Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Along with the usual post yesterday morning, I received a postcard from an old friend called Lavinia. Lavinia was a neighbour who left to live in the wilds of Wales several years ago. She's a painter; a friend has one of her lovely lilly paintings on her wall.

Later last night, I watched "Death of a President", the new film about a sniper killing George W. Bush. It is directed by Gabriel Range. And there's been much talk about this film.
Should it, they say, have been made in the first place? Is it tasteless, as countless Americans, who have already viewed the film are saying? Was it outrageous to predict something that could so easily happen? Does the beauty of its photography, its excellent characterisation, the way it portrays George Bush ( as a dignified statesman who works crowds admirably, who has a charisma we may never have credited ) make it particularly valuable?? Are the critical voices the right ones ( those who see it as an outrage) or are those others who see it as a very clever film ( real footage, imagined dialogue, gripping production ) viewing it as it was intended?

Why, you wonder, did I mention the postcard from Lavinia? What's its connection with that notorious film? ......It was a publicity card for "Death of a President"; on the front of it is the same horrifying Still that was featured on a whole page of The Times Culture supplement this w/end. And Lavinia is the mother of Gabriel, the film's director and she's proud ( as is natural ) of her son's artistic achievments.

I haven't seen Gabriel for years; he was at school with my sons and I have photos of them all playing rounders, eating ice cream in the garden. I wonder if Lavinia remembers the evening years ago, when she came to collect Gabriel at 6pm and we were still sitting in the garden at midnight, drinking wine and talking, while the children sat lazily around us??

Time passes fast. How corny, how naff that sounds. But it really does. And our children (who, ten minutes ago, were charging round the garden on bikes, who were kissing first girlfriends when they thought we weren't looking..) go off to lead their own lives , some in distant parts of the world, some just around the corner, some at the other end of the country.
But wherever they are, they have their own lives, with their own experiments, decisions and dreams, their own risks, challenges, choices to make.
Just as Lavinia's son has gone on to do. Just as all our children go on to do.

" You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which
you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make
them like you,
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living
arrows are sent forth..."

Kahil Gibran. "The Prophet" ( 1923 )


Anonymous Richard B said...

Hello, do you remember sending me 'The Prophet' by Kahil Gibran in my first week at University? I haven't read it yet! Might do so now. Keep on blogging...


P.S. - Good question - why no big haired photo in your profile?

10:16 am  
Blogger adrian the percussionist said...

Yes, I don't think that that question has been satisfactorily answered.

10:43 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Hello Ric
Good to hear you. Yes I remember sending the book; it was one I'd met myself (at the age you were then ) and it all seemed pretty apt at that time.... Think I sent bits to Guy and Liz when they went to India. Once again it all seemed pretty apt....
The Hair will be photographed. Eventually.

4:25 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Hello Adrian
The drum is A JOY. The picture has brightened my day. I am so glad you followed my advice and bought on Ebay.
Do please let me know if youre playing at Heathrow or Gatwick or M/Chester in the near future, although I imagine it will probably be in the sheds at Hawarden...

4:31 pm  
Blogger adrian the percussionist said...

Don't forget that the fifty kilobyte limit is for the whole photo, not just the hair.

4:58 pm  
Anonymous clare said...

Hi Jan - got here at last - don't know what was happening with my server but it wouldn't let me get on my own comments page and it wouldn't go on yours either but I'm here now so I forgive it.

Now you're really educating me here - I haven't heard of this film or Kahil Gibran - no doubt I should...thank you.

4:40 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

The HaiR will either be cut or photographed soon.
Either way it will be SNAPPED. HA!

Thanks for this.
Me educating you? That's a 1st. Kahil Gibran was an artist, poet and philosopher born in the Lebanon in 1883. He died in 1931, after spending his last years in New York, where he wrote in English. "The Prophet" is divided into sections; he deals with Love, Joy and Sorrow, Time, Self Knowledge, Good/Evil, Pleasure ( and more.) The quote I used was from his writing on Children.

4:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jan,

I've got Kahlil Gibran's book - given to me by one of the friends from uni that i came down to Devon to be near - we read the one on children at Noah's christening. It is very beautiful and deserves for every line to be studied by those of us who rear children. I wonder how the current debate on the state of childhood (opened up by big names in children's literature amongst others) will affect us in the future - how will it change how we raise children? Am reading the Red Tent at the moment which also gives plenty of material on childhood - wouldn't it have been wonderful to have been brought up by 4 mothers all with different womanly skills who had time to teach them to us? Mind you i also like drinking wine with other parents while the kids run amok. Ramble ramble... is this the kind of stuff you write on a blog??


1:56 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Hello Deb
Great seeing you,all the way from Devon! We really miss you in the writing group, your comments and colourful insights...even the late ( but also colourful!) entrances!
This letting go stuff isn't always easy, is it? We teach our children to BE independent, but you miss them when they're finally gone. You've got a while with yours yet..
But if they're happy in their lives, you nevertheless have that lovely bursting pride to soften the "missing", ie you're glad they're living their own lives...
I agree in some respects with those who wrote enmasse to the press:...I had lots of freedom as a child ( wandering about, going off for the day playing etc...) and I think some of todays children have so many boundaries in their lives, no risks exposed to them, ( eg where they go, what they've got to do etc...there's too much planning in some ways ) My children spent lots of time just playing and dreaming and wallowing in games they made up together; I reckonn confidence, creativity,self-esteem, all develop along with a dollop of independence. And a slurp of deciding for themselves what they'll do with the day never came amiss!
I bet your 3 are loving Devon, the house, garden, the sea, the freedom. Just wish you had found a writing group for yourself!

5:34 pm  
Anonymous Geoff C. said...

What a coincidence. I was in a workshop on Philosophy for Children today and came across this wonderful quote:

"The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness. If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind"
From Kahlil Gilbran- The Prophet- 1926.

Like others I had not encountered K.G. before and his words sprang upon me twice in one day!

7:44 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks Geoff. Those lines you mentioned were special.

3:02 pm  

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