The church is high on Church Brae, the hill road, looking down on the village I was born in. It is the last structure in town, the definer of end, and thus the graveyard behind it is the first thing you pass if you cycle into town hundreds of times between the ages of twelve and sixteen, sometimes pulling golf clubs on a caddy, and once having them spill out on the road like abandoned garden fiddlesticks.
My Dad has played the organ here for years and when we were young he would play 'Mull Of Kintyre' very slowly, disguised as a church tune, as everyone was leaving. I was eleven, my mum had a boutique and I wore a leather jacket as my Sunday Best, which used to creak and skin-crinkle in a way I knew even then was erotic.
Singing is always fun and you could hardly get the tunes wrong; they had a wide wake that you could hide in and you would have to get almost every note wrong to stand out.
Today I am up in the balcony to watch my nephew’s christening. I am up here principally to film with video and I am right next to David who is also filming for my sister. So there will be two very similar angled sets of rushes. Because of this, I started to cover a lot of the Second Unit-type shots; I slow-pan across faces in the pew-rows. I do close- ups of the flowers and the stained glass window: ‘The wages of Sin is Death,’ etc. My camera gives a chirpy bee-eep that flies around the whole church like a liberated budgie looking for the exit.
On the wall are Iargeish MuralDuvets. Padded Holyscenes. One is of an easy- sew featureless Mannequin Christ healing a kneeling, completely tartan little soul, also without face. The other DuvetMural has just many pairs of gloves sewn on as hands and stuffed in a lovely 3-D way, all surrounding two large totally silver 'hands'; possibly His 'hands'. At first it is vaguely reminiscent of Repulsion or a horror film where hands come out of the walls to get you: ' . . aaagh the hands!’ Walls have ears, They also have fingers! Then as l drift off again on the imagery, all the pairs of hands just remind me of all the missing applause in this place. Clapping is out of the question. Cheering would also be a demi-sin.
At first, I worry about my mind's ability to go off and come up with ideas that seem to be making fun of it all, yet now I don't see it that way. The church is steeped in imagery, the most vital and important issues, beliefs and actual 'facts'. The Bible exists only in these realms as metaphor and allusion, as weighty, informed super-analogy and similitude and by representation and affinity.
a THELIST 20 Jul—3 Aug 2000
MY DAD WOULD PLAY 'MULL or well through our SLOWLY DISGUISED ASA CHURCHTUNE
I suppose this is the realm, too, that the church is most interested stroke concerned about: what it is people are thinking. This is ultimately the realm of least control. There is a massive amount of emphasis on looking on the surface, respectable, wise, keen, humble, charitable, etc, perhaps to guide the inner? Perhaps to hide it. And of course this doesn't mean all these are present in the thoughts and less public actions. Wishing to control or monitor the thoughts of people is dangerous and will end in tears, not least because the thoughts belong to us all, and thoughts are free and shouldn't answer to anyone. You have to be at ease with the enormous production of ideas . . . or else you form a religion.
Me and the second camera man are right in front of a huge old-fashioned speaker. It is wedged inbetween the two pews behind us. I can almost sense the excitement the caretaker might have felt when it slipped in there all flush and tight. There it is behind us, the sound system for the whole room, blaring the chords, like an insanely devout robot. Dave and I can hear it
spines. I hold up the maroon hymn book which he looks at; with no singing Dave may well be mouthing the words internally, his tongue tickling syllables on the roof of his mouth. I don't know.
We can hardly hear, the noise is blinding, I am singing loudly and perhaps my voice is carrying too much. People look up when I giggle. I sing all the verses of all the tunes. I keep losing my place looking around and find myself singing higher and higher until my vocal wings melt off in the screechy heat of an Octave Sun.
Most of the time what I am looking at is the Lady Minister. She is a lady in charge of it all.
Very robust and authority
prescient. Suddenly we are really singing from slim pink
volumes. Her books. 5
In this week’s sermon the minister, Miss U.B. Stewart, confronts directly the issue of Section 28 and homosexuality. She states quite clearly that she is stating quite clearly that it is categorically stated in the Bible i that homosexuality is a sin, and . . . it is the job of the Christian to Love The Sinner. Fair enough. It could be worse. As a performance it was infallible. No one was going to heckle or challenge her, people seem to accept what she said, not as a kind of statement of belief and action, rather just as those things that ministers have to say, or expect they are expected to say.
I think the church needs our prayers.
Famespotting Benjamin Lebert
Who he? An eighteen-year-old literary sensation, no less. And to make matters more precocious, he was sixteen when he wrote his debut novel, Crazy. In Germany, the book has left bookstores around 250,000 times, making it a bestselling phenomenon there. So, what’s the novel about? Firstly, 'novel’ is perhaps the wrong word. While fictional in tone, the narrator is a sixteen-year-old boy called Benjamin Lebert, a character who is paralysed down his left Side and whose parents are on the point of splitting up, leaVing him in a psychological limbo at boarding school. His disability doesn’t prevent him from raiSing some hell With his mates, fat Felix, skinny Felix, depresswe Troy, romantic fool Janosch and orphan Florian. Smoking, drinking, bunking off school, sneaking into strip joints; no rebellious practice is beyond them. Fictional autobiography is probably a more accurate term for the book. What the critics said The German literary world went absolutely bananas over Crazy. Ku/turspiege/ bellowed: 'There are hilariously funny dialogues, thoughtful moments, and sometimes it gives us a perfect deja vu into childhood'. Stern magazine raved: ’No one has ever been so right-on in expressing the drama of being yOung’. Ecstatic adulation wasn’t confined to Lebert's compatriots. In The New York Times, Jeffrey Eugenides — author of The Virgin Suicides - notes that 'it is narrated by a Sixteen- year-old and SOundS like it’. Which doesn't come across as entirely complimentary, but it IS. That paper also indicated grandly that Lebert is 'an heir to GUnter Grass'.
What next? Lebert's star is set to rise yet further With the film of the book now out and d0ing well in Germany. The author makes a
cameo appearance in it, naturally enough. He continues to write for the teenage Supplement of Suddeutsche Zei‘tung and is expected to capitalise on his blistering march to fame With a second novel sometime soon. (Brian Donaldson)
Crazy is published by Hamish Hamilton priced £9.99.