Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunset Boulevard

Lyrics from "As If We Never Said Goodbye"

"M" is for Musicals - this is tragic name that I came up with for an as-yet non-existent blog in which I present what I've learnt about one musical per week and practice various singing techniques from the trickiest songs. Ambitious, much, and all because I can't get too of the loveliest songs I've heard out of my mind - "Send In The Clowns" and "As If We Never Said Goodbye". So far, all that has been invented is earworms for everyone around me. Sorry about that!

So far I've learnt that "Send In The Clowns" was written by Stephen Sondheim and featured in "A Little Night Music", a film I'm eagerly waiting to see. "As If We Never Said Goodbye" I only came across when on holiday in Sitges a few months ago. In a tiny bar in the backstreets, we all huddled in to watch Ria Jones' interpretation of the lead character, Norma Desmond, and her tragic hit from Sunset Boulevard. The film, made in 1950 and now a musical, is now considered one of the greatest American films of all time. My list of classics is getting longer and, alas, another Sunday has passed without me having struck any from the list.

This weekend, I've mostly found myself harassing the eardrums of my family at their lovely apartment near Murcia as I take a much-needed break from work. I've been at Sunseed now for a mostly-blissful 6 months but as the nights draw in and the sun creeps ever lower behind the looming mountains, the valley's becoming increasingly hostile to the near-nakedness I managed the whole summer; I've worn no socks and barely done any washing as it has mostly been too hot for anything other than dreams of ice cubes and gelato.

With my shrinking comfort (and warmth) zone, I'm working extra hard to remember my intentions, my values, my beliefs and my actual self. Learning songs from musicals, learning dances from the latest R&B videos and Indian Head Massages are definitely some key ingredients. Another important constant in the crazy equation of [{J(oy) & Ex(citement) 4 Everything} = N0thing D0ne] is a fruit and vegetable fast at the weekend. I've done it for most of the weeks I've been away and missed it terribly when I haven't. Even today when hot churros were tantalizing my nostrils, I found the strength in grapes, cucumber and dates to keep me going until 24 hours was up. During the fast, I find a supreme calmness in my thoughts, a steadiness in my mood and my mind feels as if it's been unplugged for a bit. Helping me on the way in the hotel complex is a sauna, a steam room, a pool as well as a private shower and bath (this may all sound quite normal to non-Sunseeders - apologies!) and in all of them, a very content version of me.

I've challenged many aspects of myself this year, some of which may seem miniscule to some - I have barely washed, and when I have it's been without soap in a very cold (and beautiful) river; I have eaten vast amounts of aubergines without complaining (I have never been so cosy with the Deadly Nightshade family and I still don't know what the fuss is about); I have never listened to the radio or any music when driving the van (except maybe once); I have squatted for every loo trip; my hair hasn't been washed for nearly 2 months (with a very nasty-looking comb to prove it); recently I've slept in the fleece that also keeps me toasty during the day (Grossville, Population 1 - You'll Never Leave!) and I brushed off from my shoulder the biggest spider on earth* (*unofficial measurement). Oh, and I haven't been to the cinema since January and I'm a complete film buff (I hear you - First World Problems).

So, this afternoon, not only was my microbiome was in for an extreme makeover but my dormant Westernised self was awoken from its quilted cinematic pupa to the sound of BBC Prom and Judy Dench's "Send In The Clowns". I have neglected small but gem-like parts of my personality that can still have a place in a low-impact project and sustainable lifestyle. I will never be the scruffy peak oil renouncing hippy who rejects all possessions in the name of the Great Mother - as a child, nothing would delight me more than flailing around to Motown, finding matching trousers or polished shoes and riding on trains. No amount of goji berry and chia seed smoothies will change these facts. I love the world in every one of its qualities and each one is defined by the eyes through which I see - there are no solid truths and right or wrong ways of appreciation. We are who we always were and will be... and when we remember that - everything's as if we never said goodbye.

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