Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Talking about books and bookmen again. A letter in the Mail on Sunday starts it off and I quote – “Celebrity novelists are so boring. Why don’t celebrity obsessed publishers turn to good, real writers? I have never yet been able to finish a novel by a celebrity writer. Publishers would benefit by not having to pay out so much money and maybe people would start enjoying good books again.” The reason I would think why this good lady finds celebrity novels (note: not biographies which are more than likely ghosted anyway and there are always exceptions to the rule, Dirk Bogarde for example) is because although it may be said that everyone has at least one book inside them, writers might be celebrities but celebrities for the most part simply aren’t writers, having neither the talent nor the craft honed by years of hard graft.
Am currently reading and thoroughly enjoying a book written by a real writer. This is the first of his books I have come across but I see he has a number, both fiction and non-fiction, to his credit. The book is titled “The Ghost” and it is by Robert Harris and again I would like to quote if I may – “Of all human activities, writing is the one for which it is easiest to find excuses not to begin – the desk’s too big, the desk’s too small, there’s too much noise, there’s too much quiet, it’s too hot, too cold, too early, too late. I had learned over the years to ignore them all, and simply to start …. A book unwritten is a delightful universe of infinite possibilities. (For me those ten little words are in themselves a beautiful piece of writing. How could anyone better it? But let’s continue) …. In the absence of genius there is always craftsmanship. One can at least try to write something which will arrest the reader’s attention – which will encourage them, after reading the first paragraph, to take a look at the second, and then the third.”
We have all just finished reading Paul O’Grady’s autobiography “At my mother’s knee – and other low joints” (good old panto gag) and, although Mr O’Grady is a celebrity and possibly doesn’t consider himself a writer we not only read the first, second and third paragraphs but could hardly put the book down until the end and then, left dangling from that very high cliff top, will have to wait patiently for more. Let’s hope it won’t be too long a wait
But now we come to the third book I want to talk about. This is a thriller, was written by someone with another fourteen books to his credit, published by a major publisher and with more holes than a colander. It starts with a guy during his stag night being buried, really buried, by four of his mates. They have been on a pub crawl and admittedly he has had a little more to drink than the perpetrators of this practical joke. But now, consider, the man admits to being claustrophobic, would he for one single moment with a bit of liquor inside him allow himself to be placed in a coffin, have the lid screwed down and earth piled on top of it without putting up an almighty hysterical struggle? He would not only have to be slightly pie-eyed, he would have to be blotto, out like a light, dead to the world as the saying has it and, if that were the case, there would always be the danger that, lying on his back and with a skinful of booze, a possible reflux reaction would more than likely have him drown in his vomit. Be that as it may, leaving him lying there in his slightly inebriated state, the four drive off only to meet with a head on collision that kills them all. There should have been a sixth member of the party, the buried man’s partner in a real estate/construction business but a delayed journey meant he missed the fun but of course, though he denied any knowledge of it to the police, he was in on the joke, in fact as prospective best man, instigated it, and remember it was meant to be purely a joke, that in a couple of hours the guys would return to release their victim, no harm done. The third member of the real estate/construction business is the two guys’ secretary, naturally (this being fiction) the most ravishing blonde bombshell who the buried guy is due to marry that very Saturday, but we discover she is having it off with the partner and they are both expecting, hoping, to their mutual benefit, that number one will die in his coffin. But hold on a minute here, this was not the original plan. The original plan was for him to be released unscathed by his ordeal so how come this has suddenly cropped up? And, if there had not been the road accident and he had been released, then what was plan B? In the meantime, number one is having a two-way conversation from mobile phone to walkie-talkie, found at the accident site by a twenty-six year old with the mind of a six year old and a character I simply could not believe in. The reason he is there plot-wise is because a third villain is listening in to these conversations and traces the whereabouts of the coffin in order to kidnap its inhabitant for a spot of blackmailing. In the process he murders the twenty-six years old, an act of violence that is not explained. In case the twenty-six year old should suddenly get his act together and set a rescue in motion? Who knows? The young man’s corpse of course has to be discovered. Now the blackmailer, having amputated one of number one’s fingers to send to the partner as a warning, telephones him to say he wants him to transfer all the money the two men had placed in a Cayman Island bank account to a Panama bank account the number of which he will give. Failure to comply or go to the police, the usual thing, will entail more bits and pieces of recently buried number one leaving his body. Oh, I nearly forgot, he also had his bollocks electrified so he could scream loud and clear down the telephone wire. Now why doesn’t the partner simply sit back and let events take their natural course, i.e., leave number one to die? The prime object would then have been achieved; he would have his beautiful blonde bombshell and also all the money in the Cayman account still intact. Conscience? The amount the blackmailer wants transferred is exact to the last penny in the Cayman account so why didn’t this ring very loud alarm bells in the partner’s mind? There was only one other person who had this knowledge and it didn’t need a detective or a genius to know who. Unfortunately for the partner this lapse in logical thinking led to him being despatched and the beautiful blonde bombshell and her lover were ready for take off. But the police, who have been suspicious of her all the time of course, are now on to her because they discover a receipt showing she spent a four figure sum up in London buying a state of the art scanner to pick up telephone signals. Now what would she want that expensive piece of equipment for does one suppose? Why, so as her blackmailing lover can trace the site of the coffin in which their victim is buried. But hold on just a cotton picking minute here – in the first place how could they possibly foresee the young man was going to recover the walkie-talkie and this two-way conversation was going to take place anyway to give them a fix on the coffin’s location and, more important, she already knows anyway exactly where it is, has known from the beginning and this I am afraid is the biggest hole of them all.
Far be it for me to denigrate someone’s hard work but what are editors paid for in huge publishing houses?
Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

My penultimate blog of 2008 and I finally get around to Athens, starting off leaving the ferry at Piraeus at 5.30 a.m. still dark but heavy traffic and hundreds of people about, the metro station surrounds awash with litter. Greeks love their newspapers and periodicals. Goodness only knows how many are published, daily, weekly, monthly. Add to that the fliers and posters everywhere and one can see a goodly portion of the rain forests lying wet and filthy on Greek city streets and old Popie fellow has every right to be worried but not about the extinction of the human race which will no doubt happen eventually and naturally from over-breeding and we will die out in a miasma of shit. It wasn’t until we started recycling in Vamos and separating what could be saved from what had to be thrown that it was brought home to me how truly wasteful our world is and how much landfill is stuffed with recyclable material, mainly packaging of one sort and another: tin, aluminium, glass, plastic, wood, cardboard, paper, cloth. Thinking of how much is produced by this one household alone and then multiplying it millions and millions of times and the resulting conclusion is truly horrifying. All Greece has a problem with waste disposal and it is amazing in Athens just to see the number of overflowing waste bins all over the city that are emptied every night. Add to the purely domestic rubbish the amount of old furniture, old clothes, shit paper and other assorted rubbish that gets cast out and collected, the city waste disposal department does an amazing job, but where does it all go to, thousands and thousands of tons of it nightly? This from a city small in comparison to the major and most heavily populated cities of the world?
Since my previous visit the graffiti bandits seem to have been having a field day (or night rather as none of them ever seem to get caught red handed) and their mindless daubs everywhere really are such an ugly blot on the city. Added to that now are the burnt out or trashed and looted premises from the recent riots when all manner of bugs came crawling out of the woodwork many with a secret agenda of their own to wreck havoc and parts of the centre look like a war zone; were a war zone for a few days I suppose. The ripples spread further than burnt out premises and those people losing their livelihood. As ordinary citizens were fearful of entering the centre, the remaining shops did little pre-Christmas business and theatres even less as patrons just stayed away. The night I went to see “Mister Episkopakis” at the little theatre situated only metres from where the boy was shot, we were seven in the audience and only two were actual paying customers. I presume cinemas and restaurants suffered the same fate. The fifteen year old being shot may have been the spark that brought thousands of protesters onto the streets but, apart from the purely criminal element, their reasons were many and the background; historical, political, social, economical, will just have to wait for another time. The effects of the Junta’s short but brutal reign can still be felt in Greece.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Well, Christmas has come and gone and it will soon be 2009. Let’s hope it turns out to be a better year than this that has been a disaster in so many ways. One’s heart goes out to the people of Zimbabwe suffering under that maniac and his thugs, the families that are going to lose their homes due to the recession, all the animals suffering human cruelty, children suffering under cruel parents. The Somali pirates still seem to be getting away with it but now that China has decided to intervene maybe that curse will come to an end, hopefully before there are disastrous oil spillages. Israel and Palestine are still at each other’s throats and I seriously doubt whether that will change in 2009 though in conjunction with Popie boy I sincerely wish it would. What is al-Qaeda planning for the New Year? What is the Taliban planning in Afghanistan? What is Iran up to? And North Korea? Militant Pakistanis? The world is full of fanatics who could spell disaster. Could it be possible that the fundamentalists, creationists, and other assorted religious fanatics in America might learn to love or at least to be tolerant rather than hating and believing in the vengeful god of the Old Testament? I am led to believe there is a xenophobic neo-fascist element in Greece (which is surprising considering the Nazi atrocities in Greece during World War Two. No, maybe not so surprising, there are neo-fascists all over the place) who are part of the Greek problem and I have been meaning to write about Athens ever since our return to Crete but other subjects keep popping up. Like …
Eartha Kitt, that fantastic sex kitten (!) has died at the age of 81. I first saw her in the film “New Faces” in the early fifties in which she sang the songs for which she would always be known C’est si bon, Just an old-fashioned girl, Monotonous, Santa Baby. I remember I thought the whole movie terrific and years later when I watched it again with friends to whom I had enthused over it, we watched it with rather glum faces and no little embarrassment on my part. Had the same reaction to “M. Hulot’s Holiday” which I think I might already have mentioned. I wonder if I would now find the Japanese film “The Burmese Harp” not nearly as moving as I originally found it. I remember at the time seeing it in a cinema in Hampstead and for a long while afterwards nobody being able to say a word, everyone so wrapped up in the film and the emotions the film had caused.
Harold Pinter, the Nobel Prize winning playwright, doyen and grand old man of the British theatre, has also died, at the age of 78. I’m afraid, although I thought his screenplays terrific, I could never be doing with his theatre work. This despite the fact that I once played Mick in “The Caretaker” when the actors had a ball and the audiences stayed away in droves; and I used a speech of Davies from the same play as part of my audition for the National Theatre, successfully I may add except I couldn’t take up the offered contract because at the time I was a busy busy bee out at Elstree Studios writing The Double Deckers.
A cub scout in England has won all 33, the maximum number, activity badges on offer. It evidently took him two years and he says he enjoyed the adventure badge the most because it taught him how to camp out with his friends.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Watched the final episode of UGLY BETTY and now, having been left dangling on that precipitous cliff, will have to wait for the third series. It really has been an award winning rewarding series, only a couple of episodes I found just a little iffy (the paint ball episode for example) but considering the hours of television involved in the two series that really is some going.
So His Holiness has been opening his mouth and putting his foot in it yet again. He has informed the faithful that homosexuality is not a sin but a homosexual act is. Hey hey hey, come on, guy, talk about having your cake and eating it! And the reason he is against it is because he’s worried about the possible extinction of the human race. What? With the population multiplying at the rate it does year by year? It’s as illogical as the emperor Justinian banning it because he believed it causes earthquakes. If the Pope is that worried that not enough heterosexual hanky panky is going on in the world perhaps he would consider lifting the ban on priestly celibacy so that more breeders can be added to the list, though he would have to have a declaration from the members of the clergy that they are hetero inclined and not in his view sinful as, judging by the recent scandals in the church, many of them are. And why not? They are probably better priests for it, so long of course as they do not actually indulge in any homosexual act but keep it well bottled up. Strange how sex for some people is the be all and end all of what they consider to be sin. Queers are bashed and murdered because god hates fags, so what? Which is the greater sin? The sexual act or the murder? There is absolutely no logic in old Popie boy’s thinking. With the advancement of science, in particular medicine, and with the human population breeding like rabbits, (the heterosexual part, though even some gays have been known to hop over the fence in the right circumstances, and vice versa I may add), if he’s worried about the rain forest and the destruction of the planet’s resources then maybe he should think seriously about lifting the ban on contraception. I wonder if god (I refuse to capitalise it) realised when he ordered “go forth and multiply” needing no prompting, just how successful the human race would be. Even with the terrible massacres that marked the twentieth century the population, Popie, still explodes to use up those world resources at an ever faster and faster rate and as long as there is sperm available, men to actually do the dirty sinful (out of marriage) deed are simply not necessary. Has he never heard of artificial insemination? In vitro fertilisation? And, to really put the latter mockers on it, cloning?
No, the only reason the old guy is frowning, wrinkling his nose, and clucking like an old hen whose feathers have been ruffled is because he just finds the whole subject distasteful. It has absolutely nothing to do with saving the human race or any other part of his god’s creation. Happy Christmas, Popie. Stop worrying, fella. It’s not going to go away so just accept it.
PS: In UGLY BETTY we have two gay guys and one transsexual permanent members of the cast and others come and go. I wonder how that goes down in America’s Bible Belt, Fundamentalists being even more frothing at the mouth than the Pope whose remarks, when you come to think of it, maybe ridiculous but are fairly mild in comparison.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Received a pile of Sunday Times Cultures just before leaving for Athens so only now getting around to looking through them starting with the 2nd November issue. Quite an “insightful” (god, how I hate that Americanism!) article on Rowan Atkinson and an even more insightful review of a book which tells us a lot about modern publishing. But first, an e-mail from a publisher to Douglas, “Regrettably, after a lot of thought, I decided to pass on Marie’s book. Very well written but in the current brutal fiction market I just wasn’t confident that I could publish it successfully. I wish you all the best in placing it elsewhere.” NB: Very well written. Now to the book that has been published and quotes from the reviewer. The publisher is Hutchinson, not exactly a tupenny ha’penny outfit, and this is what the reviewer has to say about this debut novel: “verbal and mental powers are remarkably meagre … Slackly put together sentences meander through thickets of irrelevance … Grammar slips awry (he gives quotes) and tautology distends prose that is painfully prolix … Robotic dialogue goes along with an unfortunate propensity for jargon even at moments of would-be intense emotion … occasionally enlivened by unintended ambiguities … writing is for the most part unwaveringly banal … Perceptions are matchingly trite … etcetera. Need one say more? The book is by a figure well-known, particularly if you are interested in politics and the question is, had it been written by Joe Soap would it ever ever have seen the light of day? The answer is a resounding no. Hutchinson editors are interested only in how many punters are going to want to pay £17.99 for 304 pages of “torpidity” because they recognise the name of the author. Quality and literacy goes out the window. The same I feel applies to Anne Widdicombe’s schoolgirl writing. Have I spelt her name right? The shortest route to being a published author is to have your fifteen minutes of fame in any other field. As far as sports personalities, pop stars and suchlike are concerned a ghost writer has to be paid of course but that must have been par for the course for quite a while and the promise of mega sales are not always fulfilled which is probably why remainder shops appear to do well.
On the very next page of the Kultur section, the same reviewer gives John Updyke’s new book a rave review and I feel this is well worth quoting. Not that it will put to shame the money-grubbing giants of the publishing world but only to show there is still some integrity around. It is not published by Hutchinson. “Running through it is a near-ecstatic enthralment with literary concerns. Often ravishingly written and glowing with intelligence, the book not only pays handsome tribute to the pleasures of reading, but abundantly provides them.” Say no more.
Have just finished yet another Dalziel and Pascoe novel and Mister Hill, in my book at least, ha ha, has come up trumps again with a double plot running beautifully side by side. Also reading A.A.Gill’s TV critique in this same Culture section I continue to really admire this man’s writing. Maybe our political friend, if he should attempt a second novel, could take lessons from him.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

There has been a short Blog hiatus as I have been in Athens for most of this last week. Athens has been in deep trouble for the past fortnight and I doubt the trouble is over yet; perhaps the whole of Greece, like the rest of the world, is in deep trouble. I was involved in a trifling spot of bother myself. There is an old saying, once bitten twice shy, but I have now been bitten twice on the Metro and this time I can blame no one but myself. To put it bluntly – I wuz robbed. Itchy little fingers found their way into the most vulnerable trouser pocket and I have the distinct feeling I was targeted from the beginning, evidently by a gang of four. It was stupidity on my part that my plastic wallet containing a fifty euro note, the loss of which we can ill afford, my driving licence and my resident’s permit, was in that particular pocket. Having been done once on the underground I really did believe I would never let it happen again and the previous day when in town I made absolutely sure my wallet was in an inside breast pocket and out of reach the entire time, so how come yesterday it was back in the wrong pocket and just asking to be lifted?
We were travelling back to Crete, a journey which starts at Victoria station. On the escalator going down Douglas asked me which pocket my money was in and I told him and then, quite incredibly forget all about it because the platform was crowded; there had obviously not been any trains through for some time due to a fault in the system and, because I was worried about getting to Piraeus to catch the boat, I never gave the transference of the wallet to a safer place another thought particularly as the train, when it eventually arrived, was packed, and with one hand holding my bastoonie (walking stick) and the other clinging on to the safety pole for support the wallet was still in the wrong pocket, but not for long. By the time we reached Ommonia, only one station further on, it had gone, and so had the four boys. It was only then that Douglas asked me again where my wallet was and, when I felt the empty pocket … upset is too insipid a word for it, how do you describe a mixture of disbelief, anger, frustration, despair even and a sense of being stupidly careless and a desire in consequence to lash out, but at what? Curses on those thieving bastards. It really is, I’m only too aware, such a small thing, compared to the losses suffered by so many Greeks during the troubles but it still stabs hard. If Gilbert and Sullivan are right and the punishment should fit the crime, all discovered pickpockets should have their fingers removed. Sharia law?
More about Athens next time.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nine days to Christmas; soon we will be in 2009. Where has the year gone to? With advancing age time seems to go faster and faster. So does money come to think of it. I might have mentioned this but I’m not going back to earlier blogs to take a look, Baz Bamigboye in his Friday column wanted to know where all the new musicals are and I see in the latest Daily Mail an ad for Cameron Macintosh’s new production of OLIVER – what? Yet again? He really does pull this one out of the bag at seemingly regular intervals, obviously a sure-fire money spinner, but let’s take a close look at this advertisement. All the prices quoted are per person so, say I was a married man with two kids and living in Leeds which is a far enough journey from London and the bargain rail fares are only from selected mainline stations, and I wanted to take the family to see OLIVER. Tickets in the upper circle, that is as far away from the stage as you can get, and a night in a hotel, cost a hundred and twenty pounds; all put five pence, so that is £480 for starters. The train fare (per person) is another one hundred and forty pounds, minus that five pence which makes £560. Taxi fares to and from the theatre if necessary would add another say £30 (This is an estimate from news I have had of current taxi fares in London.) The hotel that is included, albeit four star, provides breakfast only so there is lunch and dinner to cater for, say another £20 for a snack lunch of sandwiches (£4 a throw) and drinks, and another £90 for dinner, possibly even more and we now have a grand total of £1180 plus, and that is supposed to be a bargain evening at the theatre. It’s only a bargain because the ad states “from” and tickets can be upgraded at a supplement. I guess there must, even in these days of severe recession, be people around who can flaunt that kind of money. Of course if you’re not satisfied with spending just one night in London and really want to push the boat out you and the family can stay extra nights at the same hotel for £60 per person (minus that ubiquitous five pence).
I don’t wish to be killjoy and the theatre was after all my living for a good many years and could still be, but while you are answering this advertisement and thinking of spending your thousand and odd pounds on an evening’s entertainment keep in mind that Christmas is only nine days away, a lunatic thug and his cronies are starving his nation to death, if the people are not dying of cholera and other assorted illnesses due to lack of medicines, and there are other parts of the globe where Christmas and its Christian message is absolutely meaningless. Enjoy the show.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blog 14

Reading down the list of theatre productions in London there are something like twenty musicals including a number of revivals. With the cost of mounting musicals these days this is really quite surprising. What happened to the minimum cast one set play managements always used to be asking for? I notice “Spamalot” is still there and thought, if Gilbert and Sullivan allegedly wrote a pornographic opera for the edification of their friends, maybe I should write a pornographic musical based on the legendary mythical court of King Arthur and call it “Spermalot.” I’m sure it would be a mega hit! Apart from a lot of symbolism and saucy double entendrés; lances, body armour, swords, cods, round tables, turrets, crennelations, swoonings, spoonings and moonings it could actually all be terribly innocent and frustrating right until the end when the eleven o’clock number could be off with a bang, off with the chastity belts, and then it’s lions rampant before the final curtain and everyone goes home happy, maybe for a spot of the real thing to the rhythm of the big number that brings down the curtain on act one. It couldn’t be worse than the original “Camelot” which I saw in Richmond, Virginia and hated to the point of embarrassment.
Have just finished reading Paul O’Grady’s autobiography, “At My Mother’s Knee – and other low joints” (an old music hall gag methinks?) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Whipped through it in a couple of days and, at one point, laughed so much I could have done myself a serious injury. As the book ends with the end of his teens and on a cliff-hanging note, I presume, hopefully, there will be more to come.
Stopping at Papyrus in Kalyves yesterday I browsed through their selection of second-hand paperbacks and can verily believe 120000 books in English are published every year. Just how many people are out there scribbling away all over the English speaking world? And what is it about a book that makes one want to buy it? They’re all top of the best seller lists, according to their publishers but although I recognised a number of names and was fairly intrigued by a number of titles there wasn’t one in which there was interest enough for me to make a purchase. I have, anyway, enough reading matter to last me quite a while. Apart from “Half of a Yellow Sun” that I am finding much more interesting than “Purple Hibiscus” which I gave up on, I have five books on loan which are, in no order of preference: “The Wood Beyond” by Reginald Hill, “Dead Simple” by Peter James, “The Outcast” by Sadie Jones, “The Ghost” Robert Harris and “Azincourt” by Bernard Cornwell.
So what have we been watching on TV? Well there has been nothing to speak of from any of the Greek stations so it’s been all DVDs. Still enjoying “Ugly Betty”, the second series, though did not like the episode with Alexis and Daniel doing their paint battle bit. Found this all rather silly, unbelievable, and consequently irritating. But that is the exception. Still don’t know what happened in Mexico to allow Mister Suarez to escape certain death! Did the son shoot his father, shoot himself, or put a hole in the ceiling? Maybe this will be explained in a later episode. Watched ten minutes or so of “Happy Feet” before walking out on that one. Douglas lasted a little longer but we evidently both missed, according to Chris who watched it to the end with the aid of the fast forward, the environmental message in the movie and the homage to various musicians whose music we’re not familiar with anyway. I seem to remember “The Quiet American” wasn’t all that well received by the critics but that one we did enjoy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blog 12

The Greeks are mad about football. There are matches shown virtually every night on one or other of the TV channels and, of course, matches are well attended. The noise of chanting and drumming can sometimes be deafening as flags are waved and banners unfurled. Sometimes I wonder what the fans sitting behind the overlarge banners and having their sightlines obscured think of it. Presumably fights don’t break out in these cases as they are all on the same side, separated from their opponents and wearing their team colours to show their allegiance; a whole stand of red, green, orange, or whatever. I wonder if mankind will ever lose the tribal instinct. Sometimes sight can also be obscured by the flares that send clouds of coloured smoke wafting over the field of battle. Naturally hooliganism can be a problem. An Anek ferry was once trashed by Panathaniakos fans and idiots will toss missiles and run on to the pitch if given half a chance. At one match the start was interminably delayed as fans sitting behind one of the goalposts hurled what looked like toilet rolls streaming onto the goal and neighbouring area as ground staff desperately tried to clear it, all the time more streamers descending so that the pitch area was a sea of white. What a waste of paper if nothing else and in aid of what may one ask? Simply delaying the inevitable outcome by twenty or so minutes? Panathaniakos is an Athens club. Their great rivals are Olympiakos based in Piraeus. Olympiakos have won the championship so many years in a row it’s a wonder the other teams even bother to take them on anymore. If the Greeks are mad on football they’re just as crazy for basketball, simply called “basket.” I can appreciate, enjoy, enthuse over most sports but basket is a game, like golf, that I simply cannot enthuse over. I find them both extremely boring but obviously millions don’t. The clubs have their basketball as well as their soccer teams.
I was pleased to discover the Greeks are taking to rugby. There are already a number of teams (well a few) up and down the country and Greece has fielded a national side against other small nations. Hopefully one day they might take on the big boys though Italy has been trying for a long time with not much success. I now read in the Athens News that the venue for the equestrian events at the Olympic Games is to be the new home of Greek CRICKET!! Wonders will never cease.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blog 10

Although I am sure the worst is over (I haven’t seen any news today) I don’t suppose I could let time go by without mentioning the recent riots in various Greek cities. It’s not bad enough that beautiful Athens gets trashed by graffiti vandals and litter louts it has to be truly trashed by mindless rampaging mobs. The Greeks love demonstrations. Teachers, students, trade unionists, they’ll organise a march under banners at the drop of a hat but normally these rallies, no matter how large, seem to pass off more or less peacefully. The kind of mindless outrage seen these last few days is the work of those claiming to be socialist (left wing anyway), communist or, here in Greece I don’t know whether they still exist anywhere else these days, anarchists, or just into it for the hell of causing mayhem and grief. There will always be looters in these situations and bank buildings always seem to be the first to suffer the fury of these idiots but why in heavens’ name destroy the livelihood of small shopkeepers and the like by trashing their premises, in some cases deliberately demolishing buildings with fire? Perhaps pyromaniacs and mobsters have to be included in the list of the numbers rioting. It’s possible the demonstrations could have been peaceful until these latter mentioned set the tone and the sheep thought it rather an adventure to follow suit and terribly brave to mask their faces, throw missiles at police and then run away as fast as their legs could take them, rather like Cretan dogs that will bark at you until you advance in their direction when they turn tail and flee to a safe distance in order to carry on barking but out of harm’s way. Walking down from Syntagma to Panapestimeo once as a student demo was about to take place I noticed a small group of students(?) keeping themselves aloof and virtually out of sight while they got their balaclavas and whatever else ready for the battle they were obviously anticipating. I had no doubts then and still haven’t that they were no more students than I could jet to the moon on a fart and it was no wonder the riot police were already taking up position in various side streets long before the march was due to take place. It seemed to me though in watching the TV coverage of the latest outrages that the police, apart from lobbing tear gas at their assailants were being pretty ineffective but that was just an impression. Who am I to know police procedure and, as their shooting of a fifteen year old started the rot, maybe they were being ultra-cautious so as not to inflame matters further – as though they could! The riots have been followed by a general strike, another favourite occupation in Greece.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Waiting to be published: JUST IN CASE – Second Thornton King adventure.
DEAD ON TARGET – Third Thornton King adventure.
ANGEL – Novel.
Plus at least sixteen plays and a chapter of lyrics from various musicals.
Evidently because of the gaggle of Glyn Joneses on the internet (and I always knew there were far too many in the world at large) from now on I am, at the instigation of my editor/agent, to use my full name of Glyn Idris there being no other Glyn Idris, which I find rather surprising. There is an Idris Glyn but he ain’t me. I think the two Thornton King books will have to omit the Idris as the first one is already published without it but there’s nothing to stop using Idris after that and Amazon are already advertising RIVER OF SAND by Glyn Idris Jones. I still can’t fathom out how they got hold of that. NO OFFICIAL UMBRELLA is already printed without the Idris. That is we are still waiting for the amended proof but any day now, any day now he says hopefully. Mind you, in a recession, is it the right time to even think of publishing? Are people still buying books? Having finished THE VICTORIAN UNDERWORLD I am now half way through VICTORIAN SENSATION by Michael Diamond, a much broader canvas giving quite an insight into the mindset of Victorian England. The chapter on religion and morality (meaning sex of course) was quite fascinating and am now on the following chapter of sexual scandals. Am looking forward to the rest of it. Tried last night to watch THE DA VINCI CODE and gave up after about twenty minutes. Too much for my tired old brain. Am also seriously thinking, after more than seventy thousand words and a few months work of giving up on ENTER ANTHONY. It just isn’t very good. It was a bad play to begin with, only slightly improved but still a bad play when rewritten a year or so ago, and it isn’t doing so well as a novel. I’ll put it aside for a while before coming back to read it and if I still feel the same way I’ll scrap it. It’s a good story but plot isn’t everything and I’m not telling it the way it should be told. After the first half a dozen chapters it starts to fall to pieces.
Trying to clean up the garden now when it isn’t raining or the winds aren’t howling. The last of the quinces and the peppers have been picked. The orange trees are laden with fruit and lemons coming along nicely, some already ripe and at all stages back to the bud. The mandarins are also ripe. It’s been a wonderful year for fruit. The only tree in the garden that still hasn’t produced anything is the six (or is it seven?) year old nectarine. Maybe it will come into its own next year. We did have a lot of trouble with peach curl but having chopped back and sprayed a couple of years ago seem to have cured it. Nevertheless no flowers and consequently no fruit.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

So warm in the garden even a medium weight shirt is too heavy. Considering we’re almost through the first week of December that is quite amazing, not I suppose that it hasn’t happened in previous years but one doesn’t remember it, except I thought if I were to write of our Cretan experiences the title would be “Roses In December”.
Chris is suffering with his back again and walking around like a geriatric which he is far from being – yet!
Douglas’s books on Adobe CS4 (I think I’ve got that right) were finally delivered yesterday so he is immersed in them to such an extent he is virtually incommunicado. Any question or comment is greeted with a grunt or a mumble. Besides which he is still not speaking to me (despite my apology) after the Taurian temper blew yesterday when he pressed the wrong button and a raw nerve caused an Etna like eruption. So I told him to read his stars in Friday’s Mail. We always read the stars even though the weeks go by with little if any noticeable variation and the forecasts are virtually forgotten ten seconds after reading them. With Jonathan Cainer we’re not always too sure what he’s getting at anyway. I think he imagines himself to be astronomer royal to the intelligentsia who, even if they can‘t actually figure out what he’s talking about will pretend they do. Anyway, Friday’s advice for Leo, considering the cataclysmic event of the morning, was spot on so good on you, Mister Cainer. It reads as follows – “Why do some people get on wonderfully well one moment, yet act like sworn enemies the next? Why are relationships complex and difficult to understand? Because as individual beings we are erratic. Inconsistent and idiosyncratic. None of us is normal. So, if you put any two of us together it won’t be long before we reveal our particular quirks and start to annoy one another. It is easy this weekend to intensify an argument. It is much more challenging to deepen trust and create empathy. Give it a go.”
None of us is normal – I like that, Mister Cainer, you never said a truer word.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The winds of Crete have been howling for two days; force six? Force seven? More? Don’t know. I only know the fir trees I see from my window are bending almost double with each gust and there’s a rattling going on on the roof that is quite alarming. Are we to lose some more tiles I wonder? It’s no wonder the old Cretan houses have their roofs held down with heavy stones. At least they are warm winds so must be coming up from the south. Hopefully they won’t bring Gaddaffi’s rain when everything is covered in yellow, almost orange coloured sand.
Yesterday at sparrowfart Douglas drove me to IKA for what hopefully will be the last blood test, in fact a double whammy! The first at eight o’clock after which I had to drink a plastic tumbler full of what could only have been slightly dissolved sugar, so sickeningly sweet I spent the next half hour trying to keep it down. Then after a two hour wait, the second blood test and the results will be known to-day after which we will know whether or not in my old age I have a tendency towards diabetes. Thinking of what Douglas’s dad went through I suppose all this checking up will have been worth it if it nips anything nasty in the bud.
Before correcting it I noticed I spelt tendency as trendency. In the Mail on Fridays they have cod words like Daftodils – stupid Dutch imports, Ginjury – too much of the hard stuff. Very witty, what? So what would trendency be – smartarsing? Americans have, or used to have, their Polack jokes, the English have their Irish jokes (do the Irish have English jokes?) When I was a youngster in South Africa the jokes were levied at the Afrikaner or at the police who were often not all that well educated and reputed to be as thick as two planks. As the police were mostly Afrikaners sometimes the jokes coincided.
Konstable van Niekirk was after making an arrest and cornered what looked like a potential criminal. He looked in his little book and came up with “I’m arresting you for loitering with intent.” ‘Intent to do what?’ the man said. So Konstable van Niekirk, not having an answer to that, went back to his little book and came up with something else. After five or six suggested offences all of which the man denied, Konstable van Niekirk said, “All right. I’m arresting you for arson. You’ve been arsing around far too much now.”
Konstable van Niekirk was on duty at the docks when a man in dire need of a pee hurried up to him and asked for directions to the urinal. Van Niekirk thought for a while and then said, “Has she got one funnel or two?”
All very well but now most of the police are black and John Lewis informs me that in Natal anyway, if not corrupt, they are so shit-scared of going against the witch doctor and his powers it truly bodes ill for law and order.
Some of the Afrikaner jokes are so racist I wouldn’t even dream of writing them down.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I was told once that there are more theatres in Athens than in London (or have I already said this?) Not exactly the houses as in Shaftsbury Avenue or the likes of The Palladium, Prince of Wales, New London, but mostly what in London would be called fringe, or in NY Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, in other words acting spaces, so when I see in athinorama, the magazine which I suppose is the equivalent of “Time Out” that there are something like 250 events happening in a week: plays, musicals, opera, dance, puppets, children’s theatre, concerts, I can quite believe it. Add to this clubs with cabaret, restaurants of which there are many, some with live music, could Athens be the cultural capital of the world? Not all the events are weekly, some play just two nights a week for example. But add to this the museums and sites of architectural interest and Athens really must be the cultural capital at least of the European world. There are 45 museums and sites and more round and about such as Corinth, Delphi, Epidavros. The rest of Greece, including the islands, doesn’t fall too far behind in the culture stakes which is hardly surprising when one considers hitherto unknown sites being uncovered all the time.
But, despite the number of theatres and the amount of play going, Greek theatre is run in a very strange fashion, that is, production seems to progress in the most haphazard fashion and, if it is felt a play is not ready by its advertised opening night they simply put it off until it is. This seems to occur with some frequency. Stage management is almost unheard of, finance is not always forthcoming (but what’s new there?) and quite often producers it would seem don’t really know their arses from their elbows and this in the land that gave us the great plays of classical Greece, but then a performance that takes place in daylight in an open air theatre and not requiring scenery does not present the problems to be solved in a space so many metres by so many metres with an acting area the size of a matchbox, especially as Greeks never seem to think things out logically, again rather weird considering their past. For example a little open air auditorium has been built in the park here in Vamos and instead of building it so the audience would sit with their backs to the road close by, they have built it totally the wrong way round and have had to put up a screen to try and rectify their mistake. It’s not all like that though, there are magnificent buildings for music, there are good theatre buildings and the new Acropolis museum I’ve mentioned previously is an absolute architectural masterpiece worth visiting for the building alone let alone what is going to be in it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

In his book “The Victorian Underworld” in the chapter headed “Magsmen, macers and shofulmen all of which really mean tricksters, twisters, and con artists, (there’s a glossary of a couple of hundred truly weird words and expressions of the period) Kellow Chesney makes particular reference to Sarah Rachael Leverson - I wonder why he put the “e” in Rachel – known as Madame Rachel, possibly one of the greatest confidence tricksters of all time with her message of being able to make women BEAUTIFUL FOR EVER. In my all women play of that title I tell the story of how Madam Rachel took one particularly silly lady by the name of Borrodaile to the cleaners an exercise which eventually led to her, Rachel, landing up in gaol. As far as I know, the play, although published by Samuel French a good many years ago has only had two productions, both in Wales. It would seem actresses who are forever bemoaning the fact that writers do not write parts for women simply do not want to play characters like Sarah Leverson or Mrs Borrodaile, neither of them what might be called prepossessing but most definitely extremely interesting and challenging characters. Although Madame Rachel used a fictitious romance with a minor nobleman, Thomas Heron Jones, Lord Ranelagh, to con Mrs Borrodaile out of everything she possessed, in writing the play I decided to exclude men altogether. This was made easy as the supposed romance was carried out by letter writing. In fact I have written three plays with all women casts, BEAUTIFUL FOR EVER, THRILLER OF THE YEAR and GENERATIONS, and some other fabulous parts for women like La Belle Otero and not necessarily for young women either so what are all these actresses moaning about not having parts written for them? What particularly interested me in Mr Chesney’s telling of the Rachel Leverson story is that he comes up with some derails of her character and carryings on that in fact, despite the amount of research I did at the time, make her out to be even more of a blackguard (can a woman be a blackguard? The dictionary defines it as a man who behaves in a despicable way but never mind) than I thought, for example that she used her bathhouse as a place of assignation and was therefore more of a madam than a madame. It wouldn’t really make any difference to the play as it stands but it’s always fascinating to make new discoveries. Madam’s treatments could cost up to £1000, a great deal of money in the 1880’s and one of her amazing cons at considerable price was her “Magnetic Rock Dew Water,” dew distilled sparingly from a rock in the middle of the Sahara desert and possessed of the most extraordinary property. I think the only extraordinary property was Mrs Leverson’s chutzpah but she got away with it for a long time although she eventually died in prison – but that was second time around.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Of course I neglected to mention battery hens, veal calves that can’t move and never see the light of day, force fed geese,and Koreans who eat their dogs but kill them only after giving them a sound beating all over to tenderize the flesh. There are probably more horrors that don't immediately come to mind.
Working in the garden or taking the dog for a walk I hear the guns popping all over the place as the intrepid Cretan hunters try to eradicate what is left of the tiny wild life on this beautiful island. I absolutely despair of humankind. I have been putting off and putting off this Blog all day because I really do not want to write it but it must be done because it is a horror story; not the ersatz titillating violence and horror story that comes out of Hollywood but true life and death horror. The evil deeds man perpetrates against his own kind is horrendous enough: think of what is happening in Zimbabwe where Mugabe and his cronies grow fat and rich whilst half the population evidently are starving, have no recourse to medicine and are literally brutalized: then the latest atrocity being the unholy massacre of 300 innocents in Mumbai presumably by Islamist fundamentalists, but this is mainly not about man’s inhumanity to man but about the atrocities committed by man against the animal kingdom, in particular against inoffensive, friendly, trusting, affectionate, defenceless creatures. The list is a fairly lengthy one. We can start right here in Greece where too many people have no empathy with animals at all. Dogs and cats suffer horrifying deaths by poison, even though it is against the law. We have lost both a dog and a cat to this outrage. Dogs on chains no more than a yard long are kept day and night in steel barrels, fed on a diet of stale bread and water when an owner puts his mind to it, roasting in the summer’s heat and freezing in the winter, with no affection, no stimulus other than to bark at strangers passing by which is presumably what they are there for, and to frighten away predators that could be after a farmer’s chickens. Once it has outlived its usefulness it is not unknown for it to be hung from the nearest tree which means death by slow strangulation.
Further afield, where does one start? The patient little donkey in various parts of the world we know doesn’t have too good a time of it and a charity for horses has this advertisement in the newspaper, “Every year 100,000 terrified horses from Poland, Romania, Spain, and other countries are packed into trucks and driven thousands of miles across Europe in appalling conditions, predominantly for slaughter in Italy. Many journeys breach EU legislation with insufficient stops for water, food or rest. The horses often travel for days at a time. No horse should be made to suffer these unnecessary journeys. Other animals due for slaughter suffer the same way.
What about that gentle giant the mountain gorilla, a truly wonderful creature, being hunted almost to extinction for bush meat served up not just in Africa but, from what one gathers, trendy restaurants for those who should know better but whose taste is all in their mouths?
My sister has sent me two e-mails with attachments, the first concerning happenings in Denmark, the second the flaying alive of animals so that their pelts can make cute little toys. I opened the first set of sickening photographs showing the Danes butchering dolphins wholesale – Dolphins! Those wonderful friendly innocent creatures, the sea running red with their blood, crowds on the shore watching the slaughter, how can this ever be justified? As for the second attachment I’m afraid I simply do not have the courage to open it and never will. The description in the e-mail itself is horrific enough and every time it comes to mind my blood runs cold. A petition has been started to try and stop this atrocity and somehow it must be stopped as must the slaughter of the dolphins.
Christians, Jews, Muslims, how can you believe in an almighty merciful god who allows his all things bright and beautiful all creature’s great and small to be treated in this hideous fashion? It simply does not make sense. I hope all who read this agree with me.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Continuing: no it’s not logical at all. His name is Daniel, not David, so see how easy it is for the mind to get distracted, especially in one’s dotage.
Two disappointments yesterday, if they can be called that. Firstly yet another rejection to add to the pile – my play “A Corner For Dreams” that I wrote way back in 1959 (see autobiography) was submitted to David Pugh as a possibility for David Radcliffe and the response by e-mail was “Thank you for sending David Glyn Jones’ play A Corner For Dreams. (David??? I’ve been called many things in my time – see autobiography – but never David. I wonder where that came from) Whilst our reader enjoyed the play he didn’t feel it was the right vehicle for Daniel Radcliffe. His comments did suggest, however, that Mister Jones’ may find a big success with it in some small northern rep. We wish you the best of luck in finding a suitable home elsewhere. Best wishes and do let us know if the play does go on to be produced. Jake Brunger.”
Well that’s all very interesting but I wonder what the reader had in mind by small northern rep! There aren’t that many reps left and those that are still with us are hardly small – Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield? Anyway, if at first you don’t succeed as it is said and another play with a terrific part for a young man will be sent for consideration.
So mentioning the autobiography, that was the second disappointment. I collected with anticipated glee what should have been the edited proof copy when it arrived through the post yesterday only to find the printers hade made a big booboo in that, instead of printing Douglas’s amended copy, they had reproduced in error the original which now means another delay before the book can go out.
Watched the Bond movie “The World Is Not Enough” which contained more boring hokum than was good for it. How, one might ask, when so much unbelievable mayhem is being created can it possibly be boring? But I’m afraid for me it was, even when the action was at its most dramatic I found myself thinking “Oh get on with it.” Perhaps it’s the dire lack of humour in Bond movies, the latter ones anyway, that makes them boring, pretentious and boring. Another channel was showing “True Lies” the Arnold Schwarzenegger/Jamie Lee Curtis movie which I had seen previously and which is just as totally unbelievable but much much more fun.
Tomorrow night in Athens it is the big occasion for the play “Mister Episkopakis” that Chris and Douglas have been working on. It’s already had a number of performances but this one is the premiere. Presumably the forerunners were what in England would be called previews. So break a leg, guys. Here’s hoping for a big success.
Thinking of the derivation of David Glyn Jones, obviously it absentmindedly follows on the David Radcliffe, yes? It’s a theory anyway and logical, the kind of thing that happens.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The mystery of the 1962 Anthony has been solved. The giver was one Mr Christopher Beeching (I should have recognised the handwriting) who signed himself Anthony because he had always wanted a second Christian name, something his parents neglected to give him, so we gave him two – Anthony and Alexis because Christopher Anthony Alexis Beeching sounded rather theatrical, no?.
His article in the new Music Hall magazine is very good but now, despite all the distractions, he really must get on and finish his biography of George Leybourne, aka Champagne Charlie. And talking of biography, the second proof of “No Official Umbrella” still hasn’t arrived, that’s six days in the mail so far. Strange to think that in Victorian London there was a mail delivery every hour and even when I was first in England, there were two deliveries a day, if not three – not too sure if the memory is playing me false with three but, even so, the price continues to rise, the service gets worse. The GPO must have lost a great chunk of its income though with the advent of e-mail, so easy, so instantaneous, so cheap. When my nephew Evan first told me about e-mail I hadn’t a clue as what he was talking about. And talking of cost and deteriorating services, just think of council tax and rubbish collection once a fortnight. Here on Crete it’s twice a week, down from three times a week but still a long way off once a fortnight. That word “fortnight” evidently was originally an American expression, later adopted by the English and then dropped by the Americans. Youngsters over there don’t usually know what you’re talking about. but then if councils in the UK want to spend their money on all sorts of ethnic services like signs printed in four or five languages for example and cosy clubs for Chinese ladies what can one expect, Especially in view of the salaries paid to jobsworthy councillors and are they really worth it one has to ask?
“The 88” has surfaced again. In the clear-up of my desk I came across a tiny yellowing newspaper cutting dated (by hand) November ’89 which informs me that a Mister Sean Mulcahy, Director of the Citadel Theatre, Edmonton has offered a production and is also approaching a well known Canadian producer who having read the play is considering further productions with a distinct possibility of taking it to New York. Presumably the cutting is from “The Stage” but I have no memory of this and obviously and naturally nothing came of it.
But it has also surfaced from a different direction as having been approached by an Irish actor by the name of Kevin Geough who wants to present a documentary about The Connoughts to Irish Television. he has asked if it is possible for him to see a copy of the play. We have responded by asking him to send us what he has written so far with his documentary and we will take it from there. Interesting. Interesting also that in his-mail, Kevin gives an Irish thanks – tanks!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The theatre scene in Athens is a pretty busy one there being any number of small theatres dotted throughout the city but Stelios described it as being like a lift, only so many people can get in and, if a newcomer arrives, someone has to leave. Consequently there is a fair amount of enmity and back-biting engendered. The way theatre is run is also very different from the way productions are mounted in England and America, including actors’ remuneration. When I was teaching in Denmark I thought aspiring actors there had a pretty hard time of it but nothing compared to Greece where I wouldn’t be an actor – I can’t say if they paid me or for all the money in the world because neither applies! Although the strength of Equity was reduced somewhat by Mrs Thatcher it still seems to carry enough clout to afford some protection to hard done by actors in the UK. Evidently even television stations in Greece are tardy in paying their actors and, from the stories I have heard, how they are expected to live is something else.
Watched the delightful film Bell Époque last night and found it fascinating that in 1931 in Spain, the period and place in which the movie is set, a father and mother living in an out of the way tiny village seemed to quite happily accept their daughter’s lesbianism, the mother’s advice to her daughter being not to bother with dreadful men but to find s nice pretty girl to live with.
Christmas 1962 someone by the name of Anthony gave me a book titled EROS “an anthology of friendship” which is my current bedside reading. It was one of two books I took off the shelves, the other being “The Victorian Underworld.” All these years later I have no idea who the Anthony was who presented me with this volume but, following on the attitude of the Spanish couple in the film, in this book there is a letter written by Lord Chesterfield to his son who was doing sort of Byronesque things in what would then have been called Arabia, advising him on sexual matters, part of the advice being to have it off, in moderation of course, with both sexes, men in spring and summer, women in winter. How many people have such an understanding daddy?
Reading “The Victorian Underworld” I cannot help but feel that what is happening in South Africa today as far as rampant crime is concerned is exactly what was happening in Britain in the middle of the nineteenth century when the most awful poverty was the norm in terrible city slums and it is going to take a long time for the shanty-town existence and unemployment to be phased out. That won’t get rid of crime completely but should hopefully, providing the police aren’t too corrupt, lessen it. To be one of the undeserving poor in England in Victorian times must have been hell on earth. It can’t be all that different now in SA.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In my clean-up a few days ago and having discovered in my out tray the cutting from a South African newspaper with the article on the Holford diet, and goodness know how long it had been lying in there, we ordered the book which duly arrived and has been dipped into. I say “dipped” because I found I was unable to or didn’t want to really read it with any kind of thoroughness. Chris said he had his doubts about it when he read the article but didn’t say anything. I, having dipped into the book, now also have doubts. Why? Well in the first place the book is supposed to be about the Holford diet and what results can be obtained by sticking to it but why should it be necessary to interlace the text with letters of approbation from satisfied dieters? Surely if the diet is all it’s cracked up to be it doesn’t need this kind of bolstering puff, not in an instruction manual anyway? Is the diet merely another fad making someone, i.e. Mr Holford mega-rich on the flab of the poor desperate overweight who have been struggling with their avoirdupois (like me) for eons with little or no success. Diets come and go come and go. The last one we tried was the Atkins which worked up to a point and then stopped working and I have the feeling the same will apply to the Holford diet though I will give it a try. This is not just for the sake of losing a few pounds but because of the discovery that my blood-sugar level is far too high and could be indicative of incipient diabetes.
But now what really made me wonder about the whole thing was a review in Friday’s Mail of a book called Bad Science which informs me that Professor Patrick Holford has produced a “Qlink pendant” that protects against “evil electromagnetic fields” and can be got for£69.99 – except for the price we’re back in Victorian times here with pseudo-scientific mumbo-jumbo. The question one asks is, has the good professor not made himself rich enough with over a million books sold world-wide and presumably still selling, after all I have just bought one, that he has to come up with this nonsense – and for seventy quid? And do people fall for it? As Barnum said, “There’s one born every minute” which must be true because, according to a survey, there are evidently mothers who actually believe Jaffa cakes are fruit! Whatever happened to education?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

With thousands of redundancies being announced daily due to the world-wide recession I wonder what Malthus would say were he alive today. The question that comes to mind as well is, if a company can suddenly cut its workforce by such huge numbers, why did it need to employ that number in the first place? If ever there was such a thing, there can never ever again be full employment. In those areas that don’t produce much worth talking about (am I right in thinking Palestine for example?) where the hand has to be continually outstretched for aid, the unemployed must remain an army. In more advanced countries, each new innovation in technology means fewer and fewer workers and the pace of development is ever quickening. We’ve come an awful long way since the invention of the loom and the population of the world just keeps on growing and growing and, with the possible exception of AIDS, with the advances made in medicine, Malthus’ population control by disease no longer really applies. War and starvation of course are another matter.
A book my stubby little fingers withdrew from the shelf yesterday and which I have started to read is “The Victorian Underworld” by Kellow Chesney, copyrighted 1970. Again it’s a book that‘s been on the shelf for goodness knows how long but I came across the following passage on page 18 and I am going to be in breach of copyright because I think it is worth repeating. I don’t know whether it is part of Chartist philosophy or from the pen of Mr Chesney, it’s not clear, but whoever wrote it, I would like every politician and town hall functionary who believes it is not only his/her duty, but their right, to stick their noses into everyone else’s business and dictate to them the way they should lead their lives because dictatorship, when you boil down to it, is what it is, to take note. After all, look where it has got the UK after ten years of this way of thinking!
“Freedom and human advance clearly go hand in hand and, to many, freedom that does not embrace a man’s liberty to order his own affairs is double-talk and chicanery. The rightful function of authority is to keep the peace and protect property. Government agencies are traditionally associated with political finangling and ruling class parasitism and if they set out to regulate everyday activities it can only lead to tax-ridden regimentation and servility.”
Every politician and town hall jobsworth take note and learn that off by heart please starting with Bristol City Council who, in their joint wisdom have decided a boys’ club is politically incorrect and can no longer remain a boys’ club or it will lose its funding. If this isn’t blackmail of the nastiest kind someone please put me right. I am all for the girls having equal opportunities with the boys but the council will not put up any extra finance to facilitate a change or for example to hire a female leader whereas they provide £30494 to an all women Chinese group and £10984 to a Pakistani community aimed solely at women. Now tell me the world of PC hasn’t gone totally crazy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

After my two days in warmth and sunshine and in a summer shirt, hacking my way through the jungle known as the garden, today gave us the first indication of a coming Cretan winter; sky heavily overcast, leaden grey, thunder rolling ominously in the distance behind the mountains and a fair amount of rain to please the olive farmers. Although we lit the zompa in the saloni last night so we could watch “Ugly Betty” in comfort today was also the first day to don that extra garment for warmth and the cats very wisely have stayed in all day, even though the clouds dispersed around lunchtime. A clear sky means it will be colder tonight so time also to turn on the central heating. We’ve delayed up to now because of the price of heating oil though the tank is still almost half full from last winter, more than I thought when checked out and, if we delay too long, the house will get damp. In the old days, not all that long ago, before central heating, if a Cretan was cold he/she merely added layers of clothing (didn’t an English politician recently advise the hard-up to put on another sweater?) and the damp was ignored.
I’m beginning to grow just a little bit bored (wrong word – weary?) with this novel, mainly because I need to do a lot of research and Google just isn’t coming up with the answers I want, or I’m not asking the questions in the right way. Think I might give it a rest for a couple of days and then come back to it hopefully refreshed. Why is it proving so difficult when I am basing it on a previous finished work anyway so it’s not as if I am in unknown territory? It is definitely true – the hardest writing means the easiest reading – I hope. Which would seem to be the case with “Ugly Betty,” not exactly a masterpiece, whatever the definition of a masterpiece might be, but most enjoyable watchable well plotted television as opposed to so much crap that’s put out. I still can’t, despite my state of the art highly expensive hearing aid, understand a quarter of what the youngsters say but I guess for the rest of my days I might as well accept the fact that young actors no longer know how to speak. It’s a pity though to miss the gags. Chris says it’s a matter of balance of the sound so it’s the original sound mix which is to blame. I’m not too sure I agree with him as the older actors are perfectly understandable.
The Adobe software programme has been ordered and eagerly awaited!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Well, we’ve had our rain, two days of intermittent drizzle, not the tropical downpours we can expect in deepest winter that create floods in a number of Cretan towns such as Kalyves and Souda so I doubt what we’ve had will have done much for the olive crop. The last two days though have been sunny and it has been back into the garden time. The only trouble is the amount of work now required is thoroughly daunting. Where does one start? It’s Hercules and the Augean stables but it’s going to be a very long day. Money money money: if only one could afford a gardener. Money money money: Douglas wants to buy an Adobe Master Suite – it costs well over £2000 which evidently is twice the American price, where to find the money? Money money money: fortunately we’re not in the position of negative equity or quids in to a bank but do have our heads above water, just, so long as nothing untoward makes waves.
He who I thought all along to be the murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment for the crime so clever clever author to lead me up the garden path, but wait – here comes the twist – he was actually innocent of the crime though still condemned and doomed to suffer his term in gaol. Unfortunately when it came to the denouement the name of the character who did commit the murder was a complete mystery to me so the moment of gasp passed without the gasp. I guess this character must have been mentioned earlier in the book but, if so, it was so far back, he was by now totally out of mind and all the justification that came after didn’t matter a diddlysquat.
So now I have to find something else to read. I’ve given up on the book Beryl left. Won’t mention it by name but the daily minutiae of Nigerian life has become tedious. How this has won prizes is beyond me but everyone to his or her own taste. In the meantime you would think with more than 5000 books in the house my chubby fingers would search out something to occupy me but it isn’t that easy. You have to find the exact volume to capture your imagination at a particular time even if it is something you’ve read before. Maybe I ought to go back to Dickens. There are some of his novels I’ve never read. And talking of reading, I don’t think people do read these days and I am not just talking of the submissions to Ealing Studios that were returned unread. Douglas as a literary agent sent an e-mail today to Harper Perennial asking for the name of an editor to whom he should submit a manuscript and received a reply saying he should (a) find a literary agent and (b) get the Writers’ Yearbook to which he has replied saying (a) He is a literary agent and (b) Thank you he already has the Writers’ Yearbook. So far no reply to that.
Chris is worried about his prostate and has an appointment for a scan but not until late in December. He feels he cannot wait that long so intends to go private. Fortunately medical expenses here are nothing like they are in the UK so it is not a case of money money money because it is hardly likely to break the bank and, if it puts his mind at rest, that’s how it should be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

This must be the very last mention of the devil either driving or riding. According to an e-mail from our friend Ian Dean, Google has examples of both, so riding it shall stay.
Derek Biddle who has supplied me with all the Reginald Hill books I’ve read and enjoyed has kindly lent me “A Small Death In Lisbon” by Robert Wilson because, as he said, he thought, seeing as to how I am an aficionado of Mr Hill, I would enjoy this one.. Well the answer to that is both yes and no. Yes because it is quite an interesting story, no because the writing is dire, the most absurd similes pulling me up every now and again extremely irritated. Some might consider these similes to be imaginative but I’m afraid I just find them ridiculous. And was tempted to give some examples but then I turned to the front of the book and read, not that I’ve never red this injunction before, “All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means etc., etc.,” and as this is definitely a retrieval system I guess I would be in breach of copyright if I were to type out even the smallest example. But if you have a copy of the book just take a look at page 404 second paragraph or 405 last paragraph and tell me amazement doesn’t sit on your eyebrow! The other annoying trait is that by now I think we have traversed the entire Lisbon A-Z of streets, alleys, parks, boulevards, beach fronts, docks, wharves, and interesting buildings. Our policeman hero seems to be in the habit of walking up one street only to cross another and then mooch down a third before turning left or right into yet another. It gets very boring especially as all the names (like the food and drink constantly mentioned together with the amount of cigarettes, cigars, cheroots smoked) are in Portuguese and are forgotten once the eyes have passed them by. The cigarettes, cigars and cheroots aren’t in Portuguese by the way which is just as well as they are mentioned so often, at one point one of the characters smoking from four different ashtrays.
I suppose there are those who would say that, as a writer, I shouldn’t be so critical of another writer’s work knowing how hard the job can be but it seems to me that these days grammar or elegant prose simply aren’t requirements in the world of modern publishing.
Witness Dan Browne and I was interested to read that Barry Humphries describes his prose as execrable to which I wholeheartedly agree, and with Mr Wilson I would describe his endeavouring to be ‘too slick and clever’ writing as very much sub Mickey Spillane. So I think I have every right to voice an opinion especially as, if I do take to a wonderful piece of writing, I am unstinting in my praise. The only thing to say in Mr Wilson’s favour at the moment is that I am not going to put his book aside but do intend to get to the end simply because I want to find out what the end is going to be, although I am quite sure I guessed the identity of the murderer a long way back. Could be wrong of course.

Monday, November 10, 2008

There is far too much information available on the internet, some of it quite rare, totally unexpected and most surprising like, for instance, this morning, there being a positive plethora of Glyn Joneses, dead, alive, and up and coming no doubt. Douglas decided to see if there was anything under my full name of Glyn Idris Jones and came up with this – The River Of Sand – A play in three acts by Glyn Idris Jones. Published 1956. Binding unknown. Publisher SN. Unavailable. WHAT! If The River Of Sand was published in 1956 it was done so without my knowledge let alone my permission. There don’t appear to be any other Glyn Idrises around though there is an Idris Glyn but he has nothing to do with writing. It must have been in 1956 that The River Of Sand was performed as a play reading at the actress Janet Barrow’s “salon.” I wanted to interest Flora Robson (who by the way was patron of the salon) in playing the lead but she turned it down with the strangest of objections – “What would my fans say if I played a woman like that?” A woman like what may I ask? I’ve never been able to figure this one out. The woman referred to is a strong moral devout loving Boer woman.
A very good director of the time, Casper Wrede wanted to do it but was unable to set it up and when I submitted the play to Granada Television the response was “Who’s interested in South Africa?” It wasn’t too long after that that South Africa became the world’s number one hot topic. So, apart from the reading at Janet’s, the play was never seen or heard of again but went into the script drawer where it has lain ever since, so how it got to be on Amazon and other book sellers lists I have absolutely no idea. Douglas has offered £20 for it so we will see how and if a copy turns up.
I still occasionally get enquiries for “The 88” (The latest from Ireland just a couple of weeks ago) but that is different in that it had a major production at The Old Vic in 1979 so had an enormous amount of publicity and flak! A While back a young lady by the name of Maher who is evidently a great niece of James Daly asked for a copy which I duly sent and then never heard another word; not a thank you or a kiss my arse. That seems to be very much the norm these days. Thank you is in scarce supply. Scripts cost money to print, scripts cost money to mail. These days it’s not so bad when a copy can be printed from the computer at a fraction of what it used to cost to have a number printed by an outside firm so now, when a work is submitted, we say return postage is not included so please destroy the material if not interested, printing is cheaper than postage.
If anyone comes across a copy of the play A River Of Sand please let us know.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cretans are praying desperately for rain. There is still no sign of it even though there has been some cloud cover and, if it doesn’t happen soon, the olive crop will be badly affected. I was told some time ago, I don’t know how true it is but I presume it to be so, that the EU in its wisdom persuaded the farmers to root out their old olive trees and plant new species. The farmers unable to resist the subsidies that went with this plan did as they were bid. Up came hundred year old trees and in went the new ones. The only problem with this scheme is that the old trees were varieties that required very little if any water, the new ones require a lot. Why is it that busybodies can never leave well alone? Maybe one day someone will count up the number of trivial, not so trivial and idiotic decisions that have been made in Brussels. Reputedly since New labour came to power in the UK over 7000 new thou shalt nots have been added to the statute books.
The whole world seems to have welcomed the election of Obama who, apart from any other qualities he possesses, must be an extremely brave man to want to inherit the insane mess George Bush and his cronies have left him. In England the Bank have cut interest rates to an almost unprecedented low and one can’t help but feel available ammunition in fighting this crisis is now almost depleted. What next I wonder? Maybe Gordon Brown should call a general election now now now in cases things get even worse for him, if that’s possible. It’s possible.
Looking at the proof copy of the autobiography “No Official Umbrella” I can ‘t help thinking this is hardly the time to launch it but too late to worry about that and times anyway will eventually change so what’s the hurry?
E-mails from John Lewis to put me on track: Just found this by chance on the net – GLYN:
Just found this by chance on the net:
Needs must when the Devil Drives
The French say: “Il faut marcher quand le diable est aux trousses;” and the Italians say: “Bisogna andare, quando il diavolo è vella coda.” If I must, I must.
“He must needs go that the Devil drives.”
Shakespeare: All's Well That Ends Well, i. 3.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894 (a book that’s been in my own bookshelf since the year dot)

And -It doesn't bear thinking about. Bear meaning it can't take the weight, so to speak.
Bare means uncovered (or to uncover), and by extension undecorated.

So there you are – I am put right. As far as the screenplay is concerned maybe I had better change the title from rides to drives after all.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Taking a careful look at the returned material from Ealing studios, both the manuscript and the book are in such pristine condition I have a shrewd suspicion they were not even read. “Dead On Time” certainly looks as though it has come straight off the press and “When The Devil Rides” is spotless. No, I don’t believe either was even opened. It’s like theatre critics who leave a play after the first act and then make a horrible booboo in their review by mentioning something in the second act which doesn’t take place. It’s been known to happen, more than once, especially if the play is a classic the critic knows well and would therefore expect it to play as he imagined it would. I remember a performance of “A Man For All Seasons” many years ago in which I was playing King Henry (for the third time) and a critic somewhere in the provinces thought a certain actor gave a truly wonderful performance in the part. Unfortunately that certain actor he lavished his praise on wasn’t me. In fact nowhere in the programme would you be able to find the name of this phantom performer.
So it is Obama – fantastic. Hollywood has made films in the past where the American president has been black and at the time one thought, yes well, and pigs can fly. But it has actually come to pass, Hallelujah! I actually cried watching Obama’s acceptance speech on video it was so emotional and such a truly historical occasion, and I say hallelujah because already the evangelical and fundamentalist holier than thou Christians, quoting chapter and verse and tuned in directly to the voice of their mythical god, are bemoaning the fact that Obama won and are puking up their religious bile on the internet. One in particular from South Africa wonders seriously if Obama is the Antichrist and there is a few seconds video of Obama’s head turning into that of the devil – what fundamentalists I presume still think of as ye ugly olde hornéd critter with a tail, cloven feet, and wielding his pitchfork over sinners roasting in hell fires. They tend never to think of Lucifer, the bringer of light, as god’s beautiful first born. Why, presuming he became what they call the devil, he should change from the radiant being he was before he was cast out, into the ugly monster they make him out to be is beyond me. You really would think we were still living in the dark ages but honi soit … evil unto him who evil thinks. The video is in the most disgusting bad taste to say the least. They should be grateful god didn’t let McCain win because at 72 years of age if he were to fly to heaven during the course of his incumbency and the gun-toting deeply devoted Christian moose woman became head of state, phew, it doesn’t bear thinking about! You know I’ve never known whether that should be bear or bare. Put me right, Lewis, if you read this.
Now though, Obama and his family have to be protected twenty-four hours a day. There must be no repeat of the Kennedys or Martin Luther King whose dream is surely now coming true, but sure as that mythical Christian god made little apples there is some crazy out there whose feverish brain has already made plans to blot his name into the history books. He could be one of these very same fundamentalists, he could be a white supremist, he could simply be crazy, wanting to become in his view famous, in anyone else’s, infamous.
It is interesting that white males could not find it in themselves to vote for Obama because of the colour of his skin, some making as their excuse rather that they didn’t believe in “socialism.” It’s in this section of the community that a possible assassin lurks.
Take care B.H.Obama, the world will soon be in your hands.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I was never a chid but I was a child and Mister Miles’ name was Bernard not Berenard though Berenard does sound quite romantic, rather like Abelard but with a Ber instead of an Ab. These were the typos in the last Blog. From Douglas I received implicated destructions, as Mrs Malaprop might have said, as to how to make corrections but failed lamentably in the attempt. He said he would put matters right. The simplest instructions can leave me impatiently baffled. As far as I am concerned this machine that can do no wrong (it’s always the human’s fault, the fault of my stubby fingers accidentally hitting the wrong key because I go too fast)) is nothing more than an extremely versatile typewriter that makes writing a lot easier than even a golf ball with limited editing such as I previously used. In fact I do believe we’ve still got it together with a couple of other ancient relics, gawd knows why. Don’t things ever get chucked out in this house when passed their use by date? How on earth did Messrs Dickens, Thackeray, Scott, Dumas et all write all those enormous volumes with pen and ink, quill and ink? Talking of Dumas I meant to say that the film I watched the other evening starring Mr Grant and all those character bags was really “The Three Musketeers” transferred to England and the musketeers themselves metamorphosed into Highwaymen. Is metamorphosed the right word? Doesn’t matter, its’ a very juicy word to use though maybe I should have said transmogrified, that’s even juicier. Transmogrification, there’s a juicy word to role around the tongue, almost Greek or German in its length.
So today is the big big day in the good ole US of A when pea-brains among others send their choice to the Whitehouse. That’s the only problem with democracy and universal franchise, it takes no note of pea-brains who vote for the likes of George W Bush to watch over them and just look at the results. I think I mentioned before the American penchant for choosing the worst candidate but then the Brits aren’t any better. Ten years of New Labour and the country is practically down the tubes. I wonder I wonder if he who looks like an ancient dry as a bone resuscitated corpse and moose lady will make it this time.
I really do hope it’s Obama. Think of it, a black (well half black) president of the United States is half way to next time having a black woman president. Wouldn’t that really be something? My vote goes to Femi.
PS: What on earth does Tony Blair have to say of any importance that he can charge a six figure sum for a ninety minute speech? He and the Clintons are also passed their sell-by date. Relegate them to the annals of history.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

John Lewis informs me he has always known it as … when the devil drives. He also tells me that GBS borrowed Arms And The Man from Virgil – I sing of arms and the man. So there you are, for those who knew it not, a piece of culture. Go read your Aeniad. I wonder if there is something psychological in that when I mean to type “are” it invariably comes out as “arse.” I only mention it now because I have just corrected it above. Nothing to do with anything else. I have to admit I have never read any Virgil, in fact my knowledge of the classics, except for plays, is woefully lacking. I’m not that much up on the great Russians either, except for Chekhov, and again only theatrically.
Lewis and I were at high school in Durban a thousand and odd years ago and appeared on the stage together. There’s invariably at least one school teacher who’s keen on dramatics and this was the very first time I trod the boards. I can’t remember the play Lewis and I were in together, maybe he could remind me, but the one I do remember is that glorious old one act melodrama “The Monkey’s Paw.” I remember too, while the plays were on and it was so strange being in the school building at night, three or four of us sneaking up to the sixth form classroom, opening all the windows and having a crafty smoke in the dark. Much later I had the most amazing dream, the first time I realised I dreamt, or could dream, in colour. I can still see it so vividly all these years later. My sister was sitting at a desk in this very same classroom and had obviously just learnt that I had died. Now I heard when a child that if you dreamt you were dying and you didn’t wake up before the point of no return (sorry Mr Webber – sorry Lord Webber) then you really did cash in your chips but that is obviously an old wives’ tale because in this dream I was well and truly dead and I was trying, that is me as a ghost, was trying to comfort my sister but of course making no headway at all as to her I was invisible and inaudible. Just then an angel appeared, nine foot tall, beautiful, glowing, enormous wings snowy white and all, and placed an open book in my sister’s lap. I looked over her shoulder and, as she turned the pages I saw the most vibrant and colourful pictures that seemed to literally dance off the page. I can’t actually remember the subject matter but they were so wonderful they stopped my sister’s tears and happy as Larry (full of the clichés today) I floated gently out a window and across the upper playing field to disappear into the night.
Lewis and I as boarders also had altercations with the headmaster when we wanted permission to go to symphony concerts in Durban’s city hall. Can’t remember the outcome, maybe John can put me right on that one as well. I remember the conductor of the Durban Symphony was one Edward Dunn and very full of himself he was too. I did attend concerts there because I remember my mother singing solo with the orchestra and I remember guest pianists (who?) Names gone in the mist of time.
Quite accidentally caught the majority of a British film on the Crete Channel last night. I saw accidentally because Athens News doesn’t list their schedule. Haven’t a clue what it was called but it must have been made some time ago because most everyone in it is dead, including those who died before their time like Oliver Reed. It was a period swashbuckling romantic drama, set in the time of the restoration, Michael York as Charles ll and starred Hugh Grant as a young nobleman, friend to the king, turned highwayman (sort of Robin Hood figure) by the name of “Silver Blade!!!” And the cast included every character actor of the period plying one scene bit parts: John Mills, Robert Morley, Bernard Miles, Christopher Cazenove, etc etc. After a while it became a game of spot who’s going to appear next. Have just looked up Oliver Reed on Google and see he died in ’99. Also watched clips of him pissed out of his mind on chat shows. When asked why he drank he replied the nicest people he met were in pubs. He evidently boasted of having a tattoo on his cock . Thankfully he didn’t whip it out and show it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Reading a revue of Tony Curtis’s autobiography “American Prince” I am amazed to see he says being Jewish was a constant barrier to his success. What? With the number of films he has made including at least two forever classics, “Spartacus” and “Some Like It Hot” he is not a success? Do me a favour. And I certainly cannot believe that being Jewish contributed to barriers being put up. You have only to read the credits for any Hollywood movie, any American TV show, any theatre event to know that the majority of names you see are Jewish. American show business is dominated by Jews so come on, Bernie Schwarz, what are you talking about? The few friends I have in NY are in show bizz and all are Jewish. Yes, I know, some of my best friends are Jewish. Am I anti-Semitic making that crack? Not at all. I don’t go for Judaism but then I don’t go for any religion but that is an entirely different kettle of gefilte fish. My sister has sent me an e-mail attachment regarding an eight year old boy in Iran caught stealing bread in a market whose Islamic punishment has been to have his left arm rendered totally useless for the rest of his life by being run over with a car. I presume under Sharia law he should have had his hand chopped off and this was a judge’s way of showing mercy. Could it be that? Whatever, the sentence was barbaric, the photographs are horrible. The world is full of shitty people, we know that, and religious bigots and fanatics are the shittiest of the lot.
Global warming with a vengeance. Here we are moving into November and daytime temperatures are back to summer time at 30 degrees so it’s sweatsville or back to summer clothing. But winter can’t be that far off. Spotted my first robin today, a really handsome fellow, perched on the bougainvillea outside my study.
Finished the third Reginald Hill. He was at it again – amongst others, moraine, stylite, neither word did I know and had to look them up. (My spell check doesn’t even give stylite, I’ve had to add it to dictionary.)The first is geological referring if memory serves me to a craggy cliff fall (I’m not going to look it up again) and, as for the second, why on earth should I know about 5th century hermits in Syria and like places? The other thing I forget to mention last time is that in “Arms And The Women” he quotes ‘Needs must when the devil drives.’ Now I had always heard it as ‘Needs must when the devil rides,’ so who is right? Anyway, my film script on William Palmer (the recent rejection) is ‘When The Devil Rides.’ I think it sounds better and I ain’t changing it.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Noticed a few typos in the last Blog so in future had better be a bit more careful with my proof reading. Don’t know why the spell-checker didn’t pick up the obvious. When I spot typos in published works now, instead of being all censorious I tend to be a bit ‘what the hell’ about it as I have discovered through experience that spotting mistakes is a difficult business. You can go over a passage half a dozen times and still miss the obvious. Proof reading is an art. Well a discipline anyway that requires not only a keen eye but infinite patience. Having read NO OFFICIAL UMBRELLA and sent Douglas a list of all the mistakes I found he has already spotted one I missed in the first sixty pages. No doubt there will be more.
Sweeny for just over a week has been at death’s door. She wouldn’t eat, if she lay or fell down she could hardly get up, her back legs were almost useless and it really seemed as if doggie heaven’s portals were opening for her. One evening while I was watering the garden she somehow slipped out of the house and I eventually found her sitting right at the bottom of the garden, a long way for a virtual cripple to travel, and all I saw was this little black figure with her back to me sitting beside the hole we had already dug some weeks ago just in case. It brought to mind the little old bread seller in Genoa who saved up her pennies to pay for a marble monument carved in her likeness, bread and all, and the story has it she would visit the cemetery to sit and look at it, presumably on her days off when she wasn’t still selling her bread. It really broke me up to see her sitting there and she wouldn’t move. A bit too heavy for me to carry the length of the garden in my old age I took a coupe of blankets out and some plastic in case it rained and put her to bed, snug as a bug in a rug as my mother used to say, fully expecting next morning to find her gone. She had, but only a few yards off to sit somewhere else. I made a fuss of her and left her sitting there. Later in the day she returned to the house. Having put me through a week of tearful expectation now she has rallied like one wouldn’t believe: eating again and the back legs seemingly regaining some of their strength, walking fairly steadily instead of wobbling and weaving all over the place. She still spends her time going from one sleeping place to another but it seems she is also not quite so doolally.
Have finished two of the three Reginald Hill books. Problem is, once I get my nose into one, it’s very difficult to get it out again. The last one was ARMS AND THE WOMEN (with apologies to GBS?) and did I think he went just a teensy-weensy-weensy-weensy bit over the top with this one? He himself referred at one point to it being a bit Tarantino cum Ken Russell and we know how over the top he got. Also, now I take just a tiny cudgellette to Mr Hill without diminishing my admiration for his writing but, dear Mr Hill, it is pretty obvious that you are (a) an extremely intelligent man, (b) a highly educated one both classical and modern and (c) you have a great sense of humour and you are a truly terrific writer so there is really no need to use words that require the likes of myself to reach for the dictionary to prove all the above. In fact it detracts slightly from (c). For example, was it necessary to use the word ‘cetacean,’ a word I had never come across, when you could just as easily have written ‘whale like’ and my reading would not have been interrupted. ‘Oenophilic’ didn’t bother me because I just happen to know that oenos is the ancient Greek for wine but to use it in reference to a couple of dogs sniffing each other’s backsides, was that really a good choice do you think? There, I said it would be a tiny cudgellette because once again Mr Hill provided me with a great read. I look forward now to dipping my snout into number three. Hope theer arfe no typos in this one.

Monday, October 27, 2008

So the Poles, having migrated to the UK to find that crock of gold, are leaving in droves, things being financially that much better in Poland. There’s a turn up for the books. I don’t suppose one can blame every disaster on New Labour but one can certainly think of a few they’ve been responsible for in the last ten years. Is it ten? Something like that. I’m sure there are many more who would like to migrate but now if their homes are in negative equity and the housing market has slumped, they can no longer contemplate living the dream as all the Cretan estate agents say in their blurb. I hate that. For a lot of people conned into buying a jerry built house because it was cheap and not being able to sell it, the dream has turned into a nightmare. Even some who bought a beautiful house in a quiet village have had to run from the mass of housing estate building that has gone up around them, have found their house unsaleable and their dream in ruins. So much of the Apokoronas (this area of Crete) has been ruined in the last five years by greedy speculators but at last, hopefully the bubble has burst before they can ruin anymore. Or is that wishful thinking? It’s not been a good year for the holiday industry and next year I fear is going to be worse. Everyone, hoteliers taxi drivers, restaurants, have been complaining about the situation. Greece unfortunately is no longer el cheapo. It was getting more expensive even before th4e priced of oil shot through the roof and it has accelerated since then. Have just had a new bottle of gas delivered. When we first ordered this it was 12 euro. At the last delivery it had gone up to 15. This evening it was
You can still eat out fairly reasonably though. A tatty old bar in Kalyves has been upgraded to a number one looking restaurant, proper linen tablecloths, serviettes, the lot. No keeping your cutlery for the next course and everything served beautifully. The food was excellent (though the service was a little on the slow side, the Greeks believing one waiter can handle forty tables) and they must have spent a small fortune on the transformation. The meal for three with wine came to 25euro.There was only one problem with the evening. Greeks don’t usually eat until well on in the evening but we were eating early the restaurant was being quite well patronised but unfortunately by Brits at their worst; loud, brash, demanding, arrogant ignorant and ugly. These are the people who have been buying the dream. I really am surprised there hasn’t been some sort of backlash from the Cretans. Maybe while they’re still making money out of the Brits that would seem like biting off noses to spoil faces, a pointless exercise.