Saturday, February 27, 2010

Yesterday evening watched on DVD the original ’82 production of SWEENY TODD with Hearn and Lansbury and once again couldn’t help but feel that Tim Burton’s version is a travesty. Comparisons might be odious as they say but comparing his to the original it was like soufflĂ© to a five course banquet. Cast wise the same; Depp too young, no bottom as it used to be termed in the days of the buck, and Mrs Burton totally inadequate. One time nepotism did not pay off. All right, so these are all personal opinions, did I not have any criticisms of the original? Well … guardedly … yes … I didn’t like the juve in the original version, feeling (a) although extremely handsome somehow completely lacking in sex appeal and (b) really too old for the part. Maybe that wouldn’t have shown up on stage but in close up it did. The boy in Burton’s film was better. And a teensy weensy point – in the final chorus line-up Mister Prince had two London bobbies, one of whom was wearing spectacles and it did look so completely wrong it was distracting. Otherwise the show was as enthralling as I remember it.
There is a book published in Greece called LEARN GREEK IN TWENTY FIVE YEARS. Humph! I would normally have written that as Hmph! But my computer dictionary tells me it’s Humph! I say humph because my own attempts to learn Greek in half that amount of time amount to diddlysquat. I am no linguist unfortunately. Anyway, an interesting article in last week’s “Athens News” headed “Discovering an ancient language” all about the lesser known languages still spoken in Greece, eleven in all: Pontic, Griko - as spoken in Italy, Cretan, Cypriot Tsakonian, Cappadocian. A map of Greece shows where the various languages are still in use. There are also Arvanitic, Turkish of course, Vlach, Southern Slavic and Ladino. Of the last there are evidently still speakers not only in Greece but Israel and Turkey.
I was interested to note that Cretan is considered a separate language. I was aware that there are dialects in Crete (could 13 be true?) but a separate language? Of course there are differences to mainland Greek, for example, mountain tea that grannies swear by for the curing of all ailments, tsai tou vouna, in Crete is known as maniteras and, when I mentioned in Athens a crevatina, an overhead frame for vines, they didn’t know what I was taking about. Pronunciation of course is something different. Cretan dialect for some reason shuns the hard k. aftokinito (motor car) becomes aftoshinito, kokkino (red) becomes koshino – guess it would be too much if it became shoshino! Ochi (no) is oshi and schoni (snow) becomes shoni, and so forth and so on. So, if you are anywhere else in Greece and you hear someone speak like this you know they are from Crete, that together with any name ending in “akis” but that is another story.
Despite my opinion of Mr Burton’s “Sweeny Todd” I would still like him to have “When The Devil Rides”; much more up his street I fancy. After all no one can produce masterpieces every time.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

I apologise for once again bringing up this subject which must by now have become quite frankly a bloody great bore; but something inevitably happens to reinvigorate it and, in this instance it is Elton John who opened his big mouth and must surely have tasted toes by stating he believes Jesus was gay! What gives with these people that they can be so crass? The Bible “God hates fags” belt simply don’t and won’t take this sort of thing lying down. No pun intended.
The Beatles made themselves very unpopular many years ago when Lennon stated that they were more popular than Jesus and had to withdraw the remark and apologise. It isn’t inconceivable that Joshua Ben Joseph was what Elton says he was. It has been mooted more than once before but the fact is we will never know what his sexual inclination was and what is the point of guessing? There have been doubts about many historical figures, think of Kitchener and Cecil Rhodes. Julius Caesar was evidently known as every man’s wife and every woman’s husband and there is little doubt that Alexander The Great had his male lover though mention that to some Greeks and they’re immediately on the defensive if not up in arms, even though their Attic vases are decorated with every conceivable naughty male to male carryings on.
The Irish actor, Michael MacLiammoir said, ‘I will have nothing to do with Gay Liberation, it will only give us a bad name.’ And in many ways this has proved to be only too true. Come out of the closet by all means but there is no need to shout it from the rooftops. Out of closet good. Rooftops bad.
Yes, attitudes have changed a lot since poor old Oscar was crucified by hysterical hypocritical snobs and mobs, his name taken off his plays then running in London, and the plays themselves taken off as he was trundled off to serve his sentence. One can’t help feeling it wasn’t what he was up to with Bosie that brought him down but the fact that he went for the rough end of the market with working class boys – right out of his class, my dear. Tchaikovsky had the same problem and attacks of conscience as he cruised the streets of Moscow. Did he commit suicide in his despair or was it expected of him?
When Gielgud was caught cottaging and had up for ‘soliciting for an immoral purpose’ (doesn’t that sound quaint?) an actor tried to raise a petition to have him struck from Equity and was unceremoniously booted out of Sir Laurence Olivier’s (as he was them) dressing room. What a twat. The actor not Sir Laurence. I was told at the time, though I don’t know how true this is, that a publican in Stratford-on-Avon whose pub was much frequented by the theatre company took Gielgud’s photo of his wall and the actors immediately marched in and demanded he do the same with theirs.
Yes, attitudes have changed but there is still a great deal of homophobia, intolerance, racism, anti-Semitism and all the other evils that beset our world and probably always will so, dear Mr Elton John, don’t say out aloud what you might be thinking. It really isn’t tactful or wise. Remember the Irish actor and keep your trap shut.
As an afterthought and a matter of interest, if God hates faggots so much why didn’t He put a stop to it in the very beginning? I hope I will never bring up the subject again.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Finished reading the Douglas Murray biography of Lord Alfred Douglas – Bosie – and what an incredible story it is and very well told I do believe. Couldn’t keep my nose out of it but rushed back to it at every opportunity so finished it in record breaking time: a continual fascination. Up to now all I knew about Bosie was what I have read in biographies of Oscar Wilde and also the films of course and little if anything of his life beyond Wilde’s death in Paris.
My remark in an earlier Blog about his being considered a second rate poet I am afraid is very far from the truth and I was greatly misled into thinking that. I believe now that in his maturity he was considered the finest sonneteer since Shakespeare. His last years were distressing, particularly because of money problems. He said he never earned more than £500 in total from his poetry, he was in very poor health and he died penniless. This was partly his own fault due, like this father before him, to his vindictive litigation of enemies, both real and supposed who were out to get him, which eventually led to a jail sentence and bankruptcy. In fact in later years he seemed to inherit all the crazy characteristics of the Queensbury family and it was only the experience of jail that changed him into a more reasonable, tolerant, and forgiving person. I can’t help feeling that much of his problem also stemmed from his conversion to the Roman Catholic Church which immediately made him intolerant and vehemently anti-homosexuality despite his own past; but probably his greatest grief was caused by his wife leaving him and his son Raymond being taken intro custody by Bosie’s father in law. The tug of war between the two men over the son, Raymond, must have triggered in some way or at least been partly responsible in bringing to the surface, another bout of the schizophrenia that cursed this family and Raymond was committed at an early age to spend the rest of his life, except for one brief period, institutionalised.
In his old age and in dire straights, this man, who as a gilded youth had everything before him, applied for a civic pension for his contribution to literature. In those days there was no social security and a civic pension, on the recommendation of the prime minister was in the gift of the sovereign. He was turned down twice. The second time it was almost granted but for one dissenting voice that brought up yet again the “Wilde affair”.
The book gives one quite an insight into attitudes of mind in Britain in that period and, despite all his faults, one can’t but feel great sympathy for Lord Alfred Douglas. A well researched and well written biography and I recommend it to any who might be interested.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

After some days of wonderful Spring weather, heavy showers last night arrived to water the garden and, today, back to warm sunny weather with just a hint of a chilly wind. Hopefully the rain last night was clean and washed away all the Gaddafi muck from the previous one. It only rained because I had previously watered all the pots. I read in the paper that the UK is having its coldest winter for twenty eight years. Brrr! And that disposes of the weather, though the thought of it being so cold did make me think of Hollings Farm and the winter when we were snowed in and had six foot long stalactites hanging from the eaves. The animals went out for a pee and disappeared under a blanket of white. I still do miss that beautiful house, even after all these years and can think of it only with nostalgia. I remember Chris and I standing on the access road one day, looking down at it and Chris saying, “Aren’t we lucky?” And we certainly were. It is the only thing in England that I do miss and I can remember every detail of every single room. It’s not that I regret for one moment coming to live in Crete. That was the best decision ever but it wasn’t until I had left it that I realised just how much I loved Hollings Farm. Isn’t that always the way? We got a good price for it at the time which enabled us to buy here for cash and not be lumbered with a mortgage as so many ex-pats seem to be, sometimes two mortgages, one in England still being paid off and one here and the cause of much financial hardship. With the astronomical rise of property prices in the UK the farm must be worth a pretty penny now. We could never afford to buy it back even if we wanted to.
To think the first house I bought in Hackney, four floors of Victoriana and large garden, set me back £6500 and was sold ten years later for £135000 and so it went on, prices rising year by year. When Jeremy Nightingale bought his house in Hackney a few roads down and paid £90000 for it we thought he was out of his mind. Little did we know! The Richmond Road property at the last count was going for just a fraction under a million. Crazy, or what? But that £6500 was a wonderful investment. If it hadn’t been for that we would not be here today but probably still living in London in rented accommodating. And the rise in property prices on Crete means we certainly wouldn’t be in a position to buy today. Is there a destiny that shapes our ends? I believe there is but who can rightly say?

Friday, February 19, 2010

Another week flown by. I suppose it may have gone so fast as I have been more or less glued to this machine all week putting MISTER PICKWICK onto the computer. It is a musical version I wrote some years ago – some years? – many years (no composer) as I was beaten to the punch by Harry Secombe of course. I seem recently to be rewriting, updating, or putting on disc a whole heap of early work that has never seen the light of day. I particularly like MISTER PICKWICK as I think, even though I say it myself, that my lyrics are pretty darned good. Actually, if I weren’t so modest tee hee, I would have to say they are quite brilliant. In fact from half a dozen attempted musicals I would like to see all my lyrics published in one volume: it would be a book of poetry after all. Why bother with another version of “The Pickwick Papers” if the Secombe show is still doing the rounds? Well, there have been any number of “Peter Pans” and “A Christmas Carol” so why not another “Pickwick Papers”?
Still on the subject of books, have a mass of reading matter for the summer. I haven’t finished the Henry Irving/Ellen Terry book yet, my current bedside book, and have just received, a biography of Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie) by Douglas Murray that I have already dipped my snout into. There is of course much more to Bosie than was ever shown in the Oscar Wilde films in which he has always been portrayed as nothing more than a conceited, hare-brained, selfish, temperamental, thoroughly spoilt, belligerent puppy. I suppose as the films are all about Oscar the screenwriters could hardly go into a study in depth of Bosie’s character which in a way is a great shame and rather a disservice to the man. I have read somewhere of his being considered a second rate poet but in fact, looking at some of his work in this book, he was a damn sight better poet than some of the pseuds who are lauded to the skies. The next is “Burlesque and Parody in English” by George Kitchin, published in 1931 and which looks fascinating, having glanced through it. It goes from Medieval Burlesque to the modern day – albeit by modern we’re talking of 80 years ago. Then there is “The Baron Of Piccadilly” the travels and entertainment of Albert Smith 1816-188O, someone I had never previously heard of but someone who seems to have been a truly remarkable character. Still to come the biography of the Irving brothers, Harry and Laurence. We really must stop buying books. It’s too absurd considering we don’t really have the means for such indulgence and there are already about 6000 volumes here, the shelves in the library, my bedroom, my study, Chris’s workshop and the guest bedroom are packed with absolutely no room for more. But easier said than done when fascinating titles and subjects are brought to one’s notice, and can one ever get enough of books? Maybe I will give them up for Lent!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I see the wife of a high powered Russian official has had £4,500,000 worth of jewels stolen whilst driving through Paris. Evidently the car she was travelling in stopped at a light and an opportunist thief wrenched open the car door, snatched her handbag and fled, escaping evidently scot-free. Well all I can say is, serve her right. If you’re travelling with that amount of goodies in your handbag you lock the door for goodness sake. And four and a half million is a whole heap of jewellery so the fall of communism in Russia has obviously been mighty good for some. We’ve all heard of the multi-million oil executives, bankers, etc., but politicians too? So what’s new?
Old Popey is doing his nut because of a law being broached in England that will make life a bit fairer for homosexuals, Meanwhile he has had to closet himself with a whole range of Irish Bishops and give them a good ticking off for not doing anything, well in some cases evidently covering up, the child abuse scandal in Ireland. One priest has allegedly admitted to abusing over a hundred children. Again, what is new, and why can’t people see the wood for the trees? Or the trees for the woods, which is it? Priests are men, men with sexual desires and celibacy is unnatural if anything ever was. Vulnerable children are the easiest outlet and there can’t be any doubt the abuse has been going on for a very long time.
From the young to the old, the controversial subject of euthanasia is still rumbling along in Britain with arguments for and against. A well-known BBC announcer has come out of the closet to admit some years ago killing his lover who had AIDS and was suffering terribly and he has no regrets for what he did. Now of course the police are investigating and he will more than likely be charged with murder. Those who are against euthanasia go on about the possibility of abuse and that a person in intense pain or suffering an incurable illness may urgently desire it one day but not the next. My personal view is that if I am in either of those situations or totally incapable of fending for myself I would rather be sent peacefully off into what I believe is an eternal dreamless sleep. Talk of eternal life is really wishful thinking and those who desire it haven’t stopped to think what eternity really means. Do I repeat that old wise story of the novice monk who asked his master to describe eternity? And the master said, “Imagine the world is made of solid gold. Every thousand years a swallow flies by and touches it with his wingtip. When the world has been entirely worn away, eternity is just beginning.” There are variations to the story of course, there always are.

Monday, February 15, 2010

There has been a shooting incident at the University of Alabama in Huntsville where a friend, David Harwell is a faculty member. Fortunately the incident, in which three people died, did not take place in the theatre department but evidently happened in biology. I say fortunately (no shooting is fortunate) only because it did not involve David.
One of the students was heard to say she thought Huntsville was a “safe” campus but it seems no campus in the states is safe there have been so many incidents like this.
I read in the paper (don’t believe everything you read in newspapers) that coffee is bad for you. Well we all know that but the difference with this article is that previously I read in the paper that decaf wasn’t as good as ordinary which acts as a bronchi-dilator. So I gave up drinking decaf which I had been doing for years and have been swigging back the leaded stuff (at a restaurant in America I was asked if I wanted my coffee leaded or unleaded), but now I read the reverse is the case and I should still be on the unleaded.
These boffins really can’t seem to make up their minds. Once it was considered butter was terrible and everyone should be spreading margarine, then that was reversed and we could all happily go back to butter. Our friend Lionel Wilson in New York wouldn’t eat eggs, butter, milk except skimmed powdered milk (sparingly) sugar, red meat, or take salt and never seemed to be all that healthy on it.
Suri Cruise is in the news again, choosing a lip-gloss for a night out at the theatre. She’s still, according to the article, three years old, is she never going to get any older? And talking of tots, a four year old doing a Michael Jackson impression received a standing ovation on that dreadful talent show. How the world has changed! Most kids I seem to remember were often too shy to perform in a drawing room for mother’s friends, sometimes doing their number from behind the safety of a couch. Now a four year old can face an audience of hundreds and strut his stuff. As the headline says, “What next, talent shows for thumb-sucking tots?”
I am reading Frieda Richards’ book “Tails are wagging on Crete” and yes, of course, it is full of animal horror stories and heart warming ones as well. We are all only too aware of the Greek attitude to animals but a friend who has done work with the RSPCA in the UK tells us cruelty is just as widespread there even if not quite so obvious. We have been getting so many sympathetic e-mails regarding Sweeney. You don’t necessarily have to love animals or even just accept them but at least they should be treated with respect. We are, after all, animals ourselves and we all know what fear and pain are. It is despicable to inflict it on the trusting and the helpless, but where is almighty God when his “all creatures great and small” as the hymn has it are being maltreated and abused?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

There’s a song from a musical that goes something like “And another hundred passengers got off of the train” or is it “bus”? Can’t remember what it’s from but could be Sondheim. Sounds like one of his. Could it be from “Company”? Anyway, what brought it to mind the other day was that it could apply to our courtyard with – “And another hundred oranges fell out of the tree.” And I am not exaggerating. twice in the last three or four days I have been out there and picked up a hundred oranges and now, looking out of my study window there are another hundred on the ground and more than likely another hundred still in the tree. Nature has been truly bountiful. It’s jolly nice as I think I have said before to be able to walk out the door and pick your fresh fruit but, if you can’t keep up with it, it just lies rotting on the ground. I’m not surprised at what is lying out there now as we had the winds of Crete blowing with a vengeance all yesterday and, before that, Gadaffi’s rain so the car looks as though it has been parked in the middle of the Sahara.
Strange things have been happening in the UK. It’s all very well boasting of being a multi-cultural society but it seems to be leading to some rather awkward questions, or non solutions maybe. A 71 year old religious Hindu has won the right to be cremated on a pyre rather than in a crematorium and tells us he is now a very happy man. What the good folk of Durham (I think that‘s where he is) think of it is something else. He has said he isn’t asking for a traditional open air burning but it will take place within four walls and a roof in which case I ask, what’s the difference?
The second rather bizarre incident I read about is that a London bus driver, a devout Muslim, stopped his bus and, leaving the engine running, left his cab to lay out his prayer mat in the bus’s aisle to indulge in five minutes of prayer much to the consternation of passengers who were blocked in and were not sure that this wasn’t a terrorist about to blow them all to smithereens as they had read about them saying their prayers first. But no, he wasn’t a terrorist, and all London Transport could do was apologise and tell their Muslim drivers that there is a time and a place for prayers and to kindly do it in their breaks!
I bet the trendy old Archbishop of Canterbury can’t wait for the arrival of Sharia law.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It’s a beautiful Spring-like day, warm with just a few fleecy clouds. But is also a very sad day hence this Blog which is devoted to only one subject. Yesterday evening at 7.20 our dear, beautiful, sweet-natured, gentle dog, Sweeney, quietly and peacefully drifted off into that long black night. She never appeared to be in any pain and Michael the vet assured us it was best to let nature take its course. Chris confirms that even though it is quick, the deed when performed by a vet can be very distressing. What we never realised was that it would take quite so long. For nine or ten days she refused all food, even when liquidised to make it easier and the last two or three days she even refused water. Consequently she was so thin that, from being quite a heavy girl, she weighed practically nothing. Had we known it would take so long we might have called in the vet but that is hindsight.
We put her on her snuggle in the woodshed over night and this morning we buried her. Even now, writing this, I find it hard to control the tears. She was a part of our lives for nearly sixteen years and it is hard to believe she is no more. It seems like only yesterday Douglas and Chris brought this little black puppy home to Hollings Farm from the Halifax RSPCA. She was a birthday present for Douglas and I remember it so well. The previous day I had chosen another dog as a possible, a lively bouncy thing but, when Chris and Douglas went to look they thought this particular puppy would have lots of offers of a home, which indeed was the case, and they saw this quiet little number sitting right at the back of the cage and decided on her. Never was there a better choice. And I can see so clearly our English animals two dogs and two cats sitting in the cages at Heraklion airport waiting to be picked up and brought home here to Vamos; and what excitement it was that day. Sweeny adored having visitors and always greeted them with her rubber ring in her mouth in the hope they would throw it for her. It didn’t happen because they were kindly asked not to throw it in the courtyard, but outside in the garden or up the lane, Sweeny would run forever chasing it as she did down the hill at Hollings Farm. She was growing very deaf and beginning to lose her sight but she could still sniff out wherever the ring had bounced. Then one day, I threw it for her, she stood beside me and, if she had been human, without a word, she turned and went back into the house. It near broke my heart.
She was always a very quiet dog. In all her life I can’t remember her barking more than a dozen times even if others were barking around her, but now she never made a sound. Seventeen months ago we thought she was going to die and dug her grave (the one we buried her in today) in readiness and one night I even laid down a plastic sheet and wrapped her in blankets built a tent over her and left her there quite convinced that the following morning I would find her gone. But no, there was this little black figure sitting some distance from her tent, facing away from the house. I left her there and about an hour later she arrived in the house looking for her breakfast.
The last couple of months she really did start to go downhill with age: deaf, blind and incontinent so that she had to wear pampers or we had to clean up the mess; not too bad on tiles that can be mopped, not so good on carpets. But for all the nuisance that it was, we loved her dearly and now she has gone.
We have decided there will be no more animals. The heartache is too much and, as I for one grow too old, it would be unfair on them. Whether we stick to that decision or not is another story but I don’t think there will ever be another Sweeney.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Have you ever tried putting drops in the eye of a 4 kilo writhing squirming fighting cat? It’s not easy even with two of you, one to hold him and one to put in the drops. Keppel scratched his eye and it has to be done. Thankfully this is the third and last day.
Meanwhile I’ve given myself a black eye (or have I already mentioned that?) not from fighting Keppel but simply because I had an itch on the upper lid that I rubbed a little too hard, creating quite a bruise which no doubt will be with me for a while. Talking of rubbing, Chris doesn’t want to wrap Keppel in a towel to make the administration of the drops easier as, when he comes in on a wet day, he loves to be rolled in a towel and rubbed dry, Keppel that is, not Chris, and it’s feared he might forego that luxury in the future if towels mean bad memories.
Continuing the saga of Maria’s forty day memorial the whole shebang must have cost her daughter Eleftheria a small fortune, well over a thousand euro. First there was the church and the services of the papas followed, on exiting, by being given the traditional packet of goodies – that is Koliva, whole-wheat kernels that have been boiled and sweetened with fruits, nuts, Jordan almonds and with spices added to it. Mounted onto a silver tray, the sign of the Cross is made with silver dragees in the centre. The mixture is shovelled off the tray and you are handed a bag - decorated in gold lettering with crucifix and church symbols - of the stuff together with a cake, macaroon and small croissant. I’m afraid I don’t eat the Koliva. You have to have a very sweet tooth (the Greeks do have) and although mine is fairly sweet, obviously not sweet enough to enjoy it. After that it is everyone to the kafenion or taverna for a spread of assorted biscuits, cakes, pies, cheese and, to drink, coffee, tsigouthia or cognac. All this for about a hundred and fifty people.
We were hardly home when Eleftheria was on the phone demanding as she does that Chris goes over to her house and he returns with a huge cardboard box filled with leftovers from the feast plus a pile of avocados. What on earth we’re going to do with all this stuff, the biscuits and pies, I really don’t know. I’m sure the weevils are going to get into it later despite being in air- tight plastic containers.
The Greeks are on strike today: civil servants, schools, banks. Bank staffs are particularly prone to going on strike. Goodness knows why they love it so much. Doesn’t really seem to get them anywhere. Normally strike day is called for a Friday which gives them a long weekend so the middle of the week is a little unusual. Still, nice not to have to go into work. It’s a horrible cold, wet, and windy day.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

After the sixteen in Iran accused of waging a war against God, 70 Shia pilgrims killed and 110 injured when a woman suicide bomber released her deadly load and more killed when a second bomber did the same, I intended this to be my second Blog on the subject.
The references to past history are accurate and clear. Not long, easy to understand, and well worth the read. The author of this email is said to be Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a well-known and well-respected psychiatrist.

A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.
'Very few people were true Nazis,' he said, 'but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.'

We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace.
Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant.
It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the
fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honour-kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.

The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the 'silent majority,' is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.
China 's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

And who can forget Rwanda , which collapsed into butchery? Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points.

Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts-- the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Lastly, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on, is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on!
Let us hope that thousands, world-wide, read this and think about it, and send it on - before it's too late.
Although requested to send this on as an e-mail I felt it better to Blog it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Up at sparrow yesterday morning to attend the forty day memorial service for Maria. It actually started at seven-thirty but we didn’t get to the church until just before nine and it was over by ten. Still two and a half hours is plenty of time for a church service, especially one in which you can’t make out a word of what’s being said or droned, except for “Alleluia” which I heard a number of times. The church was pretty full so the smoke from the many candles was creating diagonal shafts of lights with the sun shining through the windows. Very theatrical, very atmospheric. And talking of theatrical, have just read Chris’s book on Champagne Charlie, the first part that is as he is intent on having it published in two volumes and very good it is too; an easy read jam packed with interesting and fascinating facts and anecdotes. His research has really been quite amazing. I very much doubt I would have had the patience to chase up, discover, and absorb so much detail. The great thing also is it is not just about George Leybourne but the whole period and what it must have been like.
Raining this morning, quite heavily, and Sweeney, the old girl, is still with us much to my daily surprise. It reminds me of the television programme when Queen Elizabeth lst refused to die but sat up all night with her finger in her mouth; at least that is how it was portrayed by Glenda Jackson. Pity she gave up acting to become a Labourite, she was a great actress, Glenda not Elizabeth. Though, come to think of it, Elizabeth might have been as well, thinking of her speeches.
But back to the church, the church of Saint Nikolas, the main church of the village and quite an imposing one, unlike the tiny one just down the road from us and the one in which we celebrate Easter with our Greek friends. Greece is as full of churches as England used to be of pubs. The reredos is topped by Jesus on his cross, the one that is borne through the village in great lamentation once a year, there are paintings of saints along the walls, a quite magnificent throne, presumably for use by a visiting Bishop or other church VIP, and a number of large very ornate, rather vulgar gilt(?) chandeliers with innumerable candle-shaped bulbs interspersed with little portraits of saints, the central chandelier also having a large basket of crystal pendants beneath. So, even if one doesn’t understand the service, is not in the habit of crossing oneself three times every now and again, sitting down standing up, sitting down again, standing up again, at least there is a whole lot in the surroundings to keep one from dropping off.
I shall now go and see if I can get Sweeney to eat something. She’s had hardly any nourishment for almost a week and I honestly don’t think she can last much longer. However she doesn’t appear to be in any pain, at times is quite alert (very brief times admittedly) and will no doubt pass away peacefully. She’s been a great pet and I hope we’ve given her a great life, all sixteen years of it. She is the last of the animals we brought out from England twelve years ago.

Friday, February 5, 2010

After careful consideration I decided, as it could possibly led to trouble for my friends, to delete Wednesday’s Blog. I would think there was also a minor feeling of self-preservation involved, cowardice in other words. Such is the state the fanatics have created. I still intend to write part two as previously intimated but it can wait because right now I want to talk about something else – the movie called THE INCREDIBLE CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTONS. Now I am sure there are many who have enjoyed this movie but for me it was boring, tedious, far far too long ( in fact we watched it in two parts) and, fantasy though it might be, totally nonsensical and without any point. Why? It was supposedly based on a short story by Scott Fitzgerald. Well I have just read the Scott Fitzgerald short story and, apart from the basic premise of a man being born old and growing younger with the passing years, the film has absolutely nothing to do with the short story which is in actual fact rather endearing and very funny. In other words the basic premise was given the nod and thereafter the screenplay went its own dour non-merry way, turning what should have been a delightful comedy into a boring melodrama. Why does Hollywood have to do this sort of thing?
The location is changed from Baltimore to New Orleans, one of the reasons maybe being that in the period, any number of black actors could be used in a non-segregationist set-up and thank goodness for the black actors who were the only ones whose dialogue could be heard. Brad Pitt growls and Kate Blanchet mumbles and the sound altogether is terrible. The movie opens with the father rushing from the hospital with his “old man” child in his arms and depositing it on a doorstep and rushing off again not to be seen again until may years have passed and then, in a fit of conscience, making contact with his son. The mother dies in childbirth. The story on the other hand opens with hysterical nurses in the hospital, the mother does not die, the father looks into the cradle and the old man he sees there who is his baby TALKS adult talk! And it is very funny. The baby is not deposited on a doorstep but the parents have to live with this strange phenomenon and the reactions first of all of Baltimore society and then the wider world. There is not an episode in the move that bears any resemblance to the story and all I can say is it is a tremendous pity that the film makers, possibly starting with the screenwriters, felt they are more talented than the originator. I would advise anyone to read Scot Fitzgerald’s story. It is great fun and quite moving as well. I would advise everyone to stay away from the movie even though, according to viewers’ reviews, obviously there are those who have thought this piece of pretentious crap worth a visit.
Was there nothing I liked about it? Some of the period settings are lovely, a revivalist meeting is fun and for once there is a good musical score, well one I liked anyway.
Looking forward now to the new Sherlock Holmes film which word of mouth tells us is very good and in which our friend Michael Jenn has a teeny weenie part. It has had mixed reviews. I hope I won’t be disappointed again.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

After an absence of some months I do declare I am once again on my anti-religion kick. This is brought about by two things: firstly sixteen people have been sentenced to death in Iran for, among other things, “waging a war against God”! Now I don’t suppose there is anything new in this idea but never has it been put forth so blatantly as a judicial reason for murder. What it really means is “waging a war against us” and we’re not having it so we will set an example to anyone else foolish enough to stand up to us and we will put it all down to God. God is so weak he needs Ayatollahs and Imams to defend himself against a few puny mortals?
The second thing is, yesterday evening we watched another episode of “Yes, Prime Minister”, this one titled “Bishop’s Gambit” and it was a glorious, witty, hilarious, wicked send-up not just of religion but in particular the Church of England. Like most churches a multi-billion pound corporation. Bearing in mind what is happening in Iran to sixteen people who have possibly done nothing more than speak their mind or carry a banner or two or shout slogans from rooftops, though of course I have no firsthand knowledge of their supposed misdemeanours and I don’t know the ins and outs of the case, the programme set me to wondering what would happen if a similar programme was made about Islam. Actually it doesn’t need any imagination at all to know what would happen when one thinks that Islam has produced al Qaeda and the Taliban and remembers the matter of the Danish cartoons, the riots that followed someone allegedly tearing up a copy of the Koran, the fatwa again Salmon Rushdie and more and more and more. There would be violent demonstrations, riots and more peaceful banners reading “Behead those who disrespect Islam” etcetera. There are those fanatics who would love to import Shia law into non-Muslim countries, they actually talk about it so, if successful, they would also import stonings, beheadings, amputations floggings, all the barbaric punishments meted out in the name of their god. We are in the twenty-first century, most civilised countries have given up the death sentence, man has gone into space where people used to think there was heaven, and Islam is still in the Middle Ages. Islam might be a great danger to the western world with its fanatics, suicidal and otherwise, but it is obviously, unlike the Christians who seem to be able to laugh it off and Jews who can make jokes about themselves, so weak it cannot stand up to a bit of chaff. Why? What would happen if someone produced a television comedy about an Ayatollah or an Imam? I shudder to think.