Monday, 17 November 2008

Vanity projects and 'Of Time and the City'

It was an interesting weekend for vanity projects. Two, fact. The first was yesterday afternoon. T and I decided to spend a lunchtime at the Renoir in Bloomsbury. Feels so decadent, driving to the cinema on a Sunday afternoon, among heavy traffic and drivers intent on stopping at every green light and rushing ahead on red. Almost like being in Rio! Without the weather and the favellas. We pitched up at the cinema with a few others (literally a few) and paid our rather exhorbitant £10 per ticket. Is it me, or have the prices of cinema tickets been hiked in the last year or so? Seems extraordinary to pay so much. I must be getting old...

I wanted to see 'Of Time and the City' because I believed it was going to be the renowned director Terence Davies' 'homage' to Liverpool. I thought that the archive footage would capture how Liverpool had transcended from poverty to 'The City of Culture.' Nope, that would have been too easy. What it was, was a hodge-podge. For instance, Davies hates the royal family. Fine, he's entitled to his opinion but what did that have to do with Liverpool? His narration, like his direction, was intrusive and irrelevant and tedious. His use of music to illustrate points was, on the whole, quite wrong. What did The Hollies' 1969 version of 'He's not heavy, he's my brother' have to do with the Korean War? And Davies' repeated use of quotes that he then quoted as if he was writing an appendix for publication, was, in fact, ridiculous. It was, indeed, a vanity project and one that should have stayed in Davies' front room for his accolytes and family to watch on a rainy, wet afternoon when there was nothing better on tv.

The second vanity project was a personal hymn to forty-five years of marriage. A couple of years ago a friend of ours decided to learn to play the piano. Having learned in doubble-quick time, she set out to compose and write a number of love songs. These she dedicated to her husband. Unbelievably brave, she then recorded an album and performed it live on stage last night with a band - sax, drums, double-bass and piano. It was, her husband declared, "The first and last time that she would do so". Ok, so she was not the greatest singer but it was an utterly memorable and unique occasion. It's quite something to invite a hundred people to hear you sing for the first and last time. Is that vanity?

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