I am Daniel Blake.
I haven’t even seen Ken Loach’s film yet but its impact on my life is already enormous, not least because of the man, Ken Loach.
Loach is the father I never had, the one who wraps you in his love and creates a protective bubble around a fragile life. He looks like a man who would hug well, be safe, and yet he’s full of fire, but it is that fire that makes a hug a transforming experience. It is a fire I am drawn to and want to be close to without fear of being consumed.
I have never been more lost as I am at this time. Right now I have nothing to say about politics that hasn’t already been said, ad nauseam, many of them my own words.
Right now I am in a cocoon of silence, cut off from the vindictive war being waged against us.
Now is not my time for that. I know it’s there, and I know it is getting worse but I’ve got something much more intimate and personal going on, even if I don’t know what it is. I know it only in that it has all my attention, all else is locked out. The silence is so loud I can hear nothing else very well at all. My attention has necessarily turned inwards, for reasons which right now are not clear. I just know it is where it needs to be for now.
I am conscious of my self, self focused, aware not just of my state of mind but my body too. I am very aware of the cancer in my body and of scrupulously tending to it, with cannabis oil and CBD oil. Regardless of whether such treatments will heal me or not, they are self helping, self administered in a world of health and pharmaceuticals in which I have little say or even much understanding. It matters that my life is in my own hands, never more importantly than right now.
That tells me that something nurturing is going on, right now, of which I am in need. Why, at 65, am I looking at Ken Loach as a father figure.
Daniel Blake seems to portray a character who is both a father figure but also vulnerable. He is both courageous and hurt, bowed at times but not broken. At least that is the impression I have at this moment in time and I want to see the film, very much.
What am I looking for? I am not sure.
Yes, I am looking for love, nurture, encouragement and succour, but all of that has a purpose, a direction of travel. They are the holding place in which to grow; the fertile soil in which to expend and enlarge, although I have no idea what that growth and enlargement will be or what it will entail.
A child in school requires little more than affirmation and encouragement to grow and unleash all the creative power of a young life with little idea of where it’s all going. Children play for the sake of it, for the exuberance of it, for life. They aren’t making goals or future plans with ambitious pretensions. They dive into a pile of leaves and blast them into movement and colour and joyousness. That is so good, so wholesome, so breathlessly real.
That helps me to see. It is the child in me bursting to get out, but doesn’t know how. I am not sure I have ever fully empowered that child me. I’ve never said, ‘Whatever you want to do and to be is ok. I’ll be here for you, whatever happens.’ I am not sure I’ve ever felt big enough or able enough to do that before now, but it feels ok now. I feel I can handle it, It doesn’t even feel scary, just unknown and unpredictable. I don’t want to exert any power of influence over this, I want to let it be and let it go wherever it goes, because something has to give around here, and that something is me. It has to be me as there’s no one else here. That may seem obvious, but it isn’t from the inside.
I know that in order for a bud to become a flower or leaf, the bud has to burst, and it requires no interference, just the natural nurture of life. Am I so different? I don’t think so.
It doesn’t require thought or reason or effort, it just has to be and I’ve lived long enough to know it works, very well.
I cried this morning when I saw so many posts about ‘I, Daniel Blake’. There is something intense and sincere about it. It doesn’t need some Hollywood block buster voice over, making a lot of silly noise to flog yet another film to be consumed. It is better than that, as are we, as am I.
In an interview, Malcolm Lewis asked Ken Loach, “So far you’ve made more than 50 films. If you had to recommend three of those for people to see, which would they be? Which are you most pleased with.”
Ken Loach replied, “I don’t know what to say. Not at all. You know, they’re all your children.”
Ken Loach is more than a father of films, he is immensely generous to his audience, entrusting his children to us and hoping thereby to enrich us.
That is really something.
KOG 21 October 2016