A selection of things that shook the ground beneath my feet – and still do.
West Side Story
I first saw this at Gants Hill Odeon when I was eight years old. It blew my head off. From its breath-taking aerial panorama of New York to graffiti style closing credits, I was entranced and exhilarated. For the first time ever, I realised how songs could be used to tell a story.
I was around eight when my Dad sat me down one Sunday afternoon to watch this wonderful film with James Stewart.
It was adapted from a Pulitzer prize winning play by Mary Chase and is a warm, wise and witty take on the truths people create for themselves – and how others react to it.
I didn’t need convincing that a man’s best friend could be a white, six foot three inch invisible rabbit. I still don’t.
As the main character, Elwood P Dowd, says:
“I've wrestled with reality for 35 years, Doctor, and I'm happy to state I finally won out over it.”
I can’t remember a time when music didn’t figure in my life. I can’t imagine a time when it won’t.
The first singles I ever bought were T Rex’s ‘Get it On’ and The Jackson Five’s ‘Mama’s Pearl.’ Any semblance of credibility these records may afford me is well and truly scuppered by the first album I bought - a collection of Christmas carols. Hey ho.
Since then I’ve sucked up all sorts of music and found a place for most of it but it was disco that picked me up and threw me around the room. House music kept me up to some very small hours. I still listen to deep house music. LOUD. I still buy it. I even edit to it; the rhythm helps my prose.
But my tastes take in jazz, classical, modern classical, opera, hip hop, soul...everything really except most rock music. Sorry rockers.
One common element through most of my collection is the prevalence of female vocalists. If I was able, I’d remake this track...
As a young boy I was obsessed with this book. From the reviews on Goodreads I wasn’t the only one.
It’s a very simple story – a man puts off doing his washing up until he can’t get in the house for dirty dishes. That’s it.
It’s a warning about not procrastinating but it’s not one I heeded seeing how long it took me to finally sit down and start writing on a regular basis. Appropriately enough, it plays a part in The Second Life of Amy Archer too.
In games in the school playground, I was always an Indian, never a cowboy. Something about the Indians resonated very deeply within me.
Maybe it was the rhythm of their music. The colourful, tribal garb. Or being the underdog.
If there are such things as previous lives then this was one of mine. I have never been to the USA; of all its attractions, the Dakotas, Montana and Wyoming have the strongest pull.
I discovered Dadara’s (aka Daniel Rozenberg) work on the covers of dance tracks released by Dutch label Outland Records. I liked a lot of the music but bought the releases mainly for the covers.
His work has now expanded into paintings, sculptures and installations that tackle issues of creativity, personal freedom, capitalism and the environment with wit and an instantly recognisable style.
He’s well established in the USA, Germany and Scandinavia but bafflingly (to me at least) remains relatively unknown here. Take a look at his galleries here.
An on-going community art project where people from all over the world send in their secrets on one side of a home made postcard.
Each of these (often very beautiful) postcards is like looking through a keyhole – what you see can be heart-breaking, hilarious or horrifying.
It’s somewhere to go to be inspired, count your blessings – and find stories, big and small.
Because, because, because, because, because…