Bristol

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“But where do you live mostly now?”
With the lost boys.”
Who are they?”
They are the children who fall out of their perambulators when the nurse is looking the other way. If they are not claimed in seven days they are sent far away to the Neverland to defray expenses. I’m captain.”
What fun it must be!”
Yes,” said cunning Peter, “but we are rather lonely. You see we have no female companionship.”
Are none of the others girls?”
Oh no; girls, you know, are much too clever to fall out of their prams.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Could it be that life becomes less predictable the older one gets? I always thought it’d be the other way round. I guessed that I would get to know myself and those around me better and learn from past mistakes and experience. To an extent that is true but there are always surprises, not just the arbitrary events that are thrown at us in our day to day lives but also a reaction – a change of mood or thinking as a result of a slight tweek in lifestyle.

This has really come to fascinate me of late. We are such sensitive creatures; sensitive to so many factors that are at play in our busy lives. It feels that so much of what we are involved with we don’t really gain a full understanding of. There is so much happening in our modern lives that we only really engage with any of it on a micro level. If anything, I suppose it is our jobs and personal relationships – lovers, families – that we invest most in but when having so much to be involved in or to distract us – day in day out – our engagement with the world around seems to be spread so thin. Isn’t it what we all want – to try and make sense of the world around us with the hope that we learn about life and people and hopefully gain some sort of wisdom. Is this part of what it is to be human? Place surely has a profound effect on us all. Home. Where you were born. Where you grew up. Where you settle down. These places make an indelible impact on us although I doubt many of us can even put it into words and I’m definitely struggling here and now.

And so I come to Bristol. How happy I’ve been since moving to the city and to be surrounded by the busyness and sociability that it provides. Clifton and its grandeur impresses me and ethralls me everyday and, all too aware that the honeymoon period is coming to an end, I watch it and explore it each day to find a new corner, a different tree which has retained its autumn colours or a building or window that until now has escaped my attention. It is a relationship of sorts. A relationship, a love affair with a place.

Buckingham Vale is a road that just looks and feels like it has a story or possibly many stories. Each house is shaded by trees and i often seem to be filled with an urge to peer past and know what’s going on behind those grand grey and brown doors and large sash windows. The final scene of ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’ was shot here. You know the one. Juliet Stevenson finally moves on from grieving for Jamie (Alan Rickman) and she walks away from the house while Jamie and a host of other ghosts wave her off. The rest of the film was shot in Highgate, which is where it was set, but I think just this scene they placed at no. 5 Buckingham Vale in the same house that the great buildings conservationist, Dorothy Brown lived until she died in 2013.

There’s something waiting to be told here. It’s funny when you can feel that. You know there’s a story but you just don’t know what it is. It’s also reminiscent – and I don’t know why – of ‘Withnail and I’ Is it the faded grandeur and the similarity with the architecture of North London? That would would make sense. Oh, the sweetness of when somewhere gets under your skin like that and leaves you with a sense of fascination and a stream of unanswered  questions.

I think being brought up religious and always a perpetual dreamer as a boy has left me with a desire to invest greater meaning in the world around me. And isn’t that just a brilliant way to live? Isn’t that a good enough code to live by? Look closely enough and you’ll see magic or beauty or both. After all, as far as we know, we seem to be the only place where life in all its abundant glory seems to survive amongst billions of miles of darkness, and dust and silence. What does Tyrell, the creator of replicant lifeforms in the film Bladerunner say to his creation Roy? “Revel in your time.” Quite.

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