|The Girl at the local pub.|
I took a week off my day job this summer to spend time with The Girl, and among other things I took her to a workshop at the Irish Film Institute. They showed the children, six to twelve, how to make their own movies, using flip-books and whirling pictures. She adored it, and when she emerged I told her I had another surprise for her: I was taking her to the cinema. She had only been to a real theatre a few times in her life, so this was a special occasion.
I had picked out a film I thought she would love: an Irish movie called A Shine of Rainbows, about a Irish boy who befriends a seal pup. It was the sweet children’s story I researched, but contained some tragic scenes when the boy’s mother died. As The Girl began sobbing in her seat, I realised that she’s never seen a sad movie before.
I have worked hard to allow her the innocence that many children these days are denied, but know she must be introduced to sadness at some point. Still, I comforted her, talked to her afterward, and gave her a week of fun, and she forgave me.
As we all settled down after supper, I said I wanted to watch a Cary Grant movie, and that she was welcome to watch it with me.
“Is it scary?” Not that I know of, I said.
“Does it have wolves in it that suck your blood?”
Um ... no, I said. Did you see anything on the telly about –
“Does it have any dead angels?”
Sweetie, I said, have you been watching movies at your friends’ houses? I asked, thinking I might have to speak to the neighbours.
I thought about writing something about the tenth anniversary of the day that I and my co-workers gathered around the television and watched the towers collapse like fast-forward candles. Certainly such remembrances fill the news here, so I can only imagine how gonzo the US media must be about this anniversary.
And yet .... I have studiously ignored such news, as I do my country’s two-and-a-half-year election season. I don’t want to see any of the movies made about September 11, with the real victims played by Hollywood actors. I don’t want to hear the politically powerful announce what the day means, or see choreographed rituals of grief. I don’t want to stick a “We Will Never Forget” link on a Facebook page and say I have honoured the dead. I respect that others find value in these public commemorations, but I am not obliged to.
You see, I actually saw these things happen. I don’t want a media campaign to slowly superimpose its own meaning over that genuine moment, until my own memories are replaced.