Friends who leave no trace

We can all appreciate how wonderful the internet is for keeping in touch. Every morning the first thing I do is check my email, then Facebook. I love how easily I can keep track of old school and university friends. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I was exchanging messages with lee donnelly, a good friend whom I have known since we were both ten. Doing so is important to me, given that the number of my classmates is now fast dwindling.

I was messaging lee, though, from my iPad as I was going about my business in lower Charlton. I popped in to say hi to a guard I know at a factory down there. It transpired during the conversation that he has a son with a severe disability – a kind of severe PMLD. On my way home, I suddenly thought about Kirsty again. I have mentioned her on here before, a long time ago. I wonder how she is, and what became of her. I can’t think of a way of finding out as she probably can’t access the internet. It occurred to me that she, too, may have passed on. A gloomy thought, especially in the festive season; yet I tend to wonder. These days we are used to being able to google a name and find someone, but what about people to leave no trace, shut away in special schools, and now probably in an institution.

Coming back up the hill yesterday evening, returning to the home and woman I love, I thought about a girl I knew once, hoping she could communicate and was thriving. For all I know, she might even be reading this blog. If she is, I wish her my best, and ask her to email me.

be this guy

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Hamburg, 1936; during the celebration for the launch of a ship. In the crowd, one person refused to raise his arm to give the Nazi salute. The man was August Landmesser. He had already been in trouble with the authorities, sentenced to two years hard labor for marrying a Jewish woman. (text and image from facebook)

To life in charlton

Feeling like a fun afternoon packed pub and crowded street

Football match around the corner

Who knows who I’ll meet

***

Cold, but sunny and dry building up a thirst for a beer a sense of excitement in the air building with every cheer

***

A roll around south london Through streets I now know well past every bar and every pub and every old man with a tale to tell

***

So here’s to life in charlton the chaos and the strife full of madness it might be

But also full of life.

the hobbit part 2.

As I was with my review of the first instalment, there is not much I can say about the second part of The Hobbit. I just got home from seeing it at Bexleyheath, and all I can really say is found it stretched out and altogether quite unnecessary. It has no beginning, and absolutely no end; there is quite a lot of backstory, and quite a lot of fighting, but on the whole did not move the overall plot on much. I got the impression that Jackson could easily have stuck to his original pan of just making two films,, but stretched it into three to make more money. Thus I must say I was disappointed, but nevertheless I am now really looking forward to chapter three

Midnight in paris

I rewatched Midnight In Paris last night, and must say I was much more taken with it this time. A film all about nostalgia, in a way it could be seen as Woody Allen’s love letter to paris, or a romanticised vision of the past which he admits to romanticising. I found it fascinating as well as beautiful: ever since I heard about Hemingway – or, rater, the myth of Hemingway – I too have yearned to go back to that period, to see those guys for myself. I loved how they were depicted in the film: the level-headedness of Gertrude Stien, the lunacy of zelda fitzgerald, the directness of Hemingway. I found myself falling in love with that myth all over again.

As soon as it was over I ran into the living room and asked Lyn if we could move to Paris. Needless to say, she did not seem impressed with the idea. I was of course enacting the very thing the film shows to be folly – there is little point to nostalgia, for there were no golden ages. The more I think about that film, the more taken I am by it. I think I’ll definitely have to watch it again soon; it makes some fairly subtle points about art, history, and even film. I think I also need to engage with Hemingway again, as the film showed me things about the old bastard I’d missed. I’m now pretty sure he would loathe the waffling, verbose prose I churn out, Yet I’m fascinated by his attempt to cut writing down to the essential, the very essence of what you are trying to express. Everything else, I’m sure he would say, is bullshit.

This film made me think about such things again, and I can’t now get it out of my head. That, of course, is the mark of a good film – I loved it.

More on this soon, I’m sure.

a real disability-themed night-club?

It is quite a cold day here, but I thought I would take advantage of the dry weather and go for a stroll. The roads are chaos out there – there has been some kind of accident up by the river, so everything is snarled up. Sometimes there are advantages to using pavements. Anyway, somewhere around woolwich I had yet another of my random ideas: would it be possible to set up a real disability-themed night-club?* Could such a place actually work? And could I myself do it, perhaps with Lyn’s help. Certainly there are plenty of disused buildings here in south London we could make use of; and certainly it would help raise the profile of people with disabilities.

I suppose the first question you have to ask is whether such a place is necessary. There are plenty of night clubs around, although not all of them are accessible; why shouldn’t we just party alongside everyone else rather than building or own establishment? On the other hand, it could be useful to have a permanent space in which to show off crip culture, where disabled people can meet and socialize. The paralympics last year began the work of showing the world what a great, vibrant culture disabled people have – could that now be translated into bricks and mortar. I know that other sites are springing up in which all kinds of artists with disabilities show off their work, but none of them has the unique vibrancy of a night-club, so such a place would be unique. It would be a place where disabled and non-disabled people could meet, drink, talk and party; there would be disabled musicians, DJs, comedians and performers; the decor would be disability themed. The ultimate aim would be to have disability fade into the background, so it becomes normal.

Of course, I know nothing about running a night-club, let alone setting one up, so this is probably just a fanciful daydream. I don’t have the capital anyway. Nevertheless I do think this is a good idea, and that there is a need for such a place; this could be worth exploring.

*I know something similar apparently ‘exists’ in online game Secondlife, but given that nobody takes such online phenomena seriously, what I have in mind is far more concrete an would have a much more profound message.

The green man is come!

Today we mark the coming of the Green Man, an ancient deity connected with fertility and/or death. The figure, usually that of a man with a large beard, was adopted into judeo-christian mythology: the midwinter festival most of us are celebrating today has very little to do with jesus of Nazareth. Indeed, as far as I can make out, most contemporary accounts place his birth sometime in spring. Thus this festival is all about the green man, whose green suit was turned red by a certain soft drinks company and who now gives out gifts. Just some random information really, but it strikes me as funny, as we tick into our turkey and guzzle down port, how such things come about. We aren’t celebrating the festival we think.

cinephiliac moments and autism

I still haven’t finished my book. I probably should have read it by now, given I got it last week. But it is theory, and I would prefer to give it my undivided attention for long periods, and I haven’t had chance recently. However, today I would like to make a note of a strange coincidence which occurred to me recently at school. I noticed how children with quite severe autism tended to like short clips of film: they seemed to prefer moments of action rather than extended sequences. We were in class, just going through a few YouTube clips, so I might have just imagined this liking given such clips are usually short. Yet it raised a question in my head. Could it be that people with autism are drawn towards cinephiliac moments by default, albeit via some other mechanism? Of course, the two phenomena are worlds apart: the cinephiliac moment is a moment in film upon which a viewer fixates, often writing about it, describing it. Much has been written about it, and the reasons behind such fixations are incredibly complex. Yet cinephiles describe how they are drawn to moments in film, replaying them over and over again; to see these kids at school echoing the activity of cinephiles struck me as odd.

At first I just dismissed it as coincidence. Film theory and autism are worlds apart, and I was linking two unrelated things similar only on the most superficial level. But am I grasping at straws, or is there something to this? After all, these moments are often based upon contingent or peripheral detail, and we know that people with autism fixate on small minutiae others often dismiss. I know next to nothing about autism, so this might be just another of my wild, baseless ideas, but I think it could be worth looking into, if just to rule it out.

the greatest bit of fan-editing ever

I stumbled over Wholock a couple of weeks ago, and automatically assumed it was the beeb playing around with two of it’s major series in aid of children in need or something. But according to this Metro piece, it was made by a fan. My initial reaction was: ‘that’s not possible’. Watch the film – surely the beeb jus got benedict cumberbatch and matt smith together for a couple of days and filmed it; I was totally convinced. Yet apparently not: it was a fan-made, sewn together mash up. If that is so — and part of me still refuses to believe it – it is the greatest bit of fan-editing ever, and a jaw-dropping example of just how advanced the skills of fan-artists have become.

Congratulations matt and Nicky

Today I just want to congratulate my friends Matt (aka Switch) and Nicky on getting married today. I know them from university, where they met and formed a relationship. I daresay they make a great couple – both are highly intelligent, creative, and just a tad geeky. Here’s hoping that they have a great day, followed by many great years together. I really must hook up with them soon.