I PROBABLY wouldn’t have read Wolf Hall or Bring Up The Bodies – Hilary Mantel’s novels on the life of Thomas Cromwell – if I had known that they would soon be combined into an outstanding TV adaption.
It’s about shepherding your time. There are hundreds of good books which I should read but probably never will, to be set against only a handful of similarly rewarding TV shows. Really, life’s too short to duplicate the two.
Still, the TV Thomas Cromwell, as played by Mark Rylance, does add something not available in the books – a face, for a start. Hilary Mantel doesn’t describe Cromwell physically, so all we have to go on is a dull official portrait. It takes an actor to translate words into flesh, and Rylance’s Cromwell, like David Suchet’s Poirot, is so definitive that the actor and the character merge into one.
There have been complaints that the Wolf Hall TV series, although covering immense and fast-moving events, does move a little slowly, mainly so that Rylance, with the tiniest movements of lips, hands, eyes or nostrils, can perfectly convey a clever outsider trying to progress in a perilous world.
This involves significant silences which work very well on screen, but aren’t available to the novelist, which is probably why the Mantel books seem much faster when read than when watched.
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MY FRIEND Nigel, at the age of 40-summut, has decided that he’s arrived; that life will never be better and he has nothing left to achieve.
This is because he bought a rather natty belt during a pre-Christmas shopping trip and then realised with a jolt that he now had as many belts as he had trousers (six, I think, which seems a bit excessive) and could thus partner each of his trousers with a dedicated belt.
Not only does having a suitable belt add that finishing touch to any outfit, the belts can stay attached to the trousers between cleanings, saving valuable seconds of getting-to-work-on-time time.
Unfortunately, although I’m much older than Nigel, I only have one belt, bought at Man at C&A before the invention of fashion, which has to be shared between four pairs of trousers.
How I long for a return to the days when, if you bought a pair of Terylene trousers (usually in blue) at any reputable men’s retailer, you would have nice plastic belt thrown in for free.