Category: ageing


FRANCESCO DE GREGORI –  live at Nuova Teatro Carisport, Cesena, Italy 8th April 2016

degregoriThis concert is part of the ‘Amore e Furto’ (Love and Theft) tour – a reference to the subtitle of the  ‘De Gregori Canta Bob Dylan’ album released in 2015.

Needless to say, a fair proportion of the show is devoted to songs from this record which does such a valuable public service to Italians, particularly those who know Dylan only on the basis of a few of his ‘greatest hits’. The translations were obviously a labour of love and do an exemplary job of conveying the quirky poetry and socio-political thrust of Dylan’s language.

tickets.jpgThe varied choice of covers are drawn from the full range of Dylan’s career, evidence of the 65-year-old Italian singer-songwriter’s long-standing adoration of ‘His Bobness’. (Evidenced by the fact that he has also shared the bill with Dylan on a number of occasions).

De Gregori wisely steers clear of the more obvious selections so, for instance, there’s no ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ or ‘Knocking On Heaven’s Door’. Inspired versions of Desolation Row (Via Della Povertà) and Not Dark Yet (Non è Buoi Ancora) reflect the inspirations of  beat language and the contemplations of mortality just as effectively. Continue reading

What makes Rabbit run

RABBIT, RUN by John Updike (Penguin Books, First published, 1971)

235845Powerful works of fiction are not dependent on the nobility or likability of the characters.

Two of my favorite fictional creationd are Dostoyevsky’s Raskolnikov from Crime And Punishment and Mervyn Peake’s Steerpike from the Gormenghast trilogy. Each are prime examples of men behaving badly motivated by a bitter and twisted ambition.  Their ruthless and murderous actions are deplorable but they are both fascinatingly complex characters.

Harry ‘Rabbit’ Angstrom is in a wholly different kettle of fish. There is nothing endearing about him and the very banality of his failings mean that he barely qualifies as an anti-hero. He is not a killer, nor does he crave power but his selfishness, random lustfulness and frustration are ugly traits that infect the lives around him.

A one time basketball star, he is unable to come to terms with a humdrum life with a dead-end job and a dismal marriage. He wants out but has nowhere to run.

Updike’s cynical depiction of the human condition is so absolute that we are pitched into the mire of Rabbit’s squallid affairs without a moral compass. We are not required to condone or condemn his actions nor to sympathize when he hits rock bottom to the point that : “He feels underwater, caught in chains of transparent slime, ghosts of the urgent ejaculations he has spat into the mild bodies of women”. Continue reading

Alice_biblio“In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream, Lingering in the golden gleam. Life, what is it but a dream?”

La Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena  are celebrating the 150th anniversary of  Alice In Wonderland with a small exhibition (curated by Giulia Quintabà & Maria Luisa Pieri).

This consists of book illustrations from a range of editions of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s timeless classic,  together with photographs, objects and brief biographical information.

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One of the illustrations for the Treviso Comic Book festival

34 designs are by artists in collaboration with the Treviso Comic Book Festival and these are far preferable to the sappy Disney style illustrations  in some of the books on display.

These do not top the original drawings by Sir John Tenniel (1820-1914) which are still the ones that best stand the test of time.

The surrealism and wonderful strangeness of Lewis Carroll’s work means that it’s a work that never really goes out of fashion and remains as popular with adults as with children. Continue reading

When do men get perverted?

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The image that excited the ‘perverts’.

When you are in your teens anyone over 30 seems ancient. Only when you start getting on in years do you come to redefine what it means to be middle or old-aged.

I am 57 so can wholly relate to Oscar Wilde’s statement that “The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young”

I was struck by this thought again when reading a blog post by children’s author, Stephanie Faris entitled  ‘There’s no excuse for being a perverted old man’.

This relates to a series of sexually explicit comments made after an ‘innocent’ photo was uploaded to Instagram by 17-year-old actress, Ariel Winter. As you can see, this is not by any means an overtly sexy pose but the amount of bare flesh on display was enough to get some men excited all the same.

Faris writes: “Blaming the young girl isn’t the answer. Saying the men are wrong for looking isn’t the answer, either. However, there is a difference between looking at someone and saying extremely disgusting things to that person”.

I agree with this and would add that dumping all this venom on ‘old men’ isn’t all that helpful either; particularly when ‘old’ seems to extend to anyone over 40 – presumably on the basis that this is the age when they are technically  ‘old enough to be her father’.

These salacious comments would have been equally inappropriate coming from a male who was the same age as the girl.  The routine objectification of women is the issue here and this can, and does, start at any age.

Perversion and creepiness may become more embedded in the individual as the years pass but I take issue with the implication that these negative traits are confined to men of a ‘certain age’.

I’m just saying.

 

45 YEARS directed by Andrew Haigh (UK, 2015)

In his meditations on the art of story telling, A Pesca Nelle Pozze Più Profonde (Fishing In The Deepest Pools), the Italian author Paolo Cognetti wrote that a short story is not only a brief narrative but also an incomplete one. By this, he didn’t mean that the tale is unfinished but seeks to draw attention to the fact that what is omitted is often more significant than what is included.

The British film, 45 Years,  is based on David Constantine’s ‘In Another Country’. I haven’t yet read this story  but I feel sure it follows Cognetti’s parameters.

Brilliantly adapted for the screen by Andrew Haigh, it offers a one week window into the lives of a retired couple as final preparations are made for a party to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary. Continue reading

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