It’s been awfully chilly this week. I’ve been trying to tidy up the garden, mowing the lawn hopefully for the last time before next spring, cutting back summer perennials and collecting up the last of the fruit and veg. It’s a melancholy business. We have an old, prolific vine which produces copious clusters of small black grapes and once again, I realise we’ve reached mid-October and I still haven’t worked out if they’re suitable for wine-making, and if so how to go about making wine in the first place. (Any recipes would be gratefully received.) As a result, the grapes are now tumbling onto the patio, where the birds and foxes love feasting on them. At least they won’t go entirely to waste, I suppose.
Now that my screenwriting course is over, and I’ve re-written the script for my graduation feature for the second time, I find myself at a loose and slightly lonely end. It’s easy to lose any sense of momentum and I miss the cosy camaraderie of college life. I should no doubt be sending my story – about an ex IRA man who abandons witness protection and returns to face his demons in Belfast – out into the world to see if it can find a welcoming home of some sort, ideally with a lovely production company with an empty slate and a very large pot of money. Oh I dream, I dream! And for the umpteenth time, I question the sanity of my chosen path. Why am I attempting to do this absurd and impossible thing? Somehow I’ve managed to get myself to a stage where nothing else is possible for me. A small part of me genuinely wants to find a sensible nine-to-five type job that pays a regular salary; a much larger part of me dreads the very thought of doing such a thing. Besides, a new idea has already begun to bubble and brew in my head, and it will soon invade my heart and imagination to the exclusion of all else, and then alas genuinely gainful employment will seem even more unconscionable.
A few days ago, I saw Roger Michell’s Le Week-end. The film gives an intimate and tender portrayal of a marriage, where the battle lines were drawn up long ago and the scars of long-standing resentments have never quite healed. Yet at the same time, the disappointments are more than balanced by the consolations of friendship, familiarity and long shared history. Jim Broadbent and Lindsay Duncan are completely convincing as Nick and Meg, a middle-class couple in their sixties who are surprised to find themselves left with something truly enviable, when the habitual deceits and vanities with which they defend themselves are stripped away. It’s a genuinely moving, beautifully written story for grown-ups and as a consequence, it will soon disappear from the few screens where it’s showing. I doubt it will make any money, or if it does, not nearly as much as it deserves. In recent years, there’s been a great deal of hand-wringing about the state of the British film industry; but if the gormless comedies and cheesy romances mean that films like this get funded, then all is not lost.