Transcript: Jan Morris | Jan 31, 1989

(violin music plays)

In animation, a marble entrance with two columns floating on misty mountains opens up to reveal a small bookshelf. Book covers from the collection flash by, including Cat’s eye by Margaret Atwood and The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
The title of the show appears as a book cover with a picture of the marble entrance: “Authors at Harbourfront.”

The Narrator says THE FESTIVAL OF AUTHORS AT
TORONTO'S HARBOURFRONT IS ONE
OF THE WORLD'S FOREMOST
LITERARY EVENTS.
NOW ENTERING ITS TENTH YEAR,
THE FESTIVAL ANNUALLY ATTRACTS
50 OF THE WORLD'S BEST AUTHORS
TO THE STAGE, TO READ FROM
THEIR WORKS AND PARTICIPATE
IN INTERVIEWS AND DISCUSSIONS
WITH THEIR PEERS.

The screen turns as if it were a book page and a male narrator speaks as clips of different authors speaking at Harbourfront flash by.

The Narrator continues
JAN MORRIS BELIEVES THAT
“CONUNDRUM,” DETAILING HER
TRANSFORMATION FROM MALE TO
FEMALE, IS HER ONLY TRUE
TRAVEL WRITING.
HOWEVER, SHE'S CONSIDERED TO
BE ONE OF THE WORLD'S MOST
FAMOUS TRAVEL WRITERS,
PUBLISHING SUCH WORKS AS:
AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS
OF CITIES SHE'S VISITED
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

The author’s four books appear one next to the other. A caption reads “Jan Morris. UK.” On the top left corner of the screen, a paused clip featuring Jan zooms out.

Jan Morris sits on a chair. She is in her mid-fifties, with curly gray hair. She’s wearing a white polo shirt, a pearl necklace and earrings.

Jan says WRITTEN TWO POLITICAL
WORKS, REALLY.
AND IN ONE I BEHAVED VERY
WELL, AND IN THE OTHER
I BEHAVED SHAMEFULLY.
[laughter]
THE FIRST ONE WAS ABOUT
THE BRITISH EMPIRE.
THREE BIG BOOKS ABOUT
THE BRITISH EMPIRE.
AND I BEHAVED VERY WELL.
IT'S A BOOK OF
UTTER INTEGRITY.
[laughter]
I WROTE, ADMIRINGLY OF WHAT I
ADMIRED, AND DEPLORINGLY OF
WHAT I DEPLORED.
THE OTHER POLITICAL BOOK IS
A BOOK I WROTE ABOUT WALES.
AND IN THAT BOOK I PLAYED
THE PART OF GOEBBELS.
BECAUSE I WROTE IT FOR
PURELY PROPAGANDA REASONS.
I WROTE IT OUT OF A PASSIONATE
LOVE OF MY COUNTRY.
AND I QUITE CONSCIOUSLY
PERVERTED MY ART TO A
POLITICAL PURPOSE.

(classical music plays)

Jan comes to the stage and says GOOD EVENING.
I'M GOING TO HAVE A
GLASS OF WATER FIRST.
THEY ALWAYS CALL
ME A TRAVEL WRITER.
BUT I DISLIKE IT VERY MUCH.
I DON'T LIKE THE GENRE
OF TRAVEL WRITING.

A close-up view shows two women in the audience.

Jan continues I DON'T BELIEVE THERE IS A GENRE
OF TRAVEL WRITING, ACTUALLY.
AND IF THERE IS, I DON'T
WANT TO BELONG TO IT.
LEAST OF ALL, THAT ASPECT OF
IT WHICH IS THOUGHT OF AS
BEING AN ADJUNCT TO
THE TOURIST INDUSTRY.
SOME TIME AGO, I WAS IN LOS
ANGELES, AND I WAS ASKED
TO READ A PASSAGE FROM
MY BOOK ABOUT VENICE.
SO AS A SPECIALIST IN PURPLE
PASSAGES, I THOUGHT I'D GO THE
WHOLE HOG, AND GIVE THEM
A REALLY PURPLE ONE.
THIS IS WHAT I READ.
WE'RE GOING OUT OF THE PIAZZA
SAN MARCO, INTO THE BASILICA.

She puts on her glasses and reads AND THUS WE PASS, INTO THE
OLD CAVERN OF THE BASILICA,
GOLDEN WITH MOSAICS.
ITS PAVEMENT HEAVING
IN ELABORATE PATTERNS.
ITS DIM-LIT SPACES PIERCED
WITH FIGURES GLEAMING
WITH TREASURE.
DUSTY AND DRAB AND OPAQUE
WITH CENTURIES OF INCENSE.
CLUTTERED WITH CHAPELS AND
GALLERIES AND UNSUSPECTED
ALTARS, WITH A GREAT ORGAN
REVERBERATING ABOVE US,
MINGLED WITH THE THUMPING
OF THE CAFE DRUMS OUTSIDE.
AND AN ENDLESS MOVEMENT OF
PRIESTS, SIGHT SEERS, VERGERS,
GROUPS OF COUNTRY FOLK,
CHILDREN, NUNS, AND A HAZE OF
DUST, SLIDING ACROSS THE OPEN
DOORS, AND A SOLITARY PROUD
PIGEON, STRUTTING ANGRILY
AWAY, ACROSS THE CROOKED FLOOR
TOWARD THE SUNSHINE
OF THE PIAZZA.
EXCUSE ME, SAYS A GUY IN
THE FRONT ROW, THE MINUTE
I'VE FINISHED.
EXCUSE ME, DO YOU HAVE TO
PAY TO GET INTO THAT CHURCH?
[laughter]
YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN.
I REALLY AM NOT THAT
SORT OF A WRITER.
I DON'T PRETEND TO ADVISE
PEOPLE WHAT TO SEE IN A PLACE,
OR TELL THEM WHAT THEY
OUGHT TO FEEL ABOUT IT.
ALL I DO IS EXPRESS MY OWN
PERSONAL RESPONSES TO A PLACE.
THE RESPONSES OF
MY OWN SENSIBILITY.
IT MAY WELL BE WRONG,
BUT THAT'S ALL IT IS.
YOU'VE GOT TO TAKE
IT OR LEAVE IT.
SO I THOUGHT I'D BEGIN BY
READING A FEW PASSAGES TO
ILLUSTRATE THIS OTHER
KIND OF TRAVEL WRITING.
AND WE BEGIN IN BEIJING.
IT'S ABOUT THE KIND OF POWER
LINE WHICH COMES OUT OF THE
FORBIDDEN CITY OF BEIJING,
THROUGH THE SUBURBS, AND DOWN
TO THE TEMPLE OF
HEAVEN TO THE SOUTH.
THREE TIMES A YEAR, IN OLE
PEKING, THE EMPEROR JOURNEYED
TO THIS HOLY PLACE TO
COMMUNICATE WITH HIS ONLY
SUPERIORS, THE
GODS THEMSELVES.
ALL WINDOWS WERE SHUTTERED FOR
HIS PASSING, AND THE CITY WAS
PLUNGED IN SILENCE.
AND THOUGH WE, OURSELVES CAN
TAKE THE 116 BUS DOWN THERE,
STILL, A MIGHTY SUGGESTION OF
CELESTIAL COLLUSION AWAITS US
THERE, AS IT AWAITED HIM.
AFTER SUNDRY RITES AND
SACRIFICES IN THE TEMPLE
COMPLEX, IT WAS HIS DUTY TO
ASCEND THE CIRCULAR MOUND,
BUILT IN ARCANE CONFIGURATIONS
OF THE NUMBER NINE.
THERE TO SEAL THE INTIMATE
ASSOCIATION BETWEEN THIS CITY,
AND THE ULTIMATE SOURCE OF ALL
AUTHORITY, DESTINY ITSELF.
WE WILL DO THE SAME.
UP THOSE TERRACES WE GO, TO
THE WIDE, ROUND PLATFORM
AT THE TOP.
AND ON THE SLAB IN THE VERY
CENTRE, WE WILL STAND LIKE THE
SON OF HEAVEN BEFORE US AND
SPEAK ALOUD TO THE GODS.
ALL POWER IS ILLUSION, WE MAY
IMPERTINENTLY CHOOSE TO CRY.
AND INSTANTLY, BY SOME EERIE
MANIPULATION OF THE ACOUSTICS,
WE FIND OURSELVES SURROUNDED
BY THE SOUND OF IT.
POWER, POWER, POWER, ILLUSION,
ILLUSION, EMBRACING US WITHIN
THE ECHO OF OUR OWN THOUGHTS,
AND MAKING US FEEL THAT WE
REALLY DO STAND AT THE BOTTOM
OF A CYLINDER, REACHING
DIRECTLY FROM THAT STONE ON
THE MOUND IN BEIJING, CHINA,
TO THE EMPEROR OR
CHAIRMAN OF ALL THINGS.
BUT AS A MATTER OF FACT,
YOU DO HAVE TO PAY
TO GET IN THAT TEMPLE.
[laughter]

(music plays)

Back in the interview, Jan says I'VE JUST BEEN REVIEWING
FREYA STARK'S LEDGERS.
YOU KNOW WHO IS FREYA
STARK, I EXPECT?
YES.

A female interviewer says TELL US.

Jan says WELL, AN ENGLISH LADY, BORN
IN ITALY, REALLY BORN IN ITALY.
[laughter]
WHO BECAME TRULY ONE OF THE
GREAT TRAVELLERS OF HER AGE.
A GREAT LINGUIST.
A GREAT ADVENTURER.
TRAVELLED IN ARABIAN COUNTRIES
WHEN IT WAS DANGEROUS FOR
ANYBODY TO GO.
TRAVELLED IN IRAN, ALONG THE
SOUTHERN COAST OF TURKEY.
SHE'S DONE EVERYTHING
UNDER THE SUN.
SHE'S NOW IN HER NINETIES.
AND A SELECTED EDITION OF HER
LETTERS HAS JUST COME OUT.
AND I'VE BEEN REVIEWING IT.
AND NEVER ONCE DOES THIS
MAGNIFICENT LADY COMPLAIN
ABOUT BEING A WOMAN
WHEN SHE'S TRAVELLING.
ON THE CONTRARY.
SHE CONSTANTLY SAYS
WHAT ADVANTAGE IT IS.
AND THE REASON, I THINK, AND
I FIND IT MYSELF VERY MUCH,
IS THAT FOR BETTER OR
FOR WORSE, NOBODY THINKS
YOU'RE THREATENING THEM.
THE MAN, EVEN THE WIMPISHEST
OF MEN, NEVERTHELESS HAS THAT
ELEMENT OF THREAT
TO HIM, I THINK.
THE WOMAN DOESN'T.
AND BY AND LARGE, PEOPLE
TRULY ARE KINDER TO YOU.
JUST AS PERHAPS YOU
ARE KINDER TO THEM.
FREYA STARK, NEVER, AS I SAY,
NEVER ONCE SAYS THAT SHE HAS
DISADVANTAGES, AND CONSTANTLY
THROUGH HER LETTERS, THERE
COMES A SORT OF SIMILAR
PHRASE, THE PASHA, THE POLICE
CHIEF, THE PRIME MINISTER,
WAS VERY HOSTILE.
BUT HE SOON MELTED
INTO BENEVOLENCE.
[laughter]

On the stage, Jan says HERE'S THE BEGINNING OF
AN ESSAY ABOUT MANHATTAN.
She reads SOMETIMES, FROM HIGH OFFICE
WINDOWS IN MANHATTAN, YOU CAN
MAKE OUT A FAINT, WHITE BLOB
IN THE GREEN OF CENTRAL PARK
FAR BELOW.
IT IS LIKE THE UNRESOLVED
BLUR OF A NEBULA
IN THE NIGHT SKY.
AND JUST AS THROUGH A
TELESCOPE, THE FUZZ IN
ANDROMEDA RESOLVES ITSELF
INTO THE NEBULA M 31, SO THAT
WHITISH OBJECT IN THE PARK
DEFINED THROUGH BINOCULARS,
BECOMES A PHENOMENON
HARDLY LESS SPECTACULAR.
IT IS THE POLAR BEAR IN
THE CENTRAL PARK ZOO.
AND EVEN AS YOU FOCUS
YOUR LENSES, BRINGING HIS
INDISTINCT PHYSIQUE INTO
CLARITY, WITH A SHAGGY SHAKE
OF HIS HEAD, HE SWINGS HIS
GREAT FORM VIGOROUSLY FROM ONE
EXTREMITY OF HIS
CAGE TO THE OTHER.
THE BEAR LIVES ALONE IN HIS
COMPOUND DOWN THERE, AND I'M
TOLD HE'S A CHARACTER OF WEIRD
AND FORCEFUL ORIGINALITY.
SADLY NEUROTIC, SOME
INFORMANT SUGGESTED.
GENUINELY IMAGINATIVE,
OTHERS THOUGHT.
HE'S A BEAR LIKE NO OTHER.
AND IT'S NOT THE FACT OF HIS
CAPTIVITY THAT MAKES HIM SO
I'M SURE, BUT ITS
REMARKABLE LOCATION.
DESTINY HAS DEPOSITED THAT
ANIMAL PLUM IN THE MIDDLE
OF MANHATTAN.
YOU MIGHT SAY HE'S THE
CENTRAL NEW YORKER.
HE AFFECTS ME PROFOUNDLY
WHENEVER I SEE HIM.
AND WHEN I PUT MY BINOCULARS
DOWN, AND ONLY THE SUGGESTION
OF HIM REMAINS, APPARENTLY,
INANIMATE AMONG THE TREES, ALL
AROUND HIM, IN MY MIND'S EYE,
THE MARVELLOUS AND TERRIBLE
ISLAND OF MANHATTAN
CONCENTRICALLY EXTENDS.
RING AFTER RING OF CAGE, DITCH
OR RAMPART, PRECINCT, LIMIT,
AND ELECTORAL BOUNDARY.
HUDSON EAST RIVER,
AND ATLANTIC ITSELF.
THE GREATEST OF ALL ZOOS,
WHOSE INHABITANTS PROWL UP AND
DOWN, LIKE VICTIMS OF SOME
TERRIFIC SPELL FOREVER AND
EVER WITHIN IT.
[applause]
THANK YOU.
MY OWN FAVOURITE TRAVEL
BOOK IS HORREBOWE'S
NATURAL HISTORY
OF ICELAND,
1787.
I'M SURE YOU KNOW IT.
[laughter]
BUT JUST IN CASE YOU'VE
FORGOTTEN, I'LL REMIND YOU
OF ITS NATURE.
IT'S A COLLECTION OF CHAPTERS,
EACH ABOUT A DIFFERENT ASPECT
OF ICELAND.
AND EACH PHRASE, THE TITLE OF
THE CHAPTER IS PHRASED IN THE
SAME WAY.
SO WE HAVE A CHAPTER
CONCERNING COD IN ICELAND,
CONCERNING VOLCANOES IN
ICELAND, CONCERNING THE
WEATHER IN ICELAND.
BUT MY FAVOURITE CHAPTER IS
CHAPTER 17, WHICH CONSISTS IN
ITS ENTIRETY OF THE FOLLOWING.
CHAPTER 17, CONCERNING
OWLS IN ICELAND.
THERE ARE NO OWLS IN ICELAND.
[laughter]
THAT'S THE SORT OF MINIMALIST
TRAVEL WRITING THAT I,
MYSELF, PREFER.

(violin music plays)

In the interview, Jan says I HAVE TWO CULTURES BECAUSE I
AM WELSH ON MY FATHER'S SIDE,
AND ENGLISH ON
MY MOTHER'S SIDE.
AND THEY ARE TWO QUITE
DISTINCT SITUATIONS, I THINK,
FOR WOMEN WRITERS.
AND IN ENGLAND, I HAVE ALWAYS
THOUGHT, THAT LIKE MOST THINGS,
VERY LARGELY A
MATTER OF CLASS.
THERE'S NEVER BEEN ANY
SHORTAGE OF WOMEN WRITERS,
FAMOUS AND ADMIRED WOMEN
WRITERS IN ENGLAND.
AT SOME PERIODS,
MORE THAN MEN.
BUT NEARLY ALL OF THEM HAVE
BEEN PEOPLE FROM THE LIBERAL,
EDUCATED CLASSES.
AND THERE'S BEEN NO PROBLEM
AT ALL IN THEIR ACCEPTANCE
AND IN THEIR ADMIRATION.
AND MY EXPERIENCE WAS IN
ENGLAND, WHEN I WAS TOPPLING
BETWEEN THE GENDERS, THAT THE
CLASS OF SOCIETY THAT FOUND
THIS EASIEST TO UNDERSTAND,
AND TO TAKE, WAS THAT VERY
CLASS, THE EDUCATED, LIBERAL
EDUCATED, UPPER CLASS
ENGLISH PEOPLE.
IT WAS NO PROBLEM TO THEM.
THEY DIDN'T CARE TUPPENCE
WHETHER I WAS MALE OR FEMALE.
AND I THINK IT'S TRUE TODAY.
THEY DON'T CARE WHETHER A
BOOK IS BY A MAN OR A WOMAN.
IN WALES, IT'S BEEN A
TOTALLY DIFFERENT THING.
BECAUSE, IN MANY WAYS, THE
WOMEN OF WALES HAVE BEEN THE
TORCH-BEARERS OF CULTURE, IN
A LARGELY CLASSLESS SOCIETY.
IN WALES, WHICH IS A TOUGH,
RUGGED COUNTRY, NOT UNLIKE
NEWFOUNDLAND.
She laughs and continues THE MEN HAVE
NEARLY ALWAYS HAD TO EARN
THEIR LIVING BY TOUGH MEANS --
BY FARMING, BY GOING TO SEA,
OR BY GOING INTO BUSINESS.
AND ALTHOUGH IN PREVIOUS
TIMES, IN THE MIDDLE AGES,
THERE WAS A VERY FAMOUS AND
LONG TRADITION OF MALE POETRY,
IN LATER YEARS, WHEN THE
TRADITION MOMENTARILY DIED,
AND IN PARTICULAR WHEN
RELIGION TOOK OVER WALES,
NONCONFORMIST RELIGION TOOK
OVER MOST ASPECTS OF WELSH
SOCIETY, AND FORCED EVERY
SORT OF LITERARY THOUGHT INTO
RELIGIOUS MOULDS, THAT PEOPLE
WHO STOOD OUTSIDE THIS WERE,
ABOVE ALL, THE SCHOOLTEACHERS.
THEY WERE ALL WOMEN.
THEY WERE THE PEOPLE WHO
KEPT ALIVE THIS OLDER,
LIBERAL TRADITION.
AND THEY EDUCATED, I HAVE TO
SAY, VERY OFTEN MEN, TO BE OUR
WRITERS AND OUR ACTORS
AND OUR THINKERS.
I CAN THINK OF IMMEDIATELY,
OF COURSE, AS YOU CAN, OF
EMMELINE WILLIAMS, OR RICHARD
BURTON, BOTH OF WHOM WENT
THROUGH THIS PROCESS.
ALTHOUGH IN BOTH SOCIETIES
WOMEN HAVE BEEN VERY MUCH
RESPECTED, IN WALES, IT'S BEEN
REALLY UNIVERSAL BECAUSE THE
WOMAN SCHOOLTEACHER HAS BEEN
THE MOST ADMIRED AND RESPECTED
MEMBER OF THE SOCIETY.
IN ENGLAND, I THINK IT'S BEEN
VERY MUCH AMONG THE ELITE WHO
DON'T CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT
MATTERS OF SEX AND GENDER.
PERHAPS BEING SLIGHTLY
UNDERSEXED THEMSELVES.
[laughter]

Before continuing the reading, Jan says AND HERE'S A BIT IN WHICH I
TRY TO EXPRESS THE NATURE OF
AN ENTIRE COUNTRY IN A
LITTLE TINY BIT OF LAND.
AT FIRST SIGHT, SUCH PLACES,
I'M TALKING ABOUT SOME LITTLE
PLACE IN THE BACK COUNTRY OF
WALES, AT FIRST SIGHT, SUCH
PLACES SELDOM SEEM
ANYTHING SPECIAL.
A GLADE OF A GREEN LANE,
PERHAPS, A THICKET BEHIND
A FARM.
BUT THEY CAN BE
HEADY OF SENSATION.
SMALL, TWISTED, AND LICHEN
OAKS MAY STAND ABOUT.
BOULDERS AFUZZED WITH MOSS.
CROOKED OLD IRON FENCES ARE
PATCHED WITH WIRE MESH
AGAINST THE SHEEP.
AND THE GRASS EDGES AWAY INTO
SEDGY DITCH ON DEW POND
AT THE SIDE OF THE TRACK.
EVERYTHING SEEMED KNOBBLY
BENT, SPLIT, OR COMPLICATED.
AND EVEN AS YOU STAND THERE,
INTRIGUED, AND PERHAPS A
LITTLE DISTURBED BY THE SUDDEN
STILL OF IT, CAW, CAW, ALL AT
ONCE THE ROOKS SWARM TUMBLING
AND QUARRELLING AROUND THE
HIGH BEECH TREES, AND MAKE YOU
FEEL YOU ARE INTRUDING UPON
SOMETHING OLD, STRANGE,
AND CONFIDENTIAL.
OR MOST ELLIPTICALLY, MOST
MICRO COSMICALLY OF ALL,
THE WHOLE SENSATION OF RURAL
WALES CAN BE CONCENTRATED
INTO ONE SMALL PATCH OF GROUND.
A FOOT OR TWO SQUARE, IF
THAT GROUND IS WELSH ENOUGH.
IF IT'S TUFTED AND FERNED
AND MOSSED ENOUGH THAT IS.
IF ITS SLAB OF STONE IS
SUFFICIENTLY MOTTLED.
IF THE EARTH IS PROPERLY
PEATY, AND THE AIR SLIGHTLY
MUSHROOMY.
AND IF, EVEN AS YOU STARE AT
IT, IT IS PLUNGED INTO SHADE
BY THE MOVEMENT OF THE CLOUDS
ABOVE, WHILE THE GREAT BLOB
OF WELSH RAIN FALLS QUIVERING
UPON ITS BOULDER, AND A
SUDDEN GUST OF WIND SWISHES
THE REEDS AROUND ITS EDGES.
I READ THAT PIECE IN
AUSTRALIA, EARLIER THIS YEAR,
AND A LADY IN THE
AUDIENCE CRIED.
[laughter]
I'M CRYING A BIT NOW.
SORRY TO BLOW MY NOSE
WITH A FACE FLANNEL.
BUT AS A MATTER OF FACT,
THERE'S A CRAZY REASON
FOR DOING IT.
SOME YEARS AGO I WAS
WRITING ABOUT OTTAWA.
AND I HAD RATHER A SNIFFLY
COLD, AND I WAS GOING TO
A RATHER GRAND PARTY.
AND I THOUGHT, KNOWING CANADA
AS I DO, IT WOULD BE FUN, AS
I HAD A COLD, AND AS I WAS
GOING TO THE PARTY, TO TAKE
ALONG, NOT A DAINTY LACE
HANDKERCHIEF, BUT A FACE
FLANNEL FROM THE HOTEL.
AND TO SEE WHAT THE REACTIONS
OF THE CANADIANS WOULD BE
TO THIS GESTURE.
WELL, IT WORKED A TREAT.
IT GAVE ME TWO OR THREE
LINES FOR MY ESSAY.
BUT IT ALSO ABSOLUTELY HOOKED
ME ON THE FACE FLANNEL.
THIS ONE'S FROM THE RITZ
CARLTON IN MONTREAL.

[laughter]
[applause]

(music plays)

Jan says IN AMERICA, YEARS AND YEARS
AGO, I HAD TWO VERY SMALL
CHILDREN WITH ME, AND THEY
OPENED INNUMERABLE DOORS.
THE ONLY THING I WOULD LIKE TO
BE ABLE TO TRAVEL WITH IS A CAT.
I THINK THAT WOULD
BE EVEN BETTER.
AND I'VE ALWAYS THOUGHT THE
BEST SORT OF HOTEL WOULD BE
A HOTEL THAT WOULD
OFFER YOU A CAT.
[laughter]
[applause]

Standing on the stage, Jan says HERE'S A TOTALLY
IMAGINED CHARACTER.
TO ILLUSTRATE A CITY I DON'T
THINK I NEED TO NAME, REALLY.
BUT DON'T WORRY,
IT ISN'T TORONTO.
She reads KEV, KEV, TIME
YOU GOT GOING.
GEE, SANDRA, IT'S
RAINING OUT THERE.
TV SAYS IT'S FINING UP.
YOU'RE NOT CROOK, ARE YOU KEV?
IT'S ALL THAT BOOZE,
YOU KNOW, KEV.
YOU KNOW WHAT THE DOCTOR SAID.
CUT DOWN ON THE
BOOZE, HE SAID.
NO WONDER YOU'RE
CROOK IN THE MORNINGS.
THE HUMAN BODY CAN
TAKE ONLY SO MUCH.
BUT KEV HAS
SLIPPED OUT BY NOW.
AND WITH HIS OFFICE GEAR SLUNG
IN HIS BACKPACK, IS AWAY AND
UP THE STEPS, AND HALFWAY
ALONG THE APPROACH TO THE
GREAT BRIDGE.
IF HE WAS CROOK,
HE'S CROOK NO MORE.
FOR THE TV WAS RIGHT, THE
RAIN CLEARS, AS IF BY MAGIC.
AND ALL THE GLORY OF THE
WINTER MORNING UNFOLDS OVER
THE WATER, AS HE BREAKS INTO
HIS JOG ALONG THE SIDEWALK.
HE'S JOINING THE
STREAM OF LIFE ITSELF.
TO HIS RIGHT, THE
SUBURBAN TRAINS CLATTER.
THE COMMUTER CARS LURCH IN FITS
AND STARTS TOWARDS THE CITY.
TO HIS LEFT, FERRIES
BUSTLE ACROSS THE HARBOUR.
THE FIRST HYDROFOIL IS
STREAKING IN A FOAMING CURVE
TOWARDS THE SEA.
THE VERY FIRST YACHT IS
SLEEPING FROM ITS MOORINGS,
AND A TUG IS ON ITS WAY,
RIDING LIGHTS STILL BURNING,
TO MEET THE TOWERING FREIGHTER
JUST APPEARING AROUND
THE HEADLAND.
ON THE HARBOUR BRIDGE,
THERE ARE ALREADY PLENTY
OF PEOPLE ABOUT.
HE OVERTAKES BRISKLY WALKING
BUSINESSMEN WITH BRIEFCASES
AND IDENTICAL MUSTACHES.
HE'S OVERTAKEN BY HUGE
ATHLETES IN SWEAT BANDS AND
SLOGANNED SHIRTS.
ARCHETYPAL SCHOOLBOYS LOITER
THEIR WAY, SATCHELS DANGLING,
RELUCTANTLY TOWARDS
THEIR EDUCATION.
AHEAD OF HIM, BETWEEN THE
MASSIVE PYLONS OF THE BRIDGE,
THE CITY TOWERS ARE BEGINNING
TO GLEAM IN THE SUN.
THERE'S A FLASHING OF UPPER
WINDOWS, AND A FLUTTERING OF
FLAGS IN AND OUT OF SHADOW,
AND A GOLDEN SHINE FROM THE
OBSERVATION DECK OF THE
TALLEST TOWER OF ALL.
IT IS AS THOUGH THE INNOCENCE
OF THE MORNING HAS INFECTED
THE WHOLE SCENE AND
MADE EVERYTHING YOUNG.
PRISTINE VIGOR IS ON THE AIR,
VERY FRESH AND GOOD FOR YOU.
LIKE ORANGE JUICE.
BY THE TIME KEV REACHES HIS
OFFICE ON THE 17th FLOOR,
HE FEELS HE'S NEVER DRUNK A
TINNIER FOSTERS IN HIS LIFE.
AND LOOKING BACK UPON THE
SCURRYING FERRIES OF THE
CIRCULAR QUAY, THE FLYING
WHITE ROOVES OF THE OPERA
HOUSE, THE TRAFFIC STILL
STREAMING ACROSS THE BRIDGE,
THE RISING SUN, AND THE WATER
AND THE GREEN PARKLANDS ALL
AROUND, SILENTLY, HE
CONGRATULATES HIMSELF ONCE
MORE, AS HE DOES EVERY
MORNING, AS A MATTER OF
PRINCIPLE, UPON HIS GREAT
GOOD FORTUNE ON BEING BORN
AN AUSTRALIAN.
[laughter]
Jan says AND HERE'S THE ENDING
TO MY BOOK ON VENICE.
ABOUT THE ONLY LINE I'VE
EVER WRITTEN THAT GETS INTO
DICTIONARY'S QUOTATIONS.
THE LAST LINE OF
THE WHOLE BOOK.
HERE WE GO.
IT'S A FANCY BOOK.
IT ENDS LIKE THIS.
She reads IN THE END, THE GLORY OF THE
PLACE LIES IN THE GRAND FACT
OF VENICE HERSELF.
THE BRILLIANCE AND STRANGENESS
OF HER HISTORY, THE WIDE
MELANCHOLY LAGOON THAT
SURROUNDS HER, THE CONVOLUTED
SEA SPLENDOUR THAT KEEPS
HER TO THIS DAY UNIQUE
AMONG THE CITIES.
WHEN AT LAST YOU LEAVE THESE
WATERS, PACK AWAY YOUR STRAW
HAT AND SWING OUT TO SEA, ALL
THE OLD DAZZLE OF VENICE WILL
LINGER IN YOUR MIND, AND HER
SMELL OF MUD, INCENSE, FISH,
AGE, FILTH, AND VELVET, WILL
HANG AROUND YOUR NOSTRILS.
AND THE SOFT LAP OF HER BACK
CANALS WILL ECHO IN YOUR EARS.
AND WHEREVER YOU GO IN LIFE,
YOU WILL FEEL SOMEWHERE OVER
YOUR SHOULDER, A PINK
CASTELLATED SHIMMERING
PRESENCE, THE DOMES AND
RIGGINGS AND CROOKED PINNACLES
OF THE SERENISSIMA.
THERE'S ROMANCE FOR YOU.
THERE'S THE LUST AND
DARK WINE OF VENICE.
NO WONDER GEORGE ELIOT'S
HUSBAND FELL INTO THE
GRAND CANAL.
[laughter]
[applause]
IN THE GERMAN TRANSLATION OF
THAT BOOK, THEY DROPPED THE
LAST LINE.
[laughter]
TOO FRIVOLOUS, I SUPPOSE.
HERE'S THE END OF THAT
MANHATTAN ESSAY THAT WE
STARTED WITH EARLIER.
WE GO BACK AT THE END OF THE
PIECE INTO CENTRAL PARK.
I CHANCED, ONE DAY IN THE
PARK, OFF THE JOGGERS'
CIRCUIT, TO COME ACROSS A
YOUNG BLACK MAN FAST ASLEEP
UPON A BENCH BELOW THE LAKE.
HIS OVERCOAT WAS THROWN OVER
HIM, HIS BOOTS WERE PLACED
NEATLY SIDE BY SIDE
UPON THE GROUND.
HIS HEAD UPON HIS CLASPED
HANDS, AS IN KINDERGARTEN
PLAYS, HE WAS BREATHING
REGULARLY, AND GENTLY,
AS THOUGH BEWITCHED.
EVEN AS I WATCHED, A GREY
SQUIRREL, SKIPPING ACROSS THE
GREEN, LEAPT ACROSS HIS LEGS
TO THE BACK OF THE BENCH,
WHERE IT SAT, TREMULOUSLY
CHEWING, AS SQUIRRELS DO.
AND SUDDENLY, ALMOST AT THE
SAME TIME, THERE AROSE ONE OF
THOSE BRISK GUSTS OF WIND,
TANGY WITH SALT, WHICH NOW AND
THEN BLOW A BREATH OF THE
OCEAN INVIGORATINGLY THROUGH
NEW YORK.
A SCATTER OF LEAVES AND
FALLEN BLOSSOMS CAME WITH IT,
FLICKED AND EDDIED
ABOUT THE BENCH.
THE SQUIRREL PAUSED, TWITCHED
AGAIN, AND VANISHED.
THE BLACK MAN OPENED HIS EYES,
AS THE BREEZE DUSTED HIS FACE.
AND SEEING ME STANDING THERE
BEMUSED, SMILED ME A SLOW,
SLEEPY SMILE.
BE NOT AFEARED, I SAID
RIDICULOUSLY, ON THE SPUR
OF THE MOMENT.
THE ISLE IS FULL OF NOISES.
YEAH, THE MAN REPLIED,
STRETCHING AND SCRATCHING
MIGHTILY IN THE MORNING.
BUGS, TOO.
[laughter]
AND HERE WE SAY GOOD-BYE TO
KEV, AT THE END OF HIS LONG DAY.
JUST AS NO MAN IS A HERO TO
HIS VALET, SO NO CITY IS A
PARAGON TO ITS INHABITANTS,
ESPECIALLY AT THE END OF A
HARD DAY IN THE OFFICE.
AND BY 5:30, KEV'S MORNING
EUPHORIA HAD LONG WORN OFF.
THE FERRIES DOWN THERE ARE
JAMMED TO THE GUNNELS
WITH COMMUTERS.
THE BRIDGE LOOKS
SOLID WITH TRAFFIC.
IT'S DRIZZLING AGAIN.
BUGGER IT, KEV REMEMBERS.
TONIGHT'S THE NIGHT
FOR ANDREW AND MARGE.
AVOCADOS AGAIN, YOU
CAN BET YOUR LIFE.
AND THEY'LL PROBABLY BRING
THAT SNOTTY BRAT, DOMINIC,
TO CRAWL AROUND THE TABLE.
NIGHT, Mr. EVANS.
NIGHT, AVRIE,
SILLY BITCH.
NIGHT, KEV.
'NIGHT JIM, YOU
POT-BELLIED OCKER.
JEEZ, THIS RAIN IS MISERABLE.
GET OUT OF THE
ROAD, YOU SILLY SOD.
CHRIST, WHO DREAMED
UP THAT OPERA HOUSE?
WE ALL KNOW WHO PAID
FOR IT, DON'T WE?
[laughter]
AVOCADO AND PRAWNS,
YOU CAN BET YOUR LIFE.
SHIT, LOOK AT THAT TRAFFIC.
LOOK AT THAT MADMAN
IN THE FAIRMONT.
WHO'D LIVE IN A
TOWN LIKE THIS?
I ASK YOU, WE MUST
ALL BE BLOODY LOONIES.
KEV?
KEV?
IS THAT YOU?
MARGE AND ANDREW
ARE HERE, DEAR.
AND THEY'VE BROUGHT
LITTLE DOMINIC WITH THEM.
[laughter]
[applause]

Sitting, Jan says I DON'T, MYSELF, BELIEVE IN
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE MALE
AND THE FEMALE IMAGINATION.
I BELIEVE IN COLOSSAL
DIFFERENCES IN ENVIRONMENT,
AND THE WAY ENVIRONMENT
HAS TREATED MEN AND WOMEN.
BUT I DON'T BELIEVE, AT HEART,
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE OF MIND
OVER IMAGINATION.
AND I THINK THE MYTH OF MY
LIFE HAS BEEN, FIRST, TO TRY
AND EXPRESS THAT.
TO BE A RECONCILING MYTH.
AND TO SHOW THE WAR BETWEEN
THE SEXES IS NONSENSE.
THAT IN MY OPINION, THERE
ISN'T A GULF BETWEEN THE SEXES.
SEX IS A CONTINUUM.
WE'RE SLOTTED IN ON DIFFERENT
SPACES ALONG THAT CONTINUUM.
BUT I'VE LATELY
GONE FURTHER STILL.
She smiles and continues I LIKE TO SEE MY LIFE AS
A RECONCILIATION BETWEEN
THE GENDERS.
I NOW BEGIN TO SEE IT AS
A RECONCILIATION BEYOND
HUMANITY, AS A MATTER OF FACT.
WHEN ALL THIS FIRST CAME OUT,
SOMEBODY IN
THE NEW YORK TIMES
WROTE A SKIT ABOUT ME.
ABOUT AN IMAGINARY PERSON WHO
WANTED TO BECOME A HORSE.
[laughter]
I THINK THEY THOUGHT
IT WOULD HURT ME.
BUT, IN FACT, I THOUGHT IT
WAS A TERRIBLY GOOD IDEA.
[laughter]
AND I NOW BELIEVE THAT,
MARGARET THINKS OF THE
TOXICITY OF THE EARTH AS
BEING OUR CHIEF PROBLEM.
I THINK OUR CHIEF PROBLEM IS
TO RECONCILE OURSELVES TO
THE ANIMALS, FIRST.
AND I FEEL MORE AND MORE THAT
I AM MOVING OUT OF THE HUMAN
RANGE AND JOINING THE HORSES.
[laughter]

Speaking to the audience, Jan says THE ONE BOOK I'VE WRITTEN
THAT I DO RECOGNIZE AS A
TRAVEL BOOK IS THE STORY OF
MY OWN JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE,
CONUNDRUM.
AND I'M SURE I NEEDN'T
TELL YOU THE DETAILS
OF MY PECULIAR JOURNEY.
I'M QUITE SURE MOST OF YOU
ARE FAR MORE INTERESTED
IN ME THAN ANYTHING I WROTE.
BUT IT HAS BEEN A JOURNEY.
A MYSTERIOUS ONE.
TO ME, ANYWAY.
BUT SOMETIMES AN
ENTERTAINING ONE, TOO.
AND I MUST TELL YOU, BEFORE
I GIVE YOU THE ENDING, THAT
SOME YEARS AGO, I WENT BACK
TO VENICE WITH A GERMAN
TELEVISION CREW TO
MAKE A FILM ABOUT IT.
I FIRST WENT TO VENICE AS AN
OFFICER OF THE BRITISH ARMY.
AND I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE FUN,
ON THIS OCCASION, TO GO TO
THE EXACT HOUSE IN WHICH A
BROTHER OFFICER AND I HAD
BEEN BILLETED AT THE END
OF THE WAR IN VENICE.
SO THE GERMANS AND I
TODDLED OVER TO THE ISLAND.
BUT THE HOUSE HAD BEEN
TURNED INTO A SCHOOL.
AND THE GARDENER ARRIVED AT
THE GATE AND SAID WE CAN'T
COME FILMING IN HERE
BECAUSE IT'S A SCHOOL.
AND I SAID, OH, DEAR ME, WHAT
A PITY THAT IS BECAUSE YEARS
AND YEARS AGO, I USED TO
LIVE IN THIS VERY HOUSE.
AH, SIGNORA, SAID THE
GARDENER, AND HIS REPLY I
THOUGHT PUT EVERYTHING IN
PERSPECTIVE, AND ALSO SHOWED
WHAT CHARMING LIARS
ITALIANS CAN BE.
AH, SIGNORA, HE SAID,
I REMEMBER YOU WELL.
[laughter]
IT HAS ELEMENTS OF COMEDY.
IT HAS, NEVERTHELESS,
BEEN A MYSTERY TO ME.
IT'S BEEN A MYSTIC JOURNEY.
SO LET ME END THIS READING
WITH THE NEW CONCLUSION THAT I
PUT ON TO THE BOOK
CONUNDRUM
WHEN A NEW EDITION CAME OUT A
YEAR OR TWO AGO.
She reads AS TO MYSELF, I'M
WANDERING STILL.
MY LOVES REMAIN
THE SAME LOVES.
MY FAMILY, MY WORK, A FRIEND
OR TWO, MY CATS AND MY BOOKS,
MY HOUSE BETWEEN THE MOUNTAINS
AND THE SEA, THE PRESENCE OF
WALES AROUND ME.
AND HAVE I DISCOVERED, YOU
MAY ASK, THE REAL PURPOSE OF
MY PILGRIMAGE?
THE LAST SOLUTION
TO MY CONUNDRUM?
SOMETIMES, DOWN BY THE RIVER,
I ALMOST THINK I HAVE.
BUT THEN, THE LIGHT CHANGES,
THE WIND SHIFTS, A CLOUD MOVES
ACROSS THE SUN, AND THE
MEANING OF IT ALL, ONCE AGAIN,
ESCAPES ME.
[applause]

(classical music plays)

The end credits roll.

Produced and Directed by Tracey Fisher.

Executive Producer, Michael Vaughan.

A Production of TV Ontario.

Copyright The Ontario Educational Communications Authority 1988.

Watch: Jan Morris