Tuesday, June 30, 2009

According to the Old Testament you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven if your testacies have been crushed! (Deuteronomy 23-1). You have to admit the Bible sure comes up with some pretty weird stuff, so weird I cannot but wonder how people can still be hooked on it as being the word of god. If it is he certainly wrote some pretty strange stuff. Maybe whichever scribe it was taking the dictation got it down wrong. The Athens News every week carries adverts for Bible study groups and I think out of curiosity one of these days I might just go along to one and find out what “study” entails. When god ordered Noah to take all the beasties aboard the ark he should have shown a sense of compassion and said “hold the mosquitoes”. Those little monsters are in full force at the moment. Is there anywhere in the world that is without mosquitoes? You spread repellent on your exposed bits and pieces: arms, legs, head, and then the moment you go to the loo and drop your trousers, they zoom in to the attack. They wait in ambush and you don’t see them. They hide behind the pedestal I think. Consequently I have enormous bites on the inside of my thigh, the outside, the groin and even the crack of my arse. I really hate mosquitoes! What is most annoying is when bites continue to itch on and off days after happening.
At the moment and since yesterday evening I am wired up like Frankenstein’s monster as my heart is being monitored for 24 hours. Sometime later today I have to go for a good walk to find out what happens when I exercise. I know what will happen on the surface, I will be out of breath before I reach the gate. I managed to sleep fairly well half sitting up but I’ll be pleased to get unwired. Yesterday was a day of doctor’s and clinic’s waiting rooms and I hope this bad patch will be over soon because it does get a bit boring and I am just extremely lucky to have two people who care enough to take it all in hand, (as it were!) and ease the way. And that is quite enough of my troubles.
Between the x-ray and the cardiologist we stopped off to have a bite to eat at a close-by restaurant, sitting outside. Only one other table was occupied, by a woman and seven kids. It was evidently a birthday party and they were thoroughly and loudly enjoying their chips and tomato sauce washed down with coke. At some point the woman, who we presumed to be mother to one of the kid’s, upped and left them to it and a little later a middle-aged man approached their table with a “Hello kids!” and after a while sat himself down. I said to Douglas he was either a proselytising Pentecostalist or a paedophile which wouldn’t have surprised me, the paedophile bit I mean, as the kids were without exception very beautiful. Fortunately he couldn’t do much damage except put something of a damper on the party which he obviously did as the whole mood changed – exuberant to somewhat subdued. People are weird.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Once more the house, well the breakfast room anyway, is turned into a film studio shooting more scenes of the Christmas DVD. These involve two fairies evidently; our house guest Vicky playing one, and that well-known actress Beryl King who is on holiday on the island playing the other, playing the queen of the fairies in fact. Chris and Douglas were up half the night making props. We had gone for dinner to Georgopoli and didn’t get home until late hence the half the night. No one seemed to sleep too well anyway, mainly because of the heat and Georgopoli being the mosquito capital of Crete, there were bites a plenty to keep people awake. Amazingly for once they didn’t seem to affect me but my wheezy chest did so even I, finding it difficult to breathe lying down, ended up with about three hours of sleep.
Am still going through plays and have just finished reading OH BROTHER. This was the first of my plays to be produced, many many years ago. A school in England intend doing it later this year and were e-mailed this script. To my horror it is full of mistakes and I will have to send them an amended copy. PS: Not my typing.
The next one to go through is my second American play, THIRD DRAWER FROM THE TOP, the one I call my Neil Simon.
I’ve changed direction with the local ex-pats who want to do something theatrical and have suggested, instead of BEATIFUL FOR EVER, that we do LITTLE FOOTSTEPS ON THE PETALS. This is a North Country comedy they should be able to cope with more than with the other which I felt on second thoughts was rather like throwing them in the deep end before they learned to swim.
The Queen of the fairies has arrived I need to go make my bows.

Friday, June 26, 2009

I read in World Headlines that four young thieves in Somalia have been sentenced under Sharia Law to have their right hands and left legs amputated for the theft of a couple of rifles and some ammunition. This no doubt makes them beggars for what remains of their lives and totally useless members of any society. Today I read the sentences have been carried out. Some time ago I also read that the Archbishop of Canterbury was burbling on about Sharia Law coming to multi-cultural Britain and the question to ask is, has he gone totally doolally? Sometimes it really is difficult to believe one is living in the twenty-first century. What was it Gilbert wrote about the punishment fitting the crime? It would seem crime and punishment will never be satisfactorily resolved; it’s either too harsh or to lax and no one has found a sensible way to prevent it or deal with it
Apricots, apricots, apricots, the ground beneath the tree is littered with windfall and the beetles and the wasps are having a field day. Such a waste but what can you do with such an abundance? There is only so much fruit you can use: preserves, jam, wine, puddings, raki.
Have just, after an interval of so many years, reread BAY RUM, a play that was produced way back in the sixties( or was it seventies?) and which has lain in the script cupboard ever since because, as I remember it, the first act went down a treat, the second and third acts were shit – or so I thought at the time. I remember wanting to crawl under my seat with embarrassment. But now, reading it again, there is nothing wrong with the writing of either act, they are just as strong as the first so what went wrong in production?
Was it the direction? The performances? Were the cast members beginning to flag, unable to keep up the pace? Did they lose the humour? I really don’t know. I wasn’t going to include it in plays to be published but, having reread it, have changed my mind. Even if it is never produced again it is a good read if nothing else and if Oscar Wilde and Henry James, Wilkie and others could write their ghost stories I don‘t see why I shouldn’t. Douglas still maintains the second and third acts are crap but he can’t tell me why.
Talking of writing it would be gratifying if all those who have contacted me personally to say how much they have enjoyed reading the autobiography were to do a little five star review for Amazon it would help a lot to spread the news. So far there have been only two.
Today I registered with Glenwood High School Old Boys – a little late in the day wouldn’t you think? Considering I matriculated in1948? There aren’t many of us left from that period.
Right, on to proofing the next play which is HEAR THE HYENA LAUGH, after which comes GENERATIONS, THIRD DRAWER FROM THE TOP and TWILIGHT OF AUNT EDNA – only fifteen to read in all. It’s just as well I enjoy my own writing, tee hee hee! I shall fortify myself with a glass of wine as well.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Schoolboy joke – What’s the biggest drawback in the jungle? Answer – the elephant’s foreskin. A controversial subject now and what is wrong with a bit of controversy? Circumcision. I read some weeks ago that staff at John Hopkins in Baltimore are crying “More circumcision!” and I have been meaning to write about it ever since as evidently they are of the somewhat curious belief that circumcision will reduce the spread of venereal disease. I would have thought condoms a better bet but who am I to argue with the medical profession, crazy as the whole idea might seem to an ordinary laymen? I don’t think the hospital staff are actually marching down the street bearing banners with a strange device but maybe they ought to take note of what Paul the Apostle said about those who went around crying more circumcision – “rebellious people, idle talkers and deceivers, they must be silenced, teaching for sordid gain what it is not right to teach. They desire to have you circumcised that they might glory in your flesh.” When I did that research on deviation some time back I did notice (have double checked since) that there appear to be more young Americans and Canadians uncut, to use that dreadful expression, whereas years ago you would have expected every American boy to be circumcised and this is obviously worrying the hospitals who evidently stand to lose a great deal of money if American parents come to their senses and give up on this unnecessary practice altogether which is nothing more or less than surgical mutilation. “There has always been an undercurrent of violence and sexual abuse associated with circumcision.” Can’t remember who said that. I see that Bill Gates has contributed $5000000 towards the circumcision of Africans in an attempt to reduce AIDS/HIV on the Dark Continent so he is obviously a disciple of John Hopkins but here is a question. If it is down to circumcision/non circumcision, when aids was rampant amongst American homosexuals thirty and more years ago was this not during a period when virtually all American males (90%) were circumcised anyway? As for Africa, the whole belt above the tropics and more is already a circumcision zone as this is Muslim territory and, in South Africa with a high incidence of HIV/AIDS, the Xhosa are circumcised. Does this make them immune to the condition? Somehow I doubt it very much but the illegal circumcision schools have already this year caused three known deaths, possibly more, and filled a few hospital beds. London hospitals I believe are constantly dealing with young Muslims whose circumcision and future sex-life has gone horribly wrong. Evidently you don’t have to be licensed to be a foreskin slicer. I’m afraid Mr Gates’ fifty million would have been much better spent in some more deserving direction like possibly the alleviation of famine or the supply of clean water or the eradication of the mosquito.
I don’t suppose it is at all strange that religious circumcision, Jewish and Muslim all started off in hotspots of the world where water was in short supply and consequently personal hygiene possibly at a bare minimum whereas in countries where water was not in short supply circumcision never took hold. The ancient Greeks laughed at the Egyptians for being circumcised (the Nile apart. a desert country) and the Egyptians laughed at the Greeks for being uncircumcised, (a well watered part of the world). So just what are the advantages of circumcision apart from the relief of a medical condition, phimosis, where the foreskin is too tight and cannot be retracted? And anyway there are sometimes evidently other methods of loosening the constriction that could be tried leaving circumcision as a last resort. Well, firstly, let me see now, parents needn’t be embarrassed by having to teach their offspring how to keep their little wee-wee clean and offspring don’t have to take quite so much care in keeping little willy clean. Yes, smegma can be smelly and a cause of cheesy jokes (ha ha!) but it certainly doesn’t have to be a problem. We’ve mentioned the loss of earnings to the medical profession, millions of dollars a year, but apart from that? Well I can’t offhand think of anything else except that if nine American boys are circumcised and the tenth isn’t, in the showers he’s like to be the butt of jests as being the odd man out. The Victorians of course thought it reduced the incidence of masturbation but the Victorians had very strange ideas about that anyway.
So what are the disadvantages of circumcision? I talk only of male circumcision here and have no personal axe to grind as I am glad to say I am smugly and happily intact. Of female circumcision I can only say I find the whole subject totally repulsive only in that it should never ever be allowed. How mothers who have been through the process as young girls can allow their daughters to suffer the same way is totally beyond me but then there are so many things about human religions and traditions that are way beyond me anyway.
If you look up circumcision on the internet you will find a good many entries that will tell you everything you want to know from the pain and trauma to loss of sensitivity in the penis to surgery that can go wrong in what is after all nothing more or less than deliberate mutilation of a normal condition to make abnormality normal in its place. I have met men who bewail the loss of their foreskins as infants when they had no choice over the matter and I wonder what the outcome would be if one day a young man decided to sue his parents, his doctor, his hospital for something lost that can never be replaced.

Monday, June 22, 2009

In this heat it is necessary to have the window wide open for the sake of cool and also to dispel the odour of very ancient dog. My study is not large. Originally it was just going to be a small veranda but I decided that with the addition of windows it would make a good office but Sweeney has two favourite sleeping places in it, on a chair and beneath my desk. Too close for comfort. It really is quite incredible that she is still with us. If she’s laying stretched out her breathing is so shallow every now and again you have to look really close in order to make sure that is still the case and that, in a moment when your back was turned, she hadn’t quietly passed on to that great big kennel in the sky. In actual fact her grave was dug in September last year when I thought the end had come but we have decided that what happened then was she must have had a stroke. Now, apart from being smelly (despite baths) and being incontinent, deaf and practically blind, to our amazement she soldiers on and, because she has been such a wonderful pet for nigh on sixteen years, we put up with the minor inconveniences. She is the last of the animals, two cats and two dogs, brought out from England. Her nails desperately need cutting but she hates that so much and, because we’ve been expecting her to go for months, we keep putting it off rather than have her distraught. But if she carries on much longer, we really will have to do something about them.
But having the window wide open, and it is a large window, means that all sorts of flying noonoos: beetles, bees, flies, wasps, mosquitoes, butterflies, moths, you name it, take it as an invitation to fly in and then can’t find their way out so there is a bumping and a buzzing as they climb up or batter on panes of glass until it gets too much and I try and usher them out again. Even then the stupid things sometimes fly right back in. My desk becomes littered with casualties.
The other problem with the office is that it can get quite damp at night and it seems there is little we can do about it except keep the humidifier going all night. It is set at 30 and sometimes in winter when you switch it on it registers as high as 74 and in the morning has gone down to around 40. Gets down to the 30/31 in summer – like now. My goodness, going into the final week of June, half the year gone. Where? Anyway, to begin with we didn’t realise there was a problem until we discovered we had lost three or four lovely books to horrible mould, hence the purchase of the humidifier. The only rooms in this house where there are no books are the bathrooms. In here all the books are on theatre, film, play scripts, histories, theories (there are enough theories to satisfy any would be actor. producer, director, playwright). Next door in a larger space are oversize books on design. In the kitchen of course there are books on cookery. There is a library of books, books in my bedroom and books upstairs in the guest room. Shelves there are double stacked and guests sometimes leave their holiday reading behind which is fine for follow up guests who like that kind of thing but literarily years ago Douglas yelled “No more books!” And what happened? We keep getting new books.
A very happy birthday Dennis Wiercx.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Part of the eye is still occluded although there seems to be a slight improvement, or is that wishful thinking? The dragon hasn’t made a reappearance. As the last time he appeared he looked like a bright pink plastic handbag he probably fled back to his cave in the corner in shame and embarrassment. Being white, red or black is okay, but pink? Do me a favour! Could have been one of Colleen’s ten thousand pound handbags of course. Shame, I really mustn’t go on taking the mick out of that poor girl. She can’t help being a celeb and a footballer’s wife with all that entails. Life must be hard enough for her as it is.
Met up yesterday afternoon with the group who wish to pursue their theatrical ambitions and an enjoyable meeting it was. Naturally before the meeting I went over various possible scenarios none of which actually came into effect so needn’t have bothered. For some reason I had taken from the bookshelf Harold Clurman’s “On Directing” (published 1974) which I must have read many years ago and forgotten about. Now I am a wee bit embarrassed as I think I wrote in the autobiography – if I didn’t and I am not going to check it out - “Did anyone ask Eugene O’Neill where the spines were in his plays?” Or words to that effect. Po po po! This “spine” theory may not have been invented by the Americans but Mister Clurman if no one else, apart from my director in Pittsburgh, certainly took it to heart and yes, he did in production give Mr O’Neill’s plays a spine. Not only that but each character was given a spine as well and, as far as I can make out it all added up to a pig’s fart in a brass band to quote a line from a Glyn Jones play and as far as the end result was concerned. Still, Mister Clurman was a very famous theatre director and if the spine theory worked for him who am I to argue about it? It’s like arguing about Colleen’s sense of taste. Oops! There I go again.
“A Touch Of The poet” by Eugene O’Neill – spine of the play: to make a place for themselves. The character of Con: Spine - To retain his sense of himself. Sara: Spine - To win her place. Does any of that really help the actors? Somehow I very much doubt it.
The meeting took place in a large house in what the Baxter children refer to as “Upper Plaka Garden City!” It had been some time since I had been in that neck of the woods and, although I knew about it, I was nevertheless still taken by surprise by the amount of building that has gone on since my last visit. I am beginning to wonder if there are more ex-pats in Apokoronas than Cretans.
Some time or other I’ll take a look at “Generations” and try to find the spines. If I can’t actually find them I’m sure I could invent them or is that being too cynical?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Three boys, hooded of course, two aged seventeen, the other fifteen have been arrested in Dorset for kicking a newborn foal to death.
Two French students studying in London are locked in their room, tortured for hours and killed by a couple of young thugs.
A mother, her boy friend and a third man are jailed for the torture and death of a baby boy who evidently suffered the most horrendous injuries. The accused are appealing their convictions.
A man is jailed in Glasgow for thrusting a table knife through the eye and into the skull of another who evidently wanted his money back when the attacker’s girl friend, a prostitute, refused the promised and paid for sex. The victim miraculously survived. An x-ray of the knife in position is stomach-churning. The wound that supposedly killed Christopher Marlowe at that Deptford inn must have been similar, but that’s a digression.
A gang of young girls kidnap and set upon another for supposed “disrespect”, cutting off her clothes and beating her with buckled belts. A judge described the attack as ferocious, deliberate and chilling. A girl onlooker photographing the attack on her mobile phone evinced the wish that they had a boy handy who could have raped the victim. The gang’s name is or was “Girls over men”.
A sixteen year old boy is chased in the street and did not survive when set upon and stabbed eleven times by a gang of feral youths: unemployable, uneducated, incapable virtually of putting two words together, minor drug dealers evidently whose only means of expression it would seem is violence. The reason for the attack? The youngster was accused of “disrespect”! This word is becoming number one in the lexicon of to-day’s youth that seem to have no respect for anybody or anything. We are living in a truly violent, cruel, vicious and senseless age.
A constant moan from ex-pats living in Greece is the obvious cruelty to animals: the barrel dogs that freeze in winter, roast in summer and are hardly fed (maybe some crusts of bread) and watered; the stray cats, the poisoning. The letters page in The Athens News is constantly carrying the ex-pats’ observations on the situation. At dinner the other evening one of our guests who is a volunteer animal charity worker in the UK informed us that cruelty to animals in the UK is much much worse, most of it hidden, and started to give us examples until eventually I had to ask her to stop. I despair of cruelty to helpless creatures be they human or animal, and the stories she was telling us were horrifying enough to give one nightmares.
I was dead right about the Rooney baby. Before the little blighter’s even born he’s reputedly worth £1500000. A million of this would be from OK Magazine for a three part series. Are they going to show pictures of the actual birth, maybe with Colleen doing a running commentary about how she’s feeling? It wouldn’t surprise me. The rest of the money comes from style guides, clothes ranges and fitness videos.
If so much of this violence around the world (how many have died in Mexico?) is due to the drugs trade then it’s high time the drugs became legal. After all, if people want to kill themselves with tobacco and alcohol, both drugs, both legal, then why not add cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, and let them that wants get on with it. At least making it legal might have the effect of taking the shine off the gingerbread, it no longer being forbidden fruit, and maybe have the effect of the bottom dropping out of the market – hopefully. Governments, like Sweden and the alcohol trade, could always open their own outlets and charge tax.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

John Lewis’s comment re Napoleon and his cronies is interesting but no one has suggested that charity consists simply of bags of money being handed out willy-nilly. Western nations have been mistakenly doing this for years and there has been little if anything to show for it because it ends up in the pockets, or bank accounts rather, of corrupt politicians and despots. Napoleon Mugabe has had the most elaborate tasteless obscene palace built at a cost of millions and who benefited from it? European manufacturers and contractors, and Mugabe’s cronies (political, military and police) have all lived high on the hog under his dictatorship, but what has happened to the Zimbabwean people? They starve in what was once the breadbasket of Africa or die of diseases for which there are no medicines whilst Mrs Mugabe hightails it to Paris to replenish her already overstocked wardrobe and to buy another twenty pairs of expensive shoes. These people have no humanity or sense of how despicable their behaviour is so it would be pointless pouring more money into that cesspit in the hopes that some of it might float and stay clean.
Oil rich Arabs too build their dream palaces at enormous cost, purchase overseas mansions and buy their multi-million pound custom-made aircraft that are luxury flying hotels while their wives and families outdo Mrs Mugabe with their shopping sprees in European cities so again, who benefits?
It is true also that there are evidently some charities that are overloaded with their own high earning staff but there are also more deserving ones not so well off that should receive much more support so I wouldn’t take too much credence in Napoleon’s theories. He was after all as much of a despot as the ones we see today and responsible for some pretty gruesome massacres. In fact today he would no doubt be labelled a war criminal which is what he was.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sight still not fully restored; small grey patch being obstinate. Our lovely neighbour, Varna from across the way who works for IKA has very kindly put in a plea on our behalf for some compensation towards this week’s costs. Let’s see now (I keep using that word “see” don’t I? It’s like the old Chinese proverb saying we will always talk about feet in front of a cripple. These days of political correctness though, that word cripple is strictly off limits – what would it be? Peripatetically challenged maybe). Back to the subject – this is all in Euro of course – Doctor 35 … Ophthalmologist 210 … Brain scan 71 … Medicines 29 … Total not counting such trifles as petrol 345euro. It would be nice to get some of that back.
There is a young Portuguese soccer player whose salary is £200000 a week and who has an advertising contract for another six million. What does he do with all this money? Well, it would seem he does no more than what any other young ultra-rich soccer player does; buys houses, buys cars, lots of cars, none of them cheap. I wonder, he is a Christian as is proved by the crucifix he wears on a chain round his neck, if it ever occurs to him to thank his god for all these millions of little blessings by giving a small proportion away to the less fortunate of this world, a very small percentage of his millions that would make an enormous difference to their world. Maybe, maybe not. I am not privy to this knowledge. I doubt all those politicians who have been rooting in the trough think of it either, or all the mega-rich Arabs and mega-rich Indians, all the millionaire Patels, or the new generation of multi-millionaire young film stars, hardly out of their teens and worth fortunes. Charities have to beg for crumbs and it is always the not so rich who dig into their pockets to try and make life a little easier for the less fortunate. I often wonder, if ever I were to make any money worth talking about, would I be like that Portuguese footballer and his ilk? I hope not. The Daily Mail have headlined him the £80000000 Lily Savage of football though heaven only knows what that’s supposed to mean? And I’m sure Lily isn’t impressed. Is it because he flounces a bit? A bit! There is no denying he’s a good-looker, so much so that evidently he is the new gay icon. Does that mean David Beckham is past his prime? Truly a footballers’ life is a short one. But interesting? Whatever happened to Mister Rooney’s memoirs for which he was reputedly paid £5000000 up front? Or was that just publicity?
Now that Colleen’s expecting you can expect a lot more loot will be floating in the Rooney direction with the exploitation of baby Rooney to the tabloids and celebrity magazines. Hey ho! It’s a mad mad world, my masters. Evidently they did try to do something for charity with that awful tasteless wedding in Italy but it was their millionaire football associates who let them down by not contributing. Maybe they needed to buy a few more cars.
Just a thought – what stupendous premiums do the football clubs have to pay out to insure their stars? Add that to the stratospheric salaries and it’s no wonder tickets cost the poor punter what they do.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blog 7

Crete might be in some ways still a third world country but there are two aspects where it is bang up to date – dentistry and opthalmics. The equipment in surgery and clinic could not be bettered. Not that the ophthalmologist, trained in the good ole US of A could do anything for the eye other than examine it and it would seem the black covering cloud is gradually diminishing. However, as it is still difficult to focus properly and the eyes tire quickly so that I spend minutes with them shut, nothing of interest, consequence or import has been done for the last three days and consequently there is nothing for me to write about so to-day’s blog ends with the hope that in a couple of days time the eye well have cleared completely. If not then I have lost some sight in the right eye. The brain scan was quite interesting come to think of it. Evidently, according to Doctor Elizabeth, I have the brain of a young man (if that is the case why words escape me so often I cant imagine) but some slight calcification at the spot where the ophthalmic nerve starts is most likely the cause of the blindness. I now have a drug to hopefully disperse that. We shall see – no pun intended.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I guess some days are meant to take one by surprise, turning out to be totally unexpected, knocking routine for six, and yesterday was such a day. Everything seemed hunky-dory when I woke up although I was still wheezing from the bronchitis but it wasn’t until I was sitting on my bed and starting to dress that it suddenly happened – I went virtually blind in my right eye! Having missed the good Doctor Elizabeth the day before due to it being All Saints Day and everyone praying for the dead and neglecting the living, within minutes Douglas had driven me to the surgery and, after a short wait, we were ushered in to spend a long while there, firstly on the oxygen machine, then being roundly ticked off for not taking prescribed medication for high blood pressure, then a whole load of new prescriptions written out in a doctor’s usual illegible handwriting to be sorted out at the Health Centre today. One good thing came out of the waiting. While I was imbibing oxygen, Douglass thought of a better title for ENTER ANTHONY. It is now called THE JOURNEYS WE MAKE. He is so much better than I at coming up with stuff like that. Ever since then he has been worrying about what kind of cover the book should have. It will have to make sure stupid people don’t imagine it’s a travel book. Anyway, from there it was into Xania for a brain scan Doctor Elizabeth insisted on in case a thrombosis was present causing the eye damage, and from there to the ophthalmologist and all of that took us well into the afternoon by which time, having had a thin slice of cake earlier on and nothing else, we were both starving so stopped at an obelisterio for a souvlaki and salad and came home to drop onto my bed exhausted. The eye had started to clear slightly but by late evening there was still a black patch over one section. I might add all this has given the bank account a knock as well, not being done under IKA.
My study these days is full of butterflies but they were joined this evening by a very large orange striped winged creature almost two inches long that looked rather nasty. It was behind the window curtain making a noise like a jet passing over so I sprayed it, went to dinner and, when I came back later, found it on my desk struggling like mad. The convulsions were awful and I felt really terrible that I was the cause of this little creature’s suffering. I should have just tried, as I often do with bees and wasps and the like, to help it on its way through the open window. At this point I did, so didn’t have to watch its final agony. I cannot understand how human beings can lay poison down for dogs and cats and feel nothing. Notice I don't mention rats but, when we have caught one in a trap I invariably wish it could have been otherwise because in fact these country rats are very pretty little creatures. Unfortunately they’re also very destructive.
This morning the eye has partly cleared up so let’s hope that continues.

Monday, June 8, 2009

JUST IN CASE is out there taking its chances in the big wide world but on reading it again there are still some mistakes. Quite obviously no matter how hard we try Douglas and I are simply inadequate when it comes to proof-reading. With me it is most probably impatience in that, after going carefully over a passage, I will want to actually start reading again rather than take note of every word, every single bit of punctuation.
ENTER ANTHONY has now been read by three “guinea pigs” and all have given it the equivalent of five stars so we really will have to do something with it. Admittedly three is hardly a number anyone would consider as being a reliable sample but each was different in age and background and all were told to trash it if that was the way they felt. They needn’t have picked up the manuscript to begin with or they could have stopped reading at any point if they felt they didn’t want to go on. Probably the most interesting comment was from William (school teacher) who said “It’s not the kind of book I would go out of my way to buy but I certainly enjoyed it.”
Now it is off to see Doctor Elizabeth as I am still having chest problems; have had all year ever since that visit to Britain when I picked up that wretched infection, followed by hay fever, something I’ve never had in my life before, with itchy runny nose and itchy runny eyes, followed by this, I can only think of as bronchitis. I’m fine sitting still but the minute I move to do anything only slightly energetic I’m totally out of breath which prevents me from doing anything physical. So it is a short blog today. Did I hear someone say thank goodness? I’m thinking of taking a summer break anyway, recharge my batteries.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blog 4

I read in the paper that two more musicals are to be revived in London: ANNIE GET YOUR GUN and SWEET CHARITY. So how many musicals will be running and how many of them are revivals? Let’s take a look at the “Official London Theatre Guide”. First on the list at The Victoria Palace is BILLY ELLIOT. This Is followed by BLOOD BROTHERS (been running for ever and when I saw the very first performance in Liverpool all those years ago I thought it was not very good, in fact quite unbelievable and wouldn’t be going anywhere. I didn’t take Mister Bill Kenwright into account. How wrong can you be considering the length of its run?). LA CAGE AUX FOLLES (Revival), CAROUSEL (Revival), is CALENDER GIRLS a musical? I don’t know. Then there is CHICAGO, (another revival), DIRTY DANCING, GREASE (Revival) and HAIRSPRAY, JERSEY BOYS, THE LION KING and A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC (Revival), MAMMA MAI, something called MARILYN but I don’t know about that one, whether or not it’s a musical and LES MISERABLES (Been running forever). OLIVER(Revival), PETER PAN (Revival), THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Been running forever), PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT, SISTER ACT, STOMP, THRILLER-LIVE, WE WILL ROCK YOU and finally WICKED. If all these are still running then, with the two newcomers, that makes 25 musicals in all of which nine are revivals. Once upon a time managements were extremely loathe to even contemplate a musical because of the costs involved so what changed that? Of course, if you analyse the titles you realise these are all bound to be sure-fire winners and with the cost of tickets in the West End these days, managements are, to coin a phrase, coining it!
The BBC was part of this morning’s discussion at the breakfast table, the fact that it seems to be employing schoolchildren and is Jonathan Ross worth six million? To which the answer was a resounding no.
One of the big three Greek television companies is to film THE ISLAND here over a period of ten months and Douglas put forward a proposal to the Beeb to cover the making of the series as a documentary to which the answer was no thanks because it wouldn’t be of interest to English audiences. A book that has sold millions and been translated into something like twenty languages and a heart-rending story set in the beautiful Med and it wouldn’t be of interest to English audiences? But English audiences switch on in droves I presume to watch RUSSIA by David Dimbleby. Like I said, the BBC is run by schoolchildren these days.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

So this week sees the elections for a new European parliament and evidently the big worry is the turnout. Last time it was 47%. This time the question being asked is will it even reach that? Considering what has been happening in the UK recently and what people know about MEPs it’s a wonder anyone bothers to vote at all – why put your cross next to the name of someone who is going to turn out to be a crooked, thieving, cheating, greedy, corrupt hog? None of this applies to us as living in Greece we don’t have the vote in anything other than local elections but it will be most interesting to see how the Labour party does in the UK considering Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and all their cronies have virtually brought the country to its knees, or so it would appear. Will the Brits continue to vote for them? People have very short memories and can also be very stupid.
So the great Britain Has Talent contest is over and the favourite was knocked into second place which must have had the bookies rushing in glee to their respective banks as there were evidently some pretty hefty bets on her winning. She, poor lass, (last I heard) is in a clinic recovering from nervous exhaustion. Not surprising considering what a world wide phenomenon she turned out to be, and not the only one to suffer nerves. Poor little Holly breaking down and unable to finish her song and then not knowing whether she would get a second chance and howling her eyes out and all the while the audience making the most horrendous noise. I would have thought a civilised sympathetic hush would have been more the order of the day but no, there had to be a lot of hissing and groaning (meaning what?) and did I even hear some boos? Poor child.
As for Miss Boyle coming second, that didn’t surprise me. Her first appearance was so magical (I do believe were I to play it again now I would once more burst into tears and sob my heart out so I’m not going to put it to the test) causing that universal response that, from then on it just had to be downhill. Her rendering of “Memories” was not as good and her final not as good as her “Memories”. Nothing she did could touch that first moment of absolute magic.
I have no idea what the winners were like as I haven’t yet seen their act. I will no doubt catch up with it on YouTube. Talking of which, one does come across all sorts of weird and wonderful things on YouTube and some information one would rather not have. When I wrote the other day about the state Durban is in I could have added Johannesburg is even worse. It is no wonder my nephew Evan chose to take his family to Singapore rather than be transferred form the Cape to Johannesburg. I truly wonder if two showers Zuma can pull that country together. I do hope so but it will be a Herculean task to say the least.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Into June already! Where has almost half the year gone to? Where have eleven and a half years gone to? That’s the time since we bought the house in Crete and what a lot of changes we have seen since that first move, especially with the influx of Brits in the last few years after that dreadful television programme A PLACE IN THE SUN that sold them “the dream!” Unfortunately for a number of them the dream turned into a nightmare, mainly due to that old human failing – greed. Having sold their properties in the UK at stratospheric prices they bought cheap on Crete, believing the sales pitch and that what cash was left over would give them enough to live on for the rest of their lives. True to a point, especially as the cost of living in Greece at that time was a fraction of that in the UK and Greek banks held interest rates way above anybody else’s. But the EU soon put a stop to that and Greece isn’t so inexpensive anymore. Add to that the buy cheap philosophy and you gets what you pays for and some expats have been paying ever since with cold, damp, leaking, badly finished houses they would dearly love to sell and for which there is now no market. And it wasn’t just greedy Greeks who were at fault. At least two of the big developers were English and so much of the area has been literally spoilt by them. In the old days before the modern world hit Crete, if a man was cold or his bed was damp all he did was put on another sweater and wait for summer when everything would dry out anyway. But expats, buying their houses in the summer, sometimes didn’t take into account that Crete isn’t a place in the sun all year round but can get cold winters (short fortunately) and heavy rains; that houses get damp and even flooded and stupid expats have even been heard to cry in all seriousness “Nobody told us it rains in Crete!” Can you credit that? What they also were not aware of is that everyone in Greece is used to the little envelope that helps change the rules and eases things along. For example, you can’t build here because this is forestry land. No it’s not, another couple of hundred in the back pocket and it will cease to be forestry land, so go ahead and build. Or, on a plot of a certain size the builder is allowed to build one or two houses so he goes right ahead and builds four and he sells them to foreigners eager for the dream but now comes the nightmare when one decides to sell and finds he cannot because he doesn’t own the land on which his house is built. Oh, yes, he owns the house, as do his three neighbours own theirs but without their consent he cannot sell. None of them own the land on which their houses are built. There are many traps for the unwary and only recently we heard of an elderly couple who bought a house via the internet not even knowing where it is and it has been standing empty for five years. When they finally got around to looking at it all the woman could say was, “It’s dirty.” And burst into tears. After standing empty for five years would you be surprised?
The unprecedented level of prices for UK property has led to ramifications elsewhere that were never expected. Cretans had never experienced so much money floating around and, when asked why they were prepared to sell their land to developers, to give up their heritage in fact (how many ancient olives have been ripped up to make way for little boxes?) they invariably replied it was to give their children the chance to go to university and become doctors and dentists and lawyers and never have to reap olives or work hard on a farm again. It was inevitable one supposes but rather sad to suddenly see so many expensive BMWs, Porsches, Mercs proliferating at the rate of knots. I wonder how many junior members of the family actually made it to become doctors, dentists, or lawyers, but at least the German car manufacturers were happy.