It was a bit of a disappointment, the reading of my play ‘Third Drawer From The Top’ at the University of Alabama, Huntsville, due to some of the kids being ill, was put off from January 24 and is now due to take place February 7. Not so far off now, just a couple of days. I wonder if the weather will keep people away and it might have to be postponed again. I wrote this play the second time I was teaching in America. It is a comedy, almost a farce in fact, that I call my Neil Simon play and, as the action takes place in a small college in the Mid-west it’s fitting it should get its first airing at an American university. I’ve just read it again and still got the giggles so, hopefully when I get a recording of the performance I’ll hear gales of laughter – hopefully.
What a thunderstorm the other night! There we were happily watching “Evil Under The Sun” one of Agony Christie’s better efforts with a fabulous cast headed by Peter Ustinov and Maggie Smith when suddenly in a nano second there was the most almighty bang right above the house that had the three of us jumping out of our skins and the world was suddenly black. The bang was so loud we thought the house had definitely been struck especially as the street lighting was unaffected but Douglas, armed with flashlight, discovered all three main switches had been tripped and there was apparently no damage to the house. With electricity restored we went back to finish watching the movie. Poor Keppel was the one that suffered the most. He’s a fraidy cat at the best of times, freaking out and running for his life at the slightest thing (for example, even though he’s never been threatened in his life, if I pick up the swatter to swat a fly he’s off like a bullet) so the violent noise scared him absolutely shitless. Chris discovered him cowering under the piano stool and it took a goodly while and a lot of petting and cuddling to calm him down.
The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has survived a vote of confidence in parliament. If he hadn’t and an election was triggered, would Nichi Vendola have been the man to challenge him? They are opposites, Mr. Vendola and Mr. Berlusconi. Vendola is the left-wing, openly gay governor of the southern region of Puglia, is campaigning to become Prime Minister, whereas Mr. Berlusconi, the man who has dominated Italian politics for 15 years, is struggling to remain in the job. Many believed the Prime Minister was targeting Mr. Vendola when he joked on television: "It's better to love beautiful women than to be gay." Mr. Vendola immediately retaliated with a statement, "The time for jokes is over," he said. "Your jokes can't amuse a country that's exhausted, impoverished, scared, insecure and abandoned." Does Mr. Vendola have ambitions to take over as leader of Italy? "Absolutely, yes," he says without hesitation.
The 52-year-old has been politically active since he was 14, when he joined the Communist Youth Federation. He studied literature at university, where he started to write poetry. He is also a devout Catholic, and has no problem combining his faith with his sexuality. "Catholicism is like my homosexuality, like my political beliefs," he says, "All these things are part of my identity." Mr. Vendola is leaping ahead in the polls, buoyed by divisions in Italy's main opposition, the Democratic Party. He created national headlines with radical schemes in Puglia to support green energy, young people, women, immigrants, small businesses and arts festivals. He has been called the Pied Piper of Puglia but could the next top dog in Italy be gay? Very interesting.