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Now under glass.

Oscar Wilde’s restored tomb has been unveiled in Paris, complete with a glass barrier to make it “kiss-proof”.

Work was carried out on the gravestone because it was covered in lipstick marks left by tourists, which was gradually destroying it.

Actor Rupert Everett, who has penned a screenplay about Wilde, said the tomb was “being eaten away by lipstick”.

The star attended the ceremony along with Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland.

The tomb was designed by Modernist sculptor Jacob Epstein and survived almost unscathed until 1985.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Everett said: “The Irish government have taken it upon themselves to renovate the Epstein gravestone, which is literally being eaten away by lipstick, endless women kissing it.”

The glass barrier prevents visitors from touching the stonework, although tourists have already started leaving their lipstick marks on a nearby tree.

Everett, who starred in the 2002 film version of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest [Ed. – which was awful, IMHO], said: “I find him very inspiring and touching, not just for his genius, also for his stupidity, in a way.

 “He was a human being, and made mistakes like everyone else.”



It’s my understanding that the old boy was baptized, received into Holy Mother Church and given the last sacraments on his deathbed, so I am willing to forgive him the naughtiness which is, no doubt, the basis for this apparent urge to plant kisses on his tombstone.   However, I can’t help smiling at the thought that just this morning I read this passage from Chesterton’s Orthodoxy:

“Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets.  But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets.  We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde.”

I see where the annual Christmas Holiday Market” has come to the streets of Dee Cee.

Or, as I like to imagine as I trudge by, Aslan’s army is once again laying siege to the National Portrait Gallery.

Yes, I am that easily amused.

Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

As we were chatting of this and that last evening, the middle gel mentioned to me that she’s already into Chapter 4 of Great Expectations.  After this, she apparently intends to tackle both A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and Moby Dick.

Now, let me just hasten to say here that I don’t relay this conversation in order to stick on side about my Lake Woebegone-like above-average children.  As a matter of fact, the first thing that flashed across my mind was the Bard’s line about“Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself, And falls on th’other.” We shall see how far she actually gets with the project.

No, instead I bring it up because whilst noodling on the authors mentioned, particularly Dickens, it occurred to me that it is perfectly absurd that I haven’t touched one of his novels since high school, a period during which I am unashamed to say the value of his work, beyond its most superficial aspects, was no doubt quite thrown away on me.   (By the bye, does anyone actually still teach Dickens in secondary school these days?  And by that I mean teaching Dickens as a great author and not as a poster boy for the imperialistic, religiously-blinded, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, capitalistic, Euro-centric slime pit out of which we only just managed to crawl thanks to the gift of post-modern enlightenment.)

Aaaaanyway, our little chat inspired me to dip into Dickens myself, not just rereading the ones I’ve done before, but also tackling the ones I should have but didn’t.   (Bleak House comes to mind, for instance.)

Oh, and speaking (at least tangentially) of Dickens, I caught Scrooged on the teevee last evening for the first time in years and years.  All I remembered from the past was the ditzy Ghost of Christmas Present and Bobcat Goldthwaite wandering around with a shotgun and an attitude.  Thus, I was unexpectedly and absolutely sandbagged by the big climax.   I tell you truly, friends, Bill Murray’s speech on the meaning of Christmas and the way in which the spirit of love celebrated on that day ought to build and flow out to the rest of the year left me in something pretty close to tears.  Well said, indeed.


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November 2011