The Church Of Me
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Kissing in the churchyard, I know a righteous woman

Tuesday, February 12, 2002
KENNETH WILLIAMS

Although here's someone whose diaries are worth reading, if only to meditate upon the consequences of a wasted and overly insular life.

He wasn't Gielgud. Probably wasn't good enough to be (but then, neither was Gielgud). The trouble is that all we ever see of KW is the Carry On films and the chatshow clips. Saint Joan in '54 went unfilmed, and the rushes from Welles' attempts at filming Moby Dick Rehearsed have never been made publicly available, even online/bootlegged (McGoohan appeared in it as Starbuck - his lengthy dialogues with Welles were apparently a major influence when he came to make the "Once Upon A Time" Prisoner episode with McKern), so we cannot assess properly how good a serious actor he was (nor is there any documentary evidence of his Orton work, either as actor or director). We are left with a one-sided profile and can only assume that his desperation was that of someone who lacked the discipline (or the ability to endure nightly repeats of the same material) to engage himself in serious theatre completely (cf. Guinness in Bennett's Habeas Corpus). A red who turned stern, unbending blue, someone who could moan about a "pack of chimps" moving into his block of flats and at the same time go on anti-apartheid marches. Someone who, judging by his timorous "adventures" in Tangiers, may have been extremely fortunate in avoiding the dock. Someone whose health was failing and torturing him yet would not have knowingly committed suicide while his mother was alive. At the time of his death he only had two weeks or so to wait before the operation to remove his stomach ulcer, but he couldn't hang on. The inexorable procession to eradication of hope, pleasures and eventual despair is there to be read, methodically, in the pages covering his final weeks. Someone who considered themselves too good for the world, too good to be soiled by the touch of humanity (he could almost have emerged from the pages of Graham Greene's It's A Battlefield) and who chooses therefore to insulate themselves from the world, from sociability, with the inevitable consequences. The battle with existence could no longer be fought. A childish yet extraordinarily sensitive person. Someone who never really recovered from the '50s. Or the war. Or his mother. David Benson accuses him of not loving himself, but that's all he could do (the self-hatred being merely a more strenuous projection of his self-love) so he had none to spare for anyone else. He endured stares, sneers and taunts in the street but never learned to drive a car to avoid all of that happening. Someone clinging on to life by his fingernails, but unlike Hancock unwilling to make a proscenium arch out of his place and choice (?) of death.

And that's why we marry, and that's why we have children. How do you think Dennis Potter would have ended up had he neither?


posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES

There's an awful lot of bitterness and sourness floating around these days, and I'm fed up with contributing to it. I was wrong about Poptones, wrong about the Hives and wrong about the Strokes and my critical faculties therefore need to be extensively reviewed, reconsidered and realigned. Whatever you may say about marketing tactics, major distribution deals, discounting and it being a quiet time of the year, the way in which groups like the Strokes and Hives have "manufactured" themselves should be an object lesson to everyone else in how to do it. And the fact is (like the Police 23 years ago) some artists/bands make much more sense when they are in the charts and selling records. A further fact is that right now I would frankly much rather listen to "Is That It?" or "Your New Favourite Band" than the listless likes of the No-Neck Blues Band (who are just as much '60s revivalists as the others, even down to involving Jerry Yester).

There is a new snobbery in the ascendant of which I cannot approve. Is the aesthetic choice solely between pop for pop's sake (Kylie, Steps, Pink) and avant/out-there, with no consideration of, or sneering at, everything in between, be it alt. country or Emo?

There seems to have been an interesting anti-FT article by Kerry about which some comment has been made by Jess and Tom - unfortunately the piece seems now to have been taken down, so I never got to read it - something about anti-indie bias by the look of it. And it's true that many of the ILM posters subscribe to, or improvise upon, the gospel according to St Simon of Reynolds. Needless to say, I myself have been a very vocal contributor to this way of thinking, and now find myself regretting it deeply. So maybe I do deserve the "nyah nyah told you so losers" tongue-lashings of the usual suspect(s) - in fact do we all deserve it?

But I was wrong, we were wrong, maybe you were wrong - which therefore makes my critical abilities suspect and requiring extensive reassessment. So no more music writing here for the time being. Maybe I just need to learn to have fun again. Perhaps we all do.

The new barriers - and there are many - must be assaulted and demolished at once.

BUT WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO TALK ABOUT?

Don't know, apart from the obvious. Everyone coming here and reading this knows my story and my situation - there's no need to bore you with it. When a future makes itself evident I will let you know. Otherwise this becomes a glorified diary and you really don't want to read that.


posted by Marcello Carlin Permalink
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