It was probably just as well that I had the Tyneside to myself for Frances Ha, as I spent most of the film muttering furiously at the bedraggled protagonist. She spent a preposterous amount of time prancing 'charmingly' along the New York streets to a David Bowie soundtrack. She lived in black and white. She wore leggings. Lots of leggings. And Converse sneakers. She dreamt of being a professional dancer. This seemed a highly unlikely ambition as she seemed very gangly and angular. The clumsy sort who can't go through a supermarket without upending an entire display of perfectly arranged Fray Bentos pies. Her dance moves lacked grace and fluidity. She resembled a dispraxic, three legged foal trying to fight its way out of a leotard. Frances couldn't hold down a job. Or a relationship. She lived in a series of shabby, curtainless hipster dens, filled with books, cheese plants and gawky lads in skinny jeans. Yes, she got my dander up. She unleashed my inner Aunty Margaret.
My next Tynside jaunt will be to see the new Kristen Scott Thomas film. It's French. It's a comedy of manners. Now THAT will be a class act. There is a brittle fragility to KST that I love. And trust me, if there are leggings and unbrushed hair, she will carry them off with a genteel insouciance and radiance. Kirsten will not smell of mildewed Converse, marijuana and three day old falafal. No. She will smell of cashmere cardigans, lavender fields and warm brioche. Looking for Hortense is much more my cup of tea. And what a great name for a lurcher! Hortense. I picture a very aloof and equine hound. A graceful saluki type. A canine Patricia Hodge.
There was one section of Frances Ha that resonated with me. Frances, disillusioned with her shambolic lifestyle and inability to hold down a relationship or a job, jetted off for an impulsive trip to Paris. Once there, she spent the entire time brooding on a park bench, alone and wretched. That is just the kind of thing I would do. Although, whilst there, I would also take the opportunity to eat my body weight in macarons and steak frites. Frances didn't even have a Petit Filous! This part of the film confirmed a deep-seated belief of mine: you can't hide from yourself; you can't outrun depression. It is tethered to you like a backpack filled with lead. If you're going to be depressed, best be depressed somewhere shabby and mediocre. Don't go somewhere astonishingly beautiful, like Paris or Provence or the Grand Canyon. It will just make you feel even more futile and insignificant. Trust me: if you are heartbroken, go to Hull. If you are sorrowful, go to Sunderland. Be melancholy in Middlesbrough. Don't go to Peterlee mind. Trust me. NO ONE IS THAT DEPRESSED.
Actually, this gives me an idea for a new business venture: Ennui Excursions: holidays for the dejected and misanthropic. How about a bus tour of Northern sink estates? A camping experience in the grounds of a obsolete nuclear power station? I think I am on to something here. I think has idea has legs.
Introducing the Panty Pimp
Speaking of new business ventures, Rochester has been in touch to tell me about his new enterprise. He sounded as brash and irrepressible as ever. Kremlin Enterprises (his home improvement company) has taken off massively, now bored and rich, the rogue is branching out into the sex trade. Rochester is a pimp (of sorts). His proposed new company is called Panty Parlour. I am not sure I even want to explain WHAT exactly Panty Parlour's product is. It is terribly grubby. Actually, that is the product: grubby knickers. I am hoping that the whole thing is a wind-up. However, the fact that he attached a draft website design for Panty Parlour makes me fear it is not. He even offered me employment, 'Although I think I am going to target Polish lasses as knicker providers.' Maybe he doesn't think there is much of a demand for size 14 primary school teacher control pants. Could be a profitable niche market.
It's all very dispiriting. Why couldn't Rochester have a more dignified mid-life crisis? Paul Newman (in between working bare-chested on a sun dappled ranch and making waffles for Joanne Woodward) set up a charitable foundation making salad dressing. Richard Madeley established the Menopausal Musers book club and designed a range of tan orthopedic loafers for Clarks. Nick Cave grew a moustache and relocated to the seaside to play crazy golf with the Bad Seeds and run a bucket and spade shop.
"This is a joke, Rochester? Isn't it? Please tell me this is a joke! If it isn't, doesn't this make you a predatory, amoral, middle-aged creep?"
He ignored that one too.