Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Wonder

I wonder if a blog really has any function other than to prove to you and to everybody else that you're an idiot?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Bump In The Road To Education

I was feeling really sunny and peaceful until I opened my emails about ten minutes ago. That was when I found a message from the student loan people telling me they couldn't process my application for financial support through the next year at university because they still hadn't received the evidence I need to send them to support the application (birth certificate and wage slips, primarily). But I sent it to them about three weeks ago, in the regular mail.

Has that bundle been lost? Now I have to spend the afternoon making phone calls to track it down. Unfortunately I didn't send it via recorded delivery, so if it has gone astray somewhere I'll have no way of proving I ever posted it. Dumbass. You should always presume that something is going to go wrong somewhere along the line, especially when the goal is as important as this one.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dukkha in the Shopping Line

Yesterday I saw a woman in the queue at the Co-Op with a football-sized hump over her right shoulder blade. There were two little girls in front of her with their mothers: one African and one white, European if not English. The African girl stood dutifully at her mother's side and didn't look up. The European girl stood a little apart from her mother and stared and stared and stared at the hump; but not cruelly -- she just looked fascinated, as if she were trying to understand what was under the woman's dress and what it meant; how it changed her life; why she wasn't the same as other people the little girl had seen.

I thought: a similar encounter is what set Buddha on the path. Imagine if we had a Polish female Buddha born in Semilong.

Before Sunset

While I'm on an old movie mood, I thought I'd share with you some notes I wrote after watching a favourite film of mine again last night:

I just watched "Before Sunset" again, and I liked it more than I did the first time because I could pick out its subtleties more easily on a second viewing. The little important moments when you see into the heart of the two characters; the dissatisfaction they have with their lives, and the intensity of their feelings for each other, which might be shown just by a look (Ethan Hawke is very good at those), or a hand raised to touch the other's hair. Those things are revealed with such great skill and timing within the natural flow of the conversation I quite envy the ability of the actors AND the writers. Who, sickeningly, are the same people (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy wrote the script with director Richard Linklater).

I thought about ******** constantly as the film unfolded because Julie Delpy showed so perfectly what is delightful about anybody when you look at them with the eyes of love: the way they laugh; the way they stand up on the balls of their feet to make a point; the way they push their hair behind one ear; their insecurities; the sadness of their past; how beautiful it can be to watch them light a cigarette; how great it is just to listen to them talk about their job or something lovely they remember from their childhood.

That is, when you're not being a self-involved arsehole and seeing them all wrong.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Last night a friend and I watched the old (2007) Tom Hanks/ Steven Sielberg film "Terminal". She'd picked it up in a shop in town in an effort to entertain us one evening when the relentless football got a bit too much and it was too cold to sit in the garden drinking beer and burning cardboard.

I wished she hadn't the moment she mentioned it. I don't like being rude to anyone, at least in person (my native rudeness comes out in the blog), and when anyone gives me a gift I try to show due appreciation for their kindness. But I can't bear either Tom Hanks or Steven Spielberg. Still, I thought I would give the film a go, just to be nice.

It was dire, despite the News of the World (what do we expect?) calling it "superb" on the jacket of the dvd. Tom Hanks is at his excruciating worst, overplaying the sincerity of his character Victor to charm or jerk tears of sympathy from the audience. The side characters (with the exception of Catherine Zeta-Jones') are as one-dimensional as Spielberg tends to make his side characters, and the various plot strands that tie everybody up together are as sentimental as a cartoon for 4-year-olds. And as insincere as an electioneering speech by a Liberal Democrat. Which is bad, I think you'll agree.

I can't help feeling that all the money spent on tripe like this would be better spent if it were given to the poor.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Holmes & Watson

I saw the (relatively) new Guy Ritchie "Sherlock Holmes" movie yesterday. If you're wondering whether to buy the dvd I can tell you this much: it doesn't bear much of a resemblance to any of the Holmes versions you may have seen before. It opens and closes like a Batman movie, actually, with lots of noise and decidedly non-Victorian fighting in locations intended to be spectacular. And in the middle there's an interminable, allegedly comical, fight sequence that reminded me, at least, of the wake-me-when-it's-over battle scenes in "Pirates of the Caribbean". I am not a fan of movies that rely on a combination of special effects (or should that be CGI?) and cliche to please their audience. But the new Holmes did have some impressive things in it. The rendering of Victorian London is as good as, if not better than, Tim Burton's in "Sweeney Todd"; and Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr., as Watson and Holmes respectively, are fabulous on screen together. The new Redford and Newman, we cautiously whisper, hoping that the Fates don't hear us and make fools of everyone. When producers and directors trust their stars -- and the intelligence of their audience -- the results can sometimes be tremendous, as they are when Holmes and Watson are sparking off each other and nothing is exploding behind them. Unfortunately it happens all too rarely. A sequel will dilute the traces of timeless movie brilliance a little further sometime next year, I shouldn't wonder.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Just Another Mouth In The Wind?

What's the difference between being socially engaged and projecting your own delusions onto an already confused, difficult situation and making it worse?  I've been thinking about this lately. I should, too, as someone who has spent three decades now bellyaching about injustice in private journals, blogs, and (on the odd occasion somebody had the patience to listen to me) in conversation.

Everyone thinks they're right after all. David Cameron isn't a wicked man bent on sucking everything decent out of the world. Margaret Thatcher believed she was right and that what she was doing was beneficial to the nation and the world. I do think she was blind to something privately vengeful in herself, but that's just my opinion, even if I recognise the same thing in myself and I'm not, therefore, accusing her of anything that doesn't taint myself as well.

The Israelis think they're right blockading Gaza. The terrorists operating inside Gaza, firing rockets into Israel, think they're right to do that. Mystifyingly, even the people who hijacked the planes on 9/11 thought there was a redeeming purpose to their act, however much of a violation of every standard of decency and respect for life it might have seemed to the rest of us.

I don't really want to be just another angry voice snarling in cyberspace at everybody who doesn't agree with me. It just roots others in their opinions anyway, and limits the possibility of constructive dialogue. And without dialogue between opposing factions all you get is mistrust, violence and war. And what the hell do I know about anything? I can't even get my tv to work.

A socially engaged person, if he or she really wants to do some good in the world, speaks less and acts more, I think. If I have any ability with words (and you'll hear differing opinions on that one), I can use it to bring attention to people and animals and places that need your help, but perhaps I should stop poisoning your good will in advance by ranting about the enemy (again, a matter of perspective) as if I had rabies.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Maggie's Farm Revived

I have been given a vuvuzela and a Chinese lantern today. Now even the sight of Margaret Thatcher back in Downing Street on the steps of No. 10 with Prime Minister Cleggeron can't completely ruin my evening!

Although I must confess that seething hatred seized me when I saw her, and that it was directed not only at her but at the manipulating, duplicitous Tory swine who fooled a third of the country into believing they had disowned their vicious, homophobic, misogynistic, socially ruinous past; and the massively hypocritical, unprincipled Lliberal Democrat leaders who are clearly prepared to do anything, however distasteful, to leap out of the minnow pond and swim with the big fish for a couple of dizzying years in their sorry, anonymous history.

Sunday, June 06, 2010


I went to a wonderful bbq with old and new friends yesterday afternoon. Then I spent the night with someone special while the lightning flashed and the thunder crashed outside. A mighty rain and stiflingly hot air followed the storm. We had to open the windows in the bedroom just to sleep. At 3.50 am we were woken up by the beautiful, busy, natural sound of the birds in the trees singing in the new day. It seems louder then because there are no cars or lawn mowers or ipods."They're talking to each other about what a great storm we had last night," I suggested. Now it's nearly lunchtime. She's stretched out on the sofa underneath a brown wool blanket. I had a long-haired black cat beside me a moment ago, but when a bird called in the garden he got up quickly and ran outside. The remnants of my coffee are resting on my belly's ample curve as I write one-fingered on her laptop. I am happy.