Monday, April 07, 2008

Where’s Polonius? —And The Real Emma Peel

CLAUDIUS: Now, Hamlet, where’s Polonius?

HAMLET: At supper.

Hamlet, Act IV, Scene 3

Yeah, I sometimes say things in a roundabout way, too. And I’m always on the lookout for other people saying interesting and unexpected things in odd ways. A few weeks ago—

I’m interrupting the regularly scheduled content of this post before it gets really silly for a completely unrelated behind-the-scenes aside:

Yes, I do sometimes say things in a roundabout way. In fact, last Friday’s post, “Rocks And Mirrors: Scenes That Never Return,” was a 27-line, roundabout version of a direct, 10-line poem I wrote last Thursday. For personal reasons I didn’t want to post the short, direct version. I still don’t. (Well, part of me does. But other parts of me do not.) However, I still have the short, direct version. And it is possible (well, it’s conceivable ) that someday I’ll speak again with the person both versions are about. If that ever happens, and if I get the chance, I’ll show her the short, direct version of last Friday’s post and see if she’ll give me her permission to post it. Then people can see and compare me speaking in a roundabout way to me speaking directly.

I now return this post to its regularly scheduled content. It gets silly fast . . .

— A few weeks ago I read a book from 1998 written by Patrick Macnee. He played John Steed on the TV show “The Avengers.” The book was, “The Avengers and Me.” It was a generally interesting book, but what stood out to me were a couple of stories Macnee told about Diana Rigg, the real Mrs. Peel.

The first story didn’t have any tricky language at all, but introduces Diana Rigg, right off, as not quite the same character as Mrs. Peel. Macnee allows one of the show’s directors to introduce Rigg:

“One of the girls I’d met about a year earlier, at Julian’s home, curiously enough, during a New Year’s party. It was one of those things where it was very crowded and someone knocked a plate of sandwiches from my hand. As I bent down to pick them up, I noticed a young girl lying under the piano and this wonderful voice said, “Hello. Who are you?” It was Diana Rigg.”

The second story is by Macnee himself and has a sentence that has stuck with me. I’ll put the sentence in bold:

“So Diana was kitted out, and given some lessons by Ray on how to tumble and fall. Not that she needed it, as she could move beautifully already. She had a gorgeous, direct carriage, a wonderful voice, stunning auburn hair and a look of flashing insolence.

“I thought, “My God. I’ve got to get to know her!” So I took her to dinner at the Connaught Hotel.

“We were both perfectly outrageous, obviously trying to test each other’s limits of what we liked and didn’t like, and naturally everything gravitated to sex. Di said she only made exceptions for men of intellect, and gave me a withering look which suggested that I didn’t fit the bill. I realized then that we had this strange communion.

“The very next day we went to work!”

“… only made exceptions for men of intellect …” What the heck does that mean?

Is Macnee saying—without saying it—that Diana Rigg preferred women but ‘made exceptions’ for guys she considered smart?

If that’s what Macnee is saying, then it’s a pretty British and tricky and roundabout way of saying someone is gay . . .

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