He elects David Gilmour to be his lead musician. Due to scheduling commitments, and David’s ailing heart condition, filming is delayed by 14 months. Kubrick waits.
This week’s Sunday Story is ‘The History of New Venice’.
Two days ago, I ran home in the rain. It was a short distance – uphill, sure – but not far. I spent the next thirty minutes breathing deeply. My throat ached from the cold air. I said to myself, Dan, you are getting fat and unfit.
Fat and unfit and old.
The gums above my wisdom teeth arch towards the roof of my mouth. I have nightmares about tough types of biscuits (gingernuts mostly) turning my mouth to chalk. Grey hairs have appeared in my fringe. Occasionally, I pull a muscle I didn’t know existed. Loud noises are increasingly intolerable. I have begun buying for quality.
I am old, growing fat, growing unfit.
Most of all though, I am lonely.
I live in a single room, above a pub, and am the loneliest I have ever been.
When I was 21, I lived in a remote country village. The last bus was at nine. I saw no one, spoke to no one. I am more lonely now.
It is beer which is making me fat. It is the good times, the food, and possibly the loneliness which is making me fat. It is ill-discipline and giving into temptations. It is long nights and early mornings. It is poor sleep.
Fat. Listen to the word. Like a goblet of spit hitting you, on the cheek, from a passing train. The word is ugly. Whitish. It bubbles when fried.
Bad things happen to me. Bad things happen to all of us. Good things happen to all of us too. And good things happen to me in quantities. I am so so lucky.
But it is easy for good things to happen to you. A good thing happens and you say, oh, I barely felt that, that was like a feather passed across my cheek. And then you move on. It is not so easy for bad things to happen. A bad thing is always like someone hooved you in the gut.
Here’s the key:
When I create, I feel better.
When I don’t create, I feel horrendous. The worst person imaginable. I tuck myself into a ball. I eat badly. I take out my anger on strangers on the internet. I try to sleep, but can’t.
Sometimes* the pub downstairs will have karaoke. There are regulars. One of the favourites is ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’. A couple sing this song; it is, I believe, the dying light of their romance.
Sometimes, I think this – all of this, the pub, the room, the loneliness, the movement from thin to fat – is a purgatory I have to trek through to finally arrive home. I’m the Knight in the desert, no water, no food, just a horizon.
Sometimes, I realise I am already home. That I have always been home. That I am home. That everything I have is already here.
Mostly, I think both.
If I have written or drawn or stood up, if I have, in short, created, then I feel better. If I can do that everyday in a week, I win, I feel great. Most people medicate. It may be love or warm food or work or sex or alcohol. It may be long walks along sandy beaches in foreign countries. It may be greasy knuckles in garages. It may be actual pills. My medication is art.
I live alone, in a room, above a pub, creating.
Once upon a time, I told my friends that I would be happy if I lived alone, in a bedsit, writing. All I wanted to do was write, I said, and I don’t care about the money. I remember they laughed at me, and it was perhaps because they thought this was a ridiculous ambition. Perhaps they thought I was naive, or pretentious. Still, I’m here and it’s now.
Here an expansion on the aforementioned key: I am incredibly lucky to have discovered a talent at a young age and to have nurtured it, so that it can sustain me when I cannot sustain myself; I am incredibly lucky to be able to create and express myself through art; art is a pillar which props me up.
I have written about this before.
Originally this story was named Kubrick, but the title changed to give the first sentence room. Now there are two phrases of curiosity: ‘New Venice’ then ‘Stanley Kubrick’. The pair of them are enough to sell the rest of the story. I could have had Kubrick take a shit for two pages and people would still read to the end.
That seems arrogant. It’s not meant to be.
This is a swan song to art. It is a hard jewel made out of dismal times, where grey skies dominate and my life is not quite how I envisioned it would be. There is safety here, and strength. A corner is turned after this story. It is a man beginning, finally, to achieve his potential.
It can be read here.
*I use sometimes lightly here. The ratio is currently 80/20 between Nights-when-the-pub-downstairs-has-Karaoke and Nights-when-the-pub-downstairs-does-not-have-Karaoke.