All posts by graysummers

And so the story goes, to where? No one knows. But it involves a Volkswagen T2 Crossover Bay Bus called Billie Bud (known to most people as ‘WOW, a camper van’); a Pentax LX SLR camera loaded with black and white film; cooking vegetarian food on a basic set up of Cobb cooker, a couple of gas rings and an open fire; reading books; listening to music and the ruminations from a Staff Nurse. Well......got to fill the hours outside of your nurse job somehow.

To Kill a Mockingbird.


The other day I found a small cardboard box and inside was a list of items I wrote down that were to be found in Scout’s cigar box at the start of the film ’To Kill a Mockingbird’. I needed to source the list of items (seen in the photograph down below) in order to build the box seen above for a present. To be clear! This photograph above is my own built reproduction of the box from ’To Kill a Mockingbird’. It got me thinking.

It’s a strange thing….influences. Actually…collective influences. I watched the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” way, way back in time. 

Films, books, music, the arts in general have long term influence because there is a collectiveness of happenings that surround the experiences of watching, listening or reading.  

For example…I watched “Lord of the Flies” and was mesmerised. Why? I read the book for English studies at Grammar School and, due to my need to be accepted amongst the class/cohort collective, I really delved deep into the book‘s philosophy. I had passed the 11 plus and ‘won’ a place at Grammar School through ‘tick box A, B or C’ choice questions. An exam style of pure chance in my eyes. Akin to some of the current Nurse/Health Professional training systems. In my eyes it was not a test of true worth. 

In it’s dynamics, interactions and visual imagery between Ralph, Jack, Piggy, Simon, Sam and Eric, it was mesmerising. An English teacher who taught us with aplomb. Teasing the inquisitive nature of how we analysed and sought answers to the questions he proffered. I ultimately adopted this book and film as an essential in school. Essential? A need to survive. To get through 5 years of a situation I didn’t belong to. Working class in a middle class snobbery. Didn’t fit, but got by on my inherent niceness. But still recognised as a misfit who tried hard. Sticks with you for life actually. 

If I were to fit in with Grammar school philosophy and hierarchy I recognised that I had to hang my hat on appropriate pegs. Loved English. Loved Art. I got Grade I Art Exam a year early. The Arts teacher recognised something in me and put me forward a year early. That Art Teacher was an angel. A person who must have recognised the hardships involved in my situation and sent me to paradise. I never realised at the time but have always kept that beautiful act as something to carry and pass on.

What I’m trying to say is, maybe it is a collective of experiences that cements the creme de la creme of your idolised book, film, music favourites into your all time favourites. It needs connections to capture your heart. Bladerunner? I loved the film. Got sucked into the various releases that geeked/tweaked interest; Why? Because a mate was so enamoured with the film, he begged me to see it with him. Lord of the Rings and it’s heart splitting beauty that held as much to Wales holidays influences than I want to admit to. 

Conan Doyle influenced the experiences of smoking Baccy in a pipe, reading the Times and wearing a full on itchy Dressing Gown bought from Oxfam. All this whilst sitting in my flat above the Wholefood Shop where I lived with my, now, wife.  That Wholefood Shop flat, our first ever ‘home’ deeply cemented the relationship with Holmes and Watson. Every Sherlock series since, and Poirot for that matter, has mesmerised my senses. So many examples. They don’t sit there in individual instances. They adopt Social and Psychological influences, that as synergy, whack the senses.

Most recently? The Ninth Gate film led to seeking the book ‘The Club Dumas’ which the film was loosely based on. The music from the film by Wojciech Kilar bought on rare vinyl. The very rare Musette mle35 bag from the film bought now and which I carry daily. All from watching one film and being mesmerised.

Strange how you find out treasures. I get really excited when a new book presents itself through pure luck as opposed to knowing it exists. Reading comments from another’s blog a person mentioned this book and quoted one small fragment from it. Immediately I thought ‘This is a treasure moment’.


Tap on photographs to enlarge.

I was hooked. So immediately looked for it. Sold out in many bookshops and not available even on Amazon. I have found and ordered one. Very few times this happens. Maybe once a year…..or every two. You just know that something special exists between certain books’ covers.

Once was when David Mitchell’s ‘Cloud Atlas’ was discussed on the radio. I spoke of Arturo Perez-Reverte with someone who then discussed alongside my musings the author he loved…..Robertson Davies. Umberto Eco, Gabriel García Márquez, Andrew Miller. All have introduced themselves through others remarking in a certain way. You know they were mesmerised by the books. Not just enthusiastic. That produces in myself? Either a clarion call or a sixth sense moment. Get….that….book! And with ‘The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows’….I have.

My daughter’s fiancé had the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and said it was on his elite list. I became interested, because he is a deep thinker and recognises beauty in serenity and meaning. Childhood innocence within the conundrum of an adult mayhem. I revisited the film, read the book and, because of his love for the film and book ………recreated the cigar box at the beginning of the film to give him for his birthday. See what I mean? A piece of art creates added enquiries. It took me months to seek out the additions to put in the box. And it gave me insights into Boo Radley and the whole meaning of how the story developed and spread into Worldwide psyche. Even found and bought a very rare Seckatary Hawkins badge from America to include in the box. Seckatary Hawkins: The Grey Ghost by Robert F. Schulkers was read to Scout by her father Atticus Finch. 

Below is the water stained list of items to be found in Scout’s cigar box which I sought.

Maybe you, yourselves, will now seek further from the book read, the film watched, the music listened to and find what I’m trying to talk about. It will start your own further enquiries. Thank you for reading. Feel humble. Again…..Go seek your own enquiries.

Not only in the reading ‘Mockingbird’ sense….but any influences that the Arts present and provide the need for further investigations.