Movies with Friends

This week, for some unknown reason, I did a little thinking about and remembering of films I have gone to see with friends of mine. I have these odd strengths and weaknesses in my recall. I struggle a lot to pull up names on the spot, it’s a real embarrassment to me, but I can easily remember when and where I saw a film and who I saw it with. 

Here’s a random few. I saw lots of movies with many of these people but I’ve just chosen a random one (or two) that sprang to mind when I thought about them. There could have been many many more. 

I can’t see how it’s of very much value or interest to anyone for me to write these down but it’s a place where my mind went to this week and that’s what makes a blog post in this village. Perhaps, someday, I will be forced to forget everything, either by time or by rogue chemicals in my brain. Then I’ll have this to look back on, won’t I? Maybe that will help.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs/Darby O’Gill and the Little People – Mum and Dad

The two films I remember being taken to by my parents as a small boy. Both terrified me a little but Darby O’Gill won that prize by a long chalk. Seeing it again in recent years, I don’t believe it was the banshee or the deathly carriage that haunted me the most. It was the upholstery inside the carriage when Darby climbed in to be taken away. 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – Granny

Granny and I went through a phase of going to the Saturday matinees to see movies. I would have been six. We loved Butch Cassidy, Granny and me, although one slightly naughty scene might have made us both squirm a bit.

Diamonds Are Forever – The Lads

My first matinee excursion without Granny was with the Lads, my pals from the street. Mum and Dad had been to see it in the week before Saturday came and they predicted I would love it. I had been primed by the James Bond publicity machine which included Sean Connery advertising milk from the set of the ‘Lunar Test’ scene. 

The Man with the Golden Gun – George Henderson

The first time I was allowed to set off from the house by myself (no lads) to see an evening show. I met George at the door of the Savoy. I had read the Fleming novel to prepare myself. I was eleven. 

Fist of Fury – The Lads

The Lads and me all went to see Fist of Fury. The film was over eighteens but Padraig got us in somehow. I would guess there was a general acknowledgement that Bruce Lee had become so beloved of kids of my age that we just had to be let in.

Enter the Dragon - Martin

I think I saw Enter the Dragon more times than any other film. It was a regular at the Savoy matinees and we rarely missed it, loving the live action iconography on the screen.  

Death Weekend – The Lads

This marked the end of my blatant ‘over eighteen’ movie-going career for a while. My parents strolled past the cinema where the posters, foyer cards, and tagline left little to the imagination. I was thirteen at that stage.

The Spy Who Loved Me – Shane

Me and Shane went to lots of movies. I remember this one because I thought I knew what the much heralded ski stunt was going to be but I didn’t and it kind of knocked me out. When I got home my parents were watching ‘Avanti’ on the telly but I wasn’t allowed to come in the room because it was too grown up. 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind – Sean

As I recall, we chatted quite a bit through this one. An unforgivable sin but it was a bit slow in places. Sorry. I got Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds album on the same day I saw this and I went home and listened to side one before bed. 

Rocky 3 – Alan

We went to the Late Show in the Gaiety in Sligo. They played the song several times before the curtains opened. It was very loud and there was a pervading sweaty and overtired atmosphere in the place. It was great fun. 

The Shining – Brian

Saw this on a Saturday night in Sligo. By nine the next morning I had left home for the very first time for college in Dublin. Brian and me kept suggesting that something terrifying was about to emerge from the shadows of the Overlook Hotel and, eventually, something did. 

Poltergeist – Damian

Adelphi One in Dublin. In a packed first weekend showing, Damian reached forward and scared the person in the row in front of him with his hand. We could have been killed. 

Southern Comfort – Greg

The only movie I ever saw with Greg, who was a friend from college. He wanted to see it for the Ry Cooder soundtrack and that was all right with me.

Once Upon a Time in America – Damian

Deserves a mention because I a received news on the afternoon that a good friend’s Dad had just died back home. This added a real life elegiac layer to a film which already had so much of that. 

Ghostbusters – The London Crew

After moving to London, I went to the movies a lot. I loved to go to Leicester Square and see them all as soon and as big and as expensive as possible. I bought something like ten tickets (as I often did) for the first night that Ghostbusters was on and a  bunch of us went. It was the level of anticipation that holds it firmly in my memory.

The Hustler – MC

I liked the small retro cinemas too. The Hustler was showing in a lovely wide black and white print. I remember Jackie Gleason, how poised and mannered he was. A real ‘cinema’ night out.

Into the Night – Cormac

Cormac wasn’t at too many movies but I remember a few. He was always engaged company for a movie. I remember him at this one because he liked it quite a lot. I think the B B King music helped with that. 

Fright Night – Tim

I saw lots of movies with Tim and pals between Dublin and London. I choose Fright Night as a memory because Tim is a big strong lad, who had looked out for me once or twice, but this seemed to scare the shit out of him. 

A Room with a View - Amy 

Curzon Mayfair, a Saturday evening, a packed house loving the film. Who could forget that?

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – Nuala

It wasn’t my best Saturday ever, to put it mildly, but Ferris and his crew somehow made me smile. I think that’s why I remember it with fondness.

Jude – Una 

Patricia’s Sister and me caught a few Sunday afternoon shows when Patricia was pregnant and not in the mood for cinema seats (she was  glad to be rid of us for a few hours, I think). We saw Jude, which was shockingly miserable and I remember it because Una took her sister’s blood pressure before we left and predicted that matters of first child birth might soon get under way. As was so often the case, she was not wrong. 

War of The Roses – John

Patricia’s brother loves his movies as I do and it was fun and a privilege to see this one with him in Boulder Colorado. 

Dances with Wolves – Patricia

Patricia, my Wife and also my Best Friend for over thirty years, has been to see many, many films with me. I could write a list of times and places that would stretch all around the entire world and back again and it would run for thousands of words all by itself. This particular film was not a firm favourite or anything but it comes to mind because it was an extended cut on a Sunday afternoon in Haymarket and the feeling that I had over four hours to sit with this lady and not be concerned with anything else – well, that was a feeling I like to hold on to.

Toy Story 2 – John

I brought my eldest son on our first excursion together to see this. He was three. He was quite nervous about going in but we got as far as the usher’s chair in the back and sat there together for the first part. Eventually, entranced, we moved further in. At the end credits, the girl who came in to clean up the popcorn stood beside our seats and recited along to Mrs. Potato Head’s entire speech. She was very good. 

The Amazing Spider Man – Sam

Sam, my second son, is a great guy to go see a movie with and we often go together. I remember this one because he felt a bit sick half way through and we had to go home but we came back the next week to see the second half. 

Sitting here, I find I could go on and on and on but I think I’ll stop now. Maybe I’ll do more some other time. Thanks to all my friends and family, some far away, some long gone, who made my movie days and nights such a warm and integral part of my life and memory.

Don't Deserve. Don't Deserve

I was watching Louis Theroux on BBC2 last weekend. He was interviewing people who suffer terribly with eating disorders. I thought it was a sensitive and quite revealing programme. I would have to confess that eating disorders would be something of a mystery to me. In that respect, the programme made me think a little more clearly about the subject. 

One interviewee was particularly clear in explaining that the problem, for her at least, was nothing at all to do with body image or the need to be a ‘size zero’. Her testimony along with others, painted a different picture altogether. One where the pain of virtual starvation is almost a welcome release from all the other pains in the world. One where the person suffering feels they actually don’t deserve to eat. 

That last bit hit home with me on rather a personal level. The woman being interviewed quietly expressed the sentiment in two repeated words. ‘Don’t deserve. Don’t deserve’ and…

Wait. Stop. This is where I make the whole thing about me and what those words mean to me. But that just doesn’t feel right. My heart went out to the people in the programme, the mountain they are struggling to climb every day. It shouldn’t become about me. Lucky me, who has no illness or disorder to contend with. I shouldn’t even go there.

But then again, maybe I should. Empathy is a powerful weapon in battling things. I think so anyway. Perhaps, if something evokes empathy in us and makes us acknowledge that we feel even a micro-fraction of what the person suffering feels, perhaps the exploration of that can have some value too. 

Who knows. Either way, here I go. Talking about myself yet again now.

When that person repeated the phrase ‘Don’t Deserve’ to herself on my telly, I immediately realised that this is a thing I subconsciously say to myself all of the time. It doesn’t manifest itself in me in the form of any palpable discomfort or pain. It is just simply a way of looking at things. ‘Don’t Deserve’. 

And I’m not mentioning it here by way of some confessional or anything. I sometimes think of myself as a sort of an ‘emotional everyman’. I reckon that, if I’m thinking or feeling something, you can bet that lots of other run-of-the-mill folk like me are probably thinking it too. That’s why I debated with myself about scribbling this thing, decided against it, and then, somewhere along the way, evidently changed my mind because, well, here I am.

So, yeah, it’s a thought I often have. Strike that, it’s a thought I practically never have. It’s actually more of an all-pervading ‘knowledge’ without there ever being any kind of a conscious thought. 

Whatever it is, whatever it might be, I don’t deserve it. 

I think, on one level, it’s quite easily explained. I think I have a sort of a general loose ‘socialist’ outlook on things. I have so much ‘Stuff’, you know? ‘Stuff’, food, shelter, entertainment, warmth, clean water, family, freedom… so very much stuff and so many people in the world have so very much less. So many people have nothing at all or less than nothing at all. So how could I not feel that I don’t deserve anything more? I’ve got my share already, much more than my share. And not just of things or comforts but of luck and love and those even greater things that are harder to quantify.

So that’s it sorted then. I sometimes feel I don’t deserve things but why the hell wouldn’t I when the world is an uneven as it is and when I sit so near to the top of the pile. 

Fine.

Except that doesn’t answer all of it. Not really. It’s a bit more complicated than that, isn’t it? Because it isn’t just about material things. It’s also about more obtuse, difficult to pin down, things such as personal achievement and creative satisfaction. To have these type of things for oneself is not to deprive anyone else of anything at all. They are purely personal. And yet that sub conscious part of me will still mutter that I don’t deserve them, any of them.

The amateur psychologists all step up. “Easy,” they say, “this lad has a tiny little inferiority complex that he’s nurturing in there.” Except I don’t. Nuh huh. In my mind and to my mind, I am pretty damn good. I am actually one of the best at the stuff that I do. I don’t ever feel much inferiority to anyone or anything. More often than not, I feel exactly equal. And, truth to tell, in those choice few things that I work very hard at, I feel a damn sight better than most people.

So what is it then? This ‘Don’t Deserve’ thing.

Well, I don’t know. Do I? I’m only mentioning it in case some of you have it too and think you’re the only ones in the world who do. I bet you’re not… well, I know you’re not.

In my own case, I could easily tease out several other contributing factors but that’s not a job for here. As I said at the start, this is not a confessional, it’s more of a public service alert that lots of people probably feel this way and if you do you're not on your own.

One positive in it is that it might just give me a small key to unlock a greater understanding of those people who have it much worse than I do. That’s something, right?

And usually, at the end of a post like this, there’d be some kind of inspirational resolution. A statement of intent to do better, to give yourself more of a chance. To take a deeper plunge. To have a little bit more bloody faith in your own worth. 

Not in this one though. Not today. 

I don’t deserve it.


Post Script – Except I probably need to try to do better. If only out of respect for the people who think this way every day except a thousand times worse than I do. There’s a play on in Dublin at the end of the month that I’d quite like to see. It’s a lot of trouble to get there and back, an awful lot of hassle. I don’t think it’s really worth all that trouble for just me to get to see a play. If there were a few others interested it might be worth while but it’s just me and I don’t think I should_

Fuck it. I’ll go.

Click Click Click

I was at a thing recently where four very good writers were reading and talking about their process a bit. They touched briefly on what things are like when they are not actively writing. They mentioned stuff like walks in the woods and Douglas-Adams-style long baths and some of them even subtly alluded to some vague sense of guilt and unease that accompanies the non writing times.

I tried to make a point in the Q & A at the end. The point was about how the periods of not writing are important to a writer. I just don’t think I did it terribly well. I wanted to give it another quick bash, if that’s all right. So that’s what this is. 

What I was trying to say is that I often find the times when I’m not physically writing to be very valuable and important to the writing process. Of course, I can only speak for myself and I may not be the best advert for any process I may have adopted over the years but there you are. You take these things as helpful or you leave them. You throw them at the wall and keep whatever sticks, for interior decoration. 

Let me rattle on for a moment and see where I get to. I think that’s best.

The things I am planning to write about are like planes arriving at an airport. They are stacked up back over the cloudy horizon. Some are clearly planes, with sunlight glinting off the wings and all that shit. Others, further back, are a mere dot in the sky with perhaps just an occasional flashing light. The closest one is right there, it’s about to touch town and it’s huge and you can see little faces looking out of the windows and it’s slightly off course and one wheel may touch the grass as it lands and Oh Shit!

Sorry, that nearest one is a terror.

The point is more about those dots back there in the sky. The arrivals board may have a clear indication of when they will all land and when their baggage will be delivered onto the carousel (unless it’s hand luggage) (enough, already, get on with it). It’s just that they may get diverted, they may get sent around the skies again. Perhaps the undercarriage didn’t come down quite as expected. Perhaps it has to burn off a bit more excess fuel before it’s ready to land. 

Those planes up in the sky may just be dots but we have a good idea of what they are. They are full sized planes and someday (maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow etc.) they will be there on the apron all glittery and huge. 

But here’s the point. At least I think it is. They can’t come down until they're ready. If you bring them down before they’re ready, the passengers will be all shaken up and uncooperative. The pilot will be a mess. You have to send them around again. One more time, maybe two. 

Let me ‘for instance’. About this time last year, I promised someone a play. It was a reasonably large dot on the horizon. I could see it had a red tail wing but then most planes do. I thought it was coming in clear and that the pilot would be on the shuttle to the Holiday Inn before tea time. Nuh huh. It went around. Then it went around again. One time, the damn wheels nearly touched the tarmac but, no, it wasn’t correctly aligned. Off it went again. 

All the while, other planes were coming in and landing. Some of them were only little single engine things, some of them with people only learning how to fly. Others were a bit bigger. Some older planes came back from abroad too and they had to be serviced and fuelled and sent off again on their way.

But that one, the one on the timetable… it still wasn’t ready to come in. 

This is where the airport analogy goes out the window. I’ll try another one if I may. Suddenly the thing is ready to land. Something remarkable happens. It’s like… it’s like one of those puzzles, you know the ones. A frame of little plastic squares and one square is missing and you push all the little squares to try and make a coherent picture (minus one square). Yes, I knew you knew them. The plane still in the sky is now like one of those puzzles. You slide the pieces around in your head and it doesn’t  fit and it doesn’t even make sense and then… And then, all of a sudden, a sense seems to arise out of the pieces and an end seems in sight. There is a rapid (very rapid) series of ‘click click click’s and, finally, there it is. The picture is complete. No real system got me here, no real logic. The pieces were just slid and shuffled and the effects of each shuffle briefly (sometimes subconsciously) considered until, wow, there it bloody is. 

This plane will come down now. There will be a mad flurry of baggage handlers and men driving trucks with stairs on the back and ladies with over-large ping pong bats waving me to my stand. It will be bat shit crazy for a while but it will land.

To try to explain it without silly metaphors for one sentence. A story that I previously struggled to summarise in two tightly typed pages can suddenly be summarised in one word. One little word. No, I won’t tell you what that word is. When the thing is finished and if something comes of it, I’ll happily tell you then. But, for now, it’s my mantra, my secret. 

All that time of not writing about the plane that went around and around in the sky. All that time, the squares in the puzzle were being slid around in the back of my head. Sometimes almost subconciously, sometimes with complete absorption and obsession. I could have written something at any time along the way but the plane that would have landed would have been badly dented, with birds stuck in the engines, and perhaps even a wing broken off. 

This time, with this one, I’m going to bring it down all in one piece. The passengers might even give a ripple of applause as the seat belt lights finally click off. 

We'll see.