Monday, March 19, 2012


I got these pics from gainsbourg girl

One of my friends is going to be staying at the Chateau Marmont in a couple of weeks, and the thought of it has made me remember that wonderful hotel room in Sofia Coppola's Somewhere. She has a thing for hotel rooms - and she always finds the perfect ones. Like that impersonal cube at the Tokyo Park Hyatt, a blank canvas for Scarlett Johansson's bare bottom (clad in Araks lingerie, no less), or the gilded something that Johnny and Cleo bunk up in when they're in Milan, the kind of place where you can order all the different kinds of gelato on the menu and wind down in your own private pool. But the room where Johnny lives in the Chateau Marmont is my favourite. I know he wasn't very happy, not at the start of the film anyhow, and I'm not too sure how great it would be to live in a hotel all the time, but, nonetheless, I'm certain that this is what happiness looks like. A blue splashback, natural light, and an Ed Ruscha print.

The last time I wrote about this film here I had just returned from the Blue Mountains in rural New South Wales - I still remember that trip. There was a blackout and so we spent most of the time bathed in the warm glow of candles and firelight and playing solitaire and stretching out on the thick rugs or long sofas to read. We drank a lot of tea as you are want to do in the Blue Mountains and we cooked a lot and I remember taking one gloriously long bath, during which I even dozed off for a moment. I love going up to this house when I have exams or assessments because - for some reason, probably the lack of television and internet, really - I get a lot of stuff done there. And yet, and yet, here is the really interesting part, it's also incredibly relaxing. It never feels like work. Even when you're trying to remember the four stages in the collapse of the Assyrian empire, or the first stanza of Rupert Brooke's The Soldier - If I should die, think only this of me; that there's some corner of a foreign field that is forever England. There shall be in that rich Earth, a richer dust concealed. A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware... - it's never taxing to do work surrounded by greenery and wildflowers, with wooden floors beneath your feet and a fire in front of you. And everything I learnt there years and years and years ago now has stuck with me. Like that poem. Like the four stages in the collapse of the Assyrian empire. Like the recipe to the world's most perfect spaghetti Carbonara. 

That's what I mean when I say that I am certain that this is what happiness looks like. I am certain that happiness looks like a full glass of orange juice, like hair tucked behind ears, like a scribbled on plaster cast. I am certain that happiness is mis-matched drawer knobs, crisp tablecloths and home-made eggs benedict. And, of course, a blue splashback, natural light and an Ed Ruscha print. Because happiness isn't happiness without an Ed Ruscha print.


ps. Isn't it funny how poems you have to memorise for school stick with you through thick and thin? I wish I could remember my grandparent's home address or the combination to my rarely-used (for this very reason) locker at work, but instead I can recite, at the drop of a hat, Shakespeare's sonnet 116, A.E Housman's with rue my heart is laden and the first couple of verses or so of The Lady of Shallott as well as the "she left the web, she left the loom," number. It could be much worse, I know. But still. How funny memory is!

pps. Now seems as good a time as any to listen to some Strokes.


ALCOHOLS said...

I LOVE how you describe things. Im a sucket for towns and citiesand vibrance since Ive been raised in a village and felt bored for most of my life (up until now that I finally live in a city) but by reading this you got me thinking. It actually must be nice to have a cottage somewhere, where you can retreat from time to time. But still, city > nature. Maybe when Im old, these two will exchange positions. But thanks for an inspiring article!

Stylelovely said...

Nice post!! Love your blog it's really inspiring!

lookthroughmyspecs said...

this is one of my favorite movies ever. they live in such a constructed little world, often lacking, but is obviously good for some things, like ordering all of the ingredients to make your favorite breakfast from scratch. Sofia knows how to take a scene that seems so ideal and pleasant and show us the sadness in it. life through her eyes can be lonely but is always beautiful.

hannah-rose said...

alcohols - thank you! I know.. there's something about a retreat to the country, but not in an idealised way, but more of a return to simplicity.

Stylelovely - thank you.

lookthroughmyspecs - you're so right and you said it perfectly. I love the loneliness that sofia reveals. It can be a little ridiculous - I love how awkward both Johnny and Bob Harris are around the pole dancers/strippers. Yes - living in a hotel would be nice for some things but so, so, so sad in others. And very lonely.