To kill a mockingbird.

It’s a strange thing….influences. Actually…collective influences. I watched the film “To Kill a Mockingbird” way, way back in time. When I was a lot younger. One of many films that never quite drove home. Who’s to question……Why? I watched many other films that have long term influence. 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 passed the 11 plus and got there through ‘ticky box exam per chance’……apparently) I adopted this film as an essential. Essential? A need to survive. To get through 5 years of a situation I didn’t belong to. The film was watched in a local cinema in Black and White and smashed me sideways. Piggy became my own persona. I was rooting for him and I knew he was to die. But, I believed that maybe his influence would change the basic human instincts of inherent need to survive and proffer different ideals. Thinking. The type of thought processes that belong to child innocence’s or Buddhist ideal for gentleness in spirit. Not to be as it turned out. The adults that rescued the children were appalled with the childrens’ actions in isolation. Without guidance. Like school playgrounds without a watchful eye. Kids let loose, bullying and the dynamics of apparent innocence linked to what lies beneath. Myself? Working class in a middle class snobbery. Didn’t fit, but got by on my inherent niceness. But still recognised I was a misfit who tried hard. I didn’t die like Piggy. Well, the equivalent of spiritually or psychologically die that is. But still affected enough to know what may be on the cards. Sticks with you for life actually. Influence of injustice. But. At that innocent time I believed that if I were to fit in with Grammar school philosophy and hierarchy I recognised that I had to hang my hat on an appropriate peg. I got Grade I Art Exam a year early. The Arts teacher recognised something in me and put me forward a year early. That man, the Art teacher, was an angel. A person who must have recognised the hardships involved in my situation and sent me to realise a Grade 1 ‘O’ level pass paradise. Art. Not quite Grammar school aims of becoming a Doctor, Solicitor, etc. But the Art teacher was an Art teacher with perfect Art teacher ideals. Freedom of expression. I never realised at the time but have always kept that beautiful act of ‘you’re good enough’ 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 favourites into your all time favourites. It needs connections to capture your heart. Positive and negative influences. Rough with smooth. Easiness with the uncomfortable. 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. He has since died, and it was the one thing that he was so ecstatic about in my company, that it remains deep within my heart. I loved the film….but it now has emotional ties that will never leave. Lord of the Rings and it’s heart splitting beauty that held as much to Wales holidays’ influences, the Welsh scenery enamoured emotions and linked to the overall experience of the storytelling, and influenced more than I want to admit to. Why? Tolkein’s words should have been enough. But in actuality, it was the collective that hammered them home. Conan Doyle and the fact I smoked Baccy in a pipe, read the Times and wore a full on itchy Dressing Gown bought from Oxfam whilst sitting in my flat above a wholefood shop that 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 my senses.

To kill a mockingbird? Harper Lee. My daughter’s fiancé had the book 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 (the photograph above is my resulting collection) 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. The cigar box itself had me looking deep into the imagery and analysing what cigar box make it was. Actually made me want to smoke one of their cigars to encapture the aroma connection. Crayola Crayons, fob watch, whistle, marbles, everything inherent became hunt land. My whole focus on finding originals or close similarities. I learnt not to give children original Crayola due to how they were made. Poisonous material apparently. So much insights into the history of artefacts. And it gave me insights into the truly misunderstood Boo Radley and the whole meaning of how his story developed through examination of awful imagined personal description seen through others’ eyes, his fragility and misguided rumour. The overall politics of the novel and how it got to influence mass psyche. The tree gifts that found their way into the cigar box. I made the two dolls in the photograph of the finished box above. Even thought outside the box! I put in the pearls that belonged to the childrens’ mother. I found and bought a very rare Seckatary Hawkins badge found in America, that influenced the readings of Scout in the book. Actually, quite a few pieces came from America, Europe, charity and antique shops. Go find what I’m talking about. It will start your own enquiries. Thank you for reading. Again…..Go seek your own enquiries. The journey awaits.

Not only in the mockingbird sense….but any arts influence that rocks your senses and needs further investigation. Synergy. A collective that makes your heart strings crack.



  1. So many things in your post which ‘ring a bell’ with me. Probably the thing which hit me hardest was the “working class in a (pseudo) middle class …” My grammar school seemed to think it was a ‘public school’ and for five years I felt entirely out of place. I was eternally in trouble for not having the right kit and for ignoring (or doing badly in) subjects which didn’t interest me despite excelling in those I liked.
    ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ (the book – I saw the film much later) had a tremendous influence on me, but not as much as ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ which made much of what I am. I re-read it occasionally and every time finish it furious and close to tears.


    • Good morning Sir. You hit the nail on the head with the comment re: school days. A physics experiment in the school quadrant saw me flying along on a trolley pulled by a rope dropping pennies behind me at timed intervals. I ended up at the bottom of concrete stairs at the end of the said quadrant with a hole in my trouser knee. We wore a grey suit which cost my parents a fortune. They went into debt to kit me out. The next day I had to wear alternative non school trousers. Got 100 lines from a prefect after he belittled the fact I hadn’t a second suit. I answered him back, hence the lines. The lines? ‘At ******* it is necessary to maintain certain standards of discipline that are not prevalent at other schools in Coventry’. The ******* means I haven’t got to name the place and shudder. It also weakens the psychological impact of memory. Blanked it out…….Mindfully. I empathise with you once again. You read great book titles by the way. Will have to seek and read the Grapes of Wrath. Never did, but always wanted to. Currently re-reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Very slowly this time.


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