Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This blog comes courtesy of Douglas’s computer. Mine was brought back yesterday complete with new hard drive but unfortunately it is refusing to have anything to do with the screen or the screen with it as the case may be which remains as black as night and Chris is at a complete loss as to what to do about it. I am a total ignoramus when it comes to computers so am no help whatsoever and the computer genius, Douglas, is of course not here. Evidently some content has been saved but “The Cinelli Vases” has evidently stopped at 31000 words which means I have lost about 9000. It could have been worse I suppose. I could have lost it all but I don’t honestly know if I have the inclination to continue with it despite the other night in bed coming up with all sorts of ideas for the second half of the book.
Mr Frank Mouque has informed us that he has missed my “rants”. Do I rant? I don’t believe I do. In my seventy ninth year I think I have reason to be an angry old man sometimes when I think of the horrors perpetrated by my fellow human beings. Let us take just a few examples: In Tanzania albino children as young as five are being slaughtered like animals and dismembered for body parts to make muti (witch doctor’s medicine) believed to bring good luck or, if raped, thought to be a cure for AIDS. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the Taliban are still continuing their senseless cruelty especially to women. In Iraq gays are abducted tortured and killed for being who they are and in Iran they are executed by law, some being no more than boys. War lords in the horn of Africa are having a field day and refugees flee for their lives into Kenya. Brainwashed youths strap explosives to their bodies and commit murder and mayhem in order to enter paradise and have the luxury of being greeted by seventy-two virgins. Ultra Orthodox Jews cannot see that their stand means peace will never come to Israel. Half the world is starving while footballers’ wives think nothing of owning half a dozen handbags or more at ten thousand pounds or so a throw and bankers and business men, even the failures, walk away with obscene amounts of bonuses. Girls are still being painfully circumcised. Wild animals, if not losing their natural habitat to man, are still being hunted to extinction. Domestic animals who deserve our trust and respect are being cruelly treated to say nothing of cruelty to children and not just those used and abused for pornography. Drugs and crime in parts of the world appear to be an insurmountable problem. The Christian far right in America spit vitriol and hatred at anyone who doesn’t agree with their beliefs, some beliefs being totally ridiculous such as the world being 6000 years old and some, like the pro-lifers taking matters into their own hands, resulting in murder. So much for pro-life! Come now, Frank, is that a rant or merely pointing out the situation as I see it? And how much do you suppose I’ve left out?
Chris, after a quick phone call to Spiros and Andonis has managed to correct the fault and the screen is now live although from the groans I hear coming from my study there are still problems.
Finished reading “The God Delusion” and here is just one quote from it, by a Cardinal on the abduction and forcible conversion of a young Jewish boy who, when ill, had been inadvertently baptized by a hysterical servant. Stating that he was powerless to intervene the Cardinal added. ‘Here it may be opportune to observe that, if the voice of nature is powerful, even more powerful are the sacred duties of religion.’ Speaks for itself doesn’t it?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Blog should have gone out today, Thursday, but yesterday my computer crashed and went AWOL. It is in the Computer Hospital in Chania and, perish the thought, I might have lost everything that was on it. With regrets, I won't be back with my blog for at least three more days.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Finished reading THE LUMINOUS LIFE OF LILLI APHRODITE and found it thoroughly engrossing. When one thinks of World War ll, the Nazi party, the atrocities, the holocaust, one seldom takes into account (or at least I haven’t before) how ordinary Germans suffered through World War l (It will all be over in six weeks) and the years that followed. Of course one knew about the reparations demanded but you dismissed that as only fair if the world at war was all down to the Kaiser and his generals, but the novel makes it so clear how it was the people who suffered for it and went on suffering when the Nazis came to power, how many were murdered – German Germans, not Jews, not Gypsies, nor homosexuals, not conquered people, but Germans who opposed or were suspected of opposing Hitler and were summarily executed just in case. The horrors that were inflicted makes the whole epoch too terrible and it is brought to notice with amazing clarity in the novel.
Well, having finished that one, took THE GOD DELUSION down from the bookshelf. Thought it might be fun to read it again. I notice in the preface Dawkins remarks on having put right a number of mistakes kind readers pointed out to him in the hardback edition so I am not the only one. There’s comfort. as the Welsh might say. I also discovered a newspaper article I had cut out from The Daily Mail dated March 9th, 2007. It is by A.N.Wilson giving Dawkins a right ticking off or as the headline puts it – “Why in God’s name do we take this silly, shallow scientist seriously?” Silly? Shallow? In the immortal words of a certain Mister McEnroe he cannot be serious! If Dawkins did indeed say of a certain girl that “she had one of the most stupid faces I have ever seen” then causes are not advanced or arguments won that way. That was cruel and uncalled for and Dawkins should be thoroughly ashamed of himself, but I am not rushing to his defence. I’m sure he is quite capable of defending himself if so inclined. However if A.N.Wilson feels Richard Dawkins’ arguments for the non-existence of god are spurious perhaps he had better see to the mote in his own eye as far as shallow silly argument is concerned. For example, “the fact that all the greatest philosophers, musicians, painters, and writers in the history of the globe have believed in God.” All? Surely not all. No sceptics, no disbelievers amongst the great minds? Now, although I am not one of the great writers I am a writer of sorts and I am of a philosophical bent you could say but, above all, I do have a certain intelligence. If I were therefore to say I believe in God does that necessarily bring him into existence? What rubbish. What is so special about some painters, musicians etc., that they supposedly have this mystical insight? “He went in search of religious grotesques in the Middle East and the Bible belt of America and had no difficulty in making them seem absurd.” I don’t think he had to try very hard. Religion had already done the job before he got there; note his own word ‘grotesque’. “our feelings of some transcendental force during the playing of Beethoven’s late string quartets, or when viewing a landscape of sublime beauty … remind us that we are spiritual beings.” There are countless people to whom Beethoven’s late string quartets mean diddlysquat and the same applies to landscapes of extreme beauty.’ That is too often the response and for those who do appreciate them it is not necessarily a religious experience and it proves nothing. A developer for example can look upon that landscape and see nothing but the building of houses and an enormous profit. So much for spirituality. “The Bible says that every man and woman (is god transsexual?) is made in His image, (tall, short, fat, thin., dark, fair, white, black, male, female, straight, deformed, what image?) and it is not “surprising that in innumerable ways, they sense His presence.” Wilson obviously has firsthand knowledge of what innumerable people sense. But his headline is the giveaway. It puts him firmly amongst the theists “Why in GOD’S NAME” he asks. Why not just “Why”?
As Dawkins does, I would like to quote Gore Vidal –“the great unmentionable evil at the centre of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved –Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are literally patriarchal – God is the omnipotent father – hence the loathing of women for 2000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates.” As Ron in Australia once wrote to me, “If the Koran said that males had to wear the Burka so nothing could be seen of them but their eyes do you think they would have taken any notice?’ Fat chance.

I said there wouldn’t be any films worth watching and unfortunately I was right. Turned on one called ANGEL EYES and lasted all of fifteen minutes before switching off.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

More bad news out of Iraq. Evidently the religious self-righteous are now laying traps and luring homosexuals to their torture and death through internet chat rooms. This is all done in the name of Islam of course. Allah obviously watches it benignly and with compassion. These deluded sick murderers causing such grievous pain sorrow fear and horrible deaths are proving only one thing, that the men they murder are in all probability a hundred percent better human beings than they. Strangely enough this evidently did not happen under the rule of Saddam Hussein. A great many other people were tortured and killed but not because they were gay. This has only started to happen since the American invasion. Are the Americans going to do anything about it? I hardly think so. What matters the death of faggots? What a benighted country, Iraq that is, not America. What is going to happen as those who pervert Islam grows stronger and stretch its tentacles ever wider? I see yet another country, in the Far East this time, in which the majority of the population is Muslim has adopted Sharia law and brought back stoning to death for adultery, if you’re married that is. If you’re single and get caught out in indulging in a perfectly natural activity, it means a vicious flogging. Of course alcohol etc., is now forbidden and, here we go yet again, god help you if you’re gay and get found out. When will these people ever learn without religious bigotry what it is to be human and that paradise is nothing more than a beautiful myth? Was it the Archbishop of Canterbury a short while ago who burbled something about Sharia law coming to Britain. Was he stoned at the time (no pun intended) or utterly out of his mind? Why not bring back hanging drawing and quartering as a public spectacle?
Friend Ron Southcott in Melbourne reminded me that in my autobiography I mentioned a song my mother sang when I was a child and which included the lines “Tell me again you love me, kiss me on lips and brow” and I would duly follow those instructions. I often wondered about that song and Ron has given me the answer by sending me the entire lyric. The song is called “Parted” and is on a recording sung by Peter Dawson which I have listened to. The only part of the melody I remembered was on those two lines. It is credited to Frederick Weatherly but with a question mark and there is a question of whether it was by Tosti. Someone named Susanna May Lougheed is also mentioned with the date September 18th 1916. It is rather a lovely poem in a highly sentimental way of course and I won’t quote the entire thing, just two verses, one of which contains those immortal remembered lines and I can still see my mother sitting at the piano and turning around at the appropriate moment to be kissed on lips and brow before turning back to continue.

Dearest the night is passing
Waneth the trembling moon.
Hark! how the wind ariseth,
Morn will be here so soon.

Tell me again you love me –
Kiss me on lips and brow,
Love of my soul, I love you,
How can I leave you now?

Okay, so it goes a wee bit over the top in true Victorian or Edwardian tear-jerking fashion despite the date of 1916 but still not to be sniggered at in twenty-first century embarrassment.

Friday, September 18, 2009

No movies for weeks worth watching on Greek television, or movies showing that have already been seen and then, like London buses, three all come at once, in this case in the same evening. A film called SHOOTER which I thought I would watch because Mark Wahlberg was in it. It turned out to be a run-of-the-mill hero framed, lured into a trap for the sake of his country, clichéd piece of nonsense full of holes and with Mister Wahlberg giving a run-of-the-mill hero framed performance not a word of which I clearly heard. He was being so butch his mouth could hardly move. He had the police, the FBI and the CIA all after him and should have been killed half a dozen times, after a fall that would have killed a lesser mortal and with two bullet holes in him but miraculously stayed alive (in one instance because of a beautiful girl – natch, this is Hollywood calling)) to come out on top at the end. America is a vast country and how the plot got from one state to another in a matter of moments was quite miraculous The second movie I watched because it was a Western and starred Johnny Depp and I love Westerns and have always liked Mister Depp as an actor, except for “Sweeney Todd” in which I felt he was horribly miscast, mainly because he was too young. Anyway, the film was called “Dead Man” made in 1995, a truly unusual or should I say weird piece? and so-o-o-o-o sl-o-o-o-w! The third film was about the fourth plane on the fateful day, 9/11 and again was pretty much run of the mill and, as there were no survivors, what actually went on in that plane according to the movie must be mostly from the writers’ imagination and who could gainsay them? So really I could have missed my three buses and waited for a taxi. Now there will be nothing interesting to watch for days. Fortunately we still have so many tapes and the following evening I watched “The Assassination Bureau” a ridiculous but fun comic strip movie I hadn’t seen for a long time and with a terrific cast.
If folk in the UK want to know why their council taxes are up in the stratosphere somewhere, ponder this – in central Bedfordshire they have something called “The Local Development Framework – task force” Framework? Framework! What’s with this framework? And this is followed by something called the “Oversight and Scrutiny Committee” obviously to make sure the Local Development Framework is actually doing something useful for the money, but who then scrutinises the Oversight and Scrutiny Committee? Have you ever heard anything quite so ridiculous? Well yes, under New Labour that’s the way once Great Britain has gone. And how much do these two organizations (if that’s the right word for them) and all the other quangos cost? Once upon a time before PC, multi-culturism and the compensation culture, councils did all that was required of them and nothing more. Now they can’t even manage their waste disposal – except in the matter of money that is. Plenty of waste there.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The days come, the days go, and little if anything seems to be accomplished. Have done no writing in a while and don’t feel like doing any at the moment although I am well into Thornton King number four. Still, there is no hurry for it. Number three won’t be published till next year. The house desperately needs cleaning (it’s a big house) and I can’t seem to rake up the energy for that, and as for the garden I haven’t even looked at it in days despite the fact that the prickly pears are aching to be picked and must be dropping by the dozen. Maybe tomorrow. The weather has been overcast with the promise of rain but still muggy and still inclined to make one sweaty. In fact as I write this the fan is blowing at my back.
Friends Charmaine and Dave came around for coffee Monday morning which made a pleasant break and we were desperately trying to remember the name of a film director but it completely eluded us. There’s fame for you. It wasn’t until late in the afternoon that something triggered my memory and the man we sere trying to think of was Tim Burton of course. I have the perfect vehicle for him and Johnny Depp but how do I get it to him? Still haven’t heard a word from Vanessa Redgrave’s agents. I have sent a polite e-mail as a little reminder. Also thought of sending an e-mail to the publishers John Murray. Am reading “The Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite” and enjoying it immensely but oh, wow! On page 81 I read “the mounted infantry and the goose-stepping cavalry”. How on earth did that get passed author, editors, and proof readers? It is too easy to miss small typos in a manuscript but something as big as this? Readers have pointed out mistakes in my autobiography but apart from palette for palate, a word I didn’t know until Roger Beeching (trust me I’m a dentist) pointed it out to me. they are all pretty small. Anyway, the e-mail address on the fly-leaf is unrecognised so I tried another I found on the internet and that too was unrecognised so I gave up. Wasn’t going to go for third time lucky.
Charmaine’s highly talented nephew, Henry Cockburn is to be congratulated into getting a place at Oxford. How long is it since he, his mother and sister were out here and we met at the Litsarda panagerie, four or five years? I remember him telling me at the time he had ambitions to be an actor and I believe from all the news Charmaine passes on that he has been at it pretty regularly whilst at school. No doubt he will continue to do so with OADS, a good jumping off place as many a theatre and television success has found.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I spelt Meryl Streep as Merrill. Sorry Meryl but it’s our Merrill’s name so it just automatically came out that way. Going back to the Oriental sweatshops I see yet another Chinese shop selling cheap goods has opened in Xania. They really are taking over. Another mistake I made was to write that tea and scones in Harare cost the equivalent of £6 – it should have been more than £60. My maths ain’t so hot. 800SAR even divided by ten comes to 80, not 8. Also I am informed Mugabe is once again threatening white farmers, the few who are left, with the possibility that they are going to lose their farms, when the ones already taken over by his cronies (without compensation but with quite a lot of violence) are lying idle so that those who used to have work on the farms are now unemployed and maize has to be imported from South Africa at considerable cost. And the IMF is thinking of giving this man another huge handout? And the EU is thinking of lifting sanctions? Are they crazy or what? The only thing I can see that is going to get rid of this appalling dictator is old age and, as he is already in his eighties, let’s hope it will be very soon. The world will be a cleaner place. But which of his cronies will take over and will he be any better? Many many years ago a writer by the name of Alan Paton wrote a book titled “Cry The Beloved Country” about South Africa. The title could very well apply to Zimbabwe today. I think I wrote once before that the Lasker family, mother and two sons, Ron and Peter, who was at school with me, were emigrating from SA to what was then Rhodesia and I remember Peter saying “That is the country of the future”. Tell that to the whites and the Matabele, those not of Mugabe’s tribe. If Peter is still alive I wonder what his thoughts would be now in his country of the future. Just as a sideline, my mother taught Alan Paton when he was a schoolboy.
Pre-election fever hits Greece. There are enormous open air rallies with lots of flag waving, blue for New Democracy, green for Pasok (the socialist opposition) and indoor meetings in halls that must hold thousands, and they are packed. When last I wonder was there this type of phenomenon seen in the UK before a general election? Karamanlis has called the election despite New Democracy being behind in the polls but poor George Papandreou; I have the impression that he is a very nice man but, in politics, being nice is not good enough. He might be descendant from a famous Greek political figure but that is not enough either. When Karamanlis addresses the faithful he is full of fire. When George does the same he is unfortunately too serious and too dull. However, if New Democracy loses, he will be the n ext prime minister of Greece and jolly good luck to him trying to solve seemingly intractable problems.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My sister in South Africa tells me a friend of hers has just been in Zimbabwe and found the shops well stocked with expensive foreign goods, people carrying the most stylish handbags and wearing crocodile skin shoes and the latest fashions. Tea and scones in a cafe cost the equivalent of 800SAR, that is nearly £6, so why, she asks, is Zimbabwe asking for money? Admittedly this was all in the city so what conditions are like in rural areas her friend didn’t find out, vastly different I would presume. So, continuing to discuss money, I see on the news a young Chinese woman has just paid £360000 (that is not a misprint and I thought footballers’ wives were shopoholics) for a Tibetan Mastiff, the latest “must have” in China, and a fleet of luxury cars was waiting at the airport for her to bring her new pet home. Chinese communism obviously works for some: though I wonder if this young lady, or members of her family, might not be part of a syndicate producing fake drugs which is evidently a vast and growing problem even for the Chinese; there having been a number of fatalities in that country due to these fakes. But evidently criminal gangs are making a fortune out of the racket and it seems impossible to put a stop to it. When fake goods like shoes, clothes, bags etc., come out of Thailand and China it is the original manufacturing company that suffers through loss of sales but when fake drugs come out it is people’s health and that is really terrible. It is quite frightening really. The consumer goods are produced in sweatshops and there are people who have to live on a dollar a day, and the very poorest on 45 cents. Meanwhile young madam can pay £360000 for a dog. I discovered all this by watching a documentary on Vouli TV. Vouli is the Greek government channel and there is often very interesting programmes on it: documentaries, theatre, opera, ballet; the documentaries, mostly from the BBC, covering any number of topics. Another one I watched the same evening was on aging which didn’t really tell you all that much except that inevitably we all have to die and we are the only animals conscious of that fact., as though we don’t know it. Evidently the oldest known person in the world was a French lady who died at the remarkable age of 122 (and that’s not a misprint either).
And still on the subject of money and dogs, an American woman (ex real estate), left $12000000 in her will to her dog and nothing to her family. There was another enormous bequest going to charity but only to dog charities. Fortunately a judge with a modicum of sense reduced the pet’s inheritance from $12000000 to $2000000 though even that is quite ridiculous, and declared charities other than doggie ones could benefit from this windfall. The woman in her lifetime was evidently known as “The queen of mean” because of tax evasion which is probably how she managed to accumulate so vast a fortune.
And still on the subject of money, Rovers went down the drain to the tune of a billion, 6500 jobs were lost and five directors walked away with £42000000 between them. I truly wonder how these people can live with themselves.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Accidentally on Greek television saw the opening of an American crime programme NCIS and would you believe it? Death by exploding golf ball! The very device I used in DEAD ON TIME published almost three years ago. There really is nothing new under the sun. I didn’t stay to see what happened next as I can’t understand half of what’s going on in that programme anyway. I had thought a film was scheduled, RIVER WILD with Kevin Bacon and Merrill Streep but got the channels mixed up and the channel I actually wanted was off the air, just a blank screen. Greek TV can be the pits, it really can.
Am reading the proof copy of THE JOURNEYS WE MAKE and so far have come across nine or ten mistakes. They are all small and the question one has to ask is, is it worth paying to have them corrected or should one just go ahead and publish willy-nilly? It’s quite amazing how many times you can go over a manuscript and still miss out on errors and virtually every book I read these days has not been proof read to perfection.
Was wide awake before six this morning and got up to see how Sweeney fared during the night. Was quite sure I would find she had finally given up the ghost but no, she had moved from the blanket in the breakfast room and was lying in the lobby minus her pampers. I opened the garden doors in case she decided to go out and went back to bed but it was pretty hopeless trying to get off to sleep and immediately got up again. She is now completely blind and almost totally disorientated. She stands for long moments not knowing where she is and unable to move. I decided to put her to bed in the breakfast room last night rather than downstairs and put a chair across the steps in case she decided to move during the night, would miss the steps, fall and injure herself. I didn’t think she would but you never know and, indeed, finding her in the lobby this morning she could have walked in the opposite direction! It can’t be much longer. You sometimes have to look very close to make sure she is still breathing, it is sometimes so faint.
Read some more of the book over my morning cuppa and have nearly finished it without finding any more mistakes.
The news headlines have been full of the IMF planning to give enormous sums of money to Zimbabwe and talk of lifting sanctions on that benighted country. What is the point of either if Mugabe and his cronies are still there?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Well, looked up Arnold Wesker on Google, now Sir Arnold of course, and how out of touch can you get? Author of 44 plays, translated into twenty languages, plus poetry, journalism, lecturing etcetera. This damn machine. I had no sooner written that, and saved it fortunately, when it cut out again. It has a habit of doing that for some reason or other and naturally it always takes one by surprise. I’ve had to rename this Blog as the original became “read only”. I don’t know about all the electrical appliances crashing, I might lose everything anyway because of an unpaid bill. After Douglas left I noticed an electricity bill here that is already almost a month out of date and there is no way I can get to pay it now. If you pay within a given date you can do it at the local post office, after that you have to go into headquarters in Xania. Douglas is quite certain (when I spoke to him on the telephone) I won’t be cut off. I ain’t so sure.
He evidently had the most boring journey back to Athens. The boat he said was packed and ploughed on so slowly over a placid sea – “lathi poo lene” as the Greeks say, like oil, and it is the newest and fastest in the Anek fleet and then, when he finally arrived at Piraeus he found there were no trains to take him into Athens as work was going on at various stations. He eventually managed to get a cab and arrived at the flat exhausted. It’s bad enough having a bad journey if you’re well, not so hot when you’re proper poorly. I was getting very worried as for some reason he seemed to think the boat should have got in at about five and come eight-thirty I still hadn’t heard from him and there was no answer from the flat I finally called him on the mobile to find he was still In Piraeus waiting to collect his luggage. For once I was grateful for mobile phones. Usually I am the complete Luddite where those bloody things are concerned. Anyway, how he came to the conclusion he would arrive in Piraeus in five hours I really don’t know because the overnight trip takes eight. Have just heard from Chris that the Anek brochure gives the daytime boat arrival time as 5 so he wasn’t mistaken.
What a change in the weather! Fortunately Sunday evening I saw the forecast on television which was for rain over the whole country so brought the garden furniture (cane) in and just as well as six o’clock yesterday morning I was woken by rain thudding down on the bathroom roof, a really heavy shower which saved my having to water the garden as planned. Actually I wasn’t really asleep, just dozing as Sweeney got me up at six wanting to go out and I had gone back to bed. She really is now totally disorientated and has to be gently prodded and guided everywhere. Poor old gal. I honestly don’t see how she can last much longer.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday and another week gone, seemingly in the blink of an eye. Douglas leaves today for Athens on the midday boat and then flies to England on Wednesday. His first medical appointment has already been arranged for Thursday morning. Friends everywhere have been so supportive but while he is away that support can be in thought only and in a situation like this you feel so utterly helpless which, in fact, is what you are.
So I am on my todd for the next twelve days as Chris is not due back until the morning of the18th. It does feel a bit weird, in fact the whole situation feels surreal. Not that I haven’t been on my todd before but not under these circumstances. Douglas said at dinner yesterday evening that the moment his back is turned everything electrical in the house starting with this computer is going to crash. I hope not. It will be candles, oil lamps and gas cooker if it does. It is also awkward not being able to drive having not renewed my stolen licence, being still partially sighted in the right eye (though it seems to be improving or is that just wishful thinking?) and having just had the pacemaker fitted. If the cops were to stop me I’d probably be in a heap of trouble and that would be just my luck.
Douglas informed Lightning Source of the delay thanks to DHL in receiving the proof of THE JOURNEYS WE MAKE and got an immediate reply to the effect that they would send another copy to him in England free of charge. Now that is what I call excellent customer relations. Pity not all firms are like that. Haven’t heard from Vanessa Redgrave or her agent, not a dickie bird but, (optimism again) maybe it is early days yet but the question is, should I hold out much hope? It is a cry from the heart of the most neglected dramatist of the 20th/21st centuries. Nobody can say I don’t try but properties are sent out on a wing and a prayer only it would seem to disappear into the wild blue yonder, and there’s a string of clichés for you. Today the accent is all on yoof. The BBC is run by children and I see a seventeen year old girl is having her play produced at The Royal Court Upstairs. She is evidently described as a real find. But then so was Sheila Delaney when she wrote A TASTE OF HONEY and will this one also turn out to be a one play playwright? Whatever, I wish her every success. Talking of which, whatever happened to Arnold Wesker after his brief flurry of fame? Must look him up on the internet.

Friday, September 4, 2009

We have been wondering what happened to the proof copy from Lightning Source of THE JOURNEYS WE MAKE so Douglas did some investigation and discovered it has been sitting in Heraklion for a week! Now it will have to be mailed back to him in England from whence it came, what a flaming nuisance. Still it will give him something to read in hospital if he’s up to it. Talking of books have just read two I can thoroughly recommend to anyone interested; firstly Helen Dunmore’s beautiful novel about Leningrad, THE SIEGE and then, if you’re into thrillers with some substance, Jesse Kellerman’s seamless page turner, THE BRUTAL ART.
It would appear that the fires that ravaged Greece a short while back have been the last straw for Prime Minister Karamanlis who has called a general election. These summer fires, so many of them, Athens evidently was virtually ringed with them, are an intractable problem because it would be simply economically impossible to have on stand- by all year forces large enough to cope and for most of the time probably unwanted and idle. The money would have to come out of peoples pockets either in taxes or rates and there would be howls of anguish but, come summer and come the fires, there are still howls of anguish and questions of why once more hasn’t the government been prepared for this emergency? Now of course California is suffering horrendous fires with mass evacuations and people losing their homes as they did here, and France and Spain have also had their summer disasters. Is it global warming? And here in Greece, a country with (up to now anyway) no land registry the question always is, is it arson on the part of developers?
We were in Kalyves yesterday, a seaside town which at this time of the year should be bustling with holiday makers and it was practically dead with weeks of the season still to go. There could not have been more than about thirty people on the beach, very few in the town itself and in the kafenios and restaurants hardly a customer in sight. I kept on thinking of that song from LA MIZ, empty tables, empty chairs, and there were an awful lot of them. It would seem it’s not been much of a year for anybody. As Her Maj would say – an annus horribilis, probably a misspelt one, my Latin never was up to much. Check with Mary Beard. Hi, Mary! Been reading your book reviews. Maybe you’ll do mine in a couple of months time. Yes? Cheekyi

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I have been put right with the Louis Mountbatten salute. Evidently that is the salute of the Royal Navy and, come to think of it, yes, I don’t recollect ever seeing a naval officer saluting any other way. Strange how one forgets these things. It looked wrong even though it was correct.
This just has to be the shittiest year I can remember in a long long time and it ain’t over yet. What else is supposed to go wrong? It brings to mind all those wise old saws, or clichés if you prefer, like man proposes, God disposes and don’t count your chickens before they hatch and there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip, etcetera. A few days ago Douglas celebrated his forty-fifth birthday. Two days ago when he underwent a colostomy it was discovered he has rectal cancer. Could it have come as a bigger shock? I found it hard to believe I actually heard the specialist use that word cancer and had to have it repeated and it was Douglas who repeated it. He was ashen and a few minutes later said ‘I feel faint’ with which he promptly followed up the words with action, falling forward in his chair. I caught him before he could hit the floor and the doctor was around his desk in a flash and had Douglas’s legs up and held them up, at the same time taking his pulse until the patient opened his eyes. He was then made to lie down on the couch and wait for a full recovery. The reaction was hardly surprising, after all he had just been through the procedure, at times uncomfortable if nothing else, hadn’t eaten since the day before and then had to hear the news that was put to us quite bluntly. And why not? There was no point in beating about the bush. The nurse made him take some liquid and potato crisps for the salt though I must confess I ate most of them. Of course there is that inevitable question, ‘Why me? I’m forty-five years old, I’ve never smoked, I don’t drink, why me?’
The upshot is he has to return to the UK for treatment and the sooner the better so is leaving on Sunday. It would seem he is not just naturally upset about having the tumour but for the first time in eleven years both he and Chris had a wonderful and exciting twelve months work ahead of them in responsible positions on a twenty-six part television serial, some of it to be shot right here in Vamos, Douglas as Production Manager and Chris as Artistic Director, and that has of course gone out the window. Apart from any other consideration for the first time they would have made real money and we would not have been counting the pennies as usual but obviously it was not to be and, sceptic that I am, I felt all along there was somehow going to be that slip twixt cup and lip. They had already done a considerable amount of unpaid preliminary work which is what got them the job and somehow it all seems so very unfair, but when is life fair? It’s like a very bad dream but not one that I will immediately wake up from.