Enjoy your special day John, Anne, Venessa and Chantal. Thank you for being my Facebook friend.
My song today is ‘Here in The Real World’. This song was co-written and recorded by American country music artist Alan Jackson. It was released in January 1990 as the second single and title track from his debut album ‘Here in the Real World’, and in early 1990 it became his first Top 10 country hit.
Most people go to the movies to escape from certain aspects of real life. We watch comedy films for no other reason than being cheered up, or we lose ourselves in adventure films to escape the humdrum and monotony of our daily lives. It is not unusual for men under five feet three inches to prefer watching bio-graphical films of small men like Napoleon who did big things and became giants of their age. We may admire the Clint Eastwood characters who live life on the edge and who dare to do what most men would love to do, were it not for fear of upsetting the apple cart. The socialistic instincts in us make us readily identify with heroes like Robin Hood, who spent his lifetime robbing the rich and redistributing their wealth among the poor of the land (while kissing and taking liberties with the sweet Maid Marian into the bargain).
As for films like ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Rob Roy’, such historical movies could teach the SNP Leader, Nichola Sturgeon much about doing the dirty deed to her enemies in public instead of behind closed doors. If only she had the guts to take up the highland broadsword, she could publicly castrate Boris’ bollocks with one stroke, instead of pricking a voodoo doll of him with her poisoned hatpin each time he makes an unwelcome visit to Scotland and invades her social space. Far better to face him on her own home ground, north of Barnard Castle, flying the Scottish flag, and seeing him off there and then instead of trying to poison his reputation bit by bit, in the hope that the ultimate blame for his demise might fall to either Dominic Cummings or Vladimir Putin.
I grew up a child who dressed like my film heroes, spoke like them, and followed their code. I only had to see Marlon Brando once on the big screen before I went out and bought myself a leather jacket. All the phases of my development were mirrored in the changes in my film preferences. The cowboy films of my youngest years were supplanted by the action heroes of the black and white screen; the Flash Gordons, Batman and Robin, Ivanhoe, Robin Hood. They, in turn, gave way to my love of musicals and song, as I entered my teenage years.
My years spent between 15 and 17 witnessed a brief conversion to the French movies of the day. These would mostly be shown in a few small film houses in Leeds which were ‘private’ but did allow entry to patrons over the age of 18 years who were prepared to pay a nominal fee to become members for the day. A crowd of us would fake our ages to gain entry to the French ‘X-rated’ film. Occasionally we would succeed, and at other times, the youngest--looking among us would be turned away and asked to come back after they had started shaving. All French films at the time were naturally produced with French actors who spoke in their own language; and for all commoners who could not speak French, there were English subtitles that translated the spoken word of the French actors into English. It was almost impossible to attempt to read the subtitles and watch the action at the same time.
I was fast approaching that stage in life when it first dawned on me that it was not necessary for two lovers to engage in ‘dirty talk’ to enjoy the sex that followed. It soon dawned on us not to waste our energy trying to read what the lovers on the screen said to each other, and that it was far better to visually focus on what they did. We had essentially paid our entry fee for the visual effects, and so we abandoned our attempt at following the script. When I examined many male/ female relationships in my later life, this masculine visual need made more sense. I had to admit that too often on the first date between a couple, the woman will talk and talk in a genuine effort to communicate and emotionally connect with her date, whereas the man will be half-listening to what she says throughout, and will instead have his eyes transfixed on her physical attributes and good looks, in the hope that she can be persuaded to ally them at the end of the evening to his bad intentions. There is often little attempt made by the man to follow the dialogue. Beware all first daters!
The films I enjoyed the most however were the black and white ones, where the scripts were written by northern writers and the settings occurred in the working-class areas of the north of England. These were the angry young writers of the 1960s and 1970s. These were down-to-earth films about the daily lives of ordinary people doing everyday things that all kinds of imperfect people get up to. Despite being reflective of the lives we lived at the time, they were also sexy to watch. What made these films superb viewing was their originality and credibility of the storyline.
I believe that if I had to pick one decade since the Vikings invaded England in the late 8th century when it was the best time of all to be alive, there would be no contest. It would be the 1960s that won the prize. The music and songs of the 1960s were the best music ever! The dances of the 1960s were the best dances ever! The fashion in the 1960s worn by young men and women of the time was the best fashion ever! The novels which were written during the 1960s, and the films of the 1960s, were the best stories ever told! In short, unless one lived through the 1960s in England, one never lived!
I will never regret doing anything I ever did during the 1960s. I will never forget watching the film, ‘Room at the Top’, ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’, ‘A kind of Loving’, and ‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner’. These films were not only watched by the young men and young women of my generation; they were daily lived, and their sayings became immortalised within the mouths of all factory workers in the years that followed.
For many years after first seeing ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’ at the Picture House ( that’s the cinema for all you born after 1950), I rarely started or ended work any day without repeating that immortalised phase of actor Albert Finney (who played the factory machinist, Arthur in 'Saturday Night and SundayMorning'), “Don’t let the bastards grind you down!”
The world of 1960 was my real world. It would remain the only world that my mind would return to most often whenever I sought out the fun of life, the best stories, and the best of all times.
Love and peace