2) Marcel Marceau died :::contractually obliged sad face, mime of tear running down cheek::: In honour of the great French fellow, another mime artist only really, really funny A new version of Torn by Natalie Imbruglia.
3) The Royal Shakespeare Company, shamelessly stealing offa Simon Patterson's genius http://www.artland.co.uk/Patterson_Great_Bear85.jpg have created a pseudo-Tube map which plots a whole bunch of characters as if they were stations on specific lines. The lines include 'fathers and daughters', 'strong and difficult women' and 'fools', so Lady Macbeth appears as the intersection between the 'warriors' line and the 'strong and difficult women' line. There are some nice touches, such as windsocks for King Lear and Prospero and unisex bathroom signs wherever there is cross-dressing. I can't find a picture of it online yet -- I think it might have been embargoed until tomorrow -- but it's worth a look, if only to argue with who is on what line. Here's a press release: http://www.rsc.org.uk/press/420_5779.aspx
[A song for this link: Shakespeare by Akala. He's Ms Dynamite's brother. This is about as far into rap as I venture]
4) It's autumn and that means summer is over, thank god. I go into autumn in better shape all round than I was in summer. I've taken up running, which I love, much to my surprise. It takes a cattleprod to get me out of the door but about 10 minutes in, I start to get into it.
I live near one of London's lesser known heaths, so you can run all round the edges of the football pitches and the horse-riding paths and it's about a 4K circuit. I started to train for a charity run but I am going to try to carry on. We'll see how that pans out now winter is coming but I think it'll be okay.
My friend and I did the Hyde Park Hydro-Active 5K a Sunday or two ago, which was fantastic -- some 10,000 women all running for charities round Hyde Park. The soldiers at the barracks stood on the roofs cheering and there were people all round the course with messages for runners. Lots of people had dedications to lost loved ones pinned to their shirts -- printed photographs with names and dates -- which was strangely moving. We made it round in 40 minutes and could have gone faster but for the congestion of people walking. I was so chuffed that I ran the whole thing [ETA: Also raised about £400 for Cancer Research UK. Just to big myself up a bit more like a fathead].
I appreciate that 5K is not much to a proper runner and 8 minute kilometres are not that fast, but this time last year I was a dress size 22 (I don't know what that is in US money) and now I am a size 12 (UK), so it'll do for me. Next I might do a 10K. But that way lies madness and blisters, so we'll see.
I leave you with the best ever running song in the world
5) I've been reading "Pies and Prejudice" by Stuart Maconie, which says it's about the North but turns out to really be about Lancashire, with the odd detour into Yorkshire, Cumbria and Northumbria when he can be arsed. He's very amiable, if not quite so funny as Bill Bryson, but I wish he'd decided just to write about Lancashire, where his heart lies.
It's making me very, very homesick for the North. Not where I was brought up, as I never want to go back there, more the North of my imaginings, which is offbeat and funny and warm and friendly and full of hedonists and dreamers but without the inward hardness of the south. I suppose it's ridiculous to feel homesick for Manchester given that I've lived in London twice as long as I lived there but I do.
Anyway, I give you a song by someone who is not only from the city where I was born but actually comes from the same poverty-stricken fishermens' backstreets as my gran. This is a gorgeous a capella folk song but what I love about it is that I can hear the accent beating through.
The Welcome Sailor by Lal Waterson
6) In new music news, I've been loving the new Turin Brakes album. I remember ropo declaring their first album the most boring ever, but if you like Turin Brakes (or indeed Tom McRae) it will be the kind of thing you like. Here's the title track, Dark on Fire, which is gorgeous.
7) I am the only person in the world not following Heroes this week. I'm not watching much telly at all but for those of you partial to a bit of *ahem*ing, there were two brilliant programmes on BBC4 last week
First was "Factory: Manchester from Joy Division to Happy Mondays", which was about the late Anthony H Wilson and his record label Factory, one of the most shambolic and inspired operations ever to grace the record industry. If you've ever watched the movie 24 Hour Party People (and really, you should, it's fantastic) this is the documentary version, all about how Joy Division turned into New Order and how the Haçienda enabled the dance revolution of the late 80s to take off. Tony Wilson's favourite band were The Happy Mondays, so I give you their early masterpiece Wrote For Luck, a transcendant piece of loping funk with Shaun Ryder's mad poetry over the top of it. (also a good running song btw)
Second was "Comics Britannia". The first two programmes were about things like the Beano or Jackie but the third programme was a fascinating look at how comics evolved into graphic novels. Not remotely safe for work either.
8) Okay, that's a lie. I am slightly shamefaced about it. She may be small, lewd and annoying but this is fantastic and expresses my sentiments exactly right now. Love Me Or Hate Me Lady Sovereign.
9) A heads up for those of you wishing to see a film not including geeky, grubby men who inexplicably end up with bright, funny women who are a million times out of their league (hello Superbad and Knocked Up), go see "Atonement". Keira Knightley is entirely palatable in this, rather than her usual impression of a sapling in a strong wind, her horsey, flapperish good looks matching the character perfectly. James McAvoy is brilliant. Not as I had imagined Robbie from reading the book but a wonderful performance all the same. The direction is rather show-offy, but in a way which matches the book rather than being tricksy for its own sake.
The story is about Briony Tallis, a sheltered 13-year-old from a wealthy family, who watches from afar her sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, the brilliant son of the housekeeper who her father has put through Cambridge. There is an incident by a fountain which Briony completely misinterprets and then a letter mistakenly sent, which Briony reads. The letter contains the C-word (which predictably, some of the American backers wanted to cut. I roll my eyes. Talk about completely missing the point) and Briony turns against Robbie and tells a terrible lie which echoes through all their lives.
I loved the way that Briony's character was scored to music which incorporated the clacking of the typewriter, her writing an integral part of the narrative until the end when you realised how truly integral to the story her act of creation had been. The whole film is about the power of story.
The screenplay resists the temptation to smooth out the looping circles of McEwan's narrative, instead emphasising them with replays of scenes from different perspectives, segments of film running backwards, trusting that a smart audience will follow.
The only time the directorial cleverness goes too far is in the bravura scenes based around the disaster of Dunkirk, itself turned into a key part of Britain's national narrative when it was really an ignominious retreat. It's a stunning piece of film-making with thousands of extras and some amazing images, but it draws too much attention to itself, as though Joe Wright is saying "look what a magnificent spectacle!" rather than thinking of the needs of the story, which could do with something more intimate and upsetting.
The gutpunch of the book is preserved by the film, thank goodness. They resisted the urge to change the ending. I spoke to someone who hadn't read the book and he said that seeing the ending unspoiled was as good as the first time he saw The Sixth Sense. People in the theatre gasped. I went to see it on a Saturday afternoon in a near-deserted multiplex with a few dozen people who were all either students or in their fifties and no one gasped. Probably read the book.
The US doesn't get "Atonement" until mid December, I would guess because the film is total Oscar-bait from start to finish. I don't have any music from the film but this is the same kind of feeling, if the wrong country En Csak Azt Csodalom, Marta Sebastyen
10) We're all waiting and watching Burma at work (we call it Burma there because we don't like the regime so we don't change the name, whereas we've changed the Indian cities, Madras to Chennai, Bombay to Mumbai, because we like India. It's illogical but oddly satisfying). It's hard to suppress the sense of hope but it's also hard to suppress the pessimism either, or the sense that we can do nothing. I found myself in the upsetting position of agreeing with George Bush this afternoon.
I have no Burmese music.
11) I think the name of this LJ will change soon. It doesn't fit any more.
I leave you with the sound of London. Dreamy Days by Roots Manuva