It has to be said, I love a new season, complete with all the promise that it represents. I love boots and woollens more than most but, after spending the last six months layered up to the max, I’m ready to cast off those shackles and embrace a bit of fake tan. I’m no hot house flower though and so there’s just a small window of opportunity for me to actually rock a nice summer frock. Give me another couple of months and I’ll be bending your ear about the lack of shade and the perils of descending from some pasty Irish village where presumably the sun never shone.
The moral of this story then is that I’m intending to strike while the iron’s hot (well fair to middling anyway). I can’t afford to wait until my body is ‘beach ready’ and neither can you. It’s all about the here and now. I’ve spent a big part of my adult life waiting for the day when everything comes together in a synthesis of perfection. You know, that day when I’m a stone lighter, I can afford those Vivienne Westwood sandals and my over-bleached highlights have settled down. Well, no more! I’m owning that spare tyre and there’s nothing a bit of hair serum can’t cure.
Before you start wondering if I’ve got a touch of sunstroke – that’s not it. No, I’m basking in the Betty Blue effect. I recently watched the four hour director’s cut and, if you haven’t seen it then you really don’t know what you’re missing. Anybody who was around in the 80s can’t have failed to have been bewitched by the gorgeous Beatrice Dalle. There were posters in bedrooms all over the nation as young men wanted to go out with her and young women wanted to be her. The director’s cut is something else though and four better hours I have not spent. The moral of this particular story being that Jean-Jacques Beineix was told no-one would watch a four hour film and was therefore compelled to chop it down to two. Realistically, I suppose he had to bow to pressure from the distributers or his film wouldn’t have been released at all but isn’t it time we stopped worrying what other people may or may not do?
We are told that in today’s instant gratification demanding society, people won’t accept anything that might prove challenging or time consuming. We all allegedly lead such busy lives that we want short books, short films, food to eat on the go and so we have our 24 hour, dumbed down, uniform society and that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. What if instead of blaming those other ‘philistinic idiots’ for this gradual eradication of our cultural life, we try looking at the man in the mirror? What do you do to support the arts? When was the last time you went to an art exhibition, visited your local independent cinema or even read an indie book? I’m already filling my next few weekends with visits to a gallery, independent theatre and a poetry reading. After all, it’s use it or lose it and do we really want a diet of only mainstream, formulaic arts, all cut and measured into bite-sized, easy to manage pieces for us?
I also saw the Ben Stiller film While We’re Young this week which was a bit of a revelation. I have to confess, I’m not big on comedy and tend to get Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler mixed up but something about this film drew me in and I’m glad it did. It turned out to be as thought provoking as it was funny and challenged the way we get to a certain age and become defined by our fixed ideas of who we are. For instance, ten years ago a couple of after work drinks would more than likely turn into a visit to a club or a gig. Bumping into friends or acquaintances unexpectedly inevitably led to some kind of adventure. Now, if I’m not in bed by 10.30 on a work night, I start to feel anxious and, if I bump into an old friend, I’m already mentally rifling through my excuses before they’ve even gotten around to suggesting a quick drink. Whatever happened to going with the flow?
The only certainties in life are birth and death. We all survived the former, given that we’re alive and kicking but we tend to avoid thinking about the latter? The truth is though, there are no guarantees and none of us know how long we might get. Just as there’s no point in putting off living until we get that ‘beach ready’ body, can we really afford to waste days by saying no to adventure. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being in your pyjamas by 9pm, over dosing on chocolate and Don Draper but, is that really how you want to spend your days? Why should Don Draper get all the fun – you can bet your life if he got the chance of an adventure it would be work night be damned?
I know, I know, the fact of the matter is Don Draper is a lecherous, sad drunk with serious avoidance issues and poor old Betty Blue was most likely bipolar. None of us in our right minds would really want to aspire to have their lives but can’t we just borrow a little bit of that je ne sais quoi that gives them such a lust for living? Let’s get out there and make the best of what we’ve got, whether that’s a trip to the theatre or a walk in the sunshine. After all, as my dear departed grandma used to be fond of saying – we’re a long time dead.