Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Crime has come to paradise. We have heard that in the last week or so three houses in Xirasterni, two in Vamos and eleven in Litsarda have been broken into and it would appear the perpetrators are not all that worried about who they might encounter in the house which makes one, how shall I put this, just a tad nervous? Twelve years ago, even seven or eight years ago it simply wasn’t necessary to lock doors or worry about the house if you were away. The Cretans used to say the only time to lock up is during the olive season when the Albanian labourers are here, but now that has unfortunately all changed and we believe it is mainly due to the massive influx of expats. If they are here and if they have had houses built they must have money. It is probably also a sign of the depression with so many people in dire straits. Evidently the burglars have been taking money but nothing else. Anyway, we have decided all we can do is make entry as difficult as possible. I know they say that if they want to get in they will find a way but to start off from now on the garden gates will be locked. We haven’t bothered to do that before, I don’t think they would like to climb the railings; too many prickly plants and unknown hazards on the other side.
Fortunately we are in a close-knit community of Greeks and access to the house might be thought of as rather difficult. If they use a car they would have to leave it at the bottom of a rather steep lane or take a long circuitous route over a very bad road, no more than a track in places. We have also decided that shutters that have never been shut from now on will be, and on going out at night we will not turn on the exterior lights to light our way back down the garden steps on our return. A prospective burglar not knowing them would have to tread very carefully and if he missed his footing would take a nasty tumble. The break-ins apparently have all been in the early hours of the morning.
It’s all very sad really and I doubt the Cretan police are up to scratch when it comes to catching burglars but unless or until these buggers are caught what can one do? Hopefully, sooner or later, they might give themselves away.
It’s always very sad when a much loved pet dies, especially of it dies young and Betty (of Wilson Keppel and Betty fame) has recently given us just such a scare, especially Chris as she was always his favourite and there was much beating of breast and ‘if only’ when she disappeared for six days. She had not been well and had in fact prior to her disappearance had three visits to the vet and we were all sure she was dead. Chris searched the garden a number of times hoping to find her but no luck. Anyway on Saturday the three of them (Chris, Douglas and our current guest Diane) went on what Douglas always calls an adventure – that is in the car for a long trip. I didn’t go because the heat of the day was so intense it was felt I really couldn’t take it which was true. So I was delighted during the early evening to see her appear sitting next to her water dish and was able to call them and say ‘Betty’s’ home! Much joy and jubilation all round. However she’s still not a well cat and Monday morning it was yet another trip to the vet. Let’s hope it’s the last one.
I don’t know how many Blogs there were before my hard drive crashed but this is number 156 of the Blogs since then and I think it’s time to take a short break so a short break there will be. Thanks to all who have been reading.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz have made an action-comedy called ‘Knight and Day’. Could they have stolen Thornton King and Holly Day’s thunder I wonder and do we think they have put the kybosh on any chance of the Thornton King books being bought for filming? It would be just my luck wouldn’t it? We won’t know until we read a review or see the movie. There being no revue in Friday’s paper I turned to the internet. The reviews on the whole are not that good and anyway Knight and Day has absolutely nothing to do with the two main characters and it would appear to be more a James Bond movie or Bourne Inheritance, one of those anyway. Phew! Sigh of relief.
Many years ago watching B type black and white science fiction serials in the cinema people were featured talking to each other long distance on screens and I wondered what that would be like in reality. Being the perfect Luddite as far as invention and innovation is concerned I didn’t think I would like it but now that it is with us in reality, Skype and web-cams, I love it. Mind you I resisted microwave ovens until it was proved to me how useful they could be and, until fairly recently, the same applied to a dishwasher. I do still hate mobile phones though and I wouldn’t know an I-pod from a Blackberry, whatever they might be.
So what did I leave out of New Labour’s eighty percent? Did I mention the Afghan war? How could I have forgotten that? History and the Russian experience should have warned them that no one wins a war in Afghanistan.
What about twenty-four hour drinking that has led to so much blind drunkenness and violence? I know the British have always been drinkers, witness Hogarth’s Gin Alley, but these last few years alcohol has played much too big a part in people’s lives including those who unfortunately live near pubs and who have their gardens trashed, used as lavatories or vomited on.
So what about money spent? A £1.2billion electronic border’s system which is supposed to protect Britain from illegal immigrants and foreign criminals has descended into a shambles. After it was hit be chronic delays the American firm paid by Labour to introduce the system has been sacked. But that is not the only money Labour wasted to leave Britain in such a financial mess. £12.7billion on a computer system that doesn’t work for the National Health, Department of transport Shared Services Centre(?) now estimated to cost the tax payer £81million. Other innovations have cost or will cost £155million, £24.4million and EU farming subsidy £1.5billion. Admittedly and to be fair that last one is hardly Labour’s fault but it is still an awfully large sum of money. The figures beggar belief.
In the musical ‘Sweet Charity’ there is a number, ‘Hey, big spender.’ Makes me think of New Labour but what’s new? Every Labour government has been known to be a big spender. After all, it’s not their cash that gets squandered. I must have reached the eighty percent by now. Or have I? What about Gordon Brown when chancellor practically giving away Britain’s gold reserves? And what has happened to private pensions? Oh, dear, it just doesn’t bear thinking about or talking about so I’ll say no more.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Is truth stranger than fiction or fiction stranger than truth? In one of the Thornton King books I wrote about the tensions engendered in a game of bridge that could almost lead to murder and in today’s news I read a man has been charged with the murder of his wife, stabbing her a hundred times because her game wasn’t up to scratch. What a diabolical frenzy and all because of a card game. Actually it couldn’t have been just the bridge game. They were obviously a couple hell bent on quarrelling and the game was a climax to it all. Card games can be dangerous. I once heard of a fellow who, upon making a final trick, slammed his card down so hard he dislocated his neck. I put this in a play as well and I do believe it’s a true story.

An extract from “Diary of a man in Despair.”

‘An informant who was at the scene at the time told me about the murder of Herr von Kahr, who was trampled to death by SS beasts in the courtyard of the Marienbad Hotel in Munich: twenty-year old louts and a seventy-year old man. And H., with whom I philosophised today about man’s inhumanity to man? He has just come back from the Eastern Front, and witnessed the massacre at K., where 30000 Jews were slaughtered. This was done in a single day, in the space of an hour perhaps, and when machine gun bullets gave out, flame throwers were used. And spectators hurried to the event from all over the city, off-duty troops, young fellows with the milk complexion of the young – the children of men who nineteen or twenty years ago were lying in cribs and gaily bubbling and reaching for the brightly coloured ring hanging just above! Oh, degradation, oh life without honour, oh thin shell that separates us from the lost souls in whom Satan burns!
You judge us and find us wanting, and we, here, suffer in loneliness and dread. You point at us and our lack of resistance and we know that the resistants have died unknown in filthy bunkers, and that the blood of martyrs has been spilled to no purpose. The Devil is loose and it is God Himself who has unloosed him. “And the Lord will give him great power.” And we can only guess at why He has done this or why He has chosen this land as His stage, or what lies in store for us behind His curtain.
But still the night lies black over our heads and we suffer. We suffer as you never shall suffer, no, not on your deathbed.
Beware the man who would make light of our suffering.’

If today’s young fascists or neo-Nazis want to know what it was really like living under National Socialism or those today who idolise the memory of Adolph Hitler they have only to read this book to know what a diabolical horror and an avalanche of suffering it all was.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Today’s Blog delayed by nearly nine hours due to a power cut, the first biggy this summer. Haven’t dared look in the freezer yet. Just hope everything’s all right or it will be a terrible waste.

Suicide bombers in Iran (Shia versus Sunni), suicide bombers in Baghdad, suicide bombers in Pakistan, suicide bombers in Uganda, in every case hundreds of innocent people going about their business are killed or maimed. When will it ever stop?
Raoul Moat was a murderer. He shot his ex-girl friend with intent to kill, shot dead her new boy friend and wounded a policeman in the face before fleeing and staying at large for a week until, finally cornered, he shot himself and immediately in the eyes of some became a hero, a legend if one is to believe them. Floral tributes were laid at his home and the place where he died and a rather silly girl of very little brain started a memorial for him on Face book which immediately had 36000 hits, mostly in favour. When interviewed as to why she had done it she said it took the police a week to find him and that “was funny”! I remember here in Greece when the twin towers were destroyed how some Greeks gloated over it despite the fact that some of their own could have been killed in the inferno, and in Mexico recently seventeen people at a birthday party were machine gunned, evidently as part of the drug gangs’ turf war. In fact since 2006, 24800 people have been killed with this feuding. The world is truly full of some very sick people.
Continental countries are bringing in laws to ban the bhurka in public. Meanwhile some soft idiot in Britain, the immigration minister no less, one by name Damien Green has said banning the bhurka would be an “un-British” thing to do, so what is he going to say when someone who could have been identified as a threat but whose identify was hidden behind the veil is guilty of yet another atrocity? Returning to London after a lengthy absence I was confronted in the underground with a number of passengers wearing the bhurka and I have to admit it made me feel very uncomfortable. Any one of them could have been a suicide bomber. But it is not only Europe worried about the bhurka. Both Egypt and Syria have banned it in their universities. Banning the bhurka maybe un-British but wearing it is also un-British but then Britain has changed so very much in the last few years. Peter Mandelson in his biography says that New Labour whilst in power achieved eighty percent of what it set out to do. Pardon me while I smirk and wonder what would have happened if they had achieved a hundred percent or, god forbid, had been re-elected. From this distance what I can see achieved is the bringing in of over 7000 new laws, most of them petty, superfluous and merely trying to regulate people’s lives even more, a national health service going downhill despite having millions thrown at it, people who no longer have a dentist because they simply can’t afford one, immigration totally out of control, crime, especially knife crime, rampant, police hamstrung by pettifogging form filling and health and safety, too much notice taken of the European courts of justice to which felons appeal costing the taxpayer millions in legal fees, and a country virtually bankrupt. Does that add up to eighty percent do you reckon?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Right, I am vindicated. Chris and Douglas have categorically denied my contention that okra is slimy but on at least two recipe sites sliminess is mentioned and, more important suggests ways of getting rid of it, if possible. Strikes me the best way to eat okra is to smother it with spices, the hotter the better.
The heat these last few days has been fearsome. That is the only word for it and once again I ask the $64000 question that has no answer- why do little girls scream at the top of their voices in and around a swimming pool? They’re creating more noise than the cicadas outside my window. The height of summer of course sees the height of the holiday season and in the last few years Vamos has grown to cater more and more for the holiday maker though just why is beyond me. It’s a delightful enough town to live in but what does it have to offer the holiday maker in amenities, apart from those houses that have their own swimming pool? The beaches, Kalyves, Almerida, Georgopoli are all a distance away and the bus service, mainly to Kalyves, sometimes to Almerida, is minimal and not at all to Georgopoli. The nearest large town, Xania, is 24 kilometres away so unless you hire a car you’re pretty much stranded. The one good thing about this influx of tourists is that many a falling down house, sometimes hardly more than two and a half crumbling walls, has been saved from complete ruin and turned into an attractive dwelling. We do have three good restaurants apart from kafenias and a number of quick food outlets but, if you’re not out dining of an evening, what do you do? You cater for yourself at home no doubt and then have to find your own amusement.
As with a number of Greek towns and villagers there came a time when there was no work to be had and youngsters drifted away for the big city so that a fairly large population was diminished into virtually nothing hence the abandoned houses falling into ruin. But again, with the increase in tourists and expats building new homes, the trend has been reversed and one can say it is quite a flourishing small town rather than a village.
Our current guest was invited to choose something to watch from the myriad DVDs we have and what did she choose? Caligula! That feeble excuse for the most expensive porno movie ever made and, believe me, if you haven’t seen it, it is sheer pornography. How artistes like John Gielgud, Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren got mixed up in it is a mystery. Maybe they just needed the money. Maybe they just didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for. It is trumpeted as ‘Gore Vidal’s Caligula’ but Gore Vidal has evidently distanced himself from the final product and refused to have anything to do with it and who can blame him? Nice use of music though: the ballets Spartacus and Romeo and Juliet.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The following was sent to us by our friend of many years Willy Kenton but, instead of passing it on via e-mail, I thought I would just use it as today’s Blog. I had in fact received it once before so it is obviously doing the rounds though will anything come of it I wonder? Strangely enough I took a book down from the shelf I had read some time ago and am reading again which is very much along the lines of this message though of course dealing only with Nazi Germany. It is called ‘Diary of a man in Despair and is a quite remarkable document. It was written between 1936 and 1944 by a man named Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen and his contempt for Hitler, Goebbels, and the Nazis was such that at last the Gestapo arrested him and he was shot in Dachau concentration camp in 1944. But it was because no decent person took that bunch of pathetic clowns, so they thought of them, seriously to begin with that they managed to gain power, and once in power the degradation of Germany was inevitable. They turned out to be a collective monster of thieving murderous thugs totally out of control as the world found out to its cost.
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 spectra 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 was irrelevant.

China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.
Yugoslavia was a peaceful country and yet, the Yugoslav Communists managed to murder almost 200,000 at Bleiberg.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a war mongering 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, Croats, 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.

And remember, the first thing the fanatics will do to the silent majority is to disarm them.

Gerhard Grünewald
Franzensbader Str.19
14193 Berlin
Tel.: 030-825 3193
FAX: 030-3195 4075

Friday, July 16, 2010

According to a document posted on the internet, okra is a vegetable with seemingly magical properties being beneficial to heart, liver, lungs, stomach, spleen, bladder, bowels, joints and anything else anatomical you care to mention. The reason for looking at this amazing testimonial was because okra was served up at dinner a couple of evenings ago and I took one mouthful, in fact hardly a mouthful, and that was it. I have never taken to this vegetable; it’s not only the flavour I dislike but the texture of it as well. However I suppose in view of what we have learnt I had better get used to eating it. Needless to say the others at the table walloped into them with evident relish.
Food fads – I guess we all have them and I have evidently never liked the foods that are supposedly good for one though I am getting around to it. I have at last come around to eating that tasteless rabbit food known as lettuce. I can take it with a dressing of oil and lemon or with apple and walnuts and a drizzle of honey. That is very good. Tomatoes I’m gradually taking a liking to, at least the firm fleshy bits beneath the skin. I still hate the soggy pips. Living in Greece where tomatoes and cucumbers are consumed in great numbers it’s probably just as well I’ve got around to the tomatoes at least though I still cannot take that other tasteless vegetable the cucumber except in dainty sandwiches with cream cheese. I remember the children of our Cypriot neighbour in London walking around their garden eating cucumbers the way normal people eat apples. The other Greek food I cannot take is xorta. Xorta simply means weeds so to make the idea of eating weeds more palatable, restaurants place them on the menu as ‘mountain greens’! What we call weeds in English are called wild weeds in Greek, agrioxorta. There is any number of varieties of xorta and they are reputed, like okra, to be a very healthy food, but for my taste they are either bitter or too allied to spinach.
Currently it is the water melon season. Everywhere you look there are gigantic water melons, on trucks, in stores and on restaurant tables as the freebee with raki after a meal. Now I never used to like water melon. Like tomato pips I always found it too wishy washy (logical I suppose as its name implies) but this year they are so fleshy and sweet I’ve really taken to them for the first time. And food fads chance over the years of course. As a kid I detested mushrooms, now I love them, I couldn’t abide olives, now I adore them. There are of course things I still don’t want to eat, like okra, but I guess I’ll have to force myself with that one. Maybe I will get used to it and change my mind as my aging body gets healthier and healthier. Tee-hee!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So it’s all over bar the jubilation and the canny octopus forecast correctly once more with Spain the winners of the World Cup. What is the octopus going to do with himself with no more games to forecast? It was a bit of a dour battle with too many fouls, mainly by the Dutch and the ref was handing out yellow cards, and one red, like they were invitations to a birthday party. The final result must be devastating for the losing side having come so far, evidently for the Dutch for the third time, and the emotion of the winners was too much as the Spanish goalkeeper virtually collapsed in floods of tears. A four year gap now before the world goes through it all once more. A big question in my mind is what is South Africa going to do now with all these gigantic stadiums they have built and which are obviously going to take some upkeep? I think Athens is still trying to recover from the Olympic Games and London is soon to feel that pinch. Ouch! They would have been wiser to let Paris take the strain.
Have just finished reading a biography of Dan Leno, billed as the king’s jester and the funniest man on earth, though why is another question. Reading his patter and the lyrics of his songs it seems to be pure drivel but then one has to remember the Victorians had a very different sense of humour to us as cartoons like the curate’s egg in Punch bear witness, and looking at the photographs of Leno in costume for the various characters he portrayed I guess the drollery was purely visual. He made a great deal of money and gave a great deal of it away. His was the classic case of the clown wanting to play Shakespeare. He dreamt of being the greatest Richard lll ever, became an alcoholic, lost his mind, was in and out of mental institutions, and died at the age of 41 and the whole country went into mourning.
Another music all artiste who gave away most of money, in fact he died penniless, and died young was George Leybourne, Champagne Charlie, and Chris’s biography of him is finally to be published in October with a launch at Wilton’s Music Hall. When I say the biography I should say part one because Chris has been so thorough in his research over the years and has come up with so many unknown or little known facts, volume one is a complete work in itself but still only half the full story. Let’s hope the launch is a great success.
Greek banks are no longer accepting cheques which, considering all our income is generated overseas leaves as with a problem to solve. Greek banks have never been keen on cheques. To deposit money by cheque has always been a hellava palaver but now even the palaver is past tense.

Monday, July 12, 2010

An interesting week just gone by. We went to Souda for an exhibition of paintings by a local artist but were not much taken with the pictures on view. They were all scenes of Souda and, although highly colourful, gave the faint impression of being slightly amateurish and this artist is far from being an amateur. He has had any number of exhibitions including three in London and, in his catalogue there are illustrations of much more interesting paintings that I would like to have seen but they were not what the exhibition was all about, and these I feel would not appeal to the masses hence maybe this change in style to more choc-box, a notch or two above Woolworths mass produced originals! The pictures were not inexpensive, top price being 3500euro and funnily enough the picture all three of us liked above the others was the first to be sold. So to use the word amateur is most unfair but it was just a feeling these paintings gave me.
However, on to amateurism in the true sense of the word. Saturday evening in the local school hall we attended a performance of the play ‘Murdered To Death’ by Peter Gordon. The performance started at six o’clock which is neither a matinee or an evening performance and I can’t understand the reason for this. It threw our whole day out of joint as far as meals and feeding the animals were concerned. Fine for the Greeks who like to eat all hours of the night but the audience wasn’t Greek. It consisted entirely of ex-pat Brits, three full houses of 150 which goes to show how many Brits have settled in Crete over the last few years.
Many years ago, almost as soon as we arrived here, I tried to raise interest in theatre, alas with no success whatsoever but then there were far fewer ex-pats here at that time. Now this group has been formed and I am sure they will be producing more plays. I can only hope the standard improves. Some months ago I was in fact asked to be a part of it but declined, making poor health my excuse, well not an excuse really as I was in no fit state to lead a drama group anyway and the thought of directing a play with them was not exactly an alluring prospect, but more strength to their elbows says I. But to this production – the play is a spoof on Agatha Christie and is in fact very funny but there was an awful lot of acting going on in this rather messy production, messy because the director was also playing a major part and it is almost impossible to direct a clean production if you are on stage a great deal of the time. In consequence entrances were masked, there was a deal of upstaging and even more dithering and moving to no purpose and, instead of playing straight and letting the laughs come of their own accord they made the usual mistake amateurs make by playing for the laughs. Consequently a lot of them went for nothing. There was also the problem of inaudibility with a couple of the actors, despite the presence of at least six mikes. However the audience was benevolent and kindly disposed, laughed sympathetically whenever there was a dry, of which there were a number, and gave the cast a rapturous reception at the end. The leading lady then gave a speech of thanks to all involved and made that awful mistake of saying ‘Of course we’re only amateurs.’ Having paid for our seats we do not want to hear those fateful words. We already knew from curtain up that they were all amateurs.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thursday morning Chris drove me into Souda as I had an appointment with the lung specialist in IKA only to find there was a strike on so it was a waste of time and petrol. I really do not know what they hope to achieve by this continued striking because they will not influence the government one bit. It has to reduce the national debt and there will be no change of mindset. Chris kicked up a fuss and the girl at reception made an appointment for Tuesday. I had a pee while we were there and as usual found the toilets to be in a quite disgusting state which for a major health centre is not saying very much. The floors are awash, even the seats appear to have evidence of bad aiming and the bins for paper are overflowing.
The heat outside was fantastic. I am sure it must have been near forty degrees and I couldn’t wait to get home again and into the cool though we stopped off at the Kalami Parking Café for drinks and a sandwich. The café is in a delightful spot overlooking Souda Bay; there is plenty of shade from tamarisk trees and a lovely cool breeze. But the minute one stepped out of the shade the heat came blazing down again. The car of course every time you got into was like an oven, metal work virtually too hot to touch.
Tamarisk trees are quite amazing, surviving the whole summer without water and capable of growing even in beach sand.
Before leaving Souda we called in at the first of two Chinese emporiums as I needed summer shorts. I couldn’t believe the size of the place or the amount of clothing, shoes, jewellery etcetera there, racks and racks and racks of it for men, women and children of all sizes. The first light shorts Chris looked at were polyester and Chris wanted cotton so we approached a young Chinese floorwalker who, believe it or not, spoke not a word of Greek nor English but did a fairly good line in grunts and we eventually on another rack found cotton shorts and bought two pairs. The clothing in these establishments of course is very cheap (5euro a pair) which is their chief attraction and the Chinese are really taking over. Apart from these two massive establishments there is yet another in Kalyves.
The United States wants that beastly mad mullah Abu Hamza, currently serving seven years in England for incitement to murder, extradited to the US but yuman rights has reared its head once more because Hamza and three others complain that, if they go to America, they face long sentences and yuman rights advocates believe that is a form of torture. Why oh why don’t the Strasbourg Courts and the authorities just let them go and be done with it? It would save an awful tot of money in exchange for a few terrorist outrages and, if caught, they would once again claim their yuman rights, ignoring the fact that those they killed lost their yuman rights then and there. Madness wouldn’t you say?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Po pop po! So the rampaging all-conquering Germans have been humbled by a single Spanish goal. It was pretty inevitable as Spain seemed to have much of the play and with all the shots on goal, I think I counted thirteen in the second half, one had to go in, a beautiful header from a corner.
It would now appear the ridiculous religious dictatorship in Iran is closing up ever tighter. Will that country ever be civilised again or will the mad Mullahs with their absurd fancies always hold sway? Women who might be found not wearing their veil as prescribed are described by the arrogant Ayatollahs as being ‘half naked’ and now men’s haircuts are to be strictly controlled. Anything other than short back and sides will be anti-God which presumably means anti-government. One cannot but feel so sorry for people who lose their freedom to this extent and have to live under this sort of fanatical regime. What are those in power afraid of? Losing that power I suppose.
Meanwhile in Cuba dissidents are going on hunger strike and starving to death in the Stalinist type communist regime. This time it is not religion but solely political power that is threatened to which 200 political prisoners can testify.
What is happening to civil aviation? I hate flying at the best of times, I find it a thorough bore and if I never had to board another plane that would suit me just fine, but once upon a time you bought a plane ticket and that was it. Now there are all sorts of extras which in my opinion is simply a matter of fleecing the traveller, just like airports that know they have a captive audience so can double or triple the price of everything. You pay to book on line, you pay to check-in, you pay for baggage. Ryanair evidently are charging up to £80 for baggage. You pay now for food (£6 a sandwich) and Ryanair are also considering charging £1 to use the loo and their latest idea is to remove seats and replace them with a vertical flat padded board and a small shelf on which to rest your bum. In other words you will take your trip standing! Can you imagine that? The discomfort? Standing for four hours or even more? Apparently this harebrained scheme is dead in the water as planes would have to be modified at enormous expense and Boeing, who supplies Ryanair with their aircraft, says there is no intention of doing so. Also safety regulations it seems would prohibit it.
Amazon is advertising My First Railway Set. “This delightful set features a specially designed battery-powered engine which is easy for little hands to control. Also includes a decorated bump track and a large padded mountain.” There’s a snag. It comes with a warning, “Not for sale to persons under the age of 18.”
The steamy film “9½ Weeks” has been temporarily banned from Worthing’s Dome Cinema until it has been privately viewed by Worthing’s moral watchdogs”, the Worthing Guardian has reported. The film “Body Lust, The best Bit of Crumpet in Denmark” will be shown instead.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I was sitting outside a kafenio in Kalyves having a coffee and noticed a sign next door which read ‘Real Estate’ which got me thinking, what does real estate actually mean? What is the opposite of real estate, could it be unreal estate? And what would constitute unreal estate? Doesn’t really make sense when you come to think of it.
So the Spaniard Nadal is once more Wimbledon champion having beaten his Czech opponent in three straight sets. Andy Murray really tried but his trying unfortunately was just not good enough against an opponent like this.
Another one time champion, this time in a hot dog eating contest in New York (where else?), the Japanese Takeru Kobayashi who was denied participation because he objected to signing an agreement which would not allow him to take part in speed eating elsewhere, was arrested as he climbed the stage and carted off by some of New York’s finest for trying to gate crash the party which was won by a Mister Chestnut who received a yellow belt and $20000 in prize money. It wasn’t his best effort. He managed only 58, ten short of his best. How can anyone eat 68 hotdogs in one go? It’s something else to set the mind boggling. Where do they put it?
It’s bad for some to lose at sport. The Brazilian coach and his entire team have been sacked because of Brazil’s failure in The World Cup. Managers and coaches always get the blame for their team’s failures but they’re not the ones actually playing so why don’t the players get a rollicking? Mind you, considering what they earn whilst in the job and what they walk away with, I don’t think they really have cause for complaint.
Would it be no exaggeration to say that politicians all over the world are exactly the same? Kenyan MPs have just voted themselves an enormous pay rise taking their salaries in what is virtually an impoverished county to £84000. Fantastic. One MP has cried out against it but his I fear would be a voice in the wilderness. Presumably foreign aid helps pay these salaries.
An American billionaire by the name of Buffet has donated $1.93billion to charity and is hoping others might follow his example. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did? Mind you,he's still left with a not inconsiderable fortune. Well we know Bill Gates has a charitable foundation but Tony Blair could keep the ball rolling and show himself to be a true socialist and a good sport by giving away some of his twenty million. As Mister McEnroe was fond of saying, ‘You can’t be serious!’

Sunday, July 4, 2010

In their thirteen years of government (?) New Labour brought in 4700 new laws. The mind would simply boggle if it weren’t for the fact that nanny socialist state knows what’s best for you and tries to make sure you toe the line twenty-four hours a day or else. The new government has invited people to send in requests as to which of these should be scrapped but that has turned out to be a useless exercise as people have been sending in the most ridiculous requests. That is, have they taken the matter seriously? It would seem not. A great number of these 4700 new laws no doubt have to do with ‘elf and safety, a Quango that really should be got rid of immediately. Unfortunately this won’t happen because everyone is terrified of being sued for millions for the slightest thing. This is all because of America of course where judges seem to have lost all sense of reason.
And talking of that, our ex-socialist prime minister, one Tony Blair who has made himself £20000000 since leaving office, is still driving around in a bullet proof car guarded by heavy security paid for by the tax payer and has now been awarded the annual United States Liberty Medal, which is not only a great honour richly undeserved but raises his bank balance by another $100000! Now I know the world is going mad. What did Tony Blair do to warrant being awarded this prize? It was evidently for his ‘steadfast commitment to conflict resolution.’ So someone tell me please what is Afghanistan all about?
The city of Bristol is to spend £750000, yes, that is three-quarters of a million pounds of rate-payers money, in apologising for the slave trade! Once more the mind simply boggles at PC gone stark raving mad. Where does this kind of nonsense end? We gave our friend, the actress Beryl King my play, ‘Rosemary’ to read and her verdict on it? It is a part any actress would give her eye-teeth for but she doesn’t think anyone will take up the play because of remarks in it on ‘ageism.’ Good grief, we all grow old. I am seventy-nine; I know what it is to grow old. The play is set in an old folk’s home and this play, of all my theatre work, is probably the one that has a moral to it. You just can’t win.
But evidently the German football team can. They are rampant at the moment having knocked out Argentina (sorry Maradona – no hand of God to save your boys this time) by four goals to nil which might, or might not, make the English losers a little happier though looking at them slinking home with their tails between their legs certainly makes one wonder.

Friday, July 2, 2010

I’ve just read the screenplay I wrote many many years ago based on Greville Wynne’s book ‘The Man From Moscow’. This was a commission for the magnificent sum of £200 which Wynne was reluctant to pay and had to be threatened before he finally stumped up. The reason for the reluctance was because he said he showed the script to his accountant who couldn’t understand it to which my reply was if his accountant showed me a set of figures I more than likely wouldn’t understand them. The commission in fact was for a treatment, not a full script, but I liked the story so much I felt I wanted to give it the works so went ahead and did it. So what was it about the script his accountant couldn’t understand? There can’t be many film scripts that are easy for the layman to read and rereading this one I realise just how complicated it is. Unless you have a keen visual imagination and you can see it all happening before your very eyes as Arthur Askey used to say it probably would look a bit of a jumble. Well, in fact, I honestly believe my treatment of the book was a good forty years or more before it’s time: 190 pages and in two parts it consists of 461 set-ups; obviously too much for our accountant to digest and it requires the modern method of quick intercutting between scenes moving from reality to imagination, past, present and possible future. Ah well, never mind, it’s not the only body of work that will never see the light of day. The Soviet Union is old hat now anyway. Still it was an interesting read and remains in the archives.
A woman has been remanded in custody accused of breaching an Asbo banning her from being noisy during sex. Neighbours complained of hearing Caroline Cartwright, 48, groaning and her bed banging against the wall at her home in Washington, Wearside. Earlier this month she was given a four-year Asbo banning her from making excessive noise anywhere in England. But she appeared in court on Monday, charged with three breaches of her Asbo in just 10 days. She was remanded in custody until 5 May. Cartwright was convicted of five breaches of a noise abatement notice on 17 April and fined £515. But Houghton le Spring Magistrates' Court heard police arrested her on 18 April, on 22 April and again on 26 April, after reports from neighbours she was flouting the ban with her husband Steve. Prosecutor Claire Ward said neighbours complained to police about early morning noises including shouting and groaning coming from the Cartwrights' home in Hall Road, Concord, Washington. Cartwright elected to be tried by jury and the case will be transferred to Newcastle Crown Court at a later date.
You can’t even enjoy your sex in England anymore. The prison population has risen to 85201 which is remarkably small when you consider the size of the population on that overcrowded island. Maybe this good lady will make it 85202. I hope not.