25 Aug. 2005
Derek Jarmanís Garden
We have followed Derek Jarmanís career, at first, unknowingly, when he was Ken Russellís Designer on The Devils. Mrs Monk and I saw The Devils in Paris in 1971 ? In French ? Of course we did not understand the dubbed French, but we did nevertheless get rather excited by the disrobing nuns and other Ken Russell excesses. However the surreal and magnificent set for the movie, designed by Derek Jarman was something to behold. Nothing quite like it had been seen before.
Never mainstream, Jarmanís punk movies were nevertheless epic in scale of ambition, albeit shot with cinema-eight as a design choice, and not an economic choice, it seems. Accordingly, he made a string of serious, challenging, gay epics.
He faced his HIV virus directly and philosophically and courageously.
He moved to this place within the shadow and the gentle hum of the Dungeness Nuclear power station, and the Disneyesque thrill of nearby passing toy-trains stuffed with contented day trippers.
The house sits on a spit of shingle occupied by odd timber houses formerly and/or otherwise occupied by fishermen.
I have made extraordinary efforts to get to this place, and until today had not quite realised this ambition. The main obstacle against me sustaining this ambition has been the constant objection of Mrs Monk, who was not a fan of Jarmanís films and never enjoys conceding ground to my agenda.. She would always veto an excursion to this place as we frequently passed it on the way to, or from, the channel tunnel. I never failed to suggest and she never failed to veto the suggestion and these vetoes have gone on for some years. Today I was utterly determined to get here and Mrs Monk suffered the car journey and complained endlessly throughout.
However, within minutes of arriving there Mrs Monk was apparently enchanted and indeed moved by what we discovered. She was in fact so overcome with emotion, that severe blubbing ensued, .... shed loads. Furthermore she is now keen to return. This is to be expected. This has happened before.