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. 
Simple?
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.
But.
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.
 BANG!!!
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
by
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.
“What?”
“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 - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tt3g3Hq6pE (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!












Thursday, September 18, 2014

Scotland, the brave!


Trinity College, Dublin, Library.

I cannot let this day go – Thursday September 18th 2014 – without mentioning that today, Scotland are voting to be independent of Britain; it will no longer be part of Great Britain (short for Greater Britain, I suppose, like Greater London where I live or Greater Los Angeles, where I used to live).
After centuries fighting for home rule by politicians like Parnell etc, in 1916 there was an insurrection in Dublin, Ireland, for Irish Independence and today Scotland are getting it without a physical fight; I can't believe they will vote no. 
Thousands died over the years for Irish Independence and Scotland have a chance of getting it by a vote.
The union with Ireland was made through bribery and corruption – let me quote Wikipedia and I'm sorry if you don't like Wikipedia . . . The passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was ultimately achieved with substantial majorities, having failed on the first attempt in 1799. According to contemporary documents and historical analysis, this was achieved through a considerable degree of bribery, with funding provided by the British Secret Service Office, and the awarding of peerages, places and honours to secure votes. Thus, Ireland became part of an extended United Kingdom, ruled directly by a united parliament at Westminster in London, though resistance remained, as evidenced by Robert Emmet's failed Irish Rebellion of 1803.
Now bear that in mind when you read this:
Back to Scotland:
As soon as recent opinion polls reported a rise in the Yes vote the Westminster party leaders, including the Prime Minister, decamped to Scotland like squealing jackals and then the ex-leader of the Labour Party, Gordon Brown, spoke with the passion he should have shown in 2010 when Labour lost to the Conservatives in the General Election. They were there to beg the Scots not to vote yes.
As with Ireland they offered bribes to the Scots – the so called Devo-Max, empty promises and dreams which will turn into nightmares, and there was a Tory MP on the radio the other day who confirmed that promises would be broken, by saying he wouldn't be voting for the so called promises if there is a no vote.
The same kind of bribes from 211 years ago? I think so.
By the way, 30 years after the insurrection, after the uprising which followed and after the civil war which gave Ireland a kind of freedom (they could never claim Ulster – most of it - in the north) and were left with 26 of the 32 counties, the King of Great Britain, Edward VIII abdicated.
A notice was sent to all the countries where he 'ruled' – amongst them Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland . . . yes Ireland!
The transformation from the Irish Free State to the Republic of Ireland didn't happen till the late forties and then in 1974 that ex King – Edward VIII – who had abdicated in 1936 died; and it was only then that he, officially, ceased to be King of Ireland. The reason is that the rest of the Empire and consequently the Commonwealth, ratified the abdication in 1936, but Ireland didn't bother; this is supposed to be true – what is true is that an Irish woman, The Countess Markievicz, was the first woman elected to the UK House of Commons in 1918 although she never took her seat.
I was in Dublin a few weeks ago; we stayed at Trinity College for one night and had a private tour of the wonderful library where we had a good look at The Book of Kells; the oldest book in the world. I had seen it before but my wife hadn't; the book was created in the year 800 AD.
Afterwards we stayed with family and it was wonderful to see them and they really pushed the boat out for us; wining and dining us – well, whiskeying me as I don't drink wine!
On the way back to London, we were waiting in the departure part of the quay, we had travelled by sea, and my mind was transported back to when we lived in Los Angeles when I went to El Pollo Loco on Sunset Boulevard; in fact I wrote a post about it on here a few years ago.
We were having coffee and a fella came in to the place and, as he carried his coffee from the counter to his table, it became evident that he wasn't wearing a belt, and as he struggled with his coffee, whilst holding his trousers up with his other hand, he let them go slightly exposing his arse; I remember that happening in El Polo Loco: a down and out let his trousers go as he tried to make it to a seat but his went almost all the way down which made a poor woman in front of him go hysterical. And as with the fella in Dublin the arse was as clean and tidy as a whistle and you would have been sorely tempted to give it a gentle tap as you went by – but we didn't go by, we travelled across to Wales were we stopped at the following station:
 Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

Yes from the oldest book in the world to the longest place name in Britain, in Wales of course and definitely the longest domain name without hyphens; will that be the next place for a referendum? Wales I mean not Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
So what's going to happen today? I have worked in Edinburgh a few times and I have a lot of relations there and love Scotland dearly – it has the 2nd best accent in the world – and we might even have lived there at one time.
Will they vote to get Britain's Nuclear Weapons off their land and keep their own oil and get the government they vote for at General Elections?
I don't know but we shouldn't be giving opinions as to how it will affect us - it's how it affects the people living there that count.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Post Office and Alan Johnson.

Alan Johnson; MP.
I suppose in a kind of a way this is a bit political; but what is politics – or what are politics? They are our every day relationships and meetings with people. 
I mean if you never read anything more than the 'red top' newspapers or listened only to snatches of news on a pop music radio station you will believe all the BS that the barrack room politician, the loud mouth in the pub – you know the one with the loudest voice who's only argument to your point of view is a very loud Wrong!! - you will believe all that: that immigrants are taking your jobs, that we - the royal we – are paying for all that.
Well, you know that kind of stuff is not true – but that's not all I want to say. 
There he is above – Alan Johnson, MP – the Right Honourable Alan Johnson, I might add; Right Honourable meaning that he held high office in the British Government and he is a member of the privy council which means he is or was, privy to all the top top secret top secrets of this country. 
If that isn't all correct look it up and write in.
He has a similar profile to mine except that he passed the 11+ and I sat through it. I had to get my 'O' levels (and an A/O level) years later and then only because I was interested in the subjects – Sociology, English Literature and Film Studies (that was the A/O and the hardest).
He went to work at the post office when he was 18; I started to wind down my career at the post office at that age as it was mandatory for us to leave the telegram motor bike delivery service then and become a postman, I did not want to be a postman but I stayed for 3 years and still can't believe it.
But my point here is that in those days everything was done by hand at the post office apart from the automatic machine for date stamping the letters. And that automatic date stamper – or whatever it was called – had to have the date changed by a very trusted supervisor; a postman higher grade or a PHG – or even an Inspector - and why?
Let me tell you.
On the walls of the sorting offices were big signs warning us that we were not allowed by law to do the fixed odds football pools. And I can hear people from other countries saying 'call that a free country' etc or what are the pools?
The Fixed Odds were what they say – fixed odds. Every football match on the coming Saturday fixture list had odds for the outcome – betting odds. All legit. All Kosher. If you wanted to take part you would get the fixed odds coupon from a newsagents or the like, look at the fixtures for the coming week and then predict what the results would be, say Manchester City to beat Manchester Utd having odds of 2-1 or Utd to beat City having odds of 3-1.
Then you would put a stamp on the envelope and mail it but . . . . if you worked at the post office what you could do was get the envelope on the Friday, put it through the date stamping machine and then put it in your pocket. Then on Saturday you see the football results, fill your fixed odd pools coupon with the correct results, put your postal order in the envelope and then put it in the mail when you go back to work on Monday. 
Simple. 
The pools company would see that you've won, check that the stamp on the envelope is date stamped prior to the date of the matches and hey presto!
To be honest I can't remember anybody doing it or even heard of it but the opportunity was there.
In those days letters would be delivered to every part of Britain by the next day. That's if they were fully paid (or first class) and the second class would get delivered the day after.
That's all it took. That's when the post office was run by the government before it was made into a corporation by the Conservative Government in 1970. The first thing they did was to sack the chairman and then later in 1970 there was a short post office strike. In 1971 there was another strike which lasted about 6 weeks which coincided with the introduction of decimalisation – you know no longer 240 pennies to the pound but 100 new pence or eventually pence and if they'd have left it at that or maybe left the post office as a governmental organisation with all the workers being civil servants my auntie may have had testicles and been my uncle; who knows?
That's why you will never see the first decimalisation stamps with the first day date stamp on them - unless, well I've explained it above.
I mention Alan Johnson as he is an inspiration; he was orphaned as a child and he and his sister fought to stay together (she was 16) in their house and that's what they did. He got a job as a postman and eventually joined the UPW (which I did) then he became a Labour MP and eventually Home Secretary after other cabinet jobs; Home Secretary being one of the big four jobs in the government.
I kind of listened to his accent – which is a well spoken North London one – when I was doing my cockney accent for the play I did last week; I kind of took something from him but eventually did all the bits of the London accent except for the glockel-stop.
Bit ironic really as I had promised myself that when I came back from America I wouldn't do any accents in my work; you never hear them in America (apart from being done very badly) unless it's Meryl Streep, and because you are not putting an accent on, it makes the naturalism in your performance easier. 
There is always a little bit of an impersonation, a caricature in a performance if you have to do an accent which I hope I overcame on Saturday when I did my secret play. 
20 pages of a monologue all learned - that's why I didn't write anything here lately.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Official Hostage.


King Charles I before he lost his head.

I'm still rehearsing the play, learning many many lines but I'm getting there and . . well I forgot to write a post here didn't I?
So I'm starting this with no idea of where it's going to go so we'll see; this morning on the radio, I heard a little radio quiz and the answer was Kate Bush – just a few sound clips and the clue for Bush was our man himself; the fella we all laughed at up to 2008, George W. Bush.
His little quote was typical of the man; he said something like 'a single mother has a very hard job to do; she has to work all day to put food on her family' – I mean I know it was a slip of the tongue but if he wasn't so dangerous he would be funny. I am now waiting and fearing the day he comes into fashion the way Reagan did a few years ago and Thatcher did recently.
There are loads of people both here and in America who worship both of them; we might find it a bit of a stretch thinking of Reagan but no – a lot of Americans worship him. He was an interesting man but head of state??
At least Thatcher wasn't the head of state. She was the head of the government – the Queen is the head of state. That gave me a bit of comfort to know that she had to answer to someone besides the once in a while message from the electorate.
The other night I was cutting some chips – okay you guys, French Fries – and the potatoes weren't very big so my chips were only about three inches long. I mean they all taste the same, don't they, whether they're short or long, as long as they're not overdone or crispy.
When I got them ready (I put them in the oven, by the way, on a baking tray with a pudding spoon of oil) and looked at them, they reminded me of a TV programme I once watched about the Queen's chef.
He had to cut her chips that size whenever he served fish and chips. He would also serve it to her on a tray and she would sit in an arm chair and eat – more or less – from a tray on her lap.
Makes her kind of human doesn't it?
And I thought I wonder if she knows what she missing? Good old fish and chips from a seaside fish and chip shop; anywhere in the British Isles but not in America.
Everywhere she goes she smells paint, sees people in their Sunday best and everyone on their best behaviour – wouldn't it, once in a while, be nice for her to see people as they really are.
I know she's done that after a fashion but I don't think there is anywhere on earth where she wouldn't be recognised – well maybe places in Africa like Gabon or Somalia and you wouldn't want her travelling there incognito.
One little story about the royal family bemused me or should I say amused me or . . . well a cross between the two: there was an MP (Member of Parliament – hi America!) who, when she was first elected, had the job of going to Buckingham Palace on one of the days the Queen opened a session Parliament.
This is a tradition going back a few hundred years; the MP has to stay there till the Queen gets back; take a guess why.
When they Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen were due to leave, the Duke went to the MP and said 'they'll probably shoot you if we don't come back!!'
Of course that is the tradition because one of the monarchs didn't come back; they chopped his head off so the MP was a hostage – now I always thought that the tradition wasn't literal that it was only a tradition but . . .
Recently there was another MP in a documentary on the radio and he said that when he had to do it it was a great day for him. He had the free run of the palace, he could do anything he liked but he couldn't go out.
The officer in charged was asked what he would do if the Queen was, in fact, kidnapped or killed and he replied without giving it much thought 'Oh we'd kill him; immediately!'
Have a nice day!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Good Night Vietnam!

By now everybody will know of the tragic death of Robin Williams; it has been a shock but I think a lot of people were not that surprised. Something had to fuel that amount of manic energy; there was only one way to go and that was down.
There have been experts crawling out of every piece of woodwork, skirting board and from under every counterpane imaginable since the announcement; I'm not going to add to that but felt I should say something.
I have always thought that there are a group of performers – genius comedians – who are beyond talent. In the old old days before TV, movies and the rest of it, they would have taken off in to a funny routine at the drop of a hat. There would be no writer, agent, director – nothing.
These people seem to suffer depression these days and some of them go all the other way to the other pole – the manic one. 
I am not even going to pretend that I am in the same league as that bloke standing next to you in the pub when it comes to expertise on the subject but being in this business I have known a few and a few of those have committed suicide.
I worked with a fella on a big movie about 20 years ago and he hung himself too in his Hampstead flat; tragic. He wasn't a comedian but a good actor nonetheless.
The group of comedians these days who are beyond everything and touched by genius include Jim Carrey; he, apparently suffers from depression and also delivers in a manic kind of way, sometimes. Charlie Chaplin was another one – he was a depressive, according to recent newspaper articles so it must have something to do with the comic mind.
To entertain a crowd of people and having them laugh at your every move and utterance is the most wonderful feeling in the world. I know what it feels like to play to hundreds of people but what it must be like to play to millions all over the world is still a mystery.
But put yourself in their place; a tragedy happens in their family and at the hospital they still have to be Robin Williams or Jim Carrey; they may wish to make a serious point in an argument but they still have to be Robin Williams or Jim Carrey.
I heard that people had written Robin Williams off a few years ago – the same old shtick the same old manic humour.
But you know the trouble with some movies of Robin Williams or Jim Carrey? The writers could never keep up.
Jim Carrey was in one of my favourite films of all time – Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – which he had to play straight. His type of comedy wasn't required at all and he was good but it was as if he had to prove himself to some of the suits in Hollywood. But he didn't have to prove anything did he? There will always be comedians/comedy actors and people like Robin Williams, Jim Carrey. Eddie Murphy, Jack Black, Steve Martin and Steve Carell who will always be accused of doing the same old shtick by talentless couch potatoes.
There was something about Robin Williams' eyes which I noticed when he did comedy on a talk show; a certain sadness maybe an unconscious lack of confidence. I think he felt a need to deliver a very quick funny response and sometimes his very quick mind/wit was slightly ahead of his delivery and he would have to edit a phrase or an idea half way through a sentence.
I went to a screening of a film he was in (One Hour Photo) at the Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Blvd and at the end of the film I saw him waiting to come out and meet us for a Q&A and he looked like a regular middle aged gentleman seriously and nervously standing there behind the ushers' curtain.
It was one of his serious roles and, I suppose, he was ready to answer some serious questions about the disturbed character he played.
But as soon as he was announced a huge cheer went up - even though the Egyptian Theatre isn't very big - and he must have felt a pressure to be funny and was; in fact he was hilarious. His first line 'fucking hell' brought the house down and he improvised for the next twenty minutes.
I always noticed his sad eyes from then on, every time I saw him perform; even in retrospect. At the end they couldn't find what he was searching for apart from a disastrous way out; RIP.
Good Night Vietnam!