I was speaking to a friend once about the various wise ways in which I was trying to work with my desires, aspirations, and resistances... He gave me a skewy eyebrow look and said frankly: why don't you just fuck it and do it?
Yes, well. Yes.
I've no idea what else I said.
It has been one of the easiest bits of advice to remember.
It is one of the simplest.
No easier than all the rest. Until you come to it.
Yeah, so, shall I just do it then?
And so I begin.
It is 4pm. I don't like the early nights of winter, but at times like these, as I sit still on my bed, the lights off, looking out at the lit windows of the neighbouring houses and the graphite coloured sky, I feel like I am snug under the soft belly of my black cat, who is curled in the crook of my crossed legs.
The quiet in the early dimness, the creaking and cracking and tapping of the central heating pipes, the gentle fuzz of the boiler, and a cosy, wrapped-up, hibernating, soft sleepiness enfolds me like a winter's coat, thick and protecting. And it is good to be home.
And yet it is mid-November, and I have only seen my breath on the night air once this autumn, and that was in Liverpool at the start of October.
I had found out on the Wednesday that the Giants were going to be in Liverpool that weekend. "There won't be anywhere left to stay" I was told. "Oh, yes, there's got to be!" I replied, and thought positively.
A google, a booking, a little bit of persuasion and 32 hours later, I bundled a bag, a friend and lunch in a tupperware box, into the car and started up the M5.
As we drove, I spotted a small plane and said: "Look, a glider!"
My friend replied: "That's not a glider. That's a single engine plane."
"Oh. Well, that's what I call really flying!"
"Yes...I used to want to learn to fly. I did a course in microgliding once."
"Gosh", I threw him a sideways glance, my hands on the wheel, "scary!..."
"Well", he gave a slight pause, "not for me".
I am stunned. He doesn't get scared by heights? Not at all? But then again, a thought like a mouse darting in and out of a hole distracts me. Is that actually what he means?
"You don't get scared jumping off the side of a hill into mid-air - at all?"
"Well", another pause, "I didn't actually do a full flight".
"You never did a full flight?"
"No... well, I did this course, but I didn't get to finish it, because I had to go start a new job..."
"I did a preparatory flight!"
"And how high was that?"
"Oh, about 20 feet?"
"So... about as high as that motorway bridge?" and I'm already laughing as he buoyantly says:
"Yes, about that." And he starts to laugh. And I laugh, and then I laugh and laugh more, and laugh so hard and bang my open hand down on the steering wheel in some primal attempt to both control and emphasise the rhythm, and then have to hold my tummy and breathe out because it hurts so much.
We arrived in Liverpool early afternoon. I had heard about the Giants last year and had watched videos of their performances in Canada with big, child eyes and a mouth that wouldn't close for saying 'wow' so many times.
The Giants are puppets, huge puppets made by a company called Royal de Luxe from Nantes, in France. The puppets move across their stage, the streets of a city.
When I was about 6, my family and I went to stay with friends of my parents and their children in Devon. They had a house with a double-height sitting-room with an upstairs balustrade running along a corridor. All of us children banded together and made a giant puppet that we hung over the balustrade and manipulated from above in a play we devised. I don't think there was much to the play, but I was alight inside with the fun and excitement, and my imagination rose and travelled with the giant and the idea of his story.
When I read about the Giants from Nantes, I really, really wanted to see them. As we ran around the streets of Liverpool looking for them, I caught this video as one of them emerged and rounded a corner. It's just smiles and exclamation marks for me! Take a look.
At one point the Giant got a little entangled with a tree, which caused for a pause. I love his hair, the movement of his head and eyes. And his chest moves up and down!
Artistic Director Jean-Luc Courcoult and his multi-disciplinary team of technicians, artists and innovators have travelled the world, sharing a wondrous dream, leaving a trail of magic and mystery, and the excitement that the extraordinary is possible. I came away from the weekend thinking people can be amazing, and how wonderful it was that someone had such a vision and put their energy into making it come true, and enchanting millions of us around the world. How wonderful it would be if more of the people who seek power used their energy instead in childlike imagination and inspiring creativity.
So now I'm planning a trip to Nantes to see all the other giants in their home town. There's a massive elephant, a little girl, a grandma, er a spider,...
Videos: J S Forrest, Photos: J S Forrest and Ian Usher
2/2/2019 06:00:09 am
Blog looks great Sam, hoping to read lots more. Over ten years ago now I think, that team of puppeteers were in London with a giant elephant. The crowds were enormous and I was only able to get a glimpse from a distance. You must report back from Nantes.
10/19/2022 01:34:10 pm
Happy whatever future tend buy public plant.
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J S Forrest
Philosophy, insight, writing, art, beauty, the natural world, our connection to it, laughter.