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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Beach Songs and Covered Tracks

Interesting how the muddled mind works.
I'm lonesome in a converted fisherman's netting shack in Walberswick (on the Suffolk coast), with a cruel dose of the flu so extreme that I've taken to bed. Refusing to get up more accurately. The squawking gulls are starting to irritate, so I put on Spotify: A playlist of new albums from 2017 that I need to catch up on. I'm dozing that doze that only a cocktail of 'Night Nurse', Manuka honey and whisky can inspire: half Coleridge, half Withnail. Then 'Cover My Tracks' by Charlie Fink (ex Noah and the Whales) comes on. In my medicine induced stupor, the songs start to reveal themselves as a weird kind of dramatic musical: almost like a pastoral 'Grease'. A succession of interlinked 3 minute, honeyed, sentimental sketches, each one setting up the next.
And I was directing the film.
And it was a saccahrine success.
The kind of film that makes cynical middle aged men cry.
The kind of film that Paul Buchanan would sing the soundtrack to.

I'm up now, sitting in my huge bay window, facing the sea; listening to Paul Buchanan's 'Mid Air' and waving to film director Richard Curtis (really) as he passes on his bike, back from the village's only shop, with bread and eggs. Richard waves back. We're not mates (yet) but Richard waves back...
Curtis owns the designer beach 'shack' (above, middle right) next to the one hire (above, left of centre). Talk about shabby v chic. And then I realise that he's the man who placed the song 'Mid Air' as theme song to his lovely/sappy film 'About Time'. Serendipity eh? And that got me thinking about other Richard Curtis films. Four Weddings ('Love is all Around'). Love Actually, with this wrenching Emma Thompson/Joni Mitchell moment:

Richard Curtis films: They're not so much narratives, more a collection of 3 minute sketches that are lovingly crafted into 'movies'. Quilted movies that we learn to admire for their 'best bits' rather than for their entirety. Movies that make cynical, middle aged men cry. 
I reckon Richard Curtis is a Blue Nile fan.
If ever a man were to make this album into a film, then Richard Curtis would be that man. 
Not me. 
I have hope and Manuka but not the required amount of wide-eyed optimism and saccharine.
I might knock him up and work on a finders' fee...
And then I googled Charlie Fink's 'Cover My Tracks' and, lo and behold, the job's already done. 
The album forms a theatrical production. One that's recently presented at The Old Vic. The expanded narrative is described thus: 
"A downbeat, faintly autobiographical, not-quite-love story that takes our hero on a journey of self-discovery, from the brink of suicide in a grubby hotel room to the shores of a remote Scottish loch, via a whirlwind, whistle stop band tour of the UK."
It sounds a little like my current predicament... if you substituted the suicide with man flu... 
In fact it sounds like a Richard Curtis movie... if you put the suicide back in but made the corpse Knightley beautiful.
Take a listen; it really does.
There he goes again.
This time Richard waves first.
I better put some pants on...

Have a listen to Charlie Fink's 'Cover My Tracks' here:

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