Sunday, 31 March 2013

Real Wolves

The story of The Process Church is a strange, fascinating, scary one, but one told extremely well elsewhere, and from an insider’s perspective.  
A recent publication gathers together some of the Church’s quite astounding literature / propaganda, magazines that they hawked on the streets of London to raise funds. Brilliantly designed, philosophically challenging (to say the least), the publications were themed around the big questions of the day (indeed, of any day): Sex, Fear, Death…
The ‘Sex’ issue contains an interview with Jimmy Savile conducted in 1969, a little of which I’d like to reproduce here.

Q. Are you moral?

A. I would say that I am moral during the day, and even higherly moral during the evening but of course we won't say anything about the night time, because that is when all real wolves like myself rise from the darkness and leap about causing chaos left and right.

Q. What do you feel most strongly about?

A. Girls. I feel that they don't realise that I am here and available. When I see lovely young ladies walking about that don't take advantage of me, I think they are missing a great thing in their lives. This is why I keep getting my face slapped. Other than that I feel most strongly about getting back to nature, and I'm all for getting back to nature and my case comes up next Thursday.

His case, of course, didn't come up for another forty three years, at which point he was already dead.

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter and, if you are a crash test egg, please remember to take the proper precautions.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Behind The Bright Lights

I’ve been a fan of ‘Primitive London’ for some time now. It’s not a great film at all, but it brings together a number of interesting individual elements to provide a visceral snapshot of life and commerce just off the beaten track.  I find it fascinating, and annoying. A lot of it is faked (or at least staged), but, for me, that says as much about the preoccupations of the time as any strict fly on the wall documentary. It’s a magnificently haphazard and seedy melange of sex, sexism, violence, cruelty and non-conformism, leavened only slightly by bits of pseudo sophistication and largely unsuccessful stabs at humour. All human life may not be here, but there’s enough to make you wonder whether people are really a good idea before concluding that, if nothing else, they’re good entertainment value.

Amongst other delights we get to hear the views of beatniks, see a baby born, a hundred chickens die, wrestling, body building, swinging and stripping, lots and lots and lots of stripping. ‘Primitive London’ was one of the films I programmed as part of the ‘Subverse Britannia’ season in January and, as I sat and watched it in the company of others for the first time, I began to see it through their eyes, and thought ‘Christ, these people are going to think I’m a maniac’. I’m not a maniac, of course, I’m just a bloke who has watched so many horror and smut films that I barely even register sex and violence anymore. Actually, that does make me sound like a maniac. Shit.  

To me, at the risk of sounding more maniacal, ‘Primitive London’ is like an ex-girlfriend who, despite your best efforts, you remain painfully fond of. So when you can’t stand missing her anymore, you get back together, only to quickly realise that your relationship is awful and she’s just not the person you think she is. You part, you move on and, a short while later, you start thinking about her again…

What I’m trying to say, I suppose, is that I’m in love with the idea of ‘Primitive London’, but the reality is rather more problematic. With more time, effort and, above all, love, it could have been excellent. But it isn’t. But I still fancy it.

Primitive London

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Sin In Its Shadows

Mondo films are, in essence, exploitation documentaries, i.e. they focus on the seamier, sleazier, bloody side of life and, although they are often as staged as carefully as traditional narrative films, they present it all in the name of truth, disdainfully holding a mirror up to this awful world whilst simultaneously zooming in on a load of breasts.

‘London In The Raw’ shows us various sides of our fantastic / terrible capital that the tourists don’t normally see (unless they’re sex tourists or, perhaps, sexy tourists). Much of it is fairly innocuous, however, although occasionally not for the squeamish (a hair transplant is shown in all its gory glory, for instance), but more or less everything comes with a side order of dimpled and goose-bumped female flesh: a tawdry cavalcade of prostitutes, clip joint girls and strippers, many of whom have enormous hair. Or do they? Given how obviously faked many of the sequences are, they could just be wearing wigs. The overall effect reminds me of a tourist information film directed by Benny Hill.
Occasionally monotonous, but generally very watchable, ‘London In The Raw’ was the second in a trilogy of London Mondo films made by sleaze meister (but generally nice guy) Arnold Louis Miller. The first ‘West End Jungle’ focused on prostitution; the third, ‘Primitive London’ will be under discussion tomorrow.           

London In The Raw

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Children Painting

From 'Faces of Harlow', the children of a local school create a painting on camera. It's rather good, even though, in the best Tony Hart tradition, it looks shit all the way up to the reveal.

The kid's verdict on their own work? 'Too much green on one side'.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Leisures and Pleasures

More 'Faces of Harlow', this time enjoying various leisure and sporting activities.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Faces Of Harlow

No new town ever had a better friend than Harlow did in Derrick Knight. In ‘Faces Of Harlow’, Knight makes the not particularly exciting town look like a jet age utopia of equality and social harmony, a place where a basic kitchenette is presented as state of the art; where a prefabricated social club is presented like The Ritz; a comprehensive school like The Sorbonne.

But why not?

We know that, materially, at least, these amenities were almost certainly considerable improvements on what was there before – and far better than what the residents may have been used to in whatever part of bombed London they had been relocated from. Hot water, central heating, indoor toilets, space, a garden – all things that we take for granted - why not big it up and worry about the sociology and psychology later? Yeah, let’s do that, it’s 1964, for fuck’s sake.