Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I had never before come across this word “raptured” that Harold Camping used for the blessed ascending with Jesus into heaven when he predicted the end of the world but I have discovered it is not new. One learns something every day. In Antonia Fraser’s book ‘The Weaker Vessel’ about seventeenth century women (yes, I have picked it up again after a lengthy hiatus. Informative and fascinating though it be it is still quite a weighty tome and I find I can only read a few pages at a time. Densely packed on every page her research is quite extraordinary) and I am admonished as always that ‘All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright holder.’ So sue me because I am going to ignore the admonition. After the Restoration small religious sects seemed to spring up all over the place, each with its own sometimes most peculiar view of established churches, Christ and Christianity, the Fifth Monarchists for example. Yes, I had to look that one up – truly weird. There were also a number of women who were regarded as prophetesses, amongst whom was a lady named Anna Trapnel who had a ‘moment of revelation on Christmas Day 1642 which happened to be a Sunday. Listening to the Baptist minister in St Botolph’s church in Aldgate. Suddenly Anna found herself saying “Lord, I have the spirit.” Then what joy she felt. “Oh what triumphing and songs of Hallelujah were in my spirit.” Anna felt a clothing of glory over her and saw angels, a clear flame without smoke and other “christal” appearances. Thereafter there were still moments when Anna felt buffeted by Satan as when she learnt of her mother’s death. Yet many “raptures” followed.’ So there we are. It’s not a newly coined expression after all.

Have been catching up with a lot of reading (apart from Miss Fraser’s book that I am only half way through – I told you it is a heavy tome and not exactly light reading but well worth the effort.) Well to start with there is Sal Mineo’s biography. I’ve mentioned this to a couple of people maybe fifteen or twenty years younger than myself and received blank stares in exchange. To mention the film ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ elicits some sign of recognition and ‘Oh, yes, James Dean’ is the usual reply. Well, of the three leads in that movie, Sal aged sixteen was one, and looking at clips of it now, bloody good he was too. Unfortunately he had that enormous hurdle to overcome moving on from child actor to adult. Not many make it and fall by the wayside. Twice nominated for an Academy award he did appear in other movies- Exodus, The Gene Krupa Story, Giant, The Longest Day so his career did continue but, despite appearing in these major pictures, was never the same again. I have learnt so much from reading this book and realise what an ignoramus I was at the time, especially about the film industry and all its machinations. We knew Sal (the reason for reading the book) and his then lover Courtney Burr lll with whom we are still in touch, and I remember the shock we felt when we learnt of his murder. We are mentioned a couple of times in the book, becoming friends when I worked with him on a screenplay for Robin Maugham’s novel ‘The Wrong People.’ He never did make it. But there you are; how fame spreads! Phht! According to the book I wrote a number of gay plays that were produced in London. I should cocoa. Firstly, though homosexuality may feature in my plays, I have never actually written a gay play let alone had it performed in London. A good many years ago I submitted a two-hander to the Hampstead Theatre Club as it then was and the response was that if I turned the woman into a boy they would do it. Maybe I should have done it but I didn’t see the point. Little did I realise there would soon be a rash of gay plays mainstream. Silly me. I could have been the first.

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