Monday, 6 July 2009

Volver, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, The Day will Dawn.

Thursday 24th January could become one of the significant days in my life. I repaired the crack in the one the lower panels of the front room door. I commenced to cut and lay the new laminated floor in the kitchen. I watched three films and commenced to write the book about my mother. my aunt and me.

It was watching the third film early evening Volver the most popular of the films of the Spanish Director Almodovar with British and American audiences, and with me, that I knew how to begin the writing. My mother was a mixture of Spanish peasant Catholicism and British Services in an overseas territory, in which daily life was a collective experience, and no more so in death, at which time the women of the family and the neighbours maintain an honour watch over the open coffin while the men gather separately in same household also to show their respect, support their women folk and pray for the soul of the departed. In Volver there is a scene of such a gathering in relation to the aunt of Penelope Cruz, her daughter, and her sister, in the home of a close family friend who lived across the road in the village of their childhood. The similarity between the family in the film and my own circumstances extends beyond the fact that I was able to represent the former relatives and friends of my mother who she had outlived during the time between her death, and the Mass of salvation and cremation. This is also a family with the darkest of secrets and where at the end of the film one member moves into the household of the close family friend who cared for the aunt who suffered from severe memory loss with psychosis, as she enters the final phase of her life, as she suffers from an incurable cancer. It is an act of atonement undertaken with love and which sums up the sentiment that those unable to live together, die alone.

Volver is a glorious colourful celebration of female emancipation of those who have great respect for marriage, family and community. Until the moment of the gathering of the family and neighbours I had extended my early afternoon and early evening break to watch the film on DVD with my full attention, although I had also seen the work in theatre on its British release. It was not the first Almodovar film, having also experienced Talk to her on one of my visit to central London, but it prompted me to view as many of his previous films as I could through the internet ordering, first class mail provided DVD subscription, for the same cost as my former Cineworld suburban pass. Whereas I would see four or five films a month with this pass, extending to five or six when I added the central London extension, I have watched minimum of eight DVD's a month with the internet mail subscription, on top of which I see those films in local theatres as and when I wish to as well as those on Satellite channels. When I wrote that my life has become a film the intention was to communicate more than a statement of how I deployed several hours of every day. Thus as I languished tired from a glass of red wine with green olives stuffed with almonds, and a ham and pineapple pizza, I suddenly came to, got myself off the settee to the desk and worked out the first words and substance io what will become the opening chapter of the book, and which also will provide its framework. It was important to make the switch in activity and which also meant giving the rest of the film less attention, but the writing will not become my main activity until I have completed the new kitchen laminated floor, the household early spring clean and arranged the necessary repairs, and converted material about my mother into my overall work. How far I will be able to progress will depend on when the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman reaches a decision on my appeal against the two reports on my concerns about the premature and preventable death of my aunt, and where I had been unable to give her the time, as I was subsequently able to do with my mother.

Earlier I had filled the crack in a lower panel of the front room door after another early start, writing my notes, and then watching the first showing of the next episode of series 3 of Lost which is entering its last phases before the new series commences on February 2nd. I had then gathered all the material necessary for the laying of the kitchen floor, discovering the set square in the box of brushes and decorating equipment in the cupboard under the stairs to the first floor and which would have been the stairway down to the cellar or basement if the house had one. Here I keep the padded top tool box of my mother and her sisters, and the two mobile tool carriers as well as other household maintenance needs such as light bulbs and electrical plugs, sewing and ironing things, cleaning, candles and such like. I use the tall cupboard in the kitchen, for ladders, paints, garden and some of the boxed electrical tools, including a rechargeable drill and saw, the latter which I had only attempted to use with limited success on a couple of occasions previously. My first effort to use on cutting a length was as a poor one but the effort and time required by the handsaw led me to deciding that I would experiment further and after a few more trials I knew what to do and was able to do it. The first attempt to lock the panels together was also disappointing as I could not remove the join and then I realised what was needed from a third or fifth look at the pictures without words guide. I am confident of completing the work within a day or two.

Between lunch where for third day I peeled prawns, placing on a bed of lettuce within a two rolls followed by a banana, with grapes after the evening meal, I watched two other films, Kiss tomorrow Goodbye is a 1950 James Cagney film noir. He is a character without redeeming features, a violent career criminal who kills, corrupts and uses people to further his own interests, managing to break out of prison and return to crime with the help of prison staff and the police. Then even better fortune comes his way when the rich and powerful father of a wealthier daughter decides that he approves of James as a son in law, and does not proceed with revoking their previous impulsive marriage. At this point the spurned lover of James kills him, condemning herself and a number of others as he has left an incriminating tape as insurance against this eventuality. This reminds that a contemporary of James the equally legendary Mickey Rooney has spent Christmas and New year in pantomime at Sunderland. The Newcastle Theatre Royal recently said it made £1 million profit on its Christmas offering and that already about the half the available seats had been booked for next year.

The second film of the day has also been seen before, at last twice and most of its details were remembered. The Day Will Dawn is a 1942 released film to encourage British citizens in the war effort and those of the invaded countries to have hope and continue the fight. The plot involves a sports journalist who is given the opportunity to become a war correspondent in Norway before the country is invaded so that Germany can make use of its coastline for submarine bases, and who returns to the country to help destroy a base which was identified for him by a fisherman and his daughter who he first encounters in the capital city. Hugh Williams plays the reporter and Deborah Kerr the Norwegian love interest with other parts played by Ralph Richardson Roland Culver, Finlay Currie and Bernard Miles. It is an heroic tale where good and evil are clearly defined.

The amount of writing and work on the floor and door was comparatively small but there was a sense of achievement and progress. I also did some project work, watched the end of Question Time after the second part of Trial and retribution in which everyone watching except the detective in charge was able to work out who the mystery criminal mastermind was, a woman who recruited and ran potential sex slaves from Eastern Europe and an update on the Big Brother House where Roseanna Barr was the celebrity hijacker. I went to bed feeling good and looking forward to Friday. I had intended to watch the evening political magazine programme, particularly as the former Eastenders star, Ross Kemp who has made a name for himself in programmes fictional and real about army life and about gang life on the streets was to make a contribution. I watched a repeat of the first of his programmes living with the army in Afghanistan but I had become over tired and quickly make my way to bed. The only negative note about the day was that I broke a filling eating a toffee left over on the kitchen table after the cinema visit the previous afternoon. More time and expense I could have done without.

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