Friday, May 27, 2005

Derek Jarman

The Turkish hairdresser I liked to go to in the Albert Road – when I’m not simply shaving my head bare at home, has closed and been replaced by one which charges £20 for a wet cut.

Have been reading Derek Jarman’s last journal, ‘Smiling in Slow Motion’ (Random House Century, 2000). He’s so well known for his queer films and queer activism that no one really appreciates what a great diarist he was. The journals are always billed as AIDS diaries but they’re not. For someone who was accused relentlessly of inserting polemic into his films, his books are beautifully written. Some entries are no more than a list of the names of the flowers that have come up in his famous Dungeness garden recently: this is almost poetry in its own right. He writes incidents simply, without much explanation and lets them speak for themselves. He tells brief stories. Some are sweet like the elderly woman who travelled from Canterbury to knock on his door and ask him to sign a copy of Modern Nature. These are set against another single sentence stories such as friend of a friend, in the last stages of AIDS and dying goes to his local emergency unit. They examine him and send him home with indigestion tablets. ‘Modern Nature’ and ‘Chroma’ (an extended meditation on the history, significance and effect of colours) are some of the most spiritual writing I have ever read and they come from the pen of a man implacably opposed to organised religion.
A good concise article about Jarman:
A Bibliography of Gay/Queer Cinema at Berkeley including much
by and about Jarman:
A Filmography, Article and bibliography at The Knitting


James Lear said...

Hello Callum
Interested to see that your interests include writing erotica. Do you get published these days? I used to be published by Zipper/GMP until they stopped functioning last year, and am now a pornographer without a publisher...

Callum said...

James, I do get published but only short stories. There does seem to be an enormous hole in the market for gay erotica at the moment with only the American publishers seeming to be able to make any money out of it. I'm going to be adding something to the blog about my writing in the near future. Feel free to email me on

Who links to my website?