Unknown Pleasures #8: Jeana Gorman

When I first met my wife it would be fair to say that our cultural influences were not exactly close.

The day we saw “Strictly Ballroom” at The Odeon (sighs at the loss of that great auditorium) she asked me what I thought of it. I was ambivalent.

“What, does it not have fucking subtitles?” she cried in dismay.

And her love of poor quality movies has yet to desert her. Indeed her 5.6 sweetspot on IMDB still fills me with gloom.

But our cultural planets have gradually aligned and we enjoy nothing more than visits to The Traverse, The Lyceum, The Cameo and The Filmhouse, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Modern Art Gallery.

We’ve done the Venice Biennale together. Going specifically for that reason, and especially to see the almost life changing Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable that overshadowed the biennale itself.

And then there is Italy full stop. Our favourite place.

During Edinburgh Festival month I still steal a march, but for my 30-40 shows she puts up a spirited 20 -30 and we take in theatre, dance drama, music and even some food. Not much, but some.

Imagine my surprise, as a lifelong Stranglers fan, when she announced, maybe ten years ago, that Golden Brown was her favourite song, the one she wants played at her funeral.

Jeana is my cultural partner of choice and we spend many, many hours in establishments of cultural wonder.

She’s also, much more than me, a creator: – her Alzheimers blanket, that she knitted for my Mum, had to be seen to be believed.

So here she is, cultural nirvana, Jeana Gorman style.

My favourite author or book

I’m not the biggest reader and tend to read when I’m on holiday.   My initial thought was Margaret Attwood.    However, I don’t think you can beat John Irvine.   I read A Prayer for Owen Meanie, an absolutely wonderful book.    First book I’ve ever read where I was dreading the ending as I didn’t want the book to end.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

The book I’m reading

I have a stack of books to read at the moment.   However, I spend more time looking at knitting websites getting pattern ideas and tips for baby items.   

The book I wish I had written

I’ve never really wanted to write a book, at one point I did think there was a gap for a useful gardening book explaining the basics to novices and children.   That has been filled now as there are so many websites and apps, and no one seems to want to pick a book up. 

The book I couldn’t finish

Somehow, I managed to trudge my way through Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.   It was instantly forgettable and have since made the decision to stop reading a book if I’m not enjoying it.

The book I’m ashamed I haven’t read

My knowledge of history is non-existent.   I’ve often thought I should read more about it.  I’ve bought a few books but I still haven’t taken the time to pick them up.  

My favourite film

That’s a hard one.   I love films and I love going to the pictures.   Seeing a film on the big screen and immersing yourself in it.   No distractions.    I’m not big on seeing films repeatedly, once I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it.  A film I have seen on numerous occasions however is The Shining.  It took about 5 goes to see it straight through and have seen it many times since.   It never gets old.

The Shining is the most horrifying quarantine movie

My favourite play

There are so many to choose from, I really enjoyed the National Theatre of Scotland’s The Strange Undoing of Prudencia Hart by David Greig, The Incident Room by New Diorama Theatre at The 2019 Fringe and Richard Gadd’s Monkey See, Monkey Do where I was actually the first person to get up on my feet to give him a standing ovation.     

For sheer enjoyment though I’m going to choose Sweeney Todd for this, I’ve seen so many different productions of this musical and it never disappoints.   I particularly enjoyed Imelda Staunton and Michael Ball’s production at The Adelphi Theatre in London.  

My favourite podcast

It’s not just a Podcast but I do like Desert Island Discs.   

The box set I’m hooked on

Mark and I are currently loving Gormorrah.   It’s a brilliant series about the Italian drug gangs in Naples.   Very brutal but somehow you come to love the characters.    I normally binge watch box sets but this one is being eked out. (You wrote eeked out before I sub edited it.  Eeked, though seemed appropriate. Ed.).

My favourite TV series

Grey’s Anatomy.   What’s not to love?  It started when I borrowed the box set from my sister-in-law and watched every episode with my daughter, Amy, over a 3 week period.   I see the new series is about to be screened – can’t wait.

My favourite piece of music

Golden Brown by The Stranglers.  I just love everything about it.   It’s a beautiful piece of music.  I recently heard an instrumental version by Zephyr Quartet and I loved that too. 

My favourite dance performance

In 1989, at the Edinburgh International Festival, Mark and I went to the Kings Theatre to see Johann Kresnik’s and Gottfried Helnwein’s ‘Macbeth,’  performed by the Bremer Theater from Bremen.  We were in the Gods, I was terrified of heights.    When we first sat down I thought I can’t be here, the performance started and I was transfixed.  Nothing has beaten that. 

The Last film/music/book that made me cry

Gus Harrower recorded a version of Secret Love by Doris Day, my mother-in-law’s favourite song, for her funeral.   The first time I heard it the tears flowed.   Marley and Me it gets me every time – it was on TV the other week.

The lyric I wish I’d written

Our Children from Ragtime a beautiful song about children. 

How they play,
Finding treasure in the sand.
They’re forever hand in hand,
Our children.How they laugh,
She has never laughed like this.Every waking moment, bliss.Our children.See them running down the beach.
Children run so fast…Toward the future…From the past.How they dance,
Unembarrassed and alone.Hearing music of their own, Our children.One so fair,And the other, lithe and dark.Solemn joy and sudden spark,
Our children.
See them running down the beach.
Children run so fast
Toward the future
From the past.
There they stand,
Making footprints in the sand,
And forever, hand in hand,
Our children.
Two small lives,
Silhouetted by the blue,
One like me
And one like you.
Our children.

Our children.

The song that saved me

The Blue Nile, A Walk Across the Rooftops, in 1991, and Sinead O’Connor’s Earth Mother in 1994 certainly kept me company when I would be up through the night feeding Amy, Tom and Ria.

The instrument I play

Knitting needles.  I learnt to knit when I was 10.   Stopped when I had children as I just didn’t have the time.  Started again when I was 50 when my great nephew was due.  I always have something on the go.   It’s a good way to watch TV and achieve something at the same time. 

The instrument I wish I’d learned

Definitely singing.  I am in no way musical, if anyone would like a big challenge and would like to teach me, please contact me.

If I could own one painting it would be

I would have a statue.  Either Michelangelo’s David or the Little Dancer – Aged 14 by Degas.   I would have to work out how to preserve them, but they’d make for very interesting pieces in the back garden.   

Degas exhibited only one sculpture in his lifetime; now 70 have gone on  view - Los Angeles Times

The music that cheers me up

Scott Walker always cheers me up, he’s so over the top.   Marc Almond, in particular, Tainted Love and OMD’s Enola Gay.   

The place I feel happiest

In my garden.   There’s no better way to get some fresh air and exercise.   Sitting having a coffee and watching the plants change and grow throughout the seasons is such a pleasure.   

My guiltiest cultural pleasure

I love watching a completely rubbish TV series.  My daughters and I have discovered a rating of 5.6 on IMDB is perfect.   Sometimes you just need to let a programme wash over you.  You know it’s rubbish but you can’t stop watching.   Some I’ve particularly enjoyed are Riverdale, Once Upon a Time, Married At First Sight AustraliaNew Amsterdam and How to Get Away With Murder

Married At First Sight Australia: What Happened To The Couples From Season  Six? | Grazia

I’m having a fantasy dinner party, I’ll invite these artists and authors

Audrey Hepburn , Jordan Samuels (Skincare), Daniel Levy, Bob Mortimer and Tim Minchim.

And I’ll put on this music

I would ask my guests for some contributions in advance and make a playlist up for the evening.  

If you enjoyed that there are a bunch more to read. Try these:

Lisl MacDonald

Murray Calder

David Reid

David Greig

Gus Harrower

Stephen Dunn

Mark Gorman

17 thoughts on “Unknown Pleasures #8: Jeana Gorman

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