Film, movies, the cinema, the pictures, the silver screen, the flicks, the motion picture has played a dominant role in my life from a very early age, as I’m sure it has in many others. I don’t recall and I wouldn’t want to confabulate, but according to my father, he took me to the cinema in Leicester square circa July 1977 and introduced a 4-year-old version of me to George Lucas’s science fiction cinematic masterpiece, Star Wars. I’m by no means a fan anymore but I’m sure at such a young age the moving picture left an indelible mark on my highly impressionable still forming embryonic mind as I stared wide eyed in the darkness at the huge screen, the celluloid light bursting across the theatre illuminating the auditorium like a religious experience with projector above beaming the film over our heads to be reflected back on the audience with images dancing over us, as we all tucked into our popcorn and watched Joseph Campbell’s ‘Hero with a thousand faces’… in space.
I currently live in a small coastal village by the name of Seabrook in Kent. It is sandwiched between Sandgate and Hythe, and if one is driving from the latter or the former to the other and happens to blink, they will never have known the village existed. This, in itself, gives you an idea of how geographically microscopic the village is.
I have a mirror in my hallway hanging on the wall adjacent to the bathroom door and one above the toilet. Unless I choose to wear clothes in bed, which I have no desire to do, when I take that hazy matutinal stroll to the toilet to empty my bladder I am faced with the body I was ‘blessed’ with, or more to the point, one that I ‘shaped’ over the years. The slightly rotund stomach, the adipose tissue clinging to the sides making ‘love handles’, the ubiquitous ‘Dad’ bod, that women apparently love. Let’s face it, I have my fair share of avoirdupois.
From as early as I can remember I have been a creative person. This I consider a blessing, a true benediction. To be constantly bursting and overflowing with ideas across different formats and genres, adrift and absent in the moment where time is of no consequence with thoughts parading in the background unattended is a state one could only wish to attain constantly. It’s a freedom, a release, a spiritual connection unblemished or untarnished and untangled from emotional thought and subjectivity.
As I ground a canvas coupled with music or the natural soundscape, as the brush is dipped into the paint and the mind/arm/hand move swiftly and symbiotically in tune leaving indelible strokes and marks, as my fingers dance across the keyboard so freely married with the mechanisms of my mind using the alphabet to digitally scribe and bring my thoughts to life, as I strum, bend and hammer the strings of my guitar to interpret my emotion, as the minds meet when I perform in front an audience… I am truly free.
The other night as I settled onto my settee for the evening, I picked up my fridge-cold can of Brewdog, their Elvis Juice flavour to be exact and took a good hefty hearty swig. This was the way to end a night, with our nations much loved ‘alcohol’, the permitted and accepted drug. I was acting out as the rebellious consumer chugging down on a Brewdog and living vicariously through their outrageous and offensive advertising as they ‘disrupt’ the alcohol market with expletives and engage, which I guess could be considered postmodern, in the act of mocking advertising itself. It is an interesting insight into the workings of a society where marketing that uses cussing and coarseness still resounds as an act of rebellion, you only have to look at the millions of people who were willing to pay to have the word FCUK across their chests. But yes, it still grabs the eye of the consumer, and particularly rankles as we work our way through this new age of purity. Does this say more about marketing or about us, the consumer?
For a moment picture the Earth floating through space, this lonely ball of rock placed with exactitude in our solar system, the perfect distance from the Sun for life to begin and flourish, this planet surrounded by other heavenly bodies, all spinning on their axis in what we have called the ‘Universe’. And as we start to move into our world through the clouds, we can begin to see the shapes of blue and green where the aquatic worlds float under the surface and mammals stretch across the land comprised of towns, cities, deserts, mountains, forests and jungles. And what seem like ants from a distance are human beings living within their social structures, their evolved environments, their religions, their economies, their quotidian affairs utilizing some of the most advanced technology enhancing their lives, like never before. We definitely are living in a world of wonder, creativity and leisure. With the touch of a finger, we can access a colossal amount of information that will undoubtably add interest and inform our lives incredibly.
There is a disturbing irony between how human consumption is destroying the Amazon rainforest through our need for vast amounts of resources including logging, agriculture, cattle ranching, mining, oil extraction and dam-building while the other ‘Amazon’ known to us all too well for delivering consumeristic goods at the touch of a button is growing exponentially and taking over the world.
In the last 5 or so years it has been somewhat disturbing yet hilarious to watch flat earthers and their theory gain a little momentum. Let’s be honest who in their right mind seriously believes the Earth is flat? It is antithetical to anyone who views the world through the eyes of rationality. But wait! They may not be wholly wrong, for the world may not be flat, but neither is it round, because as of late, it actually feels fucking square.
As I talk to many people, read many posts on social networks and place my ear to the ground there is clearly an air of fear, rage, anger and despair. People are openly disgusted with the current status quo as they watch their lives get increasingly harder, the price of living climbing out of control and making ends meet a feat in itself as they move slowly through the years.
This against the backdrop of the FAANG corporations making trillions, their governments and associates doing as they please, breaking their own rules that they create for the population and setting new agendas with laws to increase and control through digital surveillance often leads one to think: ‘what can I do?’
It pains me to watch the domestication of the British public. And how obvious it was after the interview between Oprah and the ex-royals. No, I couldn’t watch it, why would you need or even want to? I say ‘need’ simply because you couldn’t not hear about it non-stop afterwards, and oh yes how we have!
There is an extremely interesting case of denial happening within the borders of Great Britain. Nationally we are amazingly good at blowing our own trumpets, looking down our noses at the ‘others’ across the seas and bathing in self-congratulatory for simply being ‘British’. If we were to listen to our own self-indulgent praise, we are angels, leaders of the world that have never put a foot wrong.
51 years ago, in 1970 Joni Mitchell wrote the melodic highly compelling song ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ with the lyrics “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” to alert her listeners to the fact that “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone” which included various different things including trees, animals, her old man and of course paradise. Paradise, of course, comes in many different forms to many different people.
The other night as I lay awake at 3 in the morning, as does happen from time to time, the thought suddenly hit me, among many others, that in 13 years I will be 60. Fuck me 60! I have to admit I felt a twinge of fear, a spike of horror, a stab of insecurity.
Thankfully we now live in a time where collectively racist terms are no longer used by the majority and if they are, people are quick to point out their disgust and move to halt such behaviour. To say the N word or the P word just simply is no longer excusable or acceptable.
Every morning, in a Kantian fashion, I like to rise from bed and walk down to the beach. It’s a walk I generally do in solitude to allow myself 40 minutes or so to compose my thoughts, to allow the dust to settle as each thought fights for prominence and importance in my mind, and with a gentle act of selection I file each one into a somewhat ordered list to work through as the day moves along at its own pace all determined by its sequence of events.
There is a well-known phrase: Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.
But perhaps that should be: Never judge a man until you’ve seen his family killed, witnessed his country being bombed, travelled precariously thousands of miles to find safety and warmth, been vilified in the press and all across social media, then detained and treated like an animal for simply being one of ‘them’ in his shoes.
As we move through this period of COVID with the lengthy lockdowns I have sat in front of the TV more than I would be prepared to admit. I don’t have terrestrial television and refuse to pay for a licence, simply because I don’t use it enough or feel there is actually anything worth watching. I have 5 shelves of DVDs, mainly films you won’t find on Netflix or Now TV, possibly on Amazon, but you would have to pay the extra on top, which I feel is a bit much. These films I return to periodically, like a good novel, as they are such beautiful, in this case, cinematic experiences.
There is a strong difference between conforming and working towards the greater good. There is an even bigger difference between wearing a mask and being under the illusion your freedoms are being rescinded. In this age of individualism and with its dangerous pervasive sense of entitlement it is very easy to fall into a trap and misread what is happening.
Coronavirus is a lot stronger than you think. What did he just say? Yes, I said it: Coronavirus is a lot stronger than you think. You can show me all me the data you want, all the articles declaring it is no stronger than the flu, that wearing a mask is a lot more of a threat, that Sweden’s model is better, but look at what it has achieved. Just look at how easily divided we are. Look at the fissures in our societies. Look at the fear. Look at the ill education across the social media landscapes. Look at the incompetence of the government. Look at the huge spending on a ‘Track and Trace’ app that barely works. Look at the rise of completely illogical conspiracy theories. And look at the mistrust. All that from one virus. One virus. Now that’s an achievement!
It’s extremely hard to accept the words coming from a politician’s mouth, particularly when they are the richest person in the House of Commons with a property portfolio in the UK and America worth around £10 million.
I’m of course talking about Rishi Sunak who has been interpreted to have said in an ITV interview “Musicians and others in the arts should retrain and find other jobs.”
If you don’t know yet, you should know that the reason for Facebook’s existence is not to help you engage with others, share photos, give you freedom of speech or enable you to organize and protest. I cannot help but laugh when people on Facebook post about how their freedom of speech is being taken away when it changes something. Facebook is a business, it is not here as a platform for freedom of speech, in fact freedom of speech is anathema to its business model. Its single sole function is to make money, and how does it do that? It sells us, its users to advertisers. The same model used by TV for many years apart from the BBC which we all have to pay for to see the endless repeats of shows from over the years past.
The face mask is extremely divisive and interesting. There are those who feel they should wear it, who believe the virus is contagious and don’t want to either catch it or pass it on, particularly to the elderly. There are those who don’t believe the virus is as problematic as it’s purported to be, that it’s an attack on our ‘freedoms’ and just a huge cash cow for Big Pharma. And then there are the clearly insane who think we are only a step away from the Nuremberg trials, who obviously never attained their GCSE in history and have no idea of one of the most heinous genocidal crimes in the last 100 years, all fighting for Katie Hopkins hot spot.