Pylons stalk the land,
breeding their way,
livid in the need for room.
Absent is the reason for
them not to be our friends,
for we share the common
We will care for each other
in a dark symbiosis
until one rusts and falls.
Listen in the silence
to the echo of the wind
and the lines as they sing.
In our terror is the beauty
Hold the hand against the side
of the rock and dream
of the tales before
your frantic need.
Fill the cup with desire
embedded in these cuts
and grooves and weep
for the family gone before.
Imagine the filling of the gill,
steel the eye as does the crow
with the furious blackened wing
and see the darkening sun.
This ancient granite looms large
enough to still the world and send
the future spiralling beyond the end
of some future dull horizon.
Our time is ending and soon.
I sit and wonder about the bird. Not just any bird. A special bird. More than that,
a special thing. A thing far removed in its rawness and fierceness from the world
of man. This creature, as I watched, soared. It did not care that I marvelled at the
encounter. Did not grant me distant eye-contact or display for my benefit. It moved
across the sky like some harbinger. A thing infused with keenness. Keenness of eye
and talon. A slow-moving raptor intent. Wanting to kill. Programmed to inflict hurt.
A Honey Buzzard, swirling and drifting on the wind. Swooping low over my head,
effortlessly magnificent. A perfect machine of the wing, russet primaries spread, the
eye searching the land, talons ready for the stoop. A dagger holding itself in a perfect
glide, down over the harsh moorland, causing the panicked grouse to squawk and flee
up, their chatter a wake-up call to the senses. And such stillness and quiet. A very rare
and particular silence, of the ear and mind. And a trembling witnessing of something
rare and beautiful. A thing I would never seek to understand.
As a wise Scot once said, not entirely without a sense of longing – so much is
beyond our ken. This applies as much to the things we think we understand
as to the things we readily admit we don’t. Perhaps the biggest mystery is
ourselves. It does us no favours in this quest that we constantly refer to our
own intellects when problem solving. Our intellectual language is usually
flawed. It relies on our pride, our hubris. It makes us internalise our problems
to a destructive degree when searching for answers to the dilemmas the world
throws at us. Everything we encounter is approached with the human factor
at the forefront of our subsequent action. Everything has to work for us. And
nowhere is this more evident when dealing with the planet we inhabit.
Ecologically we are despoilers, takers of what we need, when we need it,
regardless of any consequences. We cannot help ourselves. It is what we have
become. We regard the world and at the same time disregard. Global harm
requires global action, global imperatives, global action. But the thing is, the
world’s populations are static in their need for ‘stuff’ – their stuff. Ask the
average person if they think the planet is worth saving and they will say yes.
Of course they will. They are residents, after all. Ask them a more specific
question about the dangers posed by rampant consumerism and what they
would be willing to sacrifice in order for them to contribute towards any
solution and you might find them more circumspect. Or even hostile. What
they might be prepared to concede about the damage man does to his
environment and what they would give up are arguably irreconcilable.
No-one (or at least not enough) want to give up their car, their jet plane, their
16 ounce steak, their wet-wipes, their insecticide-protected crops. But they
will put the plastic bottle in the recycle bin and donate their unwanted clothes.
So that’s ok. Only it’s not. Not by a long way.
Stan and Ollie. We think we know them. More than that, we think we own them. And maybe, judging by the subtlety on offer in this marvellous movie, that’s just the way our heroes would have wanted it.
It is 1957. Past the heady glory days, our almost irrelevant former stars are press-ganged by debt into a tour of England backwaters. Almost empty theatres and run-down cinemas are the stages now provided for a re-run of some of their finest past moments, lifted directly from the triumphs of the thirties. Two men, accompanied by two wives. A trail of debt and ex-spouses trailing behind them. Stan an almost alcoholic. Ollie soldiering on despite a weak heart and a gambling addiction.
Tragedy looms on the horizon of their lives. But it is an end, or a road to an end that they share together. So has it always been. So could it only ever be. There are hints of simmering discord beneath the surface of their partnership.
A never before sense of betrayal rises up and has to be confronted. But, in the end, instead of driving these old friends apart, it confirms the cement that binds them ultimately together. Through all the adversity, they endure. They are as one, in front of the camera and removed from it.
It is this overwhelming sense of two good but flawed men that gives the film its strength. Steve Cogan is superb as Stan, endlessly trying to keep the creaking show on the road. John C. Reilly shines equally as Ollie, a big man bravely insisting that the show must go on. And up to the very end, it does.
Poignant, funny, heartbreaking. The best bio- pic I have so far seen, and will probably ever see. Something truly special would have to come along to change my mind. In the end, Stan and Ollie is the film it probably aspired to be. Touching and glorious as a tribute to the ebbing of careers, at the same time an honest and unflinching portrait of two genuine friends who could not have survived without each other. Watching this movie was a pleasure, bittersweet and true.
A place of endless wonder without dragons. The home of the dodgy dialectic. A sanctuary for the frustrated and the terminally curious. Where debate meets damnation and humour lurks to surprise the unwary. From critical acclaim to diatribe. Don't be scared - come along for the ride.