John Hume – Respect

John Hume 1971 derry

At a civil rights march in Derry 1971

“Difference is of the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict. The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace – respect for diversity.”

John Hume – Nobel Peace Prize Lecture 1998

 

john hume

MP for Foyle & Leader of the SDLP

Alan Parker and the curse count

the commitments alan parker movie film

The Commitments (1991)

I met London-born director Alan Parker once – it was at the Dorchester hotel in Park Lane at some film-related event, around 2004. As we were walking out I took the opportunity to tell him a story about my younger son and The Commitments

Like many parents I tended to show my children movies too young, forgetting the detail of the content. One afternoon I was sitting watching The Commitments with the pair of them, connecting them to the Irish half of their identity. Enfant Terrible No. 2 disappeared off mid-movie for a few minutes to run upstairs and get the stopwatch his Auntie Bernadette had recently bought him. He then reinstalled himself on the sofa and carried on watching, shiny new present in hand. After a while he turned to me (he’s about five at the time) and said: “Dad, do you realise it’s 3 minutes, 48 seconds since the last ‘Fuck’?” like that was some kind of record in linguistic restraint.

I find The Commitments a pretty flawless film, the music performed with brilliant energy, the casting of Andrew Strong as Deco key to the success of the movie.

birdy movie alan parker 1984

Birdy (1984) – Nicolas Cage & Matthew Modine

Whilst I got as excited as the next kid about Bugsy Malone and the splurge guns, it was Birdy, which came out as I started uni, which made a real mark on my growing up. Matthew Modine’s performance is very moving, perfectly supported by a young Nicholas Cage.

Mississippi Burning movie film alan parker 1988

Mississippi Burning (1988) Willem Dafoe & Gene Hackman

Mississippi Burning remains one of my favourite Alan Parker movies. Although it’s probably looked down on these days for having largely white saviours, it’s as cinematic and compelling as you could wish. It would make a great double bill with Ava DuVernay’s  Selma. I’ll be watching it as a single bill this evening in memory and celebration of Alan Parker who went to the Big Studio in the sky yesterday. For me what he stood for was the ability to make entertaining and emotionally satisfying films which were accessible/mainstream and yet imaginative and substantial.

 

Quotation: hands on

After three months of Zooming these words resonate:

david hockney garden painting

A Hockney garden

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.

It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away.”

(Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451)

Schema for Ulysses

To mark Bloomsday 2020 (or Zoomsday as it has widely become known due to Corona Lockdown circumstances this year) I’ve decided to publish Joyce’s 1921 schema for the novel (largely for my own convenient reference).

Title Scene Hour Organ Colour Symbol Art Techniq-ue
1

Telemac-hus

The Tower (Sandycove) 8am White & gold Heir Theology Narrative (young)
2

Nestor

The School 10am Brown Horse History Catechism (personal)
3

Proteus

The Strand

(Sandymount strand)

11am Green Tide Philology Monologue (male)
4

Calypso

The House

(Eccles St)

8am Kidney Orange Nymph Economics Narrative (mature)
5

Lotus Eaters

The Bath 10am Genitals Eucharist Botany & chemistry Narcissism
6

Hades

The Graveyard

(Glasnevin)

11am Heart White & black Caretaker Religion Incubism
7

Aeolus

The Newspaper 12 noon Lungs Red Editor Rhetoric Enthymemic
8

Lestrygo-nians

The Lunch 1pm Oesophagus Constables Architecture Peristaltic
9

Scylla & Chary-bdis

The Library

(National Library)

2pm Brain Stratford & London Literature Dialectic
10

Wanderi-ng Rocks

The Streets 3pm Blood Citizens Mechanics Labyrinth
11

Sirens

The Concert Room

(Ormond Hotel)

4pm Ear (Gold & Bronze) Barmaids Music Fuga per canonem
12

Cyclops

The Tavern 5pm Muscle Fenian Politics Gigantism
13

Nausica-a

The Rocks

(Sandymount strand)

8pm Eye, nose Grey & blue Virgin Painting Tumescence / detumescence
14

Oxen of the Sun

The Hospital (Holles St) 10pm Womb White Mothers Medicine Embryonic development
15

Circe

The Brothel 12am Locomotor apparatus Whore Magic Hallucination
16

Eumaeu-s

The Shelter 1am Nerves Sailors Navigation Narrative (old)
17

Ithaca

The House

(Eccles St)

2am Skeleton Comets Science Catechism (impersonal)
18

Penelop-e

The Bed

(Eccles St)

Flesh Earth Monologue (female)

We had a three hour reading session on Zoom at sundown with a reading from each chapter, we being the Charles Peake Ulysses Seminar of the University of London/Senate House. I read a section from Ithaca in which our protagonists, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, have a piss out back of the latter’s house after a night on the town.

Screenshot 2020-06-16 18.09.59

I re-started my third reading of the book today to mark the occasion. My plan is to keep reading it on an endless cycle until I drop into the black hole myself.

Then they follow: dropping into a hole one after the other.

[Hades]

My Ulysses library copies editions book james joyce

A big chunk of my Ulysses library

A Canadian academy award for ‘Take Me To Prom’

Take Me to Prom‘, the glittery creation of Canadian director Andrew Moir, won the Best Short Documentary award at the recent Canadian Screen Awards run by the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.

2020 BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY CANADIAN SCREEN AWARDS

I co-commissioned the film at Real Stories (Little Dot Studios, alongside my colleague Alex Hryniewicz) with Lesley Birchard at CBC (Canadian national broadcaster). The film is very much Andrew’s baby – he had a clear vision and he drove it through with absolute confidence in what was in his head.

The film revisits the iconic North American adolescent milestone of High School Prom through interviews with LGBTQ people ranging in age from 17 to 88, showing how things have moved on over seven decades (there is one representative of each decade).

take me to prom cbc real stories

It is currently Short of the Week (on Short of the Week).

take me to prom cbc real stories

We also co-commissioned the charming Finding Fukue as a CBC-Real Stories Original. I believe it holds the record for CBC Short Docs viewing on their YouTube channel (6.5M views and climbing). It’s a very different documentary to Prom but equally high quality – directed by Jessica Stuart.

Pictures and words for another Finn & Finnegansfolk

In the part of Finnegans Wake we are currently studying in our seminar group at University of London/Senate House (online at present in the era of the new spunnish grippe) there is a reference (p.548) to the Isle of Eigg in the Inner Hebrides.

With Impress of Asias and Queen Colombia for her pairanymphs and the singing sands for herbrides’ music

When I first arrived at Channel 4 I was tasked with establishing IDEASFACTORY, a talent and creative enterprise development initiative. The person hired to run the Highlands & Islands region of the network lives on Eigg (Population: 110). I am in the habit of sending her literary references to the island when I come across them.

The first I stumbled across was in Evelyn Waugh’s Officers & Gentlemen. [Oct 2018]

The second was in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. [Oct 2018, Rome]

James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is the third so far. [May 2020, Lockdown London]

Lucy, my old colleague, has kindly sent some information from Eigg (where her emails are @eiggbox.com and @isleofeigg.net) about these “singing sands”:

The Singing Sands are on the far north west coast of Eigg, looking out towards the Isle of Rum. They are named the Singing Sands because they squeak when scuffed underfoot; although only on dry sand. The sand is quartz, eroded from the Valtos Jurassic sandstone the north end of the island is made up of. Apparently, the grains are very even shaped, making them more squeaky!

The long straight formation in the pictures I sent [see below] is a basalt dyke. The basalt is harder than the sandstone which was eroded by the sea to create the dykes. There are a lot of these dykes stretching out from the shore between Singing Sands and Laig Bay to the south.

One thing I find amazing is that sometimes when you go down there, there’s no sand at all, just rock. All the sand has been swept out to sea. It must sit just off the beach on the seabed to be swept back up on the beach at the next high tide. Laig Bay beach is just half a mile or so to the south of Singing Sands. It’s the most photographed beach on Eigg. At low tide the sea goes right out, making the long beach even more impressive. The sand on Laig beach is a mixture of quartz black basalt and white shell, leaving distinctive fern and swirl patterns as the water recedes. Two beaches, very close together, but completely different sands. I don’t know if the Singing Sands sand falls down into a deep trough and so doesn’t move south, but that’s how I imagine it.

Singing Sands have two other names – Camus Sgiotaig. Camus means Bay, but the meaning of Sgiotaig (prounced Ski-Tig) is unknown, probably an Old Norse word. There are a lot of Norse words used in and around the Small Isles of Eigg, Rum, Muck and Canna. Singing Sands are also known as Tràigh na Bigil which means chirping beach (Tràigh = beach), but most folk here just call it Singing Sands, or (less so) Camus Sgiotaig.

Beach is one of the words in my very limited Irish vocabulary – in Irish Gaelic it’s Trá. Trá – Tràigh clearly close cousins. A lot of Norse words are also used in the Wake because of Dublin’s connection with Viking invaders.

Lucy made a special trek to the Singing Sands for our group and made this video to demonstrate the ‘singing’ Play Video [11 secs]

She also send this video for us to see the beach and hear the wind and birds Play Video [20 secs]

And she kindly took&sent these photos too:

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

Camus Sgiotaig

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

the singing sands for herbrides’ music

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

a basalt dyke

Isle of Eigg inner hebrides scotland island beach singing sands

Lucy also sent me some singing sands sand through the post – it hasn’t yet arrived as it’s dependent on the ferry service which is reduced due to the plague.

Lucy is involved with Eigg Box which supports artists and creative entrepreneurs living on or visiting the Isle of Eigg.

Eggs are significant in the Wake as Finnegan died falling off a ladder and is frequently compared to Humpty Dumpty who fell off a wall and was equally fucked.

Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

The Fall of Lucifer - Gustave Dore

Lucifer had a great fall (The Fall of Lucifer – Gustave Dore)

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Fresco

Adam & Eve had a great fall (from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Fresco)

More people who had big falls.

Pictures for Finn

After Lunch (1975) by Patrick Caulfield [1936-2005]

After Lunch (1975) by Patrick Caulfield [1936-2005]

Foyer (1973) - Patrick Caulfield

Foyer (1973) by Patrick Caulfield

The Splash (1966) by David Hockney [1937- ]

The Splash (1966) by David Hockney [1937- ]

A Bigger Splash (1967) by David Hockney

A Bigger Splash (1967) by David Hockney

California Bank (1964) by David Hockney

California Bank (1964) by David Hockney

Ed and Mariane (2010) by Julian Opie [1958- ]

Ed and Mariane (2010) by Julian Opie [1958- ]

Graham Coxon (2000) by Julian Opie

Graham Coxon (2000) by Julian Opie

Darcey Bussell (1994) by Allen Jones [1937- ]

Darcey Bussell (1994) by Allen Jones [1937- ]

Coincidence No. 545 – Jackals

I am out running in St Pancras & Islington cemetery, listening to an Audible podcast about writer Robert Harris. He says:

“it’s like coincidences, which happen all the time in life, you can’t have them in fiction, they just don’t work…”

Just before this bit he was talking about how you can write novels about things where we know the ending and gave as his example The Day of the Jackal.

Yesterday I go to my bookshelves to find two things: a crappy entertaining thriller to read again and my copy of Kafka’s complete stories – see Coincidence No. 544. In the pile of crappy thrillers is The Day of the Jackal. It is behind another pile of books and I haven’t set eyes on it in years. I think about reading it (asking myself have I ever got through all of it? maybe I only know the ending from the film) but in the end pick another book set in Berlin in 1963 which appeals to me. And I find the Kafka in an equally obscure spot where two shelves meet and overlap forming a sort of hidden compartment.

Last night I begin both books. The Kafka story I pick out to start with is called Jackals & Arabs and features an old jackal.

When I finish the short Robert Harris podcast I switch to an audiobook I’ve had for a while but not listened to yet – A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. In the opening few minutes it explains the terms Species, Genus and Family. In illustrating the biological Family it mentions, alongside dogs and cats, jackals. 19 minutes in, he explains early man’s position in the middle of the food chain by describing the scene of a giraffe being eaten by hyenas and jackals.

jackal

Coincidence No. 544 – Kafka

The day before yesterday I start reading Kafka’s Last Trial by Benjamin Balint. It is about the court case settling where Franz Kafka’s manuscripts should reside.

Yesterday I see that Facebook has added to People You May Know a certain Beverley Kafka. I don’t know her, it looks like she may be a friend of a friend of my mum.

Today I am walking in East Finchley Cemetery – it is perhaps only the second time I have been in here. (I am writing this in the shade of a spreading old oak.) At the turn to this side of the extensive mid-19C cemetery is the grave of Dorothy Kafka, born 1930, died 1988. The objective of my walk in the cemetery is to find a quiet spot out of the sun to read Kafka’s Last Trial.

I have never met or come across anyone called Kafka before.

In Your Face wins Best Documentary in Lockdown Showcase

As mentioned in the recent Teach us rightly to number our days post, In Your Face, a mid-form documentary I conceived and commissioned for Real Stories/Little Dot Studios, directed and produced by my friend & colleague Simon Goodman of Showem Entertainment who worked his usual magic on the format, won Best Documentary in the Lockdown Short Film Showcase run by London Short Film. The standard of the showcase was very high with such excellent films as The Call Centre and UB-13.

Best-Documentary lockdown short film showcase

Here’s a short Q&A I recorded in lockdown for the showcase:

[8 min watch]

 

 

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