#SaturdaySix (February 2018 edition): Giant days, winter’s wonders

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Welcome to my second #SaturdaySix – a monthly round-up of six things that are inspiring me right now. What on Earth is floating your own boat? I’d love to know – please drop me a line with your own current raves!

1: Ice is something you put in your gin

It is deepest winter in England today. There’s a lot to love about winter. Here are just three cool examples.

1a: When I saw my friend Sean Jones right before Christmas, I asked him for some comic recommendations. Top of his list was Giant Days, the first two volumes of which I immediately procured from London’s excellent @orbitalcomics.  I’m kicking myself it took me ‘til last weekend to get around to reading it. Giant Days is delightful. A heightened and hilarious story of three young women getting to grips with life at an unspecified UK university. The dialogue is fresh and funny. The art is beautiful. Volume Two includes this wonderful page about one of the more questionable “joys” of wintertime – the way it makes short work of those with incorrect footwear.

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1b: M’colleague Sukh Pabial has been off skiing this week. My thanks to Sukh for his kind permission to reproduce his amazing tweeted pic of the chilly climes of Chamonix (which you can see at the top of this post). The composition and colours here are winterful perfection, I say.

1c: Need further convincing as to the wonders of winter? The Rolling Stones turned to this most frozzen of seasons to inspire one of their greatest songs, the cryptically-entitled Winter.

2: Phil? Phil Connors? Meet your Rolling Stones!

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Friends: Let us stick with the Stonesulent theme a moment longer. If you have yet to see the Stones’ “reimagining” of Sonny and Cher’s I Got You, Babe from 60’s UK TV show Ready, Steady, Go!, then you have one of life’s great pleasures still to enjoy. I first came across this on some long-forgotten BBC2 music show in the mid-90s (and I wore out the VHS tape on which I captured that rare showing). This is of course the song that bedevils Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors in Groundhog Day, heralding the start of each of his endless relivings of one single day. Simon Heath marked this year’s Groundhog Day (Friday 2 February 2018) by tweeting a link to the Sonny and Cher original. Simon’s tweet reminded me of the wonders of the Stones lip-synching for their lives. And now you can enjoy it, too!

3: Miracles can and do happen

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I am constantly inspired by my good friend Bryan Wempen. His words are a source of wisdom and inspiration. In his book Note To Self, Bryan shares words that have helped him stay “sane, sober and serving a greater purpose” since he made the decision to give up drinking. He writes: 

“Starting over isn’t a failure; it’s a smarter beginning.”. 

Lately Bryan has been using Instagram to share a run of his abstract paintings, inspired by battles with addiction and struggles on the path to recovery. I particularly like the image above – entitled Addict – and the succinct message of hope that Bryan shares in its accompanying caption:

“Active addiction is being lost, being something or someone you don’t know. Recovery is finding yourself possibly for the first time. Miracles can and do happen.”

My thanks to Bryan for his very kind permission to include his painting here.

4: My inability to draw Hedy Lamarr

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When I tried my hand at the #Inktober challenge last year, I quickly remembered that if I start a drawing with a pictorial reference, the end result will inevitably not resemble its original inspiration. In my younger days, this frustrated me no end. But over recent months, I’ve come to accept it. The BFI’s March 2018 includes the above striking image of Austrian-born old Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr (real name – quite delightfully – Hedwig Kiesler). I’ve attempted twice over the past few weeks to draw Ms Lamarr from this picture. The end results really do not look like Ms Lamarr. But these days I am at peace with this.

Exhibit A:

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Exhibit B:

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5: I mean, c’mon, really

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“I mean, c’mon really…” This is Sacha Chua’s take on the weary reaction of an introvert being forced into small talk. It comes from her slideshare presentation, The Shy Connector. This slideshare was incorporated into an excellent blog post on introversion and resources for introverts, which the great Jennifer McClure compiled way back in 2009. In this social media age, everything will find its way to its intended audience eventually. Case in point, Jennifer’s post only came into my life at the start of this month. As a fellow card-carrying introvert, Jennifer’s words speak to me afresh, as if they were penned only yesterday. Thank you, Jennifer – and thank you also for introducing me to Sacha Chua’s amazing work!

6: These desperate signals

“Your nausea is a signal that you need to listen to.” A doctor in Vietnam said these words to author Johann Hari while the latter was suffering from a quite unspeakable case of food poisoning. This doctor saved Hari’s life by paying attention to these nausea symptoms. Hari argues that events such as Trump’s election and the Brexit vote are symptoms of deeper problems that need to be addressed. In an unusually non-comedic appearance on Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (or #RHLSTP, as I understand the cool kids are calling it), Hari sets out his views. He says: 

“Those people are not wrong to send signals of desperation. I think the specific signals they send are a disaster. You don’t need me to tell you why Trump and Brexit are a disaster. But they’re not wrong to send these desperate signals. What we need to do is think about how we can change our culture so that more people can feel their psychological needs are being met." 

Our current era is increasingly dark. But Hari argues that – while we are currently in a regressive phase – the overall curve of modern history is towards the positive. He cites the example of the incredible progress in gay rights that has occurred during his own lifetime. We must never lose hope, he says: 

"Good things can happen. Great things can happen. The difference is whether we fight for them. You come out of your corner crying, and you fight. And you realise how strong you are.”

Watch the entire Herring/Hari symposium here:

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