April 8th, 2009


A friend read me this down the phone and I rather liked it...

It is an extract from "Sweet Summers, The Classic Cricket Writing of J. M. Kilburn" edited by Duncan Hamilton, reviewed in the 2009 Wisden. J. M. Kilburn was the long-term cricket correspondent of the Yorkshire Post, but he also wrote for other journals and the extract comes from a column in The Cricketer in 1940. He died in 1993.

There was walking in the promenade, but always with an unconscious hastening from one newspaper-seller to the next. We celebrated the winning of the Championship, and toasted 'next year', even as we listened to the pot of Poland boiling.

The Sussex lanes were lovely in their autumn glory, and peace curled down from the village chimney pots and through the trees and across the Downs. Near London we returned to war. An endless stream of cars, laden with luggage, perambulators, bedding and minor necessities of life, swirled away to the West. We stopped for evening papers and were not encouraged by their stories. (There was no word of Yorkshire's victory, which in itself suggested evil things). We hurried on. Hurried into a night that was thrice night because the Earth was darkened against the terror from the skies. In Leicester we stayed, and when Saturday's light came into the sky, went on again. And so to Yorkshire. Unshaven, weary and unhappy, so came we home. We took our bags, we turned and said goodbye and then 'good luck'. We went our several ways. We had come to the end of an age.

Things end and we experience their ending...

The last bits of the festival...

Well, not quite, because there is the closing gala tomorrow and Baby Love sounds fun. Also, there will be social whirl and late night party hijinks to be had, with my wonderful friend Michelle Mangan down from Liverpool - with whom I sat around in the bar this evening along with the equally admirable Claudia from Milan, whom I have seen around the Festival for years but never talked to until now.

So - three more movies...I sat through OMG/HaHaHa again come to that and was just as conflicted as the first time. With the addition that I realized that the reason I zoned out both times was that there is a lot of very flickery camera work at some points and it actually made me ill and spacey in a way I haven't experienced since Cloverfield and no adrenalin of irritation to work against it. Great bits, talented mess. And if it triggers me, it probably triggers other people too...

Yesterday afternoon, I watched Straightlaced which ought to be a bog standard documentary about gender stereotyping in American high school, but manages to be something rather better than that makes it sound. Part of the point is that Debra Chesnoff and her people have got some very frank interviews out of people and some of the straight boys, gangstas and jocks, who dress in baggy pants and loose shirts are amazingly frank about their homosexual panic and fear that they will be mocked and rejected if they ever wear anything tight, or patterned, or touch each other for more than a second...The slightly prissy high school lesbians and gays are so much less fucked up about it all, and there was a sweet sweet trans girl who was amazingly getting away with high school transition. It all sounds so utopian that I almost smell a rat, but actually don't.

Voodoo Woman was a perfectly decent late transition film memoir with the particular extra that Carolina gets the memo she has avoided all her life when she is in Cuba making a documentary about santeria. And the spirits tell her to cut the crap - she was seeking spiritual wisdom and she gets it, o girl does she get it! I liked the fact that, after enlightenment, comes commitment and she starts working on the rights of trans folk in her native Colombia as well as in Cuba and Canada. Not a great film but an honourable one.

And my last film of the festival proper - one of the very best I've seen this year. Jennifer Phang's Half-life combines family drama - dodgy step-dad, daughter with close gay friend she beards for, father who flew off into the sunset, weird kid - with apocalyptic themes - flooding, social unrest, solar flares - and technical weirdness - various sorts of animation that vary from rotoscoping to childlike drawing. Somehow, the strange little kid manages to be both entirely lovable and believable, and slightly disturbing in an sf way - It's a good life hovers round the edge of the plot.

The whole thing is emotionally gruelling, fabulously inventive and gorgeous to look at. You should check it out in whatever way you can here; it is scandalous that it's getting so praised on the festival circuit and not getting a release.