Thursday, May 10, 2007

it's not a day for soundbites...

but i feel the hand of history on our shoulder...

this has been something of a historic week.

i've bought my dream car, and am exploring moving into a place of my own after a fabulous year with keli and stu. it feels time. i think i'm ready to live by myself. and i couldn't be here in this emotional space without them and trying to find work after 4 months of intentional 'me' time to find out where my real passions and dreams lie.

but, in all seriousness, while keli and i took a day trip to dublin to attend the opening of jonny's exhibition at the hallward gallery on merrion square, for which i am so proud, history was unfolding north of the border. i'll admit that the events at stormont passed me by on the day but to hear the radio yesterday and hear paisley and maguinness speaking to the press at a multicultural event was a shockingly moving experience. both spoke in terms that left me reeling. of cooperation despite difference, the tones of their voices softened, friendly. they spoke of each other as colleagues not enemies. and i realised what a relief it was to hear it. my default position in the past six years is to stab off the radio - to spit invectives in frustration. the same party lines over and over and over, every statement to the press sounding just like the last. until this week. sworn enemies, laughing together, proving finally what we always suspected, that despite all public utterances to the contrary, behind closed doors the batttle lines have been blurring for a long time over cups of tea.i have no doubt that these men will never be best friends, but i cannot begin to express what it means to hear such a change. let's hope they really mean it.

and now today tony blair is making his official announcment that after a decade he's going to leave no 10.
jeremy vine on radio 2 just said, "tony blair's last day as prime minister will be the 27th of june 2007" and segues into the opening bars of the werewolves of london. i know i have a twisted sense of humour, but that seems quite apt on such an important day in british politics.

and so to shane meadow's latest offering, this is england.
superb film making. low budget, character driven, moving, frightening, hilarious, delightful, provocative, beautifully layered. the central character is 12. it is 1983. i was 10 then. and i was moved by the history being replayed before me on the screen. i had presumed i would find little resonance with skin heads in northern england, some of them violent neo-fascists.
i was so much more fortunate in my childhood than many, growing up in the wealthiest corner of the nation buffered from the depressed north by the capital, surrounded by natural beauty that felt like the hand of god holding it all together. but i had not reckoned on the power of seeing images of the falklands war and their grainy reminder of childhood in thatcherite britain. of strikes, violent frustration, economic deprivation, unemployment, cold war politics...a reminder that the world i saw on the news and on the front page of the newspaper was a dark threatening place of depression and tension... of my back turned to the television, of thatcher and reagan whose voices terrified me, and made my grandfather spit invectives. it is perhaps not since reading douglas coupland in my early twenties that i have been so struck by an artistic voice articulating the fears of my childhood. there it was the fear of nuclear holocaust, nightmare mushroom clouds, warheads like gargantuan bullets... the search for a G-D bigger than an atom bomb. to be reminded what a different context we now live in. better? worse? undoubtedly changed. transformed. what we fear has altered. the battle lines are further away. this is unquestionably a different world. although the fashion of the female skinheads would not look out of place on the streets of 2007.

in post film chat with new and familiar faces, on the steps of qft, a young smiling woman, i'm guessing in her mid twenties, laughed as she said she could have done without the war footage set to music, with the words "no thanks, i've seen it on bbc news 24." and with that, struggling to smile in response i tugged stu's sleeve, made brief goodbyes and walked away. the images of young men lining up the dismembered bodies of their friends on a battle field should never make us laugh or bore us...
this is england. masculinity.
racism. deprivation. war. political idealism. scapegoating. violence. family. the lack of it. bereavement. expression through style. friendship. loyalty. all of these explored stunningly well. go see it. it is well worth your time and money.

this'll be in the top 5 of the year.


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