Sunday, May 31, 2009

Last week Douglas received a letter from Headline (Hodder & Stoughton) saying thanks but no thanks for ENTER ANTHONY. At least they were fairly quick, a month, and at least we have heard from them even if it is a rejection. Something after all these years I am so used to anyway that it no longer comes as a disappointment. Funny how these letters so often end with “we do hope you find the right publisher for this.” We sent it to you, my dears, because, looking at what you do publish, we thought you would be the right publisher. Sorry, our mistake.
Three publishers have had ANGEL It was sent first to Hutchinson in January 2008 and we have never heard a word. Presumably the manuscript was trashed and they never bothered to inform us. The second publisher was Littlebrown to whom it was sent in July 2008. Some time later we received an e-mail saying no thanks, despite Glyn being a “really persuasive writer”. The third publisher was Harper Perennial who have had it since December 2008. It was only sent to them after Douglas had to batter on the gates of hell in order to find out who to send it to in the first place. Sadly after six months I must presume the manuscript was trashed, possibly even on arrival and without being looked at. That would not surprise me in the least
Is there a lesson to be learnt from this? I should say so. Forget mainstream publishers unless you are a sportsman or actor of renown, a politician, a celebrity no matter how minor, you have written a misery memoir or you write chic-lit or woman’s own romance, Mills & Boon maybe.
So we have had a long discussion as to the future and have decided Douglas will go ashead from now on and publish on his own. There are two reasons to go for a mainline publisher and they are (1) An advance, healthy or otherwise, and (2) They have the finance to publicise, to push your book for all it’s worth. But were we to continue sending manuscripts to them we would be (a) spending a great deal of money on postage – even three chapters of a book weigh an awful lot the way publishers want it presented and (b) wasting a lot of valuable time, time in which you can (a) publish the book yourself at very little expense and (b) even if it doesn’t make money or hit the top ten at least it is out there and available and that is not five years down the line or more. So there will be no more submissions to publishers, no more waiting, no hoping, no more rejections, no more disappointments. They can all, to put it in the vernacular, go fuck themselves and I hope they enjoy it.
JUST IN CASE is now available from Amazon.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My sister has sent me the most fantastic photos, taken from out at sea, of an incredible lightning storm over Table Mountain. The flashes across the entire sky are in every sense of the word what my American students would describe as awesome and I can believe, just looking at these pictures, how primitive man, terrified out of his wits, came to believe in the existence of gods who had to be appeased simply because of the power they displayed, especially if a few medicine men, shamans, whatever you want to call them, used nature’s power to encourage fears and beliefs to their own benefits. I have tried two or three times to get into THE GOLDEN BOUGH and, after seeing these pictures, feel I would like to try again. Propaganda in favour of religious zeal is ubiquitous and has caused some pretty nasty goings on in this dangerous old world. I can’t remember if I mentioned this before but watching Mel Gibson’s film on the passion of Christ I couldn’t help but feel he really went over the top with the flagellation scene. If Jesus had been whipped to the extent Mel would have us, in his devout Catholic way, believe, I believe the man’s body would have been in such a state of shock he wouldn’t have been able to get up off his knees let alone carry his cross to Golgotha. Less would have gained more belief and sympathy from this quarter. As it was disbelief, rightly or wrongly, set in. Any medical backup to that theory?
Also from South Africa I inadvertently turned on a Youtube video about Durban and couldn’t believe how in such a short time since the black population gained their freedom this once beautiful city, my home town, has degenerated, no, worse, been turned into a giant polluted rubbish dump come cess pool. Evidently you cannot swim in the sea any more unless you’re prepared to wallow in human faeces. It is so very sad that the city’s streets are awash with garbage. The city is not even 200 years old, won’t reach that age until 2020 and I wonder what is going to happen before it reaches that landmark.
For some reason or other in passing I pulled a volume from my bookcase, Patrick Doyle’s biography THE GOD SQUAD (Published 1988) and a terrible indictment it is of the way an orphaned child of four in Ireland was “sentenced” to a number of years in an “Industrial School” and the terrified child’s treatment by the nuns – the beatings, the locking up in a dark room, and other punishments. There is one example of sexual abuse by a Mother Paul but only the one. Whether she abused any of the other children is not said. I don’t know what made me reach for this particular book. I have other reading matter to hand at the moment and in fact read THE GOD SQUAD some years ago of course but, coincidence, coincidence, what do I see on the news?
Victims of child abuse at Catholic institutions in the Irish Republic have expressed anger that a damning report will not bring about prosecutions.
The report, nine years in the making and covering a period of six decades, found thousands of boys and girls were terrorized by priests and nuns.
Government inspectors failed to stop beatings, rapes and humiliation.
The findings will not be used for criminal prosecutions - in part because the Christian Brothers successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report.
No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.

The victims were among 35,000 children who were placed in a network of reformatories, industrial schools and workhouses until the early 1990s.
More than 1,000 people had told the commission they suffered physical and sexual abuse.
'Self-serving secrecy'
The five-volume study concluded that church officials encouraged ritual beatings and consistently shielded their orders' paedophiles from arrest amid a "culture of self-serving secrecy".
The commission found that sexual abuse was "endemic" in boys' institutions, and church leaders knew what was going on.

It also found physical and emotional abuse and neglect were rife in some institutions. Schools were run "in a severe, regimented manner that imposed unreasonable and oppressive discipline on children and even on staff". It found the Department of Education had generally dismissed or ignored complaints of child sexual abuse and dealt inadequately with them. As far back as the 1940s, school inspectors reported broken bones and malnourished children but no action was taken. The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, said he was "profoundly sorry and deeply ashamed that children suffered in such awful ways in these institutions".

"This report makes it clear that great wrong and hurt were caused to some of the most vulnerable children in our society," he said.
"It documents a shameful catalogue of cruelty: neglect, physical, sexual and emotional abuse, perpetrated against children."
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, said those who perpetrated violence and abuse should be held to account, "no matter how long ago it happened".
"Every time there is a single incident of abuse in the Catholic Church, it is a scandal. I would be very worried if it wasn't a scandal... I hope these things don't happen again, but I hope they're never a matter of indifference," he said.

"The recent Gender Equality Duty has mandated all public institutions to give due regard to proactive promotion of gender equality within their organisations. More importantly, a significant aspect of the Gender Equality Duty is the responsibility of public bodies to actively promote equality between men and women.”
The above is from British Actors Equity giving notice of an organized conference. When will people ever learn that “proactive” never works? It creates as many problems as it solves. Next play that’s produced at The Royal Court or the National please make sure that if there are ten parts for men there are also ten parts for women. The fact that six of the women characters have absolutely nothing to do with the play and in fact just get in the way is beside the point, they are being employed and earning their living and that’s how it should be. Right? The management might not think so having to pay the extra salaries, insurance etc., but there you are, it’s all for the sake of equality. You’re doing your gender equality duty, right? Do me a favour, please!
The world has gone stark raving mad.
PS: The Serbian Orthodox church is running an establishment for the rehabilitation of drug addicts – the treatment? Severe beatings!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The season of mellow fruitfulness may be a way off yet but the season of vegetarian self-sufficiency is approaching fast. Yesterday evening for example supper consisted of a traditional Greek cheese and spinach pie except that, instead of the spinach, Douglas used a xorta (weed) from the garden. There is a considerable variety of edible weeds on Crete, you see the old girls picking them by the roadside and this one, given to us by our friend, Joanne Biddle, is very like spinach but with a much nicer flavour. On the whole I don’t go for the xortas, I find them bitter; this one I can take. I suppose the English do eat weeds as well but not to the same extent as the Greeks; dandelion and nettle come immediately to mind. Afterwards we had strawberries and mulberries for dessert, all from the garden. We’ve already had medlars from the one and only tree. It’s a very short season unfortunately and the medlar is in a difficult position, difficult to get to the fruit that is as it is right against a garden wall and our neighbours get benefit from it, as they do with the wisteria I planted that seems to love their side of the wall. Sunnier maybe. We have had a not too bad a crop of medlars though and I intend planting another where once I had a castor oil tree. That was very ornamental and good only for show. The apricot nearest the house is full of fruit as is the nut peach. Still nothing on the nectarine. I really don’t know what to do with that wretched tree. The only thing it produces is peach curl, despite the treatment it has had. Grapes are budding nicely and hopefully the hanging DVDs will keep Mr Ratty at bay. They worked last year. Oranges, lemons and tangerines will be in abundance so I might make a citrus wine. The last two were excellent. Plums and fig seem to be in abundance (providing there’s no wind) and later in the year the guava and pomegranate will fruit. The ancient pear tree at the bottom of the garden, god only knows how old it is, bears hardly any fruit this year, not even worth bothering with but the mulberries, both black and white are full of fruit. Have I forgotten anything? All the veg are in thanks to Douglas buying a Rotovator that saved days of turning over by hand. Unfortunately we didn’t have time this year to collect the horseshit but hopefully the veg will do well without it and we’ll make up for it in the autumn. The garden is a riot of colour at the moment with all the roses blooming but guess I am going to have to get into that close weeding like right now – no more prevarication.
In the last blog I forgot two full length plays that won’t be included in the fifteen, ONE TOUCH OF PITY and A CORNER FOR DREAMS, nice titles not so good plays. Also forgot the book and lyrics for a musical PICKWICK (composer Malcolm Sircom).Wonder what else I’ve forgotten. Oh yes! My DOCTOR WHO submission, THE ULTIMATE VIRUS, a perfect story for the computer age. I wonder if it ever even reached the powers that be. The BBC is a strange animal these days.
Chris’s brother Roger has sent us a list of mistakes he has found in the autobiography. John Lewis has sent the mistakes he has found. Douglas and I have found some neither of those two have noticed. It really is a pity but there is nothing can be done about it now. I will never again bridle when I come across errors in other writers’ books.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A headline in the paper informs us that scientists have created a virus that kills cancer cells. The other night Douglas watched on Greek television a film starring Wilbur Smith called “I Am Legend” (I gave up after about fifteen minutes) all about scientists developing a virus that kills cancer cells but which, unfortunately, also had the end result of killing ninety-five percent of the world’s population. Coincidence or prediction?
We have been discussing a publishing project – “Fifteen Plays & A Book of Lyrics”. This is really and truly vanity publishing with a vengeance. The volume would come to well over 1200 pages which, in hardback, would make it a very expensive book. However, looking at similar books advertised on Amazon, they ARE very expensive books - £60, £70, £150, £175, and more. I had previously noticed that books aimed at academia are always extremely expensive. Maybe the thinking is that universities are rolling in money and can afford them. Anyway, the fifteen plays could not be called the collected works of GIJ because there are others that would not be included: for example, the three plays already published by French’s, a play called “Bay Rum” which was produced at Buxton way back in the sixties and which has been in the script drawer ever since because, although the first act went a treat, the second was so bad I wanted to crawl under my seat in embarrassment. I can still remember it even after all these years, and it wasn’t the direction or the performances, it was the writing which was, to be quite frank, rubbish; a sort of bad hybrid of “My Three Angels” and “The Little Hut”, both pop plays of the time. Then there is a play called “The Green Stare” the writing of which is even worse. The title comes from a poem by Walt Whitman. Then there are plays that have been lost and of which I have no recollection. One was evidently called “Paradise Row”. What was that about I wonder and whatever happened to it? Of the first musical I wrote, only the second act exists. Whatever happened to the first? Not that it matters. It was total crap influenced of course by “Salad Days”! Then there are five other musicals, book and lyrics, including my version of “Peter Pan”, half a dozen original television plays, odd TV scripts, scripts for series, pilot scripts and screenplays. Hmn … quite a body of work if you add to that the autobiography, three Thornton King adventures (a forth in the making) and two novels, both currently idling away with London publishers, as is one of the plays with a producer – six months of silence. Taurians might have a reputation for being patient but even our patience has to give out finally. Come to think of it though, at my age, why should I worry?
The story of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up, is evidently having a spectacular production in the park where the story was first conceived but, for a boy who never grew up, I must say Peter has very hairy legs.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The third interesting piece in the papers last week was in The Athens News and was a subscriber’s letter all about the blanket smoking ban in the UK and the effect it has had. Now I am not grinding a personal axe here but, if I were still a smoker, I would seriously consider suing the British government or the European parliament or whoever for denying me my unalienable right to smoke my self to death if I so wished and to inflict my secondary smoke on long-suffering members of the public sitting or standing close by. I know, it can be disgusting, I’m not arguing about that but there has never been any proof that secondary smoke actually causes deaths. The case of Roy Castle is always brought up, he dying of lung cancer and it being put down to his performing in smoky clubs, but what about the hundreds of other performers who played the clubs and pubs and didn’t get the disease? According to the law of averages a great many of them plus bar staff etc., should have succumbed. Maybe they did but not being famous jazz musicians their hundreds of deaths passed unnoticed. Why hasn’t the infernal combustion engine been banned? That is much more likely to be the serious cause of innumerable deaths from inhaling noxious fumes.
But here is some of what this gentleman wrote in his letter if I may be allowed to quote, because it is a very interesting letter. If I’m in breach of copywrite, sue me. If I can’t afford more than two newspapers a week you won’t get very much. He writes, ‘A May 8th letter (Non-smokers a minority) expressed its author’s disappointment with the “windows” in the coming smoking ban here in Greece.’ For those who do not live in Greece, probably next to China the heaviest smoker zone in the world, the Greek government have been very wise in not following the British example and bringing in a total ban. I feel quite sure that would have been unenforceable. “No Smoking” signs have been up in places like railways station, in banks, etc., for a long while but you are quite likely to see someone sitting right beneath the sign puffing merrily away, and that includes bank managers and staff and other public employees: in post offices, tax offices etc. To continue … ‘This correspondent was apparently looking forward with bated breath to the time when he could go into a taverna bar or club without the result of “stinging eyes, my clothes and hair stinking and the air suffocating me.” I have to say I had read and heard much of the same hysterical nonsense prior to the British smoking ban: many non-smokers shouting about their right not to have these dirty evil smokers inflicted upon them. These vocal anti-smokers also happily repeated the propaganda of the government and organisations it funds such as ASH, which stated there would be no loss of trade to pubs and clubs because the smokers leaving such establishments would be replaced by the non-smokers flocking back. However, now we see the true results of the British ban. Prior to the ban in 2007 the rate of pub closures across Britain was four every week. After the ban it rose to 27 every week as all those belligerent anti-smokers failed to return. Many bingo halls and working men’s clubs have also gone to the wall and tens of thousands of those previously employed in those places lost their jobs. Many pubs even lost non-smoker customers because they didn’t want to go to places now empty of their smoker friends. For those who have hung on we even have the ridiculous situation of non-smokers following smokers outside so they will still have someone to talk to. And perhaps they are right to go outside because the smells from the toilets and the stale beer are no longer disguised by the smell of cigarette smoke. Outside of course, they might also spot the owner of the pub who, having paid hundreds of thousands for the place, now cannot smoke a cigarette on his own premises. Such blanket bans are totalitarian. (but in my opinion typical of socialist thinking – do what I tell you or else. Is it true over seven thousand new pieces of legislation have been passed in the UK since New Labour came to power? Power … there’s a word to conjure with. There a concept to go to tiny talentless people’s heads, but I digress.) ‘The smoking ban in Britain was an unmitigated disaster and if enforced the same way here, it will kill tavernas, clubs, kafenios and restaurants. No argument, people will go out of business, jobs will be lost, the government will lose revenue and more freedom will be lost by an autocratic state.’
Fortunately I believe the Greeks have more sense, and why a blanket ban in the first place? The Brits really do go overboard. Two fingers should have been given to the EU if that is where it all started but, no, the Brits couldn’t possibly do that. When I travelled by Amtrak all over the United States I was a smoker and a compartment was sensibly set aside on each coach for smokers. When I travelled by train from Perth to Melbourne in Australia, part of a single coach was set aside for smokers. It meant a long walk down the length of the train to reach it but no one was inconvenienced. What do we have on British Rail? A complete ban, even on the open air platforms. Once you’re on BR or London Transport property you are a non-smoker whether you like it or not. I have to admit it does help solve some of the litter problem.
The airlines were cute; they brought in non smoking by degrees, firstly short hops, then slightly longer, then longer, and finally all out. The old days of smoking or non-smoking (your choice) are long since gone.
I believe the Chinese government is urging the population to smoke more to help the economy! Could that be right?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

There were some interesting pieces in the papers last week. I’ve probably said this before but I’ll say it again, we get “The Athens News” and “The Daily Mail” every Friday. More than this we can’t afford. Newspapers at 2.50 euro a piece work out quite expensive if you over indulge so 5 euro a week is quite enough to splash out on ephemeritha. (I wonder who it was who decided the euro had no plural.) I remember back in the good old days in London sitting down on a Sunday and going through five or six Sunday papers without batting an eyelid and this on top of the morning and evening ones during the week, and we were in a financial situation no better than now, so what happened? Guess inflation happened. Anyway, the reason for getting the Mail on a Friday is because that is the day of the reviews: books, theatre, cinema. Also there are a couple of journalists whose writing I like. At the moment the paper is gathering up its skirts like Auntie Mildred about members of parliament and their thieving ways, threatening them with private prosecutions with the help of donations from the reading public. Quite right too is wot I says. How dare Brits point the finger at Greek corruption when it would seem the Greeks turn out to be slightly amateurish compared to their own MPs? I bet there are some Greek MPs who wish they had the chutzpah to thieve to the same extent. One or two of them have of course but it would seem the British parliament is currently, and has been for quite a while, a stink bed of greed and corruption. Whatever happened to socialism and socialist ideals? Po po po as the Greeks would say! But this isn’t really what I wanted to write about.
Academe really breeds some very strange creatures. The first piece from the Daily Mail is headlined THANK GOD FOR OUR DINNER? WE’D RATHER NOT, SAY STUDENTS, and is all about replacing a religious grace before meals with something more in line with modern thinking so the girls at Newnham’s in Oxford have come up with ‘For food in a hungry world, for companionship in a world of loneliness, for peace in an age of violence, we give thanks.’ I think that is not only poetic but beautiful, simple and apt. Because it is traditional at university to say grace in Latin, this one goes Pro cibo inter esurientes, pro comitate inter desolatos, pro pace inter bellantes, gratias agimus. I don’t care whether it is in Latin or English, the thoughts are beautiful but there is a certain person who disagrees and here we come to the strange academic creature aforementioned, one Mary Beard, fellow of Newnham who says the change is an insult to Latin, though without howlers. Writing on line she said: ‘The undergraduates’ rewrite was a classic case (get the pun?) of disguising a load of well meaning platitudes in some posh dead language, which was actually an insult to that dead language.’ What on earth is she on about? Well, looking at her photograph, this rather plain, sad looking lady really needs to get a life. Congratulations undergraduates. Your new grace is terrific and bon appetit or, if you want it in Greek, kali orexsi.

Now to the second article that caught my attention. Littlejohn. I invariably enjoy Littlejohn’s column and usually find I am in agreement with what he says and this article is no exception. It is about adoption. He writes, ‘We’ve become used to the tiresome bigotry of homosexual fundamentalists smearing anyone remotely opposed to even the wilder excesses of the gay “lifestyle”. But the accusation of mental handicap is relatively recent. It marks a new low in the nastiness of what was once a perfectly respectable cause … the homosexual equality movement has been hijacked by hysterical headcases with ever more extreme demands. You can never make too many concessions to them, they just keep coming back for more, hoping to wear down their opponents with vile abuse. I get it all the time even though this column was one of the first in the Popular Press to support civil partnerships and argue in favour of gay rights in such fields as employment, housing, and employment.’ I agree with him. The pendulum has swung far too far but hopefully when the hysteria dies down it will start swinging back again. Now we come to his opinion on gay couples adopting. According to Littlejohn it should be banned and here again I agree with him but my argument is not his argument. I have never felt the urge of the selfish gene but there are of course gays of either sex who want desperately to be fathers and mothers. They can produce children naturally or by in vitro fertilisation or they can adopt, but why on earth should they want to take on the responsibility of someone else’s child with all that entails? How many thousands and thousands of pounds does it take to bring up a child these days and why would you want the responsibility of nurturing an infant that could be nothing but trouble in the years to come? Leave it to its natural parents? The natural parents of some simply don’t want to know, others have mothers who have no regard for them but go off on holiday leaving them abandoned or on holiday leaving them abandoned in hotel rooms or at the mercy of violent partners leading to torture and possibly death. There is nothing new about neglected children. Many years ago they were known as ‘key kids’ and in winter you could see outside every second pub, kids standing in the freezing cold nibbling on an arrowroot biscuit while their parents were getting slowly sozzled in the warmth inside. A great many men take absolutely no responsibility for the offspring they have engendered. Why should a gay couple want to take on their responsibility? Better to get a pet. There are thousands of children evidently in the UK, all over the world, who are at risk of cruelty, abuse, and neglect from parents, step-parents, partners. Unfortunately, though there are loving parents, not all heterosexual couples are capable of giving a child what he or she needs. There are too many fucked up offspring of fucked up parents as one of my American students put it. There is no guarantee that a couple is going to stay together (I asked in one of my classes how many students came from a broken home. Of seventeen, thirteen put up their hands and a few of the girls started to cry) or that any child is going to be brought up in a warm, safe, loving home and, if a gay couple are prepared to and can give it that, what is the objection? The only objection as far as I can see is from peer pressure and bullying. “Where is your mummy?” ‘I don’t have a mummy, I have two daddies.’ “Ha ha ha, queers queers quers!” And the child of course is distraught because his/her household is not considered ‘normal.’ This apart, what objection can there be? Two male friends in Queens (no jokes please) New York adopted a baby Mexican girl, deciding on it even before she was born because the parents simply didn’t want it. Abortion of course is another matter. They are treated by their neighbours, the school, the child’s friends in the most normal way possible. If it is sexual abuse that is the worry, fathers have been known to sexually abuse not just their daughters but their sons and child pornography it would seem is mainly a product of heterosexuals and of course paedophiles which does not mean homosexual though people are always confusing the two. There are absolutely no guarantees in the upbringing of a child so why should Littlejohn state without equivocation that gays should be banned from adoption?
But I wholeheartedly agree with him, for their own sakes gays should not take on the responsibility of bringing up someone else’s child. It is just too much hassle, in the end possibly too much heartache. Is it really worth it?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Watched the Eurovision Song Contest, three hours of unadulterated awesomely spectacular crap; very little to do with music, very much to do with presentation. Norway was the runaway winner, mainly I think because the infant prodigy was so cute; if he’s not careful he could die of it as the old saying goes. One of the female presenters gave the game away when she said she had fallen in love, hence Norway’s twelve points! Some of the presenters themselves acted so cute they were even more embarrassing than some of the songs, the French for example and, if these were the best, god alone knows what the rejects were like. Of the twenty-five songs I picked five, one of which came up tops, Iceland, the other four all around the thirty/forty votes mark. I picked Sweden, melodious, which makes a pleasant change from bang bang bang, Moldova (folksy), Malta, also tuneful and, as that old colonel type on a radio programme many years ago said, “Tunes, my boy, tunes, that’s what it’s all about, tunes.” My last choice was Spain which was pleasingly upbeat without being bang bang bang. And, although Iceland came second (I seem to remember) and it’s on my list of five, I’m buggered if I can remember anything about it now, not even the presentation. Cheap music might be potent but it’s also ephemeral. Android Lord Webster’s number for the United Kingdom was boring although the girl, a very beautiful girl I must say, gave it all she’d got which was a lot. I was led to believe the voting system had been changed but as far as I could see it was exactly the same, countries were still voting for friends and neighbours, surprise surprise.
This week has been Vamos Arts Week, ex-pats putting their talents together in a variety of ways. Saturday was a poetry reading in the Arts Cafe which worked out better than it sounds as much of it was humorous and, Sunday, yet another play (fairly short) on the judgment of Paris; to be quite frank, not so hot, presented in the amphitheatre in the park. The script was very good but they made so little of it which was a shame and they all know they weren’t up to much. Of course friends and relations were on the “you were marvellous, darling” wagon so it came as a little bit of shock when Douglas said quite frankly, no, he didn’t enjoy it and when I, who find it impossible to praise when praise isn’t due, agreed. The costumes were good and praise went for those but it really is a pity that “well, we’re only amateurs” was trotted out as soon as criticism was in the air. Anyway, after much humming and ahing on my part, I have agreed to an initial meeting with the group to decide whether or not I will act as a coach so that, perhaps, their next production will be a tad better, maybe even more than a tad. The questions that immediately arise with “well we’re only amateurs” are will they be prepared to discard that comfort blanket and be committed enough and will they take constructive criticism without egos being bruised and left bleeding? Well, we can only wait and see.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

“CHIEF OF THE EVENING STARS of Nebadon, I am assigned to Urantia by Gabriel on the mission of revealing the story of the seven bestowals of the Universe Sovereign, Michael of Nebadon, and my name is Gavalia. In making this presentation, I will adhere strictly to the limitations imposed by my commission.

p1308:2 119:0.2 The attribute of bestowal is inherent in the Paradise Sons of the Universal Father. In their desire to come close to the life experiences of their subordinate living creatures, the various orders of the Paradise Sons are reflecting the divine nature of their Paradise parents. The Eternal Son of the Paradise Trinity led the way in this practice, having seven times bestowed himself upon the seven circuits of Havona during the times of the ascension of Grandfanda and the first of the pilgrims from time and space. And the Eternal Son continues to bestow himself upon the local universes of space in the persons of his representatives, the Michael and Avonal Sons.

p1308:3 119:0.3 When the Eternal Son bestows a Creator Son upon a projected local universe, that Creator Son assumes full responsibility for the completion, control, and composure of that new universe, including the solemn oath to the eternal Trinity not to assume full sovereignty of the new creation until his seven creature bestowals shall have been successfully completed and certified by the Ancients of Days of the superuniverse of jurisdiction. This obligation is assumed by every Michael Son who volunteers to go out from Paradise to engage in universe organization and creation.”

Have you ever in your life read such a load of crap? Is it English? And if it is English why is it such a mish-mash of incomprehensible bullshit?

This is not what I expected to write in today’s Blog but, being the klutz that I am when surfing the net, I come across this sort of thing purely by accident when my stubby fingers hit the wrong button and then I sit with my jaw hitting the desktop as I read on. Talk about blinding the poor sods with science-fiction! Not even good science-fiction when it is stated without equivocation that there are 1000 inhabited worlds of which Earth (Urantia) is one, that administering angels exist and actually gives the figure of thirty odd million pairs on earth at the moment. I lost the quote and, as usual, can’t find it again so take my word for it; the number of angels is given exactly. So who counted? Jesus Christ is a Michael of Nebadon and is sometimes referred to as Jesus Christ Michael which makes it sound like an Irishman using an expletive. “Jesus Christ, Michael!” Even scientology is within the parameters of normalcy compared to this lot of raving fantasizing creeps and, as for the Scottish policemen, go ahead, fellows, have a good time being Jedi.

Should you be silly enough or curious enough to find out more, the organization now based in Chicago evidently started off in Colorado in 1950. It is tax-exempt of course because it is educational(?) and is also referred to I see as the Jesusonian Institute!!!! How silly and pretentious can you get? Just looking at that written down makes the toes curl with embarrassment. And what about this for more pretension? – creedopedia! Somebody please tell me I’m not going mad and imagining all this.

Actually I was researching Geneva, in particular banks and the police, (very complicated the Swiss police) necessary for the next Thornton King book and of course when I saw them listed had to click on various films and novels that incorporated, somewhere alone the line, Geneva banks though evidently always with a false name. Obviously Swiss banks do not like being trivialized by fiction. Well, I didn’t really get very far when god (or my guardian angel) said, forget all that, mate, and take a gander at the Book of Urantia. There’s real fiction for you.

What was going to be today’s Blog will have to be next time.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I was just thinking this morning over breakfast how; as you grow old, things that once meant so much to you, no longer seem important, if at all. Apart from attending a few live performances I can’t remember when last I sat down to do nothing but listen to some music and, once upon a time, music was always a part of my life. Now I simply don’t miss it. As far as popular music goes I wouldn’t know one group or one artiste from another – they seem to change by the week anyway - and the same applies to more serious stuff, not the changing every week but knowing who they are. I am simply not up with both the performers and composers of today.
There is no reason for me to write plays anymore as I have in a sense retired from what goes on in the great wide world. Apart from the musical written here, the last play I wrote was “Rosemary” in 1989 and that is a period piece anyway. In fact all my plays are now period pieces and a couple are well over their shelf life. One for example relies on old-fashioned photography and the dark room for its plot so where is that in relation to digital cameras? With one of these, even the simplest, together with computers, taking fantastic photographs is at everybody’s fingertips. You have to be as complete klutz not to be able to do it.
And computers? Moving faster and faster every day it would seem. I was looking at five inches of computer chip and thinking how much our everyday lives are now in hock to man’s ingenuity., that this small object could contain so much information. I sit here at the keyboard facing the screen over which is a videocam through which, and providing my correspondent also has one, we can see each other as we talk. Seventy years ago (as is written in my biography) this would have been science-fiction. if my parents wanted to call me at my boarding school forty miles or so away as the crow flies, a bit longer by road or rail, the call had to be booked in advance through the telephone exchange and the call lasted three minutes unless further time was paid for and, as it was a party line, something unheard of for many a year now, anyone interested could listen in to the conversation. What a long way we have come in such a short space of time and if progress moves any faster will we be able to keep up with it?
I see a Polish monk has written a sex manual for the edification of Catholic couples. People are asking how a monk who is supposed to be celibate can write a complete book on sex but, golly, he’s got an imagination hasn’t he? And what an imagination! The book is a runaway best seller and Catholics, provided they are Catholic and legitimately married of course, will be pleased to read that, as they are frolicking between the sheets in an ecstasy of sexual enlightenment, god is watching them and enjoying every minute of it with them. Have you ever heard such nonsense in your life? It’s truly amazing how people will find a way to legitimise something, a perfectly normal phenomenon that usually terrifies the wits out of them.
In the meantime the Vatican is also having a spot of PR bother denying the Pope was a member of the Hitler Youth and, by golly again, there is a photograph of him in the uniform of a German air force assistant and looking quite cute in a sulky sort of way. Pity about the ears.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The novel I said such disparaging things about a few Blogs back is, believe it or not, right up there with the top ten in the best sellers list. It really is very strange. I think it is a case of, if people are told unequivocally that something is good, then it simply has to be good and they better believe it.
Have just finished going through the list of publishers (2008) in order to think of one to whom we should send “Enter Anthony”. Came up with sixteen possibles, all of whom I have no doubt will turn it down. It’s such a waste of heavy postage really if experience is anything to go by but you have to at least try. The publishers range from megalo – 400 or more books published in a year to minuscule – none: relying on Imprint. It is quite amazing how many of the hundreds of publishers listed specialise in “Academic and Scholarly”, “Biography & Autobiography”, “Religion and Theology”, and not a few now “Gay & Lesbian Studies”. Obviously the pink pound is still hale and hearty and brings in the readies.
A bit of a domestic Blog today. Our visitors, Stuart and Jenny, are back in the UK and I am pleased to say the weather for their stay could not have been better. This being Stuart’s first visit to Crete we had to take him to at least a couple of our favourite places we thought would be different to anything he had experienced and which we felt he would enjoy. Firstly for dinner up into the mountains, to Manousis and Marianne’s taverna, a sparse unadorned building (we used to call it a shack before they tarted it up a little). It consists of one long room and eating there is rather like having a meal in a friend’s house. Warm weather of course you can eat out on a terrace on the opposite side of the road. That is if you are willing to put up with all the tourist buses returning with walkers from the Samaria gorge. Marianne did us proud with pork in egg/lemon sauce, lamb, and beef, together with a Greek salad, and the local wine was excellent. Secondly we went to the wells for Sunday lunch. We call it the wells as it is a wooded area of waterfalls with a half a dozen tavernas situated below the ancient town of Lappa, now called Agriopoli, and is a great favourite with Greeks for Sunday lunch. All that’s left of Lappa are a few old stones and some Roman floors. You have to get to the wells early unless you’re prepared to park a mile away and be served at the busiest time. We always use the same restaurant where we are now well known as we so often take visitors there. Their two specialities are trout – choose your trout fresh – and souvlas, that is whole lamb cooked on the spit and served by the kilo. It certainly seemed that Stuart was greatly taken with both these establishments. Jenny of course had been before on previous visits. Then for the last night, we chose Peperies, another of our favourites where we are known. This is right on the edge of the beach at Kalyves so you look out to sea and Souda Bay from where you can watch the ferry putting out for Athens. You also look towards the Akrotiri where the airport is situated and normally during the course of an evening one would see at least half a dozen planes, if not more, flying in but this evening there was not a single one which goes to show I suppose how the recession is taking its toll on holiday making. Two planes did take off but even that was a low count as we are well into the season now.
Two Norwegian friends have gone against the trend and bought a 28 room hotel in Georgopoli and, at the last count, had not a single booking. I sincerely hope that situation changes and quickly because they have spent a great deal of money, not just in buying the place but in getting it ready for visitors.
Douglas and I have been through “Just In Case” yet again and hopefully got rid of all the typos etc. It should now go out in a couple of weeks.
Would you say that “pedantic” and “dry wit” go together? According to Stuart I have a dry wit but I am also pedantic. Strange all the various aspects of one’s character people come up with!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Kenneth Williams – his diaries – the private life as opposed to the public persona, and what a tragic and painful private life it turned out to be. Looking back on his career he was no great shakes as an actor, a dismal failure in fact with all the tricks, the voices, the grimacing, and he was as big a failure as a human being simply because he couldn’t accept himself for what he was. Maybe simply is the wrong word to use. When you’re that crazy and mixed up nothing is simple and, although he was 62 when he finally committed suicide in 1998, it had been on the cards for a very long time. It was not just his inability to have any kind of emotional relationship (except evidently with his mother) but, despite the many members of the public who were kind and lifted his spirits with friendly greetings there were always the real idiots who went out of their way to humiliate him which quite naturally he always found depressing. He did have a couple of lifelong close friends but for the most part people he met who he originally thought were wonderful soon fell by the wayside. Similarly plays he went into that he originally thought fantastic and exciting, as well as loving the casts, soon became a tedious hateful bore with talentless hateful actors that he couldn’t wait to get out of. Nothing satisfied him. On the 11th June 1969 he wrote – I wish I was dead. I would like to walk out of this existence for ever.
On the 17th August he wrote – The eyes full of tears. I am so lonely … There is never any peace …always the savagery, the nightmares, and horrible dreams.
23 September 1972 – In bed full of visions of an early death and prayed to God repeating my eternal cry ‘Help me, please help me.’
Sex was a no-no except for masturbation that he referred to as ‘the traditional’ or ‘tradiola’ or Barclay’s’ (Cockney rhyming slang) Barclay’s Bank – wank.
Although he could be highly critical, vicious in fact of other people, places and things, he did keep repeating himself even though he might have previously had an awful experience. For example he kept on going back to Tenerife for holidays although he always found it a great let-down. Was there something masochistic in this? “The room was disgusting … I went to the desk and had it changed but I don’t like this one either. The spirits sink … the tat of the place is quite awful.”
He was the same with religion, one minute fervently praying and all pious, the next – “Reading J.S.Mill: he’s the first man I’ve read to make the point that religion actually asks a man to stop his intellectual enquiries. It seems to question the very ability to think, let alone form moral judgments. What are we to make in the Bible of divine injunctions to slaughter people? It is a weird mess, Christianity, and it is even weirder that it worked after a fashion for a time! Of course now it’s as creaky as Byzantium before the onslaught of Mehmet.”
The strange thing is, despite his continuous put down of his fellow human beings (and sometimes their put down of him) and, although he was constantly worried about money, he was generous in the extreme when someone needed assistance or wanted a handout and he must be the only actor in the whole history of theatre who felt he was being overpaid and actually asked for his fee to be reduced! What a contradiction the man was, and so sad.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Over the years you come across true life characters you really feel you would like to write about but the period between gestation and production can be an awfully long time. It must be at least thirty years since I first came across La Belle Otero and thought what a fabulous character around which to weave a musical but it wasn’t until coming out here to Crete that I actually got around to writing it and this was because fate gave me a nudge in that the composer Chris Littlewood moved into a village not four kilometres away, liked the lyrics I showed him (from previous efforts), and agreed to work with me. Another character I thought about was Victoria Caflin Woodhull, known as Mrs Satan because of her belief in “free love” among other things and the first woman to put herself forward as a presidential candidate. She later married an English banker, became respectable and retired to the shires where the couple entertained Edward Vll, then price of Wales. A musical in fact was written about her, called “Onward Victoria” that went on in New York some time in the early eighties and came off in one night and I am not surprised. I have the record, recorded of course before that fatal opening/closing night, and the songs are pretty appalling. When there was a possibility of the democrats choosing Hilary Clinton as their presidential candidate I thought it might be a good idea to revive the idea, reread a biography and played some of the record and decided against it. An interesting life it might have been but Mrs Woodhull changed her views so often and to such an extent it’s no wonder she ended up a rather dull respectable county lady with no views at all.
Yet a third character who intrigued me was the Chevalier D’eon, a secret agent under Louis XV, an ambassador and a master swordsman. Even when wearing skirts he was evidently unbeatable. Yes, indeed, the Chevalier sometimes appeared as a man, sometimes as a woman and there were huge bets as to what sex he/she actually was. For years I have on and off toyed with the idea of writing a musical about this character but I am afraid the idea has never taken off and I doubt very much at my time of life I would want to write another musical with all the work that entails and the chances of it being produced being about a hundred thousand to one if not more. Anyway, these reminiscences were started off by my reading in The Sunday Times Culture Section, under dance, that three artistes have also been taken by the Chevalier and collaborated in creating a sort of dance spectacle titled Eonnagata, the action of dance and swordplay being broken off at times for readings of D’eon’s letters. Evidently the three all play an aspect of the Chevalier and naturally true Kabuki onnogata representation is included. The piece premiered at Sadler’s Wells and evidently extended to extra performances is not very well reviewed in the Sunday Times.
“It has been said – and such is Lepage’s practice – that Eonnogata will evolve in the process of performances, but this unveiling didn’t enthuse me to hold my breath.”
I have also thought of writing a chamber opera on the life of Modigliani but somehow I doubt that will ever see the light of day. I’m surprised though that someone, French or Italian, hasn’t made a film about him. Or have they?
We are eagerly awaiting the proof of "Just In Case" from the printers

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Have to come back to religion just for a moment and only because I read with utter amazement, though I don’t know why, when it comes to peoples beliefs, I should be amazed by anything, that a number of policemen in Scotland when asked their religion replied ‘Jedi!’ Were they serious? Could this possibly be true? Unfortunately the answer seems to be yes as evidently something like 300000 people in the UK would give the same answer. They believe in something dreamed up in a sci-fi movie for goodness sake, admittedly a very good movie, the only movie I ever suggested we go and see two consecutive evenings and was just as thrilled with it second time round, but the basis for a religious belief? Oh, come on, get a life! But, when you come to think of it, if Jedi is what you want to believe, why not? It isn’t the only sci-fi religion going. Tom Cruise is into Scientology, a load of bosh if ever there was, also thought up by a sci-fi writer. Madonna has her fake Rabbi. Innumerable people over the years have been taken in by Mary Baker Eddy’s nonsense. Did none of them ever stop for a moment to wonder why animals get sick, or plants, or even rocks for that matter? There are those though who believe in healing stones and crystals. Maybe they could heal each other. I believe though that the “Christian Science Monitor” has shut up shop which is a shame. It was a very good paper. Then there is aura soma, a system of “colour soul therapy.” Choose from four bottles of colour and your whole psyche is laid bare.
Women seem to be in the forefront when it comes to indulging in mysticism and inventing beliefs. Think of Helena Blavatsky and Theosophy, more science-fiction in fact, just a different blend. Stands to reason I suppose. In ancient Greece if you wanted to know your future or the outcome of something, apart from Apollo it was always a female lurking in her cave, grotto or temple who gave you the news. So, if you have fairies at the bottom of your garden, treat them with due respect or you might get a Jedi knight swinging his light sabre in your direction. Alternatively you might be abducted by aliens and taken to goodness knows where to have needles shoved into the most sensitive and painful places. Ouch! So may the force be with you.
When I mentioned exhibitionism and voyeurism the other day I should have also added narcissism because, come to think of it, somebody watching him/herself on their computer screen as they masturbate just has to be a devotee of that poor misguided youth. One good thing though, unlike the beautiful original who drowned in the pond for love of his image, you can’t drown in a computer screen, not physically anyway. The Greeks really did know what nature is all about. Apart from the myth of Narcissus just think of Zeus and his Ganymede.
The spate of porno spam does not abate mostly involving horses, presumably because they have the biggest pricks. Why not try elephants? Are there pathetic creatures out there who open these messages (mostly badly typed or even illiterate)?
The debate continues in England on the fate of baby P(eter), brutally murdered by his mother’s violent boy friend. There have been a number of these deaths and, according to statistics, the number of children at risk because of broken homes is too enormous to even think about. Whatever happened to happy families?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Monday evening - It has been raining heavily and almost continually for twenty four hours and tomorrow our first seasonal guests arrive. The forecast is gloomy for the first three days of their visit and they’re only here for a week! Hopefully the forecast is wrong as it so often is.
Tuesday morning – So far the forecast was correct: cold, wet, and windy.
The Sunday Times Culture section informs me there are something like two hundred million blogs swirling around the internet but not to worry, they have chosen the best two hundred to make it easy for us. How they managed to do this is anyone’s guess. Someone read the whole two hundred million? It also assumes that your taste and mine is the same as whoever it was who decided on the two hundred as being the best. I didn’t notice if No official Umbrella was among the favourites! Shame.
Am still engrossed in “Human Traces” and, having finished the Kenneth Williams diaries, started on “City Of Ice” and could hardly put it down until the very last page and I didn’t notice any holes in the plot. No pretensions to being a literary work but a humdinger of a page turner and very scary; better than Dan Brown and twenty times better than old Jeff Archer. I really shouldn’t denigrate Jeff so much. After all I’ve only managed to struggle through one of his books and that was enough.
As for the Joe Orton Diaries that preceded my reading of the Kenneth Williams, I came to the conclusion that Orton, consciously or unconsciously committed suicide using Halliwell as the instrument thereof. It was a case of ‘Live hard, die young, and be a good-looking corpse.’ Everything certainly points in that direction, he being fully aware of how unstable Halliwell was, how he had been previously threatened and even physically attacked. There is no mention of his retaliating or defending himself. The coroner in his summing up spoke of the ever increasing tension but could have chosen his words a little more carefully when he ended with ‘it all came to a head’; considering Orton died from eight hammer blows to that part of his anatomy.
So on what evidence do I think suicide? Here are a few examples. On page 130, ‘Arguments continue spasmodically. Breaking out like sudden flames on a dying fire.’ 182. Quote from Kenneth Cranham ‘He thought he was really beautiful, Joe did. His buzz was himself.’ On page 186 Orton writes about how happy they both felt and that it couldn’t last. They would be struck down by disaster from afar. Page 221. ‘Kenneth became violently angry after this and attacked me, hitting me about the head.’ Page 225. ‘Yellow-jersey very upset because I’m leaving. He doesn’t believe I will return. October seems so far off. Such a lot of things can happen.’ Page241. ‘I shall be a disgusting old man myself one day, I thought mournfully. Only I have high hopes of dying in my prime.’

Sunday, May 3, 2009

To continue my dissertation on deviation and pornography (which is itself deviant), both of which have been with us since time immemorial. The Greeks decorated their vases with it, the Romans depicted sexual activity on walls, in India it was carved in temples, in Japan the phallus is celebrated in festivals that even the very young can join in and, of course, the written word, poetry, illustrations, and paintings, clubs have all produced their fair share. In all this plethora of eroticism homosexuality has played a large part. With the advancement of technology naturally the ways and means of producing and distributing porn has increased. Early still photography, sepias or black and white photos of chunky gentlemen, usually with socks on, and even chunkier ladies indulging in pretty straightforward sex gave way to magazines that pretended to be health and fitness publications but were really soft porn, as were nudist ones. Films naturally followed and then came outright porn magazines, videos and DVDs. It was amazing how many young men were only too happy to let it all hang out posing for gay magazines, and for some time now we have had cyber-sex: literally hundreds of men and women from 19 to 79 years of age and from all over the world, exposing themselves, their sexual preferences, their masturbatory techniques, their little fetishes, talking to each other, urging each other on, all over the internet through the eye of their web-cam. No need anymore to have flesh to flesh bonding, no need anymore for relationships, particularly if you are an exhibitionist or a voyeur this is truly seventh heaven. The one good thing is that with nothing between the participants there is no danger of transmitting STDs, all is fantasy.
Following on the previous blog regarding the horrors taking place in Iraq I thought I would do a little research via this new medium and downloaded the first four pages of one of these sites. Under the heading MALES there are four categories: Straight, Gay, Bisexual and Bicurious. I presume this last one means someone who hasn’t tried it yet but is keen to have a go just to find out what it is like. Now, after all these years, I cannot remember what percentage of gayness Kinsey came up with in his interviews, was it 1% or 4%? I shouldn’t think all his interviewees gave him truthful answers but with modern technology what would he have come up with now? In these first four pages I counted 42 straight, 40 gay, 24 bisexual and 17 bicurious so the deviants outnumber the straights 81 to 42. There is also a separate category headed SHEMALES, in other words transsexuals so these have to be added to the deviant list. Now is it because these days the closet doors are wide open and gays are not so backwards in coming forwards and letting their sexual preference be known that they actually outnumber the straights? And who is to say how straight is straight anyway? But this seems to show just how ridiculous the ignorant homophobic religious bigots are in thinking that deviation can be eradicated by cruelty and death.
Kenneth Williams (no expert I agree but truth doesn’t always have to come from the mouths of experts) wrote in his diary, ‘Deviation is part of the human condition,’ and how right he was. He could not have put it more succinctly. Or, as Goethe said and which I never fail to quote ‘How can you call anything in nature unnatural?’

Friday, May 1, 2009

I have always enjoyed writing these blogs even if some have been on the bland side with not really much to say, but this is the first time I have been reluctant to even start and the reason is because I am angry and thoroughly dispirited and once more it is because of religion, in this case Islam yet again. It appears the mullahs both Shiite and Sunni in Iraq have decreed it is the will of the all benevolent and merciful Allah that all homosexuals should be killed and the Iraqi militia have come up with a really cute way of carrying out God’s will – they use an irremovable glue to close a man’s anus then feed him a liquid causing diarrhoea and he dies in excruciating agony. Now who is sick here? The homosexual or the mind that thought up this truly obscene method of torture and death? Mind you, again I say there really is nothing new under the sun. Once upon a dark time in human history someone just as sick thought of a wonderful invention he called a pineapple. Actually it looked more like a metal pine cone. This was inserted into the rectum and then the metal pods like on a pine cone were opened out and the device was withdrawn bringing with it rectum and no doubt bowel as well. Well this was four hundred or so years ago and the perpetrators of this obscenity didn’t come from the Middle East and weren’t Muslim but Catholics. Isn’t it weird that the three religions that have had the biggest world-wide effect and been the cause of the most pain, death, horror and destruction have all come from the Middle East? What is it with mankind, supposedly created in God’s own image, or so we are informed, that he indulges in cruelty of the most horrendous almost unimaginable bestiality. Nature is red in tooth and claw but no animal kills merely for the hell of it, with the possible exception of cats that toy with their victim before dispatching it.
After a long spate of not receiving any, these last few days we have been inundated with pornographic messages on the internet mostly involving animals. Where do the religious stand on this issue? Also one reads of pornography involving children virtually from birth that includes torture. Surely if ever sex is to be considered thoroughly sick and depraved both these phenomena would qualify. Yet I have no doubt it is the homosexual, gay pride, gay liberation notwithstanding, that will still come in for the most anathema. I am sure the Bible thumpers across America, the god hates fags brigade of religious zealots, are only too happy to know their religious counterparts in Iraq are doing such a good job, even if they’re not Christians, and would dearly like to do the same themselves. Individuals of course have been known to do it.
Some of the internet messages on this subject have been from people so incensed by what they have learned that their immediate reaction is nuke the bastards. Unfortunately this is rather like throwing out the baby with the bath water and a lot of innocent people would be nuked in the process.
There is a wonderful story of Winston Churchill who, when informed that a certain conservative MP had been caught in flagrante delecto with a guardsman in St James’ Park said ‘On one of the coldest nights of the year? Makes you proud to be British.’ And the Shah of Iran when informed by a journalist that a number of German gays were visiting his country said, ‘Why not? Iranian men are the handsomest.’ Can bigotry and phobia be beaten?
If only … If only …