Posts tagged with “my life”

Posted 2 months ago

Friday night at the Troxy

This is what I’m doing on Friday. It’s a crazy expensive ticket for a rep movie, but the price is right when it’s for the right cause: it’s hard to quantify just how much this film means to me. It was my first encounter with Shakespeare, Thoreau, Tennyson. My brother and I watched it a hundred times, my parents worried that Neil’s suicide would make an impression on our far too young minds. It certainly did. But not as much as that central dictum: “carpe diem. seize the day. Make your life extraordinary.” It should be no surprise to anybody who knows me well that I have suffered, and I have had therapy, and I was saved (temporarily, because it’s a constant battle against that big black dog) from my own depression by the realisation that I misunderstood that idea. An extraordinary life doesn’t mean success, wealth and fame, it doesn’t mean triumph, boasting, power, measuring yourself against others. An extraordinary life is one spent believing that every day has something to offer, no matter how small or large. Fighting every day to keep going, be kind, stay open. Choosing to adjust navigation techniques depending on the ebb and flow. It’s hard work, an extraordinary life. I will be able to quote along tomorrow, through some inevitable tears. So don’t judge me if I give my hard-earned cash to Secret Cinema hipsters*, or I fall for the easy emotion of a celebrity death. I’m nothing but an idealist trying to grow up. 

Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

* All profits from the screening are going to charity. There will be other screenings in different venues, to be announced on the Secret Cinema social channels.

If you are in the UK and cannot attend the event (sold out in 4 minutes!), please consider giving a donation to Mind, the amazing mental health charity that helped me to ask for help and put me in touch with my therapist. Thank you.

Posted 2 months ago

Birthday thoughts

I woke up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall asleep again. I read about Robin Williams and I’m saddened and shocked in ways that surprise me. If you had asked me eight hours ago to list my favourite actors, or my favourite films, the top ten list wouldn’t have included neither Robin Williams, nor one of his many wonderful (and some terrible) movies (because who doesn’t have at least one terrible movie they are ridiculously fond of? Mine is Strange Days). But I’m looking back now and I can’t help but thinking that I grew up with Robin Williams. He was a nanny for all of us. From Mork to Professor Keating, from Mrs Doubtfire to Genie, he was a constant companion of my childhood and youth - a playful friend, a teacher. For my more grown-up self he was Garp. So many hours spent in his company. And now, at 5:03am as my birthday kicks in, I realise that it’s the things we don’t know we know that make us. What’s under the surface, what’s at the core of us has been moulded and sculpted by experiences and emotions that we are not in control of. That’s beautiful - and scary, if you find that below the surface lies something darker than you expected. (I had this very powerful experience on Saturday at the latest Marina Abramovic performance: a sense that once you are alone with yourself, something is exposed that can be extremely revelatory. I was surprised to find a sense of peace and resolution in myself at that time - I started off from turmoil, worry, mental and physical hyperactivity, accompanied by some of the demons that have been pestering me in the last five or so years - self-doubt and fear of the future. A pleasant inner glow has been accompanying me since. And my Chinese friend C. informed me that Jupiter moved into Leo a month ago, so it’s currently, apparently, a great cosmic time for those of us born under its star.) So here’s what we learn from the passing of a great man. That “the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.” I have this Frank O’Hara poem stuck in my head, and I’m thinking let’s move on, keep passing the open windows and beware the undertoad, and love each other and take good care of ourselves, and try to enjoy this crazy world such as it is with its ups and downs, despite war, depression and the unbearable melancholy of Sunday nights, and a happy fucking bangarang birthday to me


Oh! kangaroos, sequins, chocolate sodas!
You really are beautiful! Pearls,
harmonicas, jujubes, aspirins! all
the stuff they’ve always talked about

still makes a poem a surprise!
These things are with us every day
even on beachheads and biers. They
do have meaning. They’re strong as rocks.


Posted 1 year ago

Five things I thought I would have by now AND five things I do have. Conclusions to be drawn by reader.

List I

1. A house, or a flat, or a room of my own.
2. A child, or maybe three (two boys and a girl preferably).
3. A job with a regular salary, and responsibilities, and the space to be creative and professional.
4. A dog (a pointer called Chekhov, or a Labrador called John Irving).
5. A sense of knowing what I’m doing and who I am and what tomorrow is going to bring.

List II

1. A husband who loves me, and whom I love (full range of emotions and small pleasures and unintended cruelties of intimacy included).
2. A handful of Really Good Friends I value above all else.
3. A terrifying sense of uncertainty towards the future.
4. A soft toy armadillo called Owen (after Owen Meany).
5. A dangerous tendency to swing wildly between putting myself down and picking myself up.

Posted 1 year ago
Me at 33

Me at 33

Posted 1 year ago

The Smashing Pumpkins - Thirty-Three (via SmashingPumpkinsVEVO)

Tomorrow’s just an excuse (when tomorrow you’re 33)

Posted 1 year ago

(via Literature Pictured Series No 4 - MobyDick Screenprint by erinkendig)

"Oh, grassy glades! oh, ever vernal endless landscapes in the soul; in ye, — though long parched by the dead drought of the earthy life, — in ye, men yet may roll, like young horses in new morning clover; and for some few fleeting moments, feel the cool dew of the life immortal on them. Would to God these blessed calms would last. But the mingled, mingling threads of life are woven by warp and woof: calms crossed by storms, a storm for every calm. There is no steady unretracing progress in this life; we do not advance through fixed gradations, and at the last one pause: — through infancy’s unconscious spell, boyhood’s thoughtless faith, adolescence’ doubt (the common doom), then scepticism, then disbelief, resting at last in manhood’s pondering repose of If. But once gone through, we trace the round again; and are infants, boys, and men, and Ifs eternally.” [Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or The Whale, Chapter 114 The Glider] 

Posted 1 year ago
I have never believed in a single truth. Neither my own, nor those of others. I believe all schools, all theories can be useful in some place, at some time. But I have discovered that one can only live by a passionate, and absolute, identification with a point of view.
However, as time goes by, as we change, as the world changes, targets alter and the viewpoint shifts. Looking back over many years of essays written, ideas spoken in many places on so many varied occasions, one thing strikes me as being consistent. For a point of view to be of any use at all one must commit oneself totally to it, one must defend it to the very death. Yet, at the same time, there is an inner voice that murmurs: “Don’t take it too seriously. Hold on tight, let go lightly.”

Peter Brook, The Shifting Point

These words were once pinned to the cork pinboard in front of my working desk. I had completely forgotten how much this resonated with my entire worldview back then, and how much, for me, this is and has always been accurate and true. Of course. Of course. Of course the answer to the seismic shifts in my life was going to come from the theatre. Of course it is all coming back to me now. Now that everything is shifting around me once again, now that I realise that maybe I have been doing it wrong, maybe striving for stillness in a shifting world is the wrong strategy. Now is the time to let go lightly, so that I can continue to hold on tight. 

Posted 1 year ago

Guido: “What is this flash of joy that’s giving me new life? Please forgive me sweet creatures; I didn’t realize, I didn’t know. How right it is to accept you, to love, you… and how simple! Luisa, I feel I’ve been set free. Everything looks good to me, it has a sense, it’s true. How I wish I could explain, but I can’t… everything’s going back to what it was. Everything’s confused again, but that confusion is me; how I am, not how I’d like to be. And I’m not afraid to tell the truth now, what I don’t know, what I’m seeking. Only like that do I feel alive and I can look into your loyal eyes without shame. Life is a party, let’s live it together. I can’t say anything else, to you or others. Take me as I am, if you can… it’s the only way we can try to find each other.” [click image to play the greatest and most imaginative final scene in the history of cinema]

Posted 1 year ago

Planning my Christmas watchlist: we have traditional offerings of In Bruges on 23rd, Casablanca on 24th, The Godfather Part I on 25th. And from the 26th onwards I’ll be re-watching the original TV cut of Fanny and Alexander.

Posted 1 year ago
We are adept, if occasionally embarrassed, at saying what we make of places - but we are far less good at saying what places make of us. For some time now it has seemed to me that the two questions we should ask of any strong landscape are these: firstly, what do I know when I am in this place that I can know nowhere else? And then, vainly, what does this place know of me that I cannot know of myself?

Robert MacfarlaneThe Old Ways: A Journey on Foot, Chapter 2. Path

Just started reading Robert Macfarlane’s beautifully written book about walking paths in Great Britain and I’m hooked. Too many travel/psycho-geographical books concentrate on telling about other places and people, cataloguing anecdotes and outward observation, but I’ve always found travelling an inner, essentially self-centered personal experience. Whenever I travel I ask myself: who am I here in this place? What does this place do to me? Macfarlane’s questions turn inward to the walker-writer: they resonate with the uncertain explorer, the Odyssean traveller who travels not to settle elsewhere, but to return home enriched from the exploration.

Besides this fundamental philosophical understanding of travel (and walking as travel), what attracted me to this book was a renewed interest in rural Great Britain. Funny, not since I was a teenager have I been so attracted to the idea of hiking in the Lake District, driving through the Scottish Highlands, and returning to the Cotswolds - my favourite part of England: the beautiful hills and fields of Warwickshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and the Chilterns where I spent a few years while at university.

When I moved to London I turned into a complete urban creature, seeking stimuli and conversations with the past in the web of the city. Maybe this book will give me the necessary enthusiasm to go walking in the country again.