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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, October 07, 2005

    I loved to draw when I was a little girl
    It helped me see the world as I wanted it to be
    Sometimes I walk home through a network of car parks
    Just because I can
    I love the feeling of being slightly lost
    To find new spaces, new routes, new areas
    I love the lack of logic
    I love the feeling of being slightly lost

    - a London voice, the voice of Sarah Cracknell, singer in Saint Etienne, on the track which gives the title to the wonderful Finisterre: a film about London, which I've been watching on DVD today.

    Saint Etienne have always been influenced and inspired by London, and their film, a collaboration with music video director Kieron Evans and filmmaker Paul Kelly, is what could be (and has been) called a psycho-geographical visual soundtrack to the city, a 24-hour journey from the suburbs to the heart and out again, beginning and ending at daybreak. Featuring the voices of various Londoners, largely from their circle of music-biz friends, and passages of commentary adapted from Geoffrey Fletcher's The London Nobody Knows and Ian Nairn's Nairn's London, some fine filmic detail and of course their own music.

    The effect is positive, at times dream-like, a celebration of place. A woman eulogises her mid-twentieth-century-towerblock home saying, "I've always wanted to live in Highpoint, because Mrs Peel used to live here from The Avengers - the fictional Mrs Peel not Diana Rigg. I've always wanted to live in the best place in the world and I always thought that this was the best place in England anyway to live. I wouldn't want to say it was a big white spaceship but it gives that sense of shock, like it's something that doesn't really belong. But when I see it I think more of angels singing."

    Of Piccadilly Ian Nairn wrote, "This really is the centre of London. But why, why when you stand under Eros with the traffic swirling endlessly round, does it feel like the whole enormous city is in the palm of your hand?"

    And as the film takes us to one of the favourite haunts of friends of mine, The New Piccadilly Cafe, the commentary continues, "It's said that if you stand at Piccadilly long enough you will see someone you know. You could lose yourself here. Grab a guidebook and a camera, and disappear."

    I'm in London for a couple of days next week. This beautiful work by Saint Etienne gives me plenty to look forward to.