Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Tottenham Hotspur Mascot.

Big weekend, this, for football. Soccer that is for my American friends – Sarcre, as they pronounce it, trippingly on their tongues.

And what was the highlight for me?

Well the semi final at Wembley was good between Chelsea and Spurs and the latest news is that Aston Villa are beating Birmingham City 1-0 – in fact I've just heard they won.
Today Arsenal are meeting Manchester City in the other semi final – again at Wembley Stadium – but that is not the highlight either.
But . . when the players lined up to go on to the pitch, they each had a child with them, maybe aged about ten or so, possibly younger, of both sexes. They waited in the tunnel and I'm sure there was a lot of banter, some of the players of the opposing team hugged the ones they knew and liked (presumably).
And when the time came they all marched on to the pitch.
In these times when football gets a bad name because of some of the fouling and gentle kicks in the ankles and some drunken behaviour from some of them and sexual crimes against others, it's nice to see the guest mascot policy, where kids write in to get drawn from some hat, or whatever, for the pleasure of walking out with some of their heroes.
The Sunderland manager, David Moyes, was criticised recently when he half told someone off for asking a stupid question on air – you could hear the banter in his voice; the trouble was the stupid question was asked by a woman so suddenly it became a sexist remark. One person saying he wouldn't have said it if it was to a man; maybe not; maybe he would have given him a thick ear.
His team, Sunderland, have a mascot with a terminal illness. A little five year old boy who has cancer and has just recently had a set back by a new growth at the bottom of his back – the manager was obviously involved in getting Bradley Lowery to meet his hero, Jermain Defoe and here we have a picture of them. See how he holds on to Jermain for security:
But back to yesterday's game – the highlight for me was when the players stood in the tunnel, bantering, hugging and then marching on to the field of play. We noticed one of the mascots, a Spurs mascot, was marching rather smartly and proudly and then we noticed; he didn't have any legs. But out he strode with his heroes.
Here he is: Chelsea are in blue and Spurs are in white and the little lad has false legs:



Hardly noticed – but we noticed him and so did his family.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

the birds and the bees!

Well I woke up this morning – dat da da da da – actually a few mornings ago; this wasn't any where near dawn, I might say, and a bird was singing a familiar refrain. Singing a song for me at his own expense (to quote Bob Dylan); when I went to the window I could see him at the top of a tree in the garden about 100 feet high. The song he sang was that of a robin and I've only ever known them to be on the ground or near to it in bushes.

I looked through the binoculars and sure enough – there it was, the red breast.
He was singing and calling out for a mate – it's a strange thing when you see them chirp as the sound they make they make without lips. We have to use our lips to whistle but the birdie does it without a bother.
The robin is supposed to be a nasty bird, or so they say, but when I have seen them being aggressive it is to protect themselves or shoo away a cat or an intruder.
I used to wake in California to sun shine and palm trees and the birds we saw there were humming birds which is the only bird, they say, who can fly backwards. I spent a lot of time, when I first moved to LA, on the balcony, or near, trying to get a photograph of one.
These days it would be easy as I would just film them, if I could get close enough, and freeze the film when editing.
That's the way I do my head shots these days.
But getting back to the birds and the trees – the tree I saw the robin in is at the top of this page. On that branch at the very top. Bit of a change from the palm trees but it's a pleasant outlook.
Here is what it is like from the front through the window of my little office:

I don't know the name of those trees. Not the green one but the one with the blossom which disappears after a short time each year. 
We have two at the front which shields us from the bad air of vehicles passing which are about twenty yards from us. If you know the name let me know.
Here is the question: the bird at the top of the tree is only there calling for a mate – any mate.
How do we do that and will we, the male of the species, always be the pursuer?
When I was young I would meet girls at or on the dance floor. It was easy as I would only ask for a dance and then it was always up to me to ask the girl out or make a date or even ask if I could walk her home. That would be a yes or no – nothing more. I might push that if I got a no but that would be the male in me pursuing.
But I could have taken a tip from the bird. I could have walked to the front of the dance floor to the stage and called out – like the robin – or I could have sung – ditto and . . .but we actually do that sometimes. Isn't that why the rock singer gets up and sings?
The other place I would meet girls would be at the cinema; I would (with a pal) sit behind two girls – and I know they would see us coming because they would tell me – and ask them to come and sit next to us; or we would sit next to them.
Then after a while I would sneak my arm around her and sit like that for a while. Then the kiss.
When the film ended I would usually walk out with the girl and maybe go for a walk.
One time, when we got outside, both girls were a good 6 inches taller than we were so we kind of went to the public loo and disappeared out the other exit. That took us to the other side of the street and when we walked back we looked over and could see that the girls had disappeared too.
Another time at the picture house in Ladywood, I sat around with a girl and didn't kiss her. I just sat with my arm around her till the end of the film.
We walked to a disused cricket field and she said 'why didn't you kiss me in the pictures?' and I said 'because I was watching the film.'

It was Horrors of the Black Museum – well??

Thursday, March 23, 2017

The SAT NAV and how to use it!

First of all I suppose a sat nav is a satellite navigation tool and I don't know how to work it at all - so I got you here under false pretences.
Neither does my wife – in fact I don't even know if she has ever noticed them on the dashboard of the mini cabs we use. She can, however, do three crosswords a day, reads The Guardian, The Standard and The Metro from cover to cover, watches all the political programmes on television and knows more about antiques than the average Antiques Road Shows' experts both here and in America. - (notice I never say the States as I think it's one of the worst tags I know and only slightly bettered by SAT NAV ) and strangely enough she seems to win all the little games like Trivial Pursuits and the like we get to play every ten years or so – we don't play games.
There is the dreaded sat nav above and here are all bits you need to work it:

I don't know what all those things are for but I would bet that one of them is a battery or something you connect to a battery somewhere.
This is a fact: when you use a sat nav you are not using your brain at all. Also, a well known fact, is that drivers' of black cabs in London have bigger or larger, whichever adjective you want to use and is proper, hippocampuses than the average yogi.
The hippocampus is the organ in the brain that does all the work – how do I know this? Because my favourite programmes on TV are University Challenge and Mastermind – so why wouldn't I know.
You think I know bugger nothing don't you – I tell you I know bugger all!!
Anyway:
It does all the work because it is, in essence, the memory, the organ in charge of spatial matters and emotion. So when the mini cab driver asks you where you are going and then asks for your postcode you know they won't be using their hippocampus. 
He or she will have turned it off and they'll be relying on the sat nav and singing to themselves One Day, Two Day, Soon it will be Pay Day!
And other sensible rhymes and couplets.
When I was sixteen I was in the army cadets – as I've mentioned before the ACF not the CCF as that is for schools – and I rose to the dizzy height of sergeant and I used to teach map reading.
So I never used a sat nav as they hadn't been invented. I used a map, a prismatic compass and a protractor.
Here they are:
All you have to do is open the map; open the compass and place the map facing magnetic north, which you will see on the compass. Then look for two familiar or distinctive things – maybe two hills, if you are in town maybe a church and a bus station (but those would be easy so let's stick to the outback) – yes you wouldn't be able to use the sat nav miles from anywhere as your battery will run out.
So you see a hill – not very big, which means the contour lines on your map will be wide apart. Take a reading on that hill with the compass.
Then to the other way you see a steep hill and you find this on your map with the contour lines close together; take another reading.
So now you put your protractor on to the first reading and draw a line down the map at the reading on the protractor.
Then go to the second reading and do the same thing and where the two lines cross will be where you are standing. If you're in the Sahara Desert wait for the stars.
So when everything runs out, batteries, computers and people who know how to read maps all die, the world will be left with a load of robots.
And where does the word robot come from? How would I know – but it means slave and I think it comes from and yes I'm right:
Origin of robot
< Czech, coined by Karel Čapek in the play R.U.R. (1920) from the base robot-, as in robota compulsory labor, robotník peasant owing such labor.

I knew that as it was on a radio show recently.

I think you will know my point – every labour saving device can do nothing except help you to suffer from some kind of dementia.






Monday, March 6, 2017

killer instinct.

Two Boxers

'Hit him – hit him' said my dad 'hit him again.'
We were boxing – in our living room.
'Not so hard' he said as my brother caught me with a sharp one, under the ribs.
The chairs were around the side, with the tables and other pieces of furniture, etc shoved right in to the wall.
When it was over we both said 'who won?'
'It was a draw.' my dad said.
It was always a draw.
Sometimes I would have to stop when my shorts started to fall down.
Ah nobody's looking' said my mother 'you haven't got anything I haven't seen before.'
My dad would shout for us to break and pull my pants up. 
It wasn't long since I had grown pubic hair and I didn't want my mother seeing that.
'He can't box with his shorts round his ankles' he said.
'Jasus, it's not been that long since I was cleaning the bits of shite from his nappy.'
Trust my mam; making a holy show of me.
We had boxing in the gym at school in those days, during the PE lesson and also, in those days, I think we still called it PT. But there we go when has there ever been a time when things don't get called something else for the sake of it.
I must have been the shortest kid in the class so who would they put me in the ring with?
Johnny, one of the big kids. He was a pal of mine; we used to go to each other's homes and listen to our parents' records.
Out he lumbered, Big John – just like in the song.
I liked the way he sparred but he must have been posing as he danced around. We threw a few jabs, ducked a few times and then, coming out of a clinch, he stuck his chin out; I didn't hit it. This happened quite a few times and when we finished the teacher patted me on the head; I'd won. Well I reckoned I had.
When we were in the playground, later, I was asked how I got on and I said I'd won. 'no you didn't' said Johnny.
'I did' I said 'the teacher patted me on the head.'
'He patted me too,' said Johnny, but I knew hadn't.
'No he didn't' I said.
'Do you want to make something of it?'
I looked around. My pal – Johnny – looked at me with a certain amount of hate; there were others looking at me too to see what I was going to do.
'What do you mean?' I said. I knew what he meant then the kids started to chant: 'chicken! Chicken! CHICKEN!'
'I don't mind' I said.
'Unless you're chicken' said Johnny, who was fast becoming plain John in my mind.
'Okay' I said 'where shall we go?'
The kids started to form a circle outside the boys' lavatories in the corner of the playground and in no time we were dancing around. We threw a few punches, got in to a clinch and as we came out of the clinch he stuck his chin out and bang! I hit him a wallop and down he went.
I didn't, to this day, think the punch was very hard and that he was acting, the same way as he was posing when we got inside the ropes in class. But there he was on the ground.
Up he got – there was no counting as there was no referee.
We started dancing again and once again he stuck his chin out and down he went.
He wasn't badly hurt but playtime was over and we'd finished playing.
The little boxing lessons from my dad taught me how to throw a punch and defend myself even though my brother would never go down but I was never worried about getting hurt at home, it was when I feared getting hurt that the survival and killer instinct kicked in.
The reason I got in to a few fights at school was that being so short I looked easy for a bully who wanted to beat somebody up and I didn't always win but school was and is still rough.
It's no good telling tales to your parents or the teacher. To do that you have to be beaten up first and I didn't want that.
One kid in class, when we were at the senior school, was picking on me, poking me and being nasty, saying he was going to wait for me outside and beat me up and that all his mates were going to come and see me get a blathering.
I told him a few times that we didn't have to but he mistook that for me being scared and, to be honest, I wasn't that sure if I could handle him.
But the time came for us to go home and I was ready to go; I went down to the playground at the same time as the bully, but ahead of his mates and when we got to the corner of the playground he said 'come on' and started squaring up so I gave him a huge punch to the eye.
'Oh!' he said, grabbing his eye, then I put my arm around his neck and we both fell to the ground with him in a clinch.
'had enough?' I said.
He nodded his head.
'Are you sure?' I was used to kids playing possum.
'Yes I've had enough' he said 'let go.'
So we got up.
'How's my eye?' he said.
I looked; it was bloodshot.
'Sorry' he said.
Then his mates came to watch the scrap.
'What happened' they said.
'It's all over' and I sat on the floor next to me new pal.
I used to like boxing but didn't bother again with it much as I had high cheek bones which would bruise easily and my nose would bleed even easier.
But I was never scared of anybody after that even though I never looked for trouble but I have heard of people wanting to fight all the time and look for fights in pubs or whatever.
When I lived in a village in Northamptonshire I heard that the vicar's son went in to the pub, one day, and sucker punched someone as the fella was drinking his beer. He saw the jaw and hit it. The poor fella suffered a broken jaw and the bully got away with it.

I'm not sure if I would ever dive in if it was nothing to do with me but – you know we never know what we would do in a crisis.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The National Debt: if only . .

Denis Healey: the best Prime Minister Britain never had.

Think about this: if you had a load of money in the bank and a mortgage, would you pay the mortgage off?
Tax advisors say no, don't pay it off as you get tax relief on the mortgage interest – personally I would pay it off, tax relief or no tax relief.
Many years ago we had an interest only mortgage; to have one of these we had to take out an endowment life insurance plan to secure the balance. What they didn't mention was the insurance plan might not mature to more than the balance of the mortgage as there is no guarantee that it will.
And in fact a lot of them didn't.
One time a long time ago I put an advertisement in the newspaper as I had a violin to sell. 
A man came to the house to look and eventually bought it. 
However, this man only bought the thing to get in to the house. He was an insurance salesman. And he sold me an endowment mortgage. He paid me £100 or so for the violin just to make a sale. He would be paid commission on every payment I made to the insurance company for 25 years. All for giving me £100.
After a few months I found I couldn't really afford the premiums so I cancelled it.
Isn't the national debt a bit like that. Aren't we borrowing money from ourselves and trying to balance the books as if we have a load of cash in the bank but we are borrowing money to pay the mortgage, the utility bills and everything else and at the end of the year we say we have a deficit when all the time our capital stays in the bank.
Without giving precise numbers it has recently been announced that the National Health Service has lost two point something Billion pounds in the past year. That is despite the one Billion the government gave them. The word gave by the way is wrong but that's what I heard.
Two Billion in the scheme of things is a drop in the ocean when you consider that the government gave forty three Billion to the Royal Bank of Scotland to bail them out.
Yes gave. Because they ain't getting it back!!
And then there's the rest of the banking world.
Now - where did the government get it from?
Was it in a big hole somewhere, stashed there for a rainy day or was it borrowed?
If it was borrowed who did we – yes the royal one – borrow it from?
Why from ourselves, of course. I think the national debt is around three Trillion or thereabouts and that three Trillion is owed to The Bank of England – our bank.
It is also owed to the people who buy government bonds.
Maybe the Rothschild who lent money for the Napoleonic wars in the first place?
We don't borrow from The World Bank or the International Monetary Fund because our national debt is not an INTernational Debt.
We invest in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, I shouldn't wonder.
The crisis in the National Health Service gets discussed and debated as if the solution is monetary, as if it's some kind of business and is likened to private companies whose aim is to make a profit.
The National Health Service is not here to make a profit or even pay for itself.
It's here to serve and for those who complain about management salaries etc I would ask the question: who do you want to manage it if not managers?
The doctors?
Some countries don't have national debts: Norway for a start.
When they discovered the oil they paid it off.
Could we do that or are we only renting the island from the Rothschilds?
Maybe the deficit is, like the national debt bullshit.



Saturday, February 18, 2017

One Hundred and Eighty!

Have you ever looked at darts on TV? And have you ever wondered how the players throw a dart from that distance – about eight feet – and it lands in the treble twenty; the sixty. Then they throw two more into the sixty and the announcer says one hundred and EIGHTY!!! And the crowd goes wild? Sometimes if the first one doesn't go in neither do the other two. They might get one more in there but the other will be in the twenty or even the one or five.
The confidence of that first dart spurs them on to the other two or vice-versa.
That's why they will go to the bottom of the board and go for the nineteen to try and get a couple of trebles in there – or they may go down there because the flight of one of the darts is blocking their view of the treble twenty.
Now I am a good shot with a rifle – well I was, I got my marksman's badge when I was in the army cadets (hey!!! the ACF not the CCF!!) - but I was using sights. They weren't telescopic sights, which are easy to use as long as you can keep the rifle still, but a kind of V sight.
There again, though, you have to keep the weapon still. A good way of doing this is to pull it into your shoulder and twist at the same time, then squeezing that trigger so softly that you don't even feel it. Rather like tickling a trout as they swim beneath you and suddenly it's in your arms – but don't ask me as I don't fish even though my son is an expert carp angler.
But going back to the darts with their shooting/firing without sights. I have never really fired many pistols – a sten, yes and a bren gun – but I have been told that if you hold a pistol in your hand and point it at the target as if it's your finger you get a sure shot. So it might be the same principle for dart players.
David Beckham, when he was a boy, would practice hitting the cross bar from way out till he got good. How good? Well you know.
I have always thought that good photographers would be good rifle marksmen as they have the discipline to be still and to touch that shutter at the right time and with the gentleness in the finger of an eye surgeon.
I remember I went out on a smallish boat to see the whales migrating north in the Pacific Ocean. Unfortunately I didn't have a zoom lens on my camera and it wasn't automatic focus or anything so as soon as the shout went to – WHALE ON THE STARBOARD SIDE AT TWO-O-CLOCK – or whatever, you had to point, focus and squeeze. I took a few but they were so tiny in the the frame that they didn't look great when I cropped them; not bad, but not great.
It was an Olympus with all the bells and whistles of what was available to me (at my price) at that time so I bought a Canon not long after that. That was great but it eventually wore out; I was having to take gaffa tape with me everywhere to keep the thing closed and I left it on the Queen Mary 2 on our way back to Blighty when the time came – unfortunately I left the lens by mistake.
So recently I looked on eBay for a 35mm camera and bought one. Not remembering that I was looking for a Canon with automatic focus I bought the same kind of Olympus again – mistake!!!
Maybe I should have practiced trying to hit the cross bar or the treble twenty?




Monday, February 13, 2017

I'm back - where've I been?

Dear oh dear, I'm sorry I haven't written to you for some time; gawd knows why, I suppose I've just been busy.
Look:

those are the books next to my bed which I haven't had time to finish. Some of them I have finished but I keep them there as they are the ones I really liked, for example, Marty Feldman's autobiography. I loved it so it stays there in case I want to dip in to it again. Sometimes I get bored with novels so a few there are half finished or half started, depending on which way you look at it, and one, John Osborne's autobiography, I have been reading for years. It's a must for all writers and actors as it's well written and interesting and he was probably one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. 
The first play that startled everybody was Look Back in Anger and a lot of people these days think that his character Jimmy Porter is still relevant – it was in the 50s but not now I don't think.
He wasn't exactly (John Osborne) the nicest of people; I got to know one of his wives, Jill Bennett, when she worked in Nottingham and she was lovely. She was a big star and people in the company (I was working with at Leicester Haymarket Theatre) would pull my leg and say she's out front or she's coming tonight because I'd had a few drinks with her.
I met her after a play she was in and made her laugh solidly for an hour or so whilst we were in the pub before driving back to Leicester.
When she committed suicide it is reputed that her ex husband, John Osborne, spit on her grave. Whether that is true or not I don't know but I have seen it in print before the phrase post-truth was even imagined. But why did he do that (if he did)?

Maybe because of the suicide and not for anything else. Maybe he didn't like the fact that she had abandoned him after he had abandoned her in life. So why would I want to read his book? Just an interesting read that's all. I don't know if he even mentioned her in his writing; yet!
I saw in the west end a follow up to Look Back in Anger but Jimmy Porter wasn't played very well. Jimmy was originated by Kenneth Haigh at The Royal Court and played by Richard Burton in the movie. 


The thing about Jimmy is that he was/is a wife abuser. He spends all the play trying to play the trumpet (off stage) and then comes on shouting and roaring. He calls his mother in law names and describes her as rough as a night in a Bombay Brothel at one point. And he kicks out at anything and is a true bully which is what the author probably was; this was in the fifties when the old guard were going out and classes were changing and it was in the last days of rationing, national service (the draft) when a new day was dawning and creativity which was always stifled by the royal shilling (the draft). John Lennon and Ringo Starr just missed the draft and we got The Beatles.
I didn't play Jimmy Porter but I played his Welsh lodger, Cliff, when I went to night school – night drama school to be precise. They couldn't afford sound FX and the guy playing Jimmy couldn't play the trumpet so I played it. Now what made me think I could play a trumpet? Well I used to be in the army cadets and knew how to get a sound out of it so it worked.
But all this, as I ramble on, doesn't give you much of an excuse as to why I haven't been writing.
Well I have a new agent after the unfortunate demise of my last one who sadly died just before my play opened so there we are.





Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Big Light!

This was written in London at 1.48 am January 1st 2017 – in Los Angeles it is still in the afternoon – 5.48pm.
Happy New Year - Feliz año nuevo.
I remember many years ago – many many years ago – when I was about 20 and still living at home; in fact I was 20. We threw a party and when we threw a party we really did; plenty of ice cream, jelly, custard, cake and lashings of ginger beer!
Well no it wasn't exactly like that; it might have been the year when I had my picture – in full colour – on the front of one of the local newspapers in fact it was, I just looked it up.


There it is, above, and the others in it are my brother (left), a pal called Dave, and the one on the side of the pool was a workmate of my brudder. You've probably seen it before.
I am the one with my mouth open – I had just got in to the pool and the water was cold, hence the grimace which the photographer caught at the right moment which is why it was promoted to the front page. Scene stealing even at that age!
The girl that I ended up with, for a short while anyway, was the one on the left, of the 3 but unfortunately I have forgotten her name. We only went out together for a very short time in any case.
The photo was taken in Wales and we didn't know the girls till this photo was taken but found out that they lived in the same city as we did – Birmingham so dated them there.
Now that was a big digression as it's nothing to do with the party I opened with but I would like to say no I haven't saved the newspaper for all these years, Dave (from the photo) gave me a copy when he came with a few friends to see one of my shows when I came over from Los Angeles to London about 10 years, or so, ago.
So back to the party: as we were living at home we had the party when les parents went out for the night.
Booze was bought, plenty of finger food, the lights were low and various guests sat around in the salubrious surroundings of our sitting room. Music played, not loud rock, but mood music and maybe that was even by Glenn Miller and maybe it was Moonlight Serenade as I had seen all Jack Lemmon's movies in which he was invariably in a bachelor pad in New York, bringing girls back to seduce to the sweet strains of Moonlight Serenade or similar music.
It was in the days when smoking was fashionable and the room was full of smoke and a great ambiance was created.
Saxophones played, trombones augmented and there was a great trumpet solo but out of the corner of my eye I noticed the door opening and a hand moving to the light switch – YES!!!!
THE BIG LIGHT!!
The ambiance disappeared as quickly as Sunderland supporters exiting from the football stadium whenever their team was losing.
Mam and Dad stood in the door frame; their evening out had been cancelled and my dad would always have to have the big light on – I don't know why he put it on at that moment but he probably thought that teenagers and their parents were supposed to annoy each other and THE BIG LIGHT would do the trick.
It certainly did.
The party broke up and everybody went home; they started to troop off as soon as the television went on and I think we went to the pub.
Now at this lofty age I empathize a bit more as the older you get the harder it is to see in the dark; salubrious lighting is good to watch TV but not to read.
Many years have gone by since then but at that precise moment, the moment when my dad touched the light switch, he was in charge; he was the main man and the man of the house and all that the 1960s stood for; he wanted to come home and be comfortable and get everybody out. He liked a party, a drink and a sing song but not our kind of party.
Since then he saw the big light in the sky and drifted towards it and so did my mother when they both shuffled off their mortal coils.
I often wonder what they would have made of the Internet and the Intranet and the iPads and tablets and all the other paraphernalia that has made nearly all GPs in this country prescribe Vitamin 'D' tablets to most of their patients due to the lack of sunshine and fresh air.
What'll be next? Rickets?
2016 has been a year of the BIG LIGHT for a lot of famous people. A lot of pop singers, actors and other notorious personalities but have you ever asked yourself why?
Well in the 50s right up to the mid 70s in the UK there were only a few channels on television. And up until 1967 there were no network pop music stations. Pirate radio existed, of course, but you needed to live near the coast to hear them, as most of the stations were on ships surrounding the British Isles.
The other source of music came from squeaky Radio Luxembourg.
Popular at the time was music by artists born around the 1930s; that was 86 years ago. Those artists became more famous than any of the artists before or since. These days there are so many outlets on TV and radio that you can become really famous in Wales, or Yorkshire or even Scotland and Ireland and nobody outside those areas will have heard of you. I mean who is the most popular deejay in any of those places?
Before the 50s and people like James Dean, teenagers were insignificant, in fact it was said that James Dean was the first teenager – even though he was in his 20s.
There was a sudden change when teenagers had more disposable income than in the past. In the UK their parents had no disposable income – get up, go to work, come home, cook and sleep. Then the same the next day – I repeat NO disposable income. The average Joe Bloggs would put everything on the never never; hire purchase, terms – you name it. It is all described in the excellent novel Live Now Pay Later by Jack Trevor Story. I got to know Jack very well in the 70s and later played his father in a TV series called Jack on the Box – he was a chancer and a bankrupt and just the kind of person I like.
Jack Trevor Story.
So for the next so many years we are going to say goodbye to all our heroes if they were born in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s – sad but true. One or two will last longer and one or two will die younger than average.
I mean Chuck Berry is 90, Jerry Lee Lewis around 85 and so is Little Richard!
The first baby boomers were born around 1945 and even though we are living longer and crashing into prostate cancer and/or dementia we will all be gone by the time Halley's Comet comes around again.
and the guitar solo at 40 seconds is great.



Tuesday, December 20, 2016

An Urge to Utter - 2016

I was listening to the radio the other day and the programme was about Harriet Martineau who, from a non-conformist background in Norwich, became one of the best known writers from the nineteenth century.
It doesn't say much about me when I say I hadn't heard of her. But that would be the same to the person in Liverpool who, having heard I was an actor, made it quite clear, and told me so, that she had never heard of me.
Harriet Martineau followed, what is called, neccessitarianism* and had an urge to utter.
Yes – an urge to utter.
I probably have that urge, which is why I write on here now and again. Lots of us have urges to utter and I heard a famous poet on the radio who said that she has been planning a novel for years. You've heard plenty of people say that so what stops them? They have the urge to utter but don't want to be judged too harshly so, even though they write columns and poetry they don't want to be judged for anything of length just in case it's no good.
Harriet Martineau was very controversial and was an early feminist although it seems rather a late date to be an early feminist when the earth has been here for many millions of years. The older you think it is the less religion means to you.
But it's both easy and hard to realise just what a necessitarian actually is; maybe it is someone who looks out to the universe and accepts all the messages they get from it and acts accordingly doing what is necessary - or gets locked up for being a danger to themselves and other people.
Maybe that's why Trump was elected and not Clinton and Brexit was voted for when it seemed that sensible people were voting to remain in the European Community.
In both cases people went in to the polling booth with a pin and stuck it into the space where their hand was guided as if from Mars (what is necessary) – that's the only excuse I can think.
Someone said on the BBC World Service the other night, that in a few months time people will say they saw what was happening and they knew Trump would win. Well . . . .
I know that when I have looked at elections – and I lived in America for five presidential elections – I have noticed that as soon as one of the candidates finds a catch phrase they win. It doesn't happen all the time as with John Kerry when he said help is on the way – it just wasn't good enough to beat Bush who was the sitting president.
Al Gore wouldn't seek the help of President Bill Clinton as he was a bit puritanical and didn't want to be associated with a president who had been impeached even though he was found not guilty, but that catch phrase was there; this time it was fuzzy math when Bush retaliated to Gore's maths.
So as soon as I heard that the catch phrase “inherited from the Labour Government” I knew the Conservatives were going to win each time they have used it. You see each time a catch phrase is used the party or person it is used against doesn't question it; and they should.
In the referendum – a plebiscite which was never ever used here before 1974 – as soon as the leave campaign started saying take back control I knew it was all over. Nobody answered it.
At the moment the government here is trying to take back all the rights we had before the referendum – we already had those rights so why vote to leave? Oh yes!! The same disease America has – immigration. In a country where everybody is an immigrant they were swayed by Trump's rhetoric, the leave campaigners here were swayed by a really evil person called Nigel Farage who warned that millions and millions of immigrants would want to come and live in Britain. Farage is one of those opportunist people that history throws up now and again; the gang of four (here) who left the Labour Party in 1983 to form an alliance with the Liberal Party. (Liberal here, by the way, is not the same as in America but is middle of the road). They were opportunists but as soon as they actually took the opportunity in 2010 and joined with the conservatives it was their death knell as they lost nearly all their seats in the commons last year in the General Election.
As to Trump, he used the same popularist speeches that some people may have had at the back of their minds; people whom you might scratch and they'd be racist. The 'Donald' wasn't in a straight jacket and dictated to by PR men and women or the men in grey suits he was himself. Hillary Clinton wasn't. I noticed two leaders of the Labour Party giving great speeches recently – Ed Milliand and Gordon Brown – but when they were leaders they were puppets.
I am totally against Trump I don't think he has any of the qualifications for the job but he is good on television and that's why he won.
But the good people in America will vote for anything: I remember three years after I moved there, there was an election for the Sheriff of Los Angeles County. The man in office was a certain Sheriff Sherman Block and he was challenged by Lee Baca. The first time the election took place there was no majority so they had to have a 'run off.'
A few days before the second election was to happen the 74 year old Sheriff Block, fell in his bathroom and died.
The run off election took place in November 1998 even though Sheriff Block had died on October 1998. Instead of cancelling the election the authorities allowed it to go ahead and seven hundred and three thousand, one hundred and seventy eight people voted for a dead man. Seven hundred and three thousand, one hundred and seventy eight people.
This year – 2016 – over seventeen million people in Great Britian – seventeen million turkeys, or Santa Clauses voted to cancel Christmas. In other words voted to leave The Common Market or, as it is now called, The European Community. Since then it has been mentioned on the news and in news and current affairs programmes every day – every single day.
And that's the way we end the year – not knowing what we want and we leave 2016 knowing that we lost some great people and the greatest of them all.
Mohamed Ali.



* Necessitarianism is a metaphysical principle that denies all mere possibility; there is exactly one way for the world to be.
It is the strongest member of a family of principles, including hard determinism, each of which deny libertarian free will, reasoning that human actions are predetermined by external or internal antecedents. Necessitarianism is stronger than hard determinism, because even the hard determinist would grant that the causal chain constituting the world might have been different as a whole, even though each member of that series could not have been different, given its antecedent causes.
Anthony Collins was the foremost defender of Necessitarianism. His brief Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty (1715) was a key statement of the determinist standpoint.
The Century Dictionary defined it in 1889–91 as belief that the will is not free, but instead subject to external antecedent causes or natural laws of cause and effect.



Friday, November 11, 2016

from the beauty of Kennedy to the Trump waxworks.

I looked in the garden today as the whole country fell silent for the two minute tribute to those lost in wars and conflicts. In the distance there was a pigeon, which appeared to be standing up right in respect as not a word was (or a squeak) spoken. Not even the sound of a child in the distance was heard and the birds gathered around a kind of toadstool out there, eating the bits of scraps we sometimes leave there. Yesterday about twenty gulls must have flown in from the coast with the biggest actually on top of the toadstool; you can just about see it, above, near the base of one of the trees. Sorry the photo isn't that clear.
When the two minutes of silence were up, a shot was fired and all the birds flew away.
From a couple of places they flew in flocks and there was a lot of tiny bird activity too.
This year is also the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme; on the day it started, in July,1916, 20,000 men were killed.
Stop and think about that number.
A few seconds before the first shot was fired, at the Somme, there must have been a lot of bird activity but as soon as it was fired and heard by those birds the Somme must have fallen as silent as our garden did today at 11.02 am and the dawn chorus wasn't heard again till November; four months and over one million killed and wounded. One of those was my granddad, who survived, and no matter how we remember them, and old soldiers remember the battle, it was all for nothing.
Or maybe it brought Europe together eventually, after another war twenty years later, when the Common Market was formed and instead of fighting we all started working and living in each other's countries where we lived and played together in harmony – but you don't believe that do you?
The preachers of hate wanted us out.
When I was listening to the silence, and not John Cage's (4'33”), I thought of the presidential election; the presidential election of 1960 when John Kennedy won and moved his beautiful family in to the White House (Casablanca?) in January 1961; where it would continue the curse that befell them and continued right up to the time when we lived there when John Jr was killed.
But I remember Kennedy's inauguration and the tears in my mother's eyes as Kennedy was an Irish man – Roman Catholic and handsome. I even remember some of his campaigning as he had a profile on his publicity photos on the posters showing the parting in his hair; or the part, as they call it in America.
I knew nothing of his opponent, Nixon, or the arrangement made by Kennedy's crook of a father with Sam Giancana of the Mafia to 'buy Chicago' for his son I just knew that Camelot was moving in to the White House.
But I also remember the tears of pain in my mother's eyes as they laid him to rest after Oswald shot him – and that gave rise to a whole lot of paranoiac conspiracy theories which has made millions for the promoters of such bullshit.

But now, instead of the Camelot of the Kennedys and the beauty and intellegence of the Obamas we have the waxworks of the Trumps – Gawd 'elp us!!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Bye Bye Bobby Vee, Strictly and Bake Off.


Look at my desk – up there! - just look at it. I've been so busy I haven't – or hadn't – the time to even clear it. I finished my play and went in to something straight away so just didn't get around to it.
Actually it doesn't look too bad in the photo but between the scanner and the printer there is every draft of my script, various cables, little junctions (or adapters or whatever), blank CDs, blank DVDs and a feather.
So that's why I haven't written a post lately.
What intrigued me, though, was even though I hadn't published a post since September 3, I still get about 30 – 35 views per day; yesterday it was 118 page views, so who are those people who keep faithfully following – or following faithfully? Here look:

and you can see here where a lot of them are going to:


Quite a few things have happened since the last post. Nissan have decided to build two models of their vehicles, in Sunderland, which will make the workforce happy who were devastated by a person called Thatcher some years ago. 
Of course it's not some kind of philanthropic act, the pound is down so they will build the cars from their sterling account and sell them for dollars.
The other thing - Bobby Vee died.
That was a blow, those were my teenage years.
I have liked a lot of music over the years from straight pop right through The Beatles to grand opera and classics such as La bohème and Philip Glass, and jazz like Dave Brubeck and Miles Davis, but there is nothing to compare with a great guitar by Jimmy Reed or Ike Turner. Nothing; but none of it was as much fun as Bobby Vee who was heavily influenced by Buddy Holly. 
Bobby Vee, Billy Fury and all that fun. All gone.
That pop music of the late 50s and early 60s is totally unbeatable.
I remember a girl once – actually she was a dental nurse - who picked a fine time to chat me up, when I was about sixteen. 
She asked me if I liked Frank Sinatra as she had a couple of tickets to see him live, and what did I say? 'I like Bobby Vee.'
I could see her attitude change in a moment – 'who is the bozo who prefers Bobby Vee to Frank Sinatra?' 
Well I did but, since those days, I like Frank Sinatra too.
Amongst other things going on over here is a pop singer had a hissy fit when one of the judges on Strictly Come Dancing gave him a bad review and he walked off never to be seen or heard from again.
Maybe he wanted more money – but from the BBC I couldn't see that happening. I know the dancers don't get very much on that show as they complain, when you meet them, but I should imagine the stars get quite a bit. Not as much as some of the other reality shows that go out on ITV where, in Celebrity Big Brother and I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here go up to about half a million – each – depending on your agent. 
When you consider it though they are long jobs and the real reason professionals do it is to promote themselves.
Half a million is above average but Ann Widdecombe was offered three times that to do I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
Who?
A politician called Ann Widdecombe, or words to that effect, was on Strictly Come Dancing a number of years ago and at the moment she is working on a cruise giving two lectures, one on politics and one on Strictly Come Dancing and they are both standing room only. Actors and actresses who have appeared on these shows have done quite well for work afterwards but it's really like selling your soul to the devil and in Ann Widdecombe's place her sole!!
Two of the judges on Strictly Come Dancing do the show live on a Saturday evening here, record the show that goes out on Sunday evening straight after it, then fly out to Los Angeles on Sundays to work on the American version Dancing with the Stars which goes out on Monday evenings (live) and then again they record the results show as soon as the votes are in.
The other show here is The Great British Bake Off, again on the BBC so not much money there again. The series has been bought from the producers by Channel 4 so the BBC have lost out. The chief host is going with it to Ch 4 for many wheel barrows of money leaving the BBC to work on a new show, a rival.
The only thing they (Ch4) haven't taken in to consideration is you can't copyright a format – only the title – so we'll see.
I don't like food shows, but from the bits I've seen it's quite a happy little show and so is Dancing with the Stars Strictly they call it here!!
I know I should protest against all the reality shows, antiques, cooking, dancing, knitting, skating, as they are taking the place of drama, which is supposed to be employing me, but they are cheap shows even though the money is good on the International Commercial ones but the commercials on Channel 4 will be at around £100,000 per commercial slot which – and Channel 4 is a minority channel – is hard to figure.
Talking of the single word identification Strictly: some time ago I was doing a Shakespeare play in the theatre, As You Like It, and when I told a casting director where I was working she asked 'Are you in As You?'
Just couldn't be bothered to say the full title – Strictly off the record.