Just been watching the second series Life on Mars which is the best thing on TV since the first series. Apart from the characters, the script, the whole idea of it, what I enjoy is being back in 1973, even a pretend 1973. You can never really recreate the past, though they do a good job with the rusty Ford Cortina, everyone smoking all the time everywhere and Yellow Brick Road.
I have been up to London to spend a night in the Hammersmith Novotel with Him Outdoors who has been attending a conference. Walking along the stretch of road between Hammersmith station and Novotel, I realised I had not walked that stretch of road for 40 years. It has all changed, of course, but I’m sure I recognised the odd bit of pavement and know where the old kiosk used to be where I bought my Maltesers en route to the crammer that was supposed to put right my “falling behind” on account of my two years at a Rudolf Steiner school. The crammer was pretty awful – no stories, no songs or pictures (doodling on exercise books strictly forbidden) but I suppose they did their job. I passed the entrance exam into a Good School - which I was chucked out of a few years down the line. Now in the late summer, or autumn, of my life (depending on whether I’m spared some or many more years), I think I have changed less than the area has. I like playing games where you make things up and I try not to walk on the cracks. I like eating the chocolate around the Malteser before biting into the crunchy part. I think about what I will do when I grow up. If I were to be time-warped back to 1967 I would feel right at home. When I go to London now I feel a stranger. It isn’t my place any more. I am constantly surprised by the swarms of people everywhere at all times. I wouldn’t be able to get proper coffee but I don’t mind instant and know how to make pretend latte.
We went to see Nothing But the Truth by John Kani at the Hampstead Theatre. John Kani also acted one of the central characters in the play. Set in post-apartheid South Africa`at the time of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, it is in many ways a play about memory and identity, exposing the shortcomings of the reconciliation process and the necessity of talking about the past. During the performance, we found the response of some of the audience very peculiar. Listening to the endless tittering, it seemed that much of the play was received as a kind of laugh-a-minute sitcom, though everyone did at least shut up during Kani’s wonderful, moving monologue at the end. And people rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation.
I am preparing for a couple of days creative workshopping with some poet friends (all writing teachers) here at Signs Cottage, followed by a triumphant inaugural poetry café event in the local community centre on Friday night. Getting together and making things up as we go along is the kind of thing I would have liked doing in 1967. Then I would have had to justify the time spent. Now I don’t. Wish me strength.