Two are the semi-comic ones of Captain Grimes and Paul Pennyfeather, or so Evelyn Waugh similarly titles them as chapter-headings in Decline and Fall. To describe the form they take would spoil the pleasure of the absurd plot, if you haven't read the book or watched the new BBC three-parter. I do remember at university wondering why on earth we were studying such pieces of fluff as this and Vile Bodies, but the serialisation reinforced that the dialogue is so crisp, sharp and laugh-out-loud funny.
All credit to the director and cast for making it consistently so on the screen. I think lad-comedian Jack Whitehall surprised everyone with his pitch-perfect Paul, and though I saw other performances traduced for being too broad-brushstroke, that's surely how Waugh paints them. The main thing, again, is that I laughed a lot at Douglas Hodge's unsquashable Grimes, David Suchet's Dr Fagan ('it do, it do' being one of the funniest rejoinders in the whole thing - you need the context), Stephen Graham's Philbrick and sundry minor caricatures. I warmly agree with every word of Mark Sanderson's review on The Arts Desk. I could ask no more of it than the fact that I've gone back to my old Penguin copy (pictured up top), and who knows, I might continue with a Waugh binge.
'The' resurrection, about which I feel a little like Philip Pullman in The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, is a bit of a sticking point. Can we just take it as a metaphor or a parable, as Rupert Shortt suggests in his otherwise unproblematic (for me) God is No Thing? Perhaps, at least on Easter Day, when we need a 'triumphant' shout after the suffering of the Passion. Anyway, it allows me to put up one more detail from the glorious Vyšší Brod Brod altarpiece, and this superb minimalistic finale of Rachmaninov's Suite No. 1 for two pianos, eventually matching the bellsong of the happy morn with the same 'Christ is Risen' chant Rimsky-Korsakov uses in his Russian Easter Festival Orchestra. Forgive the poor picture, but the sound and performance of Lilya Zilberstein and Martha Argerich are terrific here.
In the meantime, I leave you with a somewhat sacrilegious Easter greeting - either message may be adopted - which has been widely circulated by us from home today.