Measured Extravagance

12 April 2004 - 11:52 a.m.

Bliss: sitting at the bar of the Alley Cat after church, next to the BYM, reading about the library's puppet theatre over mimosas and a delectable smoked salmon pastry. . . .

. . .tying into this morning's reading about Jack Yeats [1] and his devotion to miniature theatre. Such a delight, reading about such love of detail and craft. That said, I also found myself ripping Post-Its in half to note anecdotes with absolutely no relevance to my assignment, just because they amuse me:

He was popular [at the University Club on St. Stephen's Green], if at times enigmatic. One member recalled him appearing in the bar looking decidedly put out and staring silently at the assembled members for so long that they all fell silent as well. "Are you looking for something, Mr. Yeats?" he was asked. He paused and stared round the room. "I am looking for the truth," he said. "I cannot find it anywhere." He paused again. "I think Liam Wicklow is sleeping on it upstairs." And he turned and left the room.

A curtain speech at the Peacock Theatre:

I hope I have succeeded tonight in putting a little salt on the tail of the Peacock. To those of you who have not liked the play, I can only say, "Ah! Well. . .!" To those of you who have liked it, may I say, "Ah Well, indeed!"

And then there was this bit, which as a mailbox monster I found incredibly moving:

Often, [Cottie, Jack's dying wife] was aware of him only for minutes, and would then grow tired and fall asleep. But she still managed to respond to messages, and loved receiving letters. Jack told people to write to her, and many did. So much was this so, that Sunday became a rather bleak day because there were no postal deliveries. Jack went to the trouble of asking MacGreevy to write a letter, and then send it in another envelope to the matron, Miss O'Sullivan, and instruct her to hand it over "on Sunday morning and not before." He was to round up other friends, and ask them to do the same.

[1] Arnold, Bruce. Jack Yeats. New Haven: Yale, 1998.

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