During my break from writing I’ve been watching films. Dziga Vetov’s Man With a Movie Camera. Its like having an eye-wash. Also Fritz Lang’s Spione and GW Pabst’s Diary of a Lost Girl. I find silent films very inspiring. And then Pasolini’s Medea. Both this and the Pabst have a significant presence in the main role, Louise Brooks and Maria Callas. I think Medea is Pasolini in drag. I love the way Pasolini dispensed with the conventions of narrative cinema as if it was dirty washing.
Anyway back to writing. It’s funny how the very things that got you to write it in the first place are what have to go. It’s a bit like being a gardener, you know when you plant certain stuff that you shouldn’t be putting them in but this is the reason your here, so it’s bloody well going in. And now your pulling the weed up with its floozy blossom slapping you in the face; you see the roots don’t go straight down, they go this way and that, and other bits disappear. You slap the dust from your manly thigh and go off with the wheelbarrow only to pause and think, maybe this is what I should be saving and what I’ve left behind, burnt. Plodding in doubts writing is. Which are the weeds and which the the dirty washing? Pasolini mixed his metaphors quite happily.
What I notice is that the puppetry has spread. Not so long ago I did a project called Dickens In London. I was given some radio plays to visualise. The actual broadcast plays had turned out very different from the original outlines and treatments I had been given and they were full of Radio 4 thesps doing corny Dickensy turns, and actors in their late twenties pretending to be sick infants. The only way to deal with it was to use puppets. I realised what I had been missing. When I was a kid I used to collect Pelham Puppets. To my eye now they are cheap looking but then I was besotted. There was shop called the Dolls Hospital in one of Leeds’ Victorian arcades. Its big window literally rained Pelham Puppets. They were dead expensive and I really had to save, but I finished up with a Witch with a spotty face and a broom, a Scotsman called Macboozle with a big gob and a bottle, a white haired wizard, Cinderella and some lesser puppet mortals I still equally loved. They were of course surrogate dolls, especially Cinders (lovely blue and pink silk ballgown and matching silver slippers) but I had twigged early on it was not the done thing for a boy to ask for a doll for Xmas, though I remember I did once give in and beg for a dolls’ house, as if bringing architecture into it made it less Nancy. In fact I’d still like one.
The puppets Gavin Glover made for Dickens in London I still have, and I broke my promise to one of the puppeteers to let him have one of them. I cannot let the Young Gentleman puppet go. It would be like breaking up a family. They all ‘engage’ with one another. I’m always untangling Young Gentleman with his startled eyes from Drunken Woman. They’ve always had a thing or Drunken Woman thinks they have a thing. Yes, I talk to them.
I never watched Thunderbirds for the puppets which were boring, I watched it for the enactment of disasters. Thunderbirds spent a great deal of time trying to hide the strings, which is to miss the point of puppets, which has nothing to do with ‘realism’ but everything to do with audience complicity. They will Miss Piggy into life.
artist page previous post