Two Fingers Up
by Miia Lahti
Why does a terminally ill, anti-social accountant JOHN LOW (62) need to get a rare guitar from Finland with a chav granddaughter ROSIE (17)?
30 years ago John was JOHN 69, a punk touring Finland. He had a filmmaker girlfriend ANNI and a rival, singer RIKI, trying to steal her and John’s rare guitar. The tour ends in a bus crash, killing Anni. In shock, John flees to London. Footage of the time resurfaces now on YouTube.
After years in denial, John’s ongoing brain tumour returns. John’s abandoned daughter HANNAH wants him to babysit for granddaughter ROSIE (17), a stranger to him. Hannah offers money and broke John’s forced to take Rosie to Finland as he wants to fulfill one thing in life: to be buried with his guitar.
Rosie’s a nuisance, poking alive his painful past. She clings to him. Under her chavie appearance there is a lonely, idealist but frustrated teen, much how John used to be. John’s forced to buy her cigarettes and sanitary towels, a noble act after realising nobody cares for her.
Rosie finds SAULI, John’s old drummer. He knows Riki, who’s now a famous tango singer. Riki suggests a reunion gig at the Air Guitar World Championships in Northern Finland.
John goes to confront him, terrified of performing as he cowardly left the crash. John sees Riki playing with a guitar that looks like his, headbutts him on stage and runs off with it.
The others expect him to play it. He can’t. He’s got arthritis on fingers damaged in the crash and a shitty self-esteem. He jumps on PETE, Sauli’s nephew, daring to play it.
At the Air Guitar festival, Pete is a warm up, singing lyrics about death. Rosie announces she’ll take part in air guitar competition inspired by John. When the reunion is due, John holds onto his guitar but freezes. Pete tries to cover, but John ridicules him on stage: “What do you know about death, when I’m dying?” John smashes the guitar to bits. Riki tells John it was a replica, a gift from him as the original one got buried with Anni. Rosie realises John’s lied to her about his illness. After a fight, John drives to an airport, leaving Rosie all alone. John is stopped by ANNELI (68), Anni’s sister. She hands out old film reels to John. Life is about creating memories, not to be suffocated by them, she tells him. John’s phone bleeps. He gets message from Rosie: it’s her school dissertation on her family background and it’s inconclusive. As John scrolls though the images Rosie’s captured, old reels on other hand, John asks Anneli a lift back.
“Punk’s not dead!” John screams as he joins Rosie on the most stupid air guitar dance on stage. “Let’s go home” John tells her.