Saturday, 18 February 2017

The films that made me.

This week, I heard a radio presenter telling listeners to stay tuned for their resident film reviewer's feature 'The Films that Made Me' (it was probably called 'the movies that made me' but since when do we call films movies in these parts?). Whilst thinking 'Nah, I hate all that shit', I was simultaneously reminded of Apocalypse Now, which I had watched a large part of the previous night. I say a large part because someone had put the redux version on and - though I love it - there aren't enough hours in my life for that on a weeknight.

I thought, actually, you could say Apocalypse Now made me. A long time ago, I had to write an essay about a film for my A Level Media Studies course and my dad had taped it off the telly, so I used that. I sat there for hours, stopping and rewinding bits (VHS nostalgia) and making notes. What I was writing was probably basic stuff, but it was new to me and it was where my interest in textual analysis started.

Amazingly considering it was a randomly chosen film, I loved it. The darkness of it, the claustrophobic feel, the sheer depravity of war. The portrayal of the conditions, the madness that some soldiers were descending into, being left to fend for themselves in the jungle...the sweaty, humid and bloody horror of it all. The insight into the hopelessness, yet huge effort, of the Vietnam War. I was already a fan of The Doors so found the soundtrack particularly evocative. Of course, they chose exactly the right song. I remarked to my dad later on, *adopts chin stroking thoughtful, know it all voice* "powerful film, very powerful". Cringe.

I think I can say this film, or at least the time of my life that I watched it, heralded the start of my love for films, especially disturbing and hard hitting films. So while it didn't actually make me, it was hugely influential.

By the way, I put a lot of work into that essay, in advance of the deadline. Then it was casually mentioned in class that the assignment was being changed. When I expressed my distress at this as I'd already written it (obvs no-one else had) I was told to stop taking it so seriously by some twat called Ezekial. I will always remember his name. And his size. He was massive.

Sunday, 5 February 2017


I've been seeing a counsellor through a confidential scheme offered by my work.

I've had 3 sessions out of an available 8 and it's been ok in that it hasn't been hard or scary, but then it hasn't actually helped.

So far I have described what I do and how I feel and she has responded to me, made some comments about my faulty thinking and tried to get to the root of a few things. She has described some 'models' that make sense that I can apply to my behaviour, like transactional analysis. However, we haven't looked at any techniques I could use to get out of the anxious states I get into or to help avoid things getting that far or to get to that better place in the transactional analysis model.

She keeps pulling out poems and pieces of writing from her folder. I read them but they're not going to make things ok are they? I feel like my world is ending. A passage from an Indian elder or Nelson Mandela just doesn't cut it.

She says she's not into parent bashing but she keeps going back to my childhood. I think my childhood has a part to play in my shyness and lack of confidence but I don't believe there's much there that has led to my current difficulties with anxiety and low mood, but low confidence and self esteem definitely contribute to it.

In response to my difficulties in coping with having time off work she asks was I told off for daydreaming as a child? No. Was I pushed to achieve? No. Am I struggling with having free time now because of how I didn't allow myself free time while at uni? No I'm struggling now for the same reasons I was then.

I suppose I am less interested in discovering The Cause because I can see it has a lot of contributing factors and it's not as simple as finding the cause and working on it. I need ways to avoid falling into the pit of despair I get into and ways to cope with it when I do.

She is an experienced therapist and has all these certificates, she even does hypnotherapy. Maybe she just doesn't do CBT. Maybe I am judging her too much against the counsellor I had years ago.

I have mentioned to her that it's all very well looking at these things but they don't mean anything when you feel like you're doomed and everything is as awful as it could possibly be. She actually asked last time whether the things we have covered has helped. I told her that I didn't feel we had worked on enough techniques that might help, all the while trying not to be rude or offend her. She nodded and 'mmmm'ed.

Next time I see her I will tell her I need some advice and techniques.

I think there are different types of counsellors. I was 'matched' to this one by location-perhaps not that helpful. The thing is these are my allocated sessions and once they're over, I think that's it. My next option is the NHS provision. I started that but gave up when it turned out to be a guy printing stuff off the internet for me to read, or, a group session, which is a great idea for anxiety sufferers, isn't it?

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A poor and judgemental person's tour of Liverpool's Georgian Quarter


A recent BBC One programme about Liverpool housing had an interesting section about the Liverpool Georgian Quarter, charting its height to its eventual decline as it became part of the inner city. Watch it on iPlayer from around 7.03 to about 10.49.

Back to the original post:

The below terrace is on Percy Street in Liverpool. It is on the same street as this 'terrace'.*

*Inverted commas because it is technically a terrace but doesn't have many of the characteristics I would usually associate with terraces. I live in a terrace for god's sake.

From the derelict top of Percy Street to the practically opulent bottom of Percy Street.

As this contrast blows my mind, I took a walk around Liverpool's Georgian quarter to try and learn a bit about it and just well, see it.

My first thoughts, even before I went to see this in the flesh (I was introduced to it by @Liverpool1207 on Twitter) was: what a waste. The houses in the streets around here, called the Georgian Quarter, are stunning. This block is abandoned to the point where there are plants growing out of them. Other blocks that are still in use have been bought by landlords and letting agents and chopped up into flats. From what I can see, lots of these ones are neglected. They must see a constant flow of tenants in and out and even with the most long term tenants in them, landlords trying to make a few quid out of letting are not interested in maintaining the character or history of their building are they? They just want to get the rent and make the minimum of repairs necessary.

My brother used to live in a flat at the top of a Georgian house in a nearby street. It had a wide front door with pillars and a grand (but run down) hallway. The stairs kept going up and up. There were multiple flats in there each with multiple rooms and tenants. I gasped at the potential grandeur of the place when I first visited, though of course, it wasn't grand, it was wrecked and carved up into lettable boxes.

As I walk along Percy Street, which is not particularly long, the houses are in better repair, have grander doors and look very posh inside. Indeed, even not on this particular street, but the streets around here, I have been stunned by the opulence I see when I look in the windows. They're the kind that are so posh they don't have nets or blinds, know what I mean? Some have shutters. They have busts on shelves and that. All of this fascinates me - the rich in amongst the poor - and it makes me all the more nostalgic and interested in the dilapidated houses. What's their story? Who used to live there? Similar to my last blog post about Croxteth Hall and its history, I love to think of the history behind these places and what they would have been like in their hey day, compared to now.

This was only the next block from the derelict block. Clearly divided into flats but still showing off some of its grander past in the doorway.

Particularly enjoyed the doorbell panel. Looked like a right numpty taking this photo!

A few doors further along I met this fella. I heard him before I saw him, meowing like mad. A man stuck his head out of a first floor window and told the cat he was coming to let him in. I tried to make friends with the cat as he pushed desperately at the door as if he was in the arctic tundra and desperate to get inside. He meowed at me, but was more interested in getting inside. I suppose he's learnt to be loud so his dad can hear him from the first floor.

The house for sale for mega money is just to the left of this. I didn't recognise it at the time or I would have taken a bad photo of it.
It was Christmas hence the wreath. It's taken me months to write this post.

Canning Street
At the end of Percy Street I turned left onto Canning Street. Peeking in the windows from a distance, these houses looked luxurious inside too. Some had shutters, some were closed up and no doubt some were flats, but they appeared to have some high class residents.

Now we move to a seemingly special place. On the corner of Hope Street and Canning, opposite the Cathedral is this 'terrace' gated off and with expensive looking cars. I can only look on and wonder about the inhabitants of this block. I shuffled off quickly before they called their butlers or whatever to come and move on the riff raff that was taking photos of their home and cars.

Down onto Upper Duke Street.

I tried to ogle into the hallway of this place on Upper Duke Street as that lady and man entered but I couldn't see anything. They had a key, so must live there. This doesn't fit with my mental image of the people that live there. If I saw this couple in the street, I would presume they lived in a semi in West Derby or Mossley Hill or somewhere. I am far too judgemental.

I moved onto Rodney Street. Now this is a famously high class street. It used to house the offices of doctors, solictors, accountants and other rich types. It still does house a lot of their offices, but there are also a lot of derelict buildings too. One thing cannot be doubted though, there are some very special doors on this street. I present to you:

Doors of Rodney Street

Holla at the foot scrapers and the extra large door numbers

Hmm, seems I didn't take as many photos of Rodney Street doors as I thought...

However, I have saved the best for last. Down a little side street, look at this beaut:

How do you get in?!