Saturday, November 22, 2008

The theatre scene in Athens is a pretty busy one there being any number of small theatres dotted throughout the city but Stelios described it as being like a lift, only so many people can get in and, if a newcomer arrives, someone has to leave. Consequently there is a fair amount of enmity and back-biting engendered. The way theatre is run is also very different from the way productions are mounted in England and America, including actors’ remuneration. When I was teaching in Denmark I thought aspiring actors there had a pretty hard time of it but nothing compared to Greece where I wouldn’t be an actor – I can’t say if they paid me or for all the money in the world because neither applies! Although the strength of Equity was reduced somewhat by Mrs Thatcher it still seems to carry enough clout to afford some protection to hard done by actors in the UK. Evidently even television stations in Greece are tardy in paying their actors and, from the stories I have heard, how they are expected to live is something else.
Watched the delightful film Bell Époque last night and found it fascinating that in 1931 in Spain, the period and place in which the movie is set, a father and mother living in an out of the way tiny village seemed to quite happily accept their daughter’s lesbianism, the mother’s advice to her daughter being not to bother with dreadful men but to find s nice pretty girl to live with.
Christmas 1962 someone by the name of Anthony gave me a book titled EROS “an anthology of friendship” which is my current bedside reading. It was one of two books I took off the shelves, the other being “The Victorian Underworld.” All these years later I have no idea who the Anthony was who presented me with this volume but, following on the attitude of the Spanish couple in the film, in this book there is a letter written by Lord Chesterfield to his son who was doing sort of Byronesque things in what would then have been called Arabia, advising him on sexual matters, part of the advice being to have it off, in moderation of course, with both sexes, men in spring and summer, women in winter. How many people have such an understanding daddy?
Reading “The Victorian Underworld” I cannot help but feel that what is happening in South Africa today as far as rampant crime is concerned is exactly what was happening in Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century when the most awful poverty was the norm in terrible city slums and it is going to take a long time for the shanty-town existence and unemployment to be phased out. That won’t get rid of crime completely but should hopefully, providing the police aren’t too corrupt, lessen it. To be one of the undeserving poor in England in Victorian times must have been hell on earth. It can’t be all that different now in SA.

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