Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Writer.

Do you know it's not really a good week to write about anything. 
People often ask (they don't ask me; why would they?) what a writer is. 
Well a writer is someone who writes – not someone who gets paid for it, or 'sells' it or gets published – a writer is someone who writes; and says something.
A lot of writers write and they get paid for it and what they write doesn't amount to a hill of beans.
Here is the last part of the only poem I ever wrote; it's all I have to say:

But the writer was always the little fella;  
The little fella who had to meet the big bad bullies
When he was at school; the big bad bullies
That made him take part
In their big bad bumpy games,
Which would frighten the poor little fella,
At that very early and tender age
When all the boys had to learn to head the greasy orb
Which they called a football;
Had to go into that big bad world
Which they called a school;
Had to find out that most of the bullies
Were the teachers: teachers who took great pleasure
And unnatural delight
In striking many a young child across the backside
With their canes and slippers;
But the little writer would get his own back
On the big bad bullies for he would write about them.
Sometimes, but not often, the big bad bully
Would read what the little writer had written
And knock the be Jesus out of him;
Break his glasses,
Knock the pen out of the little fella’s hand
And burn his books:
At four hundred and fifty one degrees Fahrenheit.

But there was always somebody
To pick up that pen and look up,
Up towards the stars in the heaven
Where they would seek the same stimulation;
And the man with the pen would look down and give it.

Interpret it as you wish and if you wish to hear the full text with picture it's here:

Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Happy Hogmanay to you.
I have many happy memories of it at new year's eve parties and watching it on TV – letting the new year in. I had black hair so I did a lot of 'first footing' – that is going out with a lump of coal and knocking the door as soon as I heard the midnight bells. My brudder did it too as his hair was blacker than mine.
It means that the first one over the threshold has to be a stranger (I think) with black hair bringing fuel – that was all for luck even though I wasn't a stranger. I did it for others too and I was always welcomed with a kiss and a whiskey! My brudder too with his blacker hair and deeper thirst for the whiskey and the kisses.
Let me digress here, I'll come back to hogmanay later but I mention this as most of the New Year parties I went to over the years had the TV on so we would know when Big Ben struck twelve so we could sing Auld Lang Syne but:
do you place your television (if you have one) in the corner of the room?
Don't you find you get a crick in the neck after a while?
We used to have ours in the corner, with the back towards the window.
I suppose this was very handy when something boring came on and we could avert our eyes up a little and see what was going on outside. Most of the time this would be something like a lamp post or a parked car. Later in the day a curtain as it was usually dark out there and in any case as it was a sin to watch TV in the day time.
I suppose the problem being that many rooms have a fireplace in the middle so think of this:
what if there wasn't a fireplace there and you could sit back and watch the TV sitting on your sofa straight ahead.
I would often do this and think 'wouldn't it be great if the TV was there? Or maybe a little higher and a little bigger just like the movies?'
I really did think those things but I didn't think it for very long.
Eventually I moved the television to a point in front of the sofa so I could view it straight on – it's at eye level and about eight feet away so I can see the detail of the picture. It's not in anybody's way with its back to the wall between two sets of book cases.
Here we are:
Our sitting room is about twenty five feet long – nearly the whole nine yards!! - and I cannot imagine trying to be involved in anything on television from that distance.
I have heard people saying that they don't want the television to dominate the room; why not? They watch it all the time – I don't; I sit in here and type crazy posts for the blog – but that's another story.
But when I do watch it I watch it.
Whilst I am at it - we didn't have a telephone when I was a child in fact we didn't get one till we were married and when we got one we put it in the sitting room – everybody else put the bloody thing in the hall, usually in the cold, but in any case people I knew with small babies couldn't have a conversation in the hall as their voices would carry up the stairs and wake up the babies.
You'd ring them and they'd tell you off for waking the kids – well MOVE it then!!
Move it move it move it!
These days, of course, people use their cell phones more and in any case their land lines (ha ha, land lines!! As if that is what they are) are usually cordless.
But what happened?
Why were they put out there in the first place and why was the TV in the corner?
Who started these crazy rules?
Now that Christmas is out of the way for another year this week we expect Hogmanay, which is celebrated in Scotland. This year a lot of people were expecting it to be the first Hogmanay of an Independent Scotland but not to be (for a while, anyway) – so that is a current meaning of the phrase to be or not to be!
Hogmanay is held by a lot of Scots to be the most important holiday in Scotland – and for the Scottish diaspora – so if you are Scottish and are reading this let me wish a very sincere and happy Hogmanay.
One of the reasons it holds so much importance in Scotland is that Christmas was considered too papist by the Church (Presbyterian) of Scotland so they banned it.
It wasn't even a public holiday till 1958.
In Scotland it is customary to serve a steak pie with mashed tatties, mashed neeps and carrots on Hogmanay which is actually December 31st.
For the uninitiated tatties are potatoes (pronounced bedadaters in Ireland!!) and neeps are – well what are they? I like to think they are parsnips but fear they are probably turnips.
I heard last week about a woman living down here with her Scottish husband and that she could not match his mother's cooking of the steak pie so she called her husband's mother to ask what the secret ingredient was and was told it was sausages!!!
We would always watch TV at Hogmanay and if I never get to spend it in Scotland I will go my grave disappointed – just as my dad did because he never went to the Grand National.
I took him the The Derby though even though we had a fight on the way back.
What about?
He said Peter Shilton was England's best goalkeeper and I said it was Ray Clemence – or was it the other way around?
Who cares we soon got over it.
We would watch Andy Stewart on TV; he would say words of welcome, something like 'nice to see you' then finish the show with:
Haste ye back, we loue you dearly,
Call again you're welcome here.
May your days be free from sorrow,
And your friends be ever near.

May the paths o'er which you wander,
Be to you a joy each day.
Haste ye back we loue you dearly

Haste ye back on friendship's way

To be pedantic – that word loue is an obsolete typography of the word love – but I used it in any case.
During the show Duncan MacRae would recite the poem A Wee Cock Sparrow
Many years ago when I first met my wife, I was invited to meet the parents on New Year's eve – Hogmanay – and I went around there with my brudder.
We sat on the sofa and recited this poem. They looked at us as if we were drunk – we were!– here it is:
A wee cock sparra sat on a tree,
A wee cock sparra sat on a tree,
A wee cock sparra sat on a tree
Chirpin awa as blithe as could be.

Alang came a boy wi'a bow and an arra,
Alang came a boy wi'a bow and an arra,
Alang came a boy wi'a bow and an arra
And he said: 'I'll get ye, ye wee cock sparra.'

The boy wi' the arra let fly at the sparra,
The boy wi' the arra let fly at the sparra,
The boy wi' the arra let fly at the sparra,
And he hit a man that was hurlin' a barra.

The man wi' the barra cam owre wi' the arra,
The man wi' the barra cam owre wi' the arra,
The man wi' the barra cam owre wi' the arra,
And said: 'Ye take me for a wee cock sparra?'

The man hit the boy, tho he wasne his farra,
The man hit the boy, tho he wasne his farra,
The man hit the boy, tho he wasne his farra
And the boy stood and glowered; he was hurt tae the marra.

And a' this time the wee cock sparra,
And a' this time the wee cock sparra,
And a' this time the wee cock sparra
Was chirpin awa on the shank o' the barra.
meaning of unusual words: (but you knew them didn't you?)
That makes sense now doesn't it??

Well this should and you should know the translation:

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And auld lang syne! 

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.
Sláinte (health)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Christmas my - - - - !!

You've heard the lines in a Hollywood movie, or even seen a live court room case in America where somebody takes the fifth. And we all know that it means you don't have to answer the question on the grounds that it might incriminate you - but why is it called the fifth?
The fifth of what?
It's part of the fifth amendment to the American Constitution – the fifth amendment is actually Due Process; the bit about incriminating yourself is included in that, or something like that – I'm not about to look it up, if there are any scholars out there.
I heard the other day, that Britain had written forty or so constitutions for other countries since about the mid fifties and yet doesn't have one itself; I knew it didn't have one itself but nothing written down in any case. The reason why they wrote those constitutions is that they were for former members of the Commonwealth or part of the British Empire (the colonies) and were granted independence. New countries starting out so they needed a constitution.
Just like America.
Why doesn't Britain have a written constitution? Or England?
Because it makes it up as it goes along; it is formed by common law, statutes and practices and has something to do with Magna Carta.
It came to me the other day that I missed the word constitution; it is in constant use in America; every time they try and do something different some clever clogs pipes up and says that whatever they are trying to do is against the constitution. 
You hear words like constitutionality banded about in arguments and . . well I thought I'd just mention that as we wait for the impending strike of the clock tomorrow at midnight to let us know that it's Christmas and as soon as we hear that bong, we know that we have to behave differently, be kind to each other and have a jolly time.
But going back to that good old constitution: America separates church (religion) and state. You are not allowed to say prayers at a state school (they call them public schools over there), not allowed to have a copy of the ten commandments in the foyer of your government buildings, can't say prayers at sporting fixtures and the like, yes total separation of church and state.
They are not allowed to teach religion in state schools or say Goddamn on television and this, of course, makes the population seek out religion for themselves and they all go to church – or to the temple or mosque.
Well not all but about 80% where as here, they ram religion down your throats, have prayers each day in parliament and schools, and the figures are the other way around with empty churches. 
I heard the other day that it costs millions to run Lincoln Cathedral and they even charge £8 to get in – of course it's free if you pray or come to a service; but how do they know?
So back to America and the constitution and to Christmas and the separation of church and state.
Why do they have Christmas Day as a holiday? I understand Thanksgiving being a holiday to celebrate the breaking of bread with the Indians but why Christmas? Church and State?
By the way - the title of this post: it's 'Happy Christmas my arse' from The Pogues Fairytale of New York but I'm not allowed to use that as a title so - 
Happy Christmas.
 Thomas Jefferson
The third President of the United States, whose letter to the Danbury Baptists Association is often quoted in debates regarding the separation of church and state.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Still from sOUNDz 2014

This is a link to my short movie (20 minutes) I have been writing about of late. I hope you like it and if you do - or don't - let me know.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Smoking and fighting in the movies with the perverts.

When I was a young man and never been kissed I got to thinking it over . . . well I started a post like that before didn't I, it was called My Teenage Love Story and for some reason it still gets loads of hits. I wrote it in February 2012 and to date it has received over 1500 hits – here it is:
But I was thinking of the first time I kissed a girl – well the first time it was a necking session when I was a teenager – and it was when I was in the Ladywood Picture House; I'm almost sure of that. We would spot girls and go and sit behind them – or even on front. A few comments would go back and forth and then one of us would offer a cigarette and then the pick up line “Do you want to come and sit around here?”
If one of them agreed one of us would go around there and sit with the other; this would lead to a necking session and walking the girl home and maybe another date; maybe one of us not turning up and not always me.
One of the girls, one of the days, said to me “Why didn't you kiss me in the pictures?” and the reply was, of course, “I was watching the film.”
That was either Circus of Horrors or Horrors of the Black Museum – yes I have both on DVD and the wonderful song Look for a Star by Garry Mills was used in Circus of Horrors. It was such a magic moment in the film with the girl on the trapeze doing tricks to that music – the fact that she fell off the trapeze later only added to the . . . and not worth missing to kiss a girl, I tell you; but I did later.
One little phrase above – one of us would offer a cigarette – should be highlighted. Yes we could smoke in the movies. The place was full of smoke and when you looked at the beam from the projector box to the screen it was full of smoke.
We went to the movies a lot. We would walk in any time and it didn't matter if the film had started or not – you knew where you came in and you left at that stage when the film was repeated. I can't believe we did that. It wasn't till Psycho came along that we weren't allowed in after the film had started.
I did notice in those days that the cinema would cut some of the films and they usually cut out the favourite bit that I liked that I had waited for.
Sometimes we, as kids, would walk up to the Imperial Picture House, this is when we were quite young, and my mom and dad would come later. We would be down the front and my parents would sit at the back and we would know when they came as we could hear our dad's distinctive cough. Looking around to see if we could spot where they were we would see that load of smoke. I can only imagine what the ceiling of the place looked like when they turned the lights on.
So when someone talks to you about the good old days just remember that and the pictures houses were full of perverts. The Moseley Picture House – the bug hutch – didn't have backs on the seats that went to the bottom which meant some dirty old perv could have a feel of your arse. Some fella was feeling my arse one day and I grabbed his fingers and twisted them then I turned round a looked at him and the expression on his face of any movement was not effected by my twisting.
Perverts were everywhere; do you know I've forgotten about most of them, most of the encounters with perverts and their weird propositions.
There were also fights in some of the movie houses – the manager in The Imperial was ready for it most Fridays and you could see that he always went for the ring leader as these were big fights – mobs - and I remember one night he had his arms around the ring leader pulling him one way whilst the fella was being pulled the other way by his mates and when the manager managed to get him up to the door and threw him through it, the gang drew back and the audience clapped and cheered.
And then, I suppose, marijuana came along and peace man peace.
So there we are.
Back to Fibonacci it's all here, isn't it. The numbers for your lotteries etc here is the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987 – made up simply of starting at one, then going to after the next number and then adding the last two numbers together. It is defined like this:
For example - 1 + 1 = 2, 1 + 2 = 3, 2 + 3 = 5, 3 + 5 = 8
Any the wiser?
Nor me!!
Still from Circus of Horrors
Michael Gough
Horrors of the Black Museum

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Fibonacci Sequence

This is going to be a strange old post but I was thinking of something so let's see how it goes.
Everywhere you look these days you will see the name of Alan Turing; this is for a number of reasons. One may be because there is a movie on release starring Benedict Cumberbatch – yes of course that's his real name and we will all remember it just as we remembered Schwarzenegger.
In the film Breaking the Code, Derek Jacobi played Alan Turing and he is seen staring at a fir cone; here:

If you look at it you will see that there is a distinct pattern. What we see when we look at it is the same pattern but when a mathematician looks at it he sees a pattern of numbers. 
That pattern is called the Fibonacci Sequence and was spotted nearly a thousand years ago by someone called, would you believe Fibonacci. 

He didn't invent it as it was used by Indian mathematicians in the 6th century.
What do the numbers mean?
Well the Fibonacci numbers are the sum of the two previous numbers and so on so 1, 2, is followed by 3. 
So far.
Then 3 is followed by 5 and 5 is followed by 8. What does this all mean; how can it be useful.
It's supposed to be  a way of predicting how many rabbits two rabbits will begat in a year.
Somehow it is the meaning of life when it comes to a computer.
There is line in Breaking the Code when Turing, quite well in to middle age by now, says 'look at this cone; a Fibonacci sequence.'
Great piece of writing aye? Engels, meet Marx, Rolls meet Royce!! (you know what I mean).
Well look at this:

That is the pattern created by a Japanese Puffer Fish; the fish is about two inches long and in order to attract a mate he makes this pattern in the sand at the bottom of the ocean. When the female arrives he flattens the middle. It was on TV the other day in the David Attenborough series.
Isn't nature wonderful?
Here are some more patterns from nature all with Fibonacci numbers.

Amazing aren't they?
So how does the Fibonacci sequence lead to a genius inventing the computer?
That's why the genius who invented the computer invented it and not me – nor you.
Unfortunately Alan Turing was born in the wrong age: as with Leonardo da Vinci, Alexander the Great, Michaelangelo and many more he was homosexual; gay.
But in the time he was active the practice was against the law; it was never against the law for one man to love another man but the actual practice was.
In Britain that is; in some countries it still is.
Gay marriage is legal in lots of states in America and lots of other countries but in Uganda and really backward countries homosexuality is still against the law.
So instead of praising Alan Turing the authorities persecuted him; they chemically castrated him and he eventually committed suicide.
At a time when people knew very little about genetics or DNA, Turing used the early computer to try to crack how a soup of cells and chemicals could transform itself and grow into complex natural shapes - a subject known as morphogenesis. In an incredible article published in 1952, Turing suggested that everything from the spots and stripes on animals to the arrangement of pine cones and flowers could be explained by the interactions between two chemicals. Turing’s work in this area is intimately connected with the timing of his trial and conviction for homosexuality, and his subsequent ‘treatment’ with a course of chemical injections.
Hope you like the patterns:

 And work this one out:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

JMW Turner and the Hog's Head.

When the movie, Mr Turner, opens you are left in no doubt that a very important artist is about to make an entrance. Turner's father goes around the market to buy fruit, vegetables and other things that makes you ask the question if they are to eat or to be used as colours – after all this is the one and only JMW Turner, Britain's greatest ever artist; Billy, to his father, Mr Billy to his housekeeper - a housekeeper, who is a strange looking woman, with a stoop and a skin condition which progresses with the movie; he uses her for fleeting sex in passing; she uses him the same with a bit more; he greets her when he comes in with a squeeze of her breasts and a touch of her pubic area through her dress in both cases. He does this when she stands by him sitting in his chair and he gives her the greeting without even looking at her – she doesn't look at him.
I loved this film; I loved everything about it. Some clever clogs might come along and criticise it for leaving some things out and putting some things in which didn't happen but . . .this is a movie and a great one.
I don't know much about Turner at all apart from the fact that his father was a barber and one of the things the father buys at a street market is a pig's head; a whole head. The father – the barber – shaves the pig's head, with a cut throat razer, and when they greet each other they hug and kiss and settle down to eat the pig's head. They cut slices off and munch it down and it is as if Turner has eaten so much pig that he sounds like one. He grunts all the way through the film in fact Timothy Spall plays Turner as a pig; a sympathetic lovable hog.
Laurence Olivier said he based his famous portrayal of Richard III on the Big Bad Wolf; well I think Spall has chosen a pig. His perpetual grunt proves that.

Timothy Spall in Hog Mode.

The film doesn't go into Turner's private life too much; well his really private life; we know there was a wife, two daughters and a very strange looking granddaughter – is it a doll or a reject from Call the Midwife? - but they make two entrances whilst we are treated to his artistic raison d'etre.
It is not a typical Hollywood bio-pic even though Constable is in it and other famous figures like Ruskin but there are no lines like “Mr Rolls meet Mr Royce” or “Engels? Meet Marx.”
It should win some Oscars, and deserves, to – acting, directing, photography – well, I hope so, but I don't think so; certainly some BAFTAs but I would like to see Mike Leigh get it for directing and Timothy Spall for acting from BAFTA and OSCAR.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

In Dreams I Walk With You.

My brother contacted me and said he missed my blog – well he said he missed the BS so here we go.
I have to say I don't need to bullshit as life is full of it – last night a dog came on to our bed and lay on me. 
It was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier and when I tried to turn over it moved on to my chest. The only thing I could do was push my legs out and . . . I fell out of bed.
Now that was a bit of a shock. I know why the dog came to me in my dreams; two days ago there was a programme on the radio presented by a Radio One Deejay whose name escapes me. He was talking  to an ex copper who had a stroke and was forced in to retirement: 'I love my Staffy' the cop was saying 'he's great company.'
The deejay also had a Staffy and he was fed up taking the dog to a park and seeing mums pick up their kids and running away from it. 
Now the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a strange looking dog –  but who can resist this:

But it grows in to this:
Look at the look in its eyes ' hey doggy doggy doggy' - I don't think so.

Look at this:
He looks friendly but look at the power in its jaws - those teeth.

Did you ever see The Omen?? One of my favourite films.

I don't think it's a Staffy but some of those photos are a bit scary and why should mothers with their children be subject to anything frightening?
Can you imagine being smaller than a Labrador and seeing the bloody thing come up to you for a fuss – that's what a child sees.
A bit like standing at a bus stop and a dog as big as a horse comes over to you for a fuss; you would run like hell; wouldn't you?
On Tuesday evening, after I heard the programme on the radio, I went around to a supermarket and there, outside, tied up, was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier; he looked nice and friendly and wanted a fuss so I leaned down gently towards him, put my hand out to greet him and he bit me!!
I'm kidding – I never went near him but he did look very friendly.
So 24 hours later I dream about him – not exactly beautiful are they? I mean the puppy is very attractive but if you had one at home, and you had all the doors open in your house, would you let your arm hang down the side of the bed? I mean would you?
I don't do that in any case having had a cat for so many years.
Sometimes I dream about our cat; El Grande – the big 'un. I dream about my parents too and often wonder if that's what happens when people die; they come and see you in your dreams!
A nice thought isn't it but . . . I don't know. What's the alternative? We all go to heaven? All 50 million of us each year, or whatever the number is.
Well maybe heaven is in our dreams, maybe that's where we go.
Nobody dies in Ireland – nobody at all. When you die there they talk about you forever as if you are still around. 
They laugh at the things you have experienced with your late love ones – 'do you remember the time he . . .' and so on. 
That's the way things are there. 
In a way it's a shame Saint Patrick brought Christianity to the place; they believed in much stronger things before that old ballix came along.
They buried their dead on great hills so that they could look down on the living whilst the living could look up to their ancestors and maybe – maybe – dream about them.
So there we are, Paddy me boy; a few words of BS for you; sweet dreams.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Scroll - my small movie from 1990.

I made a film about 25 years ago and for the past week or two I have been very busy re-cutting it. Only a half hour or so long – well 28 minutes – and I've cut it down to about 22.
The reason I did this was because, after all these years, I can.
I have the editing facilities and there was always something nagging me about it: one of the scenes in the movie concerns an American tourist calling his Rabi in New York to tell him that he has found a Jewish scroll – a Torah – at Portobello Market in London and, when we shot it, I read the 'other' voice whilst an old pal of mine, playing the American, speaks.
It's quite a normal technique and I did a 'cod' American/New York accent. I was never satisfied with my accent but it was good enough for the day; I had planned to get an American to do the voice but when it came to it I couldn't afford it.
Even today I listen to the so called American voices in the plays on Radio 4 and they are awful; even then I didn't want anybody but an American doing it. 
But my voice stayed with it and each time I have seen the film since that voice sticks out like a sore thumb!
My pal – Jeff Chiswick – who was playing the American tourist, died of a heart attack in 1993; he was a really good actor and in my film, The Scroll, he is terrific.
As the writer and director on the picture he asked me the right questions, questions which made me go back to the drawing board and re-write his role and that was a lesson learned.
Working 'with him' for the past couple of weeks made me realise just how good he was or is in the film.
A couple of years ago I asked my pal in Los Angeles, Ron, to record the 'other voice' for me, the one that I did; I was never sure if I would ever be able to do anything with it but I kept it; I played the movie and recorded the sound in to my sound editing system and there it is on the screen as follows:

As you can see it's in sound waves; some of them are mine and some of them as Jeff's. Then I separated the two voice – like so and put Ron's voice in:

You can see where I have changed the volume etc and left gaps where my voice used to be.
I did that a few years ago and left it on my lap top somewhere.
And then last year one of my daughter's friends, who was in the film as a seller at the jumble sale, found a VHS copy of The Scroll and I asked him to send his copy to me which he did.
Of course I don't have a VHS VCR any more so I couldn't play it which meant taking the tape into Wardour Street without being able to check it, to get it transferred to DVD MP4 so I could edit it. Forgive me for the gobbledygook but . . .well.
At last I had the chance and rushed home with the DVD; I knew it wouldn't play on my DVD machine, as it was on MP4, so put it onto my computer and played it back.
Of course what happened was that my daughter's friend, who had very kindly sent the tape to me, had, some years ago, wiped my movie off the tape and it contained footage of people on holiday – maybe his relations. Sitting in the beach, I think, walking around etc.
So there we are – it was a nice idea whilst it lasted.
Then I remembered that my other pal, Gary, who played my partner in the movie, might have a copy, and when I called him he did and he sent it to me.
There was another bit of confusion as the two copies were sitting on my desk looking exactly like each other – which one was which?
But that was sorted out when I took both of them in to be transferred.
You may remember that last year my pal Ron, in Los Angeles, died. I wrote a post about him and here he is:
Ronald Hunter.
So for the last few weeks I have been working with two of my late friends; both of them dead, neither had ever met the other.
It was strange and somehow very rewarding; a few other people in the film have died since I made it – I love the way I say I made it when making a film is a group effort, but you know what I mean.
It's only a small nondescript movie so it should be flattered that it's getting a 'director's cut' – but there we are.
I found there were other things in the film I had compromised with at the time; a pool ball sound I wanted, maybe a little cutting here and there but any way it is done and who knows what I'm going to do with it now and you will know that Who is on first base!!
By the way – The Beans:
English speakers have been using the word "spill" to mean "divulge secret information" since 1547, but the spilling of beans in particular may predate the term by millennia. Many historians claim that secret societies in ancient Greece voted by dropping black or white beans into a clay urn. To spill those beans would be to reveal the results of a secret vote before the ballots had been counted. Kidney he lives, pinto he dies!

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Director, the Cameraman and the one legged man in Wolverhampton.

 Long John Silver
Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson

Do you know I am sure I have written this before; I looked and looked but it seems I haven't. If you have seen it somewhere let me know but I can't believe I left it till now; maybe it's just one of those stories I have bored people with in the past.
I was sitting in a pub in Wolverhampton with a film director, a cameraman and a sound guy; in the corner was a one legged man. He wasn't a frail looking thing and he made a lot of noise with the mouth, with the chat, and with the big piss taking laugh.
He was a rough looking customer and you would think by looking at him, with his tattoo patterned shirt and scruffy demeanour, that he lost his leg in a fight or had it sawn off for a bet or even lost it in a game of poker.
We were touring the country, the bare bones of a film crew, visiting wonderful locations like Leighton Buzzard, London Docks and Gravesend; to name a few of the places. The cameraman had taken time off from working a camera when he reached his thirties and went to study wine, becoming a wine expert in the process. As we sat eating dinner one evening in the Gravesend hotel, drinking his chosen wine, he suddenly went off and ordered another bottle of red.
Delightedly he poured, after a decent wait for the wine to breath, a glass for each of us. We didn't know that it was a special vintage as we drank and after we drank, our expert looked at us and asked what we thought; well it tasted a bit smoky with a gentle hint of sulphur and a slight bouquet of a six month old baby's poo.
He looked at us; we pulled faces and he got the message: “Don't you find it interesting?” he said.
We were touring because we were making a film for a fork lift company called – I think – Lancer Boss. Their headquarters were in Leighton Buzzard, which is why we were there, and other locations where there were companies using the Lancer Boss fork lift trucks. I had to drive one at each place and then go in to the studio, with the director, and work in a blue screen studio – that is being superimposed into each scene.
His studio was in Buckinghamshire and when I worked with him I had to stay over night at an hotel near by; he came and had a drink with me, told me he was also a pilot and I told him that I could never be a pilot, as I am too slap dash and would never have the patience to check things three times. “Oh it's easy” he said.
That's when I made the mistake of saying “Why? What do you have to do?”
He went through everything he had to do when sitting in the cockpit and I was wondering when he was going to stop.
“I'm not boring you, am I?” he said.
No no!” I said, and on he continued.
When we sat in the pub in Wolverhampton that day, a small dingy hotel really, I didn't know what I was going to have to listen to after the studio day but I should have.
As we sat there in Wolverhampton – and he didn't talk quietly – he explained to us what his job as a director involved: “I direct the actor; he is in the charge of the photography” he said as he referred to the cameraman, then pointing at the sound guy he said “and he is in charge of the sound.”
Everybody in the bar could hear him pontificating away as if he was giving a lecture. He was smoking a pipe and said his doctor had told him it was okay to smoke as it relaxed him because if he didn't relax he would probably have a heart attack – heaven forbid.
Word got about in the bar that porn videos were to be shown in one of the other bars after the pub closed to the public for residents. The one legged man asked if he would be able to stay and our director asked the landlord if he had a licence.
“What for?” said the landlord.
“You can't show videos without a licence” the director said.
I went off to the loo and left them to it. When I came back, the director had trickles of blood on the outside of his nose “what happened?” I asked.
“Long John Silver dropped the nut on him” said the sound guy.
I looked around and the one legged man had disappeared.
“Yeh; he just hopped over here and head butted the big mouthed sod.”
Can you imagine it?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

How to be a Movie Star.

  Laurence Olivier.  

I read a biography of Laurence Olivier at one time and the writer opined that he was the greatest actor in the world for one reason and one reason alone; because he wanted to be.
Now there is something to that.
Not too long ago I wrote a post about Mark Rylance whom it was considered was the current (then) best actor in the world; same reason! He wanted to be - or people wanted him to be - or whatever floated their boat or, to be more precise, filled their theatres.
There was something else I read about Olivier and it opened (not opined this time) by saying 'he was no intellectual' – I mean how could he be he left school at 15? Okay he went to drama school but so did I.
Even though Olivier may have been considered to be the best actor etc, at one time, he had to do about 30 or 40 takes in a film with William Wyler and when he got frustrated he said to Wyler “Willie; I did it this way, I've done it that way. I've done it faster and slower - what do you want me to do?” And Wyler said “I want you to do it better!”
Best actor in the world?
The thing is – and it might have been whilst getting the above direction – he stamped his character on Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights – Samuel Goldwyn called it Withering Heights, according to Olivier. In fact the anecdotes above are from Olivier himself.
The thing about Heathcliff is that he was from the back streets of Liverpool – a bit of rough – and he fell for the lady of the house, the posh girl and Olivier played him with a posh English accent. Today he would be played by someone from Liverpool.
There are people – actors – here who still worship him; of course there are others who don't like him at all but he had the two or three things it calls for to be a star – he was ambitious, talented and not very clever. I think the latter is very important because, according to the great playwright Brien Friel, to be a star to have to have huge huge ambition, a talent that is sensational and unique (there's only one Sir Laurence) and no brain.
And when you think about it, it has a lot of truth.
I know – and I am bound to know – a lot of actors. A lot of them are friends but none of my friends are huge stars – I have a very famous cousin, whom I have never met and when I think about him he may be as thick as two short planks too, for all I know; I don't know which is why I won't name him, but Friel's view is that brains get in the way. 
Maybe they do and maybe they don't!
If you wanted to be a movie star, you are good looking and you think you have what it takes, what kind of a reaction would you get if you took the idea to the bank? What kind of business plan would you present to them and if they fell for it, what advice would these very clever people give you?
Imagine, for one wonderful moment, going on to the TV show Dragon's Den.
The people on Dragon's Den – the so called Dragons – are the most ambitious kind of people there are, but would you really want to have a drink with them? They'd be talking about the business plan, the yield, the profit, the bottom line – I have been in the company of such people and I have seen the attitude and the way their face changes if you give them a good idea.
I was on a train once and standing next to me was a businessman with the suit, the brief case, the Financial Times, the whole nine yards, and he complained about the train.
It was British Rail then and he said they had no idea (BR that was – look at it now) how to run it. 
And I said “why don't they put advertisements at the back of the seats” and a bulb went off in his head; I could see it.
Advertise!” he said.
His name?
I have no idea who he was! But that bulb!!
As I was saying I know loads of actors and I have known briefly well known ones on the way up: pains in the arse, stars up there: pains in the arse and stars who were stars here and when I met them in Hollywood they were nice people again; they were lost, they didn't know where to go, where to network (arse hole creep) but when I pointed them in the right direction they became pains in the arse again. Not being able to look you in the eye in case an important casting director or director came into the room so they could talk to them and you know it's a sight to see. What happens is, they sidle up to their prey with a big smile on their face and start a little chat; after about 3 minutes or so another person will come up and take the head honcho away - I'm sure they are hired to do this – leaving the networker marooned in the middle of the floor.
But you will see others, other networkers, dappled throughout the room, waiting to pounce like hyenas on the savanna – in fact looking like hyenas with their teeth, ready to smile, and their eyes widening and scrunching so as to show them off at their best, waiting for their victim to be alone.
I think the reason I don't know the big big stars intimately is that they don't seem to have many friends; on the way up they twitch and walk around, can't sit down for long, they worry that they'll miss a phone call or a casting and they are no company at all and in any case, as in Hollywood, they drop you and forget you as soon as you've shown them the way.
They pretend to forget you as they know that you know what kind of a prat they really are.
I met quite a few stars in Hollywood and some of them were nice – George Clooney is charming and quite well informed – so it doesn't happen to everybody.
The radio is on at the moment and as I typed they didn't know where to go, where to network, a trailer came on (a trail as they call it) to say that next week on Radio 4 a new series starts called Networking Britain – what a coincidence.
Oh well – back to John Tavener and his beautiful music.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Esther Sullivan - nee Tuite born 1914.

As you might have noticed, if you read this on a regular basis, I don't usually mention any of my family, or friends, by name; I have done this once or twice with my parents, Christy Sullivan Dublin Barber and my mother – Essie Sullivan – in previous posts of those names and I think I mentioned the brudder's name once.
Well today is the centenary of my mother's birth – our mother's birth – Esther Mary Tuite, born October 5th 1914 in Dublin, Ireland.
Later she became Esther Sullivan – Essie from the Alex and previous to that Esther Sullivan, company director of the Lawden Manfacturing Company, Broad Street, Birmingham.
She died in 1993 on December 19th so may she rest in peace.
1914 was the year the great war broke out – the First World War – and my grandfather, Patrick Joseph Tuite, went off to that terrible war with the British Army and getting gassed in the trenches for his trouble; I think that was in 1916 and who knows maybe it was the Battle of the Somme.
I have no details as to whether he was invalided out of the army because of that but he went on to live till 1974.
As there is a lot of publicity concerning the first world war at the moment, I tried to find out if he was listed anywhere and, even though I can find two Tuites, with more or less the same forenames who were in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and another Irish regiment of the British Army, I can's find him in the war records because those two soldiers died in 1917.
In 1916, in Dublin, there was an insurrection called the Irish Uprising where Patrick Pearse (Padraig MacPiarais) read the famous proclamation from the steps of the General Post Office in O'Connell Street Dublin and then fighting broke out.
Padraig MacPiarais
I looked through loads of photos of him and they're mostly like this, as maybe posing for his portrait in profile - maybe posing for his portrait on the stamps and coins.

The English attacked the post office using their long range guns as they sailed in through the foggy dew – sound familiar? Yes the words to a song. Oh look – there I am singing it - (do you know my hair is that long now; I'll get it cut next week).
In France an officer called my granddad in to the office and said “There's a 'bit of trouble in your country.” And that's all granddad knew about the uprising back home; I would fire questions at him but that's all he knew.
One of the things I found out recently was that nearly all the men who were killed in that war from Britain didn't get a vote - and don't forget Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom - they gave their lives without their permission; the only men who were allowed to vote were the gentry or property owners.
Men were given the vote at the same time as women which was after the war in 1918; men at 21 and women at 30.
It stayed like that for about 10 years and then the women's voting age came down to 21; this was, so they say, because too many men were killed in that war and they thought those voting ages would make things more even.
The reason my granddad went off to fight in the war – and I remember pictures of him on the sideboard at my Grannie Tuite's house wearing a skull cap – was because they were broke. My mother was born the same year as the war and then when the war was over there she saw a lot of fighting in the streets.
She told me a lot about that and how she saw men carrying their comrade from the battle of the Forecourts and how they used a door as a stretcher to carry him out.
So today (October 5th 2014) would have been Esther Mary Tuite's 100th birthday, Essie Sullivan, Essie from the Alex and previous to that Esther Sullivan, company director of the Lawden Manufacturing Company, Broad Street, Birmingham.
What would she think if she suddenly came back and saw all the apps, the internet, the smart phones and the smart arses using them and coming up with the answers to the Universe.
She died in 1993 on December 19th and may she rest in peace.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Maps to the Stars.

Julianne Moore in Maps to the Stars

Today I saw one of my favourite films – for the first time.
I know it will be one of my favourite films already as it's in the genre of the films I like. Films about films that is, maybe set in the film capital of the world, namely Hollywood, California with a hint of the sordid side of things with corruption, horror, maybe a bit of incest and murder – all those things which would be a bad description of this film but I think you know what I mean; and they're all in this.
As you can see by the title of this post I am talking about Maps to the Stars by the great Canadian director David Cronenberg. His films have always been outstanding, although I can say I didn't like Cosmopolis at all but one thing I can say is that you may like it so don't let me put you off. The film starts as it goes on, nothing happens but there's one thing I noticed about both movies.
Robert Pattinson plays the lead in Cosmopolis and a smaller role in Maps to the Stars; he's a limo driver in the new film and gets into a limo in the former, and in each film there is an eerie silence outside the cabs as if there is a sound proof barrier around each vehicle. This is a technique I remember Tarantino using in Reservoir Dogs and I think it's quite affective.
One of the things that really seduced me about the film is its location; some scenes were shot in Runyon Canyon right behind where we used to live and for a period of my life I climbed every day. I suppose I will love all films – and I do – of movies shot in places I know and where I can recognise locations but Los Angeles is one of my favourite places on earth.
I sat transfixed and saw some great performances from everyone of the cast; Hollywood is so false, synthetic and subtle and when you see John Cusak with his middle aged large very white face and the jet black hair and then the brilliant Julianne Moore being so false and conniving you see right through the whole charade.
Now I'm not a film critic or reviewer but you must go and see it and the acting, by the way, is real; nobody asking if it's the right accent and it is so good you don't notice.
And the script – an Oscar nomination at least.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Final Prayer of an Atheist.

Chairman, I love you; your comrade is coming to see you.
Strange thing to say isn't it? The comma and semi-colon are mine as the phrase was written in Chinese: something like, 主席,我爱你;您的同志来看您or maybe 主席,我愛你;您的同志來看您。
This was written by Mao's widow, the leader of the gang of four, who was supposed to be an atheist, who followed him and his little red book, when he was alive and then when she killed herself she left that as a suicide note. 
Who and how and what was she going to do about seeing him if she didn't believe in the afterlife?
I wish I believed in the afterlife then I'd know that Jimmy Savile was burning in hell!
But back to Mao's widow. Mao Zedong as they say, written in English, was married to Jiang Qing (pronounced King, I reckon) and known as Madam Mao; she was also an actress and was dumped in prison after Mao's death when she and 3 others carried on doing what they were doing when he was alive. 
Madam Mao
before                                     after
Namely murdering people – she was accused of killing 34,274 and that she was her husband's attack dog. She would kill those that tried to get near him. She stated this after his death and, as I say, she and the other members of the gang of 4 were sent to prison.
She was, in fact, on temporary release from prison for health reason and killed herself before returning.
So let me go back to the original question – did she pretend not to believe in God so she could spread the communist message or did she, in fact, think that Chairman Mao, with his little red book, was some kind of god who was waiting for her in communist heaven?
I mean, the reason communism didn't catch on at all in America is that the only things some of the American people knew about communism was that communists were 'godless.' So there it was, killed at first base!
I just looked it up on line and her quote should have been Chairman! I love you! Your student and comrade is coming to see you!
So there! I was wrong; but as I've said before I don't know a lot about anything.
Let's leave Mao for a moment: when I went to India I was told not to drink the water and not to put ice into my drink; why would I ever put ice into any drink? – anything that is chilled like that is tasteless; like stuff being too hot.
So when I got there I didn't drink any water at all. I drank beer; drinking beer in hot weather is not good for you, really, which is why people who live in hot countries drink tea. Except in California.
The other people in my party didn't drink any beer but now and then they would clap their hands or swipe the air – and what were they doing? Swatting mosquitoes, of course, and getting bitten or sucked by them or whatever a mosquito does!
But the mosquitoes didn't like me; didn't come anywhere near me. Maybe it was the alcohol they didn't like. I could understand if it was something a bit more potent than the glass of Kingfisher I was drinking so I looked up the connection between malaria and alcohol and it seems that if you drink beer the odour your body/breath gives out, actually attracts mosquitoes; so what can I say?
A doctor once told an alcoholic patient that he had drunk so much gin he was malaria immune.
Now – I have just realised that gin is made from juniper; it was invented by a doctor who mixed juniper berries with grain alcohol and every time I hear the word juniper I think of the following lyric:

We'll just lay there by the juniper 
While the moon is bright 
Watch them jugs a filling in the pale moonlight
My daddy, he made whiskey
My granddaddy, he did too
We ain't paid no whiskey tax since 1792

How did we get away from Chairman Mao? Just shows that you should concentrate on what you are doing and not to let your mind wander. But it is a beautiful lyric isn't it? Written by someone called A.F. Beddoe – and his brother. Sung by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan etc.
Someone said it was written during the prohibition era but was in fact written by the fella above and in a letter to Time Magazine in 1962 he wrote the following:
"Sir: I am extremely thrilled that you printed my song in your folk singing article . . . . . Copper      Kettle was written in 1953 as part of my opera Go Lightly Stranger. A. F. BEDDOE, Staten Island, N.Y. "
Now isn't that something, the business of it being written during the Prohibition years is totally false but, as you can see, was written during the years Chairman Mao was distributing his little red book and his acolytes would hold a copy of the book firmly in their right hand and go around shouting happy, happy, happy to all and sunder - or words to that effect – and taking no notice of some of the wonderful songs and poetry being written in the west as well as in his own country and that word I use wisely there – acolyte (s) – is what his followers were and so the dying note from Madam Mao – or Jiang Qing - Chairman! I love you! Your student and comrade is coming to see you! was really the final prayer of an atheist!