Tuesday, August 31, 2010

After writing the previous Blog I got to thinking about actresses and why they turn down perfectly good parts whilst they moan about the paucity of roles for women and decided, even if they’re dead right casting wise, it could be they are either too vain or too conscious of their image. The image is all.
My first experience of this was many years ago now with the very first play I wrote, ‘The River Of Sand.’ Naturally it is set in South Africa and the leading role is that of a formidable Boer woman, I use formidable in the sense of her being strong in adversity, and I wanted to interest Flora Robson in it. In fact I would have given my eye teeth if she agreed to do it she was so right, but what was the response? These are her exact words and to this day I don’t know what she meant by the first bit –‘I couldn’t possibly play a woman like that, what would my fans say?’ So obviously her choice of parts was one dictated by what she imagined her fans would think of her.
There are parts of course, no matter how good they are, that require an actress to forget her image. Such a one is Mrs Borrodaile in ‘Beautiful For Ever.’ An actress has to lose all self-consciousness about her looks in order to play this part. It has been turned down by a number, including Dulcie Gray who I believe was ideal for it. Not that she was as plain as Mrs Borrodaile but I remember playing a television role many years ago for that lovely director, Chloe Gibson and, looking at me, she said, ‘He’s supposed to be terribly ugly, my dear, but I’m sure make-up can do a good job of it.’ And make-up can perform wonders on anyone.
So I say to all those actresses turning down perfectly good parts because they’re desperate to maintain an image, just think of the wonderful, fabulous, adorable, incredible Joanna Lumley in ‘Absolutely Fabulous’, who in her most grotesque chain smoking drunken state, all caution thrown to the winds, was as incredibly ab fab as anyone could possibly be.
On the male side I can still see Jack Nicholson, was it in “Terms Of Endearment”? standing in a bedroom doorway unshaven, flabby, in his underwear, looking a complete wreck and exuding charm and charisma from every pore.
There are other reasons of course why plays are turned down. One of them is fear.
I submitted my play ‘Red In The Morning’ to Beryl Reid of blessed memory with the following result: within a couple of days a phone call from her agent saying how much he enjoyed it and he was passing it on to her with his recommendation. However, not to be surprised if she turned it down as she would probably be afraid of it, and not to expect an immediate result as, being dyslectic, she took a long time to read a script.’
Except for the fact that, dyslectic or not, she came back in a couple of days, he was spot on. She turned it down, and some time later, rehearsing at North Acton for a BBC television, I had just collected my lunch and was paying for it when I heard a voice behind me say, ‘I know what I’ve forgotten. I’ve forgotten the darling little pats of butter.’ Now nobody could mistake that voice. It’s Beryl Reid I thought and turning around sure enough it was, so I waited for her at the cash desk and when she reached me, I said, ‘Excuse me, Miss Reid you don’t know me. My name is Glyn Jones.’ And that is as far as I got.
‘The play!’ she shrieked for all to hear. ‘The play!’ She then insisted I accompany her to her table where I was introduced to everyday as ‘This is Glyn Jones who has written the most marvellous play that I’m not going to do.’
Later she said to me, ‘Darling, what if I wanted to GO?’ Was she afraid she would shit herself on stage? Who knows but sometimes, paraphrasing Messrs Gilbert and Sullivan, a playwright’s lot is not a happy one.

Postscript: Quote from “The Reminiscences of J.L.Toole” 1889 – ‘The judgment of actors in regard to parts that suit them, or in which they are likely to be successful, is not always reliable.’

As I’ve said before, nothing ever changes.

An interesting piece of history regarding ‘The River Of Sand’: it was submitted to Granada Television who wrote back saying, “Who’s interested in South Africa?” This is the equivalent of the American producer who said of ‘Gone With The Wind’, “Who’s interested in the civil war?” A few years later the whole world was interested in South Africa.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Equity’s summer magazine has arrived. Photograph of Juliet Stevenson on front cover and inside - ‘Juliet Stevenson on the lack of roles for older women.’ In the same magazine Jean Rogers bewails the fate of the older actress, the attitude in the industry towards women, she writes, having not improved since the 1970s. I seem to recall this cry was in an earlier magazine and I answered it with a letter to the mag but it wasn’t published. Might have been published on the webpage but I didn’t think of looking there.
Do I write a letter to the magazine again? Maybe not, but I’ll put down my thoughts here. I could send Miss Stevenson a dozen plays with parts for the older woman and I am only one of a thousand playwrights and there must be many good plays looking for a home but, if managements don’t want to know, there is nothing I, or any other writer, can do about it. It isn’t a new story. Not every film, television or stage play can star Judy Dench and Maggie Smith, national treasures though they both are. But let’s see how many parts I have written for women of all ages in just a selection of plays…

THRILLER OF THE YEAR - all women cast, 3 parts for the older actress.
BEAUTIFUL FOR EVER – all women cast, two actresses 40+
GENERATIONS – all women cast – 2 in their 20s, one 30+, one 60+
ROSEMARY – 3 women, 1 young, 1 middle aged, one 70+
RED IN THE MORNING – 3 women, 1 late 20’s, 1 middle aged, one 80+
WOMEN AROUND – 4 women, 2 young, 2 forties+
LA BELLE OTERO- Musical. 2 major roles for women, 1 in her early forties, the other 80+

In just that selection there are 14 parts for the older woman. Interesting what happens to submissions; usually nothing and managements don’t even have to pay postage any more when they reject a work; an e-mail would be polite but instead all you get is silence. Three of the abovementioned plays have been turned down by actresses of note. Amongst other submissions GENERATIONS was sent to Women in Film in the US. Did I get a response? You have to be joking. Too often it is a waste of postage but one keeps on trying.

Let’s take the case of ROSEMARY and the two main parts. First of all the male juv, aged around 22, a part tailor-made for the young Daniel Radcliffe. When I read that a management in London was looking for a new play for Daniel I sent them ROSEMARY. Did I ever get a response? You have to be joking. The part of Rosemary is for an elderly actress and, when I saw Vanessa Redgrave in ‘Atonement’ I immediately thought she was absolutely perfect for it. Did I get a response from her agents? You have to be joking. Dead silence was the response, not even a thank you but no thank you. The script and my letter to Vanessa were probably trashed on receipt. But, if you come to think of it, what better combination could there be to put bums on seats? Redgrave for the older generation, Radcliffe for the younger.

Ah well, Miss Stevenson, Miss Rogers, I am truly sorry for your predicament but I will keep on trying and if you care to look at my website and you find a play you think may be of interest and one that you can get a management interested in let me know.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sex and religion, religion and sex, how they are intertwined and how they create fear or loathing, or both. I have been sent two videos, how should I describe them? Would distressing be the right word? The first, ‘The Canvas Prison’ is an article complete with photos on the Bhurka, its history and tradition and my reaction to it is one of complete horror. How in this day and age women can be treated with such diabolical cruelty is almost beyond belief. Thanks mainly to the Taliban and the Pashtun tribes, for women it is a life of nothing but pain and sadness. No sports, no employment no schooling. Any sign of joy such as singing, laughing, playing music, showing the face, wearing make-up, can result in stoning, flogging, torture, amputation or public execution.
Women are not allowed to travel in taxis but have to ride in the trunk. As most physicians in Afghanistan are male they are not allowed to treat or operate on women and women must give birth at home. It is estimated forty percent die of complications. Others in total despair die by suicide or starvation. The war has robbed many of their husbands and, as they are not allowed to work, they are left to beg in order to try and feed their children.
With the advent of the Taliban, Afghanistan, a country that was just beginning to enter the modern age, was thrust at a stroke right back into the middle ages. Good God, it’s even worse. What can be done to end this horrifying nightmare?
Let’s consider the second video. This is in two parts, half of which I had received before and written about before so forgive my repeating myself. This is a photograph of peace loving Muslims demonstrating in London with placards reading ‘Slay those who insult Islam’, and the same sentiment expressed using behead, butcher, exterminate, in place of slay.
There is one which reads ‘Islam will dominate the world’, another ‘Be prepared for the real holocaust’, and yet another ‘To hell with freedom.’ As I think I mentioned before it is this very freedom that allows this woman to demonstrate in this manner with this banner.
The second part is headed ‘Mass Muslim Marriage in Gaza.’ Sponsored by Hamas, four hundred and fifty proud bridegrooms lined up for photographs with their new brides not one of whom was over the age of ten. The youngest was six. It was a gala event attended by Hamas dignitaries. The grooms, all in their twenties, were each given 500 dollars; the girls were given a bouquet. Sentiments expressed were ‘We are saying to the world and America you cannot deny us joy and happiness.’ Are they really so blind, so brain-washed that they don’t realise the rest of world looks on this with absolute revulsion? Did the little girls have any say in the matter? Are they over the moon with joy and happiness? Somehow I very much doubt it. And so what does the future hold for them? The Bhurka no doubt. Anywhere else and it would be considered child abuse.
We keep on being told that there are millions of peace loving, moderate, civilised, educated Muslims. Why oh why don’t they start to take the fanatics to task and put their house in order? Somehow, pessimist that I am, I doubt it will happen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The more I think about these computerised brains the more odious the whole concept becomes. It’s all very well to talk about growing old and the body becoming frail but what about the millions who die young, even in infancy? And, unless the coming of death is obvious, such as in a terminal illness, how do you actually tell the moment when someone is going to die? But, supposing, on the point of death your brain is entered into the computer, it goes in with all your bad memories as well as your good ones and you now have absolutely no control over it. What if you want to end it? There is no way you can do that now. It is a form of eternal imprisonment in a mental straight jacket and others have you under their control, not always I am sure with the best of intentions. For the religious who believe in the kingdom of God and life after death the whole idea must seem blasphemous and for those who like me do not believe there is any life after death, thank you very much, let me sleep in peace. How long can these mad boffins interfere with nature before disaster strikes? Leave it please to science-fiction, B-movies, and action comics. No Doctor Sandberg, it may be just a theory now but please keep it that way. Nuff said.
Yet another travel firm in the UK bites the dust. This makes thirteen in all and in the height of the school holidays. Evidently it is due to the recession, holiday makers staying at home, and the ash cloud from the Finnish volcano that caused so much disruption. Greek tourism is down ten percent.
According to a survey, smoking among teenagers has been reduced by raising the legal age to buy cigarettes from sixteen to eighteen. The lovely Diane has finally quit. At the end of all previous holidays she went back home with a suitcase full of cigarettes, enough to last her a year, all quite legitimate, duty paid, and the savings compared to UK prices virtually paid for her flight to Crete. This year the cigarettes were for a friend. She has not smoked since February but is occasionally using an electric cigarette that gives off a vapour which evidently lessens the craving for nicotine. After many failed attempts I finally gave up about seven years ago. One day without any conscious effort it just happened, I stopped; no struggle, no craving, no desire any more to smoke. Do I feel any better for it? I don’t know. I’ve always had chest problems ever since being an asthmatic child but, even so, a terrific financial saving if nothing else. Not that you would notice.
And talking of finance, evidently bankrupt North Korea has offered to pay off some of its dept to Czechoslovakia with ginseng, ten millions dollars worth which means, if they accept it, a lot of healthy Czechs, and that is if ginseng is all it’s cracked up to be. Of course they could re-export it and get back some of their cash. Doesn’t sound too bad an idea.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Yesterday was overcast with a cool wind, a harbinger of autumn? I never thought I would live to see the day when I wanted summer to end but the heat this year has been so fierce as to be almost unbearable, at least for oldies like me.
I’ve long felt that computers in all their manifestations are anti-social and it would seem, in America anyway, they have become even more so as computer geeks take to what they call minimalist living, discarding all their possessions and taking to the road armed solely with laptop, I-pad and Amazon kindle: getting rid of possessions; cutting down on commodities that can be replaced by digital counterparts. Electronic book sales tripled between 2008 and 2009, while the growth of physical book sales slowed, according to the Association of American Publishers.
Meanwhile, compact disc sales have declined by roughly 50% from their 2005 levels worldwide, while global revenue from digital music has nearly quadrupled in the same period, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry.
Virtual homelessness
Twenty-seven year old Chris Yurista, a DJ from Washington, DC, cites this trend in digital music as one reason he was able to hand over the keys to his basement apartment over a year ago. “You have to really make sure you have backups of your digital goods everywhere” he states. "It's always nice to have a personal sense of home, but that aside - the internet has replaced my need for an address. I don't feel a void living the way I'm living because I've figured out a way to use digital technology to my advantage," he explained. Mr Yurista feels his digital possessions can now live on indefinitely with little maintenance and he is not the only digital vagabond.
The DJ has now replaced his bed with friends' couches, paper bills with online banking, and a record collection containing nearly 2,000 albums with an external hard drive with DJ software and nearly 13,000 MP3s.
But there is something even more terrifying; absolutely horrific in fact, shades of Doctor Frankenstein and crazy scientists. To quote Dr Anders Sandberg Oxford Research Fellow, ‘It's the idea that we can copy or transfer the information inside the brain into a computer into a form that can be run on the computer.’ The 'ultimate replacement' he says, our hard drives may one day contain the most important digital replacement of all - digitised replicas of our own brains.
Dr Sandberg believes we could be living on hard drives along with our digital possessions in the not too distant future, which would allow us to shed the trouble of owning a body.
The concept is called "mind uploading", and it suggests that when our bodies age and begin to fail like a worn or snapped record, we may be able to continue living consciously inside a computer as our own virtual substitutes.
"It's the idea that we can copy or transfer the information inside the brain into a form that can be run on the computer," said Dr Sandberg.
He added: "That would mean that your consciousness or a combination of that would continue in the computer."
Dr Sandberg says although it's just a theory now, researchers and engineers are working on super computers that could one day handle a map of all the networks of neurons and synapses in our brains - and that map could produce human consciousness outside of the body.
He says if a complete map of our brains was uploaded to a computer and a conscious, digital replica of ourselves was created, we could, in theory, continue to live forever on a hard drive along with our MP3s and e-books.
Can you think of anything more horrifying? I can’t.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Vicky is next for her annual holiday. She is followed by Ray Bluett who comes over from Tasmania and finally in November Ron Southcott from Melbourne so it really has been quite a year. Joan and Phil, neighbours from The Hollings visited for one day (they were on a package holiday) so we caught up with all the gossip from our old village, and of course Beryl and Penny Mayes, Maggie and Ian were here staying in Kalami as usual and, at the moment the Baxters are here in their house for a month. Congratulations to Nina for excellent exam results.
Last time Douglas was in England he came back with a novel, “Young Turk” which I have just finished reading. It is by Moris Farhi, a terrific read and I loved it; beautifully written and so full of humanitarian and liberal sentiments. Moris and I go back a long way, even longer than with David and, like David, we haven’t seen each other in goodness knows how many years. We first met during a production of “A View From The Bridge” for Charlie Vance in Chelmsford; he playing the lawyer Alfieri and I, much much too young playing Eddie Carbone. I got a second chance to play it the right age at JMU in Virginia. After Chelmsford I was then in a play by Moris, ‘The Ashes Of Thebes’ that went on at the little Mercury Theatre in Notting Hill. Quite an historic building, the Ballet Rambert’s studio at that time. I wonder if it still is. Anyway, I still have a photograph of me in the play, young and bearded but I don’t remember what character I played. It was directed by a Rio Fanning, not very well I’m afraid to say, and was not a success. Since those early days Moris has gone from deserved success to success. Some time ago he sent me his novel ’The End Of Days’ which I also enjoyed but not quite as much as ‘Young Turk.’
He was awarded the MBE for his contribution to literature. Terrific. I am always delighted when talent deserves success. Unfortunately, as it is written in ‘Young Turk’, life is unjust and too often talent is past over and the undeserving reap the rewards even if it just means laughing all the way to the bank. There is a positive glut of chic-lit, romantic fiction, misery memoirs and autobiographies from the world of celebrity and publishers seem to descend into the lower depths to make a profit. Let’s face it though, if they didn’t make a profit they’d go out of business, but some of the pay-outs do seem rather extraordinary. Whatever happened to Mr Rooney’s three book deal?
I read now that Tony Blair is giving all the money earned from his memoirs to a military charity. Nice work, although there are those who will accuse him of playing the guilt factor because of the war in Afghanistan and those who will accuse him of playing the publicity factor. Whatever, it is a noble gesture. Oh, yes, having evidently already pocketed twelve million since giving up as prime minister he can afford it but still, good on you, Tone.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It has been a year for visitors. The Maffins of Huddersfield, David and Penny (see my novel ‘The Journeys We make’) arrived for three weeks in July followed immediately by Diane for her annual holiday, then a very special guest, David Harwell from Alabama, a long way to come, like thirteen hours of travel from Huntsville to Atlanta, to Athens, to Chania. So why was this visit so special? Well, we hadn’t seen each other for twenty six years and if that didn’t’ warrant the most emotional of reunions I don’t know what does. We met doing Summer Stock at the Wayside Theatre in Virginia when he was a nineteen year old intern earning seventy five dollar a week and I was acting and directing. I seem to remember we only came together on stage in “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum” when I played Pseudolis and he played Hero. That was one of the happiest of summers. After the season there were letters for a while but the correspondence died away and twenty six years later he is a fully fledged fully bearded professor at the University of Alabama. As I am forbidden to go out in the heat of the day it was Douglas who went to meet him at the airport. We had an anxious moment wondering if he was going to make his connection from Athens when his plane from Atlanta was two hours behind schedule. Douglas armed with a book to while away the time was prepared to wait six hours at the airport for the next incoming Olympic flight. He didn’t want to make a double journey of it because that was when the lorry drivers’ strike was on and petrol had to be conserved. And how were we going to show David our island if it was impossible to get more? He had fifteen minutes to make his connection and he made it. Fortunately the strike ended, gas was available again, and all was well. As I was still forbidden to go out in the heat of the day it was up to Chris and Douglas to take him around which they did quite splendidly. An avid Grecophile, when first visiting a Greek theatre, a small one at Aptera, he evidently burst into tears or, as he put it, lost his cherry! Never has ten days gone by so fast. The last three of his visit he spent in Athens with Douglas taking in the museums and archaeological sites. If he hadn’t lost his cherry before he most certainly would have done with this experience. He celebrated his forty-fifth birthday before returning to the states, taking with him a number of scripts including the musical I wrote with Kenny Clayton – “Black Maria”, so let’s hope some productions come of it. He, Chris, and Douglas spent some time on the computers putting together a presentable package of music, words, and cd. This musical was written a year before he was born but it was because I took it out of the script drawer a while back, reread it, thought it a much better show than I originally imagined, I decided to send it to David. He liked it, responded and, getting in touch with Skype, suddenly suggested he come and visit. I hope he enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed having him here. It was a real treat.
More on visits and visitors next time…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cats really are the most curious creatures. Young Betty after her five days adventure (what could have happened to her in that time?) decided since her return the best place to be was on the lid of the kitchen pedal bin and, except to eat or use the toilet, she never moved from it. It made the removal of rubbish quite a production number. The last couple of days though she has changed it for the rimmed lid of the dogs’ large biscuit barrel. Weird.
Some anonymous joker has been leaving humorous(?) comments on my Blog. Now I wonder who it could be, friend or someone I don’t even know. It’s gratifying to know my Blog excites some comment but it would be even more gratifying if the comments were at least witty. So, commentator, declare yourself or desist and find your amusement elsewhere. Your comments are the equivalent of rather mindless graffiti. You are what is known in Greek as a malaka. Look that up in your Greek /English dictionary.
Thinking of the word commentator reminds me of my father who could never get his tongue around it just as he could never spell eleven. ‘That commenter doesn’t know what he’s talking about,’ he would say, listening to a football match on the radio, and eleven always came out as elven.
Once more the feast of Dormition, the assumption of the Virgin Mary has been and gone. After fourteen days of fasting ending on Friday 13th, Greeks will have flocked to their home towns to celebrate so Saturday was panegyrie time. This year, instead of enjoying the village panegyrie in Litsarda, we were invited to our friends, Stuart and Hillary’s, also in Litsarda, for a barbecue, an enjoyable evening among a dozen friends. From down the road we could hear the band going full tilt and when we left at twenty to one the party was still in full swing with more people arriving and a hundred or more cars parked both sides a not too wide a road.
The various regions of Greece all have their own way of celebrating what in the Orthodox calendar is the most important festival after Easter. On the island of Lesvos at Petra pilgrims climb the 114 steps to the church on their knees some with a heavy icon strapped to their back. Perhaps one of the oddest traditions takes place on the island of Kefalonia where at two churches the so-called holy snakes of the Virgin appear, crawling (do snakes crawl?) over the icons and fearlessly handled by the pilgrims.
This year for the first time in 88 years on August 15th there was a liturgy in the Panagias Soumela monastery at Pontus in Turkey’s Treibezond region. Thousands of Pontian Greeks from all over the world attended. It must have been the most incredible and emotional experience remembering the killings and expulsions of 1922-3. It will now evidently be an annual event.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Phew! 42 degrees and that is hot in anybody’s language. Poor animals. We humans can at least strip off, take a cool shower, or sit in front of a fan or the air conditioning or plunge into a pool if you have a pool in which to plunge but cats can’t cast off their fur and just collapse on any piece of cold floor they can find. Ice cold water and plenty of it has never tasted so good. The year we came out on holiday and found this house we deliberately came in August and went house hunting in the middle of the day (mad dogs and Englishmen) to make sure we could take the heat and I don’t remember it ever being as fierce as this. The Russian fires are evidently still burning, Poland has been experiencing devastating blazes, and now Brazil and Spain are added to the list. So far there doesn’t seem to be any news of fires in Greece. Maybe after the disastrous fires of yesteryear people are being just that bit more careful but with this heat who’s to know where and when one or more might break out? Last years fires almost reached the outskirts of Athens.
So what has been happening otherwise in the great wide world in this summer of Greek discontent? I hate to mention strikes yet again but evidently airport workers in Britain have voted in favour of strike action and because they include firemen and security staff six major UK airports might have to close. Nice going lads. What else is happening in that overcrowded island? Well there have been the usual spate of knifings and shootings and various other killings, some apparently just for the hell of it, putting the boot in as it were and the victim just happening to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; baby battering, rape, and more ghouls emerging from the woodwork. A girl of fifteen threw herself from a building, evidently because of the break-up with her boy friend and, as she lay on the pavement dying, bystanders stood around taking photos on their mobile phones. Is that sick or what? ‘Hey look at this, you guys, that kid is about to snuff it.’
Evidently the bonus culture is back with a vengeance, denizens of the city greedily and gleefully grabbing with both hands, forgetting it was they who nearly brought the house tumbling down only a short while ago and had to be bailed out with public money. Whatever happened to morality?
I didn’t produce him deliberately but there is an my screen an animated paper clip with big eyes and Groucho Marx eyebrows that like Groucho he raises quite effectively. He appears from a sheet of paper with a sort of squishy noise and into which he also disappears. Like I say, I don’t remember ever bringing him to life but now he’s here I’ve grown quite fond of him.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Lipon… that’s Greek for ‘Well’. You often hear a sentence or an order in a shop for example start with lipon so, lipon, let’s start with the Greek who shoots himself in the foot. A short while ago I wrote a new play titled “Marry Go Round” which is, you will gather from the title, a domestic comedy. It is set in Athens and I wrote it especially for our Greek friends, the actor Stelios Mainas and his wife Katia Sperelaki and in it I poke a little affectionate fun at the idiosyncrasies of the Greek character, unfortunately in real life not quite so funny. Firstly there is their predilection to demonstrate (with very large banners) at the drop of a hat, too often leading to confrontation and violence during which senseless vandalism runs amok. This can be put down to the few troublemakers who come prepared for a riot. Greece must be the last place on earth where anarchism still flourishes. Secondly the Greek’s willingness to strike before the hat’s even hit the floor and this is where the wounded foot comes in.
Next to smoking and overtaking at ninety miles an hour across a double white line and on a blind bend whilst talking on the phone (and probably smoking) Greeks like nothing better than to wine, dine and be jolly They are on the whole as friendly and hospitable a people as you are likely to find though occasionally xenophobia does raise its ugly head. Greece has, I wonder, how many thousand, restaurants, tavernas, obelisterios (fast food outlets), coffee bars etc. In the musical Les Miserables there is a song “Empty tables, empty chairs” and I was reminded of it looking at the news the other evening; empty tables, empty chairs in abundance as they wait for the people who will not be coming and restaurateurs, particularly on the islands that rely on the summer season for their livelihood, are being forced to throw away good food because there is no one coming to eat it, and the souvenir and beach equipment shops stand empty and forlorn. Why? Could it be because the world is in such a depressed state? Nope. It’s those blasted strikes again. Can the Greeks really be so stupid? The answer unfortunately seems to be yes. When are they going to realise the world has moved on in the last hundred years?
Ever since the Pasok government brought in austerity measures to get the Greek economy out of its direful mess and back on its feet there has been nothing but a succession of strikes and we are not talking about the ordinary working man here who will listen to the blandishments of the communist party (small in numbers and votes but seemingly quite influential behind the scenes) and his union bosses, we are talking of highly educated intelligent men and women in the professions; doctors, teachers, professors, bank staff. The doctors at our Health Centre have been on strike for months. What does this mean? They still have to be there to deal with emergencies so their strike consists of refusing to write out more than a set number of prescriptions per day. What does one make of that?
I believe twenty percent of Greece’s income comes from tourism and holiday makers and this year the holiday makers who were coming have cancelled their bookings in droves. Who wants to come to a country when there is the distinct possibility their holiday could run into trouble and be ruined?
The saga continues…

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Well, here we are again, happy as can be, all good pals and jolly good company. I wonder how many times that catchy little ditty was heard in the good old days at Britain’s popular seaside resorts with their Punch and Judy shows, still there but cleaned up by the politically correct so as not the alarm or put violent thoughts into the heads of little kiddies, concert parties, bands, deck chairs, buckets and spades, sticks of rock and candy floss, penny arcades and saucy postcards, and which are evidently becoming popular once again as Britains take stay at home holidays rather than venture to Costa Packet and other exotic places. Air fares now being what they are that is the first hurdle to overcome. Once upon a time you bought your ticket and that was it. You boarded your plane and flew to your destination. Now when bargain flights are advertised watch out for the hidden extras. There are airport taxes, fuel surcharges, payment demanded for luggage and no more free food and drink. Ryanair is even thinking of charging you to go to the loo.
Anyway here I am, wise, witty, and urbane… that’s a god word I wonder what it means… back by popular demand as they used to say, might still say it and whoever they are. My sabbatical has been cut short by my millions of fans worldwide insisting I start writing again. Well, when I say millions that’s not too much of an exaggeration, it’s three actually: one in Germany, one in the United States and one in England.
So what has been happening in the world during my cut-short vacation? (Only kidding, guys. I’m flattered really that you should miss me so much). Well why not start with the weather? That a very good place to start as Julie would sing. The summer has been the hottest I can remember, truly uncomfortable and dangerous and, as I went down with heatstroke in the beginning through my own stupidity I have left the cool of the house only when necessary. It was an experience I would not want to repeat. But in smog bound Moscow evidently, due to the one hundred or more peat fires surrounding the city and which seem impossible to extinguish, since the start of the heat wave the daily death toll has virtually doubled, from about 350 to 700 and the morgue is getting dangerously full. The wheat crop is failing and that is not good news as the price rockets and bread etcetera gets more expensive. The tornado season has hit the states, in China there was been the worst flooding for years and in Pakistan half the country is under water and still the rain continues. So what’s it all about, Alfie? No doubt someone somewhere will put it down to global warming and would it be beyond reasonable doubt to think that human beings swarming over the planet like ants with no thought for the future might just have something to do with it?
But enough already. Next time on to more pleasurable subjects… hopefully… though I am quite sure I will find something to rant about starting with the Greeks shooting themselves in the foot.

Urbane… characterised by wit and sophistication. Isn’t intuition wonderful?