Movies and other moving moments

Yesterday I took a tube into central London, and then took a walk into a small, dusty town in the north of South Africa. I witnessed a whole lot of life, South African and international, learnt a lesson about myself and ended my day with a dance and a funny movie.

My new blogging friend, Lisa at Notes from Africa, asked me the other day if I’d followed the London Film Festival, sent me a link to the website and mentioned the South African movie, “Life, Above All”. I checked out the website, wondered how we could have let the Festival go by unnoticed, and booked myself a ticket for the final screening of the South African offering. I also signed us up for a newsletter for next year’s Festival. Thanks, Lisa!

It was an amazing movie, telling the story of Chanda, a young South African girl living in small rural town in the north of the country. The central theme is her relationship with her ailing mother, following the death of her infant sister. It deals, poignantly and thoughtfully, with issues such as child-headed households, AIDS orphans, infant mortality and the stigma of AIDS. I can see that the movie would be an Oscar contender, it is beautifully made and the acting is outstanding. I had hoped South Africa had moved beyond the extreme stigma as portrayed in the movie, but I don’t know what life is like in rural South Africa. The movie made me feel sad, on so many levels, but I’m glad I saw it. And I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

On the way in to Leicester Square, I had to change tubes at Waterloo. Walking through the endless underground walkways, I heard the most amazing music in the distance. When I realised I was walking away from it, I turned back to see where the sounds were coming from. Upbeat, fabulous sounds of an electric guitar – it sounded like Eric Clapton on a caffeine buzz. I even considered throwing caution and inhibition to the wind and dancing like no-one was watching.

When I got close to the source of the music, I saw the guitarist was a really scruffy looking guy. I took one look at him and turned away. I felt so ashamed. I had been drawn to his music and then turned off by how he looked. I turned around again and stood and listened to him. His music was brilliant. I threw some money into his guitar box, and he flashed me a toothless grin and thanked me. I walked away, humbled and shamed.

When I got to Leicester Square, I walked to the Square to sit in the park and write in my notebook. The park was filled with carnival rides – oh, the disappointment! I wondered what Charlie Chaplin would think. I walked around for a while and then went to collect my ticket for the movie. As I stood in the queue, a creepy man came up to me and said, “Are you here for Essential Killing?” I said, “No,” and he said he had a spare ticket. I wished I’d said, “No, I’m here to watch a movie. I left my weapons at home,” but I was too slow.

After the movie, I walked back towards the tube station. The Square was filled with people and as I walked I saw face-face-face-face-face-face-face. So many faces blurred into each other and I felt overwhelmed by the crowds and the people and the faces. Soon as I could I headed down the stairs to the tube. There were more faces coming up the stairs and, in the midst of all of them, I spotted Francesca Annis. I don’t know how I spotted her among the millions, but there she was. If you don’t know her, she is a beautiful , accomplished English actress, whom I first saw playing the role of Lillie Langtry in a mini-series called Edward the Seventh.

And then back to my flat and off to a Zumba class. Our instructor’s been away for a few weeks but last night she was back, the music was cracking, she was smiling and we danced.

I do wish the worst dancers wouldn’t stand at the front. Then I wouldn’t notice them. And I wouldn’t blog about them. But they did. And I did. And now I just have to. I can’t help it. It’s not they weren’t coordinated or anything – their clothes were a perfect match with their shoes – it’s just that, well, they couldn’t dance. (Anyone know Allan Sherman’s I Can’t Dance? Cue the music.) Maybe that’s why our instructor was smiling so much.

One had attitude – her facial expression was all sneezes and whistling – and the other did exactly the opposite of everyone else. Every time. We went right, she went left. We lifted our hands and brought them down. She did the opposite. We went forwards, she went backwards. Bless her for trying, but I’m not sure she’ll do an Arnie and be back.

And then my day ended with watching a mindless and very funny DVD. My husband and I snuggled on the sofa to watch Date Night – what a funny movie! Steve Carell trying to out-badmouth a gangster was just hilarious. We laughed so much.

Tears, laughter, a little bit of dance, a whole lot of life and one blog. In the words of Will Ferrell in Anchorman, “It’s boring but it’s my life.”

Sunshine signing off for today.