this is a long one – do you have a cup of tea or something more potent if you are in a Different Time Zone and have the enzyme in place?
then let’s begin…..
watching Mr. Neil Jordan‘s Byzantium has opened a few doors in our own third-eye-psyche-deepness – it would be impossible Not to be affected by such beauty and darkness and strange eloquence of the Immortals (yes, darlings – V a m p i r e s *shivers*) – not so much the Un-Dead but the Perpetually Alive and what that All Means (it means a lot, just in case you were unsure – A Lot).
here’s the wonderful trailer
if you’re able to receive this transmission in your own country, we recommend listening to Neil (we think he’d let us call him that) on Desert Island Discs from the year 2000 – it’s an insight into a dark and beautiful psyche of his own – and the elegiac music that soars in his head and on the turnable (we feel sure he still does Vinyl) in his house in Ireland.
here’s an interview where Neil talks about Byzantium –
isn’t that extraordinary – he says that Byzantium is almost a feminist companion piece to his prior stepping-out-with-Vampires in you-must-remember-this twenty years ago (gulp? 20 years?!) – how wonderful – shall we watch That Trailer again?
that brought back memories for us – how about you, darlings?
Neil Jordan often directs from his own screenplays – but this time (as with adapting Anne Rice’s work for Interview With The Vampire) – the script for Byzantium is written by Moira Buffini, an english woman with a celtic soul (her parents are Irish)
let’s hear from Moira herself (isn’t it delicious to be able to draw on Source Material because so much is shared on the interweb? but sadly we cannot find Moira’s own Site – we need to see people’s work presented by themselves, in context – just saying……we lead by example, darlings)
do we recommend Byzantium?
but only if you’re ready to be exploded inside and not-able-to-forget such vivid images of vermillion blood cascading over the screen.
we knew you were a brave lot.
tis a tale of women who break the code of the Brotherhood.
and the gothic imagery as the v a m p i r e s move through the centuries is breathtaking – especially when one gets to see the inside of Trinity and sense the beauty of the soundstages at Ardmore and the vast windswept decadence of the faded Pier and pebble beach at Hastings – portraying the last stop at the end of the world, according to our friends at the Guardian
The English seaside town is the end of the line – and the end of the world. That has been the prevailing mood in recent British movies like Paweł Pawlikowski’s Last Resort, Thomas Clay’s The Great Ecstasy of Robert Carmichael, and indeed Rowan Joffé’s underrated new version of Brighton Rock, which, like this film, features Sam Riley.
as this is our blog, will you forgive us if we bring this back to our Own Story?
*murmurs* too k i n d.
now who-we-are-in-RL was born in a coastal town.
this one, in fact.
where the windswept beach of hard pebbles and rainy days engenders great despair and occasionally, great writers (usually unpublished because they can’t get off a bar stool at one of the interminable public houses that dot the back streets and sweep the despairing off the streets and into the cozy warmth where they stay f o r e v e r)
this is where we come from.
and where, in time, we flew away from.
where the land also has a strange darkness despite the bright sunshine and heat and shiny-happy-people.
it still engenders great writing but again, most remain unknown (or at least they did before the great creative democracy of the interweb and now we can peer interestedly into people’s minds and photostreams and get a glimpse of how-they-live and why-they-do-what-they-do and what they really-what-to-do-with-their-lives).
but let’s not talk about that now……….that’s for another time……we’re not ready.
let’s read a little of Neil Jordan’s own words.
He became obsessed with twilights. Between the hour after tea when his father left and the hour long after dark when his father came home he would wait for them, observe them, he would taste them as he would a sacrament. The tincture of the light fading, the blue that seemed to be sucked into a thin line beyond the sea into what the maths books called infinity, the darkness falling like a stone. He would look at the long shadows of the burrows on the strand and the long shadows of the posts that held the sagging tennis-nets on the tarmac courts.
Night in Tunisia by Neil Jordan
this was written in – oh let’s hear it from Neil instead….
“In 1980 I was a young writer … I’d written a book of short stories. I think I was unemployed, actually. Ireland in 1980 was very similar to Ireland actually at this minute, you know? It was going through a huge recession, and there were no jobs, and most people left. But creatively, it was a very, very vibrant time.”
Neil Jordan on NPR
reading Neil’s words and watching Byzantium brought us back to what it was like growing up in a bleak yet gloriously faded and decadent coastal town – not much money around – a lot of Talk and hanging out under the Pier and gazing out to sea and……….
we Have written about this – but we keep putting this one down.
maybe just a couple of pages.
Violet Ryan liked to tell people she was from the Deep South, a taut society with turbulent undercurrents of alcohol, illicit sex, frenzied jazz and a high crime rate.
Yet as much as she dreamed of coming from New Orleans like her hero Truman Capote, she was from the southern-most tip of England. Thaxmead, to be precise; an old smugglers’ village, dating back to Saxon times, on the top of the Sussex chalk cliffs that faced away from the rest of the British Isles and towards the vast expanse of sea. As a small girl, Violet would sit on the pebbled beach and yearn for America, just over the horizon.
In the late Sixties, when Violet was born, Thaxmead was a thriving mystic vortex where people wore a lot of tie-dye, no one had to brush their hair before bed and everyone had one foreign parent; often Italian, French, Greek, but mostly Irish, the sweet-talking, charming Irish. And most children had one parent who was absent, usually one who had left and was never heard of again.
Violet escaped across the ocean as soon as she could, a collection of her own journalism clippings in her hand luggage, a penchant for wearing black with large Jackie O glasses and a need to reinvent herself. She landed in California and never went back.
On her thirty-fifth birthday Violet Ryan was driving down Sunset Boulevard listening to an old self-help tape. She sighed as each stoplight turned red and the guru of the month reminded her to breathe, meditate and keep it in the day. She frowned as the guru paused dramatically for the third time in one long deceptively simple spiritual concept and, with a flick of her wrist, released the tape and threw it carelessly into the back of the car where it slid off the pile of magazines and hit the other tapes nestled behind the passenger seat.
She checked her lipstick in the rear view mirror as the next stoplight turned green and the guy behind her in a white van honked, loudly. She balled up her fists in a sudden rage and then remembered to breathe, meditate and keep it in the day. Then he honked again. So she flicked him the finger anyway, tired of trying to maintain any British decorum in the land of the single vibrant gesture of defiance.
Violet Ryan was not sure about being thirty-five. She suddenly imagined she was on camera and smiled at herself confidently in the rear-view mirror, hoping she was revealing hidden depths.
“Terry,” she said, as if sitting in a squishy leather guest’s seat on the BBC soundstage during the early Eighties on the Terry Wogan talk show, “I’m looking at forty in five years and there are dreams I need to show up for before then.”
The Terry Wogan show was something she had watched religiously, week after week, especially when famous Brits long emigrated to America would come back, tanned smiling faces and ambitions fulfilled, living lives of elegance and glamour. Violet would sit on the hideous corduroy sofa in that small town on the South Coast where nothing ever happened and watch in awe, desperately listening for some clue, some insider secret on how you got to escape off this bloody island.
In her mind’s eye she had reached the pinnacle of Brit achievement – she was on the Terry Wogan show. The genial Irish host was leaning forward, his charm evident in the sparkling green-blue Irish eyes which, as Violet checked her perfectly arched eyebrows courtesy of L.A.’s finest beauty shop, she had too.
The TV host asked her what those dreams were, and he sounded like her impending answer was the most important words he would hear all year; (that is why he had such huge ratings).
Violet paused dramatically, sharing a conspiratorial moment with the studio audience and, as she guessed correctly, a generous number of teen girls desperate for information on how to get off this bloody island. Teen girls surrounded by their families; somnambulant after a carb-rich Brit supper, their parents probably mellow on whiskey. Suddenly Violet saw herself reach out and connect with all those awkward, slightly too curvy, fiercely smart yet troubled thirteen-year-old English girls.
“Terry,” she said, seriously focusing her attention on his face, “I want to fly.”
The host was a little flummoxed by this one. He liked to wing it, he was famous for improvising but this flying business was not part of the broad outline they had discussed with Violet Ryan in the green room before the show.
As he was about to speak, the producer hissing in his ear to not allow his guest to run away with the show, not to get into too much California-speak and lose their solid British audience, to insert his familiar jocular patter so beloved during the Eurovision Song Contest commentary each year, Violet continued to speak with a rising passion.
“I want to see what I’m capable of – I want to fly, to use the year of turning thirty-five to put in the foundations of my forties and beyond. I want to explore the realms of consciousness, study with shamans, take fantastic road trips and listen to Fleetwood Mac as I drive over the speed limit down the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara for a three-day spiritual retreat. I want to completely inventory and overhaul my life – my thoughts, feelings, friends, lovers, my writing and my wardrobe.”
Violet paused. The wardrobe line was for the queens up North, she knew they loved nothing more than a bit of camp on Wogan each week. She sat back in the squishy mock gentlemen’s club chair and grinned at Wogan who could do nothing more than say it was time for their musical guest, Rod Stewart, another marvelous performer, also now living in Los Angeles.
Concentrating on the heavy traffic back on Sunset Boulevard as she reached the Pacific Palisades and the ocean, turning right onto the coastal road, Violet realized that Terry Wogan would have interrupted her long before her florid chic hippy speech got out of hand. But it was exhilarating to say it all out loud, while driving down the coastal road past Malibu.
The story of Violet Ryan is something we wrote when we lived in Los Angeles before (2001 – 2006 if you’ve just joined us) and when we felt lost and adrift and trying-to-find-roots but there are no roots – we are pretty rootless – always have been – and it looks like That won’t change Now.
but it was the Celtic twilight – as Neil wrote about – which drew us in – there are lots of Celts here – and plenty of twilight.
we feel the melancholic dark blood – but have no history to draw on – only from movies and books and talking-to-people
we grew up in england.
while looking irish (because one of our fathers – we have two – they’re not together – biological and chosen – is from dublin) – not a good idea in england in the 70s if you know your history.
so we’ve spent *sighs* decades – being drawn to irish tales and dark thoughts and deep pain expressed through the genius of words – without anything to hold onto – apart from words – and novelists and film-makers and the like.
you know, maybe that’s enough.
perhaps that’s for the best.
we’ve heard some of the stories (who knows which are actually True) and maybe it would have been a very painful existence – undoubtedly different – we might not have made it here – physically and metaphorically – who knows – nobody.
and so we write.
perhaps not for a living.
and that feels very hard to say.
maybe later on that will happen.
it seems not right now.
other things are Calling – other skills – we thought we had said goodbye to digital but it appears digital had not said goodbye to us – we must use the skills we have for good – do something meaningful with the strange stuff we know and are able to communicate ably
Violet Ryan is rather autobiographical – although we don’t own a lipstick and we do our own eyebrows and sadly Terry Wogan no longer does a chat show on the telly (but we’d happily appear on his Weekend Wogan show on the BBC Radio to be sure).
but as Eleanor Webb in Byzantium shows (you knew we’d bring it back Here eventually, darlings) – sometimes you have to keep writing your story over and over again to understand what Happened and what it all Means and then one day, maybe, you’ll find someone who reads it and understands.
and maybe – just maybe (*innersqueal*) that Person might be Neil Jordan and he not only explains what it is to be driven-by-the-celtic-twilight but he also says he’ll make your book and screenplay into-a-Movie.
so in the meantime we write.
while being the best digital strategist we can and helping people understand how to thrive online while we take stolen moments to understand who we are or at least Why we are like this.
was that too deep?
we’ll get lighter as the weekend approaches ;-)
we forgot to ask!
are you an American?
bar-b-que nicely stoked?
is that a pot of tea?
do They Know?
it’s Ironic Tea?
well, that’s perfectly splendid.