I’ve been thinking more lately about a new different life. Away from London, away from theatre, away from having to have a “job”. I’m disillusioned by that world at the moment. I have no interest in it. Performances get cancelled daily due to virus rules I am no longer able to compute. I’m supposed to do a self test twice a week, or every day, depending who I choose to believe. I have supplies of throwaway plastic medical accessories I don’t really want, or need. Well, I’m told I need them, but I don’t want to need them. They’re free and arrive in a neat little box. I don’t receive much post these days. I look forward to seeing the young postman. He has the shaved at the sides, long in a bun on top hairstyle. The manager at one of the theatres has that style too. It suits the postman better.
I received a box set of early BBC Mike Leigh films recently. I may go home and watch one this afternoon. As usual I’ve come out into the world and want to go home, but won’t, I’ll allow myself to be distracted and get home tired, and enjoy an evening of fragmented activity. I don’t have the concentration to watch films that often, but when the mind is settled enough they provide escapism and inspiration for different ways of living, a voyeuristic spyhole into other people’s lives. In the case of Mike Leigh it’s reassuring to know I’m not as dysfunctional, unlucky or downright repugnant as any of his characters. Coincidentally I’m sitting over the road from Stanley Buildings, or what remains of it, where High Hopes was located, the film that catalysed my interest in Mike Leigh. Only a quarter of Stanley Buildings remains now, and it appears to be offices. No one can afford to live around here now. I once took black and white photographs around here, long before Eurostar and UAL arrived for regeneration reasons, on old East German Orwo film. You can buy new Orwo film now. I might try it and see if it is as grainy as before reunification. I liked this area more when it was downtrodden, dark, semi-derelict. I said as much recently on a social media “old London” type of site, and was berated for my opinion by someone who, when challenged, didn’t respond. The internet is a terrible idea at times.
I think I’d like to plan trips to other cities to photograph seedier parts, back alleys, half light. Travelling light, having no base, surveying, documenting the contemporary cityscapes and landscapes, writing about places, emptiness, mist, gradually casting myself wider, via isolated railway platforms in rural France to other European centres of…. of whatever they are. I don’t know if I can write anything useful based on that kind of rootless routeless travelling existence. Possibly. Kerouac did okay hitching on freight trains, but I think he partly invented scenes and characters to pull together into loose stories. He was a loose type.
I returned to reading Sartre’s Nausea last week, after a long absence. I don’t read enough. It occurred to me that this ongoing endless journal is a little like Nausea; a first person narrative by a lone man going to places repetitively, a library, a village café bar, a boulangerie, his meagre rented rooms, deserted streets at dusk, observing anonymous characters at arms’ length distance, attempting to write a novel, getting lost in thought, never making any significant progress. I like to go out to see those people, with the invisible screen of “the loner aura” around me. I may continue to write this journal until the end of this year, then draw it to a close. That will be two complete years, then time for a new creative pursuit, and a re-evaluation of aims and needs. I’ve said that before though, and ended up continuing. Maybe it will become a perpetual piece. Is it a “piece”? I’m not fond of that word in this context. It can be a stand alone something. A long-form journal of essays? I should look more into the personal essay genre.
Speaking of films, I don’t seem to want to watch contemporary television much any more. I don’t have the mental capacity or interest in engaging in new people and situations which will be forgotten sooner or later. I’ve cancelled my tv licence and will probably eventually cancel the other viewing services I pay each month for. I enjoy them but don’t need them especially. I have piles of DVDs to watch, mostly oldish films, which I can then sell on. I could one day sell the TV too, although it is good to have a separate viewing device in it’s own little space, otherwise I just do other things at the desk. This is slowly heading towards another downsizing phase, fewer expenses, possessions, ties. Being free to run.
I’ve ordered again, I’m staying longer than I should. It is sunny now although with heavy clouds lurking in the sky. This summer has been a constant switchback ride of heatwave, downpourings, thunder, flooding. I’d be happy for this to become the norm, it’s what we should expect after ignoring the warnings and mistreating the planet. Winters will be mild, with unpredictable freak hailstorms and snow showers, but unseasonal warmth, forcing daffodils to come up too early.
Next spring seems a long time off, psychologically. Maybe we’ll understand more about the world by then. I’m not confident though. People don’t seem able to adapt to change. I hope I’m not becoming self-destructive. I’ve become more reclusive, something I’m happy about. A withdrawal has to come before reinvention.