Monday, March 21, 2011

Just a couple of hundred yards from our house there is a little church in the grounds of which is the old village schoolroom. Until the other evening when we went to listen to a piano recital I had never been in there and what a fascinating room it is. It is about twenty feet wide and at least a hundred feet or thereabouts long and is like a small and fascinating museum. The walls are covered with old photographs of Cretan heroes and clergy long dead, letters, newspaper cuttings, old photographs and paintings, mainly of war scenes and there is even a small ancient cannon to go with them. It has the most beautiful traditional wooden ceiling and evidently it will be used for cultural events in the future. The only thing lacking is a loo! I managed to last but at my age it’s always a bit dodgy. The recital itself was most enjoyable especially as when I heard what it was going to consist of, that is a local composer playing his own compositions, I fervently wished I hadn’t come. As it turned out his compositions were most enjoyable, at times exciting, which only goes to prove one shouldn’t jump to hasty conclusions. And talking about composers I read at the Theatre Awards in London, Steven Sondheim has been given a special award for his contribution to theatre and well deserved too. I still can’t fathom why he allowed Tim Burton to make such a ghastly hash of his “Sweeney Todd” and “Sunday in the park with George” is the only work I have not been able to come to grips with. Our friend David Harwell has just directed it at his university, Alabama at Huntsville, and tells me it was standing ovation time, people in tears (for the right reason) and a big hit. I must be totally out of step. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time and probably not the last. I remember another American friend, Andy Leech, raving about it many years ago. And still on the subject of music, well writing and music, tomorrow afternoon at Wilton’s music Hall, the only one left in London, sees the launch of Christopher Beeching’s biography of George Leybourne, Champagne Charlie, titled “The heaviest of Swells” so hopefully it will be a big success. Wonderful that the launch should be in such a historic building. I ought to say that Chris has done so much intense research over the years and gone into such detail that this is only volume one. He now has to settle down to write volume two. It is going to be a week of Champagne Charlie at Wilton’s in fact. Apart from the launch there is a talk lined up, a slightly shortened version of the one man show I wrote for him a long time ago (script available on Amazon) and an evening of Music Hall to end with. It is most exciting; break a leg, Chris.
And finally I decided to put in the computer all the lyrics I have written over the years for various musicals and would you believe it came to 214 pages? All of it good, some of it though I say it myself in Oscar Wilde vein, brilliant. I sometimes look at it and think did I really write that? In tandem with Mister Truman Capote – I am a genius.

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