Archive for the ‘simple pleasures’ Category

LA LA Simple Pleasures

Some Simple Pleasures from LA…

A Bigger Splash (1967)

A Bigger Splash (1967)

Diner breakfasts. US bookstores. Vinyl LPs. Back in Black. People-watching in Beverly Hills. Weird shit. Juke boxes. God Only Knows. Ghosts of The Doors. Sunset Marquis hotel. Backless dresses. Smoking on the beach. Automobiles of the 50s and 60s. Short shorts. The colours of swimming pools.

Placeres Simples Quatro

Watching/photos of diving. Flowers. Roof top views (Mediterranean). Chicas with black hair. Sea breeze. Church bells. Tortilla. Long lunches (Mediterranean). Generosity by children. Records. Record shops. Tranquility. Fountains and water in gardens. Watching movies with the Enfants Terribles. Saracens. D’s laugh. Sparrows. Playing Top 3s en famille. Handstands under water. Community.

Chris Wyles scores

Chris Wyles scores as Saracens win the Premiership final

Placeres Simples Tres

Blues guitar. Cafe con leche. The Sagrada Familia (especially the coloured interior light). Sitar at sunset. Crema Catalana. Back in Black (memories of driving to school with JRT). Dappled sunlight in Spanish squares. Flamenco singing in real-life. Parrots (especially escapees in London). Sharing Peking crispy duck. Curvy architecture.

Basilica Of The Sagrada Familia interior

Placeres Simples Dos

Palm trees. Browsing flea markets. Rum’n’Raisin ice cream (especially in South of France, seriously alcohol-soaked). Waves. Working away quietly with someone sleeping in the room. Chalky old-school mineral (Vichy) water. Collecting things. Collections. Traditional shops. Fresh sheets. Beautifully designed playing cards. Harbours. Breasts. Siestas. Playing backgammon in the shade after lunch. Strolling the city at sundown. Teaching your children stuff. Deep sleep.

bicycle playing cards civil war design

Placeres Simples

Learning. Ensaladilla Rusa. Doing handstands under water. Watching action movies with sons. Sunshine. My wedding ring. Wearing shorts. Sitting under a palm tree. Afternoon coffee outdoors. Backgammon. Giving good advice. Cold beer on a hot day. Laughing together.

Lounging Under a Palm Tree

Simple Pleasures inspired by Barcelona

Water. Being in your child’s dreams. Campari & soda on ice. The rhythm of the train. Cool showers in hot places. 3 minute films. Kicking back in hotel rooms. Guacamole. Warm nights in Spanish cities. Being a flaneur.

campari-soda on ice

Reasons to be Cheerful

I’ve decided to revisit the original intention of Simple Pleasures and on a fairly regular basis simply publish some of the simple pleasures which occur to me or cross my path…

The smell of cut grass. The dappled shade of a eucalyptus. Reading in a deckchair. Coffee with cardamom. Lunches as a family. The satisfaction of tidying a drawer. Running in the cemetery (St Pancras & Islington). Being the first one up while the whole house sleeps. Picking out a word for the day. The Robert Elms Show (on BBC Radio London). Reconnecting with old friends. Working out which book(s) to take on a trip. Travelling with one or other son. Baths. Shorts. Taking photos. Pencils. Comic books.

resident_alien_no1

Fuck 9/11

Enjoy the craic, man

Enjoy the craic, man

Another year, another day reclaiming my birth date.

I kicked off the day with a jog round St Pancras & Islington cemetery (at this juncture I’m the world expert on that place) listening to David Crosby on BBC Radio 4’s Master Tapes, great stories from late 60s LAlaLand. I bought a copy of If I Could Only Remember My Name when I got back to the house, struck once again by the odd pricing of music these days – £7 for the MP3 album, £5 for the CD with free MP3s. I hope the Great Digital Rip-Off on books and music gets addressed before too long – you corporate feckers, you’ve got no manufacturing or distribution costs these days, do the right thing.

First food of the day – a blackberry off the bush on our fence.

First work of the day – looking at rough cut of Episode 2 of the short form series I’ve commissioned about Bez, Happy Monday and aspiring politician. This episode was shot in Portmeirion, famed for The Prisoner and suppression of freedom. They probably would have had fracking there if it had been invented. Needless to say this episode is called: I am not a Number.

Next a meeting at Temple tube with Steve Moore, former Channel 4 colleague and always good for a great chat. And this one was a humdinger! Better than a novel…

We went on to visit the Temple to discuss an interesting project of his for 2015. I got a private tour of the Temple Church, a location made popular in recent years thanks to Dan Brown, conducted by the very expert Robin Griffith-Jones, Master of the church, who explained the essence of the Magna Carta to me. I hadn’t grasped he was the Master/some kind of vicar and took him at first as a trendy lawyer with a taste for round-collared shirts.

In the tradition of Video Arts (where are my royalties?) and other such learning there are a convenient three points to grasp:

  1. no taxation without representation
  2. equality in the face of the law / fair trials
  3. constitutional restraint / the monarch is not above the law

Pretty civilised – especially in contrast to the 9/11 fuckers and their ‘values’.

The barons negotiated with King John (was not a bad man, he had his funny ways) in the safety of the church (Joe Public was keen to lynch KJ), a tough week of negotiations guided by William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, evidently the hero of the day. They then all went up West and signed the mother (of all bills of rights).

Then into Channel 4 HQ for a meeting about Don’t Stop the Music (“Give us yer focking instruments!” – Bob Geldof) (“petition donations here dontstopthemusic.co.uk” – Stephen Fry) – no, we mean it, give that old unused instrument of yours here and now.

Followed by a meeting with cake kindly provided by the gals at Antidote Media, a new indie (cake monetary value technically below declarable levels but sentimentally worthy of an entry on declaration of gifts).

In the evening went en famille to The Bald Headed Stag. That was a tip of the hat to my grandmother Rita who used it as the orientation point for all her car journeys regardless of where she was going. Nice drop of green gazpacho, a pint of Normandy cider, then back to ours for a family viewing of Educating the East End.

No nutters in the sky. A flawless day.

in memoriam Rita Harris

in memoriam Rita Harris

Such is life (Day 79)

Highgate near Kenwood London

Slow start – weather was sunny so began with a jog around St Pancras Cemetery and some faffing with computers (having completely forgotten my work email password) and by the time that was all done the moment had arrived to head across town to The Masons Arms in Kensal Green to watch my nephew drumming with a band. I was planning to pop round to see Ossie Clark’s grave in the cemetery behind but the parking meter got the better of me.) From there headed back homewards and stopped at Kenwood where I sat on a bench overlooking the city and did a little writing as the sun sunk behind the trees. Popped into the caff and did some more marginal research for the Music chapter to do with the Sex Pistols’ landmark gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester in June 1976 which ignited Joy Division among other bands.

Back home I moved on from the Music chapter, which I’ll park up now, back to writing the Theatre chapter which I hope to largely complete before Christmas. Straight after Christmas I’ll be focusing on polishing the chapters I’ve written to date, starting with the Literature one which is to serve as my sample chapter. Not my most productive day but WTF, stuff happened, simple pleasures were enjoyed.

boy drumming

text by Jerome K Jerome

text by Jerome K Jerome

Rising from the Ashes

nowhere-boy-anne-marie-duffIf I wanted to boost the SEO for Simple Pleasures part 4 I’d be writing this evening about Jim Morrison, The Snowman, lonelygirl15, Dylan Thomas, Lara Croft and Albert Camus, but I’ve got other stuff in mind, first and foremost The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley, London N2. I’m just back from there where we went for a family matinee outing to watch Glorious 39.

Glorious 39 is considerably less glorious than Inglourious Basterds – basically it belongs on TV like many BBC Films ‘movies’ – but the Phoenix itself was its usual blaze of Art Deco glory, gilded but faded but ready to rise again in even greater splendor…

…which is why two nights ago I arranged a preview screening of Nowhere Boy at the Phoenix. It was just the second public screening of Sam Taylor-Wood’s new film about the young John Lennon and it was raising money towards the Phoenix Restoration Fund. The Phoenix is the UK’s oldest purpose-built cinema and to celebrate the centenary of its 1910 opening the charity trust which runs it is striving to complete a major restoration by its 100th birthday next year. (If you feel like donating a couple of quid, you can do that here – we’ve got 90 grand left to raise to release the lottery grant needed to do the job.)

Anne-Marie Duff – of Channel 4’s Shameless, Film4’s Garage and The Virgin Queen fame (especially Shameless! pretty much the best TV drama of the last decade) – kindly pitched up to do a Q&A after the screening and gave a great insight into her intelligent and feeling approach to acting. She plays Julia, John Lennon’s mother, who found herself giving him up as a child but later helping spark his musical genius. The scene of Julia teaching John to play the banjo and then his swift but hard-earned mastery of the instrument is thrilling.

Film4’s Nowhere Boy was rousing. I didn’t like Matt Greenhalgh’s script for Control but this was a story well told and moving. Anne-Marie as Julia and Kristin Scott-Thomas as John’s aunt Mimi (who raised him) were both powerful and affecting, making sense of a tragic love tussle. But the big revelation was the charismatic Aaron Johnson as the young Lennon, old school charisma and strikingness on screen.

Sam Taylor-Wood came in to visit us a couple of years ago at Channel 4 to talk about her work and inspirations, and showed us a short art video depicting the decomposition of a partridge and a peach – very impactful in a short, sharp way. A feature is a very different prospect and she pulled this one off with energy and aplomb. I suspect her interactions with the actors were lacking in experience but the thesps were all good enough to make up for any wooliness in that aspect of the direction.

One of my first insights into Channel 4 was in 1988 when a programme called Lennon /Goldman: the making of a best-seller was being cut in Solus Productions where I was working, my first job. It was about the rather grubby biographer of Elvis and Lenny Bruce and his biog of Lennon which was due to come out shortly after. The director, Binia Tymieniecka, kindly gave me a copy of  it, The Lives of John Lennon, which I dug out after the Phoenix show.  I could see from a cinema ticket bookmark that the last time I had dug it out was in April 1994 when Stephen Woolley (who I believe used to work at the Phoenix) & Nik Powell’s Backbeat came out. The inscription reads: You’ve heard the gossip. You’ve seen the rough cut. Now read the book. The gossip and the aforementioned insight involved Goldman pulling all his contributions from the documenatry at the 11th hour (not sure what kind of C4 contract allowed for that kind of veto, but Channel 4 was still in its naively golden first decade then).

This week (Tuesday) was the 29th anniversary of John’s death. I remember it clearly – I was in Tijuana in Mexico and saw the headlines in Spanish, struggling to translate them exactly. I associate that time with realising for the first time my eyesight was dodgy, taking off my specs and realising the degree of my myopia (your youropia, his hisopia), getting a bit upset about it as a person who’s always been visually driven, through still and moving pictures. There’s a lot of play in Nowhere Boy about John’s short-sightedness – Mimi’s always reminding him to put on his specs and he’s always taking them off again as soon as he gets out of range. He has to put them on when Paul (superbly played by the fresh-faced Thomas Sangster) is teaching him guitar. The chemistry between John and Paul is palpable. On Tuesday I was listening, trusty ol’ iPod on shuffle, on my walk home past the Phoenix to Yer Blues from the White Album and was greatly struck by the haunting words he wrote in India and recorded just a few miles from the Phoenix at Abbey Road:

Yes I’m lonely wanna die
Yes I’m lonely wanna die
If I ain’t dead already
Ooh girl you know the reason why

In the morning wanna die
In the evening wanna die
If I ain’t dead already
Ooh girl you know the reason why

My mother was of the sky
My father was of the earth
But I am of the universe
And you know what it’s worth
I’m lonely wanna die
If I ain’t dead already
Ooh girl you know the reason why

The eagle picks my eye
The worm he licks my bones
I feel so suicidal
Just like Dylan’s Mr. Jones
Lonely wanna die
If I ain’t dead already
Ooh girl you know the reason why

Black cloud crossed my mind
Blue mist round my soul
Feel so suicidal
Even hate my rock and roll
Wanna die yeah wanna die
If I ain’t dead already
Ooh girl you know the reason why.

The-Snowman

I'm coming down fast but I'm miles above you

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