Seeing us through to the end of the year we’ve reached out to a number of our favourite artists and cultural creatives to join us in celebrating good things. A bunch of five things that make their world go around, inspire them or just need celebrating for what they are. There’s no theme here. It’s no kind of “best of year” round-up. These are just five things of the many things identified as making the world a better place to be. We’re all about positivity. Almost all of the time. We promise…
Amongst other things Wayne Dean-Richards has worked as an industrial cleaner and an actor. He says, like Bukowski: ‘These words I write keep me from total madness.’ And like Isak Dinesen he tries to write every day: ‘without hope, without expectation.’ Over a hundred of his stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the UK and the US. The Arts Council funded a collection of his stories, At the Edge, and the novel Breakpoints. A second collection of stories, Cuts, are available from Amazon as an eBook. As is a collection with his youngest son: A Box of Porn.
Libraries are one of my five, allowing me access as they did - and thankfully still do - to a world of books. Back in the day, and it may come again with the way things are going, I couldn’t afford books very often. But libraries were free. Are free! Two particular examples of why libraries are so important to me: West Bromwich Library was where, escaping my job as a cleaner one lunchtime, when I was just browsing, I came across Raymond Carver’s work for the first time: Elephant - a hardback edition with a dark green cover. I’ve since gone on to read everything by Carver, and more than once. Nor are my thanks to libraries only historical. Just this year my Dickensian sounding local library – Bleakhouse – elected to take a copy of Marco? - the debut novel by my youngest – Kalman Dean-Richards. Definitely libraries!
Taxi Driver is another one of my five. I saw it when it was first released. Loved the dialogue – ‘I’m God’s lonely man...’ and thought DeNiro was mesmerising; never better. It’s a movie I’ve seen a number of times since: revived in the cinema, on DVD, even on Netflix. It never disappoints. (Not for no reason is Travis mentioned in one of the stories in Cuts.)
The movie theme continues with my number three: the movie star Steve McQueen: the King of Cool himself. For me he’s several times served as a talisman of sorts. Watching again one of his iconic movie roles or reading of the ‘copper-bottomed, gold plated star in David Shipman’s wonderful The Great Movie Stars: The International Years helped me deal with feeling like I was ready to come apart; was way too lacking in cool to cope.
THE FAB FOUR
The Fab Four – sorry, couldn’t resist it – are fourth on my list. It’s been over forty years since the son of one of my mom’s friends from work in a school kitchen gave me a bunch of Beatles albums he was replacing because he deemed they were too scratched. Fortunately, they weren’t too scratched for me to play them. So play them I did. Again and again! And am playing them still; these days not the vinyl albums he gave me, though I still have them.
Memory is my fifth - to be able to remember things: precious family moments, happy and sad times, myriad funny things done and said. I feel as if I wouldn’t be me without my memories, is why.