Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Stations of the Cross

One thing I think I miss from not having much of a religious upbringing, is the full psychodrama of Easter. This is after all the really exciting bit of the New Testament, and the Christian church has done its best to create a compelling narrative of ritual to match the story of the Passion. It also inspires quite a lot of fascinating art, from Caravaggio's portrait of Jesus in Gethsemane, through Bach's St. John's Passion, to Mel Gibson's bloody but compelling The Passion of Christ. Passion is a fascinating word, and the archaism of the Biblical "passion" has always fascinated me. What is so passionate about this violent death? There seems a category error somehow. Then there's the Stations of the Cross, the resurrection, the ascension; and the rituals of the church alongside it.

Anyway, that's someone else's paraphernalia I think - we have an Easter holiday of our own - four days that can sometimes seem the dullest weekend of the year. Friends with families buzz off, desperate in the grey late winter/early spring to find some sunshine. We're tired by this time of the year. Working in the public sector, 1st April is also our first day of a new holiday year - accounts are finished off and passed over into the new financial year. April Fool's Day gives us a bit of light relief - on the one hand I thought the internet would ruin the jokes, but weirdly, since everyday on the internet can sometimes seems like a Fool's day, it doesn't seem to have. Marketing and P.R. departments let their hair down for once and are able to say "it was a joke" without much likelihood of condemnation.

It's a strange one this year - as I've got to April without quite thinking my way into 2015. Its been a busy year already, though partly through persistent colds and sicknesses, and with a couple of exceptions, a grey, grim weather. I'm a year older, and feel at this time of year, a little wearier. Yet if I take stock, its more because the year doesn't seem to have quite started yet.

Things will change: have changed. Its been a great year for artistic friends and acquaintances of mine. Lonelady's 2nd album "Hinterland" has come out to rave reviews and a #72 chart placing; a gem of a record from one of my oldest friends. Other people who have been working in the shadows seem to be stepping out - and yet I know how much graft goes into this. Paul Harfleet's "The Pansy Project" was featured in the Guardian; Jackie O'Hagan's autobiographical show "Some People have too Many Legs" is touring the country and even saw her being filmed for the One Show. Sarah Butler's second novel, "Before the Fire" has just been published, and later in the year will see new books from Elizabeth Baines, Neil Campbell and David Rose amongst others. I've always been surrounded by quite a bit of talent, its good to see that perseverance pays off.

It is this more than the big artistic statements that matters of course: but one would be churlish to not be excited by Home, the new art centre which will combine Manchester's Library Theatre and Cornerhouse, which this week closes it Oxford Road doors for the last time. So many memories - I think I would have gone there the first time I came to Manchester in late 1985 - alot of my life is there, yet I've been reluctant to join the memorialising; as the future is surely more exciting. New stories to be lived and written. It's a Manchester International Festival year as well - so I need to pay attention in the early summer.

So, I'm sat here in the middle of a 2-day working week, and carrying on in my own inimitable smalltime way, and thinking, that we do all right, though the psychodrama of a Tory government, which the coalition has been for the last five years, never seems to do anything for me, my life, or that of my friends and family. The thought of another five years of right wing managerialism, incompetence and indifference doesn't fill me with glee. A poem never changes anything of course, though I've written one, which will be out soon enough. On the other hand as an election junky I do find there's a palpable excitement about an election as unpredictable as this one. I would like another 1997 moment, at least once in my life - I suspect I won't get one this time, but you never know.

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