Archive for the ‘john buchan’ Tag

Coincidences No.s 455, 456, 457, 458 & 459

dorothea-lange-migrant-mother-1936 photograph great depression dust bowl

Dorothea Lange’s iconic ‘Migrant Mother’ (1936)

No. 455 Oakland

I am in the Barbican Art Gallery looking at an exhibition of photographer Dorothea Lange and notice that many of the prints are from the Oakland Museum of California. This reminds me of my friend Richard who lives in Oakland. I send him an email there and then asking if he has seen the exhibition which has or will also be shown in that museum.

I get an email back a few minutes later saying that it is good that I emailed as he happens to be home in London for a funeral. (As a result, we get to meet up a bit later at the Clissold Arms for a drink.)

(I have a documentary shooting at the moment in Oakland – Back to Black.)

sick puppy carl hiaasen book cover design

No.456 Black dogs

I am reading Sick Puppy by Carl Hiaasen. The puppy in question is a black Labrador.

I keep seeing black Labradors everywhere. I saw one on Ness Island yesterday. I saw one in Coldfall Wood a couple of days ago. Since then I saw one at the bow of a small boat in Ullapool. One at Seafood Shack, the award-winning street food outfit in the same town. And someone shared a video on Facebook showing a black lab falling into a river rapid while going after a stick and a golden lab subsequently saving it by grabbing the stick and pulling it out of the fast-running water.

The island that is about to be spoiled through property development in Sick Puppy is being renamed Shearwater Island. The boat that I take to explore the waters around Ullapool is called the Shearwater.

On the way to Ullapool I hear about a shooting at a newspaper office in Maryland, USA, the Capital Gazette. One of the victims is Rob Hiaasen. An unusual surname – it turns out he is related to author Carl, his brother.

The night before I meet a man named Olaf at a dinner given by Scottish Enterprise at Xpo North in Inverness. It is the second time that fairly unusual first name came up in the day. Earlier I meet a Norwegian actress and film-maker who mentions that one of the times you can see there are plenty of Norwegians in London is on Norway Day when they gather at the Norwegian Church in London, St Olav’s (church and seamen’s mission).

the 39 steps john buchan book cover design pan

My first copy (from my dad)

No. 457 Portland Place

I buy a copy of The 39 Steps in Leakey’s bookshop in Inverness. I start reading it by the Moray Firth and on the first couple of pages there is a reference to Portland Place where Richard Hannay rents a flat.

I am walking through Inverness when I find myself in Portland Place (1828). (It contains the most northerly mosque in the UK.)

Naked & Invisible Nude in Newington Channel 4 short form video still

‘Naked & Invisible: Nude in Newington’ (Channel 4)

No. 458 Newington Green

I am sitting next to the chief executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise at dinner. She tells me that her daughter has moved to London – to Newington Green.

I am talking to the chair of the panel I have just done at Xpo North. He tells me his office is in North London. Camden Town? I ask. No, Newington Green.

In my talk for an earlier panel for Skills Development Scotland I refer to a film I commissioned at Channel 4 and there is a still from it in my presentation. It is a scene shot in a greengrocer’s on Newington Green and the title of the episode is Nude in Newington.

Xpo North inverness creative industries scotland

No. 459 Independent filmmakers

Google Alerts points me to an article in a magazine called Filmmaker. I check it out and it is run by an organisation called IFP. This stands for independent filmmakers.

I meet one of the fellow panellists for the session I am doing at Xpo North in Inverness about 21st-century storytelling. Nick is from Brooklyn. His games company is part of IFP (which I’ve never heard of before that article shows up).

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Coincidences No.s 344, 345 & 346

No. 344 (24.4.18)

Burke and Wills explorers Australia

Two bearded men

I am at a meeting at ITV about a project related to Burke & Wills, the Irishman and Englishman who were the first non-natives to cross the heartland of Australia in one of those mad Victorian expeditions.

I get home and in my Facebook feed is a post by an Irish colleague in digital media announcing he is moving to Brighton and does anyone know a good moving company. The one that jumps out at me among the replies is Burke & Wills.

No. 345 (7 & 8.5.18)

Ezra-Pound-poet writer

One slightly bearded man

I am reading Ezra Pound’s Cantos in the garden and look up his Wikipedia entry for some background. At one point it says: “he seemed in an “abject despair, accidie, meaninglessness, abulia, waste”. I haven’t seen the word “accidie” since Mr Fitch taught it to us in Lower Sixth English in relation to something to do with courtly love over three decades ago.

The word comes up again the next day. I am reading John Buchan’s final Edward Leithen novel ‘Sick Heart River’, a very different text and context. (Although both writers had a shared interest in hating Jews.)

No. 346 (5-9.5.18)

Harriet Shaw Weaver in 1907

One clean shaven woman – Harriet Shaw Weaver in 1907

Quakers keep coming up all week. On Saturday I’m walking from Tavistock Square to Euston and when I cut through the gardens of the Quakers HQ opposite the station (Friends House) it is swarming with delegates to some major conference, one where they review their rules (as I hear the next morning on the radio). This is the second time I’ve found myself in this cut-through garden in the last few days – a couple of  days previously it was with my friend Safiya, talking YouTube videos and channels – not too spiritual.

I am reading about Ezra Pound in Wikipedia [see above] – his father was a Quaker; he went to Quaker schools.

I am reading Finn Fordham’s book ‘Lots of Fun at Finnegan’s Wake‘ in the Humanities Reading Room of the British Library – it is the first book I have called up since the Reading Rooms moved here years ago from the British Museum, I got a new Readers Ticket on Saturday. (The last book I called up was a Dr Seuss one called ‘The Big Leap’ as I wanted to use it as the basis of a script – that was back in The British Museum circular reading room where Pound worked daily). In it I learn Joyce’s patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, was a Quaker.

I’m pretty sure there were a couple of other path-crossings with Quakers this week – one to do with a Quaker business.

***

While on the subject of Harriet Shaw, I noticed whilst reading Finn’s book today (Finn leads the Finnegan’s Wake Research Seminar I go to every month at the University of London/Senate House) how appropriate Joyce’s patron was called Weaver as weaving the text into an organic whole seems to have been the goal/result of his compositional method in The Wake, adding layer upon layer and gradually inserting references to other parts of the text to bind it all together.

There seem to be lots of words that connect writing and material/cloth:

weaving – text – texture – textile – Stoff (Ger. material) – stuff – thread – skein

text

late Middle English: from Old Northern French texte, from Latin textus ‘tissue, literary style’ (in medieval Latin, ‘Gospel’), from text– ‘woven’, from the verb texere “to weave, to join, fit together, braid, interweave, construct, fabricate, build” .

 

 

 

 

 

Coincidences No. 405-409

Clairefontaine logo French stationery

“The world is a raging torrent of coincidence, flooded with rivulets of serendipity, cascading into a waterfall of creative connections.” Hedley Lamarr

18/7/17

I receive a proposal for a documentary from a new UK indie. It is about an event that happened in 2013 in Africa. I wrote back to the indie saying:

  • although one of the two protagonists shares my surname and lives in the same suburb of London we are not related…
  • …but the other protagonist (best friend of the first) I have known since she was a child and I was in partnership with her father and mother when I set up a dot com business in 2000
  • meanwhile, his business partner in the new indie is the father of my son’s oldest friend and they’ve been going to the local school together for years.

19/7/17

I’m working at Little Dot’s offices in Shoreditch and pop out for lunch. I walk over to Rivington Street where I worked at a new digital start-up, Forma, a bit before starting up that dot com business, so in the late 90s. I duck into a yard to sit and read my book, ‘Sick Heart River’ by John Buchan. The adventure starts in a town at the edge of the Canadian wilderness called Clairefontaine.

I get back to the desk where I’m working (I like moving around so usually work at the desk of someone who’s away shooting or something) and on top of the pile of hard drives at the edge of the desk is a packet of index cards I hadn’t noticed earlier. The brand on the packet is Clairefontaine.

Mission BX 415 bande dessinee comic book cover

It’s a numbers game

4/6/17

I check into Jury’s Hotel in Sheffield for Doc Campus where I am working with director Leslie Lee on her feature documentary ‘Love Lies Bleeding‘ (w/t). I get allocated Room 415.

I move hotels at the end of the week when Sheffield DocFest starts to the Metropolitan Hotel on the other side of the city. I get allocated Room 415.

26/5/17

Our new book group book gets chosen by Martin Bright who circulates the title. It is ‘Men Without Women’ by Haruki Murakami.

A few days earlier I am walking through Bloomsbury with a production manager/old friend when Hemingway’s book of short stories ‘Men Without Women’ comes up in conversation and I draw the title to her attention. It is not a book I have read or am even familiar with.

25/6/17

Someone I know has a health issue and a documentary director friend of mine kindly refers me on to a family friend who has experience of the problem. The father of the family it turns out is a prominent film/drama director.

That evening I go over to watch a box set with the person with the health issue, one they have singled out from reputation. The director of that particular episode (of 10) is that same prominent film/drama director (the only ep he directed of the series).

The 4 best things to come out of Scotland

While I’m still under the influence of the Macallan’s I thought it best to capture the best of Scotland – I was daydreaming for just a moment at the Burns Night gathering we’ve just been to at Cha Cha Cha in the shadowy alleyways of Muswell Hill, transfixed by a pile of Tunnock’s tea cakes, wondering what else as magnificent as a Tunnock’s Caramel has emerged from north of the border…

1. Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer

tunnocks_caramel_wafer_coasters_gillian_kyle_5

5 layers of wafer, 4 layers of caramel, fully coated in real milk chocolate. The dog’s cahones.

2. Mike Scott of The Waterboys

Waterboys-Mike-S_2005213b

5 layers of Yeats, 4 layers of Dylan, fully coated in real wild Ireland.

3. John Buchan’s stories

7a2386b2ed246507e2151df4540d6276

My favourite copy

5 layers of outdoors, 4 layers of clubland, fully coated in real imperial conservatism.

4. Bobby Wellins’ sax on Starless & Bible Black

Dreams-Are-FreeW

5 layers of melancholy, 4 layers of beauty, fully coated in real jazz delicacy.

 

 

 

Or perhaps you know better…?

Boredom Boredom B’dum B’dum

spiral scratch buzzcocks record

Today is Record Shop Day. I’ve been frequenting mine (Alan’s in East Finchley) plenty recently so I’m just making an internal nod to indy record shops and I’ve just played a classic record Spiral Scratch by (the) Buzzcocks (albeit not on vinyl, I’m in the wrong room) – the track I played is Boredom because I’ve been thinking about it a lot yesterday and today.

I’m living in this movie
But it doesn’t move me
I’m the man that’s waiting for the phone to ring
Hear it ring-a-ding-a-fucking-ding

You know me, I’m acting dumb
You know the scene, very humdrum
Boredom, boredom, boredom

Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe

Elliott Gould as Philip Marlowe

I was just out jogging, listening to a podcast with Irish writer John Banville talking about Raymond Chandler and Philip Marlowe. Banville, under his low-brow pen-name Benjamin Black (which I don’t much like – as fake as they come, a bit like Julian Barnes’ Dan Kavanagh), recently wrote a Marlowe book at the request of Chandler’s estate, The Black-Eyed Blonde. Marlowe stories usually start with the gumshoe sitting bored in his down-at-heel office waiting for something to happen, usually a dame walking through the door to give him a knight-errant mission.

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe

Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe

Robert Donat as Richard Hannay

Robert Donat as Richard Hannay

Then late last night I was listening to a radio programme from BBC Radio 4 called The Buchan Tradition about John Buchan, marking the centenary year of The 39 Steps. Richard Hannay is bored in London at the start of that ripping yarn when lo and behold a spy dies on his living room carpet and the adventure begins.

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes

That’s also often the case with Sherlock Holmes – he’s bored out of his brain, coked off his face, ennui has well and truly set in when a character shows up at 221b with a juicy mystery to solve.

Michael York and Simon Maccorkindale as Carruthers and Davies

Michael York and Simon Maccorkindale as Carruthers and Davies

One of my favourites, a resident of The Shelf of Honour, The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers, opens with the protagonist bored in the “dead and fermenting city”, London in the dog-days of late summer. When the opportunity crops up to sail around the Baltic and North Sea coasts, in spitting distance of imperial Germany, with an English eccentric in an Aran jumper, it’s the perfect cure not just to boredom, but also to the complacency and materialism of modern life. One of my favourite scenes is when Carruthers, the narrator, can’t fit his trunk through the opening into the Dulcibella, the boat he is due to go off for a trip in and he has to dump most of his stuff (which he never really needed).

Martin Sheen as Captain Willard

Martin Sheen as Captain Willard

Recently I watched again one of my all-time favourite movies, Apocalypse Now, with Enfant Terrible No. 1 (a convert to The Godfather movies). Damn it’s good. Great. Nearly perfect. It opens with Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) bored to near-death in a hotel room in Saigon. Waiting for a mission.

Saigon…shit. I’m only in Saigon.
Every time, I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle.

I’m here a week now.  Waiting for a mission.  Getting softer.  Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker.  And every minute Charlie squats in the bush…he gets stronger.  Each time I looked around…the walls moved in a little tighter.

Bored to death

Bored to death

There’s boredom as debilitating ennui as in Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. But there’s also boredom as a motivator, a prompt into adventure. The question is whether in real life the blonde walks through the door or the spy expires on your carpet? Does the ring-a-ding-a-fucking-ding really come?

Lauren-Bacalls-style-The-Big-Sleep Bogart office Marlowe

bogart film noir phone maltese falcon

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