Sheena McDonald on the perils of plastic for those trying hard to stop shopping.
, No, don't come near me. I’m
Deeply. No— it‘s not the seven Burns Suppers in a row, actually. Nor the dancing till dawn to old Manfred Mann ‘hits’ (I kid not — and blame it on the haggis — where the stomach turns. the head must surely follow).
It‘s the sales.
Time was - as I tell my young friends — when I lived on a fiver a week. Never had a chequebook till I left university. Overdraft? In Scotland?
Not in those days. laddic! No, no— you checked your fiver out of your deposit account on a Thursday, and touched base the following Wednesday with two films, an opera, two large bottles ofGibraiter Fitou. a six-pack ofscrumpy ‘n‘ mead and ten square pic-suppers firmly under your belt. Textbooks? Mm — not that week.
The point is. money stretched. It lasted. I haven‘t even included the ﬂag for the lifeboat men and the mite in the offertory. Romancing, am I?
Ask any of us. young sir. Any of us who remember the days when being a student was an end in itself, never mind a means to a Porsche. Not that Porsches were worth a weasel in those days anyway. State-of-the-art wheels? Had to be a bike.
I digress. Sales. in those balmy far-offdays (isn't it amazing to think that there are people alive who‘ve never known more than one Prime Minister? And it‘s this one?
Wow. . .) were a season ofdelight and endeavour. To this day, I drape my form in cloth and tassel purchased for a song or less at some antique mart from bygone days. You thought as much? Don‘t be cheeky. Fashion is a figment of the insecure imagination, I loftin assure myself, as l swagger down the pavement in loons and an Afghan waistcoat.
There wasn‘t a stitch in my wardrobe, in fact. that had been purchased at anything more than halfthe retail price. Except underwear— okay. That was — and is — the luxury that lifts the darkest hour. Where others in distress turn to custard buns or Nigel Tranter (they do, really — after Mighty Quinn’s sweated the socks off them), I bury my woes in broderie anglaise gussets. But outerwear. as helpful Junior Ministers remind us, need not carry this year‘s price-tag to win approving glances.
Or so I thought.
I‘ve changed. No longer do I take pleasure in the throb and heat ofthe January mobs. as they kick and gnaw their personal paths towards the coveted aubergine dirndl.
Call me uppity. call me fikey— but I’ve lost my appetite for bargains. What now catches my jackdaw eye. with mesmeric appeal. is the absolute split-new. As soon as the sheets are whipped off the new collections, still heady with the reek
ofa thousand Taiwanese sweat-shops. my wallet puckers in terror as my hand reaches to possess the brightest and shiniest — now.
I‘ve learned to control it. ldon‘t shop anymore. Or ifI find myself accidentally enslaved by the glittering displays of mode and vogue. I insist on giving myself twenty-four hours without before I’m committed to living with. It usually works. No matter how damned handsome you look in the mirror as you strut and pout. a night at home with the bills before you pledge your purchase is simply effective in keeping new threads out of reach and hence wolf from door.
Unless, that is, you go to London. Have you noticed? How personal budgeting takes a long holiday the moment your heather-dusted toe touches the platform (or tarmac. if you‘re feeling sprauncy).
It need never have happened. I never usually go to Knightsbridge. And almost never with a plastic card in my pocket. Well. not a valid one.
But there it was— or rather. there they were. Two ballfrocks without which future existence was clearly impossible. Reason submitted to damp hoarse lust. The mirror urged. The spirit had clearly stayed behind at Murrayfield (the spirit doesn‘t seem to share the body‘s anathema for the new stand). The plastic card flashed in the ﬂattering pink light - and l was gone.
‘I need them! I’ll buy them!‘ In a moment, I was back on the cold alien street, two plastic bags full of fantasy in my mitt, several hundred pounds lighter.
And it‘s a weight-loss which has caused me nothing but nausea ever since.
lmean, I’m not even going to any balls. They don't actually fit that well. Not my colour. even.
You want to see them? How much is it worth? Now there‘s an idea!
Roll up, roll up— the last temptation ofa fallen woman! Step this way! — paying with plastic. sir? That‘ll do nicely!
The emperor‘s newfigleaf rides again . . .
There are deliberate ironies in TAG’s new show. Visitors, which begins a schools tour on Monday 30. Although two characters are disabled (one, Julie, wheelchair-bound; the other, Marcus, mentallyill) the play is not abouttheir problems, but aboutthe attitude problems of others. And although two of the four actors are disabled (one blind, the other deal), this has been disregarded in the casting.
‘I don’t know whether people will know that they’re disabled when they see the show,‘ says director Ben Twist,‘but they’re capable actors who could be acting able-bodied parts in a show not about disability. I think we’ve got a duty to make opportunities available to disabled actors.’
He adds that the same applies in other fields, such as broadcasting, where the public would be aware of
using it as a hiding place. Thus he disguises his identity, while Julie finds that sitting in an ordinary chair makes people take her more seriously. It’s a situation which more than anything challenges preconcepitons. ‘l was fairly sure I knew whatthe issue was.’ says Twist. ‘I thought the attitude thing was the most important.’ His research. involving bodies like Project Ability and the Scottish Council on Disability, confirmed this.
He is, at any rate. stimulated by the work which has taken him backto TAG, where he began his Scottish Arts Council trainee-directorship before moving with Ian Brown to the Traverse, directing the presenters‘ disabilities and could see, as he says, that ‘these people are part of society.’
That is the aim of the tour, which will also offera workshop on disability, ’to show kids,’ says Twist, “that disabled people can do all sorts of things.‘ Hence the casting. ‘I thought ,’ he says, ‘that disabled actors would be able to bring something to the rehearsal process and the workshop
that an able-bodied director
So far. this seems to have been borne out. Twist has, he says, teamed a lot from the experience, from the big issue of marginalisation (regularly encountered by the disabled and central to the play’s theme) to ‘details like how blind people tell the time.’
The crux of the script (on which Twist worked closely with writer Michael Duke) comes when Marcus evicts Julie from herwheelchair,
popular Hellbent On Christmas (written by John McKay, with whom Twist first worked on the Merry Mac Fun Show). ‘It’s an enjoyable rehearsal period,’ he reports afterthe first of two weeks. ‘Sofar it’s been as I hoped it would.‘ (Andrew Burnet).
I MIKE FIGGIS
‘It was initially the geography of the place. the buildings, the river, that planted the notion to do a movie there.’ Thus director
‘ . ' MikeFiggisexplainsthe
impulse that drove him back to Newcastle to make Stormy Monday. a style-laden transatlantic thriller which has Geordie jazz club owner Sting suffering the unwelcome attentions of corrupt American entrepreneur Tommy Lee Jones, while local lad Sean Bean undertakes a relationship with the gangster's moll, Melanie Griffith, that is more than friendly.
‘Of all the cities in Britain, Glasgow, Liverpool and Newcastle for me have always had a kind of architectural resemblance with places like New York and Chicago,’ Figgis continues. ‘So the location and the narrative of thetilm allow you to explore that process of cultural exchange. With Britain and America there’s a paradox between the positive influence of what you love, like the buildings orthe music say, and the negative effects of the stuff you‘re not so crazy about, like the economic domination or exploitation.‘
Yet, the writer/director was not the only returning native on the project. forthe casting of Sting as the jazz
club owner (after rescheduling had forced both Messrs Finney and Bates to drop out) brought the thespian rock star back to the city he and Figgis had first shared nearly two decades ago. ‘It turned out that he used to come and see the band i played in,’ the former Roxy Music saxophonist recalls, ‘but I knew when we revised the role to make the character younger, and thought ‘Geordie-music-sexy’, that
he would relate to it. And I was right. he was hooked the first time he read the script.‘
Nevertheless, Sting’s most creditable performance yet, and the smouldering presence of La Griffith, are by no means the movie’s main centre of interest. That lies in the way that Figgis has attempted the kind of fluently imagist film language that challenges Britain‘s habitually word-bound national cinema. ‘My influences are painters like Edward Hopper. After all, it’s a visual medium. nota radio play with pictures. It’s always preferable if you can replace a sentence with a look. For me, the cinema’s all about that kind of minimalism.’ (Trevor Johnston)
Stormy Monday plays Glasgow‘s Cannon Sauchiehall Street. and the Cameo. Edinburgh from Friday 27 January.
See COMPETITIONS page for prizes and free tickets.
Under option for overthlrty years since its first publication in 1955, Brian Moore’s novel ‘The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne’, a moving chronicle ofthe romantic frustrations and spiritual crises faced by an alcoholic Irish spinster, has now been sensitively transferred to the screen by veteran British director Jack Clayton, for whom it marks the end of a long guest: ‘I read the book when it came out, and tried unsuccessfully to option it in 1961, 1964 and 1970. Finally. about two years ago my agent rang me up to tell me that a script with a very
2 The List 27 January — 9 February