PPE Litter

Serkan pointed something out to me last night and I certainly agree it is becoming a real problem: PPE  such as  face masks are being dropped everywhere as litter. I’m starting to see them cluttering up the streets,  as if people throw them onto the ground as  soon as they get off the busses.  It’s rather disgusting, really – those masks could well have the virus on them. I certainly think this is an issue which should be raised and dealt with, then. People must be more responsible with their PPE.

I miss Cricket

A bowler running up towards a wicket.
Oh how I miss watching cricket.
Sat in the park all day long,
the sun on my skin feeling so strong.
Watching batsmen make run after run.
Chasing a total, or setting one.
Yet this year the grass just grows
on fields where there were once such shows.
No bats hitting balls, no cries or cheers.
None of the joys of past years.
Yet next year cricket will be played once more.
Balls being bowled and getting knocked for four.
And I’ll go and sit there all day
Sipping beer in the sun, watching my friends play.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

It is hard to decide what to say about Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. I had never heard of it until my parents recommended it to me yesterday. A netflix film, they said it might amuse me, so I gave it a watch earlier this afternoon. To be honest, what I found myself watching was appalling: it’s basically a Will Farrell vehicle for making fun of Europe and European culture. While some argue that it is a celebration of the camp kitsch synonymous with Eurovision, I detected far more disturbing undertones in the film. For one, nearly all the dialogue is American, by which I mean it sounded as if the screenplay was written by an American (which it was – Farrell himself) who made no attempt to engage with the culture of the people the film is trying to depict. As Will Gompertz says here, ”the depiction of Icelanders and their culture as an unsophisticated bunch of beer-drinking, whale-watching, knitted jumper-wearing innocents is tiresome and ignorant.” All the characters speak using American idioms but using cringeworthy, borderline offensive Icelandic accents.

This is basically an American film trying to mock an aspect of european culture. The campness of eurovision is not celebrated but amplified in order to ridicule it, like an outsider seizing upon and mocking something they do not understand. Any cultural authenticity is thrown out the window in order to give Farrell a chance to mime along to cheesy music while telling an utterly ridiculous, cliche-ridden story. This is Farrell’s attempt to mock europe by dressing up and imitating his perception of it, while acting in the same inherently American way he always does. Thus his character is shown to loathe American tourists; the very tourists who at the end of the film save the day in an utterly ridiculous car chase through Edinburgh.

You can definitely tell this is a Netfix film; it would be hard to see this kind of dross getting any kind of traditional theatrical release. That in itself raises questions about whether online film streaming sites might actually be changing not only how audiences watch films, but also what sort of films get made. Is film as an art changing to become less cinematic and more toned down and suited to smaller screens and more casual types of viewing? If lightweight, derogatory dross like Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga is anything to go by, we cinephiles have a lot to worry about.

The Bridge Across History

Not that I’m becoming a railway geek or anything, but I just got wind of a project so awesome that I just had to note it. Imagine being able to take a train from London all the way to Tokyo. That might be possible sometime soon. Nicknamed the Bridge Across History, it will  make use of the famous Trans-Siberian Express, as well as new infrastructure, such as a twenty-eight mile long bridge from the Russian island of Sikhalin into Japan. It sounds pretty cool to me, although it would take over  a week to do the entire trip, meaning a lot of thumb twiddling.

Finding Lyn’s drawings

Something incredible happened this morning which made my heart ache. I needed to trundle over to Charlton to get another pot of the vitamin tablets I prefer from the chemist there. After picking them up, I  thought I’d pop in  on Paulo. He’s still at Lyn’s, working to sort her things  out; I visit him every few days or so.  A week or two ago I mentioned he could try to find Lyn’s drawings: I remembered  that, some time ago, Lyn showed  me drawings she had done before I met her. Absolutely incredible images drawn by hand, presumably with the  paper taped down. They were clearly built up mark by mark, yet were  so vivid it was difficult to believe a person with such limited dexterity could have drawn them.  They must have taken Lyn hours.

Yet for some reason Lyn seldom spoke of them, and hid them away in a cupboard. A few weeks ago, though, I remembered about them, and asked Paulo  to try to find them. He had no luck, until this morning I had a hunch: I suggested looking in the bottom of a cupboard, and there they were. I was so relieved – the thought of such incredible images being lost was heartbreaking. At least now  they can be stored properly and celebrated. What I find painful is, though, knowing that  the person who created such remarkable images is no longer here.

lyns drawings 2

New Ipad cases

I recently bought a new Ipad. As I said a few  entries ago, my old one was on it’s last legs, and it was time for an upgrade. Having bought it, setting up my new device could barely have been easier: we just had to show my old one to my new one’s camera,  and all my settings and apps were transferred automatically. The problem was, my new  Ipad didn’t fit into my old  Ipad case, so we had to buy a  new one.

The Amazon delivery came the next day, but that’s when the fun started: it consisted of three pieces, a hard plastic case, a clear plastic screen and a  rubbery sock which enclosed both. There was an Amazon video showing you how to put it together, but try as he might, poor Serkan couldn’t get it right. He spent hours  and hours  on it – the video made it look far less fiddly than  it actually was. However we tried, it just didn’t look right. In the end, though, just as both our patiences were beginning to fail, this afternoon everything just seemed to click together, and I suddenly had a brand new Ipad in a pristine-looking, dribble-proof case.

With that, I went  for a walk, while Serkan went for a well deserved nap.

The Biggest Question

Now that it has been announced that lockdown restrictions have started to be lifted,  and that we’ll be able to go to pubs, cafes and cinemas after the fourth of July, I could do an entry discussing the various implications of the social distancing rules being reduced from two metres to one. About how, one one hand people tend not to come that close to me in places like pubs anyway, possibly for fear of getting slobbered on; but on the other,  I often need people like shop assistants and pub  staff to come within a metre of me to do things like  take my money out of my wallet.

Yet I won’t. I won’t write that entry because it isn’t the biggest question today’s announcement raises. For me, the biggest question I now want the answer to is,  when will we at last be able to watch No Time To Die?

Busses and masks

I still try to avoid using busses. Although lockdown is slowly being relaxed, I still think it’s wiser to use a bus only when I have  to. The problem is, wearing a facemask  is now mandatory on a bus, and that’s something I struggle with. A few days ago, I sent a  message to TFL to find out where I stood  on  the issue, and apparently I’m in the exempt group. While  that makes life a bit easier, I still think I should err on the side of caution.  Therefore, whenever I do need to take a bus, I make an effort to control my dribble, swallowing it regularly and wiping my chin. I cover my face whenever I cough, of course. While I am marginally  more likely to take the bus or tube these days, we’re still all in  this mess together after all, so even guys like me have to play our part too.

Everyone thinks they are a photographer these days

Has anyone  noticed that photography seems to be in fashion these days? I just got off the weekly family Skype meeting, and my brothers were talking about which (fairly expensive) cameras they were thinking about buying and what they had been taking pictures of. Also, online I  see people posting pictures they have taken of things like plants,  wildlife or clouds, and talking  about them as though they were semi-professional. Everyone seems to think they are a photographer these days.

I suppose that’s fair enough: due to things like cameraphones,  photography is now more accessible than ever. Yet what these guys don’t seem to realise is that there is more to photography as an art form than just snapping pictures. There is an entire body of theory about how the greatest photographs ‘speak’ to the viewer; they can reveal a form of hidden truth through details which leap out of the image. Roland Barthes called this the Punctum. True photographers familiar with this background discourse know how to achieve this profound effect; otherwise you’re just an amateur with a camera. Photography isn’t as simple as just taking photos. Not only does it require extensive knowledge of things like lighting and framing,  but deep, profound knowledge about how a picture can say something about the reality it depicts,  which takes years to acquire.