Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Busby Babes; Big Duncan is gone.

You may have noticed, whilst perusing these random thoughts from time to time, that the football team I follow – or support – is Aston Villa. Other Villa fans include King Billy and Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks gave someone his autograph once and the guy shouted after Tom 'what are you thanking me for?'
Think about it!
King Billy, of course, is Prince William who can be seen sitting in the stands, when he is around, by himself.
I would see them every time they played at home, when I was a lad, and, in fact, I nearly played there – I was the solo drummer in the army cadets band.
I can't really remember too much about any of the football matches or incidents, apart from Stan Lynn missing a penalty (but he scored from the rebound) and the visit of the Busby Babes – Manchester United.
Yesterday was the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster when half of the football team, together with others, were killed on their way back from a cup match in Munich. The aircraft tried three times to take off in the snow and crashed on the third attempt.
One of their most famous players, and a genius if you can call a footballer a genius, was Duncan Edwards; he died a few days after the crash at the age of 21.
On the day United played Villa, I remember one of the United players skied a ball and I was standing next to the great man on the pitch; the ball seemed a long way from him and for a short time I thought it was going to hit me – but he stretched out his muscular leg and trapped it dead.
I wasn't playing, of course; I was just a little lad who had invaded the football field when the players came on; we would do this at every match and we were usually ushered off.
Eventually because of the reaction of the authorities – and most stadiums – this turned in to football hooliganism.
I don't remember what happened in that game but I can still see Duncan Edwards standing near me as they warmed up and I can remember his very muscular legs and thinking I wouldn't like to get a kick from one of those!!
There are still 2 survivors of that crash: Bobby Charlton, a real hero to football fans the world over and, I think, Harry Gregg. The Irish goalkeeper, apparently, was a hero at the crash. I saw him play in the 1970s in a little charity game in Shropshire – still fit.
Over the weekend, the crowd stopped and gave silence to remember the event and the players with lots of people there who had helped line the streets of Manchester when the coffins were returned to the city late one rainy February night.

A little lonely man of about 85 stood in the crowd and that was Bobby Charlton who came out of the crash unscathed – physically. You could see on the TV the torture in his face – the shave cuts prominent. 
He is reported to have said that he heard the news of Duncan Edwards death from Duncan's mother: 'Big Duncan is gone' she said. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

The Pilot Season.

                                                George Clooney

For some reason a post I wrote about the pilot season in 2012 is getting a lot of hits. I had a read and I thought it might be interesting for you do here goes:
Here we are on another January morning in Hollywood; Los Angeles, really, but Hollywood when we talk of the film business as that is what the industry is here.
Januarys have usually been around the start of the pilot season when mothers bring their kids here to try and get a job in a TV series; try and get a job in a pilot which they hope would be a TV Series more like.
Most of the pilots the kids would be aiming for would be situation comedies – sitcoms – as there were very few children needed in the cops shows or hospital shows.
Between where I live and the Valley proper, there are apartment buildings which used to temporarily rent apartments to the mothers and their, usually, precocious little brats.
I've worked with few children in my time and most of the time they have been well behaved – not so much their mums – but we had to watch our language and watch when their little kids would do a tap dance on the set.
If the kids were well known they seemed to have a certain confidence – and maybe precociousness – and they would give opinions about things and people would listen to them; this would give me the cue to go to my dressing room. Don't get me wrong, I love kids – I used to go to school with them – but I always hated kids in the cast.
But back to the pilot season; well it doesn't seem to exist any more; they (the royal they whoever they are) make pilots all the year round. They make hundreds of them if not thousands. I have seen many; I saw one about a gay robot butler, one about cavemen and one with Tom Conti playing a drunken grandfather who pals up and takes his grandchildren to night clubs.
These pilots cost a fortune and George Clooney appeared in so many, before he made ER, that he became quite rich. They would pay – and I stand to be corrected – about $40,000 for the pilot not even knowing if the pilot would be picked up.
When you go for an audition for the pilot you get the sides (the pages they will want you to read for the audition) 24 hours before the audition. This is a great SAG (Screen Actors Guild) rule which doesn't happen in the UK which enable the producers to cast the best actors in their projects; they are after talent and not the best readers.
After the audition with the casting director, the casting director recommends a short(er) list to come in the for 'call back'. This may still be a 'pre-read' and if you get through that you will be asked to come and audition for the director or one of the producers.
This can happen numerous times till you get to meet the executive producers, their wives and other hangers on.
Before you meet the executive producers, their wives and other hangers on, and you may be down to half a dozen people for each role for the show, your agent will be called and they will do the deal – there and then before the final audition – and you will be told (maybe after negotiation but I doubt it) what the terms of the contract will be.
You will see the increments over the next few years of the show – how much you will get per show, what the residuals are (which will be standard), how much you get if the show goes into syndication and a lot of other imponderables and terms.
The contract will blind you with figures and will be worth many hundreds of thousands of dollars and sometimes will go into millions. You may be offered maybe $40,000 per episode and projected to shoot 13 or 26 episodes per series and then get an increase in the second season and so on – and you haven't had the final audition yet!!!!
This final audition may go into another call back but eventually a pilot will be shot.
When the pilot is shot the producers will show it to the studio executives who will pick it apart and maybe re-cast some of the roles and they will re-shoot those roles and then when they are finished again they will take it to a market research company and focus groups will gather around Los Angeles and watch them; some of these people will be paid.
They will gather in theatres, offices and small screening rooms; sometimes the executives will watch the audiences through a one way mirror to see how they react and the audiences/focus groups will be made up of a sample of the population – some black, some white, some Latino, blue collar, white collar and all the other ethnic and sexual persuasion that it's a wonder anything comes out of it.
The one group of people that they never want in the group would be actors; in a company town it is very hard to throw a stick any day of the week without hitting an actor; I don't even have any idea how many actors live in this building so sometimes they go 'out of town.'
After this they may re-cast and re-shoot yet again because a character may be disliked or an actor may be disliked or even be the wrong colour or race.
So after all this they eventually have a show; then they show it to some critics and they let us all know which ones are going to be hits; the one they said would be a hit this last season was one called Lone Star.
Every critic loved it and it was going to be a big hit – the hit of the season and everybody who had anything to do with it was delighted and optimistic; it was cancelled after just two episodes.
Here's what Fox said about the cancellation:
While speaking at today’s Fox Winter TCA tour in Pasadena, CA, Fox Entertainment Chairman Peter Rice spoke about why he felt their Fall series LONE STARfailed after only two episodes.
We made a show we really loved, and thought the creators were very talented and made an excellent show,” says Rice. “ [The critics] believed in the show and liked the show, but not enough people showed up to watch it. We were very disappointed in that. It’s the reality of the business we’re in. It’s intensely competitive and you make the best shows you can. The truth is, it failed to meet the expectations we had. That doesn’t mean we don’t like the show and respect the people who made it. I would much prefer to fail with a show we’re creatively proud of than fail with a show that we’re embarrassed by.”
What is not mentioned above is that it was put on opposite the American version of the BBC Show Dancing with the Stars produced by the BBC over here – now isn't that a dumb decision? It was buried and I have to confess I don't know why they buried it there; so the advertisers who bought space on the opening night were not satisfied with the number of people who watched the show; by the time the second episode was shown the writing was on the wall and Fox pulled the plug.
So after all that work, the auditions, the call backs, the contract talks, the rehearsals and the rest of it the show is history.
These people are professionals and they know what they are doing but there was no way an excellent show could be saved.
Let me put my oar in here and as usual I will say I am not an expert on anything – the advertisers are always looking for a specific age group to aim their advertising at; 18 to about 40 – maybe even younger – and I have to ask why?
People with the most money to spare are the senior members of society and they are usually over 40 and watch mature shows and things like Dancing with the Stars so why don't they aim more shows at them?
I only watch Jeopardy so I'm out of it!!
By the way Skins, the hit TV Show from the UK about teenagers, has just opened on MTV here and already some advertisers who bought time in the first episode have cancelled; one of them General Motors.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

When the music died.

I watch The Daily Politics most days and they usually have a little “guess the year” quiz; today I got the answer right as it was 1958; I knew that because one of the songs they played was “Teddy Bear” by Elvis Presley. That was from the film Loving You which blew my mind at the time. I had heard Elvis on the radio and I hadn't heard anything like him. But to see him in that movie must have influenced a generation. I knew I was still at school when I saw the film so the question was easy.
I left school in December 1958 age 15 and started work a week after my birthday. I worked at a place called Oswald Bailey which was an Army & Navy Store; I think they were supposed to be army surplus but it wasn't; it was new stuff which included camping equipment, work boots and, heaven forbid, dungarees.
I worked as a warehouseman – guess where? Yes in the warehouse; I had to climb steps and ladders to reach boxes of shoes and the warehouse manager would put his hand up my leg; the dirty bastard. He was a well built fella with a lisp and I would kick out at him. It didn't put him off as he was always at it but I still kicked him and sometimes I would connect.
The guy driving a railway truck would ring the bell once in a while and I found out that my dad was usually their boss; they all seemed to like him and the lisp found out too and wondered why he hadn't given me a job and I said be careful where you wander you might get lost – okay I had a smart mouth! 
“Wonder I said – not wonder!” Yes he said I shaid!!
One day my dad rang the bell and I told the lisper that my dad was at the back door and he must have thought I had told him about his wandering hands as he looked a little nervous as this blue eyed Irishman looked him up and down.
I was at Oswald Bailey's when the music died; Buddy Holly – February 1959 and I was the only one in the place who even knew who he was; it happened again in 1980 when John Lennon was shot; I was working with a load of squares.
With John Lennon I was working on the night shift at a bakery trying to get some money together to pay back taxes. Most of the other workers there were ex-cons, Pakistanis and Indians and of course they had heard of The Beatles but not individually.
But back to Oswald Bailey's – the warehouse manager would send me across to Woolworth's at the Bull Ring for ice buns and those days, no matter what anybody ever tells you about them, were terrible. It was a terrible place to be where everybody knew their place with their shiny shoes and Brooks Brothers suits. Their short back and sides where the only spice they ever had on their tables was Daddy's Sauce.
Olive Oil was only sold at the Pharmacies – people cleaned their ears out with it - but there was rationing because of the war and that was the price we had to pay.
The only rebels were the teddy boys and up to about 1957 they were drafted in to the army, navy or air force where they had their hair cut off; and then when they were demobbed they had changed; no longer rebellious
We didn't know any better – I was in the army cadets at the time and 16 year old sergeants would shout down my ear on their journey to being full time mature bullies; because that's what they were and are; they have to bully the soldiers as they need to make an obedient squaddie out of them so they would jump when told and kill. I would hear phrases like “when I shout shit, jump on the shovel.”
Of course I reached the age of 16 and I was the 16 year old sergeant but managed not to be a bully. Later I joined The Royal Warwickshire Regiment (TA) which actually paid us as they filled our heads with propaganda. I did quite well as I used to teach map reading and weapon training in the cadets so it all came easy and I took the selection course for something called the SAS.
Lots of times we would show up in civvies and in those days I would wear a black shirt and white tie. So others said I looked like a spy so guess my nick name; James Bond. I had never heard of him, of course, as this was way before the movies and sometimes in later years I would see one of the others and I was still known as Jim.
But back for the last time to my days at Oswald Bailey which didn't last long as after a few months I went to work at the post office as a messenger. 
My mother always wanted me to work at the post office as it was a job for life and, to be honest, you didn't have to work. I went along with it because I wanted a job on the motor bikes.
The post office had a youth club and at lunch time we would go to the club to play tables tennis and snooker and listen to the records; the number one in the charts was It Doesn't Matter Any More by Buddy Holly. The song still haunts me now.
I was sent out of the town centre to one of the burbs and I was an indoor messenger delivering mail from office to office and the office we worked in was where we played table tennis every day for the year I worked there till I was old enough to work on the motor bikes; why didn't turn out to be Andy Murray?
I can't believe that was such a long time ago even though I can still sprint – no longer 100 yards but 50 when the bus is at the stop, but those years, even though they were dark days with politicians calling the press by their surnames and everybody knowing their place, I learned a lot – I learned to retaliate to sexual advances from older men – and there were a lot of them – and I learned what work was; by not doing any: I never thought that doing up to 100 miles a day on a motor bike was work; playing table tennis every day was work and when I became an actor I didn't really class it as work. But it was even though most other people would class it as play.

I can't remember if I cried
When I read about his widowed bride
Something touched me deep inside
The day the music died.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christine Keeler.

I can't help feel a little sadness for Christine Keeler; a woman who was used, abused, maligned and ill treated by all except John Profumo and Stephen Ward. 
She didn't want to be treated as a victim but was and every time something came up this innocent, maybe naïve, woman was dragged on to the front pages of the newspapers.
She died two days ago and there is a famous photo of her on the front page of today's Guardian.(above)
She didn't quite have the street talk and quick wit, that her friend Mandy Rice-Davies had, who is quoted to this day; when she was told that so and so said something Rice-Davies said 'well he would say that, wouldn't he!'
That's why, when it is said today, it is preceded by 'as Mandy Rice-Davies would say:'
The fact of the matter is there was a very old fashioned, back in the Victorian times, incompetent Conservative Government in office and the Minister of War, John Profumo, who was married to a movie star, had many affairs with beautiful women. Christine caught his eye at a social occasion, organised by Stephen Ward, and said he fell in love with her; but what is love? 
He also had an affair, we have recently come to know, with a beautiful Nazi Spy.
Christine also slept with a Soviet spy and because of this Profumo was investigated and asked in Parliament the truth of the matter and he lied.
Of course Profumo could have told her parliamentary secrets, of course Christine could have told them to the Russian but we know that didn't happen.
I remember years later that some kind of award was given to Profumo for the good work he did after he gave up politics and public life, and I remember someone saying to me 'he sold his country down the river and they give him an award.' 
That was just typical, wasn't it.
Because Stephen Ward had introduced her, and Many Rice-Davies, to men he was charged and convicted of living off immoral earnings; he committed suicide before being sentenced.
Christine was sent to prison for perjury; she was being stalked by someone who actually fired a pistol at the flat where she was living and instead of saying she was being stalked she said she had been assaulted – some lie!

That gun shot brought down the government.
Here she is below in later years sitting in the same chair as in the famous photo.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Strictly Come Dancing with the Stars.

I have often wondered about the two titles of the two shows which are identical; the original series was many years ago and was watched by our mams and dads and was simply called Come Dancing; it was a perennial and went on for years and years. The dancers had numbers on their backs and as they danced the commentator would say who they were and what they did for a full time job: 'number seven is George Slade; when he's not winning dance competitions he can be found cleaning out the drains; it's in his family the whole family have been down the drains for years.' And there we are looking at a straight backed dinner suited man, elegantly guiding his beautifully dressed dancing partner around the dance floor, cleverly steering her between the other fixed smiled competitors.
Of course it was only ballroom dancing then and the name Peggy Spencer seems to spring to mind who I think ran some kind of dancing school.
In the eighties there was a great TV thriller on BBC called Edge of Darkness – I remember the theme music played by Eric Clapton – and there was a character in it played by the American actor Joe Don Baker; he was a CIA agent or something similar and his character would watch Come Dancing and marvel at the idea of having such a show on TV in Britain.
By the way Edge of Darkness is the same as the Mel Gibson feature film; it was released just as Gibson was persona non-grata in Hollywood so was a flop.
The current titles are as follows: in the UK it's called Strictly Come Dancing and in America it's called Dancing with the Stars. Strictly Come Dancing is a live show on Saturday evenings then two of the judges go straight to Los Angeles on Sunday and do Dancing with the Stars, which is actually produced by the BBC. First time, I think that a British company produces a show for a main channel in America. That goes out on a Monday evening there – both shows, by the way, are live for the dancing and then the results, are recorded later when the voting lines close and go out the following evening.
This season the head judge, Len, (above on the left) retired from the show in Britain but he is still the judge in America; Bruno travels over on the Sunday for the Monday show. When he didn't appear on the UK show recently it was announced that he was away due to a prior commitment – why didn't they just say he was doing Dancing with the Stars?
DWTS they call it in America and over here they just use the one word Strictly!
I despair as to why things always have to be shortened in show business. I was doing a Shakespeare play in Northampton, one time, and a casting director asked me if I was in As You! It sounds so ridiculous shortening such a short title from As You Like It!
Most of the shows you see on British TV and are hits in America don't get shown on the main channels. The Office, Graham Norton, for example, went and go out on BBC America which seems to show commercials every ten minutes and most of those commercials are really trailers for other BBC shows – in fact I think they still call them trails. Well happy trails to you.
The BBC classics go on to PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) which very few people ever watch or have even heard of. The other so called hits like Top Gear go out on other minor cable channels and some other dramas will go out on A&E which is on cable.
PBS, by the way, has different names (KCET in LA) in other parts of the country and some of the 'red neck' states heavily censor it.
In my time there I never saw a show made by a British TV company get shown on any of the terrestrial channels: CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox. Most hits from the UK were remade by the Americans so Strictly Come Dancing must have been the first show to be made by a British Broadcaster. American Idol, which was Pop Idol in the UK was made in the USA by ABC.
But back to Strictly Come Dancing with the Stars. The old show, many years ago, was produced by a greasy smarmy guy called Eric Morley, who also did Miss World. He died in 2000 but his wife inherited the title – Come Dancing – and on every episode of the UK version she is credited with giving her permission to use the title. In the IMDb it says she is credited with one episode – well she is on them all.
Look out for it at the end when the credits come up – it's the second card.
Now don't tell me that no money changed hands there – maybe she asked too much for the American version or maybe they were wise to change the title – which is better in any case.

Hey!! There's no business like show business.

Friday, November 24, 2017

1984, Bobby Fuller and the cell phone.

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. There are two kinds of people who will look at that: one kind will look and say that doesn't make sense. - that is one stock answer when people don't get things straight away - and the other reaction would recognise it as the opening passage to the novel 1984 by George Orwell.
But when you think of that novel there are so many things that happen these days which some people think have only just started. Pop and rock fans, like me, are used to it when someone plays their favourite song by The Clash I fought the Law – well it's by Bobby Fuller; here treat yourself https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OgtQj8O92eI
That was a question on a quiz show last week – “who sang Who Fought the Law?” and the answer turned out to be The Clash. That's all right, I don't really mind, they can't help being so young, they can't help thinking it is the best part of their lives but . . . .
But getting back to George Orwell – there's a room in 1984, Room 101 which is a basement torture chamber where you face your own worse nightmares; I met someone recently who thought it was originated in the show of the same name which is on BBC TV.
There are lots of things in 1984Big Brother (Big Brother is Watching You) – and when the year 1984 came along George Orwell wasn't that far wrong.
The fact is the book was published in 1948 and Orwell just changed the last two digits around for the title.
I always thought there was something in it about giving information – personal information - to the state willingly, but even though the book implies that, I can't remember the passage. But I do remember, in the year 1984, James Burke was asked what life will be like in another thirty seven years – the same passage of time from when 1984 was written and the actual date - and he said we, and maybe starting with the young, will feely volunteer all of our personal details and information to the state so they would know all about us and know where we are all the time.
In other words, as in 1984 'Big Brother is Watching You.'
He was a bit early as things are like that now – thirty seven years from then is 2021 by the way.
I first had this thought in Ralphs supermarket – rock'n'roll Ralphs in LA which I have written about before – the supermarket without the apostrophe: I used to have a 'Ralphs Card' which gave me a discount on my purchases and after a time the system got to know my card so as soon as I swiped it: out would come the offers on the things I would buy on a regular basis: Jamesons' Irish whiskey, Guinness and maybe some other sinful products that may increase my cholesterol or weight. So where did they get that information from and who else had access to it? My doctor? The Insurance company so they can assess my risk?
I don't like it.
I was on the tube the other day, going into Marylebone, and most of the people, in the carriage I was in, were staring at their cell phones. Most of those phones were smartphones and most of those had tracking devices on them.
So what?
Well I'll tell you so what, it's okay for their loved ones to know where they are but what about, for example, a stalker? A debt collector or an ex wife – I know people should pay their debts and stay married, I know but . .what if . . .
You asked me once, what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world.



Monday, October 30, 2017

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War dominated the lives of people my age for a long time. I would say from about 1965 or so to about 1975. Early on we didn't know too much about it and then, when we became aware, we learned more and depending on when and where we first became appreciative of the facts, and who taught them to us, we formed our own opinions.
I remember the shootings in 1970 at Kent State University and Nixon calling them campus bums and that a majority of the Americans agreed with the shootings. No wonder they voted in Trump! I saw the demonstrations on TV, the cops and soldiers ill treating the demonstrators and watched with pity for the students getting beaten up. I remember the demonstration in Grosvenor Square; a lot of what was happening sunk in.
I had to go to hospital – an RAF hospital – for a tiny operation on my wrist in 1972 and the demonstrations were on TV there too. I was still appalled when I saw demonstrators being man handled and bullied by police and soldiers but in hospital, with a load of air-force patients, I found they were sympathising with the bullies – the police, the military.
I was in that particular hospital because I was in their catchment area and it was the first time I had seen and been with people who had different sympathies. This was 1972, as I have said; they didn't know that America in 1965 knew that they wouldn't be able to win that war and had accepted that fact and were only staying in Vietnam to save face.
Save Face was 70% of the reasons – they had others. The RAF men in the hospital were on the side of the military because that is what the military taught their people; what more could be expected?
I bring all this up now as there is a terrific documentary series, that has just been shown on BBC4. It's an American documentary made by, maybe, the best producer of documentaries there is; Ken Burns. He has made some marvelous series all shown in America: there was one called Jazz; others were The War, Lewis & Clark; the Journey and the Corps of Discovery, The Civil War and he seems to make a series called The American Experience now and again.
The Vietnam War is no exception – it is an outstanding series and I strongly recommend it. There are ten parts and a few things, which I will mention later, stuck out, apart from seeing the paper work by Johnson saying they would never (and they didn't they lost) win the war and were only over there to save face. 
In the process they spent over $70 Billion and over 58 thousand young Americans with an average age of 19 were killed together with 250,000 South Vietnamese and on the other side 1.1 million North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong. All to save face!
President Johnson was a president who could do anything. He fought, bullied, cajoled and pushed civil rights through congress. 
Up to that time the Jim Crow laws ruled the south. The famous and first black baseball player, Jackie Robinson, had a gun shoved in his face for drinking out of a whites only fountain, blacks had to sit at the back of the bus, swimming pools at hotels were emptied and re-filled if it was found there had been a black person in it. Civil Rights Bills were needed which is what Johnson aim in life was: his raison d'être, his life's work and he had to concentrate on Vietnam which he hadn't started and never got to finish. He ended up growing his hair and smoking himself to death.
The Americans were against communism and that was their reason to be there; it also generated the Eisenhower doctrine of the Military Industrial Complex which, in simple words, would make war a business. Eisenhower predicted such a future in a speech in the 1950s, and in fact there was a helicopter company who were going broke before Vietnam, and at the end of that war they were one of the biggest companies in America, as with most of the armament companies.
The two things that stuck out for me in the series: first there was a pilot whose job it was to bomb the Hồ Chí Minh Trail; The Hồ Chí Minh trail was a logistical system that ran from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (the north) to the Republic of Vietnam (the south) through the kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia. The pilot, in question, would fly over the trail and bomb the trucks with the weapons and supplies heading south, and as he looked down he realised he was on the wrong side. Looking down he admired their bravery. He realised he, with his American army, was being seen off just as the Vietnamese had seen off the Japanese, after World War II and the French who followed them.
The other thing that stuck out to me was strange.
It was told by a Japanese American who was the highest decorated Japanese American soldier of the war. I was surprised he even related it.
He was born in an Internment Camp in America as the USA were at war with Japan. His family, when released, would eat Japanese food, of course, but when he was in Vietnam the military didn't serve rice; and he longed for some.
One day they reached a village with his troop and searched it house by house and found nothing. 
In one of the houses he met a couple of grannies as he called them and they were cooking. He said it smelt beautiful, he had not eaten any rice since he was there and he stared at the rice and vegetables with big eyes. He asked if he could have some and offered a pack of American cigarettes and other stuff in exchange and sat outside eating every bit of his meal.
He wanted more and one of his buddies he told, said 'these people don't have much food for themselves so why take it?' he looked and said 'no – look they have plenty of food; in fact enough for a lot of people – men!!!!'
So they looked again around the village and found a trench which was like a priest hole, which they have in the old houses in England. 
He took two grenades and popped them in to the hole. Then they pulled up four bodies of the young men they had killed.
They studied the faces of the women to see which ones were crying for their loved ones – they all cried.

It was quite obvious who lost the war and why – but what do it know?

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bath Time.

                                            PORTNABLAGH
There is a Tory MP who spends the first hour of each day in the bath; his name is Tim Loughton. Not that his name matters apart from the fact that he claims for the water used in the bath on his parliamentary expenses because he works in the bath. He reads the papers, makes phone calls and other paper work. He doesn't hold meetings in there, like President Johnson who would even sit on the can in meetings. I don't think I would have been able to stand that and maybe that's why they all took up smoking cigars; who knows? But it got me thinking.
Some time ago, I went to Donegal; Donegal, for those who don't know, is on the north west tip of Ireland. In fact at the north of Donegal, which is in the republic is farther north than the so called Northern Ireland.
I went there with a film producer to research a script. I remember the words of his wife as we left his Ballsbridge, Dublin flat 'Don't drink Donegal Dry!' It's a pity she didn't add darling as that would have been five hymenopterons. 

We went by train from Dublin, listened to our breakfast being cooked as we travelled through the green, the green the very green Irish countryside and scoffed the bacon and eggs like schoolboys as the train travelled through the mid lands and up to the town of Sligo. At the station there, we were greeted on the platform by a representative of the care hire company and off I drove to Donegal. Donegal Town first, which is in the county of Donegal which, itself, is in the province of Ulster.
So you are with me now; you know where we are.
We had a meeting with someone at Glenveagh National Park as that is where the script, or outline, was set, as I needed to see the place and talk about the history and the events I was to write about. We decided to stay in Portnablagh which is a village and as the Portnablagh Hotel was fully booked by the time we reached there.
So we were stuck for somewhere to stay and it was suggested we go to the pub and go back to the hotel later to see if anything could be done. You don't get sent away in Ireland; they will put you somewhere.
When we got back they told us we would be staying in the cottage next door to the hotel. It had two bedrooms but only one bathroom. That didn't bother me, at the time, so off we went. We had a comfortable room each and the next morning my film producer friend got to the bathroom first.
Now that was a mistake on my part and a little bit of – not selfishness, I might say but . . . why not? It was a bit of selfishness. He didn't even think that I might want to use the bathroom. He was in there for over two hours and each time the water got cold he would turn the hot tap on and fill it; he was reading. 

I suppose he felt like Winston Churchill, in there, who would also spend hours in the bath, conducting the war and holding war time cabinet meetings, but we had a meeting at Glenveagh National Park.
Eventually my friend emerged from the bath pruned, I presume. 

A couple of days later, we were at the Dublin flat, which was on two floors so I suppose you would call it an apartment, and the producers of another project we were involved with were due to come to the flat for a meeting. I went in to the bathroom, which was on the higher floor, to start my ablutions.
Now this is where the story become very slightly indelicate and I'll try to make it as delicate as I can.
I did my poo and the flush wouldn't work as the tank was out of water – by the way, for my American friends, over here a poo is what you call a poop. We call a fart a poop or a trump and a poo is faecal matter.
I tried the shower and it was working so I figured if I had a shower first, the water in the lavatory system would refill whilst I was in there.
I got in to the shower, suds myself up with soap all over and the water stopped. Just like Steve Martin in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles I was stuck. I banged on the door and, eventually, told them what happened. They told me the water sometimes does that and that I will need to go to the kitchen down the stairs and physically refill the tank.
They were not a very domestic couple and the only thing they had to carry water was a milk pan; so that is what I had to use.
I put some clothes on, over my soaped body, and went down the stairs to fill the pan with about half a pint of water; this meant going up and down the stairs quite a few times to fill it.
As I went down after the first trip the front door bell rang and our friends for the meeting had arrived.
The night before I had been singing The Wild Rover in the pub and when the door was opened they saw me with my pan and started singing it. They needed to use the bathroom – you can' – why not? - you just can't – but I need to go – you can't - and on it went.
Don't ask!!
I still have the outline I wrote about Glenveagh somewhere. The other job in Dublin fell through as the production company didn't pay my hosts so they couldn't pay me and not long after that when we all came back to London we got a commission to write a commentary about a golf course in Catalonia – the producer told me I should keep the whole fee for that which I did.
But then the co-producer (his wife) said she hadn't agreed to that and wanted it back so I did four weeks filming a candid camera type series with Bob Monkhouse and Nigel Lythgo all over the north – Nottingham, Liverpool, Blackpool – and I paid them that money and that series didn't go out on TV either.