With other writers, I was asked to write a short essay to accompany the release by the BFI on 15 July of a new DVD of films by the pop band Saint Etienne, A London Trilogy, more of which here. My essay was about their 2005 film, What have you done today Mervyn Day? Here it is.
We shall not see the likes of Oscar Niemeyer again. Here’s an article I wrote for The Times in 2007 when I met him in Rio for the first and last time.
Oscar Niemeyer is 100 on Saturday, and boy, does he look every minute of it. He totters out, fragile, whiskery, cloaked in cigar smoke, from his tiny studio, helped at his elbow by his new young(er) wife, Vera, shuffling inch by inch. This titan of architecture, who once battled with Le Corbusier, who designed whole cities, defined the look of postwar Brazil like Joao Gilberto defined its sound, who prefigured postmodernism in architecture, who began his career before the Wall Street Crash and who, in his youth was the brooding image of Marlon Brando, is now shrunken, delicate and ancient as a Ming vase. It’s like meeting a legend, a name from the history books — Rodin, say, Picasso or Jesse James — and, yes, they’re loads, loads teenier than they look in the photos.
This is my first blog, and my first website. I am, I know, extremely, unfashionably late to the digital party. Shame on me.
I have no sound excuses, save laziness. I’ve always admired those who find the time and wherewithal at the end of a day’s work to carry on writing, though never quite enough to actually do anything about it.