Treme: s03 e08 – Don’t You Leave Me Here

A couple of weeks ago, I spoke of Treme coming into focus as it entered the back half of the season and yet, without meaning this in any disparaging way, it once again seems to be a thing of process, without any seeming signs of resolution to any of its issues.

On the other hand, there’s even more winding together of characters who, so far, have been grooving in their grooves more or less independently, and whose stories are starting to mingle.

The two major threads this week involved Janette DeSautel and LaDonna Batiste-William, even though this pairing never happened or came close to happening. Janette’s restaurant opened, despite all misgivings: the open suggested that they weren’t ready, especially not the waiters, but preview night and opening night both went down tremendously well, without the slightest hitch.

There wasn’t too much more to that side of things, though this strand was given a goodly share of the time, enough that you still feel something is going to go wrong and it’s all going to end badly.

That’s rather closer to the surface with LaDonna. The trial date for her assailant is nearing, and she’s starting to get harrassed, threatened into dropping the charges. Last week’s kid in the bar, who gave LaDonna the stare then lit a match was in court for the preliminary hearing, and now she’s getting phone calls at home, on their private number, and a closing shot of someone – we know who – outside the house. Lighting a match.

Let’s spin the wheel, count the connections. Albert’s dropped into LaDonna’s bar even though Indian practice season is over: there’s definitely a spark there. He’s started his chemo and it’s not going well, Delmond and his sister are having to cope with him. Delmond’s got the dissatisfied Antoine asking him questions about modern jazz, sitting in on a session. Delmond’s also meeting Nelson Hidalgo as part of the planning for the new National Jazz Centre, a Nelson back from Washington with new contacts, new info, and parlaying this to a seat at the table again.

Davis went to Janette’s preview night alone because Annie was working. She’s working a lot and he’s feeling neglected. He’s also being his usual immature, self-entitled self, enough so that Aunt Mimi gets seriously pissed off at him over the CD that isn’t to the great and glorious extent of his vision. Annie’s getting deeper into her career, and facing the moral barrier of whether or not to take the writer’s co-credit on Harley’s song that she supplied the original idea for, that he says she’s entitled to but she doesn’t feel right about.

Outside these loops, Toni and L.P. are working their ways towards their cases. L.P.’s getting fobbed off with tales of Glover being a bad guy, the death drug related not NOPD, Toni’s got the Police files and is thinking that Terry Colson is bent, in on the cover-up, when we know he’s working with the FBI and getting a lot of unfriendly looks in Homicide, especially when a case blows up in Court through no fault of his own. And Sofia’s pulled in for being at a teenage party where others are doing grass and drinking beer. She doesn’t violate her parole but Toni wants her to go to her Gran’s in Florida for a couple of months, cease being a lever to be used by the Police: Sofia hates it, and who can blame her?

All things in motion with no sign of a resting place, even with only two episodes left this season.

But one happy scene. Sonny’s pawned practically all of his music gear, packing away his dreams. His sponsor joshes about how he might as well marry Linh, he’s already whupped. But in a moment of great and simple delight, that’s exactly why he’s doing it. He’s bought her a ring. She’s happy. Now he just has to convince her father…


Deep Space Nine: s07 e18 – Till Death Us Do Part

Yeuch. I mean, just, yeuch

As I’m no longer doing any post-episode research until the series is over, I’m keeping myself clear of any confirmation of what I suspect the title of this episode means. It could merely be a reference to the marriage of Benjamin Lafayette Sisko and Kasidy Danielle Yeats celebrated herein, or it could be a lightly veiled hint as to the short-term future of the marriage, given that it takes place in direct defiance of the Prophet’s warnings (repeated at the very instant Sisko slips the ring on Kasidy’s finger).

Nevertheless, Sisko has flown in the face of a previously 100% reliable source of handy hints and tips about the future and his destiny, which has left Colonel Kira looking stony-faced in disapproval, and we will have to wait and see if this implies anything for Kasidy (spoiler: not in that sense).

To be honest, I found this episode faintly disappointing, and in one place more than faintly creepy. The wedding was the only part of the episode that was in any way an advancement, for at this early stage of the long endgame, the board is still being set up and the pieces shuffled.

Take Ezri and Worf, who spend most of their time all episode locked up in the Breen brig, give or take the odd electrocution and interrogation. On the one hand, we have Worf assuming he’s got his Dax back for many more years of happy wedded Klingon bliss, but on the other we have Ezri professing her love for Julian Bashir whilst in post-torture mode, a development that affronts Worf and puzzles her.

And at the end we discover that they are being held as gifts, from the Breen to the Dominion, to celebrate the new Alliance against the Federation that’s going to tip the balance of the War.

The other realm in which the endgame is advanced lies with the Bajoran Dukat. The slimy git has himself introduced to none other than Kai Wynn, the other big baddy, with the two forming the inevitable alliance. She’s on DS9 to take over organising the Emissary’s wedding with her customary whole-hearted honesty, and getting her first ever vision of the Prophets (I’m willing to bet it’s actually the Pah-Wraiths).

The Kai’s self-importance is fed by the suggestion that she will be responsible for the Restoration of Bajor, guided by a man of the land. Enter a ‘farmer’ with all sorts of experiences that ever so neatly dovetail with the Kai’s expectations. And the creepy bit is when they kissed, which I so did not want to see. Here’s hoping there’s no more of that.

The clock ticks on and down. Things are still taking shape. Another week nearer.

Film 2018: Swimming Pool

The penultimate of my small collection of foreign films, Swimming Pool, a 2003 psychological erotic thriller written and directed by Francois Ozon (who was also responsible for the first Film 2018 film, 8 Women) is another from that time of enthusiasm about French cinema that I have only watched once before.

The film stars Charlotte Rampling (who was in Summer Things) and Ludivine Sagnier (who was one of the 8 Women). Rampling plays an English writer of crime fiction who’s feeling stale, the film takes place mostly in France, but both main characters are bilingual, and more of the film is spoken in English than French. Incidentally, I found it interesting that though Rampling has lived in France since 1978, and appeared in several French films prior to that, she speaks her fluent French with a clear English accent.

Rampling is Sarah Morton, successful author of the popular Inspector Dorwell series of crime fiction. However, she’s suffering from frustration at her work, which her publisher, John Boaswell (Charles Dance), tries to talk her out of. Sarah is pretty unpleasant and nasty about everyone around her, especially anyone who likes the Dorwell books, so John offers her his house in France, to enjoy some peace and quiet (and possibly to stop her getting anyone else’s back up). Sarah clearly fancies John, as she hints about him coming to visit her there, whilst he equally clearly has no intention of doing so but isn’t going to say that.

The next phase is of Sarah travelling to France, being shown the house by Marcel, John’s gardener, settling in, visiting the village, starting writing a new Dorwell book. It’s all low-key, undramatic to say the least, and is stretching the patience when her peace is disturbed by the arrival of Julie (Sagnier), who explains she is John’s daughter by his former French mistress.

It’s a contrast to say the least. Julie will at one point describe Sarah as an uptight old bitch with a broomstick up her ass, and there’s not a word of that with which anyone could argue. Julie is close to being the archetypal ‘wild child’, all brief shorts, bare midriffs, nude swimming and skimpy bikinis, which Sagnier carries off with a golden-skinned brio and a complete naturalness.

She’s also intolerably messy, noisy, over-friendly and has a habit of picking up some real loutish blokes and screwing them noisily.

Sarah hates her, but then Sarah would hate anyone who disturbs her carefully controlled, self-centred existence as a writer, demanding peace and quiet so she can concentrate (there are writers who require that but I couldn’t help but compare my ability to write on trains and buses, surrounded by people: trains are fine but the big bugger about buses is the way they shake about so you have to compress the actual writing down of words into bus stops and red lights if you ever want to be able to read it back). But Sarah also develops a voyeuristic fascination with Julie that we’re supposed to see as envy for her lack of inhibition, but which i see as the beginning of the next phase.

One day, whilst Julie is out, Sarah goes through her things and finds a diary that she steals and uses as the basis of a new novel, about Julie in one form or other. it goes great guns, and Sarah becomes more overt about creating a friendship with the young girl. Julie, at first suspicious that she is being used as a means for Sarah to get John into bed, nevertheless spills the beans, especially about her mother, who she speaks of as being alive when we will learn she died in a car accident.

Apparently, after he left her, Julie’s mother wrote a novel that she sent to John to publish, only for him to tell her it was terrible and unpublishable, so she burnt it. Julie liked the book, which has helped contribute to her air of disrespect for her father, and her contempt for his enthusiasm for blood, sex and money (hinted at being personal, not merely commercial), and by extension Sarah, for churning it out, for playing at dirt when she has no experience of it.

Curious at Sarah’s curiosity, Julie snoops in her rooms and finds the manuscript about her. This triggers the drama, as the film takes its long-postponed but inevitable turn into murder.

Julie brings home Franck, the day waiter at the village taverna, who’s been serving and talking to Sarah daily. It’s plain as can be that if it weren’t for her essentially English reserve, they’d be making the beast with two backs with great enthusiasm, and it’s a blow to Sarah to see him with Julie and fear the traditional night’s conclusion. But it’s a blow to Julie that, having paraded Franck in front of Sarah half the evening, he’d rather screw Granny than her.

She manages to get him to stay long enough to strip off and go nude swimming in the titular pool with her, and forces him down long enough for her to start a blow job, but when Sarah hurls a rock from her balcony into the pool, it disturbs Franck, who wants to get away. Sarah puts in her earplugs and remains unaware of what happens next.

There’s no sign of Franck the next day, no sign anywhere. Sarah goes rushing around on an absurd moped, trying to find him, only for Julie to confess she’s probably killed him. Drunk and angry at his rejection, she brained him with a rock, four or five times.

In a way, this delights Sarah, who swings into action to use her professional skills, knowledge and experience (as a fiction writer), to conceal the killing and Julie’s involvement. The two women bury the body in the grounds, which leads to the film’s most awkward moment, when Marcel gets curious about the dug-up dirt and Sarah has to distract him by offering her lily-white body to him. I’m not talking about Rampling doing a full-frontal nude scene when I say embarrassing: the lady may have been 57 when the film was shot but she’s still got a decent body. I mean Rampling’s portrayal of the scene, her expressions and her movements demonstrating at every moment a distaste for her actions, bordering on revulsion, that goes beyond the specific circumstance of sex unwilling into a more fundamental discomfort with the very idea of sex at all.

It’s notable though that this phase is where Sarah finally comes really alive and involved. I saw it as the chance to establish control, both of the world as it pertained to her, but also of the unruly Julie, who now has to do as she’s told, and if they ever meet again, will do she’s told then. Julie does make a tentative attempt at getting Sarah to burn her manuscript about Julie, but there’s no chance of that happening, oh no gollum.

Indeed, Julie then goes on to produce out of thin air a copy of her mother’s novel, that she happens to be carrying around with her. Julie’s off to San Tropez, to waitress a bit, but she’s bequeathing Mummy’s book to help Sarah finish her own.

And so she does. Back in London, John’s disapproving of the novel. It’s not Dorwell, it’s not got blood or sex, or at least not enough blatant sex. It’s too abstract, too subtle, it’s not Sarah Morton. She twits him about whether he thinks she should burn it. No, but not publish it now, after another Dorwell (and another. And another. And…)

But in the film’s most unrealistic twist, Sarah has anticipated John’s reaction. She’s sold the book already to another publisher, and she happens to have a handsome paperback copy of it on her (so basically a canny publisher has had a successful author poached by another publisher for a book written edited and printed, and he knows nothing about it, hasn’t even heard a rumour? Yeah, right.) She’s even autographed this copy, for John’s daughter, Julie.

Sarah leaves. As she does, a reasonably attractive but not beautiful English girl, blonde-haired, a bit more solidly built, comes in past her, to be greeted as Julie (English J), John’s daughter. She’s not Ludivine Sagnier. The film leaves Sarah staring through the diamond cut window in the door framed with an indecipherable expression n her face, before cutting back to France. A bikini-clad girl swims in the swimming pool, before hauling herself out. Sarah waves from her balcony, enthusiastically. The English Julie, with braces on her teeth, waves back. Sarah waves again, even more enthusiastically. The French Julie waves back. Sarah waves. One of the girls is seen from behind, but we’re not sure which.

So, what exactly was real? Sarah’s book with her new publisher is entitled ‘Swimming Pool’, and we may guess that it’s the story we’ve just watched as a film. Did French Julie ever exist? Who was she really? Did Sarah spend her whole time in France alone?

The ending’s deliberate ambiguity was controversial, and aroused much debate about how we were to take the film in the light of its last minute revelation. No-one seems to have considered the possibility that it all might have been real, that French Julie could have been the daughter of John’s French mistress, and English Julie the daughter of his English wife, though I suppose that ought to be discounted. Ozon’s comment on the ending was “Charlotte’s character kept mixing fantasy and reality. Although in Swimming Pool, everything related to fantasy is part of the act of creation, so it is more channeled and less likely to end up causing madness. In terms of directing, I’ve treated everything that is imaginary in Swimming Pool in a realistic way so that you see it all – fantasy and reality alike – on the same plane.”

So we have his word that there is fantasy in the film, but that it is treated as rationally as the rest of it, from which the most logical interpretation must be that French Julie and everything to do with her is fiction on every level. In a way, I find that disappointing, diminishing, to reduce the film to only one possibility, without the option of reinterpretation.

But, like a number of other films in this season,Ii definitely do need to make the time to watch this again. On a wet and gray Sunday morning, a summer on France is very appealing, even without the lovely Ludivine Sagnier to ponder upon.

The Biggest Laugh Ever (Part 2)

So, now I’ve watched the film again, and did I laugh at the same spot as before? Actually, I did. Not as heavily as before, because I knew the gag, and knew it was coming, but at the moment it dropped I was as unprepared as before, and still had a good explosive laugh at it coming, and the sheer straightfacedness with which it was presented. It was one of only two points in the film that made me seriously laugh out loud.

And the name of this film? I told you you wouldn’t get it. It was A Very Brady Sequel.

To set out the background, The Brady Bunch was a very successful American sitcom, running from 1969 to 1974, which was not, to the best of my knowledge, shown in Britain. The set-up was that widower architect Mike Brady, bringing up three sons alone, married Carol (marital status left undefined because the Networks wouldn’t accept a female divorcee) who had three daughters. It was an old-fashioned domestic comedy series which was never a big hit at the time but has turned into a cultural institution in syndication.

In 1995, The Brady Bunch Movie appeared, one of a number of Sixties Sitcom revivals as films, and about the only one with any critical standing. Gary Cole (just before appearing as Sheriff Lucas Buck in American Gothic) starred as Mike Brady, with Shelley Long, ex-of Cheers, as Carol Brady. The film set itself up cleverly by portraying the entire Brady clan as still living in the Seventies whilst the world outside was taking place in the Nineties, and made its comedy out of the clash between the two cultures.

The film was big enough to spawn a nearly-as-successful sequel, which is what Mark and I watched that August Bank Holiday evening.

The peg behind this one is that it had never been made clear whether the former Carol Martin had been widowed or divorced. Now, with her Anniversary with Mike coming up, Carol gets a shock when a man turns up claiming to be her first husband, Roy Martin. The audience are in on the fact that he’s an imposter from the outset: he was actually Roy Martin’s assistant, who left Roy to die at sea after Roy sent Carol an important archeological find, a statue of a horse. ‘Roy’ plans to get his hands on it and sell it to Dr Whitehead, an antiques collector in Hawaii, for $20 million dollars.

So the main part of the film is the clash between ‘Roy’s underhandedness and crookedness and the Bradys’ naive decency. There’s a sub-plot about eldest boy and girl, Greg and Marcia, falling in love, and another about middle girl Jan’s jealousy of her elder sister, which leads her to make up a boyfriend called George Glass.

It’s all quite clever in a superficial way. I don’t have the original to compare with, but the gag is built upon the Bradys all being of their forgotten time. Everybody plays their roles with straight faces without once so much as hinting they’re in on the gag, which is the only way this can work, but that does make large parts of the film very one-note, and given that the note is that of a very bland sitcom, the joke wears thin quickly. Some scenes are just embarrassing, where your suspension of disbelief is put to impossible tests, and the odd dirty line, that is dirty only to the minds of contemporary audiences, tends to fall flat.

Mark and I would have been taking the piss out of this right royally.

But I did laugh out loud twice tonight. Once, and the biggest laugh for me, was when Mike Brady goes to the Police, and the Detective he speaks to is a cameo by Richard Belzer, playing our dear old John Munch from Homicide: Life on the Street.

But that wasn’t the big laugh. Let me set it up. We’re in the closing stages now. ‘Roy’ has stolen the horse statue, dragging Carol along as a hostage, and has got all the way to Dr Whitehead’s estate (John Hillerman, essentially playing Higgins from Magnum PI). But Whitehead won’t buy the statue now he’s heard from Carol what Trevor did to get it, cutting the little ship’s fuel-line, causing it to presumably sink. Whitehead’s son was on that boat, as it’s mate: Whitehead will never see his boy again, his boy Gilligan.

It was like a ton of bricks. The two of us howled, barely hearing Carol bemoan that she’ll never see her husband, the Professor, either. Yes, thanks to Trevor, the Minnow was lost.

I don’t know who came up with that idea but they were a freaking genius to do so. The gag is that Carol’s husband never came back because he was the Professor in Gilligan’s Island, a 1964-67 American sitcom that did get shown over here and that I used to love as a kid, but the idea of linking the two was just so left-field that the two of us were laughing at it for several minutes, and probably completely missed the bit where Carol, in her typically sunny way, speculated that maybe the Minnow crashed into some desert island and everybody survived, an idea that Whitehead dismissed as ridiculous, which is what a lot of people said about Gilligan’s Island, my parents probably included.

Of course, the whole idea was only made possible because Sherwood Schwartz, creator of The Brady Bunch, had also created Gilligan’s Island before it.

And yes, the way it’s dropped in, out of the blue, by Whitehead mentioning Gilligan, had me laughing again tonight. Not so hard, not so long, but just as unexpectedly.

The film did try to duplicate the effect at the very end, incidentally. Mike and Carol renew their vows, and she tosses her bouquet in the traditional manner. However, it goes over the heads of housekeeper Alice and her three daughters and is picked up by a blonde is harem pants, red top and blonde hair piled up above her head, that everyone old enough to recognise Gilligan will instantly recognise as Jeannie, a cameo by Barbara Eden, from I Dream of Jeannie (1965 -70). She’s looking for her husband… Mike Brady.

Whatever the flaws or failings of A Very Brady Sequel, may be, most of them deriving from the original I have to say, that one moment is genius of the highest water and I salute the film for it, from both 2000 and 2018.

The Biggest Laugh Ever (Part 1)

I can date exactly when I had the biggest laugh I ever had in my life.

It was August Bank Holiday Monday, 2000, August 28th, to be precise, a long and sunny day. I had a mate lodging with me at the time, after his marriage broke down, and he needed a place to stay. It was a hot, sticky evening and we were lazing around with nothing to do and no plans to do it, so we decided to watch the early evening film. It wasn’t the sort of film either of us would have chosen to watch in a more active frame of mind, but some nights you just want to veg out and let the coloured pictures go by without engaging your mind. It was the kind of light film whereby you can pull it apart as it goes along, when your sarcastic commentary is ten times funnier than anything up on the screen.

But what made us laugh, both of us, laughing hysterically, tears pouring down our faces, helpless for several minutes, was not some smart remark either of us came up with, but a twist the film played, a great big bright and beautiful twist that neither of us saw coming but which hit both of us simultaneously, and had us rolling about.

I watched funnier films overall, before and since, but nothing that so brilliantly reduced me to laughter that hard and that prolonged. The mere thought of the idea was enough to set both of us off again, over and over.

Several months ago, indeed almost a full year ago, curious as to whether anything like the effect could be produced a second time, I downloaded the film. I never got around to watching it. Having been home for three days, unwell, I’ve finally manufactured the time for myself. Whilst you’re waiting for me to finish watching it again, can you guess what it is?

The Infinite Jukebox: Elbow’s ‘One Day Like This’

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s not much modern, as in Twenty-First Century music on The Infinite Jukebox but Elbow’s classic “One Day Like This” is unignorable.
Nowadays, as far as I can see, the word Anthem tends only to be appended to dance music: Club Anthems, none of which I can distinguish from the others, nor from those presumably lesser tracks that don’t qualify for the title. If you can make the explanation sufficiently interesting (and intelligible), I invite you to elucidate for me.
But Anthem in the case of “One Day Like This” should be heard in an entirely different connection, for the category this song – the one that will lodge Elbow in musical history – belongs to that bestraddled by The Beatles and “Hey Jude”, which was an influence on Guy Garvey in composing and arranging this track.
Like Let Loose, I have no idea when or in what circumstances I first heard this. The single had had some minor chart success in 2009, reaching no. 19 at some point in the pattern some of Elbow’s earlier releases had established, though it would more than beat that mark a few years, re-entering the chart at no. 4 when the band were invited to perform it for the Closing Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
My earliest memory of it comes from very late that year, that brief period I was homeless and living in a short-term high-rise flat in Brinnington, Stockport. My time was my own and there was too much of it, so when I was going to do the meagre food shopping I could afford, I would walk down into Stockport to Tesco’s, killing a half hour that way and a half hour back. I associate the song with listening to it on one of my older mp3 players, marching across the bridge over the M60 in Stockport, one of only two roads into or out of Brinnington (most of the rest of Stockport wishes there were two fewer than that).
Just like everyone else, I’m seduced by that endless, “Hey Jude”-esque coda. The sing itself is slow, almost to the point of being ponderous, the band itself operating on half power at best whilst the burden of the minimal melody is taken up between high strings and Garvey’s mournful, deep brown towns, in which you can hear the Lancashire accent as surely as you hear Liverpool in anything sung by The Beatles.
It’s a song in the aftermath. A night has been spent, and Garvey is now awakening, slowly, in bits and stages. The aftermath of what? Sex, clearly, a night of passion, romance and deeply satisfying horizontal gymnastics. But this is clearly not all the night has been. It’s not just been a quickie, nor a one night stand, nor yet still the friendly and regular encounter of partners whose lives are spent together.
No, this is more. This is love, and sex, that is transcendent, not recreation nor gratification but Love-making. Love-making with Her, in which both of you are taken to a place that exists on no maps but which can only be reached together, hand in hand, so to speak. For she is the one who transforms by being, even amongst the most mundane of matters.
And maybe it’s because it comes only occasionally, with long intervals between, or maybe it’s because, no matter how often it is, it’s that merging of two people into one. But the song moves slowly, feeling its way back into being one person alone, yet with all the shared looks and memories and anticipations, the teases and the games that come out of so much an intimacy. Garvey is blissful, sated, and so is the music, full and warm.
Leading to that moment when Garvey leads the rest of the band into that anthem: Throw those curtains wide (let the day and the light in, for the night is done). One day like this a year will see me right.
One day like this a year. Is it really so long between meetings of this pair of lovers? Do they live, work, in different countries. Is she, or he, married, able only to sneak away from spouses or partners every now and then?
We don’t know, and frankly, with glory such as this, should we care? Hell, no. One day like this a year is enough, is good enough, is more than enough so that more would bean infinite blessing.
Or is it really the novelty? Would more frequent liaisons take the bloom from off the rose? Would contradict Shakespeare by making age wither her and custom stale her infinite variety? I listen to Garvey’s voice and I think not that.
So what? What is here in this moment is beyond all asking. Guy Garvey knows and Elbow celebrate. Throw those curtains wide. One day like this a year will see me right. Repeat until the Universe ceases to exist.
And it’ll still look like a beautiful day.

Treme: s03 e07 – Promised Land

Ain’t he pretty?

Treme‘s Mardi Gras episode always comes late in the series and it’s always more about what MardiGras is and all the kinds of music than it is about what the series is about. In that sense, it fits right in because the series is about being in New Orleans and all the colours of it. But this year’s was made up of little pieces, too many little pieces really, little scenes and moments that made tiny advancements, or set off new snowballs that, further down the mountain, could be bloody great avalanches.

Too many little pieces to maybe put in one blogpost: you’d be better off watching the episode than having me list A did this, and B did that, whilst E and L… Nah.

To keep the pot boiling, let’s just say that Toni tried to talk Sofia’s boyfriend into dumping her because he’s too old, only to find that she’d dumped him a week ago, Nelson schmoozed in Washington, Terry’s frustration at NOPD caused him to let slip that shit is coming down the pan for them when he really shouldn’t’ve, Big Chief Albert got himself through Mardi Gras unscathed by force of will, but the coughing is taking him down.

There were larger movements surrounding Annie, Davis and Janette. Annie’s in Washington, doing their Louisiana Mardi Gras, and sitting in with the Neville Brothers. She does the song that’s this week’s title, Johnnie Allen style, but she also does Harley’s ‘This Town Won’t Drown’, beautifully. The advancement of her career stuffs up her intent to properly do Mardi Gras with Davis (who’s quite clearly being squeezed out of his Jazz Opera on the basis that he’s nowhere near as talented as everyone else) but she flies in for one day only to oversleep, leaving Davis to go out alone, whereupon he bumps into Janette (who’s fretting over how her restaurant is building up, the publicity aspects and the ever-growing sens that it isn’t her restaurant and never will be). She’s dressed as a mini-skirted nun with a long, pale violet wig, and I’m going to be exceedingly shallow here for a moment and go Hoo-wah! And of course, after a day’s wandering and drinking they wind up back at Desautels for a Mardi Gras fuck over which only Janette seems to be having misgivings.

Mind you, he said, doubling up on shallowness, we saw a lot of Annie T today as well.

But there were three things in this episode that stood out for me, that will stick with me for when I come back to this one. First was the school marching band, marching in the parade, with Antoine helping to direct, and a decent job of it they made, playing SteveWonder’s ‘Isn’t She Lovely?’ for one. They’re following a Marines marching band when, at a break, a half dozen of the Marines wander back and put on a mini-jazz show in the street. The kids watch, fascinated, and then some of them, their confidence visibly swelling, join in, and everybody plays together.

There’s a little snowball after, when Antoine hears young Jennifer playing a Charlie Parker phrase, leading into a discussion about whether Antoine, who’s mostly traditional, could play modern: it catches Antoine on the quick, and it messes with his head.

And there’s the brief closing scene. Sonny’s going it clean, he’s making the real effort, going to meetings, even religious ones. Mr Tran’s not got a crew during Mardi Gras week, but he’s kept Sonny on. Even though it’s the morning after, he calls Sonny to the boatyard even though it’s only going to be the two of them. Sonny arrives first: he’s early.

But in the middle there, Annie’s finally woken by Lucinda, Harley’s sister. The two go down to this ceremony on the riverside, all Mardi Gras noise and colour. Until the silence drops and we understand why everyone is here, as people carrying little boxes and bags, including the one Lucinda removes from Harley’s guitar case, and with Spider Stacey also sharing the moment, people pour the ashes of loved ones who loved New Orleans into the Mississippi.

The ultimate heartbreak is not this tender farewell to an old friend, but the person sitting on the stony bank off to one side, not part of the ceremony, not part of having remains to spread but sharing the pain and the loss: Sofia Bernette, arms and legs twisted round herself, caging in her own loss. As do we all.

Because I’m me