Saturday, 17 April 2010


I love a good whinge don’t you? Cleans the slate and all that. Here’s a selection of what’s guaranteed to get the old waterworks going for me. Read ‘em and weep …

‘Real Love’ by The Beatles

I’m dead sentimental about the boys, if I’m hungover you can more or less set me off just by saying ‘George Harrison’, but even on a good day this one will get me. The song’s beautiful of course, Lennon skirting the edge of the sentimentality that marred a lot of his solo work, but absolutely winning here. It’s the video that really does it though, that first minor chord a minute in when dear old Paul comes into focus before it cuts away to the four of them, young and scruffy and alive. If that doesn’t get you then just as they’re repeating to fade at the close of the song, Paul leans in and hugs George goodbye. Yep, I’m gone.

‘Housewife, 49’

I had hoped on the back of this award-winning performance Victoria Wood would start getting a slew of serious and challenging acting roles, but of course those parts aren’t there for women of a certain age. This one she wrote for herself and it’s brilliant. There are a dozen heartbreakers but my favourite moment comes after their son goes missing and Daddy confronts Nella about the perceived betrayal that is her secret diary-keeping.

‘Why do you do it? Who wants to read what you’ve got to say?’
‘I don’t know who wants to read it, but I’ll tell you why I have to do it. It’s because I have nobody. I have nobody to talk to. I don’t have a sympathetic, loving, interested friend, I don’t have that person. I only have you.’

Floods … Of course that was the clip they showed at the BAFTAs. She won Best Actress that year. It’s eight minutes in if you’re feeling up to it.

‘I’m Too Sad To Tell You’ by Bas Jan Ader

Crying’s a bit like puking, once you see someone else doing it you feel like having a go yourself. Everything Ader did was touched with melancholy, the title of one 1969 installation was ‘Please Don’t Leave Me’. ‘I’m Too Sad To Tell You’ came the following year and is a three and half a minute film of the artist crying. It doesn’t sound much but I can’t watch it to the end, the impossibility of being able to reach out and comfort is too much.

A few years after this was made he was lost at sea. They never found his body. Sorry.

Carrie Bradshaw loves Samantha Jones

I’m never going to apologise for loving Sex and the City, deal with it. I’ve blogged SATC tearjerkers before but there’s always something new to discover. Samantha gets breast cancer and Carrie’s brusque Russkie boyfriend is curt to the point of painful about her chances of survival. Carrie gives him the lowdown on what Samantha really means to her. It’s probable most of our real and lasting passions in life will be the friends that we have, and not the other types of relationship, this cuts to the chase about it.

‘It was the women who had the War’ … Rose’s speech in The Krays

The Krays is a criminally (haha) underrated film. Since it’s a working-class Cockney affair all the best parts belong to the women. Billie Whitelaw as Violet Kray and Kate Hardie as Frances are two of my favourite roles ever but Susan Fleetwood as Rose is Queen Bee. She gets tired and emotional recalling the War, the perpetual violence and disappointment of men and their consequence-free lives. She gives a little monologue that absolutely floors me, the writing is a dream. Three minutes in, link below, I’m gone by the time she says, ’One day they’ll drain Victoria Park lake …’. Susan Fleetwood died in 1990, she was only 51.

‘I Can Give You The Starlight’ by Ivor Novello

He wrote so many beautiful songs but somehow they haven’t aged quite as well as Cole Porter’s, except for this one, which rivals Porter at his best. Any version will do, Jeremy Northam’s in Gosford Park is suitable swooning, but I love Mary Ellis best of all. She sings like a saw, the notes are too high and the sound too big to be contained by the wax-and-rubber-band recording equipment. It sounds utterly wonderful on really good headphones and hits the sublime at these lines …

‘Call and I shall be
all you ask of me
music in spring
flowers for a King
all these I bring to you’

Many are the long nights this and a dry Martini have done for me. Funeral song please.

Trish’s suicide attempt in Educating Rita

Maureen Lipman’s Trish is a whirlwind of eccentricity and style. Rita’s shocked as all hell to come home one night and find she’s taken an overdose. The dialogue in the hospital when she comes around is terrific (four and half minutes in) …

‘Don’t cry Trish, you’re still here.’
‘That’s why I’m crying … It didn’t work. It didn’t bloody work … Poor Susan, you think I’ve got everything, don’t you?’
‘But you have.’
‘When I listen to poetry, and music, then I can live. But you see darling, the rest of the time it’s just me. And it’s not enough.’

I say that last line all the time.

You know it makes sense.

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