Manipulating the senses

I watched Lincoln on DVD. I enjoyed it. Spielberg can make the ‘Great American Film’ well, it has become his forte. The sweep of the subject and the intimacy of Lincoln’s personal life were well contrasted, the period feel hard to fault. I liked how the war room had parallels to today’s depictions. What we see looking back as a lofty moral crusade actually came down to some dirty political skulduggery and that was beautifully depicted. It was good that the language was not softened for modern ears and it altogether had a feel of authenticity, whether it did or not is always open to question. There was a feel of The West Wing about it and it entertainingly and intelligently dealt with a critical moment in US history. It was far from being too long and I wanted more! Spielberg can sweep the emotions and is an expert at bringing tears to the eyes at the right moment even when you know your mind is being manipulated by the combination of sound and image.

My mother was of a generation who went at least once a week to ‘the pictures’. Part of that experience was crying and a good film wasn’t good if it didn’t leave you emotionally drained. ‘Weepie’s’ were big box office!

I can’t think I have sat reading and wept very often. I think the drugs they stuffed me with at the hospital made me more susceptible and I even wept at the end of the David Beckham Sainsbury’s ad (luckily those have now flushed my body!). But in writing it is very difficult to create that and is it an emotion we want to conjure? Well certainly a writer like Dickens did and many others. I suppose it has to make contact with the readers own experience. Last night I watched a new TV multi part series Broadchurch, about the seeming murder of an 11 year old boy. I kept getting a feeling about the setting, a bit of coastline which I had been to, and a book Julie Myerson’s Something Might Happen. It is as if David Tennant’s detective character is on the ‘other side’ of that book.

Something Might Happen is a remarkable book about the desperation of grief, about a mother whose daughter has been murdered on a beach and her living through the police investigation. It’s not a mystery but a profound and heart rending psychological study, she makes huge personal errors which you cannot stop because Julie Myerson is not the sort of writer to stop a character from making them! If you’ve not read it then do so and you won’t forget it for a long time!


 Today’s photo is a self-portrait sitting at my desk on a bright chilly day.




…the Barracks Bike


Today’s photograph on a chilly windy bright day taken at 11am at the back of my flat where building work is still going on.

I am I hope back to writing without becoming exhausted.

Illness or something like an operation to improve things like I had, are a useful source of material for writing, and have been used countless times. The experience of going through these is also invaluable when writing. Until I had the operation 10 years ago for Ulcerative Colitis to remove my bowel and put a stoma in, I had absolutely no idea of the impact and pain involved. I later chronicled this in a poem My Friend Found Me on the Floor. I was certainly not warned of the impact I hope anyone reading that might learn something.

I remember a central section of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, where Lord Brideshead comes home from Italy to die at the vast family home. A great Tudor bed has to be moved downstairs and the life of the house becomes revolved around the illness. Waugh uses this as a tool to bring characters together and in the end part the main ones.  The heightened senses are set against the clockwork motions of the illness. It is an ending not just of a generation but of belief.

My operation wasn’t quite as dramatic. In hospital there is a metronomic feel to life. Every couple of hours blood pressure, oxygen and hydration levels are checked. Staff change in shifts, food, drinks and tablets turn up.

One of the young nurses, she was nearing the end of her second year after qualification, had decided to leave the hospital and join the RAF, to work on the planes turned into flying hospitals returning from Afghanistan when there has been an incident. It would probably make a great feature article or quite a good book, it’s not really my thing, but the TV documentary a while ago following the work on these planes was quite fascinating. She looked very young but had a wiry hardness. Fairly soon she will be going for basic training and ironically as part of that have to learn to shoot, to kill, the opposite of what she’s learnt up to now!

She told us that when she told her grandma, she turned to her and told her ‘…not to become the barracks bike!’ Typical sort of grandma statement and anyone less likely to I cannot imagine! Exactly the sort of contrary remark we have to think of as writers to make our writing live.

Hospital 4


Not out today, thought it might be but bit of regression. It was 10 years ago that I was on for the huge stoma operation, the removal of the bowel due to ulcerative colitis. Something i’ve really noticed is how much more responsibility nurses have, how even more capable they are. I just had a student doctor fail im getting a tap thing in my hand. Rather painful, only looked a couple of years older than the children I do art with, I suppose he is. Now if he’d learnt about Picasso…

Hospital part 3


Today’s photo is of my medication record on the bed.
It’s like living on a place where time has slowed, routines, strange noises from humans and equipment, a need for fresh air, to eat something that tastes like food. Have a taste im my mouth from the stuff they give me that makes everything taste like it is full of thick fat. Soon it will all be gone and I will sit writing at the pc again!

Still in hospital

Today my achievement will be if I walk 10 feet. Just a few days ago it was much greater. Illness slows down the world around you. The usual is on hold, I want to get out get home but I know it’s stupid to rush. So I am asking questions trying to make note for a hospital interlude om my next story!
Todays photo is of my hand with the ‘taps’ attached.