Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Ken Russell has died. His death creates a reflection on his work and contribution and reminds me of how important Glenda Jackson was to me in my twenties. A divine inspiration! Not least because she turned on her heel from acting and went into politics.

I’ve been rewatching some of his early films and The Music Lovers (never realized Melvin Bragg wrote the screenplay for it) for as Virginia Woolf noted, as soon as someone is dead we long to know more of them.

And since deaths are cumulative, his reminded me today of another loss Derek Jarman. I used to go to the National Film Theatre at the Embankment to see Jarman’s super 8 works projected, pieces like The Last of England and many others. They were the lamp posts that kept me going in those angst-ridden, stumbling, wondering years.

Russell told an anecdote in a interview reshown today about getting a reply from Channel 4 that said the script he’d sent them (in recent years) wasn’t cinematic enough!

I am very curious about Ken Russell’s 1958 documentary called Lourdes, but cannot find it.

Jack Layton

Death is such a blinder. It’s why I wrote the novel I did. Jack, Our Man, has died at 61.

Outside it’s a soaker of a day, grey and depleting. The weather pitch perfect in grief.

The PM, far from a poet, offers a limp remembrance, the people will out-articulate him on this, as they have so much else (except yet at the ballot box)

Politically it’s such a depressing time in this country, that Jack Layton’s death is like losing the goal keeper. Perhaps all deaths are like this. This being a more collectively felt one.

Note Tony Judt’s comments in this radio interview on “something after” his death in relation to those who knew him, family, close friends etc. Last week I talked to a recent widower and had a saddening conversation in which he could only talk of the finality, that he could no longer talk or touch or listen to his wife and I was reminded yet again we have no place to put death, to put grief and perhaps thinking and discussing this something after (the idea that someone continues to live on through our memory of them) could be a start.

NPR interview here.

Was just reading this excerpt of Paul Quarrington’s (RIP) memoir in today’s Globe. Read these few lines and they seem to articulate “a something” is the only way I can put it. A something that often stops me in my tracks or mid thought and puts me into a similar described state of panic.

I tried to be stoic, saying as how I had led a good life, and had lovely friends and loved ones. But then the sight of a very pretty girl reduced me to convulsive sobs. “I’m going to miss this so much,” I managed to get out, although my throat was so knotted with remorse that speech seemed hardly possible.

At last week’s memorial for Anna, for every extraordinary story and anecdote and remembrance shared, I would slump in between recalling that the life so vividly depicted in striking images on the wall and rousing words spoken on a humble community hall stage, that the very life I was learning so much about, had been irretrievably snuffed out. It made the whole thing all the more vicious. And another story or person would stand and my sense of the woman would be enriched further and it became more and more difficult. Yet I was glad to be there, despite the broader struggle it provoked. I also had some distance to take note of this in this situation whereas in other situations I haven’t had that.

I just watched a brief video segment of an interview with a poet, Leslie, 66, who died today. Her face was so extraordinarily beautiful, eyes so vivid and she spoke about losing her breath in Nepal. The above struck me. How can all this, all of this person, now be gone, a once and for all gone? And it can, of course it can and yet how to confront that. The only reassuring thing is that when it happens to an individual they do not “know” it once it is over. But perhaps it is in life leading up to that point we individually confront it. Or not.

The language we use around death does not suffice. We have so much language and yet we use such a select and repetitious series of words to express when someone dies.