Date Archives December 2017

Aware of the loud beating of my own heart

I rarely watch the telly, but it was Christmas Eve and I had to stay up till midnight so that the kids would have fallen asleep and I could invite Santa into the house so he could leave the stockings and eat the pies. I ended up watching The Great Gatsby and, during the first party scene, I wondered whether Baz Luhrmann had directed it. While the party scenes were inevitably immense, and the anachronistic use of modern music outrageous (yet somehow appropriate), the scene that sticks in my mind now is the one in which Gatsby meets Daisy for the first time in five years. Leonardo di Caprio conveyed the awkwardness that I remembered from the book. That seems to imply that I believe all adaptations should be faithful to the book but I actually agree with Anthony Minghella, who says in my Christmas present, ‘Minghella on Minghella’, that this shouldn’t be the case. I just think it’s a beautiful scene, in the book and the film, especially as it contrasts with Gatsby’s hitherto pristine confidence. He is utterly humbled by his love for a woman.

‘There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion.’

So it’s Boxing Day, and I suppose I’m like most people now, thinking about what will happen next year. I hope dreams are achieved and, even if not, the colossal vitality of your illusions is enough to carry you through dark days. It works for me most of the time. Failing that, read some poetry: there’s plenty of it in The Great Gatsby.

Happy days on a loop


There is a wonderful photo on the homepage for The Fling Festival: taken from immediately behind two DJs (one of whom I recognise as Steve Lamacq), it also captures the happiness of about 200 revellers taking part in what I presume is a silent disco. Almost in the exact centre of the photo is a man with arms aloft in celebration, a pint in one hand. He is wearing sun glasses (indoors!) and a huge smile.

Walking home earlier this week, I stopped to take a photo of an American diner that has been abandoned for months. The surrounding mist only made it more beautiful. I used to love going there. However, even its Pulp Fiction dance floor and Happy Days on a loop (in mute) could not prevent it being closed. Customers became tired of waiting for tomato ketchup and basic politeness, so I had to practise my John Travolta moves elsewhere.

‘Only let it form within his hands once more –
The moment cradled like a brandy glass.
Sitting alone in the empty dining hall…’*

Sitting alone or dancing together? No need to choose a ‘best’. Only let us replay the happy moments…


What difference does it make?

I read (and re-tweeted) this fantastic comment on Twitter a few days ago:

‘When people talk about travelling to the past, they worry about radically changing the present by doing something small, but barely anyone in the present really thinks that they can radically change the future by doing something small.’

When I logged back into my Twitter account a few minutes ago, I read this:

‘I feel physically sick. I feel so anxious. I’m not sure how many more years or months I’m going to be able to work daily on climate change. Today is one of those days:

State of the Arctic, 2017: “Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades.” ‘

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist I have never met. I have shared his doom-laden tweets so often that they are now always shunted to the top of my feed due to ‘algorithms’ or something.

But that quote, though! You have to do what you can. Over the past 10 years, I have written hundreds of letters to local newspapers about war, budget cuts, the NHS, climate change…but why? To vent and to hopefully encourage others to do something, whatever that might be. Something small, something positive, something that will benefit others.

‘For poetry makes nothing happen…’**

No, and maybe letters don’t, and I’m almost certain that this blog won’t, but you need some escapism when you think What Difference Does It Make?

‘I’m so sick and tired
And I’m feeling very sick and ill today…**



I was here first

Last night I went to a poetry night but a couple sitting next to me had not, so they decided to speak as loudly as they could until I braved it and asked them to be quiet. “But we’ve been here since 6,” said the man, which was quite an odd defence, I thought. Imagine if someone organised a wake at a Wetherspoon’s, everyone shuffling sombrely in, drying away tears and remembering Pete holding his favourite pint. ”Ayyyyyyyy Macarena!!!” chant a group of tropical shirt wearing idiots at the bar. Mary (Pete’s widow) shudders and politely points out the seriousness of the situation. One of the idiots says, “But we’ve been here since 2am!”

If you see similar behaviour, don’t stand by and let it happen: let poetry win!