. fascist demagogue brings you right
3 back from fantasyland to the Britain : of the 1958 Notting Hill riots and of
3 today‘s disturbing menace from the
National Front, and the film
‘ - FEATURE LIST
empty-headed musical it is not. A chillingly impassioned performance by Steven Berkoff as a deranged
confronts the question ofracism just
j as openly as My Beautiful j Laundrette. for instance. Temple is quick to defend himselfagainst any
Speeding through Soho
criticism that musicals are not to be
5 taken so seriously. ‘Certain people
see it and they say ‘How can you poison the fairy-tale with this horrid violence'?‘ But to me. it‘s the story of
a guy living through a summer when é he‘s in love. so he has certain feelings onthatlevel.then his neighbourhood '
a heightening of reality, which works 4'i‘hc'iiili'4 — 17 April ' ' '
goes up in smoke and he‘s involved in that. I like the book because it‘s Maclnnes firing off about a world that seems new and is changing around him. It deals with a lot of social aspects I tried to get some ofin the movie. It deals with the impact of 1 American consumerism after a very austere time; the use ofadvertising ! and commercial TV, which really changed this whole country; the emergence ofthe teenage market, and using them to sell things; as well as racism and fascism which is developed a lot more in the film. We did a lot of research into the Notting Hill riots, and it‘s clear that it was certainly stirred up by Mosleyite groups. 'Although Mosley stood for MP in 1959 and the film takes place in 1958, I felt it was the sortof film where we had a little licence? In fact, the stylisation of the film is
by exaggeration in the way that satire g does, making us see the world in a much clearer light. The sheer dazzle of the film is also, quite simply. thrilling. ‘For me,‘ Temple points out, ‘the stylisation is not a theatrical ; one, but the way that I knew through the summer of ‘76 that kids can create their own world in the streets at night. It‘s the stylisation of speeding and walking through Soho to a club tht you know is your own special world. It‘s a heightening of reality which I think is very exciting and yet which makes you very perspicacious and clear-sighted about what you’re seeing.‘
Talking about ‘76; making a film about ‘58; this certainly says something about the torpor of today‘s youth culture. Temple nods I in agreement. ‘lt‘s trying to celebrate g a time when the parents of the kids today were taking a lot more risks and being a lot more adventurous, rather than just accepting what is ‘ handed down to them by the record 1 companies who are so completely in control ofthe situation it‘s not true.
After the brouhaha
It’s not meant to be a purely nostalgic film, it‘s an attempt to set up questions about the whole process. I think that ifyou understand your own past then you can change the future more easily. Really, I hope it‘s entertaining first and foremost, and that there are some ideas in there which people can pick up on if they want.‘
It is. I did. And after all the brouhaha. the kids are going to lap it u . absolute Beginners ( 15) opens at the Odeons in Glasgow and
Edinburgh on Friday 11.
DENIEN or mom
Alan Taylor looks at the life of Absolute
Beginner, Colin Maclnnes
‘One thing is certain‘. wrote the author of Absolute Beginners. ‘and that‘s they‘ll make musicals one day about the glamour-studded Fifties.‘ Not many saw them quite that way but Colin Maclnnes wore rose-tinted specs. Forget the angry Young Men — this is his patch, a murky. metropolitan melting-pot. the stage for the seamiest teenage opera since West Side Story. In slick, slangy prose dredged from the sewers of the London demi-monde (‘the old whore‘) Maclnnes plaster cast a
5 generation ofwar babies just waking
up to the fact that it had economic
; clout. ‘Never before‘, he wrote, ‘has
the younger generation been so different from its elders‘. Jazz and
5 Swing had had their day, rock n‘ roll
was here to stay. Colin Maclnnes was an unlikely wet nurse at the birth ofthe
teenager. Under his spreading 5 family tree roosted Rudyard
Kipling, Stanley Baldwin and Edward Burne-Jones, the Pre-Raphaelite painter; his mother
' was the frosty, viper-tongued
mainstay ofthe public library. the novelist Angel Thirkell. She and Maclnnes, not to put a fine a point on it, did not get on. He was cut out ofher will and he fondly put about a story that en route to burying her ashes he stopped off for a drink and left them behind in a pub.
By the time Lonnie Donegan skifﬂed his way to the top of the charts with Rock Island Line Maclnnes was already in his forties and inured in a peripatetic existence centred on Soho. An habituee of black ponces, whom he abused
- recalled from a British (‘ounciltour
5 the ensuing decades in which he did
shamelessly but unpatronisingly. and drinking clubs. he was a natural outsider. He scorned possessions. inhabiting squalid. sparsely-furnished rooms. eking a precarious living as a journalist. broadcaster and novelist.
Tony Gould. his biographer. notes that ‘the only thing that was predictable about him was his unpredictability". and anyone foolish enough to venture within his orbit was asking for trouble. He was once
ofAfrica for outrageous behaviour and there were few causes celebres in
not have at least a bit part. Politically anarchic and. because of his childhood upbringing. empathetic l towards Australians. he supported Richard Nevillc‘s ()2. wrote as Captain Jockstrap. the archetypal male chauvinist pig. for early issues of Gay News and continued to contribute to lineounter after it had been exposed as (‘lA backed.
His pet subjects were. in the wake ofthe Notting Hill riots. race relations censorship. and pop culture ' — he had a soft spot for 'I‘ommy Steele. Whenever he was asked what he was working on he always replied ‘a Life ofJohn Knox‘. Tony (iould reckons that his book of essays England. I lalf English contains the best of his writing but there‘s no doubt that in the London trilogy (City of .S'pudes. Absolute Beginners and Mr Love and Justice) he caught the mood of those ‘never had it so good‘ years. He was an unfailing i optimist who even when he was dying ofcancer was learning Japanese and (iaelic. It was 1975 and he was 61. He was buried at sea and for a few moments the coffin ﬂoated t some feet beneath the water. then sank. It was a bizarre end to an even more bizarre life. and not normally the stuff of musicals.
Inside Outsider: The I .ife of Colin Maclnnes by Tony Gould is publish ed by Penguin (£3 . ()5).
“‘9: 2A,‘ Kt? Fv,