The house is never silent.
Even now, at dawn, it is still shrouded in darkness, except for the sound of muffled footsteps on the paving stones outside, of drunken revellers weaving their way home from midnight celebrations.
That was me once.
I remember one occasion when I met someone who worked with me on a film. They stepped inside and stayed for two years. It was then for the first time in my life the eternal I became we. And the parties we would host. The rooms would be in semi-darkness and through the grey haze of cigarette smoke, the vague shapes of people could be made out, some lounging against walls, others draped over odd bits of furniture. The somewhat subdued hum of voices, interspersed with the clinking of glasses and occasional bursts of laughter could be heard in the background. Suddenly, a blast of music shattered the calm and filled the room with its vibrant, swinging sound. The reaction was instantaneous, everybody rose as one and started dancing to their favourite top tunes.
But then it all ended in true dramatic style after a fellow actor came for tea and said, 'Now, now. What’s going on? Something’s happened, hasn’t it? You haven’t spoken a word to each other since I arrived.'
And that was in a different house.
From the garden, the constant drip of water, as regular as a ticking clock on a mantelpiece, falling into the paved courtyard outside the kitchen window. And then it starts, a favourite sound, like that of a crackling wood fire or snowdrift in a forest, the patter of heavy rain. A new year has begun. Slowly returning to the land of the living after a rough patch.
Early morning. I come downstairs and grind beans for coffee. It’s one of life’s little rituals. I use the same coffee mug every time and cherish those first few, peaceful moments of the day. Just me and the coffee. Being at home has allowed me time to go through old photographs, write new words, edit, delete. A cleansing. I glance through what I wrote last night.
'I can still hear my father calling me. And I see him as I remember him. Tall, sculpted face weathered by sun, cold and rain, eyes gentle, forgiving. He was standing outside calling my name, but I did not hear him. His voice echoing over fields, growing louder and louder. And so I would hide. Sometimes devilment, other times because of shame, but either way with certain fact that sooner or later, he would find me.'
I came across one snapshot I took just before Christmas. A magical morning when I woke to find snow had fallen, unexpectedly, overnight. January starts gently in this kitchen, just as it always has, with bacon sizzling and eggs being poached. A humming sound while I cook, glancing out into the little courtyard with its rickety table, ferns and tangle of climbing jasmine. The kitchen table is unusually tidy.
A collection of film magazines and old studio photographs.
A copy of my latest book.
A pot of mistletoe.
A single candle burning in a glass jar that once held goose fat.
A tiny cup of coffee.
Copyright Mark Binmore 2019.
All Rights Reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and publisher of this book
Before being rewarded with the calm he craves, he is forced to endure the relative evils of life.
After decades spent in what many called 'the spotlight' James withdrew from acting and turned towards a quieter, more contemplative, more settled way of life. He both dreaded and yearned for a change from the preceding numerous years of 'continual motion'. Seeking a place of his own, he found it in a secluded house in London surrounded by trees, a garden and numerous rooms where he would sit, with his thoughts and wait.
During this period James would write eloquently of the struggles he faced – the changing face of the house and the garden; the awful fear that he had made a frightful error; the recollections he tried to erase, but couldn’t, and a return to what he knew best. We capture him in creating a real home, a sanctuary of simplicity and quiet ease where, perhaps for a time, he could bring his memories back to life.
Sunsets Etc, is the first book by Mark to be published by Fontana in an exciting new five book deal. Expected publishing date late 2019.