It is Easter. The sun is out but unfortunately I cannot be owing to the current lockdown. One must make the most of the situation; I know that I am very lucky and wish all those on the front line in fighting (whether in the health services or those who have been struck down by the Coronavirus) the very best of health and fortitude.
In the meantime, one must be resourceful to help the time pass. I live in a ground floor apartment on the ridge in Crouch End, London. I have a garden, which I have been using and am ploughing on with my project to record readings of Samuel Pepys diary from the year 1665.
But it can’t all be work, work, work, so I am pleased to share The London Storyteller’s Master Plan for making Easter in lockdown a great success for you, your family and anyone else with whom you choose to share these valuable insights! (ED: ahem)
The Long Good Friday (for viewing on Good Friday)
Classic British gangster jaunt starring the impeccable Bob Hoskins and the scorching Helen Mirren produced by George Harrison’s (yes!) Handmade Films. Originally this was made for TV but got a general release and was a huge hit. Hoskins (playing London Gangster Overlord Harold Shand) is legitmising his empire and invites New York’s mafia to town to invest in the regeneration of the Docks, only to find that the IRA are looking for vengenace for a previous misdemeanour.
Note an early appearance by one P. Brosnan, years before he brought disgrace to the Bond franchise by driving the same car as my mother.
Best watched on Good Friday. Why not follow up with a few episodes of Minder afterward once your London whistle is truly whetted!
Jesus Christ Superstar
I’ve always been a cynic when it comes to Andrew Lloyd Webber but this is legitmately one of the first rock operas and Norman Jewison (working with Melvyn Bragg) filmed this hippy culture infused, kaftan wearing cast on location in Israel and has some great set pieces.
It is Easter after all. The original recording may feature Ian Gillan of Deep Purple and Black Sabbath fame but you’d be hard pressed to top Ted Neeley’s falsatto in Gethsemane when it comes to best versions.
N.B. Can be deployed at any time in the Easter break though best served on Good Friday.
Monty Python’s Life Of Brian
Its another entry on the list from the legacy of the great George Harrison’s Handmade Films. In this case, the yogic flying loving member of the Fab Four mortgaged his house to put up the cash for Messrs. Chapman, Cleese, Palin, Jones, Gilliam and Idle to make their controversial magnum opus.
The result is a string of superb quotes and ofcourse a sentiment that we should all probably relate to at the moment to always look on the bright side of life.
Recommended viewing for either Saturday or Easter Sunday.
Roger Moore Bond Films (Any)
What is a public holiday without an appearance from the best Bond of all, Roger Moore? One may venture that it is true dystopia.
This is like choosing between one’s own children but as I don’t have children, I am happy to make some recommendations. One thing is for certain, it must at some point include the watching of The Spy Who Loved Me as this features Roger at his peak, Mrs Ringo Starr as Agent XXX and the best of all the Bond cars, the Lotus Esprit S1 (the actual car featured is that of the great Colin Chapman). If you do not have a copy of The Spy Who Loved Me, try improvising the opening sequence….
Special mentions also to Moonraker (Bond in space!) and Live And Let Die, an early post-Beatle project for Paul McCartney and an appearance by Beauford T. Justice prototype JW Pepper (and lets face it, what I really want to be doing this weekend is out driving my car pretending I’m Burt Reynolds doing an illegal bootleg run).
Can be watched at any time though Easter Sunday and Monday are usually great landing points. You can mix n match too! Remember, if your Bond viewing includes Brosnan, then you’re getting Bond wrong!
A Field In England
A masterpiece by Ben Wheatley set in the English Civil War in the 1640s and made on less than £400,000. Its got its routes in the 70s British horror classics such as Witchfinder General. Superb score by Clint Mansell.
In halcyon days of albion so recently gone by on a hot summer’s day, I would retire to my lodgings red from the sun, a little bitten and with oodles of scrumpy cider to indulge in ninety minutes of immersive cinematic perfection and transport myself back in time. Features one of the all time greatest scenes in film history. Makes my spine tingle every time.
Best watched squiffy on scrumpy cider with sunburn but can be at any time during your Easter sojurn.
Gainsbourg (vie héroïque)
The weather is hot. The days are long. And fortunately, I have an excellent selection of delicious French wine in Le Rack sourced from Laithwaites, so I’ll be honouring the great Serge Gainsbourg over Easter. Fond memories for me.
Best to drop on Saturday night (avec joss sticks and mood lighting).
This Is Spinal Tap
See music entries below (REF: Saxon). Pants wetting hilarity good for all seasons.
Living in these strange times of Groundhog Day like reptition, one has finally found meaning and sentiment in the lyrics of Barnsley’s finest forgotten fellows of the early 80s British Metal invasion.
“Is the real or am I dreaming?
Standing by the backstage door
Just like the one before
We’re here to set the spirit free”
Saxon, Rock The Nations
We live in strange times indeed when self-isolation brings one to contemplate the meaningful relevancy of Biff Byford’s musings on the repetitive life on the road in an English heavy metal band to one’s own daily routine.
In one of their more salient works, a jazz metal fushion number they featured none other than Sir Elton John on the catchy ditty for all the family, Party Til’ You Puke. They were years ahead of Andrew W.K.
In these times of self-isolation, I can crank up Saxon without fear and indulge this guilty pleasure with great numbers including 747 (Strangers In The Night), Heavy Metal Thunder, Denim & Leather and Dallas (4pm). Oh and I mentioned Spinal Tap, that’s actually Saxon…the producers went undercover observing them on the road claiming they were planning “documentary” about an English heavy metal band.
Various. Though not The Wall. Probably mostly the last release with Gilmour, Wright and Mason, which I thought was rather good. Endless River. Good reflective music for the soul.
Inevitable with me. I have a big stack of Who vinyl that I will be joyfully trawling through, though I am especially fond at the moment of their new album WHO. Filled with great tracks, Street Song is a personally favourite.
After warming up with the Gainsbourg movie, it will be only fitting to Serge-up over le weekend. So much to choose from here. But there’s always time for Histoire De Melody Nelson.
Classical: Various (Purcell, Handel & Elgar)
I’ve mainly been listening to classical music recently. I’ve also been planning escapades with Handel (and Jimi Hendrix) as well as experiences for my guests. Purcell has been cropping up a lot in my creative process for the diary of Samuel Pepys, though he was a little after Pepys’ time. Elgar offers one stoic centering in uncertain times.
I do love very much Handel’s Zadok The Priest.
Food & Dining
Limited options as one is trying to avoid going to the shop. I have some good cheese and excellent wine. A nice pie baked and although I would dearly love to have a barbeque with some juicy steaks and tasty lamb chops alas this will not be an option. No chocolate either. One trusts that fine wine, music, film and the joys of gameful occupation in creative matters will be sustenance enough.
For writing, thinking and observing the change of the seasons. I am most fortunate. The grass is a little long but I have a bit of nature here. I spent a few moments reflecting upon the moonlit sky last night and the heavens above. Some contemplation is good for the soul.
Wherever you are, I wish you are very Happy Easter and the best of health!
P.S. If none of these are to your liking, then you perhaps you may wish to take solace with this slice of ham served with a pinch of salt…