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Monday, 3 August 2015

'If....' (Dir: Lindsay Anderson/ 1968) The Rustington Edit....


"Sometimes I stand in front of the mirror and my eyes get bigger and bigger. And I'm like a tiger. I like tigers . . ."

Yesterday, I visited four lesser known seaside towns along the south coast, including the quirky Rustington; once a family home to film director Lindsay Anderson, as well as a favourite holiday destination of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie. One of Anderson's most famous films: 'If . . . .', is (much like Peter Pan) a film about escape and youthful rebellion.
And at dusk here, in Rustington, tonight - vibrant yellow estate lights pockmark the gloom of a moon-governed beach. The kind of shoreline where local fauna grows wild on out-of-control piles of pebbles and where salty shingle keeps kissing under the cover of the surface of the sea; hiding below crashing, angry, foaming-at-the-mouth waves out on a night-time rampage, just a few voyeuristic inches above.


As the storms subside, I'm sure that; under shallow, swirling swash; nestling among rocks covered by the creeping tide, quiet crabs will be huddling together in the hypnotic, urgent calm of a swimmerless sea as it rocks back and forth with spattered gasps - they wait, like scared strangers may wait, for some late night nemesis to arrive.

A bit like having a crafty fag behind the bike sheds.
Or a quick snog in an empty classroom.
Or something more dangerous . . .

I love Rustington!
I love the chips too; from a nearby fish and chip shop, that only lets you in through a 'second glance needed' carefully hidden button that all visitors have to press, whether inside or out, to open the electronic doors; if you do get inside the crowded, single file queue then you huddle, almost intimately, with strangers at the salt-sprayed bar. Many are too wary to try. If you don't know how to find the button that opens the doors and tug and pull at the stuck fast handles that don't budge - you are instantly branded 'not local'. Like a joke on you. And if eventually you do get through, then you probably don't get the freshest fish or the cleanest cut chips as punishment for your stupidity; just pretty good 'seconds'.


Some people like to show off and be kings and queens for the day; in tourist resorts where nobody knows your name, or cares, until you've paid. But I'd rather be here, than sunning myself on a beach in Marbella; I'd rather grab this moment forever as it won't wear or age, or flip-flop across the sand until it one day sinks.
Here, the pebbles are firm in the memory and less throwaway than finer sand. At dusk; as empty chip wrappers and cans of shandy wait back in the car and I evade and fail, with my companions, until midnight, the rushing back and forth of chasing, childish waves that play games with us all and that may never end (not until, perhaps, the world itself ends - or some rich one kills the fun by building a private place and snagging the shoreline that goes along with it).
The waves try, mainly fail, and occasionally win, at soaking our shoes. And life, for a night, feels good; here. Maybe only here. Maybe I'll stay, forever - here. And be a pebble on a lonely beach, until the end of days; or until I am ground down to nothing; like all the rocks scattered around us, are ground down, and to nothing, one day too.

And if a ghostly white bus arrives, to take me away; I'll remember the spirit of one Lindsay Anderson, and say: "Shush! Get lost!", and stay.

Story/ Rustington review and appreciation of 'If . . . .' by Mark Gordon Palmer
Tiger Eyes quote from Lindsay Anderson's 'If . . . .' by David Sherwin (screenplay/ original script) & John Howlett (original script)

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