Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bouncing balls of distraction

Sometimes it's as though time has stood still. Sometimes it's as though I never went away. The resistance to change is something that, deep in the database of my experiences in this lifetime, I am fighting to reject. Sometimes I feel as though I am winning ... but then that snide little voice that patrols the filing cabinet of my memory reminds me that I am, in fact, losing. Hopelessly. The shackles of habit and the fatigue of getting up in the morning and expecting it all to be different are wearing me down. Thank the Universe for Wimbledon!

I went to Wimbledon when I lived in London. As you do. I used to go to The Australian Open as well when I lived in Melbourne in my previous incarnation. I love the tennis. And apart from the excellent perve value, it provides me with the opportunity to stretch my spectator muscles ... those particular muscles certain people possess that ensures they never compete in a sporting arena of any kind. We watch. And cheer. Criticise and cajole. We are attached to the sport in a unique way. We are the energy that makes it possible for those playing whichever game it happens to be to indulge in the spirit of a true, honest and fair contest. We are the atmosphere. We represent a share of the prize money (and if you've ever been to Wimbledon you'll know what I mean!) We are the reason. We are what makes it all worthwhile. Sport in the absence of spectators is, well, training.

Much like much of the last ten years of my life.

I love Tim Henman. He's a cute little English tennis player who, now 32 years old, is nearing the end of his career. I've always related to Timmy, in a strange kind of way. He's the one who has never been quite good enough. Good, yes, but not quite good enough. He's never won Wimbledon ... in fact, I'm not sure that he's ever won a Grand Slam anywhere in the world. But he shows up and gives it his best shot. It's just that there is always, eventually, someone on the opposite side of the net whose shot(s) are better than Timmy's best.

Two nights (AEST) ago, his match against Carlos Moya (an outstanding 9.5 on the perve value scale) was stopped due to bad light. It resumed the night before last at two sets all and 5 games a piece in the final set. There was not an empty seat in the fabulous 2,000 extra seats stadium when Timmy and Carlos resumed their battle. I was, literally, on the edge of my seat. The usually subdued and polite English crowd were almost rowdy ... as rowdy as they know how to be in any case. Timmy was giving it his all ... and Carlos was face down on my pillow ... oh, sorry ... giving it his all too. The final set went with perve ... oh shit, sorry ... serve – until Carlos served a double fault and handed over the match. Timmy had won! ... and in a split second, the perennial loser had become a winner. A big winner!

It was a sensational match ... and a moving occasion. As the camera prowled around Timmy, I could tell that this win was especially important to him. There was no knee-bending ... no artful and indulgent collapses onto the grass ... no crass, grand winner-takes-it-all gestures ... no racquet gymnastics. Just an almost quaint smile and humble acknowledgement of the support of the capacity crowd. Each one of those spectators a force of will and determination ... that when combined, quite possibly gave Timmy something of the force he needed to conquer his opponent.

I couldn't sleep for hours that night. The Universe dropped a concept into my mind. "Geoffrey", she whispered ... "are you intending to reach the end of your life and be prepared to accept that, even though you were good, you were just never good enough"?

Last night I started watching Roger Federer play. I didn't last long. Quite suddenly, something made complete sense.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

My umbrella

There is an sequence from a film that has been playing in my imagination over the past few days. It is from a short film I produced and directed in 2006. It is one of my favourite sequences. The story was about an umbrella that had been recklessly discarded by one person, only to wash up on a beach many miles away at the feet of someone else. The sequence involved our damaged hero (the umbrella) tumbling around on the beach at the will of the waves crashing into the sand. It was a complex and interesting sequence to film ... primarily because our hero was - as required - entirely at the will of the sea. Occasionally, a large wave would crash into the beach and he would tumble off camera. At one point, one of the crew had to wade, waist-deep, into the ocean to retrieve him ... but when we finally 'got the shot', it was perfect. I was so proud of my hero.

The other morning I was waiting to cross Chapel Street to my favourite coffee shop where, every morning, I buy two strong café lattés on my way to my office. This sequence played in my mind. Just once ... as clear as the water that had buffeted my damaged little hero. We had a cast of four umbrellas (the new one, the damaged one, and two as stand-bys). I remembered that we had painted our damaged one with gold paint (rust) and covered him with dirt. We had torn his fabric artfully. We had twisted his structure and snapped his thin wire strands ... poking one or two out through the fabric. Our hero had been through the adventure of his life ... from the quiet riverside location of his heart-breaking abandonment to the busy, over-populated, inner-city beachfront.

Uninterrupted water views. But still in peril. Ultimately at risk.

Until a kind, homeless stranger rescued him from the water and took him home to rest with the other members of his ramshackle collection of umbrellas, nestled together under the overpass.

It feels great to be back in Melbourne. Under the overpass. For now.