But I was thinking of the first time I kissed a girl – well the
first time it was a necking session when I was a teenager – and it
was when I was in the Ladywood Picture House; I'm almost sure of that. We would spot
girls and go and sit behind them – or even on front. A few comments
would go back and forth and then one of us would offer a cigarette
and then the pick up line “Do you want to come and sit
If one of them agreed one of us would go around there and sit with
the other; this would lead to a necking session and walking the girl
home and maybe another date; maybe one of us not turning up and not
One of the girls, one of the days, said to me “Why didn't you kiss
me in the pictures?” and the reply was, of course, “I was
watching the film.”
That was either Circus of Horrors or Horrors of the Black
Museum – yes I have both on DVD and the wonderful song Look
for a Star by Garry Mills was used in Circus of Horrors. It was
such a magic moment in the film with the girl on the trapeze doing
tricks to that music – the fact that she fell off the trapeze later
only added to the . . . and not worth missing to kiss a girl, I tell you; but I
One little phrase above – one of us would offer a cigarette
– should be highlighted. Yes we could smoke in the movies. The
place was full of smoke and when you looked at the beam from the
projector box to the screen it was full of smoke.
We went to the movies a lot. We would walk in any time and it didn't
matter if the film had started or not – you knew where you came in
and you left at that stage when the film was repeated. I can't
believe we did that. It wasn't till Psycho came along that we
weren't allowed in after the film had started.
I did notice in those days that the cinema would cut some of the
films and they usually cut out the favourite bit that I liked that I
had waited for.
Sometimes we, as kids, would walk up to the Imperial Picture
House, this is when we were quite young, and my mom and dad would
come later. We would be down the front and my parents would sit at
the back and we would know when they came as we could hear our dad's
distinctive cough. Looking around to see if we could spot where they
were we would see that load of smoke. I can only imagine what the
ceiling of the place looked like when they turned the lights on.
So when someone talks to you about the good old days just remember
that and the pictures houses were full of perverts. The Moseley
Picture House – the bug hutch – didn't have backs on the
seats that went to the bottom which meant some dirty old perv could
have a feel of your arse. Some fella was feeling my arse one day and
I grabbed his fingers and twisted them then I turned round a looked
at him and the expression on his face of any movement was not
effected by my twisting.
Perverts were everywhere; do you know I've forgotten about most of
them, most of the encounters with perverts and their weird
There were also fights in some of the movie houses – the manager in
The Imperial was ready for it most Fridays and you could see that he
always went for the ring leader as these were big fights – mobs -
and I remember one night he had his arms around the ring leader
pulling him one way whilst the fella was being pulled the other way
by his mates and when the manager managed to get him up to the door
and threw him through it, the gang drew back and the audience clapped
And then, I suppose, marijuana came along and peace man peace.
So there we are.
to Fibonacci it's all here, isn't it. The numbers for your lotteries
etc here is the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34,
55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987 – made up simply of starting at
one, then going to after the next number and then adding the last
two numbers together. It is defined like this:
This is going to be a strange old post but I was thinking of
something so let's see how it goes.
Everywhere you look these days you will see the name of Alan Turing;
this is for a number of reasons. One may be because there is a
movie on release starring Benedict Cumberbatch – yes of course
that's his real name and we will all remember it just as we
In the film Breaking the Code, Derek Jacobi played Alan
Turing and he is seen staring at a fir cone; here:
If you look at it you will see that there is a distinct pattern. What
we see when we look at it is the same pattern but when a
mathematician looks at it he sees a pattern of numbers.
pattern is called the Fibonacci Sequence and was spotted
nearly a thousand years ago by someone called, would you believe
He didn't invent it as it was used by Indian
mathematicians in the 6th century.
What do the numbers mean?
Well the Fibonacci numbers are the sum of the two previous numbers and so
on so 1, 2, is followed by 3.
Then 3 is followed by 5 and 5 is followed by 8. What does this all
mean; how can it be useful.
It's supposed to be a way of predicting how many rabbits two rabbits will begat in
Somehow it is the meaning of life when it comes to a computer.
There is line in Breaking the Code when Turing, quite well in to
middle age by now, says 'look at this cone; a Fibonacci sequence.'
Great piece of writing aye? Engels, meet Marx, Rolls meet Royce!! (you know what I mean).
Well look at this:
That is the pattern created by a Japanese Puffer Fish; the fish is
about two inches long and in order to attract a mate he makes this
pattern in the sand at the bottom of the ocean. When the female
arrives he flattens the middle. It was on TV the other day in the
David Attenborough series.
Isn't nature wonderful?
Here are some more patterns from nature all with Fibonacci numbers.
Amazing aren't they?
So how does the Fibonacci sequence lead to a genius inventing the
That's why the genius who invented the computer invented it and not
me – nor you.
Unfortunately Alan Turing was born in the wrong age: as with Leonardo
da Vinci, Alexander the Great, Michaelangelo and many more he was
But in the time he was active the practice was against the law; it
was never against the law for one man to love another man but the
actual practice was.
In Britain that is; in some countries it still is.
Gay marriage is legal in lots of states in America and lots of other
countries but in Uganda and really backward countries homosexuality is still
against the law.
So instead of praising Alan Turing the authorities persecuted him;
they chemically castrated him and he eventually committed suicide.
At a time when people knew very little about genetics or DNA, Turing
used the early computer to try to crack how a soup of cells and
chemicals could transform itself and grow into complex natural shapes
- a subject known as morphogenesis. In an incredible article
published in 1952, Turing suggested that everything from the spots
and stripes on animals to the arrangement of pine cones and flowers
could be explained by the interactions between two chemicals.
Turing’s work in this area is intimately connected with the timing
of his trial and conviction for homosexuality, and his subsequent
‘treatment’ with a course of chemical injections.
When the movie, Mr Turner, opens you are left in no doubt that
a very important artist is about to make an entrance. Turner's father
goes around the market to buy fruit, vegetables and other things that
makes you ask the question if they are to eat or to be used as
colours – after all this is the one and
only JMW Turner, Britain's greatest ever artist; Billy, to his
father, Mr Billy to his housekeeper - a housekeeper, who is a strange
looking woman, with a stoop and a skin condition which progresses
with the movie; he uses her for fleeting sex in passing; she uses him
the same with a bit more; he greets her when he comes in with a
squeeze of her breasts and a touch of her pubic area through her
dress in both cases. He does this when she stands by him sitting in
his chair and he gives her the greeting without even looking at her – she doesn't look at him.
I loved this film; I loved everything about it. Some clever clogs
might come along and criticise it for
leaving some things out and putting some things in which didn't
happen but . . .this is a movie and a great one.
I don't know much about Turner at all apart from the fact that his
father was a barber and one of the things the father buys at a street
market is a pig's head; a whole head. The father – the barber –
shaves the pig's head, with a cut throat razer, and when they greet
each other they hug and kiss and settle down to eat the
pig's head. They cut slices off and munch it down and it is as if
Turner has eaten so much pig that he sounds like one. He grunts all
the way through the film in fact Timothy Spall plays Turner as a pig;
a sympathetic lovable hog.
Laurence Olivier said he based his famous portrayal of Richard III on
the Big Bad Wolf; well I think Spall has chosen a pig. His perpetual grunt proves that.
Timothy Spall in Hog Mode.
The film doesn't go into Turner's private life too much; well his
really private life; we know there was a wife, two daughters and a
very strange looking granddaughter – is it a doll or a reject from
Call the Midwife? - but they make two entrances whilst we are treated
to his artistic raison d'etre.
It is not a typical Hollywood bio-pic even though Constable is in it
and other famous figures like Ruskin but there are no lines like “Mr
Rolls meet Mr Royce” or “Engels? Meet Marx.”
It should win some Oscars, and deserves, to – acting, directing,
photography – well, I hope so, but I don't think so; certainly some BAFTAs but I
would like to see Mike Leigh get it for directing and Timothy Spall
for acting from BAFTA and OSCAR.
My brother contacted me and said he missed my blog
– well he said he missed the BS so here we go.
I have to say I don't need to bullshit as life is full of it – last
night a dog came on to our bed and lay on me.
It was a Staffordshire
Bull Terrier and when I tried to turn over it moved on to my
chest. The only thing I could do was push my legs out and . . . I
fell out of bed.
Now that was a bit of a shock. I know why the dog came to me in my
dreams; two days ago there was a programme
on the radio presented by a Radio One Deejay whose name escapes me.
He was talking to an ex copper who had a stroke
and was forced in to retirement: 'I love my Staffy' the cop was saying
'he's great company.'
The deejay also had a Staffy and he was fed up taking the dog to a park and seeing mums pick up their kids and running away from it.
Now the Staffordshire Bull Terrier is a strange looking dog – but who can resist this:
But it grows in to this:
Look at the look in its eyes ' hey doggy doggy doggy' - I don't think so.
Look at this:
He looks friendly but look at the power in its jaws - those teeth.
Did you ever see The Omen?? One of my favourite films.
I don't think it's a Staffy but some of those photos are a bit scary and
why should mothers with their children be subject to anything
Can you imagine being smaller than a Labrador and
seeing the bloody thing come up to you for a fuss – that's what a
A bit like standing at a bus stop and a dog as big as a
horse comes over to you for a fuss; you would run like hell; wouldn't
On Tuesday evening, after I heard the programme on the radio, I went
around to a supermarket and there, outside, tied up, was a
Staffordshire Bull Terrier; he looked nice and friendly and wanted a
fuss so I leaned down gently towards him, put my hand out to greet
him and he bit me!!
I'm kidding – I never went near him but he did look very friendly.
So 24 hours later I dream about him – not exactly beautiful are
they? I mean the puppy is very attractive but if you had one at home,
and you had all the doors open in your house, would you let your arm
hang down the side of the bed? I mean would you?
I don't do that in any case having had a cat for so many years.
Sometimes I dream about our cat; El Grande – the big 'un. I dream
about my parents too and often wonder if that's what happens when
people die; they come and see you in your dreams!
A nice thought isn't it but . . . I don't know. What's the
alternative? We all go to heaven? All 50 million of us each year, or whatever the number is.
Well maybe heaven is in our dreams,
maybe that's where we go.
Nobody dies in Ireland – nobody at all. When you die there they
talk about you forever as if you are still around.
They laugh at the
things you have experienced with your late love ones – 'do you remember
the time he . . .' and so on.
That's the way things are there.
way it's a shame Saint Patrick brought Christianity to the place;
they believed in much stronger things before that old ballix came
They buried their dead on great hills so that they could look down on
the living whilst the living could look up to their ancestors and
maybe – maybe – dream about them.
So there we are, Paddy me boy; a few words of BS for you; sweet dreams.
I made a film about 25 years ago and for the past week or two I have
been very busy re-cutting it. Only a half hour or so long – well 28
minutes – and I've cut it down to about 22.
The reason I did this was because, after all these years, I can.
I have the editing facilities and there was always something nagging
me about it: one of the scenes in the movie concerns an American tourist
calling his Rabi in New York to tell him that he has found a Jewish
scroll – a Torah – at Portobello Market in London and, when we
shot it, I read the 'other' voice whilst an old pal of mine, playing
the American, speaks.
It's quite a normal technique and I did a 'cod' American/New York
accent. I was never satisfied with my accent but it was good enough
for the day; I had planned to get an American to do the voice
but when it came to it I couldn't afford it.
Even today I listen to the so called American voices in the plays on
Radio 4 and they are awful; even then I didn't want anybody but an
American doing it.
But my voice stayed with
it and each time I have seen the film since that voice sticks out
like a sore thumb!
My pal – Jeff Chiswick – who was playing the American tourist,
died of a heart attack in 1993; he was a really good actor and in my
film, The Scroll, he is terrific.
As the writer and director on the picture he asked me the right
questions, questions which made me go back to the drawing board and
re-write his role and that was a lesson learned.
Working 'with him' for the past couple of weeks made me realise just
how good he was or is in the film.
A couple of years ago I asked my pal in Los Angeles, Ron, to record
the 'other voice' for me, the one that I did; I was never sure if I
would ever be able to do anything with it but I kept it; I played the
movie and recorded the sound in to my sound editing system and there
it is on the screen as follows:
As you can see it's in sound waves; some of them are mine and some of
them as Jeff's. Then I separated the two voice – like so and put
Ron's voice in:
You can see where I have changed the volume etc and left gaps where my voice used to be.
I did that a few years ago and left it on my lap top somewhere.
And then last year one of my daughter's friends, who was in the film
as a seller at the jumble sale, found a VHS copy of The Scroll and I
asked him to send his copy to me which he did.
Of course I don't have a VHS VCR any more so I couldn't play it
which meant taking the tape into Wardour Street without being able to
check it, to get it transferred to DVD MP4 so I could edit it.
Forgive me for the gobbledygook but . . .well.
At last I had the chance and rushed home with the DVD; I knew it
wouldn't play on my DVD machine, as it was on MP4, so put it onto my
computer and played it back.
Of course what happened was that my daughter's friend, who had
very kindly sent the tape to me, had, some years ago, wiped my movie
off the tape and it contained footage of people on holiday – maybe his
relations. Sitting in the beach, I think, walking around etc.
So there we are – it was a nice idea whilst it lasted.
Then I remembered that my other pal, Gary, who played my partner in
the movie, might have a copy, and when I called him he did and he
sent it to me.
There was another bit of confusion as the two copies were sitting on
my desk looking exactly like each other – which one was which?
But that was sorted out when I took both of them in to be
You may remember that last year my pal Ron, in Los Angeles, died. I
wrote a post about him and here he is:
So for the last few weeks I have been working with two of my late
friends; both of them dead, neither had ever met the other.
It was strange and somehow very rewarding; a few other people in the
film have died since I made it – I love the way I say I
made it when making a film is a group effort, but you know what I
It's only a small nondescript movie so it should be flattered that
it's getting a 'director's cut' – but there we are.
I found there were other things in the film I had compromised with at
the time; a pool ball sound I wanted, maybe a little cutting here and
there but any way it is done and who knows what I'm going to do
with it now and you will know that Who is on first base!!
By the way – The Beans:
English speakers have been using the word "spill" to mean
"divulge secret information" since 1547, but the spilling
of beans in particular may predate the term by millennia. Many
historians claim that secret societies in ancient Greece voted by
dropping black or white beans into a clay urn. To spill those
beans would be to reveal the results of a secret vote before the
ballots had been counted. Kidney he lives, pinto he dies!
Do you know I am sure I have written this before; I looked and looked but it seems I haven't. If you have seen it somewhere let me know but I can't believe I left it till now; maybe it's just one of those stories I have bored people with in the past.
I was sitting in a pub in Wolverhampton with a film director, a
cameraman and a sound guy; in the corner was a one legged man. He
wasn't a frail looking thing and he made a lot of noise with the
mouth, with the chat, and with the big piss taking laugh.
was a rough looking customer and you would think by looking at him,
with his tattoo patterned shirt and scruffy demeanour,
that he lost his leg in a fight or had it sawn off for a bet or even
lost it in a game of poker.
were touring the country, the bare
bones of a film crew, visiting wonderful locations like Leighton
Buzzard, London Docks and Gravesend;
to name a few of the places. The cameraman had taken time off from
working a camera when he reached his thirties and went to study wine,
becoming a wine expert in the process. As we sat eating dinner one
evening in the Gravesend
hotel, drinking his chosen wine, he suddenly went off and ordered
another bottle of red.
he poured, after a decent wait for the wine to breath, a glass for
each of us. We didn't know that it was a special vintage as we drank
and after we drank, our expert looked at us and asked what we
thought; well it tasted a bit smoky with a gentle hint of sulphur
and a slight bouquet of a six month old baby's poo.
He looked at us; we pulled faces and he got the message: “Don't you
find it interesting?” he said.
were touring because we were making a film for a fork lift company
called – I think – Lancer Boss. Their headquarters were in
Leighton Buzzard, which is why we were there, and other locations
where there were companies using the Lancer Boss fork lift
trucks. I had to drive one at each place and then go in to the
studio, with the director, and work in a blue screen
studio – that is being superimposed into each scene.
studio was in Buckinghamshire
and when I worked with him I had to stay over night at an hotel near
by; he came and had a drink with me, told me he was also a pilot and
I told him that I could never be a pilot, as I am too slap dash and
would never have the patience to check things three times. “Oh it's
easy” he said.
That's when I made the mistake of saying “Why? What do you have to
He went through everything he had to do when sitting in the cockpit
and I was wondering when he was going to stop.
“I'm not boring you, am I?” he said.
no!” I said, and on he continued.
When we sat in the pub in Wolverhampton that day, a small dingy hotel
really, I didn't know what I was going to have to listen to after the
studio day but I should have.
As we sat there in Wolverhampton – and he didn't talk quietly – he explained to us
what his job as a director involved: “I direct the actor; he is in
the charge of the photography” he said as he referred to the
cameraman, then pointing at the sound guy he said “and he is in
charge of the sound.”
Everybody in the bar could hear him pontificating away as if he was
giving a lecture. He was smoking a pipe and said his doctor had told
him it was okay to smoke as it relaxed him because if he didn't relax
he would probably have a heart attack – heaven forbid.
Word got about in the bar that porn videos were to be shown in one of
the other bars after the pub closed to the public for residents. The
one legged man asked if he would be able to stay and our director
asked the landlord if he had a licence.
“What for?” said the landlord.
“You can't show videos without a licence” the director said.
I went off to the loo and left them to it. When I came back, the
director had trickles of blood on the outside of his nose “what
happened?” I asked.
“Long John Silver dropped the nut on him” said the sound guy.
I looked around and the one legged man had disappeared.
“Yeh; he just hopped over here and head butted the big mouthed
read a biography of Laurence Olivier at one time and the writer
opined that he was the greatest actor in the world for one reason and
one reason alone; because he wanted to be.
there is something to that.
too long ago I wrote a post about Mark Rylance whom it was considered
was the current (then) best actor in the world; same reason! He
wanted to be - or people wanted him to be - or whatever floated their
boat or, to be more precise, filled their theatres.
was something else I read about Olivier and it opened (not opined
this time) by saying 'he was no intellectual' – I mean how could he
be he left school at 15? Okay he went to drama school but so did I.
though Olivier may have been considered to be the best actor etc, at
one time, he had to do about 30 or 40 takes in a film with William
Wyler and when he got frustrated he said to Wyler “Willie; I did it
this way, I've done it that way. I've done it faster and slower -
what do you want me to do?” And Wyler said “I want you to do it
actor in the world?
thing is – and it might have been whilst getting the above
direction – he stamped his character on Heathcliffin Wuthering
Heights – Samuel Goldwyn called it
Withering Heights, according to Olivier. In fact the anecdotes above
are from Olivier himself.
thing about Heathcliff is that he was from the back streets of
Liverpool – a bit of rough – and he fell for the lady of the
house, the posh girl and Olivier played him with a posh English
accent. Today he would be played by someone from Liverpool.
are people – actors – here who still worship him; of course there
are others who don't like him at all but he had the two or three
things it calls for to be a star – he was ambitious, talented and
not very clever. I think the latter is very important
because, according to the great playwright Brien Friel, to be a star
to have to have huge huge ambition, a
talent that is sensational and unique (there's only one Sir Laurence)
and no brain.
when you think about it, it has a lot of truth.
know – and I am bound to know – a lot of actors. A lot of them
are friends but none of my friends are huge stars – I have a very
famous cousin, whom I have never met and when I think about him he
may be as thick as two short planks too, for all I know; I don't know
which is why I won't name him, but Friel's view is that brains get in
Maybe they do and maybe they don't!
you wanted to be a movie star, you are good looking and you think you
have what it takes, what kind of a reaction would you get if you took
the idea to the bank? What kind of business plan would you present to
them and if they fell for it, what advice would these very clever people give you?
for one wonderful moment, going on to the TV show Dragon's
people on Dragon's Den – the so called Dragons – are the most
ambitious kind of people there are, but would you really want to have
a drink with them? They'd be talking about the business plan, the
yield, the profit, the bottom line – I have been in the company of
such people and I have seen the attitude and the way their face
changes if you give them a good idea.
was on a train once and standing next to me was a businessman with
the suit, the brief case, the Financial Times, the whole nine yards,
and he complained about the train.
was British Rail then and he said they had no idea (BR that was –
look at it now) how to run it.
And I said “why don't they put
advertisements at the back of the seats” and a bulb went off in his
head; I could see it.
have no idea who he was! But that bulb!!
I was saying I know loads of actors and I have known briefly well
known ones on the way up: pains in the arse, stars up there:
pains in the arse and stars who were stars here and when I met
them in Hollywood they were nice people again; they were lost, they
didn't know where to go, where to network (arse hole creep) but when
I pointed them in the right direction they became pains in the arse
again. Not being able to look you in the eye in case an important
casting director or director came into the room so they could talk to
them and you know it's a sight to see. What happens is, they sidle up to
their prey with a big smile on their face and start a little chat;
after about 3 minutes or so another person will come up and take the
head honcho away - I'm sure they are hired to do this – leaving the
networker marooned in the middle of the floor.
you will see others, other networkers, dappled throughout the room, waiting to pounce
like hyenas on the savanna – in fact looking
like hyenas with their teeth, ready to
smile, and their eyes widening and scrunching so as to show them off
at their best, waiting for their victim to be alone.
think the reason I don't know the big big stars intimately is that
they don't seem to have many friends; on the way up they twitch and walk around,
can't sit down for long, they worry that they'll miss a phone call or
a casting and they are no company at all and in any case, as in
Hollywood, they drop you and forget you as soon as you've shown them
They pretend to forget you as they know that you know what kind of a prat they really are.
met quite a few stars in Hollywood and some of them were nice –
George Clooney is charming and quite well informed – so it doesn't
happen to everybody.
radio is on at the moment and as I typed they
didn't know where to go, where to network, a
trailer came on (a trail as they call it) to say that next week on
Radio 4 a new series starts called Networking
– what a coincidence.
well – back to John Tavener and his beautiful music.
might have noticed, if you read this on a regular basis, I don't
usually mention any of my family, or friends, by name; I have done
this once or twice with my parents, Christy Sullivan Dublin Barber
and my mother – Essie Sullivan –
in previous posts of those names and I think I mentioned the
brudder's name once.
is the centenary of my mother's birth – our mother's birth –
Esther Mary Tuite, born October 5th 1914 in Dublin,
became Esther Sullivan – Essie from the Alex and previous to
that Esther Sullivan, company director of the Lawden Manfacturing
Company, Broad Street, Birmingham.
She died in
1993 on December 19th so may she rest in peace.
the year the great war broke out – the First World War – and my
grandfather, Patrick Joseph Tuite, went off to that terrible war with
the British Army and getting gassed in the trenches for his trouble; I think that was in
1916 and who knows maybe it was the Battle of the Somme.
I have no
details as to whether he was invalided out of the army because of
that but he went on to live till 1974.
As there is
a lot of publicity concerning the first world war at the moment, I tried to find out
if he was listed anywhere and, even though I can find two Tuites, with
more or less the same forenames who were in the Royal Dublin
Fusiliers and another Irish regiment of the
British Army, I can's find him in the war records because those two
soldiers died in 1917.
1916, in Dublin, there was an insurrection called the Irish Uprising
where Patrick Pearse (Padraig MacPiarais) read the
famous proclamation from the steps of the General Post Office in
O'Connell Street Dublin and then fighting broke out.
I looked through loads of photos of him and they're mostly like this, as maybe posing for his portrait in profile - maybe posing for his portrait on the stamps and coins.
The English attacked the
post office using their long range guns as they sailed in through the
foggy dew – sound familiar? Yes the words to a song. Oh look –
there I am singing it - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tt3g3Hq6pE
(do you know my hair is that long now; I'll get it cut next week).
In France an officer
called my granddad in to the office and said “There's a 'bit of
trouble in your country.” And that's all granddad knew about the
uprising back home; I would fire questions at him but that's all he
One of the things I
found out recently was that nearly all the men who were killed in
that war from Britain didn't get a vote - and don't forget Ireland
was still part of the United Kingdom - they gave their lives without
their permission; the only men who were allowed to vote were the
gentry or property owners.
Men were given the vote
at the same time as women which was after the war in 1918; men at 21
and women at 30.
It stayed like that for
about 10 years and then the women's voting age came down to 21; this
was, so they say, because too many men were killed in that war and
they thought those voting ages would make things more even.
The reason my granddad
went off to fight in the war – and I remember pictures of him on
the sideboard at my Grannie Tuite's house wearing a skull cap – was
because they were broke. My mother was born the same year as the war
and then when the war was over there she saw a lot of fighting in the
She told me a lot about
that and how she saw men carrying their comrade from the battle of
the Forecourts and how they used a door as a stretcher to carry him
So today (October 5th
2014) would have been Esther Mary Tuite's 100th birthday,
Essie Sullivan, Essie from the Alex
and previous to that Esther Sullivan, company director of the Lawden
Manufacturing Company, Broad Street, Birmingham.
What would she think if she suddenly came back and saw all the apps, the internet, the smart phones and the smart arses using them and coming up with the answers to the Universe.
She died in
1993 on December 19th and may she rest in peace.
I saw one of my favourite films – for the
know it will be one of my favourite films
already as it's in the genre of the films I like. Films about
films that is, maybe set in the film capital of the world, namely
Hollywood, California with a hint of the sordid side of things with
corruption, horror, maybe a bit of incest
and murder – all those things which would be a bad description of
this film but I think you know what I mean; and they're all in this.
you can see by the title of this post I am talking about Maps to
the Stars by the great Canadian director David Cronenberg. His
films have always been outstanding, although I can say I didn't like
Cosmopolis at all but one thing I can say is that you may like
it so don't let me put you off. The film starts as it goes on,
nothing happens but there's one thing I noticed about both movies.
Pattinson plays the lead in Cosmopolis and a smaller role in Maps to
the Stars; he's a limo driver in the new film and gets into a
limo in the former, and in each film there is an eerie silence outside
the cabs as if there is a sound proof barrier around each vehicle.
This is a technique I remember Tarantino using in Reservoir Dogs
and I think it's quite affective.
of the things that really seduced me about the film is its location;
some scenes were shot in Runyon Canyon right behind where we used to
live and for a period of my life I climbed every day. I suppose I
will love all films – and I do – of movies shot in places I know
and where I can recognise locations but Los
Angeles is one of my favourite places on earth.
sat transfixed and saw some great performances from everyone of the
cast; Hollywood is so false, synthetic and subtle and when you see
John Cusak with his middle aged large very white face and the jet
black hair and then the brilliant Julianne Moore being so false and
conniving you see right through the whole charade.
I'm not a film critic or reviewer but you must go and see it and the
acting, by the way, is real; nobody asking if it's the right accent
and it is so good you don't notice.
I love you; your comrade is coming to see you.
thing to say isn't it? The comma and semi-colon are mine as the
phrase was written in Chinese: something like, 主席，我爱你;您的同志来看您or
written by Mao's widow, the leader of the gang of four, who
was supposed to be an atheist, who followed him and his little red
book, when he was alive and then when she killed herself she left
that as a suicide note.
Who and how and what was she going to do
about seeing him if she didn't believe in the afterlife?
I wish I
believed in the afterlife then I'd know that Jimmy Savile was burning
But back to
Mao's widow. Mao Zedong as they say, written in English, was married
to Jiang Qing (pronounced King, I reckon) and known as Madam Mao; she
was also an actress and was dumped in prison after Mao's death when
she and 3 others carried on doing what they were doing when he was
murdering people – she was accused of killing 34,274 and that she
was her husband's attack dog. She would kill those that tried to get
near him. She stated this after his death and, as I say, she and the
other members of the gang of 4 were sent to prison.
She was, in
fact, on temporary release from prison for health reason and killed
herself before returning.
So let me go
back to the original question – did she pretend not to believe in
God so she could spread the communist message or did she, in fact,
think that Chairman Mao, with his little red book, was some kind of
god who was waiting for her in communist heaven?
I mean, the
reason communism didn't catch on at all in America is that the only
things some of the American people knew about communism was that
communists were 'godless.' So there it was, killed at first base!
I just looked
it up on line and her quote should have been “Chairman!
I love you! Your student and comrade is coming to see you!”
So there! I
was wrong; but as I've said before I don't know a lot about anything.
Mao for a moment: when I went to India I was told not to drink the
water and not to put ice into my drink; why would I ever put ice into
any drink? – anything that is chilled like that is tasteless; like
stuff being too hot.
So when I got
there I didn't drink any water at all. I drank beer; drinking beer in
hot weather is not good for you, really, which is why people who live
in hot countries drink tea. Except in California.
people in my party didn't drink any beer but now and then they would
clap their hands or swipe the air – and what were they doing?
Swatting mosquitoes, of course, and getting bitten or sucked by them
or whatever a mosquito does!
mosquitoes didn't like me; didn't come anywhere near me. Maybe it was
the alcohol they didn't like. I could understand if it was something
a bit more potent than the glass of Kingfisher I was drinking so I
looked up the connection between malaria and alcohol and it seems
that if you drink beer the odour your
body/breath gives out, actually attracts mosquitoes; so what can I
A doctor once
told an alcoholic patient that he had drunk so much gin he was
Now – I
have just realised that gin is made from
juniper; it was invented by a doctor who mixed juniper berries with
grain alcohol and every time I hear the word juniper I think of the
lay there by the juniper
moon is bright
them jugs a filling in the pale moonlight
My daddy, he made whiskey
My granddaddy, he did too
We ain't paid no whiskey tax since 1792
How did we get away from
Chairman Mao? Just shows that you should concentrate
on what you are doing and not to let your mind wander. But it is a
beautiful lyric isn't it? Written by someone called A.F. Beddoe –
and his brother. Sung by Joan Baez and Bob Dylan etc.
Someone said it was
written during the prohibition era but was in fact written by the
fella above and in a letter to Time Magazine in 1962 he wrote the
"Sir: I am extremely
thrilled that you printed my song in your folk singing article . . .
. . Copper Kettle was written in 1953 as part of my opera Go
Lightly Stranger. A. F. BEDDOE, Staten Island, N.Y. "
Now isn't that
something, the business of it being written during the Prohibition
years is totally false but, as you can see, was written during the
years Chairman Mao was distributing his little red book and his
acolytes would hold a copy of the book firmly in their right hand and
go around shouting happy, happy, happy to all and sunder - or words
to that effect – and taking no notice of some of the wonderful
songs and poetry being written in the west as well as in his own
country and that word I use wisely there – acolyte (s) – is what
his followers were and so the dying note from Madam Mao – or Jiang
Qing - “Chairman! I love you! Your student and comrade
is coming to see you!” was really the final prayer
of an atheist!
I cannot let this day go – Thursday September 18th
2014 – without mentioning that today, Scotland are voting to be
independent of Britain; it will no longer be part of Great Britain
(short for Greater Britain, I suppose, like Greater London
where I live or Greater Los Angeles, where I used to live).
After centuries fighting for home rule by politicians
like Parnell etc, in 1916 there was an insurrection in Dublin,
Ireland, for Irish Independence and today Scotland are getting it
without a physical fight; I can't believe they will vote no.
over the years for Irish Independence and Scotland have a chance of
getting it by a vote.
union with Ireland was made through bribery and corruption – let me
quote Wikipedia and I'm sorry if you don't like Wikipedia . . . The
passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was ultimately achieved
with substantial majorities, having failed on the first attempt in
1799. According to contemporary documents and historical analysis,
this was achieved through a considerable degree of bribery, with
funding provided by the British Secret Service Office, and the
awarding of peerages, places and honours to secure
votes. Thus, Ireland became part of an extended United Kingdom, ruled
directly by a united parliament at Westminster in London, though
resistance remained, as evidenced by Robert Emmet's failed Irish
Rebellion of 1803.
Now bear that in mind
when you read this:
Back to Scotland:
As soon as recent
opinion polls reported a rise in the Yes vote the Westminster
party leaders, including the Prime Minister, decamped to Scotland
like squealing jackals and then the ex-leader of the Labour Party,
Gordon Brown, spoke with the passion he should have shown in 2010
when Labour lost to the Conservatives in
the General Election. They were there to beg the Scots not to vote
As with Ireland they
offered bribes to the Scots – the so called Devo-Max, empty
promises and dreams which will turn into nightmares, and there was a
Tory MP on the radio the other day who confirmed that promises would
be broken, by saying he wouldn't be voting for the so called promises
if there is a no vote.
The same kind of bribes
from 211 years ago? I think so.
By the way, 30 years
after the insurrection, after the uprising which followed and after
the civil war which gave Ireland a kind of freedom (they could never
claim Ulster – most of it - in the north) and were left with 26 of
the 32 counties, the King of Great Britain, Edward VIII abdicated.
A notice was sent to all
the countries where he 'ruled' – amongst them Australia, New
Zealand, Canada, Ireland . . . yes Ireland!
The transformation from
the Irish Free State to the Republic of Ireland didn't happen till
the late forties and then in 1974 that ex King – Edward VIII – who
had abdicated in 1936 died; and it was only then that he, officially,
ceased to be King of Ireland. The reason is that the rest of
the Empire and consequently the Commonwealth, ratified the abdication
in 1936, but Ireland didn't bother; this is supposed to be true –
what is true is that an Irish woman, The Countess Markievicz,
was the first woman elected to the UK House of Commons in 1918
although she never took her seat.
I was in Dublin a few
weeks ago; we stayed at Trinity College for one night and had a
private tour of the wonderful library where we had a good look at The
Book of Kells; the oldest book in the world. I had seen it before
but my wife hadn't; the book was created in the year 800 AD.
Afterwards we stayed
with family and it was wonderful to see them and they really pushed
the boat out for us; wining and dining us – well, whiskeying me as
I don't drink wine!
On the way back to
London, we were waiting in the departure part of the quay, we had
travelled by sea, and my mind was
transported back to when we lived in Los Angeles when I went to El
Pollo Loco on Sunset Boulevard; in fact I wrote a post about it on here a few years ago.
We were having coffee
and a fella came in to the place and, as he carried his coffee from
the counter to his table, it became evident that he wasn't wearing a
belt, and as he struggled with his coffee, whilst holding his
trousers up with his other hand, he let them go slightly exposing his
arse; I remember that happening in El Polo
Loco: a down and out let his trousers go as he tried
to make it to a seat but his went almost all the way down which made
a poor woman in front of him go hysterical. And as with the fella in
Dublin the arse was as clean and tidy as a whistle and you would have
been sorely tempted to give it a gentle tap as you went by – but we
didn't go by, we travelled across to Wales
were we stopped at the following station:
Yes from the oldest book
in the world to the longest place name in Britain, in Wales of course
and definitely the longest domain name without hyphens; will that be
the next place for a referendum? Wales I mean not
So what's going to
happen today? I have worked in Edinburgh a few times and I have a lot
of relations there and love Scotland dearly – it has the 2nd
best accent in the world – and we might even have lived there at
Will they vote to get
Britain's Nuclear Weapons off their land and keep their own
oil and get the government they vote for at General Elections?
I don't know but we
shouldn't be giving opinions as to how it will affect us - it's how
it affects the people living there that count.
I suppose in a kind of a way this is a bit political;
but what is politics – or what are politics? They are our every day
relationships and meetings with people.
I mean if you never read
anything more than the 'red top' newspapers or listened only to snatches of news on a pop music radio station you will believe all
the BS that the barrack room politician, the loud mouth in the
pub – you know the one with the loudest voice who's only argument
to your point of view is a very loud Wrong!! - you will
believe all that: that immigrants are taking your jobs, that we -
the royal we – are paying for all that.
Well, you know that kind of stuff is not true – but
that's not all I want to say.
There he is above – Alan Johnson, MP
– the Right Honourable Alan Johnson, I
might add; Right Honourable meaning that he
held high office in the British Government and he is a member of the
privy council which means he is or was, privy to all the top top secret
top secrets of this country.
If that isn't all correct look it up and
He has a similar profile to mine except that he passed
the 11+ and I sat through it. I had to get my 'O' levels (and an A/O
level) years later and then only because I was interested in the
subjects – Sociology, English Literature and Film Studies (that was
the A/O and the hardest).
He went to work at the post office when he was 18; I
started to wind down my career at the post office at that age as it
was mandatory for us to leave the telegram motor bike delivery service
then and become a postman, I did not want to be a postman but I
stayed for 3 years and still can't believe it.
But my point here is that in those days everything was
done by hand at the post office apart from the automatic machine for
date stamping the letters. And that automatic date stamper – or
whatever it was called – had to have the date changed by a very
trusted supervisor; a postman higher grade or a PHG – or even an Inspector - and why?
Let me tell you.
On the walls of the sorting offices were big signs
warning us that we were not allowed by law to do the fixed odds
football pools. And I can hear people from other countries saying
'call that a free country' etc or what are the pools?
The Fixed Odds were what they say – fixed odds. Every
football match on the coming Saturday fixture list had odds for the outcome –
betting odds. All legit. All Kosher. If you wanted to take part you
would get the fixed odds coupon from a newsagents or the like, look
at the fixtures for the coming week and then predict what the results
would be, say Manchester City to beat Manchester Utd having odds of
2-1 or Utd to beat City having odds of 3-1.
Then you would put a stamp on the envelope and mail it
but . . . . if you worked at the post office what you could do was
get the envelope on the Friday, put it through the date stamping
machine and then put it in your pocket. Then on Saturday you see
the football results, fill your fixed odd pools coupon with the correct
results, put your postal order in the envelope and then put it in the
mail when you go back to work on Monday.
The pools company
would see that you've won, check that the stamp on the envelope is
date stamped prior to the date of the matches and hey presto!
To be honest I can't remember anybody doing it or even
heard of it but the opportunity was there.
In those days letters would be delivered to every part
of Britain by the next day. That's if they were fully paid (or first
class) and the second class would get delivered the day after.
That's all it took. That's when the post office was run
by the government before it was made into a corporation by the
Conservative Government in 1970. The first thing they did was to sack
the chairman and then later in 1970 there was a short post office strike.
In 1971 there was another strike which lasted about 6 weeks which coincided with the introduction of decimalisation
– you know no longer 240 pennies to the pound but 100 new pence or
eventually pence and if they'd have left it at that or maybe left the
post office as a governmental organisation
with all the workers being civil servants my auntie may have had
testicles and been my uncle; who knows? That's why you will never see the first decimalisation stamps with the first day date stamp on them - unless, well I've explained it above.
I mention Alan Johnson as he is an inspiration; he was
orphaned as a child and he and his sister fought to stay together
(she was 16) in their house and that's what they did. He got a job as a postman and eventually joined the UPW (which I did) then he became a Labour MP and eventually Home Secretary after other cabinet jobs; Home Secretary being one of the big four jobs in the government.
I kind of listened to his accent – which is a well
spoken North London one – when I was doing my cockney accent for
the play I did last week; I kind of took something from him but
eventually did all the bits of the London accent except for the
Bit ironic really as I had promised myself that when I came
back from America I wouldn't do any accents in my work; you never
hear them in America (apart from being done very badly) unless it's
Meryl Streep, and because you are not putting an accent on, it makes
the naturalism in your performance easier.
There is always a little
bit of an impersonation, a caricature in a performance if you have to
do an accent which I hope I overcame on Saturday when I did my secret
20 pages of a monologue all learned - that's why I didn't write anything here lately.
I'm still rehearsing the play, learning
many many lines but I'm getting there and . . well I forgot to write
a post here didn't I?
So I'm starting this with no idea of where it's going to
go so we'll see; this morning on the radio, I heard a little radio
quiz and the answer was Kate Bush – just a few sound clips
and the clue for Bush was our man himself; the fella we all laughed
at up to 2008, George W. Bush.
His little quote was typical of the man; he said
something like 'a single mother has a very hard job to do; she has to
work all day to put food on her family' – I mean I know it was a
slip of the tongue but if he wasn't so dangerous he would be funny. I
am now waiting and fearing the day he comes into fashion the way
Reagan did a few years ago and Thatcher did recently.
There are loads of people both here and in America who
worship both of them; we might find it a bit of a stretch thinking of
Reagan but no – a lot of Americans worship him. He was an
interesting man but head of state??
At least Thatcher wasn't the head of state. She was the
head of the government – the Queen is the head of state. That gave
me a bit of comfort to know that she had to answer to someone besides
the once in a while message from the electorate.
The other night I was cutting some chips – okay you
guys, French Fries – and the potatoes weren't very big so my chips
were only about three inches long. I mean they all taste the same,
don't they, whether they're short or long, as long as they're not
overdone or crispy.
When I got them ready (I put them in the oven, by the
way, on a baking tray with a pudding spoon of oil) and looked at them,
they reminded me of a TV programme I once
watched about the Queen's chef.
He had to cut her chips that size whenever he served
fish and chips. He would also serve it to her on a tray and she would
sit in an arm chair and eat – more or less – from a tray on
Makes her kind of human doesn't it?
And I thought I wonder if she knows what she missing?
Good old fish and chips from a seaside fish and chip shop; anywhere in the British Isles but not in America.
Everywhere she goes she smells paint, sees people in
their Sunday best and everyone on their best behaviour
– wouldn't it, once in a while, be nice for her to see people as
they really are.
I know she's done that after a fashion but I don't think
there is anywhere on earth where she wouldn't be recognised
– well maybe places in Africa like Gabon or Somalia and you
wouldn't want her travelling there
One little story about the royal family bemused me or
should I say amused me or . . . well a cross between the two: there
was an MP (Member of Parliament – hi America!) who, when she was
first elected, had the job of going to Buckingham Palace on one of the
days the Queen opened a session Parliament.
This is a tradition going back a few hundred years; the
MP has to stay there till the Queen gets back; take a guess why.
When they Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen were due to
leave, the Duke went to the MP and said 'they'll probably shoot you
if we don't come back!!'
Of course that is the tradition because one of the
monarchs didn't come back; they chopped his head off so the MP was a
hostage – now I always thought that the tradition wasn't literal
that it was only a tradition but . . .
Recently there was another MP in a documentary on the
radio and he said that when he had to do it it was a great day for
him. He had the free run of the palace, he could do anything he liked
but he couldn't go out.
The officer in charged was asked what he would do if the
Queen was, in fact, kidnapped or killed and he replied without giving
it much thought 'Oh we'd kill him; immediately!'