Lead Kindly Light

There is a hymn by this name. I know this because Gerald Durrell’s granny sang it at some point in one of his hilarious stories. Probably ‘My Family and Other Animals. On pondering what to write about, this time, – always a bad idea because thinking makes inspiration go away- the image of a torch popped into my head.

This could be because I read a brilliant review or write-up at least in the latest Big Issue about the Labia Theatre in Orange Street. Yes it’s really called the Labia Theatre, but it’s pronounced Laaarbiah and not Laybia. Princess Labia opened it in 1949 as a live performance venue and theatre; originally it had been an Italian Embassy ballroom. I loved the little detail about usherettes with dented torches. How vivid is that? It just brings the whole thing to life, just that little detail. The writer is Don Pinnock who’s a legend in his own right. Get the Big Issue next time you glimpse a vendor. The articles are top-class, the journalism excellent.

torch drawing
And you can draw with it too.

So – about torches.  I’m in favour of them. I’m not talking about the Petzel type of torch you wear around your head like a camper or a caver, although they’re nice too. But if you have one, someone invariably thinks you’re going to be doing the cooking.

I want to bring some focus on the humble, ordinary torch, the kind you shine when you’re in a dark wood. There is the classic old stainless steel Fifties type torch with its big head that you can also use to clout unruly elements (Okay, unruly elephants too. If you must. See how far you get…) which is probably my favourite, because it’s so Inspector …whatever. Have you noticed how they hold torches in police thriller-type movies? They hold them up next to their heads like darts. It’s weird. But it looks quite sexy.

What I’ve learned from the image of a pool of light from a torch in a dark and scary place is that you don’t really need to see the whole road. You only need to see three steps in front of you. Yes there may be wild animals in the undergrowth but usually they’d prefer you not to see them, and then they can quietly get back to their knitting or whatever they were doing. Yes they knit – don’t believe everything you hear. How do you think leopards get to wear… forget it. Let’s stay with torches.

Today after about two tortuous years of almost no work, the publishers came to life again because finally, finally, finally, Government has approved the new syllabus and we can all get on with producing new schoolbooks. By now I’m making paper sculptures and animations (and the starting blocks have become comfortable armchairs due to lack of funding on both scores) so – hell, am I glad to see those publishers’ emails!? Yes.

Naturally I was quick to share the good news with my friend Gen, and we agreed that it’s just as well that we can only see what is in the moment or fairly imminent, because if I could have foreseen 2009 and 2010 would I have embraced the oncoming wave of what looked like utter destruction? No. I don’t know what I would have done but a padded cell might have been part of that script. Actually, I doubt very much that I could have believed it if anyone had told me what was coming. Still as I’ve said several times – it was all good. So nice when it stops though.

So – let there be torches and not too many spotlights and leave the telescopes out of it entirely. One thing at a time please. Let’s focus on the next three steps and all will be well. I have found  ‘What needs to be done?’ which comes from the Morita Method, and ‘Do what comes next,’ which comes from God knows where,  to have been excellent little word collections during the past two years.

Here’s a spotlight and one I wish I hadn’t read – it’s a bit of a spoiler: http://sheffield.indymedia.org.uk/2010/06/453356.html

So – back to the torches, shall we? I suggest after reading the contents of the website I’ve just linked to, that they are the kind you wind up… And perhaps some hard hats won’t come amiss either.


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