For my friend Nik Ratcliffe, one of the best girlfriends I have.
Kitty Ryan's favourite Singer had been Nat King Cole. She was a girl and then a woman who embodied romantic notions of love, so when she had first heard him crooning from the radio, she knew he was the one for her. It was love at first note.
His rendition of Stardust was therefore the song she had chosen to bid her farewell on her exit from this mortal coil. At last she would be reunited with Frank in the cemetery plot that they had purchased together and in which he had been resting for the past twenty odd years.
Maybe not the most appropriate tune for a funeral Walt pondered as he sat in the church listening to Nat's melodic silken tones, but then again, why not? Who had the final word in their own ending if not for the person who had been the major participant in it? Fair play to Kitty, it was after all her day.
It summed up Kitty and all she had stood for in her 87 years on this planet Walt thought. She had always been an eternal optimist always making time for others, listening to their woes and offering a shoulder to cry on and a sympathetic ear as well as a sweet cup of hot tea. No, no one would dare voice an uncharitable word or cynical eye roll about her musical choice. Quite the opposite in fact, for if they had truly known Kitty, they would be smiling with tears in their eyes.
Walt had met Kitty after he had retired from his life in London to the seaside and moved into the modest little house opposite hers in a quiet back street in Brighton.
All the tiny Victorian cottages were painted in complementary pastel shades that would have looked out of place in any other location other than by the seaside. Walt had liked that, he felt that after all that he had seen, that the tranquil coloured houses were just what he needed. Happy houses he had thought when he had first had laid his eyes upon them.
It was after Walt had just moved in and was finally settled and unpacked, that one sunny afternoon he had first met Kitty. He was tending to the window boxes at the front of the house, when he heard a voice.
“ My Frank always loved flowers. “ it said. Walt turned towards its direction and there was Kitty with her beaming smile.
Walt moved towards her and introduced himself “Walter Hawkins” he said extending his hand out to her. “Please call me Walt.” Kitty took it and said “Katharine Ryan, Kitty, very pleased to meet you Walt.”
She was much older than Walt, mid eighties he thought, but still beautiful and well kept. She had a way about her, a friendly manner that was long gone in so many others these days. It shone out of her like sunshine he thought.
“ I saw that you had moved in, I thought that I would wait until you were more settled before I said hello.” She said “I live just opposite, in the green one.” She indicated with her hand pointing backwards over her right shoulder. “If you need to know anything about the area, who, what or where, just ask.” She continued. “Being a stranger in a new place can often be isolating and we don't want that do we?” She smiled.
“No, indeed we do not.” Said Walt smiling back.
And that was how their friendship had begun, as so many do, with a simple exchange and a smile.
After that day, Walt became more aware of Kitty and her ways. She wasn't a nosy old dear, just a genuine people person. He felt quite protective towards her as their friendship developed and even though she was very independent he would often ask if she needed anything when he was popping out to the shops, or if she needed any help.
“No Walt, I am fine thank you dear.” She would always say.
On bright clear days she would open her front window to “Let the day in and the night out and to cleanse her thoughts.” On those days, Walt would often hear the gentle sounds of Nat King Cole drifting across the road from her house to his. This was always a great comfort to him and would make him smile.
And Kitty wasn't lonely either, as there was always a steady stream of visitors of both family and friends to her home.
One crisp day when Walt was on his way home from from town, Kitty called out through her front window as he was passing and asked him if he'd like to join her for a cup of tea. Why not he thought. Thereafter this became a regular thing between the two of them. Walt soon discovered why Kitty had so many friends. She was a joy and a pleasure, a treasure trove of a human being who was easy to talk to and who never tired of listening. She also had many colourful tales of her own to tell about her life both before and after Frank, that Walt adored hearing. She was a very rare thing, a true human being who made no demands on others and who was very wise. She was a gift.
Walt hadn't really wanted to reveal too much about his life before his move, but in a way it was good to share his history with a friend. Especially one that was as non judgemental as Kitty.
During one afternoon in her garden Kitty asked “Walt, forgive me, but I have to ask. You intrigue me.” Walt frowned, it was the first time he had heard anyone in his fifty years ever describe him in that way. He had always just been Walt, that reliable bloke, dedicated to his job, a good work colleague that could be trusted to do what was expected of him, but never intriguing.
“Why?” he said.
“ Well, my Frank used to say A man alone is a mystery to me and he was right. I see a man and he is on his own and that is a mystery to me because I cannot for the life of me understand why Walt?”
Walt returned her gaze as Kitty took his hand in hers “ We are friends and forgive me, but I just don't understand why you are alone. When you first arrived here, I thought to myself Oh I wonder when his wife and children will arrive? but they never did”.
“ Oh, I see, that.” Walt replied a little uncomfortable. “ Well, there is no mystery Kitty, I just never found the right woman, some of us weren't as lucky as you and Frank.”
Kitty squeezed his hand “ Weren't? Why are you speaking in the past tense? You're still a young man, handsome, caring and you like flowers.” She laughed “ Why if I was twenty-five years younger!” And they both laughed. But Walt felt the need to explain.
“I was always so busy at work, I never really had the opportunity to meet the right person.” He offered. “ I joined the police as a young lad and spent my entire career focusing on my work. I kept thinking I would meet someone, then one day I realised how much time had passed me by without even knowing it and I was shocked, so when the option to retire came up, I decided I had done enough and just wanted some time to reflect.”
Kitty raised her eyebrows and nodded her head and gave him her please continue look.
“ Well, I saw so much during my career, things I cannot even begin to talk about Kitty, so I found it hard to let anyone in. So many ugly things and situation, who else would have understood all of that? Being soft just wasn't an option. It never seemed fair to burden another person with the life I chose. In the end, I felt that I had given my all and I was so tired of it all, but now I see that it was at a cost, as I wish had found someone. Maybe I underestimated the empathy that another person could have been capable of? Maybe now is a good time to think about my Options?”
Kitty nodded and held his gaze, but Walt removed his hand from hers to give himself some space, as he suddenly felt very self conscious. He covered his action by drinking some of his tea. He felt exposed discussing personal things. He was so tired of the discomfort he felt. But is was true. Now he had retired and moved away from his previous life, his loneliness appeared to be amplified. If he hadn't made friends with Kitty, he might have gone on thinking it was okay. But now more than at any other time in his life, he didn't so much feel lonely, but just craved the companionship of another human being. God bless her caring enough to notice. Now that had he vocalised it, it sadden him, but it was also a relief.
How he wanted to break out, to be free to find a compass to guide his way forward from this point. Where was he? Adrift in a vast ocean of loneliness that's where. The only tangible thing he had was Kitty.
He was suddenly overwhelmed by this revelation and he began to cry as he mourned for all the time he had lived without that connection to another human being.
“Let it all out Walt.” Kitty soothed, “ Better out than in.” She offered up with all the knowing of someone who had also dealt their loss in the same way.
She moved closer and stroked his back and there they sat in the peace of her garden for as long as it took to dismantle the past.
Walt looked around the church. It was full to the brim. So many people, this was the measure of someone’s life he thought, the people who came for whatever reason, to celebrate the fact that you had once been here. His eyes rested on Kitty's family. Her children Nathan and Annie, their respective spouses and their children. All here because Kitty had once been. Walt felt a sudden tinge of jealousy and then ashamed to be thinking of himself on such a day.
After the funeral, Nathan and Annie had arranged a gathering at the church hall. Walt had never really spoken to them although he had often seen them when they had visited Kitty. He entered the hall and was pleased to see them welcoming the mourners at the door. He approached and introduced himself to them both.
Both Annie and Nathan gave him the same warm welcome that their mother always had.
“ I am so sorry.” Walt said extending his had towards Nathan “ She was a true inspiration, a lovely woman. I will miss her.” Nathan shook Walt's hand and placed the other on his shoulder “ Thank you mate.” Nathan replied. “ She mentioned you often and enjoyed your company and we were glad that you were there, just opposite her if she needed anything, although knowing Mum, she probably never did, but all the same.”
“The street won't be the same without her.” Said Walt. “No.” Said Nathan.
When he arrived home Walt looked out of his window towards Kitty's house. There was no music now and he wondered if there would ever be again. He blew a kiss in the direction of her house “I will miss you Kitty.”
A few weeks later, early one morning, Walt became aware of the all noise and activity across the street at Kitty's house. He looked out of the window and saw Nathan with Annie overseeing the grim task of removing items from Kitty's house. He felt for them, the thought of having to sort through someone else’s items, couldn't be a pleasant. He left them to it with a tear in his eye and a pain in his heart.
Later there was a knock at his door and Walt was pleased to see that it was Nathan.
“Hello mate, how are you?”
“ Oh, could be better. We are sorting through Mum's stuff and I found these and I wanted to give them to you in person while I was here.” Nathan handed Walt a letter addressed to him and a small flat wrapped item. Walt took both and looked at the letter. “Thank you.” He said “I will read this later.”
“Also, are you busy, can I ask you a favour?”
“Of course.” Said Walt “Please come in.”
After Walt had made Nathan a cup of tea and they had settled in the living room, Walt said “So, what can I do for you?”
“Well.” Said Nathan “ Mum said that you had been in The Police, is that right?” “Yes, thirty years service.” Replied Walt “ What do you need? ”
“Annie and I have decided to sell Mum's house, she wanted us to, but it needs a bit of work doing on it and as we aren't close by and seeing as you are and well because you knew Mum and because of what you did, we just wanted to know if you could keep an eye on the house. Please say no if you can't, we will understand.”
“I would be delighted” Walt replied “ It is the least I can do as she never allowed me to do anything for her in the, well in the past, look it will be a pleasure Nathan.”
“Thanks Walt, but only if you are sure? We can leave you a set of keys and exchange numbers? That way, I can let you know when someone is coming to quote on the work, is that okay?”
“Absolutely Nathan, my pleasure.”
Later after Nathan had gone, Walt hung Kitty's keys on a hook in the kitchen. He then picked up the letter and the package that he had also given him and went in to the garden. He sat down and placed the small flat shaped item on the garden table and then turned his attention to the letter.
I am so glad that we had the opportunity to become friends.
Our time together meant the world to me.
I have left you one of my most treasured items.
Listen in good health, especially the third song.
And please remember Walt, never say never.
All my love,
Walt placed the letter on the table and picked up the item. He unwrapped it and saw that it was a CD, a Nat King Cole CD. He turned it over and looked at the track listings. Track number three was When I fall in Love. He immediately walked back into the house and slipped it into the CD player and selected the track and pressed play. He then walked to the window and opened it as wide as he could and smiled.
When Nathan called Walt later that week to say that a man called Bill Masters, a local builder, would be calling in on him to collect the keys later that day, he asked him if he wouldn't mind showing him around. Walt, said it was fine and he would.
At just after seven, a van pulled up outside Walt's house and a young man in his late twenties got out. He looked at Kitty's house across the road and then at a piece of paper he held in his hand, before turning on his heels and heading for Walt's front door.
Walt grabbed the keys to Kitty's house on the way to answer the knock at the door. Bill Masters held out his hand “Hi, Walt? I am Bill from Master Builders, I understand that you have the keys to number 46?”
Walt shook Bill's hand. “Yes, I am and I do. Nice to meet you Bill. Shall we go?”
As they crossed over the road to Kitty's house Bill Said “Nice road, nice house, I understand that you were a friend of the lady that lived here?”
“That's right. “ said Walt “She was a lovely lady, I miss her very much. It is a great house, I am sure is won't be on the market long before someone puts an offer in, but I doubt they will be able to replace Kitty.”
Walt opened the door and Bill followed him in and closed the door behind him. It felt odd and intrusive to be entering Kitty's house without her being there to invite them in. It was the first time he had been there without her ever being there. He suddenly realised that it had been emptied and now all that was left was the house itself and that just felt hollow.
Bill's voice suddenly filled the void. “Shall I have a quick look round? Nathan said he thought it needed a bit of work, but to be honest, and you won't hear this from that many builders, but it looks to be in pretty good nick to me. Great house, nice original features and I bet there is a solid wood floor under the carpet crying out to be seen.”
“Yes do” Said Walt and Bill disappeared up the stairs to see the rest of the house. Walt remained downstairs and slowly walked around, he could hear Bill above him knocking on walls and opening and closing doors and windows.
Walt went into the garden and waited for Bill. After a short while he heard him coming back down the stairs. Moments later, Bill was standing next to him. “ Well, are you going to call Nathan and give him a quote for the work?” Walt asked “I think I am going to do more than that, I think I am actually going to put in an offer for the place.”
“Really?” Walt responded “For yourself or to sell on? Sorry, it isn't really any of my business.”
“No, no, not for me, for my Mum actually, Julia, she asked me to keep a look out for any properties for her to buy. Long story, which I won't go into, but she would love this house. I shall take a few photos if that is okay to show her and then, if she likes it, great, if not I will call Nathan and give him a quote for the work.”
“ Sounds like a plan, yes work away I am sure Nathan won't mind and I am sure knowing Kitty, she wouldn't have either.”
“Great.” Said Bill and “I will try not to keep you too much longer I am sure your family must be wondering if you have been abducted by now?”
“Sadly not, as I don't have one.” Said Walt “Oh, sorry mate, I didn't mean to. I mean I just assumed.” “Like you said Bill, long story. Photos?” Walt reminded him. “Yep, on it, I won't be long.” And with that Bill was off again, visiting each room to take photos to show his Mum.
Walt walked Bill back to his car, said goodbye and returned to his house.
The following morning Nathan called him. “Hi Walt, I just wanted to say thank you for showing Bill Masters around Mum's house last night.”
“My pleasure Nathan, he seemed very keen on the house.”
“Yes he was very keen, so much so, that he has put an offer in, which Annie and I are considering. Listen do you mind keeping hold of the keys for a bit longer?”
“No, not at all, just let me know if you need me to do anything else.”
“Will do. Thanks again mate, bye.”
Walt replaced the handset and thought about what Kitty would think and decided that she would have liked Bill Masters.
A few days later, Walt was returning home when he saw Bill's van parked outside Kitty's house with Bill sitting in it. As he drew closer, both doors of the van opened and Bill got out of one side, while a woman got out of the other.
Bill turned and waved at Walt and Walt waved back. The lady also turned and smiled at Walt.
“Walt, this is my Mum Julia. Mum this is Walt.”
“Please to meet you Walt.” Said Julia.
“Please to meet you too.” Said Walt.
“Are you here to look at the house?” Walt asked “ Mum came down from London today, out of the blue after I had told her about it, I know it wasn't planned, but do you think it would be okay?” Asked Bill. “Let me just call Nathan” Said Walt “Great” Said Bill.
Nathan said it was fine, he also told Walt that they had decided to accept Bill's offer and said that he would call Bill in a while to tell him. In the meantime, he asked Walt to let them into the house before he called them with the news.
Walt did as he was asked and left Bill and Julia alone in the house while he returned to his own to make some lunch.
While he prepared it, he decided a bit of Nat King Cole was needed, so he went into the living room, placed the CD kitty had left him into the CD player and opened his front window and pressed play.
Just before track three started to play, there was a knock at the front door. When Walt answered it he was surprised to see Julia there. “Bill said that you were the key holder, well for now at least, so I am just returning them.” She smiled and handed them back to Walt. “Thanks.” He said “ What do you think of the house?” “It's just perfect.” Beamed Julia “And they have accepted the offer, so hopefully it won't be too long before we are neighbours.” “That's great.” Said Walt smiling back at her surprised by his own openness towards someone he had just met.
Julia smiled “ It isn't isn't it?”
“Yes” Said Walt.
“That's Nat King Cole isn't it?”
“Yes it is”
“I just adore him and this is one of my favourite songs, that's a good omen as well isn't it?” Said Julia.
“Yes” Said Walt “I believe it is.”
- Holly Searle
- London, United Kingdom
- Holly Searle is a writer and an artist who was made in Soho and thereafter born in the heart of London. She has been blessed with two quite remarkable children and grandchildren whom she adores. She enjoys the company of her friends and the circus that is life, has a degree in Film and Television, and has exhibited her artwork in several exhibition.
Monday, 23 July 2012
I have found myself recently imagining which Dickens persona’s best match those of the people I know and love and of the people that I meet on a daily basis. Think for example about the wealth of characterisations Dickens identifies in Great Expectations (one of my favourites) and then think of all of the people that you know that you could attribute those characterisations to.
It works quiet well I find. Let's face it, we all know or are related to the likes of Abel Magwitch, Miss Havisham, Pip, Mrs Joe, Jaggers, Herbert Pocket, Estella, Biddy or Joe Gargery.
I think out of that entire list, Joe is the one character I love more than all the others. He embodies the most charitable wealth of personality traits towards Pip as he forgives him and is kind to him despite his social ladder climbing and his temporary abandonment of him. Joe's protection and encouragement of Pip can only be read as real love for him in the end as all he wants is what is best for Pip and nothing more in spite of his own needs and feelings.
Associating with various characters throughout our lives reflects some of the traits we recognise in ourselves and that is why every person that you have known, do know or will know in you life affects you in a different way. They present you with something that you can relate to and when this appreciation is reciprocated, relationships are made and bonds are forged. Some of which may last forever, some of which may not.
Pip is a very naive character. His humble beginnings and the cause and effect of his actions and the associations he is encouraged to make, lead him on a journey. As he grows, he realises that the people who care for him the most are not those whom he first suspected, but those who set him free to discover for himself who he actually is.
But what happens when you do not have the strength of character to form these realisations and when there are people who take advantage of your venerability and damn well just take you on a taxi ride going no where fast?
I have spent far too much time in my life lamenting the would have, could have and should have been disappointing relationships I have had with various chaps along the way
I think of all the heartbreak and Jane Austen rose coloured glasses I have broken along the way and it makes me quite cross now, as I realise I shouldn't have wasted so much time trying to get inside the head of another individual, but instead should have used the time to focus on more positive aspects of my life.
Let's face it, we have all been then, The Rejected (sounds like a Martin Scorsese film now I think of it),the dating road kill, left in the middle of life's highway, until we muster the strength to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and start all over again.
But, let's face it, we have also all also probably been the rejecter as well and the dating karmer police gets us all in the end.
Recently however,I had an epiphany with regards to all of this loves labour lost malarkey.
One evening I started to think about all of those chaps that I wasted all my time and energy mooning over. I can think of several whom I was convinced I was in love with and who had broken my heart, so I did a bit of healthy googling and opened Pandora’s box and found hope.
For what I discovered was that although hindsight may be a wonderful thing, it can also be a reality check for all of us. I found photos of one man who had professed his undying love for me and then had stamped all over my heart in a pair of Dr Marten's steel toe capped boots, looking rather bald and middle aged and well hugely disappointing.
Then it came to me, how lucky I had been not to have ended up with him. Result!
Next I discovered an ex looking bloated and shorter than I had remembered. Chalk up two lucky escapes, I was on a roll, thank you Google.
Then a manic depressive who also suggested marriage, but who then married another still sprouting negativity from the strap lines on his social networking page.
Or re-reading my diary entries (yes I keep one every year) about the man whom I thought cared for me but on reflection now appears to been nothing more than a rather sad married man who was in the throws of a mid life crisis. I forgive you.
Hallelujah, praise the Lord, I have been saved from men who devolved while I have evolved, I am a sunbeam intended for the greater adventures still to come. Make it so Number One, engage.
It makes me happy to realise my good fortune and how none of those men would have been a suitable suitor for me, but most of all it also made me realise that I will never waste time crying over another man again and why should I?
Once you adopt this approach it it so much better. Meeting a man is no longer the centre of my universe and that feels like such a relief after squatting in so many fairy tale mind towers waiting for knights on horseback to arrive to whisk me away. I am free, free to get on with my life and enjoy it without worrying about it all any more.
My conformation of this is never more apparent when I see a friends stuck in the ever decreasing cycles that I was once caught up in, loathing themselves for not being good enough and inflicting unnecessary blame on themselves for not getting a text or a call from the person they have placed all of their life happiness savings upon. If they aren't responding to your messages or calls, abandon ship I want to scream and stop torturing yourself, life is passing you by at an alarming rate, please don't spend it alone at home crying into your pillow.
No, me, these days I invest all of my happiness savings into doing what makes me happy. So I spend it in the company of my family, good friends.
I have therefore returned my Miss Havisham outfit (it was getting a bit gloomy to be honest) and have developed an appreciation for my own company and just like Pip, I have finally discovered who I am because I was exhausted and eventually set myself free from it all.
I never say never to meeting someone who meets my great expectations and I have no doubt that one day I shall, but where I once I would have done anything for love, I won't been doing that, ever again and neither should you.
Friday, 20 July 2012
I don't know if it's because I now know what I like and feel comfortable with that makes me realise what I don't, or if it's simply because I am older, but I can tell you this for nothing, some things just make me just want to scream.
Just like Edvard Munch iconic painting, when my spidey senses start to tingle with irritation, I feel the urge to claps both hands to the side of my head and open my mouth and scream in the general direction of those who are inflicting such social bête noires within the realm my own personal life space.
And, I believe it is going to get worse, before it gets better and I shall tell you why.
Frustration. One word that sums up the state mind of most of the world's population. And why are people so frustrated? Well ostensible in the west, because they are unhappy with their lot as they have been mis sold an idealistic unobtainable ideology of the expectations of how their lives should be (and look).
And when it dawns on them that it's all just smoke and mirrors created by marketing spin doctors, they feel cheated and unhappy and frustrated.
Or they are frustrated because they are unable to afford the lifestyle laid out before them in between the covers of the glossy magazines.
In the post Gordon Gekko years we have all been lured and seduced by this ideology in one form or another, which has lead us all to be manipulated into thinking that our lives wouldn't be complete without the latest must have item.
"Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures, the essence of the evolutionary spirit."
Gordon spouted out his famous “Greed is good” speech in the film Wall Street in the late eighties, an era synonymous with wealth and excess that would have made Dionysus both blush and cry with despair.
This was also a time that saw major advancements in technologies and would see the beginning of fantastical ideas like that of Captain Kirk's Communicator (minus the stun setting for now of course) starting to become a reality. And those massive 1950's computers that had taken up the space of a whole room, now were starting to be scaled down so that they could sit on your desk top.
All too cool for school, people adopted a Viv Nicholson attitude and went out and over spent, spent, spent money to acquired these items that they thought would improve their lives. Nothing new there then, but I believe this was the beginning of the end of individual social creativity and a time that laid the foundations of a much darker future regarding the way we would all eventually interact with each other.
It is after all, all about the social evolution of humanity and in the three decades plus that have lapsed since Gordon wore his braces, we find ourselves living in a Primark Nation with individuals who are void of creativity and who misappropriate the wealth of technology that Scotty would have found a much better use for by gaffer taping it to the Enterprise to enable warp speed in order to save mankind.
Social interaction via technology has replaced, well good old social interaction between actual human beings. A recent report claimed that texting has become the most popular method of contact between people nowadays. Isn't that odd?
Something went wrong somewhere post Gordon and that was the speed with which humanity was given these new toys to play with.
We are all still cave dwellers at heart that inhabit a world that is full of these toys that we do not really need or understand. Whilst I appreciate the positive attributes of technology, I do not appreciate the negative mis use of it.
My own personal displeasure with mobile phones for example, is never more apparent than when I am on public transport and a fellow cave dweller feels the need to engage in a conversation on their over expensive state of the art handset in an extremely loud voice. My mercury raises as I become an unwilling participant in their life as they feel the need to shout as loudly as possible. Social masterbation.
I once overhear a girl on a train discussing with her boyfriend what type of film they could watch that evening. “As long as it isn't any of that Star Wars rubbish, I don't care..” She ironically barked into her mobile. I stifled a Wookie yawn and continued looking out of the window.
In his speech, Gordon Gekko surmises that by embracing greed we captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit and the desire to better ourselves. But, in order to be able to embrace something, don't we have to first of all know how to use it properly?
I believe that we aren't evolving at all, but rather regressing like William Hurt's character in Altered States. We have become far too reliant on technology that we have forgotten who we all are and how to relate to each another.
Basic human interaction is paramount in our evolutionary path and yet it has been reported that more people live in isolation now than at any other time. Loneliness is probably more likely to kill you these days as smoking is.
Likewise, we live in a society now where people are defined more by their gadgets rather than their creativity.
In 1986, the now sadly departed director John Hughes gave us a gift, he gave us Ferris Bueller's Day Off in which the anti hero Ferris Bueller takes a day off school in order to cram as many experiences into one day as he possibly can. Accompanied by two friends (one a manic depressive and one a would be social princess), they embark upon a journey that characterises the real essence of the evolutionary spirit and individual creativity.
Juxapositioned along side Gordon Gekko, Ferris Bueller is our saving grace. Without the aid of an i-Anything, he uses his imagination to set up and pull off his day out. He fills his day will art, food, music and an appreciation for life. He encapsulates this ideology in his speech to camera in which he informs us that “ Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
In the end, creativity is what should defines us as greed and the desire to be something we aren't and to own trinkets that we do not fully understand, just leads to unhappiness.
Stop and look around, see the world, do something you have never done before, spend time with people you love, leave your phone at home, stop shouting on public transport and speak to a fellow commuter instead. Listen to tunes that your grandparents liked and not the ones that have no soul. Watch It's A Wonderful Life and Meet Me in St Louis every Christmas, wear what you like, visit an art gallery once in a while, and do watch all those Star Wars films whenever you can.
Now go and empty your bothered pockets and start the human revolution.
Friday, 6 July 2012
In the mid eighties many women of a certain age, were suddenly prone to the odd unexpected “Ohhhhh, Hellooooo Mr Rourke”, when a film was released called 9½ Weeks
Based upon the the book by Elizabeth McNeill, 9½ Weeks was an erotic drama that featured Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger in the lead roles as two people whom during the course of the nine and half weeks that their relationship lasted, embark upon a journey of unsolicited smutty behaviour that involved not only an appalling misuse of food, but also a private screening, that left absolutely nothing to the imagination of the voyeur.
Originally made in 1984, but released two years later, the film received mixed reviews.
It was one of those stylised MTV generational movies that had already been successfully formatted by American Gigolo that had been released several years earlier in 1980.
And just like American Gigolo , it was all about the designer clothes, the Venetian blinds, and financially successful yet unfulfilled hedonistic demographic that was endemic in the 80's.
But unlike American Gigolo, which was at its heart a thriller. 9½ Weeks had no worthy narrative content other than being a rather unfathomably soft porn vehicle in which Kim Basinger got her kit off and then mooched about in a post coital delusional haze wearing socks and watering house plants and feeding pets, that had both been neglected in the intervening weeks.
It was no big deal to us, this movie, apart from the fact that Mickey Rourke was quite fit and we all laughed about its content and then simply dismissed it and got on with our lives.
A few years later I found the original book by McNeill whilst on holiday.
I decided to read it and was slightly amused by its narrative. And while I will admit to finding some bits of it a tad erotic, it certainly wasn't a great work of fiction.
Like the movie, the book was only able hold my attention for a short period of time, before it too was stored in the dark and dusty loft space of my noggin (or a box somewhere).
Thirty years later, I am working with a small group of women. One of whom drew my attention to a book that they had all read and she asked me if I would like to borrow it.
I asked her what it was all about and she informed me, with a wry knowing smile and a glint in her eye, that it was a fictional book that featured the sexual exploits of one woman entitled The Butcher, The Baker, The Candlestick Marker: An Erotic Memoir.
I feign my interest, and as I wanted to be accepted by the group, I borrowed it thinking to myself " Haven't we all been here before?"
I was in no rush to read it.
When I did eventually pick it up to give it a go, I found that it it wasn't even worthy of its predecessor.
It was, in essence, just a one dimensional series of pornographic vignettes that featured a middle aged woman involved in a sequence of rather dull and lack lustre sexual encounters.
I got so bored with it, that I skimmed it for good measure (subject to questioning) and then mentally shelved it and picked up, and got on with reading a proper book with creativity and depth.
I returned the book and thanked her for lending it to me and avoided telling her what I had actually thought of it.
And now yet again a new series in this genre has been produced.
But unlike its predecessors, it has literally, captured the imagination of a generation.
My Mother asked me if I had read it, and I said no I had no intention of doing so.
She agreed and said that she had read the first three sample pages on Amazon and it had left her cold.
We are both of us avid readers, my mother and I.
Sometimes I have several books on the go at once, while she can read that many in a week.
Information is everything to me, as are well constructed narratives and well thought out plots. To me the order of words and the delights of imagination are everything.
And the thing is, this kind of work of fiction is nothing more than a readable version of any soft porn short you can access via Porn Hub.
The general point of these tiny x rated movies (as far as I can determine) are to produce a sequence of events that eventually lead to an all encompassing and yet non emotive version of sexual intercourse and nothing more.
They do not pay host to a complex plot line interspersed with dialogue, but rather just centre around a static easily identifiable location where the action takes place.
To be honest, they are what they are and their audience accepts their content for what it is.
And guess what? They have a huge audience as do these works of fiction.
Initially I was overtly critical of this newly produced written form of this genre, as it isn't one that holds any great attraction for me other than my curiosity of why they are suddenly so popular, and more intriguingly, why now?
So let's go back to 9½ Weeks.
The 80's began as decade of Dionysian excess where money was the God that people prayed to and played fast and loose with.
But as it evolved, this was juxtaposed with the recognised fact that not everyone in the world was so fortunate. While business men got rich on stocks and shares, pop stars pleaded with the public to donate their money to benefit those who were staving to death.
Thirty years later, nothing much has changed. Business men are still rich and people are still suffering.
But, there is a financial crisis that as a direct result of this past excess, has affected us all in the present day.
The recession has hit us all. Debts pile up and as businesses fold, and more people lose their jobs, there is a general consensus, that it may be a some time before the rocky road we are all travelling on gets a smooth new coating of tarmac.
And here is what I think.
I think that this genre of books has found an audience because it is a form of escapism in this current financial climate.
It has offered an affordable treat for those who were once able to invest in a new car every year, but who now have to keep a tight hold on their purse strings.
It is as simple as that.
And so it would seem that grey times produce grey fiction for grey matter.
And for women by a woman.
It saddens me that women have taken this series of books on in the way that they have, as I wonder if it it reveals more about their unfulfilled and unexplored sex lives than they realise.
It is all very curious as are these works of fiction.
And just like 9½ Weeks, the fiction has now become film with the soon to be released screen version that features a pair of unknown actors (graduates of the porn industry no doubt) dressed I should imagine in the style of Tom Ford for good measure and acceptability.
Safe to say, I won't be queuing up to buy a ticket.
No, there is enough colour in my life and grey just isn't one of them.