Saturday, 4 April 2009

Return to Treasure Island

The concept of finding Treasure starts in childhood and the book which usually begins the dream is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I still have my boyhood copy somewhere. Few boys have not seen themselves as Jim Hawkins surviving encounters with pirates and returning with a portion of gold, silver and jewels, That the treasure has been stolen several times and belongs to someone else seems not to have affected the dozens of cinema and TV production of the story with the first film production in sound and colour in 1950 with Robert Newton as the peg legged Long John Silver. Bernard Miles played the character in a six episode TV series a year later and there was a USA series in the year after.

In 1954 while I was still at school Robert Newton reprised his role in Return to Treasure Island which is also known as Long John Silver, as much of the action centres on the exploits of his character. I was in the mood for a recap on Saturday evening after Newcastle were beaten by Chelsea 2.0, in the first game with Alan Shearer in charge and a grim dose of reality settled over Newcastle with the realization that whatever Shearer could do in lifting the crowd and the city spirit, the team are not good enough for the Premiership, lacking inform strikers and with key defensive places injured. Sunderland lost at West Ham and Middlesbrough were thrashed at Bolton. The gloom extended all over the North East as did the mist

The story of the second film is even ,roe silly than the first with everyone shouting at everyone the whole tine. The British Governor, his wife and daughter are exceptionally stupid but they are super intelligent compared to the rabble of pirates. It was great fun as I recovered from an interrupted night.

Bernard Miles played the part in a second TV production in 1957; and in 1958 there was another TV series called the Adventures of Benn Gunn with Peter Wyngarde as Long John, followed by a major series with Robert Newton in 1959 as the original story was explored and extended so that one title was To Purity, a daughter!

In 1968 Peter Vaughan played in a TV series, as did Orson Wells in 1972 in one of several productions which were shown in Russian, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Alfred Burke was Long John in 1977 in a 4 episode TV production and a Russian TV version in 1982. Brian Blessed brought his style to the role in an 8 episode version of the Return to Treasure Island. There was a Muppet edition in 1996 and Bill Nighy did his version in 1997 followed by Jack Palace in 1999. An eight show edition appeared on German TV in 2000 and Pirates of Treasure Island in 2006 with German and French productions in 2007. Charlton Heston and Anthony Quinn have also played the part.

Part of the attraction for the role of Long John is his duality as a villain and protector and father figure for Jim Hawkins. The character is based on a real life friend of Stevenson who was a big man with a large red beard and a crutch.

A different kind of gold was won by bookmakers across England and elsewhere as the Grand National was won by a 100.1 outsider who stormed from the pack in the home run to win by ten lengths. Several hundred million pounds was bet with one in two of the population said to have had a bet. I did not. I did once get runner up horse in a works sweepstake The longest odds since Foreavon shocked by winning forty years ago. The rider aged 23 was in his first Grand National and the trainer is only the second woman to win the race. One horse collapsed and died and two others required oxygen. It is not known if any jockeys were injured. .

I weight myself again this morning and the scales were closer to 17.3 or 4 than five so this is encouraging as I had reached a similar weight to the 17.10 of two years before commencing the cold weather walking and changing the diet. I will weigh again tomorrow and settle on the official weight from which the summer transformation will be judged. The minimum reduction is to 15.13. I did touch 15-3 two years ago. I had a cereal breakfast followed by a cooked lunch of a good piece of pepper steak, the best of the pack purchased with a Chinese stir fry. Tea was smoked salmon pieces on dry crackers and the evening meal a smoked mackerel sald with olives and a dry brown finger roll. A banana and fresh strawberries provided the fruit. There were two cups of coffee during the day and one cup of tea and so far no water. Shame on me

I should record that I watched the greater part the siege of Red River, featured on the news recently, that is Red River not the siege, because of several weather resulted in flooding. Van Johnson plays a Confederate deep into Yankee terrorist out to steal the only Gatling gun in the West when he encounters a nurse played by Joanne Dru who he gets drunk so that the gun can be placed in her wagon and unknowingly taken out of town passed the guard on the look out for the weapon. The gun is then stolen by a renegade officer and sold for gold to Indians to be used against the local fort which also houses their families. Van Johnson decided to help get control of the weapon which is turned on the Indians before their reinforcements arrive and his rescue enables the Yankee commander to turn a blind eye to his departure. He agrees to marry the nurse when the war is over, which is just a couple of week’s away.

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