Spectres of Mark
- Martin, from the Hauntology threadThis is the one of 1977's grimmest moments - a documentary about football hooligans who may well no longer exist in a South East London that's become obsolete - I'm not sure which bits are most interesting / depressing ; the opening shot (which, with the sound turned off, could easily be from some post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama, as a long-haired teenager guides a child around a wasteland and lifts him up on a grassy bank overlooking a Canary Wharf-free and dilapidated Docklands) ; the sheer unfashionability of it all (we're talking shit-brown, orange and murky-blue striped cardigans that riot against taste and symmetry, flares that look like they hinder walking) ; the scene with the band in the pub, some awful heavy rock that's defiantly stuck in a rut, the band come across like dead men strumming - in contrast, the part where The Clash come on the jukebox is like a flash of modernity; the Richard Allen-style pulp reportage, harshly blue-lit bars where members of Treatment gather to "..recall past glories, vendettas lodged like shrapnel in the brain", while the actual kids (and where are they all now? Has anyone ever tried to trace them, or are these images their only imprints?) rant against Tottenham, and argue, "I've had a hard life....people like you'se, grew up with university, I grew up with streetfighting"; NF offices where the quaint Union Jack clocks actually look so ugly, they wouldn't even make it into an Austin Powers spoof ; hardcore nutters who look like Noel Edmonds and boast names like 'Mad Pat' and 'Bobby the Wolf' ; Charles Wheeler's warning that "The following report contains language not usually heard on television" (though it's not a patch on Big Brother) .....you can't come away from this without hearing a whirring in your ears, and a profound 'thank fuck' that punk, ragga and acid house happened, it really is watching a city of lost souls, a part of London lost forever.
See also Horace Ove's Pressure ('76) and bits of that punk film DOA ('81?) for some grimy 70s London.
Martin really is the poet of Grim Britannia, his writing viscerally evocative of a bygone England no-one can remember, nor seems to want to.
Watching Life on Mars again this evening, I was struck by how WRONG it feels. The rough n ready unPC PCs actually turn out to be rather cutesy cartoon-types, ten times less menacing than Regan and Carter never mind what you can only imagine yer actual copper of the period was like. None of the haircuts look right; the clothes look too smart, nowhere near Polish enough; and yeh the office is dingy but kinda designer dingy.
This also follows on from some discussions over at the Pillbox, esp here.
I wonder if anyone else has suggestions about convincing evocations of grim GB on film/ TV... or can suggest reasons as to why that side of Britain seems so difficult to capture, especially now...