Wednesday, 25 May 2022

Herbivore & Benediction

 


The cafe in Chester’s Storyhouse doubles as a library and a study area. Consequently it is always busy with tables filled with students on their laptops and diners eating Trendy bites.
I found a table only frequented by one academic type at his computer and asked if I could share. He readily agreed and made room for me when I returned with my Americano. 
As I sat down the man pointed to my T-shirt and asked if I was being ironic
I told him that I was but added that most herbivores were big boned.
He laughed and said he wasn’t inferring anything.
The man was slim and smart and was in his forties. He looked Middle Eastern or perhaps Egyptian but had a crisp radio 4 accent.
I looked at my phone and I could feel him looking at me. 
We fell into an easy conversation .
He asked me what I did for a living and mentioned he had done some work in Chester’s Hospice collecting recorded thoughts and reflections from patients. I shared that I had done the same from older residents in Trelawnyd .
We discussed the use of memory boxes in hospice care ( they are boxes of memories some patients like to prepare for their loved ones to reflect upon after their death) and my companion shared that he’d often thought about videoing messages for his children to see after his death .
As I sipped my coffee, he looked at his watch and said he had to go.
“ You have a happy face” he said as he gathered his bag and I laughed in genuine surprise 
See you again in here” he said before leaving.
And he left me pleased and intrigued

The conversation was as refreshing to me as a very cold beer is to a tired man on a very hot day.

Jack Lowdon

I went to see the rather sad drama Benediction which is the story of the wartime poet Siegfried Sassoon from his invalided exit from the army, his subsequent unhappy relationships with Stephen Tennent and Ivor Novello, through an unhappy  marriage ending with his conversion to Catholicism as an older man .

The narrative, especially the ones of the wartime years, is told in a series of cinematic tableaux where music and poetry, photographs and live action build a picture of a man haunted and angered by the horrors of war but as the story moves towards Sassoon’s search for love the plot becomes a little more traditional.

Jack Lowdon is impressive as the angry and eventual rather lost Sassoon. Mathew Tennyson is heartbreaking in his short but pivotal role as the gentle Wilfred Owen who Sassoon meets in the Scottish “neurological/ psychiatric” hospital and Ben Daniels gives the bleak first half some warmth as his role of Dr Rivers, a gay psychiatrist who sees the world with some welcomed benign pragmatism 

Terence Davies has produced an impressive but overwhelmingly sad film about failure, survivor guilt and sexual shame.



36 comments:

  1. Traveller7:07 pm

    Sounds like a rather nice day.

    I will have to look out for Benediction. I have always been moved by the WW1 poets, though I admit I know more of Owen than Sassoon. Have you read Regeneration by Pat Barker - fiction about Owen and Sassoon and shell shock. Wonderful book.

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    1. I haven’t , ww1 poetry and prose is not me, but I was drawn to this film which is a sad journey

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  2. Barbara Anne7:48 pm

    What a delightful conversation while you had your Americano today! Wonder if you two will meet up again?
    Have you received your new chair yet?
    Oh, and the movie doesn't sound like my cup of tea.

    Hugs!

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    Replies
    1. It was an intriguing meet, which I remember so well
      Shows how sad I am lol

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  3. I like the sound of your new friend John-He does seem genuinely to be fond of you-I'm sure you will meet again-Years ago I had an Egyptian boyfriend and various others from the Middle East-So handsome and polite x

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    1. Lol he’s not a friend and he’s not fond of me…I just found the meet interesting

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  4. I do hope you meet your new friend again. He sounds genuinely interested in you. I feel a good, solid friendship in the offing. The film sounds like one of those that you have to really be in the right frame of mind to watch. Not one to watch if you're feeling a bit low! xx

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  5. I would like to bump into him again

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  6. A good conversation can make it worth going out.

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    Replies
    1. Even with lots of friends , I can go 24+ hours without speaking

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  7. In the days when I could get around often the best part of the day was an informal chat with a stranger. Miss it now.

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    1. I’m rather shy ( yeah right ) so it’s not something I do

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  8. I was there. We also saw The Duke there.

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  9. Are you sure you didn't bump into Rishi Sunak?

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    1. He couldn’t pay for his own coffee

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  10. I'm looking forward to seeing "Benediction" although I know it was a horribly difficult time in history to be gay. The story could hardly be anything BUT sad.

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    1. Agreed….. the most moving piece of gay prose about that time was Ben Whishaw’s piece in the tv series Queers

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  11. I wish I had random conversations like that!

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  12. Chance meetings are sometimes surprisingly very good enjoyable encounters. Your meeting with a stranger just clicked well. The conversation flowed nicely.

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  13. Someone said this was a good book, have you read it?"Always The Children by Anne Watts A Nurse’s Story of Home and War"
    Anne Watts grew up in a small village in north Wales in the 1940s. Her early life is very interesting. After training as a nurse and midwife she joined the Save the Children Fund and in 1967 was posted to Vietnam where she was faced with a vision of hell that her training at Manchester's Royal Infirmary could not have prepared her for.

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    Replies
    1. I’ve just bought it from Amazon ( there’s one left)

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  14. I have always made a point of joining single people in restaurants; even if the place is otherwise completely empty. It's surprising the folk one meets, and an hour together can be very revealing. The world is filled with interesting people.

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  15. A good thing you were wearing that T shirt which was great for a good opening comment. He probably felt you were fun and approachable as well as having a happy face. A really nice feelgood meeting of strangers.

    I have read some of the WW1 poetry and it was so strong and sad. The film sounds very good but also tragic. The title draws me to it.

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  16. Anonymous8:37 am

    For truly sad, see the Davies adaptation of The House of Mirth with Gillian Anderson - it's traumatic! Bel-Ami

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  17. A flirtation. How lovely!

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    1. Anonymous3:50 pm

      Was it a flirtation? It sounded to me like 2 people having an ordinary conversation when sharing a table. Would the man have mentioned his children if he was flirting?
      Men of Middle Eastern origins are often much more polite and interested in finding out about a person than men from other countries.

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    2. But unfortunately for me a couple of mine liked men too x

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    3. I think anon was right, I met a nice man per chance

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    4. Anonymous9:17 am

      It's all about you isn't it flis? We're really not interested, we come here to read about John's life. Go and do your homework you silly boy, making things up.

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    5. Gas lighting me now

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  18. Anonymous3:52 pm

    Beware of encounters with strangers. Beware of monkey pox too!

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I love all comments Except abusive ones from arseholes