Where to begin really,
I suppose Context seems as good a place as any.
Firstly, I should state the obvious and admit that I have now returned to the UK, and at this moment I am lounging in my toastily warm studio apartment sized room in Brighton.
Secondly, you should find yourself reading these words from a fully fledged blogging site that I’ve set up for myself. The main reason being that the feedback I got about my blog was unexpectedly positive. This led me to investing some time into it and progressively being exposed to the rich universe of blogging. I’ve been mulling over how to develop my ‘writing’ for a bluddy long time now, so I decided that at the very least I should upgrade it from all that facebook bollocks and give it a real home where I can work all this stuff out and evolve as I go. The aim is for it to be my website really, hopefully it will serve as a professional connection to any creative output I’d like people to see. Its my lovely pretentious hub and will go by the name Konsort (a name I’ve had kickin around whatever I’ve done for a fair few years now)
It’s also worth noting that the following cluster of paragraphs are intended as an epilogue of sorts, in an attempt to understand and bring closure to the ‘travels’ of my alias – ‘the silly old bear’. I’ve been well & truly submerged back into English life for couple of months now, and to be honest I have struggled to really process my year in Australia. But sometimes the best results come through constriction and just knuckling down, so I’ll pick it up where I left it and mosey on down the lanes of my memory.
So! Melbourne! Those final weeks were surprisingly stressful, amongst other things Jason and his pussycat gallery were gearing up for an anniversary celebration of humbling proportions. A fairly sizable coming & going, rag tag gang of us soldiered on with refurbishments, which mainly consisted of things like sanding stairs, painting, fag breaks, building stages, eating pizza amidst clouds of dust, cleaning & placing tropical fish on makeshift podiums. It was a rewarding process and when the opening night finally came I had some rather last minute official duties to take care of, the master of ceremonies (Jason) requested that I fulfil the position of ‘lighting technician’ for an hour & a half long piece of theatre. Jason and his disciples (5 pound Theatre) had been rehearsing this piece entitled ‘The Heartstring Hotel’. It was something that they had all been working really hard on and now, somehow, I was being asked to take responsibility for the execution of an entire lighting design, for a show that I wasn’t in the least bit familiar with! I dubiously jumped at the chance and in the limited time I had available tried to learn the fading cues etc. I had to write a small bio about myself for the program, I didn’t really know what to write but I ended up writing something along the line’s of a cringe-worthy poorly told joke.
“Charles is a UK filmmaker that’s supposed to be travelling Australia, but he gave that up when he found Melbourne and the gallery. You’ll notice that he’s generally a splendid geezer and is doing a good job as our techy. Although he was asked to write this bio himself and he’s obviously done a rather questionable job of that!”
The show did go on though, I found myself slumped in a dark corner waiting anxiously for my cue’s and what felt like my inevitable fuck-up moment. I made it through 2 performances unscathed though, in the end I was commended for my debut, one critic apparently remarking on how professional the lighting was. Anyway, there’s no need to take my confounded word for it, here’s a link to an official review.
All in all it was a whirlwind of a final week, just three days after the upgraded gallery’s opening I flew the nest and had to do those goodbye to some people I’d genuinely grown fond of. Melbourne was good to me, but I couldn’t stay in the gallery any longer as Jason has transformed his bedroom into a fully functioning theatre and as such needed a room to call his own in his own house. It felt really odd to invest so much in a place only to leave as soon as its finished though. It kind of felt like I was some kind of fuddled and clumsy version of Mary Poppins; coming out of nowhere, enriching peoples lives and then leaving once my work was done, or maybe that’s just giving myself far too much credit? Yeah, most definitely.
So I flew to Brisbane to spend my final week with my Sister Emma and Sammy Davis Jr. What followed was a delightful series of flamboyant events; mainly consisting of outings for coffee and restaurant meals, exactly what I was expecting really. Brisbane’s so much more of a relaxed atmosphere; the contrast is most evident when you consider the effects of the weather on its population. I think it might be ‘the vest effect’, as soon as you step out into a warm climate, strip off a coat and make do with just a thin T-shirt or a vest it instantly instils a carefree attitude. The peak of this was when me n Sam attended a friendly cricket match in Woolloongabba, the amount of twenty-something’s kicking back with a beer in the shade seemed ridiculous. Understand that saying all this is in no way trying to knock it, I have real admiration for that lifestyle, it’s just that being English I feel that it’s a trick or something. I think my English sensibilities act as an immune system against uncomplicated ways of being, a sort of too good to be true situation. I think it’s one of those things that was ringing in my ears whilst I thought about returning home, to somewhere more akin to my ways. Speaking of which, if you know me then you may be wondering about my reasons for returning home, Ill get to that later.
To be honest, the time leading up to and after my flight back was spent not entirely aware of my decision and its consequences, it didn’t feel entirely real and certainly didn’t hit home until weeks later. The evening before my flight we had a lovely get together of the usual Brisbane suspects at Emma’s flat, but as familiar as this situation had become I was clueless about one last surprise. Riki & Hannah arrived with a mysteriously large cardboard box that I wasn’t allowed any where near. I was ordered to sit down ready for what was beginning to resemble a presentation, along with people poised and ready to photograph the proceedings. Riki began to read out poetry as Hannah placed down the first cupcake (that’s right, cupcakes!), they were vividly coloured with pictures that referring to segments of the poem. It was brilliant and it’s probably the nicest thing someone has ever done for me. I highly recommend looking at the pictures – the poem was as follows:
Ode To Charles
From ole England he came
Across the seas on a plane
To visit this down under land
With mom & sister, a travelling clan
His chariot was a van
And so the adventure began…
On his travels he saw many bands
Woodford & John Butler Trio he is a fan
From here into a magical land he went
This land Mondo, where much time he spent
Where he conquered every last dish
Many friends now have been made
Many Jamaicans encountered & games played
Where you could hear this phrase:
“Ha ha ching ching kanacka-nacka ding ding!”
His true passion & love is movies
Which he shared with his new family
In the form of his debut Simply
Now halfway through this adventure are we
But missing something is this story.
Wait, a flash of green
And the coolest turtles we’ve seen
Donatello, Michaelangelo, Leonardo & Raphael!
Sadly this adventure is coming to an end
Charles, you have made many life long friends
Very loved you are & greatly missed you will be
The next day me sis’n’sam took a road trip to the coast for my last dip in the glorious Pacific ocean. Whilst I went in for one last floundering the lifeguard announced that a large and dark unidentified object could be seen underwater and approaching the beach, needless to say I nearly jumped out of my skin and panicked a little on my way back to dry land. After 10 minutes of everybody waiting to see what it was a lifeguard on a Jet ski ventured out to find that it was a sizeable ray looking a bit lost, it breached the surface a couple of times and looked pretty magnificent from the shore. We thought better of going in for another dip and made our exit back to the city, it was an odd last swim to have but I felt comfortable having swam in the sea just hours before my flight, It felt like a suitably Queensland way to leave the continent. At the airport it was odd to say goodbye to my sister, we spoke as if we were gonna see each other the next day which made it easier to deal with. I sealed the informal deal by loudly remarking “No wucking forries mate” as I walked out of view. The past year has been a great time for me and my sister, when it occurred to me how much time we would be spending together I assumed that we would be biting each other’s heads off. I couldn’t of been more wrong really; our history of having a somewhat ‘estranged’ relationship was obliterated and replaced with a brother and sister relationship of fun as well as charming mutual respect that went from strength, I deeply love you Emma.
(fingers crossed she agrees)
The flight was uncomfortable as expected really, not much to be said on the matter. I had tried my best to arrange seats with extra leg room and for the most part it worked, I was able to sleep for a good 6 to 7 hours or so. My stop over in Dubai was ridiculous, the size of the overturned skyscraper of an eyesore is ridiculous, the staff were ridiculously unhelpful and standoffish, the people who were milling around were overall quite ridiculous and to top it off it took me the best part of 2-3 hours to get through security and find a solitary Irish bar where I could smoke. The second leg of the journey held its fair amount of discomfort too, I sat next to a Palestinian woman who insisted that I fill out there custom forms for her and her sister. I politely agreed and completed the task as requested, but then, as I went to the toilet she decided to lie across my seat and tell me to sit somewhere else.
When I arrived I made my way swiftly to Brighton to pounce with “lets fuck with Tom & Pete’s mental stability” scheme that I had previously arranged with my accomplice Lady Catherine of Aragorn. One of me oldest and closest chums Tom was the first victim; he was sitting in his living room busy immersing himself in the serene pleasures of old western videogame tomfoolery when Kate burst in home early from work. She exclaimed that she had a surprise for him whilst I hid next to a skip just around the corner. As I walked in, Tom’s face basically melted into an uncomprehending mess of shock, the sort of expression you’d expect if some drowsy little boy fishing by a pond just stumbled upon proof that magic really does exist. We embraced and once he had come to terms with how I was real n’that we sat down for a cup of tea and a fag that we’d all been waiting over 12 months for. Now it was peter’s turn, so now that we had more resources to use for a reality shattering surprise we schemed, oh how we schemed. Pete appeared a couple of hours later a little drunk, so his mind was loose and prime for fucking over. Tom and Kate made small talk whilst I stood as silently as possible in a cupboard in the corner, after around 5 minutes they offered him wine but said that he would need to get a glass for himself from the kitchen. As he reluctantly exited the room I stealthily moved into position beside where he had been sitting and crossed my legs leisurely with a glass of wine in hand. He strolled back in unaware, slammed down the glass and ordered “fill-er-up”, but as he did he had obviously noticed something out of the corner of his eye, so he turned to face it. I looked back at him with a grin from ear to ear, his confident demeanour swiftly turned to an expression somewhere between terror & disbelief as he froze absolutely still. He just stared, utterly frozen, not making a sound for what must have seemed like a lifetime, until I burst out laughing and moved towards him. He reacted by shouting and running away – he was broken. In that moment he certainly thought so anyway, so much so in fact that I was fearful for my safety, he may lash out against apparitions, who knows? So he retreated back into the kitchen and I to the sofa, eventually he started poking me to test his reality. We eventually embraced but it took some doing, for the first half an hour he looked at me in a way I could never in a million years reproduce or put into words, I kind of feel bad about it.
Na, fuck it, it was hilarious!
So I chilled out for a few days in Brighton and revealed the news that I’d like to stay and build my new empire in Brighton; around the greatest and exuberantly located concentration of close friends in the known universe. But before this settling I was to do a bit of a tour to say hello and surprise a few more people. First stop was to reunite with me ma at a little place relatively close by called Hayling Island. It was genuinely great to see her and my grandparents, even though it was slightly over-shadowed by my slowly deteriorating grandfather and the stress that can come with such a situation. I made myself useful as best I could really, whilst catching up with everybody and generally trying to make myself known as a contributing part of the family. I mentioned that my film Simply, as I had heard, was playing at the Cornwall Film Festival that weekend, in the end my Mum insisted that I should be there for it so she paid for a train.
Venturing South West seemed as good a chance as any to be reunited with my Dad, which was blooming great. Were both absolutely useless at keeping in contact with each other over the phone, and as such I sorely missed his presence whilst I was away, so it was marvellous to see the old boy in the flesh once again. I remember he actually rang me just as I started to type all this out when I was still in Melbourne and as glorious a surprise as it was I was feeling incapable in properly connecting with him, as if talking in any way other than face to face just wasn’t good enough anymore. So I’m glad that’s not the case anymore, a bit of a relief really. So he met me in Devon and on the day of the screening he drove me down to Falmouth so that I may pay for a ticket to see my own film and surprise my friend, a now rather established short film producer Joey Beard (My film was her first! For the record). So we rocked up about ten minutes before the program started and I snuck up on a completely unaware Joey, she initially said hello and we hugged as if I was someone that she saw just last week but it slowly dawned her that I should be on the other side of the planet, which was a very funny thing to watch someone slowly work out. We caught up at the old epicentre of all that is Falmouth (aka The Chainlocker) and swapped stories of how weird the present situation was. She gave me a bit of a shock by revealing that she’d been working for The Ministry of Defense for nearly a year, something I still can’t quite believe, but it really is quite brilliant. As me & dad drove out of Falmouth we popped into the Asda for a stroll down the product filled memory aisles of University, I relived countless moments of stupidity and joy with the boys inside my head.
After a classic Sunday roast I popped on a train back to see Mum on Hayling Island for a week before she headed back out to Australia. It feels surreal to swap places like we have, before too long both my Mum & my sister will be back in England, I have no idea for how long but in the meantime my purpose is to set up a life here. The week spent at my grandparents was quite heavy on the heart to be honest, Mum was fearful of the flight amongst other things and I was beginning the countdown of my inevitable rebirth back into the realities of an England in economical turmoil. On one particularly limbo-esque feeling day my grandpa made an astonishingly accurate observation; even with his deteriorating eyesight & presumed lesser powers of deduction he remarked that I looked as though I was “at a loose end”. Even though at that moment in time I was simply at a loose end in the immediate sense I couldn’t help but feel that he had just revealed something to me that was overwhelmingly telling of my position in life. It was a shock and something I’ve yet to digest.
The other thing I did was arranging the paperwork and general formalities to claim back my tax and superannuation from the Australia. I wont go into brain numbing detail but the whole process strikes me as a bit fucking dastardly.
Working in Australia on a visa could be such a simple process to resolve but the systems your forced to go through seems to make it a real fuck-about for reasons that I cant determine. There is the possibility of it all being part of a scheme to detract visitors from claiming what their entitled but that just seems like a corporate strategy, surely not Australia, if so – shame on you! At the time of writing this I still have an unresolved issue with the superannuation company – they claim I’ve changed my surname, what the fuck Australia?!
After a good week of quality family time it was time for Mum to head back down under. After a tearful goodbye at the airport I ventured off on my final set of nomad escapades. First stop was an old friends cottage near Glastonbury, it was carnival day and a plethora of family friends that I hadn’t seen in a very long time were there, twas a special day indeed. The strangest thing was how comfortable it all was, suddenly stepping into a world where everybody knew me since birth felt bizarrely familiar. That pressure of how to present yourself to other people was completely lifted, such silly notions of human interaction that I’d followed for so long weren’t relevant, it was pure niceness.
The next day I hitched a ride back to the hometown with Lynn & Steve. 2 very special people in my life, they very graciously put me up for a few days whilst I caught up with a few people in & around Kingsbridge. It was nice seeing where I grew up again; I have an odd nostalgic connection to the place now (as I’m sure most people do) all I relate it to is that growing up notion of ‘simpler times’ really. I had the to be expected deep conversations with Lynn & Steve, a sort of informal counselling session with some of the most mentally healthy individuals I can think of. On the flip side I caught up with my friends from the school days, which was blooming great, so nice to see them and chat properly after so much time. I just wish that I could take them everywhere with me, I know that Kingsbridge is simply not the place I should stay but the consequences of acting on a feeling like that is so frustrating. I don’t fully understand why people disperse like they do; I won’t deny that I believe its good to get perspective by changing your surroundings but there are definitely certain friendships that suffer from this. I know I want those relationships as a constant in my life but for one reason or another they just aren’t easy to keep as strong as I wish they could be. Again, hometowns just make me yearn for a simpler time, a cruel but seemingly necessary paradoxical experience.
Anyway, next it was the turn of a very odd amalgamation of elements from my past. The premise was to attend a birthday party, the people were a mix of my Dad, his friends (with which I’ve been very drunk with on more than one occasion) and primary school friends (that I hadn’t seen for the best part of a decade), the location was Padstow (the age old venue for family holidays that’s imprinted in my memory like a branded cow). It was odd at first and continued in the same fashion really, looking back on it; it was like a social experiment gone right, should do more of those really, interesting.
Next stop was Exeter where I was to meet with a legendary man, I’m proud to call him buddy, some may know him as brown bear, others call him ‘that idiot who references the mighty boosh far too much’ but most people refer to him as a sort of Tim, and oh is he Timmy, he’s probably the most Tim you could get. He rolled up outside the station in his iconic postman’s van, we embraced (tightly) and then headed for Brighton with a few stop-offs along the way. Most notably we met up with a lovely little man known as ‘Payner’ and a floundering gentleman known as ‘Fraser’. Now I wont go into the specifics of what happens when friends are reunited but I can say that we had a good time, I can say that!
This spirit continued its way to Brighton (my eventual destination). A lot of drinking was done; I quite honestly wouldn’t have rather done anything else. We had ambitious plans to produce podcasts, play crazy golf, frolic on the pier and generally mingle in & around town but before we knew it our time was up and it was time to knuckle down with reality and stop reliving university. To be honest me being vague about this time isn’t really intentional, I don’t remember a lot of it, I’m almost certain that it was funny though.
And so started my time in Brighton. Kate & Tom very graciously let me stay on their futon for months. Within which time not an awful lot was accomplished, although it was really nice. I quickly signed onto jobseekers and started putting my all into finding work. There was a particularly emotional day where I was required to fill out a form that aimed to justify my travels and reasoning for coming home. The process surgically deconstructed the last year of my existence and consequently forced to the surface a lot of feelings that I hadn’t come to terms with or properly understood. I think I’m back where I feel I ‘belong’ and I have so much to appreciate. I’m fully aware that it’s a difficult time for my generation, nothing is certain, but it’s equally a time that’s pivotal in shaping my own future. I walked home, listening to Dan Auerbach without being too familiar with the song meanings, the last track called Goin’ Home started. I was shocked at how much it indulged my mental state and the next thing I knew I started shedding tears, I was overcome. It was as if I was now free from something I hadn’t realised I needed release from, the new situation in front of me was intimidating to say the least – empowered by my circumstances but struggling to comprehend the enormity of my situation. Which set the tone for the months ahead, and if I’m really honest it’s an opinion that’ll be with me for the foreseeable future.
Either that or maybe I’m just over thinking everything as usual. Probably.
Which leads me nicely into the future of the silly old bear blog. I’ve got a new official site, a new focus for writing and no major life distractions. Now is the time to focus on my career and own creative output, ill be putting up word of pretty much anything I do here, so keep you ears peeled.
There’s so much more to say, so much more that has been left unsaid, thoughts feelings & stories for another time.
Its been a pleasure people,
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog in some way
over n out,
Silly Old Bear
I discovered something that I wrote whilst I was away, hidden deep inside my wallet. It resembles some kind of attempt at writing a song, but the strangest thing is that I have no memory of writing it and its one of the only scraps of paper that I must of deemed worthy enough to store away. But what struck me as especially eerie is that I really can’t relate to what its saying. The lyrics are quite shit in places but the point is that it resembles some real melancholy with no context, why I wrote it is a genuine mystery to me. I’ve always said that I feel as though I can’t relate to my younger self as I perceive him now, I guess this note feels like real evidence of that to me.
Anyway, the last line has been haunting me in both a negative & positive respect since I found it and I don’t know what to do with it so I figure it’d just be best to share it with you as this blogs last pretentious musing.
“Why is it that as my world cracks, light shines through?”