Wednesday, September 30, 2015

If Music be the food of love . . .

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

And then see your doctor!!


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Klaatu Barada Nikto

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

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Legend of the Terror On the Train.

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

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The 2 Sides of Eddie Ramone

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

White Rabbits.

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

But is it racist . . . . ?

Let me kick things off here by reminding you that I'm not an expert on nearly everything – notice I said nearly!!
But there are some things happening which are out of proportion and I wanted to comment.
One of the things which dismayed me recently was when someone who was awarded the 2001 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discoveries of protein molecules that control the division of cells, gets fired from a University for saying – in a matter of words – that working with women is different from working with men.
I'm glad he was fired after he did his important work and that in the days of Alexander Fleming nobody fired him before he found Penicillin growing in a little pot.
I have been an actor for 45 years and in all those years I can't remember a male actor crying at work in a rehearsal – I remember actresses crying on a few occasions, one because she couldn't get the steps right in a dance routine so of course it is different when you work with women.
There he is up there – Tim Hunt.
Maybe he should have trimmed his nose hairs before that photo was taken but he's a professor – an absented minded professor who said a bad joke about women – he said It's strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists. Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry. . And then he went on to say, 'but seriously though'; I think you'll agree that it was a bad joke.
Another thing:
When the Rosetta Spacecraft landed on a comet – I'll say that again 'landed' on a comet, something going through space at such a speed that's unimaginable and this team land a spacecraft on to it.
What a fantastic piece of engineering – when it was shown on TV the team responsible were going ballistic with delight but instead of getting praise from some quarters one of the guys was criticised – this guy:
Yes Doctor Matt Taylor wore a shirt with scantily clad women on it.
These days it's either sexism, racism, size ism, ageism and loads of other isms that cause people to hesitate, stutter and stammer in the fear that they might offend some politically correct pedant.
Let's take racism: if you don't like the Germans or East Europeans does that make you a racist?
You can dislike who you like – strange turn of words, there – it is up to you who you dislike, hate or whatever.
It's when you let your prejudices affect your judgment when employing or dealing people that it becomes just that – prejudicial; if they are the same 'race' as you it cannot be termed racist.
Here, in England, people use the word Chav to stereotype people they feel are inferior to them – that's not racism it's prejudicial which is just as bad.
BTW Chav here is like 'trailer trash' in the USA but with shell suits and trainers; not all trainers (sneakers) just certain brands.
Racism and any kind of prejudice is usually used by the lowest of the low who look for a group of people who they think are lower than they are, so they can blame the problems of the world on them, make fun of them and in essence bully them and use them as a target for all the ills and political problems such as 'they've taken all our jobs.'
I can easily understand why people would hate the Germans or Japanese because of the way those two countries treated their prisoners of war during World War II – it doesn't mean that all Germans or Japanese are like that but close relations of those prisoners are sometimes loath to say kind words about their former captors.
Japan recently – yes the whole country – said they were sorry to the USA for treating the American prisoners of war in the 2nd world war as slave labour – what about that then?
But what about the British, Chinese, Koreans and other nationalities who suffered?
I have never been to Japan but I know people who have been there and I've read a few bits about the place and it seems the Japanese people – their psyche, their philosophy if you like – is that they are a superior nation of people. I can't say race as the Japanese would be the same as others from the Orient.
Wow!!! There I go again – Orient: bad word, not used any more considered racist.
Truly – the politically correct do not like Oriental but would prefer 'south east Asian' in Britain and 'Asian' in America.
Isn't it enough to drive you up the wall?
In yesterday's Guardian there is an article about what words you cannot use in crossword clues or answers' here are some examples: cripple, loony, maniac, nutter, psycho and schizo.
Also never use the word schizophrenic to mean 'in two minds.'
Is it any wonder people get confused and falter when speaking?
It was enlightening when a character in the American TV Series, NYPD Blue, said 'Sit down Fatso!'
Whilst the politically correct and pedants create and complain, the real danger lurks. 
Real racists and right wing demagogues really do exist under our noses when misinformed people spread words like fascist and racist around like confetti.
Right wing groups and small political parties like UKIP can only grow into powerful movements and the next thing you know there will be no BBC, no NHS and no foreign aid programme.
I heard something today – there is enough food on earth to feed everybody on it so please, UKIP, stop moaning about foreign aid.
The generation before mine are the only generation who stood up and fought fascism and died for it; now the survivors are in their nineties, or thereabouts, and they get confused. They might use words that people don't use any more, they probably still use Mongol when they mean Downs Syndrome, they're old, they're nervous and scared, they haven't read The Guardian or watched Panorama or News Night so maybe they should be appreciated and left alone – 75 years ago they were huddled in air raid shelters when bombs fell out of the sky. Heard the bombers flying over and the bombs screeching toward the earth – so forgive them if they refer to the Germans as Gerrys.
Don't forget the final words in Bertolt Brecht's powerful, wonderful play The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, which is a parable about the rise of Nazism in Germany -

'Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again.'

                                           click here

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Aubrey Morris; RIP.

Above you will see my dear friend, Aubrey Morris, who died last Wednesday.
I knew Aubrey since around 1984 when we made a film together. Ten years later, when I was moving to Los Angeles his brother, Woolf, also an actor, told me to look him up and gave me his phone number in LA.
He was 89 on June 1st – he was born the exact day as Marilyn Monroe – and I tried to call him but his voice mail was all I was greeted with.
So I left a message wishing him happy birthday and tried a few times since then with the same response.
I took loads of photographs of him over the years, as I did for a few actors, but I had to download the above from the Internet – whoever put that up didn't have a very good scanner but I like it.
We would meet each Thursday for breakfast in Hugo's on Santa Monica Boulevard and did so for some time till they changed the décor and from then on it wasn't the same.
So I would visit him from time to time in his apartment in West Hollywood where I would be treated to little speeches from Shakespeare that he'd remembered from his vast repertoire that he'd appeared in over the years.
Here he is in one of his most famous roles in Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange.
I always remember one of his scenes in the film where he visits Malcolm McDowell in hospital; he reaches over to the next bed for a glass of water, not seeing it has false teeth in the bottom, and doesn't notice till most of the water has been swallowed.
I have been away for a few days so this is the first chance I have had to write this; on Wednesday evening I dreamt I had returned to LA and went around to see Aubrey but he wasn't in; on Thursday evening another dream about trying to get in to his apartment and then on Friday I received an email telling me he had died.
I don't believe in any of that stuff but it makes you think doesn't it?
Oh well, Aubrey, Rest In Peace; hope you got my birthday wishes.
Here he is with Ian McShane in a TV series called Disraeli.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

1922 - Dublin.

The Siege of the 'Four Courts' Dublin 1922
It's been 24 years since my dad died and on the day he died I had to drive up to my parents' bungalow in Northampton.
Now for my American friends who have a different meaning for the word bungalow, I have to explain over here it means something different from over there.
The word comes from India, as do so many of our words: shampoopundit etc, in fact bungalow is a Hindi word which, I reckon is the most popular language in India; Roman Hindi, I would say, as far as I remember, and the Indian meaning has it as a single storey house, surrounded by a veranda – that sounds Indian too doesn't it.
Over here it's just a single storey house - just like the 'Craftsmen's Houses' in Los Angeles.  
My mother suffered from Parkinson's and very bad arthritis, in fact she needed constant looking after and up to that time had been cared for by my dad and as is usually the case, the carer died first – and he did.
Dropped dead one day, as we say brown bread.
My dad died in March, one day before his birthday, and the time between that and the date she moved in with us was under seven months – but it seemed like a year and a half.
I would stay with her a couple of days a week and our daughter would look after her when I wasn't there – but she couldn't be left alone as she would try things like getting up out of her chair and falling.
So I would sleep in the bed next to her – they had a couple of twin beds.
They were the same twin beds that my brother and I slept in as teenagers but instead of looking over and seeing the brud – I saw the mater!!
Most nights she would talk in her sleep. 
Even though she had Parkinson's she had very clear speech and a very attractive Dublin accent with a huge vocal range.
Some of the nights she went back to 1922 Dublin when she was Esther Tuite – or Essie, as she called herself.
She would call out in the middle of the night things like 'I'm only looking – I live here; no I'm only looking. I live here – Parnell Street!'
'Okay, okay – I'll get back in.'
I knew she was back in 1922 and I knew she was troubled.
After she came to live with us I went in to her room one day and she was in a coma; I couldn't wake her.
I called my wife, who was a nurse at the time, and we called the doctor who called the hospital and an ambulance came and took her away.
I went with her, of course, and eventually left her in their care.
The next day I got an early call from the hospital telling me to come in as the position had turned worse.
On the way there the radio played Louis Armstrong singing What a Wonderful World' and the weather was beautiful and even though I had already liked the song it has meant a lot more to me ever since and every time I hear it I think of that day.
When we got there she had 'come around' and for some reason she was walking.
She had a twinkle in her eye as she came and sat with us and I asked her who she was and she said 'I'm Essie Tuite of Parnell Street.'
She said that as if she was wondering why I had asked it; and why shouldn't she; she seemed very cheeky and flirty and I kind of got to know that side of my mother a bit; I was looking forward to meeting her again but she went back into a coma a couple of times, introducing me to other aspects of her inner personality and history and when she was discharged she was, more or less, the same as she had been before she went in - only this time she couldn't walk at all.
I told her all about the Essie Tuite history bits and she told me the following. 
Because I am the way I am and I doodle I aye, I wrote a lot of it down and even used some of it in my first novel Alfredo Hunter: the Man With the Pen.
I often felt a bit of a cheat but as it seemed to catch the Dublin dialect and accent together with an eye witnessed account of the facts of the time, one of the most important times in Irish history, I don't feel guilty at all.
If you have any kind of artist in the family – writer, actor, painter and the like, you are bound to be used and you'll know what I mean.
Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent but – they were all innocent, let's face it.
She started off by telling me how she met my dad.
We met at McCann's pub. I was outside with Maura Short sheltering from the rain and he came out and told us to move on. He was working in there as a barman. There wasn't a pick on him. He was just like number one.”
She held one finger up.
He was an awful looking yoke. It was just after I left home. My father was a bastard. Here was I at twenty five and he wanting me in by ten-o-clock. I moved in with Maura Short. They were looking after me.
My father was in the British Army and knew nothing about the Easter uprising - he was away getting gassed. (In the Somme) I remember everything about it; the lot. 

People don't believe me, you know, but I do. I remember the Fourcourts.

I think it was the IRA that was in the Fourcourts...think it was...... They came and knocked the door – the British army - and told us not to be frightened of the bomb. Anyway mother said – ‘Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph: you're not going to kill the poor men that's in there?’
They said ‘Well if they don't come out - and it's war missus - we'll have to.’
They never came out; they were blown up - and what was left of them put their mate on a stretcher - the door it was a door it was - and they walked down Parnell Street to the Castle. They were singing:
                      We fight for Ireland,
                     Dear Old Ireland
                    Ireland Boys away.”
And the British soldiers were all on edge but they never touched them. They carried their oul' comrade - wouldn't let one of them touch them, like you know? I couldn't have lived anywhere else worse than Parnell Street when the nineteen hundred and....when the troubles were on.”
She sat there thinking and I could actually see a thought enter her head by the expression on her face; then she laughed.
We had - in Parnell Street - it was the one yard for the two houses and it was a door that went through to the yard and over the wall you went and you were at a hill and you were away.
This bloke was standing at the door - Parnell Street, you know - and another bloke was with him and ran away shouting ‘British Bastard’ and with that the what-you-call-him? - The Black and Tan followed and, of course, he disappeared over the back. But the Black and Tan came straight up through the houses - never knocked on the door - just opened it. Could be standing there in your nod for all they cared. They said ‘Hello Pop’ - of course my grandfather being old with the beard.
My father was a British soldier at the time and they thought we were all British. And my father's father had a red white and blue flag hanging through the window; they all stuck flags out. The old bastard was in the British army my father; but he used to come home on leave and go across to the pub with my Uncle Stephen and my Grandfather.
Uncle Tom was posh; he only used to drink wine; port wine. And he used to wear spats on his shoes; he was the posh one of the family. And if they had have done right with him he would have been a millionaire today - if he'd have lived.”
If he’d have lived he would have been a hundred and forty.” I said.
She laughed again and started to cough; I gave her a drink of water. She took a drink and carried on:
He started a factory. Done a lot of pinching out of the other factory - my Grandfather owned a part share in it - Lymon's - and they were starting their own place: Lymon's sweet factory in O'Connell Street. My Uncle Tom was to go out and look for orders. Sure my Uncle Stephen drank it all; he couldn't be kept out of the pub. He was in the IRA and went to prison. Uncle Tom went too but they were in different places.
I have such a good memory - people think I'm mad when I tell them things. Grandfather Shea was in the IRA. He was a proper rebel my Grandfather was. But my father and his father were no bleedin' good. They were oul' feckin' British soldiers.
Grandfather Shea was lovely; he used to keep his revolver on the ledge in his room – the room at our house. It was a bit of luck nobody ever found it.
My father used to whip me and Grandfather Shea found out - 'I'll take his bleedin' life...’ not bleedin' - they never used bleedin' ‘Take his bloody life if you touch her again.’
To my father he said that.”
She paused again and looked into the cardboard fire. Strange the way things were - she had brought with her an electric fire with a cardboard fire effect.
We went to live in Marino when I was ten. Our Kathleen was born - she was born in March Kathleen was and she was a new baby when we went to live in Marino. I remember I had one frock on me all day and Kathleen was a baby in my arms. And my whole frock was stained from where she shit - it wasn't shit - it was just the mark.
The one thing my father did for me – the only thing he ever got me during his life - was to buy me a bike – the only thing he ever did - says he 'I'll buy you a bicycle.'
He brought me into a shop on the quay and says he ‘Get up and ride it.’
I couldn't ride the bloody thing – I’d told him I could ride a bike. And my father went up and down the alley for to show me how to ride.
Kings End Street was another street where we used to go to learn how to ride the bike. One day we were coming down from Capel Street right down to Parnell Street to Henry Street. There was a private car stood there and didn't I run into the bloody side of the car. All I could hear my father say was ‘Get up quick. Come on get up.’
I burst the whole side of the bloody car.” She laughed:
I was the first one in our street to have a bike. But I was never let out to play. The nuns wouldn't let you. You weren't allowed to play in the street.
When my grandfather was the age I am now he lived with us in Marino – one day he had a row with my father. He never liked my father cos my da got my mother into trouble. My Mother was married in August and I was born in the October.
When they had the row my Grandfather got up - he had one of his turns - dying you know - he said ‘I'm not going to live here any more’ and he got a pair of sticks and he walked up to the entrance, you know, and I kept saying and crying ‘Come on home, Granda, come on home;’ The poor fella was dying. They could at least have made him feel wanted.
But he wouldn't come home; he wanted Locky - that was the cabman that he latched on to no matter where he was going. No matter where he was going he sent for Locky; he took us to the boat at the North Wall one day when we were going to the Isle of Mann for a holiday; me and my grandfather. And he got us on the boat and my grandfather told Locky to come and fetch us and pick us up Friday at a certain time.
Poor oul' grandfather didn't know about having to book lodgings. He couldn't get any; we had to come back.”
Such is life.
Sometimes things can be forgotten; little things but once in a while I write things down and when I find them again, years later, they are like pieces of treasure. Try it sometime.

                     Countess Constance Markievicz in Dublin 1922
Countess Markievicz (nee Gore Booth) was a very important figure in Irish History; for a start off she was the first female MP voted in to the British House of Commons - although as with Sinn Féin she never took her seat in the commons.

Constance Georgine Markievicz, Countess Markievicz was an Irish Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil politician, revolutionary nationalist, suffragette and socialist. Wikipedia