I used to ride my bike out and about the sallow streets of Scunthorpe. People to see, places to be – busy busy busy me. There was a sense of freedom in having a set of wheels that could propel you from A to B (then down to Zee). I never progressed to a moped – or a Honda 50cc – it was pedal power. I would cycle out to Normanby Hall up and over that steeltown to pastures new and fresh. Escape the town. Searching for some tranquillity, well some privacy. And when you are young and run free [keep your teeth nice and clean] you feel alright.
You feel that anything just might be possible.
You feel that anything just might be possible.
And I’ve been thinking about this green and pleasant land somewhat. England’s dream an all that. Those flashes of countryside and the urge to go running through fields and meadows – all bowlheaded youth and innocence.
You know when I look at this town – brings me right down.
Which brings me to Kes.Most things eventually arrive at that film’s door. It’s why I do what I do I guess.
I can’t exactly pinpoint when I saw this film. I feel I lived it. It felt incredibly alive to me. That opening sequence of shadow and silence – as bags filled with newspapers are shipped round streets by children on bikes and worn out shoes. I used to post the papers. I used to post the letters. Solitary jobs with banal chit chat in between.
I’ve spent my life doing that.
And I mean the chit chat is banal whilst at work. It’s hard to get to know a person when you wear the suit and carry the clipboard. Well ipad these days – we’re all hyperlinked now maaaan.
But back to the film with the bird in.
It’s a film that seeps beneath the skin. All extinguished hope and brutality. And this is where the score is so important. I am fan of the sound in film. The need to guide and explain through timbre and tone. I like its absence and its abundance in the frame – it helps a film if you can feel it to. John Cameron’s pastoral shadings grounded in the blown and plucked instrumentation of a quintet ready to conjure up hope and cheer whilst ultimately pegged to the melancholic and solitary, is both haunting and exhilarating. I wanna be free – free as a bird. This combination of simple instrumentation that documents the countryside and floats on air whilst tethered to that fragile state on land makes my heart bleed.
As I get older – and believe me it seems to becoming thick and fast – swift and sharp I return to that beautiful film and wonderful score. Emma bought it for me. A simple CD of soaring tunes. Untethered in Jarvis Cocker’s words as John Cameron composes and conducts this five piece to flight. English composers need sharing. We don’t share enough of this. This music is not about winning competitions. This is cold houses and bingo callers, booze in pubs and fights and chips. It is not a fairytale. It is music to soundtrack the humdrum – the inevitable - yet it asks us to want that little bit more.
It is socialist in sound – egalitarian in spirit.
I caught a moment of Downton or some other serialised shit that only has the working class as servants. There are no other depictions of them – of us these days. Unless you count the horrorshow of public aping and baiting from Jeremy Kyle to Britain’s got Talent. You see Hines had a care – Loach had this film made. They want us to have a voice even if we fucking choke it ourselves. There’s nothing wrong in being eduated you know. Nothing wrong about that. It gives you some choice – not a great deal – but something better.
There is thought in every moment of this film.
This is not a soundtrack of the time. It resonates now. Thought given to frame and direction as Cameron scores this tragedy from beginning to end. They used a clip from the film in the Olympics they didn’t use Cameron’s score. Missed opportunity – and I thought Cocker was involved.
Having children and being so close to those pit villages when I was younger and swaddled in this industrial life reminds me that choices might have changed for the youth but the class system still fucking grinds you down. And Cameron’s music serves to remind us that we deserve better. There’s nothing wrong in escape – of wanting some beauty in your life. Casper wasn’t looking to tear down this existence – he wasn’t a poster boy for Thatcherism – Casper sought his beauty in nature – in the opposite of the filth – he was still full of fury though.
We’re all full of fury at times. Little fury things.
There’s no real point discussing the film here. You either know it or you don’t. Suffice to say that it’s in most things that I do – the humour, the politics and the style. I once taught a Film Studies class who bought me a signed poster by the cast, Hines and Loach as a leaving present. It wasn’t ironic – they loved Kes too. I want it shown on the BBC on a monthly basis – so it gets stumbled upon by the unassuming. Either that or it goes head to head with the X Factor.
The bird wins every time.
I want my children to have some opportunities. I want them to be able to listen to music like this. I want them to do what they want. I will not let them have their wings clipped.
John Cameron re-wrote Whole Lotta Love too – the TOTP theme tune. That was different from this. But you know there’s a few sides to everyone.
This is from Kes. Listen.