I’m now quite used to living in a metropolis, in one of the biggest, greatest and most culturally diverse cities on earth; the worlds first and thus far only three-Olympic city. It is quite a shock to my system, then, to return to the town where I was born. We just got in from a walk, and, by and large, congleton is just as I remember it. Of course much as changed; new buildings have come up all over the place, most noticeably housing. Yet it seems to retain the essence of the place I always knew; the essence of a sleepy old nineteenth century market and mill town, provincial and stuck in its ways. I cannot help feeling in two minds about it: a small, overly nostalgic part of me, faced with memories associated with every street, says this is where I belong. But another part of me replies ‘not any more’. This is the place of my childhood and adolescence, yet time never halts. Part of me still loves this quiet provincial place, but now I have tasted the wider world, I thirst for more. Walking past the old daneside theatre just now, for example, I couldn’t help remarking to myself that Monty Python could never have performed there.
As I though I would, I woke up this morning not quite recognising where I was, but then I remembered. I was here, again, in the old family home; the house I was born in, and where I grew up. Truth be told, it feels wierd to be back here: everything has changed, and nothing has. The kitchen has a new suite, yet the old table I ate so many breakfasts and dinners at growing up is still there. My parents have redecorated various rooms, but the piano I taught myself to play the themes from Mash and James Bond on still stands in its place in the dining room. This, then, is he house I remember, homely and warm; a constant throughout all my adventures down in the metropolis. And, as much as I love my life in London, and although my visit will be fairly brief, it feels great to be back here.
I’m off back up north again today, just for a few days. Tonight, all being well, I’ll be sleeping in my old bedroom. It will probably feel weird to wake up back there tomorrow morning, and I must admit I feel rather apprehensive about it. I keep reminding myself everything is ok; Lyn will still be here when I get back next week. Besides, a visit ‘home’ is long overdue: it has been ages since I visited the old family house, or spent any considerable time with my parents. When I think about it that way, I’m quite looking forward to it. A walk around Congleton town centre would be good to, just to see what has changed during my five years in the big city.
I went to see The Force Awakens yesterday afternoon. It’s one of those films which, like it or not, Star Wars fan or not, one has to go watch. Believe it or not, it isn’t half bad. To my surprise, yesterday afternoon I found myself watching quite a decent film, one which I found myself getting into. Of course, I don’t know how much detail I should go into here, not wanting to spoil it for anyone else, but incredibly, Lucas and Abrams seem to have pulled it off: they have given us another episode of a story I, like everyone else, had assumed had been completed; one that doesn’t feel ‘tacked on’, but fits with the originals, and in a way enhances them. It felt great yesterday afternoon to become reacquainted with characters first ‘met’ as a child, and seeing what became of them. The first shot of the Millennium Falcon had me squealing with joy. Thus it seems that I was wrong: there is a need for new Star Wars films; I should not have been so hasty to poo-poo the idea. This wasn’t a continuation of a story just for the sake of it; nor was it the kids film I feared it would be.Star Wars is back, it seems, and jolly good thing too. And this is only the beginning: of course, given that this is only the beginning ant TFA leaves the door open for a continuation, I think we can now look forward to quite a few Star Wars film to come.
I think I’ll share this great picture, taken on christmas day, with you. Lovely, isn’t it? [img description=”undefined image” align=”centre”]/images/christmas table.jpg[/img]
What could be better than a great meal with the person you love?
I am currently watching a program about Dad’s Army on the BBC. I was just thinking: in a way, Dad’s Army could be said to be the british MASH. Of course, in many ways they are completely different, one British one American, yet they are both comedic reactions to war. They both expose it’s futility and absurdity. One is set in Korea, the other in World War Two, but the question occurs: could dads army and MASH be saying the same thing? As a student of culture, that is an intriguing question. Could they, in their own ways, both be reacting to war in the same way? After all, how can one react to the absurdity of war other than with more absurdity?
I would just like to report that I had a very merry christmas day. While I wouldn’t call it quiet due to the number of people in the house, it was fairly relaxed and chilled. Lyn, of course, supplied the music, while Marta cooked us an outstanding (vegetarian) christmas dinner. Dom and Paul were here too, and we all had an excellent time. I received some great presents, and I think Lyn liked the clothes I got her too. Thanks to Skype, we also had a good chat with my parents. In all it was a great day, a day of friends, family, peace and happiness; the type of christmas which, when you think about it the day after, makes you realise how truly lucky you are.
There is a bit of a Christmas present here. After fourty-odd years, John cleese has announced he is going to revive Basil Fawlty. He’s apparently going to reprise the famous scene where Basil attacks a car with a tree branch for a Specsavers advert. While not quite as awesome as when we got wind of the Python reunion, anything concerning the revival of a comedy legend like Basil fawlty is worth keeping an eye on.
I just read that the insult to humanity currently calling himself our prime minister has ”urged people to reflect on Britain’s Christian values in his Christmas message.” At a time when use of foodbanks is at an all-time high, and people across the country are truly struggling due to tory cuts, to have to swallow such sanctimonious shit from this etonian p’tahk is galling. CaMoron goes on: ”Throughout the United Kingdom, some will spend the festive period ill, homeless or alone,” – yeah! In large part as a direct result of your policies, mate. How he has the nerve to make such a speech, pretending to champion ‘christian values’ like hope and charity when through his greed-based politics he can leave people to quite literally starve really gets to me. The sheer hypocrisy, the attempt to present himself as someone who cares about anyone other than himself, is almost too much to stomach.
I’m increasingly getting the impression that film, as an art form and industry, is being reduced down to a matter of franchise competition. As I touched upon here a week or so ago, film seems to have become a matter of major series: all the main production companies have their own franchise, and they all vie for the top spot. Every year or two they all bring out new additions to their own pet series, which they hope will secure it at the forefront of popular imagination. Usually they launch a major advertising campaign, trying to ensure their characters are on every happy meal box and sweet wrapper. We’re currently seeing this with star wars: I still think that the only reason George Lucas wanted to make a new star wars ilm is because his franchise was no longer the ‘big daddy’ of film series. Star Wars as a brand had lost it’s dominant place in mainstream culture to things like Lord of the Rings and Harry potter; where, when one thought ‘film’ or ‘cinema’, Star Wars had been one of the first things to come to mind, one now thought of other things. Lucas was desperate to regain that top cultural position for his beloved franchise; that is the only reason why we’re getting new star wars films – Gandalf had shoved Obi Wan Kanobi aside. It’s not about art any more, but competition for cultural dominance between production companies.
You might say that’s always been the way cinema has conducted itself, certainly since 1977; but it seems to be getting worse. More and more this is the paradigm upon which mainstream cinema is based – why else would Warner brothers be making a new film based in the harry potter universe? Film is now a tool production companies use to compete for cultural dominance, to get attention and money. It’s not about storytelling anymore – why else would they continue to make films about characters after their stories have ended? The result is a mess of never ending narratives which rely more and more on cliche. If this gets much worse, film will soon be a matter of complete dross which people will go to because they ”saw the last one”.