25 May 2010

Revisiting Brideshead again

1. Et in Arcadia Ego

Here, at the age of 39, I began to be old. As I lay in that dark hour I was aghast to realise that something within me, long sickening, had quietly died.

The chill bonds of law and duty, and custom.

( Shot – in show, pan across, every one scrubs themselves vigorously while he just stands there underneath the water letting it poor over his face. )

I could bring to my job nothing more than acquiescence.

Disappointment changed to resignation.

Oxford, in those days, was still a city of aquatint. When the chestnut was in flower, and the bells rang out high and clear over her gables and cupolas, she exhaled the soft airs of centuries of youth. It was this cloistral hush that gave our laughter its resonance, and carried it still, joyously over the intervening clamour.

We ate the strawberries and drank the wine. As Sebastian promised, they were delicious together. The fumes of the sweet, golden wine seemed to lift us a finger’s breadth above the turf and hold us suspended.

Just the spot to bury a crock of gold. I should like to bury something precious… in every place that I’ve ever been happy. So when I’m old and ugly and miserable I could come back and dig it up. And remember.

I knew Sebastian by sight long before I met him. That was unavoidable, for, from his first week, he was the most conspicuous man of his year by reason of his beauty, which was arresting, and his eccentricities of behaviour, which seems to know no bounds. My first sight of him was in the door of Germar’s and on that occasion I was struck less by his looks that by his carrying a large teddy bear.

Now when we met were the circumstances propitious...

{ From the beginning of the BBC series }