I have been an admirer of yours for many years. Your sense of humour is out of this world, and often, after a tough day at work, I can find no better way of cheering myself up than by donning my silk kimono, turning off all the electric lights, and tucking into a soothing bottle of absinthe whilst watching Fire Walk With Me. I’d rather disappear into one of your films than go to a party any day. Except for the Straight Story. I’m sorry to say that I really didn’t feel the magic there and would much rather have spent my one hundred and twelve minutes embroiled in a family-sized cake, crisps and wrapping paper nightmare. Recently though, I did attend a debauched birthday gathering that seemed to set in motion the chain of events that led me to writing this letter:
Over the last six months, I’ve inadvertently transformed from Luddite to digitally obsessed data-fiend. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve not become a trained analyst (yet), but I have embarked on an exploration of the astonishingly broad implications of us living more of our lives online. Access to education, ease of data-sharing for scientific research purposes, social networking to aid political movement, the ease of online shopping for people with physical disabilities are all fantastic things. And online gaming. Bafflingly, that seems to bring geeky joy to a hell of a lot of people. Lack of privacy (coupled with diminished trust in international security agencies – thank you for shedding some light Ed Snowdon), individually targeted marketing, social pressures on youth/online bullying are not quite so warmly welcomed into our day-to-day reality. Okay, I still have fears about the future looking like an Orwellian dystopia (with more robots) but have reconciled myself to believing that the Internet is being used both for and against that happening. It is the best political tool we have as it unites like minds. But how is our use of digital communication changing the way we regard one another?
It was slim pickings at the club that night. Some new band from Camberwell called ‘The House of Love’ had played to an exceptionally poor turnout, leaving the room as hollow and depressed as when they’d arrived. Dave’s lot occupied a table at the back. The lads hadn’t bothered joining him by the stage to watch young Terry Bickers shaggy hair swishing along to his soaring neo-psychedelic riffs, because staying seated usually meant that the pussy came to you.
“Honestly mate, sometimes I dunno what’s up with your ears. That band are gonna be massive.” Dave addressed the table non-specifically. One song had cut straight to his heart, and not just because it was about a girl called Christine: the name that made him dig his nails into his palms to stop the tears from forming.
Despite having read the Sick Festival blurb, I arrive at Fabrica to see Christopher Green’s ‘Prurience’ with two minutes to spare and the invented notion it will be an informative lecture on the evils of Internet porn. And to add insult to flawed logic I’ve decided the event must be billed as an ‘interactive performance’ due to the usual bit of Q & A audience participation thrown in at the end of such things. Oh no, it’s going to be a far less comfortable experience. Confusing, anger-inducing and at times excruciatingly embarrassing immersive theatre – set in a ‘fictional self-help group’ – that’s what I’ve inadvertently paid for.
Curse my last minute ticket purchase! – Resulting in ‘worst seat in the house’ at Brighton Dome Theatre; Row Z, half behind a pillar. Even with glasses, I can’t quite get the nuances in Stew’s facial expressions. It probably won’t matter. I’ve had a crush on him since the Fist of Fun days and should be able to predict exactly where the eyebrow raises, denoting the commencement of each carefully monitored pregnant pause, will lie within his material. After all this time, his stand-up may be formulaic and predictable in flow, but Stew is the original creator of a winning recipe and surely, inimitable in the flare and precision with which he delivers it, every time…