One great advantage of blogging over publishing in print is that you can correct yourself at no cost!
I am now far enough into Jeff Merrifield’s book on Ken Campbell’s career to realize that a) doing his thing in front of drunken 20-somethings at the Spitz was not a patch on his antics with the Ken Campbell Roadshow, with which he took performance into pubs and clubs that weren’t expecting it and b) his relationship with both Forteanism and the Fortean Times was more profound and longer-lasting than I’d characterized it. Read Paul Sieveking’s obit from the FT here.
I also watched Nina Conti’s film on her adventures in self-help-land accompanied (mostly) by monkey. Nina’s site is back up, so here’s a link to that. I’m afraid I’m slightly too late to hook you into the iplayer version of Make Me Happy: A Monkey’s Search for Happiness, but it was every bit as good as her film on Ken. She pursued various alternative and esoteric theories promising enlightenment, including: tarot reading, eating raw food, naked yoga, laughter yoga and, erm, wearing a turban. She found the laughter yoga particularly excruciating, being entirely unable to force the jollies: I felt uncomfortable with her on this one.
She then went on a retreat to a smart baronial house in Scotland for a primal therapy weekend. This involved lots of shrieking and talking about her mother, but it was also when things got really interesting, because the three people who ran it decided to kidnap monkey after a conflab at which they agreed that his presence was stopping Nina from fully participating. This was a pretty hardcore move, and the honest portrayal of what followed was the making of the film. Nina was upset and angry, but without monkey she did indeed seem to get more out of the subsequent activities, including a rebirthing and death ceremony. The decision to steal him was kind of vindicated. Kind of, because despite its effectiveness the cruelty of this act showed up the bullying self-importance that is at the heart of what self-help gurus do: this makes you better, do what I do! In the end, reunited with monkey, Nina and family reckoned that the positive effects lasted no more than a week before reality returned.
I can’t give you that to watch, but please watch this slice of joy that my kids have been making me play for them every morning before school this week.