I’ve always had an addictive personality – if the title and opening paragraph of the last chapter didn’t make that clear, then here’s your deus ex machina. Although, does it count as that if I’ve been here all along? Answers on a postcard please.
I used to carry around a completely battered and bruised CD case – yes, a CD case, that’s how old I am. Before that, I even used to use cassettes. Ridiculous! – of Taking Back Sunday’s first album, Tell All Your Friends. It’s just taken me a painful amount of time to remember that album name; it’s amazing how much you feel like an old person once you hit your 30s. As if like is childhood, teenage years, 20s, then done. Fucking hell. At 34, there’s a whole lot of life ahead of me yet. Probably.
So this CD case was absolutely beat to shit, because I used to carry it everywhere. I played the CD constantly – we’re talking listening to it straight, from track one through to track ten, then immediately starting over again at track one. The reason I carried the case with me, was because this was how you got song lyrics back in the day. The internet was around at this point – circa 2003 – but it was only on home computers, and was still dial up. You couldn’t just pull your phone out of your pocket and Google a lyric, if you didn’t have the CD booklet with you you’d just have to wait until you got home, then wait until it was your turn on the family computer, then wait a million years for it to start, the access the internet, then find the information you’d requested. Or, you could look in the CD booklet, which is what I did. Another thing you should know about me: I have terrible hearing. No matter how many times I listened to these songs, I couldn’t for the life of me pick up all the lyrics. And so I carried the case and booklet around with me for reference.
I’ve gotten way off track; the reason I mention this, apart from lamenting my age, and thinking of simpler times which were in fact much worse times, is to illustrate that I listened to this album repeatedly. Enough to destroy the case in which the CD came. And I’ve always been there. I don’t remember doing this, but my parents tell me I watched Jaws on VHS (age check again…) so much as a kid that the actual tape snapped and my parents had to get another.
Later in life, when the Swedish film Let the Right One In was released, I watched it seven times in six days. For those of you who can’t do maths, that’s five days seeing it once, and then seeing it twice on one day. Probably a bit much.
When I first saw Cameron Crowe’s coming of age masterpiece Say Anything, I watched it immediately again after it had finished, and then watched it every day for a month. Literally every day. I’m not exaggerating, this isn’t hyperbole; literally June 205, I watched Say Anything 31 times. Again, once every day, and twice on one day. (There was a pause in that sentence as I Googled how many days are in the month of June – for the life of me I’ll never know the lengths of months other than February and December from memory – but in this age of pocket computers, who even needs to?)
I’ve been through a billion obsessions in my life: (500) Days of Summer is another film I watched on repeat when I first became aware of it. Although that may have had more to do with Zooey Deschanel (sp probs) than the film itself. I feel irreparably in love with her manic pixie dreamgirl character Summer Finn. Same for Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Which acts as a nice segue into what I actually want to talk about in this piece: Last Night in Soho.
(If you don’t know the link between Soho and Scott Pilgrim, it’s that they’re both directed by Edgar Wright. He DM’ed me on Twitter once; it’s not very interesting, but maybe I’ll write about that one day, in a later chapter.)
I finally went to see Last Night in Soho this week. I went in with high expectations; I love Edgar Wright, I love Anya Taylor-Joy, and I love Thomasin McKenzie. I was worried I was going in with too high expectations, but my expectations were not just me, but exceeded. I went in expecting an 8/10, came out having watched a 9/10, maybe even a 10. Time will tell. And by time, I of course mean repeated viewings. Which I’m dying to do; I went to see it with my fiancée; she hated it, whereas I was left with the feeling that if I owned it on DVD or Blu-Ray, I’d have happily watched it again the second we got home.
It’s been a few days now, and I’m still dying to watch it again, and I couldn’t for the life of me tell you why. But perhaps, I’m just realising as I type this, perhaps that’s a good thing. I spend so much of my life incessantly categorising and ordering and justifying things. Perhaps I just want to see Last Night in Soho again because I enjoyed watching it. Perhaps there is no underlying cause, no psychological trauma I’m trying to exorcise, no subconscious parts of my personality that I’m trying to explain. Perhaps I spent 2 hours entertained, and want to again.
That’d be nice, wouldn’t it? What I think is actually happening is my anxiety is making me want to watch it again, because I can place it in the safe category. Which is to say, I’ve seen it, I know what happens, it can’t surprise me. Surprise of course being the absolute antipathy of anxiety. At least in my case.
It rings true across all these films, the albums I listen to over and over, the books I read again and again (The Catcher in the Rye, Glamorama, 11.22.63, The Stand, to name but a few); I know what’s coming, and so no matter how awful it is, I’m ready. Or perhaps it’s something even simpler than that: in Please Don’t Leave Just Yet by Holly Humberstone she sings “I know I’m young but I’m not a fucking idiot.”
I think in my case, as an explanation for my obsessions, the opposite is true:
I am not young, but I am a fucking idiot.