Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It must be awful to be an animal, have something wrong with you, and not be able to do anything about it. A couple of days ago Betty the cat was subject to great sneezing fits, rather unnatural it would seem and in the evening Chris noticed something sticking out slightly from one nostril. We thought it might be an insect and he and Douglas tried with tweezers to remove it but of course she wasn’t having any of that. So it seemed a visit to the vet was in order the next morning but, in the morning, a little more of the obstruction was protruding and Chris managed to get hold of it and pull. Out came a two inch or more blade of grass! How on earth it got up her nose in the first place is difficult to imagine and it must have been truly the most uncomfortable experience. What could have happened of course was that she was chewing it, sneezed, hiccupped or coughed and it went into the nasal cavity to work itself out through the nose. I can’t think how else it could have got there.
So the English footballers went down to their old nemesis Germany by four goals to one. Oh, dear! How are the mighty fallen! One has to admit though that it was just not their day and they were truly out of luck, especially when a perfectly legitimate goal was disallowed by the Uruguayan ref and his linesman. This would have brought the scores level at two all but it would seem the injustice of it was a cause for loss of heart and who can rightly blame them? Will the referee apologize for his mistake? Fat chance. Just as the French cheated to knock Ireland out of the running the German goal keeper admits the ball went over the line but he resumed play so fast he fooled the referee. This was cheating but will the arrogant Germans apologize? Fat chance. As a journalist wrote, forty thousand pairs of eyes saw the goal, two pairs didn’t. Now all sorts of excuses are being made to explain the English team’s poor performance beginning with they were all tired but as far as the English fans are concerned they are simply a bunch of overpaid prima donnas.
I see scientists have discovered liquid water on Mars. What do they mean by liquid water? I was under the impression that water is a liquid so why don’t they just call it water instead of being so precious? I presume solid water as opposed to liquid water must be ice but is it too much to ask that they merely call it ice? Then of course there is steam. What is that? Aerated water? Why can’t everything still be in plain straightforward language instead of tarting it up to make an impression? We all know about the train driver who is now called a locomotive engineer or the rat catcher who is now a rodent operative but what about the South Wales Chief Constable who called a motor horn an audible warning instrument? Pathetic really.
Ten people have been arrested in America accused of being Russian spies and one is still on the run, so there you are, we all thought the cold war was well and truly over. Russia of course denies it completely.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A young Swiss national, well at 32 one old enough to know better, has been arrested in Singapore and found guilt of vandalism, spraying a train with graffiti. He has been sentenced to five months in prison and three strokes of the cane. Immediately the human rights lot are screaming unfair unfair unfair. The law in Singapore regarding vandalism is strict and the man was an idiot to say the least. In my opinion he deserves his punishment. Evidently he had an accomplice who also did his bit with the spray can and when last heard of had done a runner. What on earth induced them to indulge in this nonsensical behaviour and I wonder if this young Swiss national would have behaved in the same manner in his home country. Somehow I doubt it. It is a great pity more countries, starting with Greece, don’t come down hard on vandalism. I know I’ve ranted along these lines before but I will repeat myself regardless. Greece is covered in graffiti, most of it nonsensical scribbling and, what is worse, every road sign between Xania and Heraklion is vandalised. I presume road signs elsewhere suffer the same fate. The cost of replacing them would be horrendous, possibly only for them to be vandalized again.
More and more children in the UK seem to revel in a current of violence. Apart from stabbing each other because of so called lack of respect or some such imagined insult; they commit murder simply by attacking someone, usually someone totally innocuous. The latest is two fifteen year olds in Darlington killing a vagrant. The question is why?
And still on the subject of criminal behaviour in this slowly going mad world, thieves in Johannesburg have ransacked a police station in the process of being renovated and have taken everything; doors, windows, furniture, cutlery, cupboards, basins, tiles, electrical equipment, even the kitchen sink and the mortuary fridges! All this despite the fact a security company hired by the District Works was supposedly guarding the place. It must surely be the ultimate in robbery chutzpah.
Some words of wisdom from Mister Quentin Crisp – ‘I do not mean to suggest that feminists are in error, though in my view a sex that wants “equality” with men can only be levelling downwards … we now have the ironic side effect of women having abandoned their privileged status as “ladies” they are in danger of becoming as revolting as men, and accordingly treated by men as nothing special.’
I was brought up in the old-fashioned manner of always treating women with courtesy, walking on the outside of the pavement for example even though there was no danger of skirts being splashed by passing traffic, opening doors, pulling out chairs and seating them, offering them my seat if necessary, etcetera so it came as quite a shock many many years ago in London when I opened a supermarket door for a female and received a right old ear-bashing, being accused more or less of insulting her by assuming she wasn’t capable of opening the door for herself. It really was quite a diatribe and was enough to put me off my gentlemanly behaviour.
The strange thing is in Athens, in the metro, if anyone gets up to offer this old papoose a seat, it is invariably a young gel. The old papoose usually declines with grace but what a reversal is there.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So the English football team finally got their act together to scrape into the last sixteen at the World Cup. The wild euphoria their single goal created was amazing to see. If such totally mad enthusiasm could be harnessed in directions other than football who knows what miracles could be achieved?
A self portrait by Manet has been sold at Sotheby’s for over twenty two million pounds. Evidently expected sales of impressionist paintings at various auction houses are valued at over three hundred and forty million. There is an awful lot of money in the world. With both seller’s and buyer’s premiums it’s hard to imagine what these houses are worth the rate at which they must be coining it. I have always been surprised that when the buyer’s premium was introduced there wasn’t a backlash. A short boycott of the auction houses would probably have seen an end to it.
Greek dockers have once more gone on strike in Pirieus badly inconveniencing travellers by not allowing them to board their ferries. I sometimes really do think these people have a death wish. I wonder how many of those tourists when they finally get away will be saying, no more Greece, that’s the last time. Considering tourism accounts for twenty percent of Greece’s income these workers are totally out of their minds. In the end everyone including themselves will suffer for it. Evidently the strikes are instigated by the Communist Party but other unions are not far behind – lambs to the slaughter. If one could see for a moment the government changing policy because of these strikes there might be some point to it but fat chance of that happening.
I see in The Sunday Times Culture section for the 9th May that three books listed in the top ten are misery memoirs and I thought the time for prurient interest in that subject was past but obviously not. The three are ‘How Could She?’ - Harrowing account of a childhood destroyed by a paedophile ring, ‘Never Tell’ – Memoir revealing the author’s horrific childhood abuse. ‘Someone To Love Us’ – The story of two brothers abused by their foster parents. Obviously if I wanted to be published by mainstream publishers I started life on the wrong foot not being an abused child, and then to compound my failure I’ve never been arrested or gone to prison with the likes of Joe Orton, Oscar Wilde, John Osborne, Genet to mention a few. Silly me.
‘Angel’ has arrived from the printers and looks very good though, immediately rereading it, I find it littered with mistakes as usual so it will have to be redone. It really is amazing that no matter how many times you read a manuscript mistakes still surface even after correction.

US Immigration Official to Quentin Crisp – Are you a practicing homosexual?

Crisp to Immigration officer – I don’t need to practice. I’m already perfect.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Poor old Church of England still chasing their tails over the question of women bishops. Sad really. Evidently a compromise suggestion is to have an alternative male bishop to cater to the conservative element who wants nothing to do with women bishops, so a see will have two bishops instead of one. I wonder if the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the church, will one day be a woman.
Air conditioning has been installed in my bedroom which I must admit, despite the conventional fan, could get just a wee bit on the warm side, especially in the afternoon, siesta time.
Then, would you believe it, immediately the weather turns a bit cooler with a cheery chilly breeze blowing down from somewhere up north rather than the heat wave from Africa. Still, I must admit it was comfortable having it on all night.
Been at the bookshelves again, it’s like the old Boots library, and read a biography of Crippin who evidently next to Palmer (prince of poisoners) and Jack the Ripper, (who he?) is the most written about murderer in criminal history. Why I wonder when one thinks of mass murderers and Crippin's sole killing was of his wife. Was it because he dismembered and decapitated her before burying the torso in the cellar? There have been other mutilations just as gruesome, the unsolved case of the Black Dahlia in Los Angeles for instance where the dismembered corpse was left in full view for the public to discover. Which brings me neatly to the next book – Hollywood Babylon – an exposé of the dark side of Tinseltown and fascinating reading it is. Apart from the mobsters, Joe Kennedy, sexual shenanigans, drugs, breakdowns, arrests and early deaths, the list of suicides is quite amazing; stars, directors, screen writers, artists, people who one wouldn’t think of as doing themselves in. There was the director James Whale about whom a film has been made starring Ian Mckellen, Gig Young, Linda Christian’s Chihuahua that apparently out of jealousy threw itself off the terrace of her Rome apartment in a “fit of canine despair” because she was paying too much attention to her toreros rather than to him, Pier Angeli, Charles Boyer, Dorothy Dandridge, Alan Ladd Carol Landis, Jean Seberg, George Saunders and of course Marilyn Monroe and that is just a selection of the better known names, apart from the poor demented love sick Chihuahua of course. And talking of Chihuahuas, in a damning revue of a Handel opera at the Royal Opera House (top price seats £240!) a singer’s voice is described as being like “a Chihuahua breaking wind in a hurricane.” Critics can really be so unkind.

Soon shalt thou hear the Bridegroom’s voice,
The midnight cry, ‘Behold I come!’ – Hymn by H.Bonar in the Public School Hymn Book.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I know in a previous Blog I mentioned that I believe circumcision to be a worthless operation and strangely, after having written it, I saw in The Headlines that 20 young boys in the Eastern Cape had died from the operation and others were hospitalised, four boys having to have their entire genitals removed. Sixty others have been rescued from the so-called circumcision schools. The practice is common amongst the Xhosa and Ndebele and evidently the Zulu king wants it reintroduced for Zulus as he believes it lessens the risk of HIV infection. Last year 91 initiates died and hundreds were hospitalised. The authorities say they know who the perpetrators are (illicit practitioners in the bush) but parents are reluctant to bring charges, so I wonder how many more young boys will die before the practice is finally done with, if ever. Evidently in the UK amongst the Muslim community there have been boys hospitalised because of botched operations.
The intense heatwave seems to have passed but we are only in June, there is still another two months of summer to go. Hopefully the heatwave won’t be repeated. I dread to think what the electricity bill is going to be what with fans going for hours on end. The price of electricity has gone up and so has VAT which increases it still further. Okay, maybe it is still cheaper than the UK but it is beginning to stretch the budget. The guys are suggesting we get air-conditioning for my bedroom which does get far too warm. Going into the bathroom area is like stepping into an oven. It is impossible to sit in the breakfast room after ten at the latest and before six. When we came out to Crete looking for a house we came in august, the hottest time of the year and we went house hunting the hottest time of the day when Greeks sensibly are having their siesta, just to make sure we could take the heat but I don’t recollect it ever being as hot as these last few days. Maybe it’s just because I am that much older.
It would seem impossible that one who lived such a varied and interesting life could write a book so dull. I managed to last to the end but name name name name (was there anyone who was anyone she didn’t know?) and party party party party party after party must inevitably get boring, just as self-adulation overdone goes the same way.

‘The buttocks are the most aesthetically pleasing part of the body because they are non-functional. Although they conceal an essential orifice, these pointless globes are as near as the human form can ever come to abstract art.’ - Kenneth Tynan
Pointless? I hate to think how uncomfortable it would be sitting without them. On stone benches or hard chairs after a while it can get pretty uncomfortable even with them.

‘Oh Hugh, may I stroke your bottom?’ – John Betjeman to Hugh Gaitskell (who replied, ‘Oh if you must’).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We’re having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave as the old song has it and by God we are too. 102 degrees! We might as well be in the middle of the Sahara. The Cote D’Azur is flooded, there’s drought in Thailand. Violent storms in America and we’re having this heatwave which evidently is coming from Africa and took me completely by surprise, so much so that I now know why heat kills off the elderly. Being elderly myself and without leaving the house I went down with heatstroke, maybe only a minor case but very nasty all the same. Virtually comatose, if it hadn’t been for the administrations of Christopher Beeching I would have been in a very bad way indeed.
Evidently there has been any number of dogs for the blind attacked by other dogs in the UK. The attackers have been mostly of the bull breed: bulldog, pit bull, bull terrier, mastiff. Poor gentle Labradors and retrievers for whom it is a traumatic experience and humans being bitten and scratched I am really surprised ‘Elf and Safety haven’t latched on to this. With the number of animal species lost globally every year, mostly because of hunting and man’s encroachment on their natural habitats, the loss of a few more won’t make that much difference so I think parliament, urged on by Elf and Safety, should pass a bill requiring all members of these breeds alive today be spayed or castrated so that no more will be born. End of problem. I don’t means to be facetious but it really seems to be a big problem, not only for the blind, for their dogs, and for the society that trains them. Some dogs have been so traumatised they have been unable to continue with their work and what effect does it have on the owner who is suddenly in the midst of it and is unable to see or do anything about it? I apologise to those who love dogs of the bull breed (including my brother-in-law who has loved and kept them) but just making it illegal to keep such a dog hasn’t worked. People still love and keep dangerous dogs. The breeds have to die out.
Party, Party, Party. Have been reading yet another autobiography pulled from the shelves, this time that of Hermione Baddeley, a gossip column 234 pages long with names dropping like confetti on every page; names from the highest in the land to lowly theatre folk. The highest in the land seem to have been the more important as, marrying into an upper class family, her husband was David Tennent, second son of a lord, so many “dear friends” who partied with them were titled. For example from page 82 to 86 here is a list of the names dropped (this is just a small percentage overall) - Nancy Mitford married to Peter Rodd, Unity Mitford, Amy Johnson and her husband Jim Mollison, Rosa Lewis (The Duchess of Duke Street), King Edward Vll, Lord Ribblesdale, Daphne Fielding, Mrs Wooly (American party giver), Barbara Redhead whose sister married Lord Rothermere, Ribbentrop, Sir Alfred Beit, the Countess of Seafield, The Honourable Mrs Cardiff, Lord Stanley, Margot Fonteyn, Emlyn Williams, Lady Elmsmere, Cecil Beaten, Stephen Tennent, who inherited the title.
I don’t wish it to sound derogatory but it is a book that could only have been written by a woman, even if a ghost was involved.

‘You can lick our chops but you can’t beat our meat’, sign in a butcher’s shop.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A young man in America has just been sentenced to nine years imprisonment for shooting and killing a “youth leader” who evidently systematically abused him over twenty years. Since the case came to court others have come forward to confirm the sexual abuse which had been going on for all this time. Now I don’t believe the young man had a right to kill no matter what he felt and the judge seems to have been pretty reasonable in sentencing him because of that. What I simply can’t understand is, why as an adult did the young man still put up with it and why hadn’t he years before complained to someone so that the abuse would stop and the perpetrator jailed? Okay, as a child he would no doubt have been too afraid but as an adult he lets it fester until he snaps and kills. I just don’t see it, neither for himself or all the others who were abused. It strikes me as most odd.
Meanwhile abuse in the form of FGM – female genital mutilation or female circumcision continues in varies parts of the world. Male circumcision is a worthless operation except in extreme cases of phimosis but female circumcision is horrible. How many millions of women have suffered having it done to them? It doesn’t bear thinking about.
Now Kenya, in parts of which FGM is still practiced, seems to be going rabidly homophobic adding another country to Africa’s neurosis. Islam is mainly responsible of course; homosexuality is a sin and deserves death. The Christians aren’t that far behind in condemnation. I sometimes wonder if we are living in 2010 or are we still in 1010? But on the universal subject of sex something more light-hearted; in going through the bookshelves I also pulled out one I didn’t know we had titled “The Complete Illustrated Encyclopaedia Of Erotic Failure” which is bizarre but great fun and had me chortling merrily away.
For instance – A spokesman for Jiffi Condoms has denied that the company’s sales slogan. “Play it safe, play it cool, wear a Jiffi, on your tool” encouraged an irresponsible attitude to sex. Jiffi were particularly anxious to reach teenagers, he said, it was therefore important to speak to them in their own language. Supporting his case, the executive unveiled Jiffi’s latest point-of-sale material – a range of products which included tee-shirts, posters and mugs all bearing the message
If she’s game
And wants your plonker
Wear a Jiffy
So you can bonk her.
Hardly the subtlest advertising campaign.

Tim and Beverly la Hayes wrote a book called “The Art Of Marriage” in which they claimed “Christian men and women experience a higher degree of orgasmic enjoyment than non-Christians.” Say no more.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I read of the latest piece of nonsense to do with the ‘Elf and Safety mob – restaurants are no longer supplying toothpicks as they are extremely dangerous and participants in the pancake race are requested to walk rather than run; walking is that much safer! Have you ever in your life heard of anything more ridiculous? It really does beggar belief that there are people paid to think up this sort of crap and what is more it is taken seriously. What is one supposed to do? Go to bed wrapped up in a nice warm woollen blanket? No way, the wool could be a cause of allergies.
The temperature rises by the day. The forecast for Crete tomorrow is 35 degrees. I haven’t heard any cicadas yet but there are butterflies everywhere. In fact, as I type this, one has flown in and settled on my arm. Oh, he’s just taken off! I think he’s known as a fritillary, could that be right? He’s certainly brown and spotted. During the summer the cicadas kick up one hellava row all day long. They say the reason why there are so many is that Greek hunters who will shoot anything that moves have killed off all the birds that feasted on the zizikas, as the Greeks call them, so they have flourished like crazy. It’s like external tinnitus.
What on earth is happening with America’s weather? Floods galore; Nashville, Arkansas and now Oklahoma. Someone no doubt will put it down to global warming and ‘Elf and Safety if it were to happen in England, as it more than likely will somewhere or other, will wring its collective hands at being unable to tell nature how naughty she is.
The first lot of apricots being over – twelve jars of jam, twelve jars of chutney- it is now the turn of the plums, both red and yellow ripening and starting to fall. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to get to the last of the apricots in time for wine making. The ground around the tree is littered with windfall fruit. The second tree will come into fruit later in the year and hopefully this year we might see something of the guava. The first tomatoes are now ready as well.
We have just had a traditional Cretan wedding in our neck of the woods, a couple of houses down the lane, Elizabeth, that young girl when we first moved here, now a certified doctor, the daughter of Nikos and Maria. The festivities started three days before the actual ceremony and the number of guests was astronomical. The house was festooned with great swags of tulle, on each exterior door and all the way down the staircase and as large bows on the garden wall. There was enough tulle to make tutus for a whole chorus of the Bolshoi. Visitors to the house when it all started were thoroughly enjoying themselves and even in the early hours were still eating and drinking. The little church just down the road was far too small to accommodate them all so the service was held outside and the bride was led from house to church by two musicians with everyone following and applauding. The reception of course was enormous.
Weddings and baptisms I am here to tell you are not done by halves in Greece, no matter what the cost.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Discovered John Osborne’s autobiography, the second part, “Almost a Gentleman” in the bookshelf. Our bookshelves are full of surprises and I don’t know the half of what’s in them. As I am far from being a fan of Mr Osborne as a playwright, I have performed in both “Look Back In Anger” and “Inadmissible Evidence” much, to my surprise I am thoroughly enjoying it. It is beautifully written and full of surprises, writing about British theatre in the fifties and sixties – my period I suppose, certainly the time when I was trying so hard to make it both as actor and writer and not getting very far – it tells me a great deal of what I didn’t know at the time and does it in fascinating detail. We have received the bumf from Equity about forthcoming council elections and looking through it there are perhaps only half a dozen or so names I recognise: Alan Thompson, Tony Robinson, Jonathan Cecil, Paul Janssen who for many years was with the English National Opera, Frank Williams, Paul Mead, and dear old Bobby Mill still going strong. The last two were the only ones I actually worked with and my word how the years have taken their toll and how the years have changed us.
My only reason for mentioning this is that in John Osborne’s book I recognise names on every page and it is fascinating to get an idea of what people like Tony Richardson and George Devine were really like and I know now why no play of mine was ever accepted by the Royal Court. They never stood a chance.
Managers of seaside reps in the old days, if the takings were down, invariably blamed the weather – either too hot or too wet. Submitted plays not wanted invariably received the same replies from managements – would make a good film or, if a film script, would make a good play, in either case ‘sorry not for us’.
The Osborne book has been a real page turner. You picked up where you left off and you didn’t want to leave off again which, I am afraid, I could not say for the Gordon Craig biography which somehow I doubt I will bother to pick up again, and the same goes for Anna Karenina. Sorry Mister Tolstoy but that’s how it is.
“The whips and scorns to be expected by an unknown playwright are nothing to those endured by those who discover that neither reputation, success nor standing will prevent them from being sandbagged frontally, publicly, privately or from behind. The unexpected blow from a stranger is more easily dismissed than some young Hal you once caroused with giving you the frozen lip from beneath his critic’s crown … Inside every playwright there is a Falstaff gathering like a boil to be lanced by his liege employers – fashion and caprice.”
From “Almost A Gentleman” by John Osborne.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

I am back on my old hobbyhorse again. Sometimes this world makes me really sick. The world cup is on, South Africa rejoices. Evidently the WAGS as they are called, footballers’ wives and girl friends of the English team, the camp flowers, having been forbidden to camp out with their males are camping instead in Sun City. Camping? A room costs £5000 a night and should the desire strike they can purchase a designer handbag for the same price while right next door there is the direst poverty. What does one make of it? What can one make of it? This is not envy because my government pension only comes to about 5000 a year, let alone a month, let alone a week, let alone a day! No, it is not envy, we have been living quite comfortably on what comes into this house, a fraction of a footballer’s earnings or the money his girl friend spends but it does make me wonder whether or not these people have any conscience about the state of world affairs or the state of the Africans around their luxury. Enough, enough. Much as I would like to I can’t change the world but I would like to think if those girls gave just one twentieth of their nightly costs to the local community what a difference that would make to a lot of lives.
How important is the world cup to South Africa? Very important I would imagine though, when it is all over, with all the millions that have been spent on infrastructure and the building of these wonderful stadiums, what will be in it for the poor people already mentioned? Will it have made any difference to their lives? One certainly hopes so. There will be those of course who, in a position to do so, will have grown even richer because of it.
What a great shame that Mandela at the age of 91 could not attend the opening ceremony because of the death of his thirteen year old granddaughter in a car crash.
Have extended a couple of scenes in the play and am going to go through it one last time today to make sure there are no mistakes. We sent it to Ceri Wiercx to read and she came up with half a dozen neither Douglas nor I saw. Proof reading as I have probably said before is truly an art. Well, let’s hope they have now all been eliminated.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In the following round, the act Spellbound lost some of its spell, in fact it isn’t moving at all compared to their first effort which was fresh and wonderfully, what can one say, innocent? There was no surprise element. The addition of costumes, fire effects, set etcetera added nothing really – detracted rather. It reminded me of the wonderful funny Jacques Tati film ‘M.Hulot’s Holiday’ which was originally released with an absolute minimal soundtrack: people greeting each other ‘Hello’ ‘Good morning’, the sound of the sea, squeaking doors in the hotel dining room etc. Then someone had the bright idea of adding a more elaborate soundtrack and the whole feeling of the film, for me at any rate, was destroyed; in fact it lost a great deal of its humour which was such a disappointment.
Films one raved about on second viewing can be a big disappointment if not a cause for embarrassment. I remember going on about a film “New Faces of ‘54” and looking at it much later with friends wondering what all the fuss was about in the first place and how really unspectacular it was. The main memory of course was the introduction of Eartha Kitt singing ‘Old Fashioned Millionaire’ and I still remember the song, ‘Oh you can’t chop your mama up in Massachusetts’. “Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her father forty whacks, and when she saw what she had done she gave her mother forty-one.” Apart from Miss Kitt and a diminutive Frenchman (and I can’t even remember his name or number) the rest of the cast is a total blank.
We watched “Yes Prime Minister” again and found it as deliriously funny as ever. Sheer bloody genius if I may be so bold: setting, direction and acting of a truly witty script absolutely faultless. A lesson in TV acting for any would-be thespian. Every tiny change of expression worth a thousand words. It’s not often I am taken by a television programme. Did this series win any prizes? I may have asked this question before and the answer is if not why not?
Another programme I remember so well and for which in fact I wrote to the director saying how fabulous I thought it was, (something rare for me) was the original ‘The Lost Boys’ about James Barrie and the Llewellyn boys. There was one scene where one of the boys is playing checkers with Barrie and it was unbelievably seductive. Did that child know what he was doing? Did the boy in ‘Death In Venice’ realise what he was doing albeit unconsciously?
I say the original Lost Boys to differentiate it from the programme I was in about paedophile murders. That’s the trouble with titles, they’re not copywrite. It would be a wee bit stupid to repeat titles like ‘Gone With The Wind’ or ‘Wizard of Oz’ but looking on Amazon there are three books with the title ‘Just In Case.’ One was published shortly before mine so I was aware of it but I wasn’t going to change what was a perfect title for my own book. ‘Just in case’ said everything about it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

133. Craig Edward Gordon: A Production. Being Thirty-Two Collotype Plates of Designs Projected or Realised for "The Pretenders" of Henrik Ibsen and Produced at the Royal Theatre, Copenhagen, 1926 Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1930 red cloth, gold embossing, first edition, elephant folio. Thirty-two Collotype Plates of Designs Projected or Realised for "The Pretenders" of Henrik Ibsen and Produced at the Royal Theatre Copenhagen, 1926. By Edward Gordon Craig. dedicated to His Majesty Christian X King of Denmark. Printed at the University press, Oxford by John Johnson 1930 - only 605 copies published. Craig tells the story of his travels in Denmark, the work on the sets and costumes and the rehearsals and production. Watercolour, chalk and gouache drawings are carefully reproduced in facsimile with plate guards. Fine condition, binding is tight and pages and plates are in good condition. A large book, 20.25in x 15.5in (513mm x 388mm). We also have a slightly worncopy available priced at £300. Stock ref 1752. £450.00
134. Craig, Edward Gordon: Scene London:1923 large quarto, original boards, very good copy, 19 lovely plates and 27 pages of text, introductory poem by John Masefield, inscribed "To Victor from EC, 11/1965" - a personal inscription from Edward Craig to Victor Glasstone. Stock ref 4256. £150.00
135. Davis, Walter: Improvements in and relating to Picture and like Frames London: 1910, No.12685 British Patent 3pp of text and one page of line drawings,Very good condition. Produced by Walter Davis, stage manager at the Empire Theatre, Nottingham Stock ref 10000. £20.00
136. Degani, Mario: Mostra Delgi Scengrafi Reggiani dal XVII al XX Secolo Reggio Emilia:1957 red calf spine, red cloth boards, very good condition, gazetteer of scenographers listing their work and reproducing many examples in fine plates at the rear of the book. Stock ref 2094. £42.00
137. Diderot, D'Alembert: Theatre Architecture & Stage Machines Paris 1772 original copy of the famous work covering both theatre architecture and stage machines. Green cloth. This is one of the most important works on theatre design and now extremely rare with both sections on theatre architecture and stage machinery. Stock ref 2344. £700.00

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say seven hundred pounds? Pfft! Peanuts, let’s have it. Actually I hadn’t meant to copy 136 or 137 but only the Gordon Craig but, having included them, I might as well leave them for interest’s sake. The reason for the Craig is because I am having a truly tough time trying to wade through his biography. What is it that makes it so dull? Into his twenties he had already done a whole heap of living and I am on to his third big love affair and there are more to come, each one a true love until he lost interest or went a philandering. There is no doubt he was a weird creature – does this come with genius or as Arthur Miller might have said with the territory?
This time last week I wouldn’t have believed I had another full length play inside me but finished it yesterday – five days! – eat your heart out Noel.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Israel really appears to have shot itself in the foot with this storming of an aid ship to Gaza. Demonstrations have been taking place everywhere and Turkey, who until fairly recently has been a friend if not an ally of Israel is incensed by it, the Turkish Foreign Minister calling it ‘murder by state.’ If that is the case how does Turkey excuse its treatment of the Kurds? Although I personally can’t understand rabid nationalism, if Iraq gave up a little of its territory, and Turkey did likewise surely the formation of a Kurdistan would being peace to the area. But no, Turkey won’t give an inch, just as Israel won’t give an inch. Just as Hammas won’t give an inch and just as the Basques and the Maoists in India won’t give an inch and so it goes on and on. Sad really as more and more people are killed for a cause.
Turkey, instead of owning up to it, is still trying to make excuses for the massacre of the Serbs early last century. They weren’t very kind either to the Anatolian Greeks but what the hell, that is all in the past and there is nothing can be done about it now except to own up and say, well that is how it was. I don’t think an apology is necessary. I don’t go for all this apologising for the past, for example as far as slavery is concerned. People demanding Britain and America apologise for the slave trade are really whistling in the wind. They tend to forget, or ignore the fact, that, horrible as it was, Africans and Arabs were also involved in it but we don’t hear any voices raised against them. Why not? Particularly in view of the fact that in some parts of the Dark Continent slavery of a kind still exists. Might as well suggest the Greeks and Romans apologise for their slaves or the Spaniards for their galleys.
But will the Germans ever forget or stop having to apologise for the holocaust? All those deaths had nothing to do with today’s generation but they are not allowed to forget it. I’m not suggesting they should but in some ways this being reminded of it at every turn doesn’t seem quite right anymore. There are museums and memorials to those who perished at the hands of the Nazis but it seems they proliferate even now so many years later. The latest is a man in Berlin laying what he calks stumbling blocks, - blocks that stand proud of the pavement’s surface with a brass plate on which is engraved the name of someone who died in a concentration camp.
Apartheid was a blot on the world and it too has its museums and memorials but isn’t it time to heal wounds? Surely, or there will never be peace in this world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

So the Eurovision song contest is over for another year and Germany comes out the winner. I didn’t watch any of it because our telly has been on the blink for months and we just haven’t bothered to do anything about it. Chris and Douglas though went down to our Norwegian friends in Georgopoli who have a Eurovision bash every year. Neither of them came home seemingly all that impressed with what they heard. I saw a section of the English boy’s effort on the news and all I can say is it’s no wonder Great Britain came last with ten measly points. He and his song were both truly pathetic, embarrassingly so. How on earth did they get that far? Talk about jutzpah!
Not having watched it I can’t guess how many millions were spent on yet another spectacular. Following on the story of the food aid funds in India being diverted for the Commonwealth Games, there was a story on Headline News about the new football stadium built in Rustenburg by the local king who evidently gets, was it 20 or 25% of the income from platinum which means he is worth a fortune. So he builds this fantastic stadium whilst all around there is still the poverty and the jobless. What happens when the World Cup is over and there are no more international football matches to play, particularly in Rustenburg which is a dorp to say the least? I am sure part of Greece’s financial problems is down to the Olympic Games and the same thing is going to happen to London I bet. They should have let the French have them.
If you haven’t seen it – look it up on Youtube – a gymnastic act called “Spellbound” performing on Britain’s Got Talent and spell binding they are too. A dozen or so beautiful young boys and girls in an act so daring and so beautifully choreographed it simply takes your breath away. I t certainly seemed to do that to Simon Cowell whose face was a picture, the other judges as well. It’s little wonder they deservedly received a standing ovation. (The act not the judges). When one hears so much about a lost generation, how wonderful to see something like this and realise just what these kids are capable of. They have evidently become a huge hit in America where the act has been described as “jaw-dropping” and the clips, not surprisingly, have had millions of hits. I have watched it a number of times and each time it only seems to be more impressive.
Another quite remarkable act was the dancing dog and, when I say dancing, that’s what he did. He did his exercise at the barre before going into the most convoluted routine with his mistress and this again was simply a jaw-dropping act. He even took his bow when it was over and he really seemed to enjoy what he was doing. How long did it take to train this canny animal I wonder? and surely something like this must show people just how wonderfully intelligent animals are and hopefully treat them with a little more respect.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Seated in the conservatory having breakfast Sunday morning I could hear the Papas loud and clear going through his stuff which, considering I am hard of hearing and the church is a good half a kilometre away, means he had the decibels up to the fullest. I might have mentioned this before but it’s weird how the Greeks like noise. What did they do before they discovered the microphone and sound system? A traditional band of three of four playing at a celebration aren’t happy unless the music they make is around 110 decibels which I believed is the noise a plane makes taking off. Returning home in the early hours from a panagia at Litsarda a village a good four and a half kilometres away we can still hear the band giving out for all they’re worth. Music is far too loud in restaurants making conversation in some cases quite difficult. Evidently the authorities, in Athens anyway, have been inspecting nightclubs and restaurants and clamping down on the noise.
Talking of Litsarda we went last week to the brand new pizzeria and very impressive they have made it. Two very large rooms and a vast balcony. They have built two apartments on top one for each daughter both if whom are getting married this year Lucky sons-in-law is all wot I can says. One thing you have to say about Greek families, they do stick together. The food was as delicious as ever and it was a very merry party celebrating a friend’s birthday. The old pizzeria across the road that was abandoned for this brand new building is evidently going to be another taverna – pizzeria! How daft can you get? The original is an institution, people come from far and wide to patronize it; why would the village want a second pizzeria? It could be interesting to find out, eating in the old building as in days of yore. And still on the subject of food I forgot to mention in my previous Blog the grapes which are plumping out nicely as well. Maybe this year we’ll have better luck. The last two seasons were washouts; last year because for some reason the bunches tended to wither on the vine and the previous year because Mister Ratty and his family had a field day or more noshing on our grapes. In order to stop them I hung old DVD discs up which did the trick as they move and flash in the wind and sunlight and what amazing colours they produce, enough to frighten any rat away.
There were two letters in the Athens News this week in answer to the Dutch lady’s criticism of Greece and the Greeks, both of them more or less accusing her of ignorance and wanting to know how she could just condemn a whole nation out of hand with what little knowledge she might have. I am constantly amazed at how widespread the paper’s readers are. Letters come in from all over. America, Canada, Australia, I can understand , the Greek Diaspora, but why Holland? Interesting, like my Polish fan who hasn’t got his photograph yet but I will get around to it.