Date Archives December 2018


In an interview included on the Call Me by Your Name DVD, the director Luca Guadagnino says that ‘limitation is freedom.’ This reminded me of the phrase ‘the paralysis of choice’, which I think I read in an article about American healthcare. It seems paradoxical: if there are lots of options, surely we should feel free not paralysed? But it makes sense. I recently did some filming and the limitations were time, space and people. I had a great time. While I wish I could have had three months off work, a range of dreamy locations that require travelling, and a huge crew, I know that if I did, I wouldn’t know where to start. This is why I don’t like shopping: I’m overwhelmed by the number of things. And yet, I like the idea of choice. How very awkward.

The Infusionist

I’m drinking ‘The Infusionist’, which I initially dismissed as ‘exactly the same as very strong squash.’ Of course it isn’t, as it is 20% ABV and, after several uneven gulps, has made me sufficiently incoherent to want to write a mostly coherent blog about…depression!

I only have to have a sniff of Archers and I’m instantly transported to the lake at the back of the University of East Anglia. When I was 17, I walked around that lake and tried to out-stare the water: “I *will* jump into you and drown! And no one will care!” Such is the effect of peach schnapps in addition to an already toxic combination of hormones and an inability to adequately process a family break-up. Reading ‘Prozac Nation’ at the time probably didn’t help either.

So, peach schnapps is my ‘madeleine moment’, except that I won’t try to compete with ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ by writing 3,200 pages about it. This blog will do.  

Interestingly, I found this:

‘To ensure (Proust) did not catch cold, he had his tailor make him several overcoats, which he wore one on top of the other, like a Russian doll, leaving him so large that he could not fit down the side-aisle in the church.’

When I was 17, I used to wear several jumpers. I wasn’t a hypochondriac. I wasn’t even trying to gain attention (far from it – I was well aware what a pathetic waste of bones I was.)

And I found this too:

‘He (Proust’s father) invented the cordon sanitaire – the quarantined ring around an infected area…’

Which reminds me again of when I was 17 and played guitar in the main corridor at my sixth form college. People didn’t just side-step me: they took a run-up before leaping over my horrible emaciated sweaty head. I had been led to believe that lecturers would be more supportive. 

Happy in the haze of a drunken minute

You, The Living – Roy Andersson, 2007

Roy Andersson’s ‘Living’ films are each made up of a series of tableaux – a word I didn’t know the meaning of until two minutes ago. The films are moving paintings and I love that they create and capture strange and beautiful moments.

I rarely go ‘out out’ these days, but when I do, there’ll be a moment when the room is aglow and everything is in hazy harmony. Achieving this state of momentary bliss is a tightrope act, as one or two sips later, the balance and harmony disappears.

The Daily Mash is therefore absolutely correct to pose this question:

 ‘You’re four pints in. The highlight of your evening is behind you. But is it ever ethically defensible to say, ‘Right lads, I don’t want to spend another 30 quid to feel like s***, I’m off home?’

The answer is, of course, ‘Yes!’ The highlight has happened: go to bed and look forward to the next one. But we never do this…

Louis MacNeice was a master at conveying the wonder of a perfect moment. I have probably read ‘The ­­Brandy Glass’ a hundred times:

‘Only let it form within his hands once more –
The moment cradled like a brandy glass…’

He wrote in ‘The Sunlight on the Garden’:

‘We cannot cage the minute
Within its nets of gold…’

Yet, in ‘Meeting Point’, love can cage the minute:

‘God or whatever means the Good
Be praised that time can stop like this,
That what the heart has understood
Can verify in the body’s peace
God or whatever means the Good.’

So, I suppose that a perfect life would be repeatedly drinking brandy in the garden with someone you love…But not repeatedly, as the moment would lose its special uniqueness and you would both be horrifically drunk and in pain.