Monday, November 16, 2015


I love France; I always have. Well not so much the earth and the buildings but everything else. The people, the movies, their style, customs, food, women, the language I mean – what is there not to like?
One of my hobbies or interests is linguistics and sometimes I wish that it would have been languages because if there's one language I would like to be able to speak it's that one – French.
Just laziness; I have spent quite a bit of time there, and usually manage to communicate, but I do regret that part of my education.
People, like me, with English as their first language, are the laziest on earth when it comes to learning foreign tongues and that's my excuse.
But it's not only the language it's their style – even the ugly girls there have a certain sexiness about them.
If you go in to a bank in Britain or a post office you'll see the clerks in their M&S smart suits; in America the post office people will be wearing post office uniforms and in the Bank of America they all wear the same kind of mufti suits; rather like the England football team when they travel abroad.
In France when I went into a bank they were wearing Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and the like; they looked fantastic.
So when I went to America I was surprised at some of the anti French comments I would hear like ' . . .they wouldn't let us fly over when we bombed . . .' and the total utter rubbish when they wanted to call French Fries, Freedom Fries for a while.
So no I didn't appreciate the derogatory remarks on his Twitter Account by Rob Lowe – an actor who thinks that the meaning of less is more is to look embarrassed.
I have driven through Paris a couple of times but didn't get out of the car. It was the middle of the night in any case and do you know up to that point, and we had travelled about 150 miles from Caen in northern France, it was the first time we saw street lighting.
All the way through the long and winding roads, through small towns and villages the inhabitants were in bed – and this was around nine in the evening and we thought to ourselves – God! How those French know how to live!
And they do – I'm sorry the English will not pronounce the French words with their accents as the Americans do but I have noticed that some of the Tees are not being uttered but people still say the 'S' in Cannes when they shouldn't.
Also the 'T' should be pronounced in the Champagne produced by Moët & Chandon as Moet (with the 2 dots over his 'e') wasn't French.
After all these years I'm always proud when I manage that – here I go again – ë.
So let us all be French today; let us remember the greatest National Anthem in the world – don't forget the best scene in the movie Casablanca with the singing of the La Marseillaise – it is the greatest not because of any chauvinistic choice but because it is the best tune and not necessarily the lyric – that's right, whilst we're at it, lyric; singular.

Vive la France

Monday, November 9, 2015


In Britain there is a thing that few other countries have or can understand and, even though most of us think it unfair and unjust, is probably one of the things that stop this place being subject to a revolution, an Arab Spring (Christian?) or even some kind of insurrection – successful or otherwise. That thing is privilege.
Someone I know was working in a play with a well known posh actor; this actor has been going for years and was in Harry Potter – well the first episode as I didn't any more after that. This 'someone' – the person I knew – said 'he just doesn't understand privilege.'
Well what is privilege?
It is a curse to some and a blessing to others but it's something you really have to think about before condemning it and ask yourself the question would you enjoy privilege much like the queen or some duke? – even the duke, The Duke of Edinburgh – Phil the Greek. You see I have put capitals to describe him as if I was talking of God or Jesus when you refer to God as He, even half way through a sentence. It's as if they (the royals) are Godly, as they were considered up to the seventeenth century.
To me it would be a curse if I suddenly won, shall we say, 17 million on the Lottery and used some of that money to make a movie and put myself in it. 
Would people say (would I say and even think) that I wouldn't have made that movie without the lottery win?
They might and you might think that I should care.
I remember the movie The Truman Show (above) with Jim Carrey – he plays a guy called, well, Truman.
He is an ordinary small town American guy and lives a bland kind of life. Very little need for intelligent stimulation, a predictable wife, predictable relationships in fact the life of a very simple soap opera. Something you might see on TV.
Unfortunately that is what it is – he is a creation and from birth has lived in a kind of bubble. There are hidden cameras on every street, everybody he meets are actors with a specific script and scenario to follow.
One of the things the actors have to do in their semi improvisational scenario is to mention the name of a commercial product for whoever was sponsoring the show; something like 'how did you like that Bird's Instant Whip, Truman?' and he normally would like things because he was that type of guy. Nothing controversial or too critical of anything as he was predictable – it's well worth seeing. Obviously something happens to disturb his happy state but if you are really interested I'm sure you'll look for it.
There is his little world (above) - that's all he sees and there is no way out and the show is a huge hit on national TV. From birth he has been trained: how to respond to certain things and how to behave.
Now who does that remind you of?
Lately I got to thinking – especially when I saw the future King Billy saluting the parade of veteran soldiers remembering their fallen comrades – that the royal family here are a kind of Truman Show.
If we had a choice – any of us – would we really want to swap places with any one of them.
'I wouldn't mind their money' I can hear you saying.
What money and what could they possibly do with money? They don't need money; any money in bank accounts they have with Coutts Bank just stays there. 
They may leave it to their relations but I doubt it. We never see or even hear of wills; the so called Queen Mother died with a massive overdraft but what does it matter? 
I called her the 'so called . . ' as that was not her title she was Queen Elizabeth the Queen's Mother and known within royal circles as Queen Elizabeth as opposed to The Queen who is the queen. In fact they are all called 'the' something or other aren't they – The Prince Charles and so on. “Hi there THE – how ya doing?'
If we got rid of the royal family with fair or foul means or even fowl means (but what would we do with the chickens) where would the money go? £1 each to the residents of Britain might just go around . .
. . and if they disappeared overnight – just packed their bags and ran away – where would they get their money from?
Harry and Billy.
But there he was, the future King Billy, standing on a little rostrum, for many an hour, smiling and saluting the comrades as they passed. Our very own Truman Burbank our very own Truman Show.
And me? I'm free; I can still buy my coffee in Soho once a week or so, enjoy my Guinness and my favourite Irish whiskey, Jameson's and walk about without being molested. The only privilege I have is not being molested (well not often) and once in a while I have a look at King Billy as he has to smile at everybody – I know he has another job rescuing people in his helicopter whilst his brother Harry Boy can meet his army buddies, go to Vegas for an orgy – but he's a good egg too.
If we invented such an institution we would be had up for cruelty.
They're not aristocrats, they are the royal family, our captives, our pets to gawk at and make fun of; their family tree can be traced back to the year dot; there are infiltrations of course from Germany and Russia and some would say from outer space and others say they are lizards but the family line goes all the way back to all those wars and beheadings and gunpowder plots.

The aristocracy are those bumbling scary people like they late Duchess of Devonshire, another italic who, to quote a Guardian article about her,'was a friendly sort, who rarely put on side; one of those toffs who are so grand that the fact of their grandeur never occurs to them, and are able, consequently, to go through life without assuming airs and graces simply because the fact of their social position is taken for granted.'

The only ordinary people they ever encounter are the odd taxi driver who they think are marvelous and they always call them little – 'silly little man' 'awful little man' infuriating little man.'

They are fast disappearing but not the royal family.
I hope these don't disappear:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cyber Space Relationships.

When I first went to live in America, in January 1995, it was like landing in Shangri la; the palm trees festooned the boulevards, avenues and strange street names, beginning with numbers, and the sun beamed down as if it was coming from enormous arc lights on a huge movie set.
There was Hollywood and Vine, there was Sunset Blvd and there was the Hollywood Sign; it was the realisation of some kind of fantasy.
Back in Blighty my family stayed and suffered the cold winds and icy showers whilst I sat on a swing in a garden reading and shading myself from the sun. It was as if I'd died and gone to heaven but the wife and children could speak to me by phone.
It was six months before I saw my wife who came out on a visit for a week which we spent in San Francisco – well actually Berkley; Beserkly they got to call it, but I didn't really like San Francisco even though my first impression was favourable when I visited the place before moving to live in Los Angeles.
After one year I returned to London for Christmas and found it quite hard to move more than a few feet from the radiator. I had anticipated the cold as I'd seen the news the odd time I got a chance to look at a television set, with news of Britain and footage of people in the cold wearing pom pom hats and anoraks.
In fact what I noticed when I came back that time was that everybody seemed to be dressed in dark colours and had very short hair. I think I had let mine grow a bit then even though I got to know a hair dresser down town who was from London. For some reason I let her persuade me in to having blond high lights put in which promptly turned yellow in the sun.
It's a strange place Los Angeles for things like that as the vast majority of men dye their hair and because of the sun, it would make the dye stand out – in fact I notice that it makes a lot of men look older when they dye their hair as it doesn't quite match their skin. There were also a lot of face lifts which were noticeable too.
Later on with the introduction of Skype, and long after my wife came out to live with me, we could speak to the grandchildren and see them at the same time. So I was still in heaven but the kids could see me there as we looked at the babies getting bigger.
I mention all this as I heard a strange story the other day: a granddad in America lives a few states away from his grand daughter; every evening, as he eats dinner, the grand daughter looks at him via Skype and he sees her too. Then before she goes to bed she hugs the monitor – it may be a lap top, computer or even a smart phone.
I think this disturbs me and makes me wonder where we are going as a human race. 
Is this the way we are going to communicate with one another in the future with everybody suffering from vitamin 'D' deficiency because they never see the sun, never get the chance to speak to people face to face and when they want an experience they simply look at it on a screen? 
If we really want to 'be there' we strap on something looking like a pair of goggles with electronic wires attached and really be there.

There are two really good TV series by Dennis Potter who wrote them not long before he died. One is called Cold Lazarus (above) and the other Karaoke. Each series is just four episodes – what the Americans would call a mini series; here it's called a TV Series. 
All written by Dennis Potter – all by himself, no 'show runner,' team of writers not even a script editor. In fact when he discovered he had but months to live, after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he wrote the two TV series in a matter of months.
If you are interested he was interviewed by Melvyn Bragg not long before his death about these two series, and his life and philosophy, which makes for interesting viewing.
The word Karaoke translates in to empty orchestra, by the way, just as (I think) Karate translates to empty hand; the former I'm sure of the latter not so confident.
I can't remember Karaoke too well, although I'll put a synopsis of the two TV series at the end of this post. 
Cold Lazarus is about a disembodied brain floating in liquid. All the experiences of life, movement and emotion the brain feels as an experience and thinks it is actually doing it.
Kind of reminds me of the granddad existing on a TV monitor in his grandchild's life. Her grandfather is a lap top – 'good night, lap top; see you in the morning.'
'Can I take granddad lap top to bed tonight mummy?'
'No you can't; his batteries are low – in any case Daddy wants to use him.'
I can see people in Starbucks every day; an island unto themselves sitting at four seater tables by themselves with their bags, battery chargers and baggage strewn over the other chairs.
I mean – can you imagine John Wayne with a lap top or a yuppie phone?
Here are the two synopses of the aforementioned titles – don't forget Potter was a genius, the writer of many TV plays and series including The Singing Detective and Pennies from Heaven which were both turned in to awful films. He was THE writer who used television – he forayed into the movies and the theatre but television was his medium.
Albert Finney in Karaoke - he is also in Cold Lazerus.
In fact that's his head in the main photo.

Obsessive, self-destructive London television scriptwriter Daniel Feeld finds his health failing while involved with the post-production on his new TV drama, "Karaoke." A hard-drinking heavy smoker, Feeld is in much physical pain as he struggles with pancreatic cancer. Going about his daily routines, he has some odd experiences leading him to conclude that his fictional creations are erupting into real life. He overhears people speaking scraps of his own dialogue including young Sandra Sollars, hostess at a karaoke club run by petty thug Arthur "Pig" Maillion. Feeld fears Sandra could be threatened by "Pig" Maillion in a manner similar to scenes he wrote for "Karaoke" as his memory, fantasy, and reality overlap and inter-weave into a complex mental tapestry.
Cold Lazarus

Writer Daniel Feeld, first seen in Dennis Potter's Karaoke, returns three centuries later as a disembodied head. While technology has advanced in the 24th Century, global corporate control has brought about an austere, antiseptic way of life. In the year 2368, the terrorist organization RON (Reality or Nothing), seeks a return to the tranquility of earlier times. At the Masdon Science Center, a team of scientists led by Emma Porlock succeeds in extracting memories from Feeld's cryogenically preserved head - memories which are, in fact, scenes from Karaoke. Aging Martina Masdon, the tyrannical owner of the Science Center, and international media mogul David Siltz see the potential for the commercial exploitation of Feeld's memories. As Siltz puts it, "Who would want made-up stories from a hack when you can mainline into the real thing? At last, privacy has a true market value."
Dennis Potter

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If Music be the food of love . . .

                                    Lord Boothby and Elvis Presley
If music be the food of love - play on.
I was walking near where I live the other day when I came to a bridge over a railway line. Not a regular city to city line but an over ground section of the underground – the tube – if you'll excuse the paradoxical expression; the oxymoron, as they say in America.
It was a Sunday, and as I walked I looked over the wall at the line and could see maybe three or four hundred yards of track and a little dot in the distance which became a tube train as it approached. Nobody about, of course, just greenery and trees, and as the train got closer the driver could obviously see my head – okay kids it's a big head – poking above the parapet so she blew the whistle and gave me a really big wave. I waved back, of course, and carried on my way, but I could see she was in her element and as happy as a frog in a saucer of warm water.
That driver could see the expanse of the track in front of her as she drove through the countryside, and I thought to myself (to who else?) that that is a 'great' job. A lot of us wanted to be train drivers when we were kids but who talked us out of it? Some boring old fart in a grey suit or a woman in sensible shoes.
I know it's not all sweetness and light, as that train would have to go into the inner city through tunnels and crowded platforms just as we do in life; but it's something to think about isn't it? Wouldn't it be great to just leave school at 15 and go in to the job you really want to do.
I left school at 15 but I didn't know what I wanted to do back then apart from ride a motorcycle – and you have to be 16 to do that here.
Okay I did go to college after that but I still had to meet people in those grey suits – the bank managers and the like who would poo poo any innovations, in fact anything new just as a lot of old people do these days (Do Deeze Daze).
When rock'n'roll first became popular and Elvis Presley went on American television, it was thought that it, rock'n'roll, was the work of the devil and a precursor to Armageddon. There was a politician called Robert Boothby – Lord Boothby – who said on the radio, when asked what he thought about jiving, said 'Jiving? Jiving? I don't see many of the soldiers jiving in Cairo and the Suez Canal. Maybe we should send some of these so called jivers over there and see what jiving they would do.” I paraphrase, of course, but jiving and rock'n'roll totally and utterly changed society. It didn't get rid of the men in the grey suits who still control things – and I mean MEN in those suits as they'll never really let women take over. When it was Margaret Thatcher's time to go she went; in that case it was a good thing as I reckon she changed things for the worse – as did Ronald Reagan.
I think Thatcher was the first Prime Minister pushed out since Harold MacMillan in 1963. 1963 was the year of the Great Train Robbery, the assassination of JFK and the Profumo affair which ended up with MacMillan being eased out of office. Not many were pushed out; the one before that was Eden, due to Suez and so was Chamberlain, I suppose.
I worked in an office as a Sales Correspondent when I finished with the motor bikes and when I told the office manager what my plans were he couldn't believe his ears: “The Royal Academy . . . the what?” I told him – even though I never went to RADA as in those days (Doze Daze) it was in another country; London!!!!
He was one of the people who referred to guitars as banjos.
Just think of the connotation of that mistake and think of the Shakespeare plays with the kings, the queens, Cardinals and soldiers and – yes – the fool who plays the lute; or to the office manager back then, a banjo!!
You see no job, career choice or profession is better than another – any other. Someone who works in a factory will think they have a proper worthwhile job – but they could be working for Cadbury's or Rowntrees where the sweets and candy ruin people's teeth. Or even an arms factory?
You've heard the expression that there are only two worthwhile jobs which is a farmer or a poet and the explanations for these jobs being quoted are not always true – feeding the soul and feeding the belly – but the poet is anything in that neck of the woods: playwright, composer, musician and even actors and they are not here to entertain whilst the kings and queens, Cardinals and soldiers do all the important things; that is what they do.
In music there are usually four beats to the bar; the first eight bars is good enough, usually, to give you a gist of the piece and the middle eight in a song – or 'the bridge' – is usually that bit in the middle; the 'F' and the 'G'.
But why four beats and why eight bars.
In fact why 24 hours to the day – 3 times 8 – and not some metric figure?
Do you think, if they could, they (??) would have decimalised the clock?
They kind of tried with the 24 hour clock which people write down but rarely vocalise.
We would listen to music on vinyl records up to about thirty years ago and the beats per minute varied. The records were supposed to spin at 33, 45 or 78 revolutions per minute – but they didn't stick to it all the time.
Rock'n'roll was usually played at around 100 – 120 beats per minute, in fact if you listen to the Carl Perkins version of Blue Suede Shoes you will find it goes from 80 to about 110-120 so that when you listen to it it's easy on your heartbeat. If you listen to a CD, or anything digital, the music is played at a constant digital beat – no metronome used; just a click track, never any chance of slowing down or speeding up as with live music.
What does this do to your heart?
Ask the poet – or the farmer.

And then see your doctor!!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Klaatu Barada Nikto

Look at this – would you believe that I have passed 130,000 hits in the six years I have been writing this blog. I started in 2009 and I have written (with this) 367 posts, most of them between 650 and 1500 words so how many words are there? Enough for a novel – so maybe I should have been doing that! This post is 775 words.
It was supposed to be the musings of a Hollywood actor – well I'm back in London now and still musing.
Here's a muse - we've all heard this – Why are the same actors in everything on TV? And we all answer – I don't know – but we do; don't we. Or do we?
The reason Casting Directors choose the same people over and over again is because they like to please the director – it's no good sending me in at 5'9” (or maybe 5'7½in stockinged feet; just like Stallone) to play someone like Schwarzenegger. I wouldn't stand a chance of getting the job.
Well someone did last month. I wasn't available for the audition so I was asked to submit on line which I did. I shot and edited a piece but I didn't get the job. And why not?
The character was a big big man; a bare knuckle fighter who fought a gypsy. He had two huge men holding on to a punch bag for all they were worth whilst he pummelled it and knocked it and the two men to the other side of the room. My agent told the casting director that I wasn't that big but she said that the director said he knew me – yeh right!
They really needed someone like Stallone!!
Hang on he's the same size as me! Okay he wears lifts but you know what I mean.
I bet the casting director must have had the shock of her life when they saw my piece – to be honest it didn't look that bad (above) and in Hollywood they would get some actors smaller than me or stand me on a box, but they were really after someone like The Rock – or Stallone.
Another memory - I remember one time, years ago when I was a child of about 8, the kids in my neighbourhood were playing on a Bombed Building – that's where we used to play and there were many of them about.
 It was really a piece of waste ground but they called them bombed buildings in inner cities in those days as the war had only been over about 6 or 7 years (if that) and the phrase was still in the vernacular.
We used to play The Day the Earth Stood Still – a great Sci-fi movie from 1951 and still one of my favourite films although not the remake. The great thing about it is that it was shot in black and white and has a space ship that lands in a field in Washington. It has to be said it's a bit preachy but still a great movie.
One day the rest of the kids were playing it as there was a local pervert who was older than the rest of us and we would use him to play Gort – the big robot. It was the same game each time we played it but I wasn't there on this particular occasion so they sent for me.
Some kid came running down our little alley cum lane and told me I was wanted. I was the only one who knew the magic words that Klaatu, the hero from outer space, spoke to the robot to stop him destroying earth; I didn't really I just made them up but in the film they were Klaatu Barada Nikto.
I went to the bombed building and the kids were all standing around, the perv was standing by an old dumped car we used as the space ship, some kids with their little guns, who were playing cops, were hiding with their little guns behind a pile of dirt, and I came in, like a movie star, said the magic words and the game commenced; nice being a movie star for the day.
Patricia Neal, in an interview in later years, said she said the first words that came in to her head but they actually were in the script.
We don't know what happened to the pervert; there were many of them around in those days but us kids had to be wary of him as he was bigger than us – just like these days.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Legend of the Terror On the Train.

This is a strange little tail which I am assured is true; I have to ask myself why I want to spread the word about it and have to settle for the same reason that I write anything at all and I am still struggling with that.
A few weeks ago a man called El-Khazzani , went in to the lavatory of an express train in France and loaded some guns.
Now I have fired guns at The Battle of Kingsbury Range, The Battle of Pershore Range and other ranges - Bisley? - throughout this green and pleasant land and I have not spilled a drop of anybody's blood - human or otherwise.
But it seems that this character called El-Khazzani had other ideas it seems he was intent on getting his name in to the papers and go down in history together with the shoe bomber and the other total nut jobs by massacring a load of people on a train.
He had obviously heard that it had been done on a plane and with planes, on the Tube and buses in London and various places of worship all over the world.
He had heard of the Arab Spring which disappeared as quickly as it sprang up so when he went in to the lavatory on that train he played some kind of video on his app or his tablet or whatever device of the devil he had chosen to carry with him that day.
It is said that someone heard him loading his weapons and when El-Khazzani came out of the bathroom with something other than his dick in his hand* he was thwarted by the sound of an American voice shouting 'Let's Roll' – as in the movie of the one downed airliner that didn't hit a building that day on 9/11 (of 11/9 depending on where you come from) and was overcome by three marines and a Brit; the marines rolled and the Brit tied him up – maybe with his tie or cravat – or as they say in America his Ascot!!
Well after that none other than Barack(yes we can)Obama called his American heroes and congratulated them. Two whites and one black. If they'd have been cast in a movie it would have looked like creative casting. The news was that he only spoke to the Americans as he had expected David (call me Dave)Cameron to call the Brit but . . . 
Dave was on holiday.
Doesn't sound right does it; the three Americans were given the Legion of Honour – Légion d'honneur - from the French President and the Brit stood in at the ceremony as one of the Americans was in hospital with a neck and finger injury.
So that's the story – the Brit gave the speeches to the press after the affray (not Clarkson again) in a slow and measured manner and the Americans just said, we beat the crap out of him.
The only part I saw of this whole incident was some footage of El-Khazzani lying on the floor hog tied. Yes you read it right hog tied – that is lying face down with his legs tied up behind him; with a cravat??
Now if I was clever, as clever as the journalist I got this formation from – Geoff Dyer – I could make up a kind of pastiche or parody of the Second World War where it was said that at the Omaha Beach battle the Americans supplied the soldiers and the French provided the sand, or something even cleverer like the war which was fought for a few years before the Americans even joined in – way past The Battle of Britain, Dunkirk and all that – you see, when El-Khazzani came out of the loo he was attacked by a French man and as the French man grappled with El-Khazzani another man joined in, this time a French/American who was actually shot.
A third man smashed the alarm cutting his finger to the bone – a French movie actor, it turns out, and when all the shouting and grappling was going a shout went up 'Let's Go!! (wasn't let's roll after all) and that's when the Americans, who were on vacation, joined in and pummeled El-Khazzani till he was still.
Someone stuck a finger in to the French/American's wound till the paramedics arrived but when the press came the French preferred to remain anonymous.
So who were they left with - Anchors Aweigh my boys!!
And after all that El-Khazzani wanted his gun back.
So they printed the legend.

*See The Godfather. Sonny: I don't wanna see my brother coming out with just his dick in his hand.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone

A long time ago, before The Beatles were invented and skiffle was all the rage, with Lonnie Donegan leading the skiffling pack, I bought a tea chest. I know you won't know or don't know what a tea chest is but in case you do want to know and would enjoy partaking of the knowledge - here is one:

It was used for keeping loose tea leaves in, and could be obtained from tea distributors. People actually did 'obtain' them and use them when they moved house, to pack with books and other things, which weighed heavier than bricks and broke many a furniture remover's back.
This was before the tea bag – the scourge of tea drinkers – became popular and as you can see from the above there was no top; they were only used once. The reason I got the tea chest was to turn it into a bass for my little skiffle group.
I always wanted to play the guitar but at that early age I couldn't afford one but my dad had a mandolin; so I got hold of the that, took all the strings off and put four guitar strings on to it and tried to tune it as a guitar.
Not that it made any difference to me how it was tuned I tried to get a tune out of it the best way I could. I would belt out the songs and strum along to the skiffle and rock'n'roll records we didn't have – yes I would shout and scream “I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man.”
The neighbours didn't call the noise abatement society once or the police. I think my parents would have called for help if we'd had a phone but back in those dark days only the really posh people had phones.
In fact as a child I only knew one family who had one.
Because I didn't have a plectrum (what the Americans call a pick) I would suffer from blisters on my thumb; it became so bad I had to use a coin which sounded terrible.
Well terrible out of tune as opposed to the sound of the thumb which made it as a few strings being played out of tune but “I'm a gambling man, man, man. I'm a gambling man, man, man” was belted out whenever my parents were out.
The tea chest was supposed to be played by my brudder as a bass.

That's not him but you get the idea.
One day I was going nowhere in particular, and a woman came and asked me how I was and what I was doing and things like that.
That woman, I believe, was a teacher; at least I was told that she was, and I was also told that she was the aunt of Donald Maclean, whom we made our first holy communion with, before he became famous as a comedian. He is a papal count now so he must be very holy but when my mother told him later on when he was famous, who she was and that she knew his aunt, he denied it; denied he knew my mother and denied the woman was his aunt.
Anyway the woman asked me what I was doing and I told her I had formed a skiffle group.
    How wonderful” she said “here.”
    And she gave me some money.
    That's toward the group and I wish you every success.”
    I was taken aback so I said “oh no, I couldn't.”
    I said this as a matter of manners, thinking she would say something like “no; you take it” and I would have.
    But she put it back in to her purse.
    The money she offered was quite a lot by the standards of those days but it would have been put into a box or bank or something waiting for the day when someone else would offer me some money towards the venture.
    Needless to say the group didn't get any further and the tea chest was used in the move to our next house - breaking the back of the poor removal man.
    But these days there is a way of raising money for ventures; films, plays, groups or whatever and that is crowd funding which I will be doing with my play The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone.
Here's how it works: I will make a budget for the play which will give me a target that I have to reach. I have to give a set date – shall we say one million dollars – (it won't be but . . . . ) and we will have to raise that amount by that date.
If $999,999 is raised the whole deal is off – sounds ridiculous, I know; we can't just take what has been pledged or drop out when it reaches a figure we fancy, in point of fact if that was a real target I'd get someone I know to put the $1 in.
How do people get involved?
They state how much they want to give - $20, $40 up to whatever amount is tops. There will be little gifts for each amount like a copy of the script signed by the stars, if it's a movie and things like that.
I have donated to a few crowd funding ventures and they weren't all successful.
When you donate you give your credit/debit card number and that is only accessed if the full amount is realised.
When I did it last year nothing happened to the one which wasn't successful as the producer cancelled the campaign. I don't know if he was ever told who donayted; the others just took the amount I had pledged from my card and sent me the gift – well one didn't send the gift even after I asked for it – it was only a post card and wouldn't have killed them to send it - and I know what I'll say if they ask for more this year.
So wish me luck with my play – it won't be till next year and I dare say some of you who know me will receive news and will be asked to pledge but I will be doing most of it through social network sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Here is a little teaser trailer -

A word about my movie by the way; I asked Amazon why it isn't available over here and they said it was to do with licensing so . .. what can I say?

Friday, July 31, 2015

White Rabbits.

One of the first things I said this morning was “White Rabbits;” I hardly know why I said it but I have been saying it for most of my life. My mother told me to say it and like a good little boy that's what I've been doing.
My wife always gets up at an ungodly hour on Saturday and Sunday mornings to go out to the markets to buy antiques – even though we no longer have an antique business - so I invariably wake up for a while then go back to sleep. If I lay awake for hours listening to the radio I go back to sleep till about 10.
But when I hear those magic words, 'This is the shipping forecast for today August 1st 2015' I say 'White Rabbits.'
There are a few things I missed about living in Britain and one was the shipping forecast; it goes out on the radio a few times a day. I hear the last one – and I usually do – at 12:48 am, and it goes:
And now, here is the shipping forecast. There are warnings of gales in Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire, Forties, Cromarty, German Bight and Humber.
The general synopsis:

Low, Rockall, 9 7 3 moving northwards, losing its identity by same time. New low expected Malin by that time.
Low, Hebrides 9 9 4, moving rapidly South-East, and losing its identity by midday tomorrow.
The area forecasts for the next 24 hours:

Viking, North Utsire, South Utsire — Gale warning issued Oh, nine four two.
South-Easterly gale force 8 increasing severe gale force 9 later; wind South-Easterly 6 to 8, occasionally severe gale 9; sea state rough or very rough, becoming very rough or high; rain later; visibility moderate or good.
Forties, Cromarty —
Gale warning issued Oh, nine four two.”
And on it goes; it has to have a script of the same length each time and it is preceded by the music Sailing By – which is another thing I missed when not living here.
Those strange names, which sound strange to none sea going people – landlubbers – are taken from sandbanks, islands, north European shorelines, towns and islets.
In October 1859, the steam clipper Royal Charter wrecked in a strong storm off Anglesey; 450 people lost their lives. Due to this loss, Vice-Admiral Robert FitzRoy, introduced a warning service for shipping in February 1861, using telegraph communications. This remained the United Kingdom's Met Office primary responsibility for some time afterwards. In 1911, the Met Office had begun issuing marine weather forecasts which included gale and storm warnings via radio transmission for areas around Great Britain. This service was discontinued during and following Word War I, between 1914 and June 1921, and again during World War II between 1939 and 1945.
Today, although most ships have onboard technology to provide the Forecast's information, they still use it to check their data.
ice can be dangerous
On Friday 30 May 2014, for the first time in more than 90 years, the BBC failed to broadcast the Shipping Forecast at 5:20 am. Staff at Broadcasting House were reading out the report but it was not transmitted. Listeners instead heard BBC World Service.
That's a but of information you didn't know you were going to get today did you and it came from Wikipedia!
The music Sailing By may annoy some people because it's played every day but that's their bad luck. It is a warning that the shipping forecast is about to be read and it fills the gap neatly between two progammes so it very rarely gets played in full mainly because The Shipping forecast has to go out at exactly 12:48 am.
So there, you are learning a few things about me – The Shipping Forecast, Sailing By and the theme tune to The Archers are three of the things I missed and the other was The Guardian – although I read it on line when in Los Angeles. - oh yes and the time pips from Greenwich.
The Archers annoys me, even though I like the theme tune as some of those actor voices sound just like that; actor voices. And The Guardian annoys me, even though I read it, with it's banning of certain words - idiots.
So back to White Rabbits; my mother told me to say it on the first day of the month and up to a few minutes ago I didn't know the reason.
Well it's supposed to mean that by the end of the month you will receive a present; some people say 'a flick and a kick for being so quick' on the first day of the month, but that has something to do with a pinch of salt.
But White Rabbits is what I say and that's what the bomber crews would say each time they risked their lives going up in those little tin crates, during The Battle of Britain, where most of them never came back.
White Rabbits!