Monday, 26 June 2017

Hampstead

Our house is catastrophe. I had an anxiety attack in the kitchen today. Every surface - ironing board included - is covered in unwashed mugs and crockery. The floor is liberally coated in a mix of dirty laundry and "clean" stuff which has been pulled out of the tumble drier and dumped. I opened the fridge and instantly realised that it was chock full of mouldy vegetables. I entered a cucumber with my finger. Tins of sweet corn and pears with a fine film of white fluffy mould on the top sat on one shelf. A vegetable tray with a rancid layer of petrified liquid at the bottom greeted me at one point. A pot on the stove was full of dried up pasta. It was all so depressing. The combination of Nathan being ill, me being busy and then ultra lazy and a heatwave has been almost catastrophic for the house. Nathan is at least now feeling a little better. He even managed to go out for a bit last night so he's certainly reached a point where his body has started to fight back. Baby steps...

We went to see Hampstead at the wonderful Everyman Cinema in Muswell Hill last night. Going to the Everyman is such a lovely night out. You sit on sofas to watch the films and there are even little footrests to make the experience as decadent as possible.

Hampstead is a charming little film which has plainly been made with an American audience in mind. I could hear them, over the pond, screeching, "oh my God, how quaint!" The thing is, Hampstead Village IS quaint, preposterously so. So actually the film makers weren't that far off the truth. Obviously, a North London Heathite like me was always going to love seeing anything which was shot in my gaff, and there wasn't a single location featured that I didn't know intimately.

The story is based on the tale of Harry Hallowes, who lived in a shack on Hampstead Heath. I always thought he lived on the Highgate side of the open space rather than the Hampstead side, but I guess artistic license has to come into these things. Hallowes was able to prove that he'd lived on the plot for more than twelve years and was therefore given squatters rights which effectively made him a millionaire over night. That's about the sum total of where truth and fiction collide in this particular film. I'm not sure Hallowes had an affair with a local American widow and I'm certainly not sure he exchanged his land for a boat in a crazy "deus ex machina" plot device. I also remember locals being incredibly supportive of Hallowes when a development firm tried to evict him, so to suggest otherwise feels a little divisive.

Nevertheless, aside from the ludicrous ending, the film ticks along at a a gloriously slow English pace and is filled with wonderful acting performances headed by Brendan Gleason and Diane Keaton. If it's not a story that actually happened, it's a story that ought to have happened!


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