Clapperboard

I look for plusses everywhere these days.

I was very happy at the weekend. I have a small-ish collection of movies, for a computer geek who stores everything worth anything onto hard disk. Of that small collection, a disproportionate number of them are in French.

I find that Hollywood films (and, by extension, British films) are mostly pretty rubbish, but have found over the years that French cinema has produced some brilliant storylines. I always used to buy films with their original soundtrack, but with English subtitles – dubbing was not for me because part of the process was to pick up snippets of the language to take away with me. My knowledge of French was enough to set me on the right track, and with the help of subtitles the films made sense to me. Even if subtitles aren’t massively accurate. True to form, many of the films were useful just for picking up small phrases and later using them over in France.

But with my eyes not being so good, my collection of French cinema has remained untouched for the last few years. Until last weekend.

I was home alone, my wife away visiting family, so had some time on my hands. So, on Saturday I watched what is probably my favourite film ever, in any language, one called Le Bonheur est dans le Pré (which Google translates as Happiness is in the Field, and who can argue with Google?)

I’m not big on actors, but this film contains one of my favourites, Michel Serrault. You might have heard of him from La Cage aux Folles.

But I’m not going to go into detail about either the film, or the actor. I have them as ideas for future posts, so don’t want to spoil the surprise! Suffice it to say that I got through the film, my eyes and ears kept the pace, and I could follow what was going on.

On a roll, on Sunday, I watched Robert de Niro (and Jean Reno, another favourite) in Ronin. This film is mostly in English, with a scattering of French, so a bit easier. It helps that it is set in Paris and Arles, both of which have happy memories. Again, I passed with flying colours, although I could feel the late night yesterday!

Nothing more than Feelings

I read another survivor’s post the other day, and they were talking about how they struggled to cope with their emotion. Emotion is something very intangible, but affects many (> 50%) survivors of all kinds of brain injuries, not just stroke.

I was not exempt from this, although I am pleased to say that sufficient time has passed, that I’m probably about the same as pre-stroke.

But I can remember one incident clearly, I must have been only a few months downstream. There’s no point trying to explain James Herriot, since his work must’ve been translated into most every language already – he will be on Wikipedia, if you’re really stuck. In the UK, it was also a TV series, and one afternoon I was watching one of the re-run episodes. One of the storylines was animal cruelty. Now, I was perfectly able to rationalise that a lot of Herriot’s work had only a passing resemblance to reality – he embellished quite a bit. Even moreso, I was perfectly able to rationalise that here before me was a troupe of actors (dog included) who were acting out a scene. Lastly, I am aware that the series was set in the 1930s, so even with the very slim probability that this story portrayed a real event, all parties would have long since shuffled off this mortal coil in any case. I could rationalise all of that. And yet I was in tears! That’s how your emotions are affected – you know something is nonsense, but it gets you anyway.

But that was probably more than three years ago, and these days I can generally be relied upon to keep that stiff upper lip, for which we British are so renowned.

Ironically, though, I do still feel some effect. I don’t know if this is due to the stroke, or just to getting older. The stroke probably aged me a lot, in terms of my outlook on life, so the distinctions are somewhat blurred.

It’s not when bad things happen, but good. If I see people behaving as they ought (according to my system of beliefs), then I can go giddy with excitement. Of course, we all have different systems, and I’m not going to let this post stray into my own values, but for all of us there will be things that tick that “good” box. Or a poignant song, maybe, which sparks some memory, perhaps of my own youth.

I really felt for this chap. But time has helped me. I’d never presume to be normal in any case, but…to get back to before.