some literature in only two 45-50 - minute lessons  a week. Then, instead of 6 classes (more than 120  students) I'll have 9 (more than 160) and I'll have to correct their written homework and classwork! And all this for the same miserable wage? And what about the facts that Italians are among the worst in Europe at foreign languages? They will be even worse,   who cares?
I'm furious. I want to move somewhere else. If I could, I'd go on  self -exile  ... anywhere else. I'm really ashamed of what is happening in  my country. I'm not only thinking about our education system, of course.

As you can understand, after reading about the future horrible changes expecting me, I needed to read something totally different. I tried to concentrate on my beautiful "Wives and Daughters" but went on thinking about school and couldn't concentrate. So I started surfing the Net and reading my favourite blogs and discovered:

1. A new picture of Richard Armitage as Lucas North (below )

2. A new article about upcoming series 8 of Spooks

3. BBC finally officially announcing the date for ep.1 series 8 of Spooks: 4th November!

5. Several clips of the new Emma on Utube (thanks cat4fab!)

Am I feeling better? Not so much but I do  love and appreciate all these things (and people since RA is a person - a very kind talented handsome man - and Judy is a great bloggy mate of mine) and they help me go on . They are the "who" and  "what" that help me to survive the everyday "inferno". Do you know? My philosophy. Calvino's words. I really need them tonight:
"The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno,are not inferno, then make them endure,give them space."




One of the many interesting blogs I regularly follow, NO TELLING,  has posted about the National Day of Writing. National refers to the US, but I think it is a very good suggestion  that we can celebrate internationally. The suggestion is "to  find a fast pen, a few sheets of paper, and a little quiet time during the day or night. Not all celebrations require fireworks. Everyone everywhere should be scribbling, typing, scratching, slamming out a few words". As you can see, after reading the post I immediately started doing it...scribbling , I mean. I felt like celebrating this American Day of Writing. If you are interested in the celebration and want to contribute, officially, something of yours, you can take part in the CONTRIBUTE YOUR WRITING GALLERY.
One of my dreams when I was just 10, after reading Little Women, was to become a writer like Jo March. She ended up teaching and so did I. Actually, I've never stopped writing.


One of the historical period I love most reading about or watching films set in is WWII, as I have already told you on other occasions (see my review of CHARLOTTE GRAY, for instance). Now I've just discovered BBC is going to broadcast a new series adapted from Andrea Levy's best-selling award-winning novel, SMALL ISLAND. The two-part drama is an epic love story about the determined pursuit of dreams in the face of seemingly insurmountable barriers. See BBC PRESS PACK.
Among the protagonist RUTH WILSON, BBC latest JANE EYRE (2006). Do you remember her? I thought she did very good  as Charlotte Bronte's heroine with Toby Stephens as Mr Rochester.

 In this new drama she will be like this....

The key cast includes:

Naomie Harris – Hortense

David Oyelowo – Gilbert

Ruth Wilson – Queenie

Benedict Cumberbatch – Bernard

Ashley Walters – Michael

Hugh Quarshie – Narrator

Karl Johnson – Arthur

Nikki Amuka-Bird – Celia

Shaun Parkes – Winston

Denise Black – Auntie Dorothy

From the heat and hustle of life in Forties Jamaica through to the devastation of London in the Blitz, Small Island is an ambitious yet personal tale, which deftly touches on the weighty themes of empire, prejudice and war with a gentle touch and a warm, uplifting generosity of spirit.


As you can see in my right column, I'm currently reading WIVES & DAUGHTERS by Elizabeth Gaskell. Mrs Gaskell has been one of my favourite Victorian writers since I first discovered her novels thanks to a colleague of mine, teacher of History and Philosophy, who suggested me to read her MARY BARTON (1848). Then NORTH AND SOUTH and RUTH followed. Reading Wives and Daughters can be a rather time-consuming activity: 915 pages! It is Mrs Gaskell's last and unfinished work,  which I'm trying to cope with, in my very little spare time. I love it, it is a real delight but I think you'll have to wait on for quite some time for my review: 446 pages still left!