Wednesday, March 16, 1983

Jazz in exile

A quiet day. I finished a dramatized account of Polidori’s summer at Lake Leman with Byron and the Shelleys. Shelley suffered laudanum induced hallucinations and nightmares, seeing eyes instead of nipples on Mary Godwin's breasts. Poor Polidori, with his desperation, paranoia and sense of self-importance. I left to go meet Grant with my head full of this single summer, 1816.

Dad dropped me off on Three Locks Rd after picking Mum up from Nanna P.’s. I walked up through Lodgehill as the gloomy grey afternoon was sliding into a damp evening, although a gap in the clouds revealed distant blue skies. Lodgehill seems to be slipping gradually into decay and is now more derelict and debris-strewn than I remember it. Grant was just finishing his tea when I showed up.

We were the only people in the Film Theatre. We sat in the circle, high above the screen, to watch two films—the first (Jazz in Exile) was a bit of a disappointment: there were just short glimpses of the Art Ensemble of Chicago battering out “March Medley,” Elvin Jones playing on the banks of the Seine, and the Woody Shaw Quintet. Mostly it concentrated on the straightforward ‘armchair’ jazz of Dexter Gordon and Johnny Griffin, much beloved of the Jazz Journal International turtle neck/tweed brigade). The film was quite boring and we both got more and more restless as the film wore on.

Mingus was better, full of grainy atmospheric b/w footage of Mingus awaiting eviction from his cluttered chaotic apartment; he’s a really thorny character with a pretty hard head. He knew what he wanted. The film ended on a depressing and dismal note, Mingus with his possessions piled high on the pavement, his bass, his furniture carelessly tossed into a van and sent to a warehouse while he was led away virtually in tears, harassed by the press and dumped finally in a police car.

We had another drink at the Wellington Arms. Often, especially on the bus, Grant will suddenly lower his head, his face split by a secret grin as he shakes with mirth at some private (usually farcical) situation or comment. He has this ability to be vastly amused by his own thoughts.

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