Thursday, August 29, 2013

Plays, Plays, and more Plays.

In days gone by, prehistoric times before the advent of the household computer and the internet, the submission of plays was a costly business, felt even more if one was skint, as was usually the case. To begin with the play had to be printed. I still have on my shelf ancient rather tatty play scripts typed and bound by me in various folders but also scripts printed professionally, usually ordered a dozen or so at a time, and that in itself was an expensive outlay. Add to that the postage in sending out a script, a script that you were most likely never to see or hear of again despite including a stamped addressed envelope and a request for its return should the play not find favour, which was more often or not the case, though one always lived in hope. Somehow or other new plays, good, bad, or indifferent do get produced but seemingly never yours and, if they do get produced, nine times out of ten the critics have a field day mauling them unmercifully or, if so inclined, damning with faint praise.
All that has changed. (Not the critics – the cost.) Now, thanks to e-mail, it costs nothing to send out a script but more often than not what hasn’t changed is that you’re never likely to hear of it again, usually not even an acknowledgement which, thanks to e-mail again would cost nothing more than a little courtesy and a moment’s time. Most managements of course never were known for courtesy and, in previous years where your expensive script without a second’s thought went into the bin, it is now merely deleted. In those bygone days it was considered not quite cricket to send a script to more than one management at a time even if you could afford to send out multiple copies, but I guess that too has changed. Why should the writer be the only one to show some manners?
So how do you get a play put on? If you can produce it yourself all well and good. If you’ve got your own theatre (Offenbach, Ayckbourn) all well and good. I managed it at Buxton with a play called BAY RUM but, other than that, you rely on someone reading and liking it enough to consider it. Quite often a play will receive high praise from someone in the office but still not be in line for production.
A good literary agent helps but he or she has to believe in you and your work one hundred percent. Anything less than that commitment is a waste of time. My previous agent, deceased, managed to get three plays produced, TELL ME YOU LOVE ME, OH BROTHER, THE 88, three published, THRILLER OF THE YEAR, BEAUTIFUL FOREVER and RED IN THE MORNING, and one sold to television, ONE CANDLE FOR JENNY. But his replacement in twenty years or more has produced absolutely nothing. In fact I have come to the conclusion that to send him anything more is a waste of time. I am evidently on the agency’s website and that’s as far as it goes. Of course if an agent has some truly big established names on his books he’s hardly likely to put himself out for a would-be who isn’t yet despite the passing years.
Friends, acquaintances, even some legitimate contacts are usually hopeless. Promises that result in sweet fuck all. “Yes, do let me have it, I’d love to read it” After a year or more you can bet your bottom dollar it has not been nor ever will be read and to read a full length play takes no more than an hour/ hour and a half. The record must be held by Charlie Vance recently deceased and of blessed memory. Now Charlie produced two of my plays, THILLER OF THE YEAR and EARLY ONE MORNING and, when I sent him another, the reply I received was to the effect of I knew how much he admired my work and he would read it as soon as possible. Couldn’t wait in fact. Well, that was more than twenty years ago. I wonder where the script is now or even if it still exists gathering dust somewhere. A whole heap of dust after more than twenty years.
A short while back, a year? More? I don’t remember, Douglas Foote, now to all intents and purposes my agent here, sent out to every theatre that provided an appropriate e-mail address, the synopsis of no fewer than 18 plays, including musicals. Some theatres it would seem don’t like to divulge their e-mail addresses except for one for the box office. And when it comes to “contact us” that what’s it’s all about as well, an e-mail address for the box office, and it would be pretty pointless sending a play to a box office as I’m sure you will agree. Anyway the result of the round Robin was diddlysquat. An enquiry from a London fringe theatre for a play I knew they didn’t have the facilities for producing but sent them a script anyway and from a lady in Wales who I think only responded because of my Welsh name.  We never heard from her again either.
So last week I decided to take the bull by the horns once more (my god I’m writing in nothing but clichés at the moment) and Douglas emailed complete scripts of a number of plays to various theatres, once again more in hope than expectation I suppose but one never knows.

The twelve plays sent out were THE RIVER OF SAND, ROSEMARY, BETWEEN TWO SIGHS, GENERATIONS, ARE YOU SITTING COMFORTABLY? THRILLER OF THE YEAR (To two theatres.) TWILIGHT OF AUNT EDNA, THIRD DRAWER FROM THE TOP, HEAR THE HYENA LAUGH and THE MUSES DARLING (To 3 theatres.) LITTLE FOOTSTEPS ON THE PETALS and AU PAIR.I might be the most underrated, playwright of the 20th/21st centuries but no one can ever accuse me of not trying.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Gravy Train

In these hard economic times when the arts are suffering cuts and redundancies there are still individuals who know how to milk the sacred cow, make hay while the sun shines or, rather, dig their greedy little piggy snouts in the trough (Three clichés in a row, whatever next?) There are bankers, industrialists, big business men, con-artists, politicians and, in this particular instance, I am referring to a lady who has herself been a part of the Arts Council and has in consequence reaped a rich reward. Who cares what is happening elsewhere and who’s to say she shouldn’t ride the gravy train? (Another cliché for you.)
The lady’s name is Andrea Stark who left her job with the Arts Council on a Friday, picking up a six figure redundancy cheque and on the Monday started a £95000 a year post as chief executive of High House Production Park, a workshop for the performing arts! Do I hear someone mention the glass ceiling here? As I read it for six months she had been on a fully paid sabbatical from the Arts Council while at the same time doing the High House job.  She knew she was in line for that magnificent pay-off and, sabbatical or no sabbatical, remained a member of the Arts Council long enough to ensure she got it.
Now she has obviously done nothing illegal but pardon me if I can’t help wondering whether our modern society is going stark staring mad and just where does the morality lie in her type of behaviour? If what I have read is true the facts speak for themselves. If I am in error perhaps Ms Stark would like to put me right and I will apologise.
In the meantime I will continue to think of her as a not very nice human being. That’s the mildest way of putting it. I could think of more explicit adjectives. Fortunately there are still those for whom money, more than they need, more than they can possibly use, is not the be all and end all in life. (More cliché?) I think of those who give large chunks of their fortunes to charity and on a smaller but equally praiseworthy scale someone like David Headly, owner of Goldsboro Books who has turned down the chance of making £100,000. He bought 250 signed copies of JK Rowling’s book before she was revealed as the author. They are signed “Robert Galbraith” and, once the cat was let out of the bag, (cliché’ again – you’re getting bored with this aren’t you?) They’ve been selling on e-Bay for over £1000. The shop had sold 130 signed books before Rowling was unmasked but the remaining 120 were sold at the cover price despite being worth about £120000.
Headly kept four copies, one for himself, the others for his staff. Now I have no doubt there will be those who consider him to be a total klutz for not grabbing this opportunity but I for one, in comparison to the lady above, have nothing but admiration for him and it’s a great pity there aren’t more like him.
Christopher Beeching has criticised my Blogs. He says I just sound like a querulous old man so my books must be the same and no one will want to buy them. Well no one’s buying them anyway but I’m sure it’s not because I’m a querulous old man but because there is no incentive. Rowling’s thriller sells like hot cakes (cliché) riding on the back of Harry Potter. Would it have done the same signed Robert Galbraith? Somehow I doubt it no matter how good it might be.
Well I am here to tell you my books make no pretension of being literature but they are (well the Thornton King series anyway – comedy thrillers) light, witty, entertaining, pacey, and fun; ideal summer beach reading and those who have bought them and found reading them on trains and planes, buses and trams, have been considered slightly mad laughing out loud. What more do you want?  Comedy thrillers are hardly likely to be intellectually demanding.
Unfortunately my website is well out of date. I have just looked up books by Glyn Jones on Amazon to discover there are ten thousand four hundred and sixty eight Welshmen of the same name, all scribbling away and the only book of mine found among that lot is my autobiography NO OFFICIAL UMBRELLA. I have recently started to use my middle name, Idris, as I haven’t discovered another Glyn Idris Jones though more than likely one is lurking somewhere. I should have changed my name years ago – too late now.
Well, if anyone’s interest has been piqued (second definition) these are the Thornton King Private Eye titles:-

Maybe Mister Headly would like to stock them at Goldsboro Books?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pat Robertson

American telly evangelist Pat Robertson, known for his outlandish religious ideas, says he wishes Facebook had a vomit button he could press every time he sees two men kissing. Right Mister Robertson, good Christian that you are, here is a question for you. If you were at the garden of Gethsemane the night before Jesus was arrested and saw him betrayed by Judas’s kiss, would you have vomited (a) because of the betrayal or would you have vomited (b) because you saw two men kissing? Disgusting, disgusting. How disgusting! Yuk!  If you deliberately look out for men kissing so that you could wish there was a vomit button, stop looking.
Pat Robertson I would call you a four letter word but there are so many of your kind in the world what would be the point? Calling you names is not going to stop you spreading your poison. Or should that be spewing out your poison? And should I vomit with disgust every time you make such absurd statements? No, I can only shake my head in disbelief at your stupidity, your religious blinkers, and your weird, wonderful, hateful beliefs that should have been discarded years ago and the fact that you and the bigoted ignoramuses like yourself are unfortunately legion.
In some societies and at various periods of time it has been perfectly natural for men to kiss; not in Wasp Land of course. It is a sign of affection and does not necessarily mean the men are gay or that the kiss will lead to anything more. Read ‘Anna Karenina’ where you will find Vronski, military man and Anna’s lover, saying ‘I waited for my General’s kiss.’ (I might have misquoted slightly but that’s the general gist of it, tee-hee. General? General? Oh, forget it!) In Wasp Land of course buddies can put their arms around each other and give a hug, best done in a group to avoid suspicion. That is called male bonding but kissing? Yuk. Heavens to Betsy whatever next?
In 2004 there was a delightful film made called ‘Connie and Carla’. Copyright notwithstanding I quote from Wikipedia; easier than me making it up. ‘Nia Vardalos and Toni Collette play the titular characters, whose lifelong friendship and co-obsession with musical theater has brought nothing but career dead ends. Despite this they continue their optimism, hosting a variety act at an airport lounge. After accidentally witnessing a mafia hit in Chicago, they go on the run, landing in Los Angeles. Initially working at a beauty salon, they wind up posing as drag queens and auditioning to host a drag revue at a gay club.
Because they sing their own songs instead of miming (a rarity for drag queens), they are hired, and their variety show (first entitled What a Drag (Pun Intended!) then called Connie and Carla and the Belles of the Ball after they add a few friends to the act) becomes a hit. Things are going smoothly but the two make a pact not to let men interfere with their life. This causes conflict when Connie falls for Jeff (David Duchovny), the straight brother of Robert (Stephen Spinella), one of their drag queen friends. As the show gets bigger, the two convince the club owner to convert it into a full dinner theater, and eventually their popularity threatens to expose them.
On the official opening night of the dinner theater, the mob killers catch up with them, but with the help of their drag queen friends, and to great applause from the audience (who think it is part of their act), Connie and Carla take them down. They ultimately confess their real identities to the audience and are eventually accepted for who they are. Connie reveals herself to Jeff, who arrives after the chaos. He accepts her and becomes her boyfriend.’
Now the point I want to make is this: while Connie is still pretending to be a man in drag she suddenly kisses Jeff who backs off in horror and WIPES HIS MOUTH with the back of his hand, a gesture of disgust as though it had been contaminated by contact with a man’s lips. When she reveals herself as herself and they kiss there is no backing off and wiping the kiss away but it is with the very same lips as the first kiss. So what was the difference? Psychological? Natural reaction? Or learned behavior?
What is it about people like Pat Robertson that ostensibly any form of physical contact between men scares them half to death, so much so they have the desire to vomit or alternatively have a very big laundry problem?
If you’ve not seen the film, get a copy. For normal people it’s great fun. For Pat Robertson it will probably be a drag and he can vomit away to his heart’s content. Lighten up, Pat Robertson, lighten up. Life is too short for your kind of neurotic tub-thumping hellfire crap and I am sure when you are ruptured… Whoops sorry! Raptured, God will greet you in His heaven with a nice big wet kiss.

Monday, August 19, 2013


In the Thornton King adventure number six, MEN AND TEIR TOYS, waiting to be published, Thornton and his new friend, Anne-Marie are dining at Fredericks.                          Anne-Marie works at Battersea Dogs Home and naturally the conversation at one point turns to dogs which includes loyal pets devastated by their master’s death and who pine for years over the grave. The most famous or well-known is probably Greyfriar’s Bobbie but I read on Facebook there is a Japanese one. His name was Hachiko.
 “‘So how are the kennels?’ Thornton asked.
‘Sad. They are always sad I’m afraid.’
‘Yes.’ He stayed silent for a moment, remembering his visit. ‘Does it depress you then? Working there?’
‘I have to admit it does sometimes get me down, when I see an animal that’s been cruelly mistreated or one that for some reason or other nobody wants and has to be…you know…after a period…put down. That is the worst of it.  Humans can be so insensitive when it comes to what they refer to as dumb beasts. The beasts, if you regard them more closely, aren’t nearly as dumb as humans make out. What is more, they may not be as intelligent as we but just like us, they do have emotions. They do have fears, they do suffer pain, they do show affection and they do have a certain intelligence. We are animals as well after all.’”
In Edinburgh there is a monument to Greyfriars Bobby and Hachiko also has one. Read his story.
“Hachiko was born in Odate, Japan in November 1923, a white male Akita dog. At the age of two months, he was sent to the home of Professor Ueno of the Agricultural Department of the Tokyo University. The professor's home was in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. The professor commuted to the agricultural department in Komaba and the agricultural experimental station in Nishihara.
Tragedy struck on May 21, 1925, when Dr. Ueno did not return because he had suffered a stroke and died at the university. Hachiko was eighteen months old. The next day and for the next nine years, Hachiko returned to the station and waited for his beloved master before walking home, alone. Nothing and no one could discourage Hachiko from maintaining his nightly vigil. It was not until he followed his master in death, in March l934, that Hachiko failed to appear in his place at the railroad station.
Hachiko was sent to homes of relatives or friends, but he always continued to await his master, who was never to return, at the train station.
The fidelity of Hachiko was known throughout Japan, owing to an article, "Faithful Old Dog Awaits Return of Master Dead for Seven Years" in the October 4, 1933 issue of Asahi Shinbun (Asahi News). Upon his death, newspaper stories led to the suggestion that a statue be erected in the station. Contributions from the United States and other countries were received. Today, the statue of the Akita, Hachiko, pays silent tribute to the breed's faithfulness and loyalty. A bronze statue of Hachiko was put up at his waiting spot outside the Shibuya railroad station, which is now probably the most popular rendezvous point in Shibuya. Hachiko was mounted and stuffed and is on now on display at the Tokyo Museum of Art.
“‘There’s also the Welsh tale of Gelert, Anne-Marie said. ‘Do you know about that one?’
‘I’m afraid not. Tell me about it. Cheers!’
‘Cheers!’ They delicately clinked glasses and Thornton knew as he looked at her that his eyes had gone all mushy but he couldn’t help it. ‘Cheers!’ They delicately clinked glasses and Thornton knew as he looked at her that his eyes had gone all mushy but he couldn’t help it. At that moment every romantic idea he had ever grown up with and harboured over the years was hovering around that table. Had she noticed? He had to concentrate very hard or he would have watched her mouth moving but not hear a word she was saying.”

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Things Theatrical

After all the weeks of house changes that created enough turmoil and of which there is still plenty of evidence; all last week the house was in even bigger chaos with the addition of putting together and rehearsing “Champagne Charlie” for last Sunday evening at the old school – a sort of dress rehearsal before the whole kit and caboodle is packed up this week and shipped to the UK to be ready for the performance on September 27th at Wilson’s Music Hall, and there’s a lot to ship out. It’s hard to credit now but when the show was first performed everything could be transported in a Mini. I was asked how many musical numbers there are and the answer is 22 with 15 changes and part changes of costume. Each costume is an exact replica of one that Leybourne would have worn when performing, as illustrated on the covers of his sheet music. I see Stuart Yeomans and Judy North have put some photos on Facebook. The performance of course was without lighting or any specials effects and before it started Douglas delivered a little speech in Greek informing our Cretan friends as to what it was all about. We also had some old programmes from previous productions and a note in Greek was slipped inside. This didn’t stop the Greeks from yapping, especially one woman whose voice really carried. But that’s the Cretans for you. They simply can’t stop nattering. They’re at it the whole time even in church. Maybe, as happened in Germany with the kids talking now and again through “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” they were telling each other what was going on. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.
The only scenery is a large ornate screen behind which the costume changes take place. The shortest is 8 seconds, the longest 1.43.
My original credit was “Written & Directed by” and the changes are covered by interjections from the pianist with various bits of information pushing the story along; letters, newspaper articles, announcements, etcetera. The band at Wilton’s, as with previous performances, will consist of pianist, trombone and cornet to give that plaintiff Victorian brass band sound. But Sunday of course there was no pianist so I stepped in to perform his bits. The music was recorded.
Some friends had indicated they would like to see it, or in Victorian parlance, “hear it,” so we let the word spread and were delighted to have an audience of over fifty, Cretan and Ex-pats, with many faces we had never seen before.
Every window was wide open but despite the midsummer heat everyone gave all the appearance of enjoying themselves, joining with gusto in singing the chorus when invited. Easy peasy with famous and well-known songs like “The Man On The Flying Trapeze,”  “Champagne Charlie,” and “Daddy Wouldn’t Buy Me A Bow-wow,” but even the less familiar ones or even totally unknown went down with enthusiasm and the show was a great success. How Chris managed to keep up the energy in that sweltering heat amazed me and I was delighted to find he was in such good voice. I was always of the impression that the voice degenerates with advancing age but his singing was stronger than ever. It was all very well doing a two hour one-man show back in ’84 but almost thirty years on it seemed a bit rash to take it out of mothballs. So Wilton’s will be the very last performance and if you happen to be in London on the 27th September with the evening free, think about it. I promise you, it’s great fun. And while I’m talking theatre I am still looking for a composer to work on an opera.
Still on matters theatrical I read with sadness on Facebook that the Wayside Theatre in Middletown, Virginia is to close after 52 years. Why the sadness? Well I did one summer season at The Wayside – 1985 – and still have the fondest memories of what was one of the happiest theatre experiences of a long life with a wonderful company. As I commented on Facebook, the highlight was probably playing the slave Pseudolus in “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Forum,” But the last production of the season also carries happy memories; the privilege and sheer joy playing opposite Anne Lyndrup, a beautiful and consummate actress, in Coward’s “Private Lives.” To quote from Champagne Charlie, “Oh, they were good days, good days, how could they last?” Only in memory. Some photographs, some programmes, some newspaper reviews, some friends still in touch, and memories.

Monday, August 12, 2013


I do believe I made the remark once before (maybe more than once) that when the end of the world comes with the four horsemen galloping furiously into view, thanks to the ever increasing population, we won’t go out with a bang but the world will be drowned in a tsunami of shit. But now, thanks to science and man’s ingenuity, that fateful day may be postponed if not put off forever and the horsemen can go back to the stables. A company in Sacramento, California, has started to put tons of the natural but filthy stuff to good use - they have discovered a means of turning it into plastic. This is really good news. Firstly it gets rid of what is euphemistically known as human waste, secondly the plastic takes the place of that manufactured from oil, a commodity that’s going to get more and more scarce if not more and more expensive, and the faeces version degrades quite fast as opposed to the oil variety that takes a hundred years. Well, Sacramento is just one city among thousands. Will others take it up and discover more practical uses for it?
I must have spent a good three weeks sorting stamps and sticking them in albums. I hadn’t realised just how large the collection is. Some countries produce the most beautiful and fascinating stamps, others are just plain dull, Portugal for instance, Switzerland not far behind. The collection isn’t worth much but then that is not why I took up the hobby, collecting over the years. There are some stamps I thought might be worth a bob or two but Douglas has looked up their value online and the result is diddlysquat. There are three green Victorian one and a half penny which, if they had been unused would have been worth about £75 each but used are worth only about 90p. There is an early Natal, a Cape of Good Hope, a New South Wales, a Southern Australia and a Crete before union with Greece, Fascinating but as I say, not worth anything. Complete set of George V1 commemorative £6.25. Wow! Taken as a whole sheer volume makes the collection worth anything from five to ten grand and there are any number of doubles, triples, quadruples even but it’s all just theory as I don’t intend to do anything with them and the market anyway always fancies the buyer rather than the seller. Looking it up online it is fantastic just how many stamps are being offered. It really is very big business.
When I was a kid my parents had bought a complete set of Edward Vlll and I destroyed them. I thought they looked untidy so I cut off the perforations and landed myself in extremely hot water. Ten quid I had destroyed, so I was informed, I wonder if they would be worth anything today, more than seventy years later, Must look that  up merely out of curiosity.
Some time ago a friend of his informed Chris that an auction house was selling a stamped envelope on which was a drawing of Champagne Charlie so naturally he bid for it and got it fairly cheap. Evidently it was made by a fellow artiste shortly after Leybourne’s death. After that simple purchase the auction house regularly sent me their glossy brochure of sales. Oh, what a feast! What eye-candy! What fascination! Unfortunately, though there were most definitely stamps I would love to have made a bid for; even the least expensive was outside my range so eventually they stopped sending the brochure.
Talking of Mr. Beeching I have just watched him rinse out a small paint pot and brush under a running tap. He must have used something like two litres of water. I have tried in vain time after time to get him to appreciate water is not an infinite commodity. Okay, so there is no shortage here but it is the lack of respect that gets my goat. It always irritates me when I see him wasting it. Ah well, old habits die hard and some things I suppose are destined never to change. Douglas’s little foible (there’s no one to point out mine) is to use three sheets of  kitchen paper where one will suffice and, funnily enough, I have just read on Facebook that  if Americans used one sheet less a day 571,230,000 tons of paper would be spared in the course of a year. I don’t know who worked out this figure but I’ll take his/her/their word for it

I have just looked up the value of the ten pounds Edward Vlll stamps I destroyed and to-day’s value for a complete set of four is – wait for it – 80p!!! Eina! (That’s Afrikaans for “ouch”.) Evidently a great many people bought and hoarded them thinking their value would increase in consequence of which they’re actually as common as muck. Sorry dad, sorry mom.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Champagne Charlie

So Robert Mugabe’s Zanu party won the Zimbabwe elections by a handsome majority. Golly gosh! Whoever would have thought it? There’s a turn-up for the books. It’s just as well foreign monitors were banned and the election was monitored only by Africans. I wonder if the results would have been different if it had been the other way around. At his age (89) will he be able to see out what is obviously his last term of office? And when he’s dead and gone and only the memories of over thirty years of misrule are left what’s the bet there will be mass mourning and he will receive the accolade of being “Father of the Nation.”
There’s a dove that at daybreak starts his cooing and keeps it up intermittently for an hour or more and does the same thing in the evening. He really is a persistent little bugger and I can’t work out which of the many trees that surround us he’s sitting in. It’s a lovely sound. Reminds me of my boyhood in Natal. I have a mental picture of wattle trees, a farmhouse and an ethereal winter’s mist. He doesn’t wake me up at sparrowfart or the first cooing. It’s my bladder that does that, but I can go back to sleep listening to him. Haven’t heard much from the cicadas this summer but maybe that’s because I’ve grown even harder of hearing.
It’s the fig season again and there’s a glut of them and they are delicious. Unfortunately with everything that’s going on here, the building changes to the house, rehearsals for CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE, meaning the breakfast room has become a temporary stage replete with scenery, props, and costume rail, the house is in chaos and there is certainly no time for something like preserving them. This Sunday in the old school we are going to do a rehearsal of the show before an invited audience. It will be sans musicians and the pianist, music apart, is an integral part of the show (so I will be reading his bits and pieces), and recorded music which is not easy to work to. After that it will be time for Chris and Douglas to pack everything up ready to be shipped to England although it is quite a few weeks before the show goes on at Wilton’s
Despite the plump green figs creating something of an illusion I don’t believe the olive crop will be much cop this year. We’re desperately in need of rain. Haven’t seen leaden skies or a drop of rain for months. The jungle that was our garden is parched and showing distinct signs of withering. Even the walnut trees are drooping and they, like the tamarisk and the oleander, normally manage the summer with no problem. Watering is needed, it would also cool things down a bit, but, again because of all the work involved with the changes; in particular the MI from the lane down to the garden door, Douglas has not had time to rearrange the watering system which means any watering has to be done by hand and that again takes time. August of course is not the time for rain though we have had it a couple of times over the years. One year Douglas took the roof off the old part of the house in order to renew it and he hadn’t removed the last tile before the heavens opened and flooded everyth8ing. And it wasn’t a sort sharp deluge, it went on and on and on…

I love the story of the holiday maker who in July asks a local shepherd if it was going to rain and the shepherd looks up at the sky and says, “Yes, in September.” It’s like the Irish who, when asked for directions to some place, point and say “It’s just down the road,” which means anything from a hundred yards to a hundred miles. I look out the window up at the sky and it’s a clear blue with not one wispy cloud to be seen.

Monday, August 5, 2013


The many manifestations of human sexuality can cause great anxiety so I have decided to write an essay, or at least put down my thoughts on the subject of homosexuality, something I have never previously attempted. Not being a woman I would not presume to speak for lesbianism but as far as males are concerned these are my thoughts with my experience at 82 years.
One of the arguments constantly put forward is that homosexuality is abnormal (whatever normality is deemed to be) and unnatural but, as Goethe said, “How can you call anything in nature unnatural?” and homosexuality has been observed in any number of species other than human. It has always been with us, it will always be with us and no amount of hatred, disgust, disapproval, religious hostility and worse is going to have the slightest effect. It never has. A few thousand years ago a series of Hebrew scrolls was to eventually become what we now know as the Bible. To call these Bronze Age sheep-herders ignorant is not an overstatement but according to Leviticus God considers homosexuality an abomination and on the basis of this all the horrors inflicted on gays over the years have been legitimised and mankind is not exactly slow in invention when it comes to torture. For example in the middle ages there was a device known as a pineapple which consists of an iron core surrounded by movable iron leaves. This was thrust into the rectum when closed and then, with the turn of a screw, the leaves expanded and opened out creating the most excruciating pain. Men convicted of sodomy by Holy Mother Church had their tongues cut out so that as they were dying they would not be able to mumble prayers and so would not enter heaven. Obviously homosexuality in ancient Israel was causing a great deal of alarm. If allowed to flourish what would happen to the tribe? And so God laid his injunction on it. But every society has had to deal with it in one or another, usually by inhumane methods. There are still countries today where prison can be the result, sometimes with lengthy term sentences, or the death sentence can be imposed, and no matter how young you might be, (See Iran.) yet it was in this country, then Persia, that the poets wrote the most exquisite poetry in favour of boys’ beauty. In Afghanistan today boys are dressed as girls and made to dance in front of an all male audience and later used sexually. In the Far East we have girlie-boys who make no bones about their occupation. China has dealt with homosexuality one way or another including incest for thousands of years before Europeans became worried by it. There have been societies where homosexuality was not stigmatised. Before the advent of the white man there were American tribes who believed a gay person was special and was treated as such and the Samurai of Japan believed in boy love as it was wrong to love someone weaker than your warrior self. Of course everyone knows about the Greeks; that an older man was suppose to take a youth under his wing and act as his mentor and the youth when a man did the same. Then of course there was the Sacred Band of Thebes that consisted of picked troops, 150 pairs of male lovers, an elite force of the Theban army. I can’t vouch for the veracity of what I am about to say but what I learned was the theory being that one of the pair would descend into battle and fight heroically while his lover watched. Then, if killed, the lover went into battle to avenge him.
There is no law against homosexuality in Greece today but Greek boys (like Italians) tend to be very secretive about their orientation, families being so important in Greece and homophobia never too far down the line. For example, it is a historical fact that Alexander the Great, despite ordering a mass straight marriage of his men, was bi-sexual, hardly unknown and perfectly acceptable in his world, but when this was more or less revealed in a film a group of Athenian lawyers took great exception to it, almost to the point of wanting to sue the film company. Just how ridiculous can you get?
There have been a number of films with a gay theme (it seems every actor who would once have shied away from it as it would have destroyed his career, now wants to play a gay part) but Hollywood can still be squeamish about the subject. For example Brad Pitt playing Achilles goes totally apeshit when his “cousin,” Patrokles is killed. You go apeshit over the death of a lover; you do not go apeshit for a “cousin” unless you are more than just cousins but this was never even hinted at.’
Greece has mythical gays like Zeus and his Ganymede, Achilles and Patrokles already mentioned, Apollo and Hyacinth and even Narcissus must be considered gay as he falls in love with his reflection, a not unknown complex.
So what other ant-gay arguments are promulgated? Well one of course is that homosexuals are notoriously promiscuous haunting the baths, bars, gay cinemas etcetera hence HIV and are addicted to pornography but in this are they any different from a great many straights? I hardly think so.
So what are we left with? A case of nature or nurture? As far a nature is concerned the jury is still out on this one but for nurture, well from the moment a lad can stand on his tubby little legs his compass is pointed in one direction and one direction only – heterosexuality. From the moment adults say things like “Have you got a nice girl-friend yet?’ he is encouraged to believe in it. Until recently he would never have seen a gay advertisement for example. Always ads featured either straight couples or mixed gatherings, or luscious sexy girls on their own. Thank goodness there are parts of the world, until recently violently homophobic, where acceptance and common sense are now becoming the norm. No more being beaten up with baseball bats or worse, called a fucking faggot, no more being jeered and scoffed at, made to feel ashamed of who you are. As an outcast from mainstream society why is it that there are people who still believe homosexuality is a choice? Does a straight choose to be straight? And who in their right mind would choose to grow up knowing you are different, knowing you are attracted romantically to boys rather than girls which is what you’re supposed to be doing to be “normal” to be like your peers, and wondering what is wrong with you, why you are such a mess, why your life is so painful? This is supposed to be a choice?
The homosexuality (a word invented in he nineteenth century, before then there was no single word for it) of the great and famous: Emperors, Kings Princes, Popes,  generals, philosophers, playwrights, novelists, poets, painters, sculptors, composers, musicians, entertainers, doctors, scientists is always a deep dark secret. The straight world was shocked to discover Rock Hudson; a figure of apparent hetero normality was gay, though the gay world had known about it for ages. For many a year the English schoolboy was supposed to admire the figure of Richard the Lionheart whose statue astride his horse stands outside the Houses of Parliament. But Richard, to use an expression, was as queer as a coot, and his lover was the Dauphin of France. That didn’t stop him playing the field however and members of the church begged him to give up sodomy and evil practices before he brought the wrath of God down on the kingdom. He was particularly partial to sailors evidently. But even the non famous, the ordinary, the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker are deserving of love and not have that love ridiculed. Do Christians ridicule David and Jonathan? The gay world is as full of variety as is the straight. To examine the gay with wife and family, whether or not the wife is aware of her husband’s proclivities and whether she accepts it or not, or to talk about the hellfire breathing pastors, prelates, and politicians with smoke coming out of their ears is yet another aspect that sometimes ends up with them being caught in flagrante delicto with a rent boy in some seedy hotel to everyone’s surprise. Another reason given for the hatred of gays is the fact that they can’t breed, but considering the population of the earth and the fact that it is forever expanding I wouldn’t have thought that much of an argument.
 The fact is the norm is bisexuality, though many gays hate this idea as they feel it is a cop-out. The hundred percent straight male is as abnormal, as the hundred percent gay. It is all a matter of degrees as to which way the scale tips and when one talks of homophobia what one is really talking about is fear; fear that some of what you are so against is also inside you. The Russian Duma recently passed a bill banning homosexual propaganda by 436 votes to 0. Do you honestly believe that in those 436 there was not a single gay who would have the courage to stand up and vote against it?
There are not that many males between the ages of seven and seventy who haven’t wanted it at sometime or other or who haven’t been attracted to another male; not necessarily resulting in sex, but a romantic liaison nevertheless and the emotions involved can be very beautiful.

“The soul of Jonathon was knit to the soul of David and Jonathon loved him as his own soul. I am distressed for you my brother Jonathon, very pleasant have you been to me, your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.” There you have it. That’s what the Bible says.