Saturday, August 25, 2007

The One With No Complaints

Happy Birthday Chief!!

I love the interpipe. I love how you can wander around re-discovering the world as a place of wonder and beauty. I'm finding it hard to blog sometimes right now (I know by the frequent complaints that you've noticed). It's hard to know what to write (right) about. I'm also writing a lot of poetry at the moment, which isn't always appropriate for here. These are my excuses and I'm sticking with them.

This week has been one of great activity. The Ministry has been busy preparing for some key cultural developments, and it really feels, as Sherlock would say, that the game is afoot in city culture. The recent assessment on the Cultural Strategy has generated some great responses, and we've had input from some of the big cultural players across the city as well as from the public and from interested artists. The next year should bring some great developments, and slowly it feels as though we are moving towards a city culture that is more unified and - though I hate to use this phrase - 'joined up' in its activity.

The Loft is starting to come together, slowly but surely - although the fact that I can rarely tear myself away from pubs or the Peace Cafe is definitely slowing progress, but who's complaining?

I might have some work in the pipeline, there are some interesting projects coming up at the City Museum, and my London boss has put me onto an interesting audience development project in Wales. All in all, things are going well. The only problem is that when things are going well, creatively, it really doesn't make for good material. I write my best stuff when I'm miserable. How tragic is that? I suppose it's partly because I write to evaluate, to understand and what's to understand about happiness? But who's complaining?

My highlight of the week was an introduction from the glamorous and gorgeous Miss Sally to a song called Yes, We Have No Bananas. I'm not sure what led to its appearance in the office, but I said the words out loud and suddenly the women of the Office burst into song, which made me giggle like a maniac. The paradoxical title is also deliciously pleasing.

Then, best of all, Fashion Guru and all-round kindhearted AngelBaby Sally found it on YouTube, being sung by the Muppets! Enjoy!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Glass half empty or half full? Or is the glass there at all?

For a while now, I've been considering my writing with a more critical eye (critical in the pure sense, rather than the judgmental) and it occurred to me that I don't often write 'happy' material. This prompted my departure into the considering of a woman's moments of bliss (oo-er) a couple of days ago, and my posting of a recent poem penned in plentiful pleasure (how we love alliteration).

Apart from these two pieces, most of what I write can be, well, frankly, depressing. Not so much to me, but certainly sometimes in the effect they can have on others. It's no exaggeration to say that one piece I wrote a couple of years ago had my dad on suicide watch for a couple of weeks (it was a short story about depression from an insider perspective of a young woman in her twenties).

So, I've been meditating on why I'm so often moved to muse on the melancholy. I realised quickly, when I started to consider the things I enjoy watching, reading and listening to, that there is a strong part of me that just finds tragedy more compelling. I went to Boathouse No 6 last week with my friend Richard from work to watch the amazing biopic of Edith Piaf, La Vie en Rose. Her story is a tragic one, a life of extremes: poverty and success, love and loss and terrible addictions interspersed with moments of incredible friendships and joys.

When I was discussing the movie in the Peace Cafe the next day, I remarked how much I had enjoyed it, and Andrew, one of the the Castle Road Irregulars, sat at the next table, overheard.

"La Vie en Rose?" he called across, "I saw that last night too. I came out feeling incrediby depressed actually, although it was a beautiful film."

I mused on this for a moment, surprised, because although I could clearly see the film was sad (I'd cried at several parts), I had emerged from the cinema with a strong sense of life's glorious tragedy.

Sat in Lou Lou's over a coffee today, I ask James, "Do you think that acts of incredible creative beauty are only possible if they're run alongside circumstances of incredible tragedy?"

He raises his eyebrows at me, swallowing a mouthful of toast before answering, "No, I think we just have a tendency to perceive everything in dualities. It's a false perception."

I like this response. It's very Buddhist thinking, that all we have are our perceptions of the world. You think it's happy, it's happy. You think it's sad, it's sad. We literally see what we want to.

Of course, what I like most about this response is that it removes my dilemma entirely. There's no such thing as happiness or sadness, there are only the names we give to our experiences. And in terms of my work, there are only my perceptions of the story and the readers' perceptions of the same.

We must each make of the story what we will.