Sunday, 26 February 2012


I am a year older (again). The trouble with gaining another year is that each time it happens, I am another year further away from my roots. It is one more year since I last saw my parents. The month becomes irrelevant in a sense once so much distance accrues, and the only statistic that matters is the year. Fourteen years since my Dad died, and seven since we lost Mum. The immediate pain has subsided but the underlying hurt never goes far, the wrench of separation and the inability to pick up the phone to share important news - family illness or a sparrowhawk spotted on the back fence, each as vital to share, but with nowhere for the story to go, it rattles around in my head until the details become a network of frustrating syllables without a home, beating me with the knowledge that I am alone inside my mind again. To mention it again would be to tread old boards, the same conversation becomes a performance and the applause is the breeze in the half-peeled posters. I hug my children but I still can't find that shape that I held all of my young life, that I clung to. In every embrace I still seek my Mother. In every turn of the soil I still seek to be like my Father, striving so hard for us every hour that he could, and recovering with sleep under a newspaper in his arm chair. I watch the world with my Mother's eyes and wish that I had known my Father better, learnt more about his past and who he was inside. I missed him in life, I miss them both in death. God is my anchor, but they were my roots, and without them I still often feel adrift in the world, without them to go back to. Still a child.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

A Tale of Two Movies

On Monday, I took our youngest with me to do the weekly grocery shopping. We came home with two DVDs (and the groceries, I hasten to add). One was Gnomeo & Juliet, the other was Rango. Youngest had watched Gnomeo at school with her mates at the end of term and they'd all had a laugh and enjoyed it, so it came recommended at least by a class of 10 year olds. Rango, however, came with no recommendations at all other than the trailer that I'd downloaded to my phone months before.

Gnomeo was first up on Monday night. British animated movie, star cast, songs by Elton John, the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet is acted out by garden ornaments in rival gardens. The animation is great, with some lovely sequences, particularly the fight over the orchid in the greenhouse. The story is well-known already and is re-written adequately. It's a real kids' film, and for me never really rose above panto standard - lots of visual humour for the children, and basic sit-com level jokes for the parents ("I'm not illiterate, my parents were married"). No prizes for guessing that this wasn't my type of film....

So, to Rango the following evening. I'm hoping that this will be The Film to restore my faith in newer animated movies. It's PG, it has Johnny Depp, it's by the team that did Pirates so there's a chance. Well, the opening sequence had us puzzled in a good way, quirky, a bit surreal, then all becomes clearer (at least for a while) and we all settle in to watch this fascinating tale unfold. Rango is a chameleon. This is a story of self-discovery. The animation is stunning, quite incredible at times - the attention to detail mindboggling. The basic storyline, underneath many layers, we have seen hundreds of times before - outsider comes to town, manages to become a hero by accident, gets found out & has to make good. But here, this plays second fiddle to brilliant characters (a town populated by wild west era desert creatures in full western mode), a major local environmental crisis and corruption, jaw-dropping scenery, general quirky weirdness, and a mariachi band of sparrows who pop up occasionally to drop in fatalistic predictions on our hero. The chase scenes are brilliantly inventive. There are quotes from many different films - I don't think we'll get them all for another few watches though. It's quite a long film (one and three quarter hours) but every minute is worth it. Ok, some of the jokes are almost panto ("We are thespians!" "That's illegal in 7 states"), but I'll forgive them that - it's stunning, funny, puzzling & wonderful. As a friend tweeted, it's a total joy to watch. And watch it again we shall (youngest is watching it again already this morning) - but not too often. I don't want to lose the wonder and take this gem for granted.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

social paradox

Caught in one of those annoying contradictions - you want to say what you really think but you can't because too many people are watching. The internet, social networking are great for sharing your thoughts, but there are some times, just some, when you want to just vent into space and not have everyone worry or think you're fishing for sympathy. A verbal scream into a pillow, a one-off rant that you hope people will miss but that will make you feel better for having said it. And yet all of those people whose sympathy or concern you'd get if you vented are people whose sympathy you'd crave if it was a matter of life or death - you'd need their support. I know, selfish - maybe even writing all of this down has helped. I've ranted mildly about ranting.

Does anyone have a self-help group for that? *wanders dazed out into the dusk*

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Arty meanderings...

I've posted some holiday photos recently, all scenic ones, and a few people have commented as to how much they like them... it got me thinking that maybe I should try & make something of it. I trained as an artist but have never made any real attempt at any sort of gainful income from my training. Maybe I've been wasting my gifts? Current thoughts are self-publishing a book of photos selected from the thousands that I've got stored, and also from that vast library of mostly mediocre pictures to find some that people may want to buy as cards. Both of these avenues could potentially cost very little to try, if what these free this'n'that sites offer is REALLY free... I wonder.Anyway, I'm taking my first tentative steps, wrestling with a website builder (site, not a person ;) ), and I have an open file for any images that I feel may be worthy of submission to the general public for approval. Oh yes, and a plan to publish some bad poetry to accompany the photos in the book, if I can write some. Gosh what a creative splurge! Don't hold your breath though, these are long-term projects to be fitted around domestic chores as & when. I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, 19 June 2010


It's been an odd day - Saturdays are often tricky things. Get up later and lose half the day.. Been too tired to be able to make the most of a free day other than mowing the lawns, but have had too many incidentals to be able to completely relax. Seems that I need the adrenalin of having too much to do to be able to function. Oh well. What I'd like to do there's rarely time for, but then having the luxury of time to dwell on that is never productive or helpful. 'Too much to do' keeps my idle hands (and mind) busy. Something that I've come to recognise and accept, a safeguard against my flights of fancy, keeping me on track, and artist's temperament under lock and key. Ha ha, there you are. So the oddness of the day is down to not knowing what to do with this temporary break, like someone handing you £20, and you standing there nonplussed as you've no idea what it's for. This rambling would seem to indicate that the day is coming to an end rather quickly, I suspect...

Monday, 31 May 2010

Rock-lite rant

I was out in the van the other day, it was hot & the windows were down, I had no music of my own on so I had to make do with what anyone else might be listening to in passing. Unfortunately it was the usual streetwise suspects listening to the lowest common denominator stuff again. Someone was playing a disco cover version of the old Hall & Oates song Out Of Touch, sung by a particularly ineffectual female voice. Then it struck me - it's 'Hooked on Classics' for the new millenium. It's old songs that modern yoof cannot cope with, watered down for these musical babes so that they don't get overhwelmed by the awe of musicianship, or even just the idea that people might play instruments instead of just gyrating round their MTV screens. I hope that some of them take the trouble to seek out the original songs, and maybe, just maybe, every now then these diet-songs lead to the full fat versions and proper instrumental nutrition.