Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Wednesday 6 January 2010

My good fortune for the year so far continues this morning as I awaken with the clearest of heads (no hangover) and while the TV reports a country covered in snow outside my window there isn’t much snow to be seen in comparison. Indeed as I step outside it isn’t even necessarily that cold, certainly not to the degree of yesterday. This I can’t help but feel is our revenge on the country for the Friday before Christmas.

As I leave this morning I don’t even have to scrape the frost from my car windscreen.

The train I board today is the 6.48AM which is a very busy train that always appears to be already near full when I get on it and it leaves Colchester even though it still stops at almost every station on the way to London.

Outside Essex does not appear too blighted by the snow and as the train goes past and enters the M25 this is where the snow seems to begin.

Today there is a guy on the train that reminds me of Mini-Me if he had suddenly sprouted into normal height. He is Maxi-Me but nowhere near as funny as Verne Troyer, only uglier.

Eventually I stroll into work healthily unthreatened by the time. After yesterdays considerable slow down today I endeavour to have focus.

As I step into my office from behind the closed office door of the angry boss he begins expressing interest in my wellbeing with reference to last night. When I pop my head around the corner they begin grilling me about drinking Jagerbombs last night, accusing me of still being pissed up.

The day begins pretty well until people begin flapping about the lack of ink in the photocopier. Fortunately more toner is being delivered today but in this weather the time it arrives cannot be guaranteed. When it arrives I head downstairs and in the progress I bump into the Heavy Metal Manager. He hugs me and proceeds to tell me how rough he is feeling after last night. I just shrug smugly feeling fit as a fiddle with no ill effects, feeling smart with it.

Today I have a so so morning as I regularly find myself being disrupted by interruptions of queries from my colleagues as I struggle to get a working flow running.

By the time lunch arrives I am already hungry and very ready for chow. With this in mind I head for the burger and chips option with lashings of mustard.

In the afternoon as the snow begins to come down at a heavy rate finally I begin to get things done. Outside there is lots of noise as the schools appear to be flinging out its pupils and we watch as these feral animal kids throw snowballs at each other with some kind of new viciousness. Not long into the battle a lady walking her dog passes and some of them proceed to throw snowballs at the lady and her pooch. Remember this is the school that N-Dubz originally came from apparently

As I head downstairs for drinks and a better view of events the Heavy Metal Manager shows me his Tucker Max book and offers to lend it to me. He takes great delight in pointing out and reading his favourite passages. I really don’t know what to make of this book; I haven’t heard of it before and in my circles we tend to get such things pointed out to us if they are worth investigating. I am very curious.

Eventually the snow settles enough for our boss to send us home. Unfortunately however I am heading to the screening of THE ROAD with the JOHN HILLCOAT Q&A at the Barbican tonight so when at 3PM our department packs up and heads home I remain stoic and stuck behind. With nobody else in the office it affords me a rare treat of listening to Danny Baker on BBC London in the office and as the snow continues to fall the show turns into some kind of rolling news edutainment version of the weather.

With the mice away the cat plays and I actually manage to get plenty of both work and writing done including today’s Facebook Cull entry. Later just before the clock hits 5PM the angry boss steps into the office and tells me to head home, not realising that I am actually doing something tonight.

Even though the snow has now ceased Loudoun Road is very slippery this evening. By the time I make it to St Johns Wood tube station I am surprised to having not fallen over after coming close to having a spill several times.

Uncharacteristically the tube journey across to Barbican is quick, slick and easy this evening. As I emerge from the station memories of Szesze come flooding back, it will soon be one year since I last saw her. With this in mind I decide to take a peak at her restaurant and sadly when I get to it there are no lights on and it is closed. In the window is a note and it reads:

“had to close down due to the economic downturn.”

This saddens me no end but I have to concede it doesn’t surprise me. Suddenly I am overwhelmed with minor grief considering just how much hard work she had put into the restaurant and all the plans that she had for it. Twice she had refurbished it and when I ate in the place the food was magnificent. Sadly she just did not know how to run the business from a financial perspective despite being an accountant. Had the climate been better then perhaps it might have done better. I sometimes wondered if she entertained me because I might have some knowledge and/or expertise to share being that I work for a relatively successful chain of restaurants. If only I had that passion.

From here I head towards the Barbican Centre where tonight I am attending a screening of THE ROAD and a Q&A with the director JOHN HILLCOAT. As I walk through the tunnel walkway at the Barbican this is how I once envisaged most of London being with its towering apartments above and people living on top of the city. I would love to live here, if only it could have been. I can’t help but feel that this was supposed to be the future.

I head into the Barbican Centre impressed as ever realising that the last time I here was almost one year ago to the day when Szesze and I came to see Australia. That was also the night I sent my last text message to Mindy although I didn’t realise it at the time. The Barbican Centre is a great place/venue/building, I just wish they held more contemporary stuff that I would be interested in here.

For an hour and a half I hang around, lingering listening to podcasts and typing on my iPhone. Unsurprisingly tonight the place does not feel busy and to get a drink (a coffee) seems something of a feat in itself. Eventually I head down to “The Pit” to the cinema for the screening. On the way in I pick up my notes for the event and I’m ready to go.

Unsurprisingly THE ROAD turns out to be a harsh affair, a bleak exercise into filmmaking that isn’t necessarily easy on the eye or the mind. I haven’t read the Cormac McCarthy book but I sense that this is quite a faithful interpretation.

From the beginning the movie comes with a horrifying air of suspense. As the father and son hide from the evils that appear to be taking over the world you genuinely fear for their wellbeing, wishing them well in their efforts/exploits creating a sense of empathy born from a fear of one day being placed into their situation also.

The whole cannibalism element I have to admit is one that has not occurred to me before about a post apocalyptic existence but truly it is one that makes sense and later as the father and son go in search of refuge it is a stark element that rears itself in the most horrifying of ways, in a manner so scary that I find myself almost hiding behind my eyes.

Avoiding so many clich├ęs here is yet another vision of a world gone to hell, which feels more believable than the previous. Choosing to veer away from disaster porn by concentrating on the aftermath the image of a man pushing all his belongings along in a shopping trolley is a vision we have now all seen in the modern and as a result one that we can scarily recognise.

Viggo Mortensen is as ever tough as nails, acting strong while also being vulnerable in protecting his son. When the pair of them eventually find some kind of haven it comes with a true sense of pained depression as feels the need to flee when he suspects they are on the verge of discovery.

As a number of gut wrenching flashbacks occur to explain their origins the film only proceeds to swath through dollops of shit upon shit as the dad leads his son to a promised land at the coast the viewer does not necessarily believes exists.

Eventually they cross paths with Robert Duvall and Omar from The Wire (Michael K. Williams) before a sticky conclusion occurs that leaves everything down to the viewer to interpret and look forward into.

This is not a movie I think I will be rushing to see again and certainly not a film I think I could ingest with a troubled mind. I still can’t decide whether the kid was some kind of revelation or not, whether he was supposed to be as annoying as I found him. Certainly with every utterance of “papa” he came over as more and more flimsy.

When the movie ends it comes with some degree of relief. I don’t think that is a road I want to ever be taking.

From here the director JOHN HILLCOAT takes to the stage where a man that looks the spit of the posh boss from work questions him.

The talk turns out to be an interesting one, exploring the issues that confronted HILLCOAT in his creation of this movie from the book. Initially he goes over the background of the film and how he had access to the novel by Cormac McCarthy (the source material) from the off and how he harboured reservations as to how it might turn out. Straight away though upon receiving the book he says he liked and felt passionate about the story. His main concerns about THE ROAD beforehand stem a lot from the subject matter and it being set in a genre (post apocalyptic) that has been flogged to death in recent times in a disaster porn manner.

With the movie getting the green light the next issue to arise came with the pressure of getting the right kid, obviously a very key element to the casting and execution of the movie. In conversation HILLCOAT describes how he nailed it with his casting selection in a method that the on screen performance does not necessarily demonstrate.

Eventually it gets to the Q&A stage of proceedings where only one person appears inclined to ask a question (I guess the rest of us are more concerned with getting home in the snow now).

The event ends just after 10PM as I dart out in a rush with view to getting to Liverpool Street in a hurry. In the end I easily manage to catch the 10.30PM Norwich train and I get my wish.

The journey/ride home is thankfully straightforward, unaffected by the weather. Once back in Colchester unfortunately the drive home is less easy as people poodle along in their cars petrified of the ice. I swear driving slowly in this weather and being too cautious is what prompts accidents in this stuff.

When I finally get home it is with the maximum of relief. That was THE ROAD.

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