March’s offerings

A woefully overdue post about the delights of March 2014:

Continuing the theme of finding a project to support with a tiny bit of cash, the Ministry of Stories dropped an opportunity into my lap at The Story 2014. MoS inspire the nation, particularly kids, to write in a seriously playful way. Brilliant.

I finally started using my hands again, and after a series of repairs (buttons back on coats, hems etc) I was encouraged by the splendid Emma Kerr to head over to Tatty Devine and make a heart bunting necklace. We were laced with cake and coffee on a fine spring Sunday, and it felt like a fantastic way to spend time.

The much neglected quest to finish all the Booker winners got a boost this month – I finished The Life and Times of Michael K by JM Coetzee, How Late It Was, How Late by James Kelman and Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. All three were books that I’d previously started but not finished, which might suggest that they were a chore to get through: not so. Sometimes it takes a while to get into stride with a book, and all manner of things can prevent that happening (would like to muse on this some more, I think). In the end, Michael K had the quietest but most pervasive impact on me, Oscar and Lucinda had me hooked but seemed to promise more than it ultimately delivered, and How Late It Was somehow helped me slip into the fog of the chaos surrounding Sammy’s sudden blindness and into the heart of a vulnerable man.

A and I had a day out at the Science Museum, seeing fantastic photography exhibition ‘Only in England’ featuring the work of Tony Ray Jones and Martin Parr, which provided a compelling view of life a few decades ago. Whilst we were there we also went to see the CERN exhibition – aside from the truly dreadful introductory video, it was really great, and I learned a few things which I now can’t remember. I wish the Science Museum offered books of the info panels at things like that – they were really informative (and fun!)

In a moment of unusual indulgence, I headed off to Greenwich Picturehouse and watched two films in one afternoon: both films, I thought, had superb posters (not something that normally moves me). The first was Her, which won an Oscar for the screenplay. Though ostensibly about a man that falls in love with his operating system, it’s really about relationships more than technology, and paints a stunning portrait of the many phases of a passionate connection. The film is at its weakest when it deviates from what we know to be part of the ritual of a relationship (body surrogacy, for example) but it sparkles as it illuminates the rituals we think we do know. It’s also super stylish.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is stylish in that Wes Anderson way, and is infinitely watchable if only for the genious of Ralph Fiennes as the hotel’s concierge, the engine behind the glossy facade.

Now for the grand finale: A and I went to an event called Pipes vs Mics at the Royal Festival Hall, which concluded their Pull Out All the Stops festival celebrating the renovation of a 1788 pipe organ. It was a great night mixing beatboxing with organ playing, with new and experimental organ compositions and ten specially commissioned poems. The poetry was incredibly diverse – in style, delivery, tone and effect – covering a gamut of subjects: modern day politics/current affairs, survival, conflict, the material world, ventriloquism, history and aesthetics. Possibly my favourite was an ode to security, devising visual codification of the organ’s sounds for those whose job it is to watch silent screens. Ben Norris, who I’d gone to see, delivered a real crowd pleaser with his lyrically comical imagining of the organ makers cycle race to finish the organ in the face of dissent from a contemporary.

Last month I dangled the prospect of a coffee house experiment. I did attend, but it was a let down – revealing that when I’m promised conversation, I’m not that interested in seeing performance, or entertaining pretence.

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