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2018 Best New Talent - Short and Sweet Festival Sydney
2014 Pushcart Prize nominee. (more)

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anthonyjlangford2@yahoo.com.au

10 Things I learnt about Life from working in a Nursing Home




10 Things I learnt about Life and Aging from working in a Nursing Home


1.     Getting old ain’t for the faint hearted. Someone famous said that, credited to Bette Davis I believe but it really is very tough work for many. Decaying and weakening body. Illnesses. Diseases. Dementia. Weak heart. Any number of problems. Even losing limbs and the ability to walk. All the while, the wall of death in your future. That’s tough. Not everyone can handle it.  
They’ve seen their parents die. Their siblings. Their friends. In some cases, their partner and even their children. Remember that. They’ve done it very tough. If we’re lucky enough to live long, we’ll have to go through all of that too. You grow accustomed to death but it always hurts and some you never get over.




2.     Sharing your time with an older person, even a couple of minutes, can make a big difference to their day. Even if they have dementia, and you can make them smile, then you’ve done something worthwhile. They definitely do appreciate it. They don’t mind if you hold their hand or give them a hug. For many, it’s the only genuine physical contact they have any more, and that’s something we all need. It made me realise how important touch is.



My photo - my hand - 2015


3.     Older people have incredible stories to tell. Even if their lives weren’t particularly exciting, they still have lived through many adventures, loves, life and deaths. They have witnessed a time you will never see. They have seen some incredible world events from the perspective of having been around when it happened, even if they didn’t directly witness it. They will still be able to provide a fresh perspective. Listen to them!


4.     Kids and animals. No matter if an older person has dementia or none at all, for some reason, they always brighten up when a young child or an animal is close by. It’s quite remarkable. It brings them to life. They just want to hug and squeeze them, like the archetypal Grandma that the child squirms away from.



Me hamming it up on Lent, hence the Ash on the forehead



5.     Not all older people are wise. Some people are able to live their entire lives focused on themselves and have not taken stock on the philosophies of life that many do. But not all. Older people are not always nice. Some are just mean spirited and probably have always been there. Being old doesn’t make you automatically nice. Having said that, some behavioural issues are brought about by dementia, or the simple fact that they know they are more than likely going to die there. That’s a heavy burden to have to live with and they can get quite depressed. That means sometimes lashing out. Yet, some are just arseholes. As in life.



6.     Older people don’t need to be pandered to, or talked down to like a child. Even if they are in a weakened physical and mental state, treating them like children is an insult. If they have advanced dementia, then they may have regressed to a child-like state. That’s different. When I worked in a Nursing Home and was involved in the providing of entertainment, the guidelines were to keep it PG Rated. These people have seen more life than you and I put together. They’ve laid witness to violence, seen the most amazing and the most devastating of situations, both personal and global and probably had more sex than you. Give them some respect, and treat them as equals. At the very least, not a child.




A short video poem I made in 2015


7.     A nursing home is a unique environment, but at the end of the day, it is society in a microcosm with all the varied types of people that you find anywhere. You can’t make a judgement on people. We are all unique, and so are they. There might be ten people in a unit. Culturally, they may share the same background. But they will all be different. Often people forget that.


8.     Nursing Homes are called God’s Waiting Room. It can be a very depressing place to visit. It depends on the individual. It depends on the type of care provided. Naturally, when visiting, one’s thoughts turns to oneself. Could I live here? What if I get that old? I’ve heard many people say, I’ll kill myself before allowing that to happen. It’s a natural thing to say. And many do so it. Even some of the people who end up there. The reality is, once you’re there, it’s very hard to achieve that. However, I’ve seen people have decent quality of life there, and then ultimately pass quite peacefully. While others linger for years, miserable. Many, oblivious to it, thankfully. You just don’t know how you’re going to end up.


9.     I have mixed feelings on ending up in a place like that. But I do know that a positive attitude can make such a difference. One man there was so inspiring. He said yes to every event. He just went along with whatever was happening. He tried to keep as active as possible. His attitude was astounding. Life is as good or as bad as you make it, whether as an old person or young. I imagine he had led a very good life. It was reflected in his children who frequently came to visit him. This was a good man. His simple approach to life kept him happy and it kept him alive. He was an inspiration.





10. Getting older can be difficult. Being elderly can be very difficult. But if you’ve made it that far, you’re doing well. In fact, you’ve done fantastically, something I often told them. So many don’t make it that far. This notion that we’ll all live to eighty-five is a farce, sold to us via advertising and companies that compete for our dollars. And governments who want us to keep working, promising some fantasy sunset life after retirement, the age which they keep moving up. (Currently 67 in Australia). You know people who died young. And the older you get, the more people get sick and die. We are living longer, but we still need to appreciate every day we have. It could be our last.



(first and last images are not mine)

Strange encounter




Pot Boiler

He sat
Earphoned
Wired up
Shirt like Ken Done vomit
I fell into his catchment
Before grasping how pissed he was
Soon to be the pall bearer
Of his streamlined vitriol
Carried conveyor belt like
Into my awareness
As the wards of vengeance waterfalled
Smashing on rocks
Creasing his face
My curiosity waning
In line with his rising
Retribution to Be
‘I’m the Neighbour from Hell’
He declared
Following it up with bouts
Of ‘cunt, fuck and bitch.’

I downed my one and only beer
Faster than intended
And left him to
His volcanic sprout
A man of intelligence and money
According to him
Which I did not doubt
And his barrister’s business card
Flashing the promise of tomorrow.

I didn’t wish him well
No matter his position
Current or future
Nor ponder his outcome
As the bunny was already boiling
Which undoubtedly leaves
The flesh scarred red
And leaves behind
A stinky residue.



12.2.15



This was based on a real incident, as it sounds,
but I can't recall the details. More than likely, I wrote the poem that night.


Artist Unknown - From a Film Project called Rant, yet to be released (Jan.'20)

M ISSED - A Short Film 14 years in the Making




A 7 year old girl waits to be collected after school. Nobody comes. What happened to them? What did she do next?
What happens to her?


Starring Tilly, in her first role.



(Film at bottom of this page)

Background; Why 14 years?


My Last short film, Irons, took many months to make, a huge amount of work, stress and five years worth of savings. I was hoping for some sort of career opportunity out of it. Had I been living in L.A., I might have had one. I was working in News at Channel 10. I showed someone in the Drama Department. Nothing happened. I applied for a bunch of Festivals. It got into two, one in South Africa. 

I was angry with Sydney Film Festival. I had made the film, hoping to get into it. I made the film shorter that it should have been to get into it. (Under 15mins). A mistake. It wanted to be longer. I've since re-edited parts of it (in 2011) but the original scenes are fixed and it's too late. 
They broke their own rules to screen Harvey Krumpet, an animation that had been doing well. That peed me off, so I wrote to the Entertainment section of the Daily Telegraph. They printed it. I got some satisfaction from that. Don't pick mine, that's fine but don't go changing your own rules to suit yourselves. 




Something that big, requires a lot of input. Literally 50-60 people worked on it. The bigger the project the harder it is to control, especially if most aren't getting paid. Inevitably, many compromises are made. I must bear the brunt of it though as I was ultimately the one in charge. I was happy with about 50%. Maybe 60% on a good day.



From there on, I decided to concentrate on writing, and began writing my first novel later that same year, 2004. I could create whatever I wanted, without budgetary constraints, and have total control over my universe. And to be honest, I found Directing extremely stressful. I enjoyed editing and the writing the most.

And so went the next dozen years. Many novels, stories and poetry were created. Something I returned to, in a way, as I began writing stories at ten.



I continued to make small videos in the way of Video Poetry and Music style videos and Family videos. And I had a daughter. All of that takes up your time. I had a job and was a step father too. God, no wonder I'm tired.





Come early 2018, I decided I wanted to make a little film. So small that I would make all of it myself and have total control. I did'nt want Irons to be my last film. And you know? I'm pretty happy with it. And I had an actor whom I could work with. That's always a positive. She did good. Especially as the film progresses. It was shot mostly in order.

Budget? Around $400, compared to $35,000 of Irons. I submitted it to a bunch of small Festivals, which is why I had to wait. Then I was concentrating on releasing my book, A Refugees Rage in 2019. It got into one Festival in LA.

And now it has life. Enjoy. Please share the video if you can. It's the 'Little film that could.'



MISSED Now on IMDB HERE - If you are able, a Rating would be awesome.

See IRONS and other Short Films Here.



Famous After Death - Hilma af Klint





Famous After Death


Hilma af Klint (born October 26, 1862) was a Swedish artist and mystic whose paintings were amongst the first abstract art. She created these abstract works in secret and wrote in her will that they were to be stored for 20 years after her death before they could be opened.

She belonged to a group called "The Five", a group of women who shared her belief in the importance of trying to make contact with the so-called "High Masters" – often by way of séances. Her paintings, which sometimes resemble diagrams, were a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas. Her sister's death contributed to her spiritual beliefs. Read on.







Becoming an artist 


She showed an early ability in visual art, and after the family moved to Stockholm, she studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Stockholm, where she learned portraiture and landscape painting. The choice was controversial at this time, as few women had access to higher studies in the beginning of the 20th century. During the years 1882–1887 she studied mainly drawing, and portrait and landscape painting. She graduated with honours, and was allocated a scholarship in the form of a studio in the "Atelier Building" owned by The Academy of Fine Arts.

Her conventional paintings became the source of financial income. But her 'life's work' remained a quite separate practice.


'Bread and Butter' Painting






Spirits 


In 1880, her younger sister Hermina died and it was at this time that she began becoming interested in spiritualism. Towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, spiritualism was very much in vogue. It's believed her interest in abstraction and symbolism came from those aforementioned interests. 
Af Klint's work can be understood in the wider context of the Modernist search for new forms around this time with many changes in art, politics and technology.  However her artistic transition to abstract art took place without any contacts with the contemporary modern movements.





During a séance in 1904, Af Klint was told by a spirit guide that she had been ‘commissioned’ to make paintings on the astral plane. Between 1906–8 she painted the 111 paintings that comprised the beginning of the series, ‘The Paintings of the Temple’; she stopped for four years to look after her mother, before creating another 82 paintings between 1912–5. She described her working process: ‘The pictures were painted directly through me, without any preliminary drawings and with great force. I had no idea what the paintings were supposed to depict; nevertheless, I worked swiftly and surely, without changing a single brushstroke.’






Death and Legacy


She died on October 21, 1944 (aged 81).
In her will, Hilma left all her abstract paintings to her nephew and specified that her work should be kept secret for at least 20 years after her death. When the boxes were opened at the end of the 1960s, very few people had knowledge of what would be revealed.
In 1970 the paintings were offered as a gift to the main museum in Stockholm, the Moderna Museet. They declined the donation. Nice choice. Thanks to the art historian Åke Fant, her art was introduced to an international audience in the 1980's. The first exhibition took place in L.A. in 1986.
In February 2018, The Hilma af Klint Foundation signed a long-term agreement of cooperation with the Moderna Museet, (the same Museum that earlier declined to accept them), a dedicated space at the museum where a dozen works of the artist are shown on a continuous basis. Her works are worth millions.

Bushfires: In the midst of it all... is pure chance



Written at the height of the fires, in the wee hours, while still waiting for news of my sister and her family.




What must it be like for those caught in the middle? 
For firefighters too.

A Poem in Four Parts.



Season of no Reason



1.

She reaches for the sky
As there's no solace
In the smoky vision
Of a transient dismembered world
around her
Now dismantled
And unreliable.

A pulsating redness
Of a neglected sun
Suddenly swallowed by the black
An irrelevant
Slice of nature
Like the clean air
Sucked into soot.

She runs
Then stops
The roar deceptive
Of its true position
The only surety is the terror.

The conflagration really is
All around
And coming closer.

Nothing will save her
Other than chance
Another freak of nature
So she turns to prayer
In an atheist’s shroud
And pleads for redemption.


2.

Exhausted
After fighting 13 hours straight
Feeling too old for this shit
He climbs aboard the truck
Like a veritable kamikaze pilot
In a cauldron of hell
He loves his family
And life
His instincts calling him to escape
But there's no one else around
To do what must be attempted.

The radiant heat
Has drenched him in sweat
And a type of purpose
Interspersed with the madness.

As skilled as they are
They have to go beyond
Even what they know
To try and reach others
They plan for a retreat
But all is not up to them.


3.

The trees are the fuel
The wind
The driving force
The hills add speed
The houses in its path
Mere alterations in shape.

Their choice to stay
Irrelevant to a force
Of Nature
Not a Monster
Or other emotive imbued entity
At best
A set of scientific actualities
That nothing living or otherwise
Could withstand.


4.

The impact is swift
And ferocious
Leaving dotted pockets whole
For no reason they could discern
While they instead scour for blame
Amongst the ashes.


3.1.20

1.30 am



Never Forget - Andrew and Geoff

Poetry helps me deal with my emotions. That's why it's often bleak.

Thank you for reading.

More Poetry