A few months ago a friend was watching football on television and I realized that I couldn’t watch moving images. That was not such a tragedy maybe if football was the only thing I was going to miss but I discovered that, unless the programmes were so statically shot that they might as well have been still photographs, then my brain haemorrhage had caused me a real visual problem – with not just television but that most inspiring of media, The Silver Screen too.
It was just not fair, I moaned to myself. It was bad enough having this damnable brain haemorrhage but at least I could have whiled away my recovery time watching all those great films I had missed and the ones I wanted to see again and again and, yes, again and a few times more too.
I knew I would be deprived of daytime TV but that was a decision taken the first time I saw it, a long time ago, years before I was taken ill. I would rather take my eyes out that be forced to endure the excruciatingly cheerful banalities that are served up everyday as couch potato fodder.
There was never any question in my mind of just sitting back and watching television but the set itself with the right recording equipment and a decent DVD player can be an inspiration. One that has been, at least temporally, denied me.
I have survived without it – in fact had rather a good time without it. I have been thrown back on my own resources for entertainment. The mind can be quite imaginative if called upon to work a bit of overtime in the name of entertainment.
I have struggled socially too. As a pretty garrulous person, this has been a deprivation. People, love ’em as I do, wear me out these days. I just flag in mid-conversation with the most entertaining of friends, and I am lucky enough to have a load of them. My brain tells me to disengage just when the fun gets going and I am forced to retire into my shell. Well it is cozy in there and I have always enjoyed my own company so no real complaints here either.
I guess, mostly forced to live in semi-seclusion with a pathological thirst for knowledge and fun, I am the perfect candidate for the internet and it is there that I have found so much that has made these last eight months so very endurable. I know I am not alone in this as I have met like-minded people there who have more than compensated for my other deprivations. You, dear readers, are part of that community, so thanks for dropping in.
Well, something has been happening to me recently which has convinced me that moving pictures, the movies, are no longer out of bounds.
A young Thai friend, O Nathapon, has just directed his first feature film, A Moment In June, and I was invited to its British premier in a Brighton cinema last week. He didn’t make this movie with me in mind but it couldn’t have been a better first test for my brain. He has made a beautiful, gently moving film which touched my heart for sure but which also let my eyes gradually readjust to the joy of sitting in front of a giant screen. It was a double love-story told in subtly interconnected sections with a brave absence of melodrama. Maybe that is the Thai way, but it certainly worked for me even if I wished that the main characters had been a bit more efficient in exchanging telephone numbers. I didn’t have a brain seizure and I enjoyed the film, so thanks O.
So now I reckon I could sit through The Blair Witch Project, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and anything that Quentin Tarantino chooses to throw at me, no problem.
As for the small screen, well, last night I dipped back into my list of recorded television shows thinking that it might now be time to complete this ultimate in eye tests.
The great television playwright, the late Dennis Potter (we are not worthy to tie your bootstraps Mr. Potter), died of a particularly nasty form of cancer which he named Rupert in “honour” of that hugely successful and much hated media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Potter saw him as the enemy and I have largely gone along with that but there is a programme recording system called Sky+ and it is the best thing to hit British television since Dennis Potter – apart from all those wonderful American dramas of course.
It really does do what you need – it records anything you want, keeps it for you and remembers whole series no matter what odd things happen to them in the schedules. So thank you Rupert for allowing your filthy dosh to support at least one totally wonderful innovation.
Last night, I found the remaining episodes of one of my favourite comedy series, the ever-witty, ever mocking and ever inventive, Frasier.
There they were, like table settings on the Marie Celeste, abandoned mysteriously last October when I had my brain haemorrhage.
I watched them and laughed but it was like looking through a veil. It was as if I could feel my brain going into “search.” It found where I had left off but coloured each episode with a sepia melancholy as if I was returning to the scene of a tragedy.
Before my illness, I had embarked on an obsessive Frasier viewing marathon wildly possible thanks to Sky+ where I gathered almost the whole 10 year series in a few months. I had been watching a couple of them the night before I was nearly taken out of the equation so it was weird and strangely frightening to finish the project.
There are now no episodes left on my set and I am pleased to have had that moment of “completion.” It is a tribute to the show that I still managed to laugh but I will give Frazier a rest now. I was a Niles (David Hyde Pierce) and Roz (Peri Gilpin) man, for what it is worth – two wonderfully flawed, self-centred and wide-eyed characters who are much too like me for the good of my own smugness.
I was in love with Eddie though – the scruffy and evil Jack Russell Terrier who, for the whole ten years was played by Moose, and sometimes in the later episodes, his son Enzo. Apparently he had no affection for showbiz – he just loved to chase cats and smell like a drain. I am missing you already Moose.