DVDs of old children’s films have started to migrate from our little one’s Granny’s house to ours. She visits there the odd Saturday morning while her Da is off over-achieving on the 5k park run, and her mother fiercely protects her right to lounge extravagantly by rising at the crack of
noon, eleven ten ish. If she takes a shine to the cover, it goes in her bag, and back to ours. It gives me an opportunity to catch up on some films I missed out on first time round. Like Charlie and The Chocolate Factory. Two pairs of grandparents sharing the one bed and all that. Verruca Salt sticking it to The Man. A film ahead of its time.
On Sunday evening we all slumped on the sofa to watch the latest import: Home Alone II (or two, for long). It’s probably inappropriate for her age but there’s Christmas, in New York, and Brenda Fricker, and baddies getting their grisly comeuppance, and tearful reunions. I’m at least six weeks early for this strain of emotional manipulation but they had me at the twinkling lights and the school nativity play.
It also has the impeccable Catherine O’Hara as the scatty put-upon Mom trying to keep it together and occasionally mislaying one of her children without ever having to make herself accountable to social services. She’s one of my new role models. If Catherine O’Hara never does anything but invade our home at
Christmas Halloween, it will have been enough because she is also the sister of one of Canada’s hidden musical treasures. Her reminder to dig out an album was a welcome intervention.
Mary Margaret O’Hara defies description. Her masterpiece, Miss America, comprises the bulk of her canon, and despite occasional dalliances with some of her more known fans (Morrissey, Tindersticks), it remains her only album to date. Her vocal tip-toes across songs of love, loss, and longing. Then scales the heights of troubling thoughts with force and fragility. She comes at the world sideways; with out-of-focus shots of her shit that have just enough definition to make you feel what she’s singing. An album best listened to in its entirety but I’ve chosen When You Know Why You’re Happy because it is one of the few live recordings from her early days, and fewer could carry off a two-piece made from the fabric of our old living room curtain with such style and grace. Apologies for the quality, but the hairstyles should compensate.