Modern Life has pockets of sanity – Published: 4 May 2007

This struck me as kind of heartbreaking and extrememly poisitive all at once (maybe there’s an adjective that encapsulates those two concepts… no?).  

A group of Iraqi artists has transformed the grey concrete barriers, which security forces have flung up to divide Baghdad’s most violent areas, into an open air gallery of murals.

View some examples

And they’re not angy, political paintings, they’re kind of tranquil. Sort of thing your granny might have in the living room.  

Nods to good stuff

Some things I think are just plain good and worth mentioning in a blog…

1. Seeing John Oliver on The Daily Show (Comedy Central). Having seen him as a gigging comic on the London stand up scene, I get a cup-of-joy-overflowing feeling when I see him on that show doing his oh-so deadpan reports.

John Oliver

John Oliver

He’s a great export and the US audiences clearly love him. It’s a bit like the feeling of pride you get when you see that footage of the Beatles on Ed sullivan. Well-done John.

2. Two movies I saw recently just knocked me out. Days of Glory (Indigènes) is a sort of Saving Private Yassir. It’s a very powerful French WW2 film about North African Muslim men fighting along side (white, Christian) French troops against the Nazis. Very poignant to see that given the current environment.  It’s still lingering in the memory weeks after seeing it. Amazing film.

The second is The Lives of Others, an instant classic in my opinion, about Stasi controlled East Berlin. I think this will be enjoyed for generations and is also an important historical document. Got all choked up at the end, completely engrossing.

3. There’s a feature in the Guardian every Saturday showing a photo of a particular Writer’s Room . The featured writer explains what can be seen in the photo and why they have the room that certain way.

I like it because these spaces are usually messy, tatty and cluttered with nik-naks. Tidiness, I think, is for people who haven’t got anything meaningful to leave about. Mess can be good and what better evidence is there that it helps?

They are all sort of similar too. Which is odd when you thing about it. They’ve all created a space they think a writer should have, and in the same way people in supermarkets all end up speaking with the same voice over the tannoy, all writers end up in a cluttered room with an historic desk.

Except for Will Self.

Will Self’s study was hilarious, a scruffy box room with an awful view, utilitarian furniture and every bit of spare wall covered in curling day-glo post-its.

Interestingly so many writers deliberately avoid facing the window (too distracting?) even if there is a good view to be had. (I read that Philip K Dick  began renting a old shack to write in when his (third?) wife made the family home too neat and tidy.)

4. Brackets (they’re great aren’t they?). Yes.

5. Cass Art . This is a Shop, or a number of shops, in London, selling art supplies. The difference between Cass Art and other art supplies shops is that everything they sell is reasonably priced. Some things are downright cheap. Hats off to them.  

Tim‘ left this comment on 25 May 07
Sorrydweller – you were right to point that out and I actually went to rectify that problem in order to make your life, and lives like yours, easier.Sadly, what I found was there were plenty clips of John on Youtube but no Daily Show clips, at least not any where he does one of his ‘reports’.

I could quite easily have just said “Sorrydweller, there are no clips!!” making your think I had actually done the leg-work and thus making your feel bad for chastising me (albeit gently). Truth is I was a lazy-blogger. You wouldn’t get that sort of honest admission on other blogs.

A visitor‘ left this comment on 24 May 07
You missed a real trick on this particular post. I hate to say this, but if I were you I would have made the John Oliver picture an embedded link to a YouTube clip. I think that would have made a lot of sense. As it is, I have to drag my sorry arse all the way over to the YouTube site and search for the bugger. These are definitely harsh times.
We all know fly-tipping is a problem in the UK, but spare a thought for the residents of this street in Mumbai where someone dumped an old Boeing 737.

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