Christmas drink in London with ex-colleagues on Wednesday night. Train to London Bridge. Tube to Waterloo. Rush hour more ghastly than ever but I still miss the buzz. The Camel, in Lower Marsh. Tenner in the whip, pints of Guinness, crisps and peanuts. Friends from New York returning for Christmas, all getting older, the past another country.
Like misshapen jigsaw pieces we try to fit back together but the picture has changed. Some of us are the same as ever, some promoted, some moved on, some have got out of the rat race altogether. Lubricated by alcohol and goodwill the edges are smoothed and new links discovered.
When men get married they re-invent their past and populate it with numerous girlfriends. I know of several who have never previously had girlfriends and yet they meet a girl and immediately get married. Then, their masculinity confirmed, they feel free to pontificate at length on the subject of women. It was one of these who, safely married, got rather excited about the fact that I live in Brighton and started insinuating I was gay. Having lived in Brighton for ten years I’m used to this. I usually find myself being deliberately ambiguous. Someone said I looked like Alan Carr and I complained, “What, are you calling me fat?”
The train ride back to Brighton is not so bad when you snooze most of the way.
Since moving down to Brighton I have been trying to capture the phenomena of thousands of starlings swarming over the West Pier. Sadly the fire that finished off the West Pier also destroyed much of the starlings habitat and the number of starlings have declined
Anyway, this evening there was a pretty good display
This Youtube vid has captured a fantastic display.
Television is a device for burning time. In the evenings we sit before it supine and unaware that we are shoveling the hours onto the blaze like the furnace of a great steam engine. The engine rolls faster and faster and as the glow illuminates our faces we are deaf to the whistle and oblivious of the heat as we roar toward oblivion.
I saw Rupert Goold’s production of No Man’s Land by Harold Pinter on Saturday night at The Duke of York theatre. Very good.
No Man's Land
A cast of four. One room. Lots of whisky. The relationships all unclear and the atmosphere morphing from maudlin to menacing to jovial…..and back. Who is the ragged Spooner? What relationship have the two younger men to the older Hirst? What is the relationship between the two younger men, the supposed “vagabond cock”? What is in the photo album? Did Spooner school with Hirst? Is Spooner a bit of rough trade from Hampstead Heath or a potman at the local Bull’s Head? Or perhaps a long lost acquaintance?
Michael Gambon plays Hirst, a literary figure in his later years; Paralytic at night but fresh in the morning. David Bradley’s Spooner is Hirst’s contemporary. An outsider, desperately feeling for a foothold. Briggs, played by Nick Dunning, is ambiguous but intimidating when teamed with David Walliams’ Foster but, while Walliams performance carries weight, his TV fame spills over and one can never entireyly dismiss a subliminal flash of Little Britian’s Lou & Andy as Foster stands talking down to the inebriated and seated Hirst.
Spooner: “….in no man’s land. Which never moves, which never
changes, which never grows older, but which remains
forever icy and silent.”
Hirst: “I’ll drink to that.”
No Man's Land
I recall a passage in one of Douglas Adam Hitchhikers books explaining why humans go to war. The basic idea is this: Someone insults or attacks someone who has something in common with you. eg a Nationality, a religion or a race. You then you have to pretend that they insulted or attacked you and retaliate. You don’t have to retaliate against the original perpetrator of the wrong but against someone else who has something in common with the perpetrator.
I’d like to add something. This is that the end result is that our bastards start killing innocent people and in retaliation their bastards start killing innocent people.
- My Lai Massacre
The people who died in Mumbai this week hadn’t attacked anyone. The people in the World Trade Centre hadn’t; the people in the Pakistani villages who get hit by rockets haven’t; the people in the village of My Lai hadn’t; the people on the London underground hadn’t; the people on Spanish trains hadn’t; the people at weddings hit by missiles in Iraq hadn’t; the aid workers taken hostage in Iraq hadn’t.
It’s not about what religion you are. It’s not about what nationality you are. It’s not about who you voted for or the colour of your skin or whether you’re a communist or a capitalist.
It’s whether you’re a bastard or not.
My message to anyone who’s thinking of killing some poor innocent in retaliation for a previous wrong:
They’re not the bastard, you are!