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Lexden Road

Had a sobering chat with a man on the bus up Lexden Road. He was homeless, living in a tent in Stanway. He was so depressed he’d pulled all his fingernails out. I’ve been depressed in my time but I’ve never done that. He was originally from Glasgow, had been in rehab in Plymouth and been resettled in Colchester because he had family here, he said. Whatever… It hadn’t been a great success. Evidently.

He was on universal credit, £250 a month, he said. Not a lot of people make me think: I’m glad I’m me.

But he did.

He said he was hungry. I gave him 16p in a Post Office see-thru plastic change bag – all I had in change. He took it, not gratefully but without complaining. Then a little while later he returned the empty change bag. You never know when it might come in handy.

Lindsay Anderson

Lots of his films are available on YouTube right now:
This Sporting Life (1963)
If…. (1968)
O Lucky Man! (1973)
Is That All There Is? (1992)

Plus:
O Dreamland
Wham In China
The Whales Of August
Glory Glory

I’ve watched the 1st 4.
If…. 5*
This Sporting Life 4*
O Lucky Man! 2*
Is That All There Is? 2*

If…. still works exactly as if it had been made today (the cinematography by Miroslav Ondricek is particularly good). I’ve watched it recently with a 14yo and he loved it too. It’s like Harry Potter for him; for me, having been at Westminster only 9 years later, very real.

I 1st saw If…. when I was 14, an English teacher having told us to watch it (it was on the BBC). While I don’t think I was of a mass-murdering persuasion, I rehearsed in my mind the massacre at the end whenever (3 times a week) I came out of ‘Abbey’, down the cloisters. I would have been Johnny (David Wood); Mick Travis (Malcolm McDowell) would have been Tom Madge, the school rebel, who liked Millie Jackson at a time when we were just getting into New Wave, and who left Westminster to go to Pimlico for 6th form.

This Sporting Life is possibly the best British 1st feature ever made (tied with Sexy Beast?). Richard Harris is often criticised as being too Brando, but imagine if Brando had really been cast as Frank Machin, rugby league player? It would have been preposterous! So – at least in this film – Harris is so much better, surely? And Rachel Roberts is fantastic. But it is a bit long at 2 hours 14 minutes.

O Lucky Man has a few good bits but at 2 hours 58 minutes is MASSIVELY too long. Malcolm McDowell just grins his silly grin and Arthur Lowe wears blackface! Bizarrely, it gets 7.8 on IMDb while If…. gets 7.6! If anyone can explain this, please do.

I’ve also been reading Going Mad In Hollywood by David Sherwin, screenwriter of If…. An excellent and truthful If VERY depressing account of 30 years of scripting. What for? you may well ask. We have to do SOMETHING…

2 revelations: Jon Voight is barking mad; and Travis Bickle was named – Scorsese tells Sherwin – after Mick Travis.

It’s not like that…

Did I ever tell you this one? We had a rabbit called a girls’ name starting with ‘I’, back in the days when we thought pets would do it for us. She died aged 7 – not such a bad age for a rabbit – in 2004, in Mistley. (She had cancer!). Sometime at the end of the 90s I’d set up a password on my email (pet’s name, password 101). After the crash of 2008, money for screenplays suddenly became extremely hard to find – so I got a part-time subbing job at the start of 2009, having at that time an almost 8 year old, a 5 year old and a one year old who required feeding. (I was still doing the part-time job when I had the stroke.)

At the job, the production editor was called the girls’ name beginning with ‘I’ and at some stage she was sorting out my computer (she was very efficient) and she said: ‘What’s your email password?’

And I said, without thinking, her name. And she went bright red! And the more I tried to say ‘No, it’s not like that, it was a rabbit who died in 2004…’, the less convincing it sounded.

I changed the password that day…

Cy Endfield

I knew him as the director of Zulu, Sands Of The Kalahari and Hell Drivers, three of the best Stanley Baker movies. But Talking Pictures and Film On 4 together have increased my interest. Born 1914 Scranton PA. Died 1995 Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire. As interesting as Losey, as an American-born McCarthy-victim UK director (and South Africa). But MUCH MORE obscure. I didn’t even know what he looked like until just now, and I’ve never read a word of interview. (But I had a WHOLE BOOK of Conversations With Losey, until I gave it to Dermot…

I’d DEFINITELY recommend The Sound Of Fury (1950), a lynching tale that – if I’m right in taking he wanted an African-American protagonist, but was denied – would still be a talking point.

And of the UK titles, Child In The House (1956), Jet Storm (1959) and Mysterious Island (1961) are all worth sitting thru (MI has terrible SFX but a Bernard Herrmann score!).

Last but not least, I want to see The Underworld (1950), with Dan Duryea and – possibly – Universal Soldier (1972), with George Lazenby!

Football and Bjork

‘Football is a fertility festival. Eleven sperm trying to get into the egg. I feel sorry for the goalkeepeer.’

I remember Bjork saying that and it provoked thought. Imagine a village 5000 years ago: 50 ppl and a VERY LIMITED gene pool. You interbreed – not a great result in terms of the generations. Or the successful village is the one which goes out to other villages and gets its hands on other women. That was what the Rape of the Sabines was about, or any Viking raid.

As time went by, this becomes more of a ritual: a village team goes to an opposing village and plays a ritual game – football. The team who gets the most balls into the net – ie fertilises the most women – ‘wins’ and they’d take the allotted women back to marry and procreate. And the women are given a name which often shows what village they come from now.

This explains the ferocity of football fans’ feelings: the future of our village is at stake!

And it explains why the Women’s World Cup (specifically England v Scotland last night) was so poorly attended. Women are the GOAL, surely?