Sunday, 20 February 2011

Lancashire, where women die of love.

I'm currently reading a book with this implausible title, by Charles Nevin.

It's a wryly entertaining love letter to the county where, like me, Charles was born and spent his formative years. We English tend to be fiercely loyal to the county (state) of our birth and nowhere more so than in the distant counties north of the influence of this London-centric land.

The attention grabbing title is something more than a gratuitous nod to the marketing people. Apparently,it’s a quotation from a female character in Le Leys dans la Vallée by Honoré de Balzac.

It would be churlish to disagree with her...

After his post graduate cadetship on what was then my local newspaper, the Southport Visiter, Charles went on to greater journalistic endeavours. He is a regular contributor to The Independent, The New Statesman and other quality journals.... … his columns always cheer me up no end.

His writing is so transparently good-natured that only the most curmudgeonly could possibly take offence. His delight in the eccentric, the unlikely and the just plain odd is hilarious and life-enhancing.

This engaging book is one of the best antidotes I know of to 21st Century blues. In it you can (among other things) learn how Napoleon III modelled the grand boulevards of Paris on Southport (maybe), why Butch Cassidy spoke with a Lancastrian accent (perhaps) and why Lancashire was and continues to be the birthplace of such a stunningly high proportion of the country’s comedians (definitely).

This blog is self indulgent I know....but perhaps that is what reading a book through rose tinted spectacles does to one.

I can offer no

It's good to be back.

Monday, 3 May 2010

So farewell Georgy Girl....

Sometimes words can be to much - or not enough.....farewell Lynn....a steady light amidst the brighter ones.....I love her unrehearsed smile at 0:29, in response to something the van driver said...

Monday, 26 April 2010

An outsider's outsider.....

When I heard of the death of the author Alan Sillitoe at the age of 82, I truly felt as if I had lost an old, unmet friend. Alan died yesterday at Charing Cross Hospital in London.

It was Alan who started my journey into my love of British cinema in the 1950s and 1960s when two of his books were turned into movies. I saw Saturday Night And Sunday Morning when I was about 14 years old and it was a history lesson as well as a life lesson.

If you want to summon the grainy, gritty images of the English working class of the1960s, simply picture Tom Courtenay as the young offender rebelling in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, or Albert Finney as the loser and boozer in Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.

Many years ago, when I had a book list to read, on this list was Alan Sillitoe's Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, and to be honest the only reason I picked it up was because it was not a thick-paged book to read! I read the first page and was hooked, and to this day, it is still one of my favourite books.

But there was another figure behind these defiant, alienated men - a thoughtful, self-educated young man named Alan Sillitoe.

"Bill Posters will be Prosecuted," old signs used to read and it took the anarchic eye of Sillitoe to compose a play called The Death of William Posters, in which the poor man is prosecuted indeed.

Alan Sillitoe will be remembered as long as there are rebels - preferably, but not necessarily, rebels with causes.

Look for his books and the movies made from them - they are a treat.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

How wonderful is this?

Ella at her absolute my humble opinion m'
Have a grand week all, I've just had a splendid break...

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris, chestnuts in blossom
Holiday tables under the trees
April in Paris, this is a feeling
That no one can ever reprise
I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
Till April in Paris
Whom can I run to
What have you done to my heart?

Friday, 2 April 2010

lifes absurdities laid bare....

Philip Larkin has always been right up there amongst my favourite poets....his taciturn style has always struck a chord with me...and this chord sounds louder as I get older...laughing.

Have a wonderful, peaceful and blessed Easter nice people.

The Winter Palace

Most people know more as they get older:
I give all that the cold shoulder.

I spent my second quarter-century
Losing what I had learnt at university

And refusing to take in what had happened since.
Now I know none of the names in the public prints.

And am starting to give offence by forgetting faces
And swearing I've never been in certain places.

It will be worth it, if in the end I manage
To blank out whatever it is that is doing the damage.

Then there will be nothing I know.
My mind will fold into itself, like fields, like snow.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sunday she comes...

The Six Nations Rugby Competition has just finished here. France ran out worthy winners....Italy, despite some heroic games, were awarded the wooden spoon. England finished adrift in mid table and this is where we will remain until we learn to play quick ball and hand to hand rugby!

Anyway, grinning, this BBC advert for the Six Nations takes its inspiration from the recent movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as a very plausible Nelson Mandela.

William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Have a grand Sunday, as Spring touches us all............and feel inspired.

Friday, 19 February 2010

...longing for Spring

This is one of my favourite poems, such use of metaphor,imagery and emotion. This week I have been to my third funeral of the year and sad as these occasions are they can often contain such unexpected happiness.

Perhaps, as someone said over drinks later yesterday, this is how we keep in contact with those from our present and our past - alive and dead.

I'm sure that Connie, ever the humanist and cat lover, would have smiled and agreed.

Take care nice people.

By Margaret Atwood.

Time to eat fat
and watch hockey. In the pewter mornings, the cat,
a black fur sausage with yellow
Houdini eyes, jumps up on the bed and tries
to get onto my head. It’s his
way of telling whether or not I’m dead.
If I’m not, he wants to be scratched; if I am
He’ll think of something. He settles
on my chest, breathing his breath
of burped-up meat and musty sofas,
purring like a washboard. Some other tomcat,
not yet a capon, has been spraying our front door,
declaring war. It’s all about sex and territory,
which are what will finish us off
in the long run. Some cat owners around here
should snip a few testicles. If we wise
hominids were sensible, we’d do that too,
or eat our young, like sharks.
But it’s love that does us in. Over and over
again, He shoots, he scores! and famine
crouches in the bedsheets, ambushing the pulsing
eiderdown, and the windchill factor hits
thirty below, and pollution pours
out of our chimneys to keep us warm.
February, month of despair,
with a skewered heart in the centre.
I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries
with a splash of vinegar.
Cat, enough of your greedy whining
and your small pink bumhole.
Off my face! You’re the life principle,
more or less, so get going
on a little optimism around here.
Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.