I have recently acquired The Assassin’s Cloak, a compendium of 400 or so years of diarists, and it made me think: maybe I should write a diary. I have previously kept diaries of Ride Across Britain and the time I worked at music festivals for ten days one summer—i.e. throughout short, potentially stressful excursions from my quotidian life. This makes me nervous that writing this diary will somehow cause me some sort of trauma, and this will be a, perhaps terminal, documentation of that trauma.
This is leant greater credence by the fact that I have been ill twice in 2017. Stephanie gifted me noro-virus a couple of weeks ago. I foolishly nursed her on the assumption she had food poisoning. No such assumptions in the future! And presently I am half way into the sort of head and throat cold that makes one feel as though in an aeroplane cabin, with breath like a water-damaged loudspeaker. Dear reader, I will document my inevitable decline.
Fortunately, the head cold hasn’t prevented my from attending work, the cinema, the pub, restaurants, the gym, and other places where malfeasant bugs can mix and mingle. At the cinema I have seen Christine and T2 Trainspotting, and I watched Birdman on Netflix.
I found Christine a little boring; I think biopics can often be a bit duff, being reliant on real life for their plots, and, in this case, the subject was only interesting on account of one final act. I sympathized with her during her descent into mental illness, but beyond that I didn’t think the film was really saying anything other than: isn’t it sad that this person killed herself live on television. Unfortunately for Christine, as significant and important as she thought the work she was doing was, it wasn’t either of these things. She was a hack. One particular criticism of the movie was I didn’t understand why they went to the hospital after the attempt (obviously I understand why they attempted to revive her in real life) when the attempt was such a natural ending point. The subsequent scenes, which suggested, I think speciously, that the reason she killed herself was that, unlike the other characters, she had no coping mechanisms, added nothing to the story.
Serendipitously, Birdman also featured a public suicide attempt. I enjoyed this film a lot; I thought the story unwound in an increasingly ominous way right until the ambiguous ending. Unlike Christine, the Michael Keaton character was unsuccessful in his public suicide attempt. I enjoyed the moments he spent on stage before pulling the trigger. At this point, he has the loaded gun, and he isn’t wearing the blood-bag. I thought: what if he changes his mind? Does he still shoot himself rather than risk ruining opening night? Perhaps that is what happened, as that would explain why he shot himself in the nose rather than through the brain. I would suggest that anyone considering suicide gives themselves an easier opt-out than this.
And now to Trainspotting. I had watched the original on DVD a few days before seeing the new one at the Grosvenor, and enjoyed it thoroughly. It is a film that just works. The surrealist scenes do not disturb its realism. It is funny, entertaining; it is unforced. The music is great, the sets and costumes are superb (and remember, nobody dressed like that in the mid-90s.) The sequel disappointed on every level. It consciously self-referential, lacking in plot, unrealistic in a pointless way, and, while not quite boring, lacking any of the quirkiness of the original. The Begbie character, probably the weakest link in the original, dominates the latter half of the movie, and it becomes a substandard action/horror movie. And the funny bits aren’t funny. Basically, if this wasn’t Trainspotting, it would be straight to Netflix, or whatever happens to duds now that Woolworths is not extant.
I also finished reading Nutshell by Iain McEwan, which I enjoyed thoroughly. I am not generally into babies etc, but this was one charming foetus, and I was pleased to learn that the unborn consciously want their mothers to consume alcohol during the third trimester.
Other than this, I have been listening to an audiobook of the Magus, skipping my weekend cycle due to my cold (probably a good one to miss due to icy winds), spring cleaning the flat, and I have been recoiling in horror on a minute by minute basis as twitter bombards me with news of Trump and Brexit. I also note with trepidation rising support for Scottish nationalism, and I wonder if there will ever be a time again when I can predict with any certainty who will rule me in one year’s time and how their power will be justified. It is not that I am necessarily opposed to Scotland being asked again the independence question, but I think we all need a great deep breath first.