Hello you gorgeous, warm apple strudels,
I hope you’re keeping safe wherever you are in the world.
The year just passed held many low-lights, setbacks and tragedies but I will focus on the positives in this post, not to ignore the negatives but because 99% of us are all too familiar with them.
Before we dig in, I would like to send love and well wishes to anybody who has suffered in any shape or form during this – many have lost their lives, loved ones, jobs, businesses or houses, many have endured dark hours in isolation and the list unfortunately goes on. I would also like to send incredibly large thank yous to every human that has acted towards helping another individual or society during these difficult times. A serious moment came and you stepped up to its demands. Thank you.
I entered January 2020 hell-bent on sticking to a strict regime of exercise and relative solitude to focus on a few writing projects and within a couple of months my sequestering became a matter of national importance!
As full lockdown started, I felt the same emotions we all did, as everything I was about to sink my teeth into was cancelled. I spent most of those first few weeks glued to the news, working on other people’s projects, checking on my family, listening to the advice of scientists, doctors and nurses and smashing through all five seasons of Better Call Saul (excellent). Rare for me but I didn’t feel in the mood for writing comedy, music or fantastical narratives!
Eventually, like a shy pony poking its head around a stable door, my creativity returned and I started to record lots of music; developing existing ideas and new ones. A little lockdown structure and rhythm emerged, I dived into a musical project I’d long wanted time for and now I’ve got an album which you’ll be able to hear and see in 2021!
Next up was the feature screenplay I’d started my year with and – sandwiched between episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (excellent) and the news (wouldn’t call it excellent) – made intense progress with it.
Walking to walk became a real love of mine. I was always walking to go somewhere before and now I’m just walking to walk which feels quite pure and present as an activity in and of itself.
Summer was a real relief for me. It is my favourite season anyway but add to that being able to finally see my family and friends, regular trips to farms to pick fresh fruit and vegetables, swimming in ponds, witnessing businesses being able to open once more and seeing my football team lift the league title for the first time in my life – it was incredible (within the confines of what incredible could mean last year).
All the while, pages and pages of ideas formed from observing how different people had reacted to the pandemic and I slowly but surely began to contact actors to shoot a mockumentary Coping with Covid: Life during the Coronavirus Pandemic which will be out very soon!
As summer drew to a close, my short film To Trend on Twitter was virtually presented with two awards – one from the brilliant BAFTA-Cymru qualifying Carmarthen Bay Film Festival and another from the sublime Slumberjack Film Festival up in Widnes. Thanks.
Autumn was spent editing, walking and running!
In December, I shot an Age UK fundraiser music video (with the brilliant cinematographer Jordan Cushing and excellent music producer Sam Lewis-Wall) called Christmas with Corona. I wanted to support the brilliant work Age UK do in helping older people facing later life alone and could not see the festive period going ahead as normal despite the UK government’s insistence it would, as if Coronavirus might suddenly pause, sing Silent Night and enjoy a kick-around with us in the snow in some sort of surreal Christmas truce. A generous 49 people donated £1,117 – thank you!
The video is here:
Films I’ve Watched #4
“Films I’ve watched” is my list of recommendations to you. I’m a filmmaker, not a critic so I don’t go into how much I like them or why but rest assured only the movies and cinema that, to me, have strengths more powerful than their weaknesses make this list:
One Cut of the Dead (2017, dir. Shinichirou Ueda)
Muppets Take Manhattan (1984, dir. Frank Oz)
Pretty Maids All in a Row (1971, dir. Roger Vadim)
After Life (1998, dir. Hirokazu Koreeda)
Class Action Park (2020, dir. Seth Porges)
The Bad News Bears (1976, dir. Michael Ritchie)
Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988, dir. Francis Ford Coppola)
Midsommar (2019, dir. Ari Aster)
The Babadook (2014, dir. Jennifer Kent)
The Rise of the Murdoch Dynasty (2020, dir. Jamie Roberts)
Soul (2020, dir. Pete Docter)
If you want more, here are Films I’ve Watched #1, #2 and #3.
I’ve also enjoyed the following podcasts: Something Rhymes With Purple, The Adam Buxton Podcast, From the Oasthouse with Alan Partridge, Dane Baptiste Questions Everything.
The following TV shows: This Country, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Aunty Donna’s Big Ol’ House of Fun and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
And the following books: From Abbey Road to Ziggy Stardust by Ken Scott and Bobby Owsinski, Homes & Experiences by Liam Williams, Sound Man by Glyn Johns, All You Need Is Ears by George Martin, Robbo: Now You’re Gonna Believe Us by Andrew Robertson, Other Minds: The Octopus, The Sea and The Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith, Dragnet Nation by Julia Angwin and Bowie, Bolan and the Brooklyn Boy by Tony Visconti.
I’ve listened to a lot of fantastic music, old and new, which I will share in a future playlist (the last one is here).
So it is time to embrace (or swerve) whatever 2021 brings. We can not control what happens but we can control how we act, react and adapt to things.
We leave 2020 a little worn and scarred but also perhaps wiser, perhaps more conscious of what is to be valued in our time here.
And one of the things I value most is you.
Thank you for being here. It means the universe to have you a part of my life and it is a pleasure to be a part of yours.
Be safe and help each other – we’ve got a long way to go.
Love, love, love,
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