Sunday, 12 July 2009

To have and to have not and a Jazz weekend

I begin Jazz and Fireworks not with the visit to the Sage at Gateshead for a re-creation of the music of the early years of Louis Armstrong but a brief visit to Tynemouth for the Chicago Stompers from Italy who impressed me greatly last year and were appearing again in the 12 to 2 set on the Jazz stage adjacent to the Gibraltar Rock.

I had a difficult night in that the sleep was not restful and I woke feeling shattered and not doing anything at all, physical or mental activity. The morning was bright and going outside it was warm, too good to stay in, although I felt under some pressure to write, get the kitchen ready for the arrival of the washing although I had forgotten the previous occasion of non delivery on a Sunday morning and prepare for my trip to Nottingham next week. I was not at my best when setting off in the warm sunshine down the hill at a diagonal in the direction of the market place and the ferry. I had decided to travel only with the over the shoulder bag chair with a telescopic umbrella tucked inside as from recent experience the weather could change suddenly.

The Ferry service had promised a shuttle with two boats in use because of the festival and the closure of the Tyne Tunnel for the weekend and on arrival both ferries were across at North Shields with one just leaving and the other just arriving. The reason for this was soon apparent as we set off because we had to stop to one side to allow a gigantic transporter of motorcars, called a motor liner, to pass up the river lead and tailed by two pilot boats. This is a very chunky vessel as it has width as well as length and height. It was an awesome sight.

Arriving at the bus stop opposite the entrance to Ferry landing we had to wait nearly twenty minutes before the special free bus service arrived, having just missed one of the two regular buses and which had not waited for the arrival of the delayed ferry. In fact I learnt from one of the drivers of the two busses travelling to North Shields in one direction and Newcastle in the other that the free bus was waiting a round the corner for the two regular and fee paying customer buses to depart. By this time a second ferry had arrived although by the time passengers went on the two regular services there were fewer people waiting than I expected and we were all able to get on the free bus with ease. This takes passenger to one end of the Tynemouth High street which was full of families and couples taking advantage of the fine weather and free entertainment. There was a good crowd about with the various restaurants, bars and quick food outlets packed or with queues forming outside. Opposite the bus stop is a former church now described as “The Land of Green Ginger” and with a sub title “please enter all is not what is seems,” as a means of attraction interest in a centre which now specialises in stalls selling goods associated with health and healing and where the inside cafe also had an outside stall which was doing good business.

I had difficulty in making my way past one attraction where a contortionist Emma Kerger Bendy Em a former national Gymnast from Sydney Australia and drawn a crowd which spread across the road and pavements. The fine weather had also brought a good crowd to the grass area before the Jazz stage where the Chicago Stompers were already performing. I was able to find a space on the far side against railing to avoid my seat obscuring the view of anyone sitting on the grass. There were people standing two deep alongside the railings and around tithe benches on the main roadside.

I had seen the Stompers perform last year. They describe themselves as the Youngest Hot Jazz Orchestra in Italy. I would suggest that goes for England and most of Europe and the at least even if the musicians and singer appeared to be in their twenties with several in their early twenties. The group is based in Milano and this year performed at the Keswick Jazz festival as well as the Whitley Bay. The band are excellent musicians but also concentrate on presentation led by the vocalist Elena Pagnauzzi who introduces each song. She has a delightful personality and looks gorgeous, and has a good command of English. She only sang one number in Italian out of respect for a national musician who has recently died.

The musicians are Tiziano Codoro Cornet, Paolo Colombo Clarinet, Soprano Sax and vocals; Veronica Santagostino Baldi Tenor sax Clarinet Ukulele and Vocals; Gorigio Gallina Violin and Trombone; Mauro Porro Piano Reeds Salto C melody tenor soprano sax clarinet Cornet and also contributes vocal, Arrangements and transcriptions; Dario Lavizzari Banjo, Resophonic Guitar, Ukulele, Washboard, Piano and Vocals; Paulo Vanzulli Tuba, Drums, Vocals. Alexandro Rossi drums Percussion and Celesta. I mention the range of instruments to emphasise the versatility of the group. Added to this is their enthusiasm and the obvious enjoyment they have at playing. This was communicated to the very mixed audience. Standing the other side of railings was group of two couples one of whom was so impressed that he talked of getting information to hire the group for a beer festivals with which he is associated, I suspect he did not realise that they able to come to Britain and perform because of substantial subsidy from the Arts Council and other sponsors of the Jazz Festivals.

They performed many of their numbers on the latest 18 tune disk: It’s Tight Like That Oh Lady be Good, West End Blues, Don’t be Like That, Black Bottom. This is the second release with the first 12 numbers and from which they played, at least while I was there, having missed the opening numbers, On the Sunny Side of the Street, I’ll be a friend with pleasure, That’s my weakness now, and Borneo. Although each tune was named and introduced I failed to bring a notebook and pen with me.

I had been prepared to stay on but such was the enjoyment of the two hour performance that I new the subsequent local bands from Newcastle and Gateshead would be a disappointment. Despite the crowds this was only live music entertainment playing on the Saturday and free as Tynemouth priory grounds were closed for preparations for the evening concert by Scrip. This is a pay event and was sold out. On Sunday in addition to three more two hour performances on the Jazz stage (from Canada Switzerland and France) there would musical entertainment from the main stage with six bands or groups performing for an hour from Noon until six. Acts include a five piece soul band with international musicians, Zanf a Londoner of Scottish and Iranian Jewish Scottish, Teddy Thompson son of folk rock Richard and Linda, 90’s group Dodgy, a Newcastle band The Little Comets, and Hijak Oscar, of whom I know nothing. The cost of the visit was £1 in total for the half price ferry crossings.

On the return I took a bus to North Tyneside, to Wilkinson’s who had five of the black display albums which I bought plus one blue. Passing through the market I also bought two pounds of cherries for £2. They looked good and later I tried a couple and they are OK.

On Thursday before going to the Sage, I discovered that Chris Barber was on Tour with what he describes as a Big band, celebrating his sixty years of playing. He is 79, born in 1930. They were playing at Durham on Friday evening when I planned to travel to Leeds watch Durham play Yorkshire in the opening day of their championship game. It was looking at their itinerary that I found something wondrous amazing. There was to be a special concert in London at the former Millennium Dome in the small concert area called Indigo which would include the Acker Bilk and his Jazzmen and Kenny Ball. I was not a great fan of Kenny Ball although I have an LP. But I was there at the start of the Acker Bilk rise to fame and it was his band who played When the Saints Go Marching In for ages as the boat return from the Riverboat Shuffle to Margate one Sunday in 1958 or 1959 and which had blown the minds of Howard McGhee and Sonny Terry. The three bands in a special concert celebrating their lives. One could expect that others still alive from that era who once played with them would participate in some way. I will comment on the Long Playing records after attending the concert. When I returned from the Sage concert I attempted to book a ticket online as the event occurs on the third evening of my stay in central London. I had great difficult as the system flagged that I was already registered which I remembered was from the concert commemorating the life of Princess Diana at the new Wembley stadium attended by her sons and their friends. However I could not remember or find my password so had to change this, was given a temporary password but then this failed to work. Fortunately I found that they operated a 24 booking line and although it was after one am I spoke with an operative and got a seat on the ground floor of the hall about ten rows back which saves craning the neck and in the centre of the auditorium. Someone up there likes me despite all my shortcomings.

I had changed my mind several times during thee day whether to use public transport, or take the car all or part way to the Sage. I took the car arriving about an hour before the performance commenced, taking two rolls and half a small sweet melon for an evening meal together with a flask of coffee which I eat and drank in the car. At East I started to drink the coffee. The flask has an insert in cap which can be used to store milk or so I thought but it was empty and appeared to have drained into the flask. This had not been my intention as usually I make two separate cups with milk, put one in full and the other half, drinking then remainder . This time I poured in the black coffee before adding milk so resorted to the using the cap for the milk. The result was awful so I poured away the cup after taking a few sips.

This time I managed to pre pay the car parking charge of £3 for the evening in the correct way, remembering the problem that had arisen when last year I went to see the folk singer Judy Collins. At one point the entrance barrier stopped working and a column of cars built up with anxious mothers and their children, most daughters, made their way to the lifts down to the auditorium entrance level. There was a special concert involving young musicians which commenced at seven and was the reason why the main concert hall was not available. However I thought the use of the second hall, which is almost in the round with its red lighting and decor was an ideal venue for the recreation. Most of the audience had arrived for the three days of the Jazz Festival from all parts of the UK and further afield. One lady I overheard had flown in from the United States such is the reputation which has grown for the event. Most of the audience were in their fifties and older as were the musicians with one notable exception.

The man playing the role of young Louis Bent Persson comes from Sweden and is regarded as the best living exponent of playing in the early style of Louis for the years 1923 to 1929. Also from Sweden was the Banjo player Jacob Ullberger and from the UK trombonist Paul Munnery, the extraordinary tall drummer Nick Ward and Pianist Martin Litton together with Phil Rutherford on brass base. The star of the group was the Clarinettist Matthias Seuffert from Germany. He had taken the role of Benny Goodman last year and is a brilliant musician who plays with passion as well as skill. He was also youngest and appeared to be the leader of the group on stage.

There was no programme and writing in a small note book the numbers to remember resulted in my hands being covered in ink. I can read my writing though and can record that they played Squeeze Me, Weatherbird, West End Blues, Once in a while, Savoy Blues, Where did you stay last night, Santa Clause Blue Texas Mam Blues, King Porter Stomp, Wild Man Blues, Potato Head Blues, Alligator Crawl, Hotter than that, Ory‘s Creole Trombone.

Most of these numbers are included on a three CD set I acquired for £10 or less and which include Mabel’s Dream which I had not heard before and some of his signature favourites from his later years When it‘s sleepy time down south, Rocking Chair, Hello Dolly. Mack the Knife and When the Saints go Marching in. This was an acquisition from recent times I have three 10inch Long Play records bought between 1955 and 1957 over 50 years ago. I would have liked to have bought albums but the £5 a week income with which I received in those days had to cover everything.

On record contains information on the group The Hot seven formed in 1927 with Kid Ory his former group leader on trombone, Johnny Dodds the brilliant clarinettist, Johnny St Cyr on banjo and guitar, Li his wife nee Hardin on Piano, Baby Dodds on drums, and Pete Briggs on tuba. The album includes Willie the Weeper, Twelfth Street Rag, Alligator Blues, Chicago Breakdown and Wild Man Blues. No information is provided on the Classics album has When the Saints, West End Blues, Dipper Mouth Blues. Mahogany Hall Stomp and When its Sleepy time Down South.

Jazzin with Armstrong has some information with Strutting with some Barbecue, played at the Sage concert and refers to going about town with a Hot woman on your arm is a Hot five recording as is Tight Like this. Potato Head and Melancholy are Hot Seven recordings while Basin Street Blues is with 1929 Orchestra

It has not been jazz all the way as earlier in the week there was showing of the splendid Bogart and Bacall movie To Have and to have not. In several respects this is a reprise of his role in Casablanca. He is a worldly hirer out of his boat for fishing trips in a French colony now under the control of the Vichy government and the Nazi’s, Bacall is his serious female interest, he plays the role of some one who never talks of love, nor does Bacall, who as Slim is a pick pocket drifting from island to island, but who gets a job as a singer in the hotel bar club where they are staying and where the Pianist/ Singer is Hoagy Carmichael, a name little known to day but was an international recording star in the 1940’s. In this film Boart has a sidekick drunk played by Walter Brennan. Bogart is indifferent to politics and declines the pressure from the Hotel owner known as Frenchy, to clear the growing bill by undertaking work smuggling in people who are part of the French resistance. When he Nazis arrive and start pushing him. Slim and the sidekick around Bogart takes sides against them and assists the underground. The trio do a runner together at the end of the film leaving the resistance to dispose of the remaining Nazi’s. In 1944 the film would have raised morale on both sides of the Atlantic and it remains enjoyable over sixty years later.

And now to the Fireworks. On the Saturday evening of the Mouth of the Tyne festival there is a prolonged display usually involving large figures and constructions in South Shields as a form of contemporary artwork. There is an event by the Gypsy Green Stadium at one end of the official promenade and which slowly progress along to the car park below the Hill on which I live. The event commences at 9.30 and should end with a firework display around 11 when it dark and cold. In the first year not knowing the time table I went to Gypsy Green but had to retire because I was not dressed for the late evening cold but got to see the fireworks from the hill seeing a succession of neighbours make their way to join those who parked their cars having travelled from other parts of the Borough and beyond. Last year I just went over for the fireworks and this year I had planned to attend the whole event in the evening, after first going to the supermarket for milk, rolls and pastries for the next three days. It was cold even with the jacket and coat and it started to rain, just spots but all inclination to spend over an hour in the night air vanished, especially as I felt tired. I considered going over to overlook around 10.30 but body told me otherwise. I live about 100 yards from the edge of the hill with perhaps another 100 yards or more from where the fireworks are set off. I was shaken by the sound of the fireworks commencing around 10.45/ More than gunfire this was rocket bomb and windows at the back of the house reverberated. At Seaburn the windows had this when during the annual air display at the end of July jet planes had zoomed away over the house, but this was not just louder but the effects stronger. I bet there are complaints. While the fireworks lasted some 15 minutes there were sounds which I assume came from the constructs and figures until approach 11.30 pm. I assume the timing is scheduled to coincide when the ending of the rock concert so that those attending can watch the display as a finale before going home or coming over to South Shields for the night clubs. Just as I was writing this on Sunday night there was a brief burst of fireworks, presumable those left over from last night if part of sequence had not fired. It was earlier around 10.30 although I would be surprised if anyone remained on the seat front as the official events end early evening. Well I never.

Monday, 6 July 2009

The Ice Runner, The Prisoner of Askaban

The event which marked Saturday January 26th from other days, was not the 4th round of the FA Cup where two matches were shown live and Newcastle at Arsenal was a radio commentary, or that all the laminate was laid to form a new floor in the kitchen and the first surround was also fixed, or my first viewing of the Harry Potter film The Prisoner of Azkaban, the third of the five film released with the 6th due in November and the final film of the books, or that I did not win a penny on the weekend lottery where over $70 million was available in the two first prizes, although a small sum compared to the $4000 million taken at the box office by the films alone which must make the author J K Rowling the self created wealthiest artist in the world.

The event was a film I had not heard of before, a tale worthy of Dostoevsky. The Ice Runner 1993 evidently failed to make any mark when it was released in 1993 as there is only a listing on the On line Film Critics Society, nothing on Film Four or Wikipedia and one brief review on Rotten Tomatoes. There is also a brief note on IMDB I can speculate that one reason is that the film has no "recognisable" stars, or audiences and critics have not reacted. Perhaps the film was made for TV although the production suggests otherwise. The story of the lead actor Edward Albert is worth telling on its own( later).

The story covers the end years of the cold war and involves a CIA agent in Moscow who is sacrificed as part of the changing relationship, and is sentenced to 15 years labour Gulag in Siberia, instead of repatriation after being persuaded by his bosses to pleaded guilty and disassociates himself from the CIA. He had been sent to Russia to purchase soviet weapons to be sent to the rebels in Afghanistan, and in this respect the story fits into the efforts of Congressman Charlie Wilson who arranged for soviet produced weapons to be acquired through an Israeli arms source to make their way to the rebels to successfully rive out the Russians.

On the journey to the prison camp which his employers do not expected him to survive, the train crashes and he decides to adopt the identity of fellow prisoner who dies in the fire which engulfs part of the derailed train. I have no means of knowing if the life in prison camp is authentic, or the obsession of camp commander to prevent anyone escaping, shooting anyone who attempts, had any basis in the reality of the those camps, but what made the film stand out for me was the quality of the acting performances of the prisoner and the camp commander in a duel of wills worthy of some of the world's greatest fiction writing and dramatic dramas of stage and screen.

In order to confirm his suspicion that the prisoner is not who he says he is the camp commander arranges for his Russian wife to visit and this provides another performance of interest and merit by the actress Olga Kabo. The only references I can find for Olga is that she was a guest star at the first of the Stozary international film actors festival involving former soviet states, Austria, Italy, Germany and the USA, but not the UK which commenced in 1995 and continued every two years since. She accepted the invitation in order to persuade her husband for a divorce from what had been a loveless arranged marriage, and she goers along with the fiction of their relationship to achieve her objective but, they develop a relationship which leads him to question his drive to escape and return to the US to find his son from a marriage which was also ending in divorce. The fourth character of significance in the film is a native Siberian played by Victor Wong, the eccentric former prize winning news reporter who became a successful support actor who might have had a more significant career had he not quarrelled with Bernardo Bertolucci who then cut most of his scenes from the film The Last Emperor after Wong is said to have challenged aspects of the historical authenticity of the film. He appears in the 3 Ninjas series of films and in Seven Years in Tibet. In The Ice Runner he plays a mystic who guides the prisoner about the time and means of escape. He also explains to the "wife" of the prisoner that although the feelings of the man are genuine and he will attempt to keep his word to her, he has to make the escape attempt, regardless of his chances of success.

The end of the cold war sees the release of political prisoners, and although information arrives at the prison about the true identity of prisoner, he is taken by the camp Commander when he is demoted (because of his backward views and behaviour) to an outpost less than forty miles from US territory. The prisoner makes his escape across the Ice, but is caught up by the camp commander and shot, but survives and is rescued by American speaking reindeer herders. As a consequence of watching the film I missed FA Cup Match of the day to be watched later this Morning

Edward Albert was not a name known to me except that I remember the 1972 film Butterflies are Free in which he plays a blind man, guitarist singer song writer, dominated by his mother and who falls in love with a hippie and won him a golden globe Award as new star of the year. He then stared opposite Liv Ulman on a another film of a play 40 Carats. His daughter became a singer songwriter and his career continued until 1997 when he stopped in order to care for his aging father Eddie, who received both Oscar and Emmy nominations for his stage and film roles who was decorated as a Naval Lieutenant in World War II and then had a prolific career on stage screen and TV, married, his wife died in 1985, and therefore when he developed Alzheimer's his son decided to give up his own career to care for him over a period of eight years, and where during the last year his son developed lung cancer. Dying at the age of 55 within a year of his father who lived until the age of 99. His father had been an active environmentalist and humanitarian, among the first to call for a ban on DDT and behind the establishment of Earth Day in 1970.

The film and the information about father and son put everything else of the day into perspective. The day had its other moments when Havant and Waterloo semi professional footballers who also have day jobs, of the Conference league South went to Anfield and faced the Kop some 120 places above them in the football pecking order, and took the lead not once, but twice and nearly scored a third when Liverpool were 4.2 ahead towards the end of the game. Football crowds are notorious for vacating stadiums within minutes of the end of a game and as a tribute to the effort and skill of their opponents the KOP stood and remained at the end as the visitors took their lap of honour Throughout the first half at Arsenal's new football stadium 5000 Newcastle supporters began to believe that within his first full week Keegan had managed to inspire the team to play above their potential, and even the worldly I believe it when I see it Bobby Moncur became excited during the radio commentary on Century FM. Alas a combination of the Wenger 's half time team talk and the inherited lack of team confidence and belief failed to lift the team after Arsenal went ahead and two late goals, one an own goal and the other, also off, a Newcastle player, resulted in a deceptive scoreline of what could have been very different if Newcastle has taken the chances created during the first half. I will be a Sunderland for the visits of Birmingham on Tuesday evening when Newcastle returns to Emirate's Stadium.

I am a fan of the Harry Potter films although I have not attempted to read the books. Having said that I have only seen two of the five released films in theatre: The philosopher's stone and the Chamber of Secrets, and then saw them again on TV. Yesterday afternoon there was a showing of the third in the series, The Prisoner of Azkaban was enjoyable having switched off the radio when Arsenal scored their first goal against Newcastle. I therefore missed the opening part of the film, for another time of showing. The films and stories are adventures without the deeper writing of the Lords of the Rings which I still plan to view the three extended DVD's in a one day sitting and where I have the original BBC radio series on tape as well as the books. I became a fan of the films after getting off a train at Kings Cross used for the filming the special train sequence in the first film at the point of where a banner had been placed marking the secret platform entrance! Such imaginative imagination merited further investigation.

The films are a great joy for the involvement of major actors in addition to the three heroes whose development from children into young adults is as interesting as their screen roles. In this film Michael Gambon took over the Richard Harris role as the headmaster and Gary Oldman, Timothy Small and Emma Thompson joint Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, Robbie Coltrane, Dawn French and Richard Griffiths, Pam Ferris and Robert Hardy. Whereas the first two films were said to painstakingly follow the storyline of the book this film is said to be the result of a loser adaptation because of the length of the book. It still lasts for 2 hours and twenty two minutes.

I continue to make progress with the kitchen floor throughout the day laying on the planks and commencing to glue the surround. There was one major mistake where I cut one plank in the wrong direction but fortunately I had one other left as this point. The main problem remains the linking of pieces around the gas cooker and this will remain as deficiency as to achieve a good fit would involve disconnecting and moving the cooker. There are three difficult pieces still to be cut to extend the floor from wall to wall, by a doorway and between the cooker and a cupboard unit. Each will involve a full charging of the saw and therefore be spread over the next couple of days. My first effort at cutting a piece 32 inches by a couple was not successful but fortunate I have the pieces over to try and try again. Adding in the surrounds, the glue, the filler and the cleaner the total cost will be around £100, but it has already created a lighter and warmer feel to the room, and I kick myself for not thinking of this sooner. It would have been cheaper to have fitted lino, but the laminate is so much better, fitting into to that of the day room and adding to cottage feel of this part of the house, I went to bed for the second in in succession content and looking forward to further work on Sunday.

Europa Europa Solomen Perel, Alex Kurzem

Friday was a day of hope rather than expectation, of good work and some expenditure. By early evening the experience of the day. The event of the day by 7.30pm, thus leaving open something else to happen after this time, is a film on DVD Europa Europa, which is one the most interesting and unusual stories to emerge fro World War 2. Solomon Perel was born in 1929 a German Jew and when the Nazi's came to power the family experienced the growing hostility they moved to Poland in 1935.. When Germany invaded Poland Solomon and his brother attempted to escape to the Soviet occupied part of Poland. It is at this point that the story takes its first twist because Solomon separated from his brother became a Communist pupil at an orphanage run by the Komosol and learnt to speak Russian.

The second development occurred when Germany declared war on Russia and took over the orphanage separating those who were Jewish from the rest. Solomon realising the danger successfully passed himself off as a German living outside the mother country and because he was able to speak Russian was taken up by the unit as a mascot and interpreter, playing a part in the capture of the son of Joseph Stalin. Because he was still a minor he was sent to a Hitler Youth school when he had established a relationship with a fervent anti Jewish girl, subsequently disclosing that he was a Jew to her mother who did not reveal his secret. Captured by USA forces he was reunited with brother and after discovering that the rest of his family had died he resettled in Israel in 1948, joining the army and fighting in the Arab Israeli War. He left the army to become a business man returning to Germany on a visit in 1985 and then writing about his experiences which was turned into a German made film in 1990, which went on to win the Golden Globe Best Foreign Language film and was also nominated for an Oscar in the same year.

Alex Kurzem's story has similar aspects in that born a Jew in Belarus in 1936 he was orphaned during the World War and lived in the forests, begging for food he was saved from death by a Latvian Soldier who provided him with false papers to hide his Jewish background. Throughout his childhood he appeared in Nazi propaganda films as an Aryan mascot and one of his roles was to hand out chocolates to Jewish Children while they waited for trains to take them to the concentration camps. He immigrated to Australia in 1949, married with three children working as a TV repair man. In 2007 one of his sons published a book entitled the Mascot, an account of his life as a child among the Nazi SS who never knew that he was Jewish.

We all play roles but remain as ourselves. Actors play roles and try to become others. Few have to play a role for survival and fewer have to become their enemy and survive after their enemy is defeated.

I made good progress on the kitchen floor although I developed problems with the saw because of the limited life of the battery. I Was able to work out that I needed one further pack of six and later on the day bought this and the wood to make the surround with glue fixing. I needed to change the lamp in the day room, having considered buy another without a shade but decided to go for the repair to the ceiling which will need to be undertaken before the house is sold. I did good work on the bathroom and the four shelving units in the passage outside, discovering that I can still use several pairs of the older types of thick glasses if the need arises, and also discovering several other items of interest, Using the hand saw for a time this morning and plenty of elbow grease on the bathroom this afternoon was a good activity as I fail to reduce my weight. I also visited Lidl who had advertised a bath room mat set in blue, possibly it will of on sale next week as neither store had any. I bought some smoked salmon included frozen 700 slab with an Italian topping for only 3.99 which I will attempt cut in two with the special saw. I also bought another pack of the bream and a frozen Lobster which just has to be boiled for four minutes. From Asda some grapes and bananas, some prawns and some rolls.

Watched the second programme of the week American Idol which follows the usual pattern not showing the majority of those selected for Hollywood and the eviction night programme in the Big Brother house reducing the residents from 12 to 6.

Volver, Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, The Day will Dawn.

Thursday 24th January could become one of the significant days in my life. I repaired the crack in the one the lower panels of the front room door. I commenced to cut and lay the new laminated floor in the kitchen. I watched three films and commenced to write the book about my mother. my aunt and me.

It was watching the third film early evening Volver the most popular of the films of the Spanish Director Almodovar with British and American audiences, and with me, that I knew how to begin the writing. My mother was a mixture of Spanish peasant Catholicism and British Services in an overseas territory, in which daily life was a collective experience, and no more so in death, at which time the women of the family and the neighbours maintain an honour watch over the open coffin while the men gather separately in same household also to show their respect, support their women folk and pray for the soul of the departed. In Volver there is a scene of such a gathering in relation to the aunt of Penelope Cruz, her daughter, and her sister, in the home of a close family friend who lived across the road in the village of their childhood. The similarity between the family in the film and my own circumstances extends beyond the fact that I was able to represent the former relatives and friends of my mother who she had outlived during the time between her death, and the Mass of salvation and cremation. This is also a family with the darkest of secrets and where at the end of the film one member moves into the household of the close family friend who cared for the aunt who suffered from severe memory loss with psychosis, as she enters the final phase of her life, as she suffers from an incurable cancer. It is an act of atonement undertaken with love and which sums up the sentiment that those unable to live together, die alone.

Volver is a glorious colourful celebration of female emancipation of those who have great respect for marriage, family and community. Until the moment of the gathering of the family and neighbours I had extended my early afternoon and early evening break to watch the film on DVD with my full attention, although I had also seen the work in theatre on its British release. It was not the first Almodovar film, having also experienced Talk to her on one of my visit to central London, but it prompted me to view as many of his previous films as I could through the internet ordering, first class mail provided DVD subscription, for the same cost as my former Cineworld suburban pass. Whereas I would see four or five films a month with this pass, extending to five or six when I added the central London extension, I have watched minimum of eight DVD's a month with the internet mail subscription, on top of which I see those films in local theatres as and when I wish to as well as those on Satellite channels. When I wrote that my life has become a film the intention was to communicate more than a statement of how I deployed several hours of every day. Thus as I languished tired from a glass of red wine with green olives stuffed with almonds, and a ham and pineapple pizza, I suddenly came to, got myself off the settee to the desk and worked out the first words and substance io what will become the opening chapter of the book, and which also will provide its framework. It was important to make the switch in activity and which also meant giving the rest of the film less attention, but the writing will not become my main activity until I have completed the new kitchen laminated floor, the household early spring clean and arranged the necessary repairs, and converted material about my mother into my overall work. How far I will be able to progress will depend on when the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman reaches a decision on my appeal against the two reports on my concerns about the premature and preventable death of my aunt, and where I had been unable to give her the time, as I was subsequently able to do with my mother.

Earlier I had filled the crack in a lower panel of the front room door after another early start, writing my notes, and then watching the first showing of the next episode of series 3 of Lost which is entering its last phases before the new series commences on February 2nd. I had then gathered all the material necessary for the laying of the kitchen floor, discovering the set square in the box of brushes and decorating equipment in the cupboard under the stairs to the first floor and which would have been the stairway down to the cellar or basement if the house had one. Here I keep the padded top tool box of my mother and her sisters, and the two mobile tool carriers as well as other household maintenance needs such as light bulbs and electrical plugs, sewing and ironing things, cleaning, candles and such like. I use the tall cupboard in the kitchen, for ladders, paints, garden and some of the boxed electrical tools, including a rechargeable drill and saw, the latter which I had only attempted to use with limited success on a couple of occasions previously. My first effort to use on cutting a length was as a poor one but the effort and time required by the handsaw led me to deciding that I would experiment further and after a few more trials I knew what to do and was able to do it. The first attempt to lock the panels together was also disappointing as I could not remove the join and then I realised what was needed from a third or fifth look at the pictures without words guide. I am confident of completing the work within a day or two.

Between lunch where for third day I peeled prawns, placing on a bed of lettuce within a two rolls followed by a banana, with grapes after the evening meal, I watched two other films, Kiss tomorrow Goodbye is a 1950 James Cagney film noir. He is a character without redeeming features, a violent career criminal who kills, corrupts and uses people to further his own interests, managing to break out of prison and return to crime with the help of prison staff and the police. Then even better fortune comes his way when the rich and powerful father of a wealthier daughter decides that he approves of James as a son in law, and does not proceed with revoking their previous impulsive marriage. At this point the spurned lover of James kills him, condemning herself and a number of others as he has left an incriminating tape as insurance against this eventuality. This reminds that a contemporary of James the equally legendary Mickey Rooney has spent Christmas and New year in pantomime at Sunderland. The Newcastle Theatre Royal recently said it made £1 million profit on its Christmas offering and that already about the half the available seats had been booked for next year.

The second film of the day has also been seen before, at last twice and most of its details were remembered. The Day Will Dawn is a 1942 released film to encourage British citizens in the war effort and those of the invaded countries to have hope and continue the fight. The plot involves a sports journalist who is given the opportunity to become a war correspondent in Norway before the country is invaded so that Germany can make use of its coastline for submarine bases, and who returns to the country to help destroy a base which was identified for him by a fisherman and his daughter who he first encounters in the capital city. Hugh Williams plays the reporter and Deborah Kerr the Norwegian love interest with other parts played by Ralph Richardson Roland Culver, Finlay Currie and Bernard Miles. It is an heroic tale where good and evil are clearly defined.

The amount of writing and work on the floor and door was comparatively small but there was a sense of achievement and progress. I also did some project work, watched the end of Question Time after the second part of Trial and retribution in which everyone watching except the detective in charge was able to work out who the mystery criminal mastermind was, a woman who recruited and ran potential sex slaves from Eastern Europe and an update on the Big Brother House where Roseanna Barr was the celebrity hijacker. I went to bed feeling good and looking forward to Friday. I had intended to watch the evening political magazine programme, particularly as the former Eastenders star, Ross Kemp who has made a name for himself in programmes fictional and real about army life and about gang life on the streets was to make a contribution. I watched a repeat of the first of his programmes living with the army in Afghanistan but I had become over tired and quickly make my way to bed. The only negative note about the day was that I broke a filling eating a toffee left over on the kitchen table after the cinema visit the previous afternoon. More time and expense I could have done without.

No Country for Old Men

Going to bed at 10pm meant that I was going to be physically exhausted the following evening which proved to be so and I went to bed without having put printer to paper, but I must have slept a little beforehand because I did not sleep on going to bed and rose about an hour later in order to write this. It has been an interesting mixture of a day.

The priority had been to experience the Oscar nominated Coen Brothers film, Not a country for old men. This is a bleak, and bloody allegorical film about the extent and nature of violence in society, of crime and punishment and the increasing awareness of death as we grow old, with the consequent self assessment of what we have done and what we can and should do with the self aware time still available to us. Just as the recent BBC two part Messiah dealt with the biblical forecast of Armageddon, the aging Coen Brothers ask the question what is there in the USA for old men with standards and beliefs?

Most of the people in the film merit their bloody demise and their behaviour raises hope for the existence of eternal damnation as they possess no redeeming qualities. The contemporary angel of death, played by an actor Oscar nominated in a support role, is a much more credible and fiercesome agent of God than the exterminator of Messiah. His single minded and principled ruthlessness executes anyone and everyone who comes across his path without discriminating between levels of villainy and sin and works on the basis that if you encounter the spirit you must be guilty of something, and in this film no one is innocent and therefore without guilt and sin. Whereas in Bergman films there is always the hope of redemption for the sinner and continuing life for the innocent and the good, there is nothing to cheer up us old men. Tommy Lee Jones, and his grandfather play the old men, the latter waiting for death. Tommy Lee decides he does not want to go on in the world as it has become an opts for premature retirement and his loving but nagging wife. She knows this is not the solution for him. We know he will die from the fear the death.

The film is floored, or at least I think it is because the main character is an experienced and skilled hunter and veteran of Vietnam who like most people who do not have a lot, does not understand the nature of money and is blinded with the lust for the better life change he thinks finding 2 million dollars of drug capital finance will bring. He does not know that although the quality of life changes, in this instance he learns what is like to be the hunted as well as the hunter, and the chase is prolonged, that money is just as imprisoning as anything else which dominates a life before the love of others, life and one's God, and which is free and available to everyone irrespective of position in society

In the plot he encounters a scene of carnage in the desert where he has been hunting and wounds but does not kill a wild deer, together with the 2 million dollars and the drugs which were to be bought with the cash. He takes the cash for himself and his wife and then returns to the scene to take water to one of the criminals who he has found founds alive. He knows this is an idiotic thing to do, and the film suggests he needs to do it perhaps to be able to enjoy money but he knows he will not enjoy unless he takes water to the dying the man, just as he had a flicker of conscience about leaving the wounded deer. His decision to return with his own vehicle enables the owners of the drugs and the money to identify the man and his family. However his major mistake is to keep the money in its original container and not to check the money or the container for a tracking device. In many ways he merits hell more than the professional assassins and drug runners, because he is willing to sacrifice his wife and his mother in law in his attempt to find a solution to the moral poverty of existence. Being the Coen brothers they wrap their biblical wrath with a sense of humour. It is a great film for masochists.

The idea which took over the rest of my day was the decision to cover the stone tiled kitchen with laminate flooring. There is some cheap flooring available for under £10 a metre but it is not suitable for bathrooms or kitchens. I settled on one pack of Beech laminate similar to that in the day room which provided about 1.'5 square metres and with the 10% reduction for pensioners on Wednesday at B and Q and which cost just under £20. The system is interlocking and does not involve glue but does need cutting. I only purchased one pack to assess if I could and wanted to do more than create a working surface near the sink and the cooker, and to assess the quantity required if I decided on having a go at covering the whole visible surface which would be a complicated activity because of the present location of the three doorways, the sink unit, the various surfaces and floor cupboards and the cooker and refrigerator which protruded in different ways. The project will take time and will be a challenge and I had to make three visits for the three packs which I eventually worked out be needed.

The instructions require the planks to be kept in the use environment for 48 hours before laying so it will be Saturday before the work can commence, although I will ensure I have everything ready and work out a plan of action. In he meantime I also purchased a small tube of plastic wood to fill the gap in the lower panel of the front room door. This is my task for the morrow and then the downstairs clean will be completed and I can move to the stairs and bathroom. I have bought some new carpet cleaner along with instant porridge oats, bread and rolls. However I also bought some chocolate peanuts and toffees for the pictures. Bad Boy, Confessing the truth does not help.

I came across a passage in a Christmas gift novel which made me sit up. The book is The Steep approach to Garbadale by Ian Banks. It contained a number of truths which govern my work. There is way to avoid telling the truth without telling lies but which misleads others because of what is not disclosed. I work to tell the truth, without lies and which does not mislead because of what is not disclosed. Sometimes the telling of the truth has to wait until someone dies which is the situation because I did not feel able to write about aspects the relationship with my other and my aunt until after their deaths, and it is why I also need to gain recognition by those responsible for he premature death. For the past five years I have put the system of investigation on trial and so far it has demonstrated its inadequacy and incompetence which I first encountered nearly thirty years ago. However the passage in the book also makes two further points of extraordinary relevance to my predicament. The first is that sometimes the telling of truth needs to be withheld until doing so longer matters, although from my viewpoint such truths were never worth telling and the write also admits that some truth never cease mattering which is the kind of truths I have always attempted to engage in. The author does make the point that sometimes the truth is left until ones own death when it does not matter what impact the truth then has. For me this is a form of revenge just as suicide can be an aggressive act towards those you leave behind, as well as a courageous act of love. One should never say in death what one dares not or cannot say in life.

Carmen , Vieux Jazzmen, Cat Balou and the Black Swan

Saturday did not begin well for me with a series of long bad dreams as I woke again early and seemed to be in a cycle of restlessness on return, the long dream and waking almost as soon as I had settled. In fact having gone to bed before 11pm it was a good sleep overall of eight hours but did not seem so at the time. It si the first occasion that I can recall a series of bad dreams whose subjects I have unintentionally suppressed which serves to underline that I should have made notes on waking as I cannot now work out the cause. There was also no indication on rising of the weather for the day although the forecast was of clouds, some sun and the possibility of heavy showers.

In the afternoon I put the smaller folding chair over my shoulder and made my way through North Marine to South Marine and new bandstand where the Vieux Carre Jazzmen were playing two sets between 2 and 4. The band named after a quarter of New Orleans was formed in the 1950’s and is based in Newcastle and North Tyneside playing regularly at the Corner House Hotel Newcastle and the Cullercoats Crescent club. I saw them last perform at the Mouth of the Tyne Festival last year Rock of Gibraltar area Jazz stage area. They play a British style of Traditional Jazz with an emphasis on individual solos within a number a la Christ Barber and Mick Mulligan rather than Ken Colyer and Cy Laurie. They are used to performing to people of all ages and situations although these days the audience tends to be my age than students. This was so as the 100 odd crowd spread out over the wide area of grass and concrete steps was of my generation. Some families did stop for a while but one granddad and day who topped were met with a constant when we going tot he park granddad, to which granddad saying we are in the park and will go to the beach in a while met with continued resistance.

The performance which comprised only four of the six listed players covered standards such as Alexander’s Rag Time Band, I can’t give you Anything but love, Baby and Georgia on my Mind. It was good solid professional music but lacked originality and passion. I stayed for the first set and decided to make my way back around 3. Earlier in the day there was the opening parade of the summer festival in which school children in costumes and marching bands went from eh Town Hall through the town centre along Ocean Road to the Bents park where an afternoon of activities was arranged for those who wished to participate. As Bents park is just across the road from the Bandstand, the loudspeaker announcements and music sometimes clashed and drowned out the Jazzman which was not good planning on the part of the local authority organisers.

During the day I watched chunks of two films. The Black Swan is a great piece of nonsense which I saw as a child, released in 1942 it was standard fare at either the mid week Odeon Wallington showings ire the Saturday morning club between 1945 and 1950 when I was a regular attender. It featured the pre and post war Heart throb Tyrone Power and the real man’s woman Maureen O’Hara. George Sanders and Anthony Quinn played miscreants of the upper and lower classes as usual. For some reason I remembered the film as the Black Pearl and got caught up with the information on the Pirates of Caribbean series until checking the Tyrone Power filmography. The film has its background the life of Henry Morgan the Welsh privateer who plundered Spanish ships in the Caribbean and who was knighted and made acting Governor of Jamaica and came under attack from the former Governor who had the support of the semi autonomous local Council. In the film power becomes the assistant to Morgan and sets out to prove that there is dirty work afoot to discredit his hero and who takes with him the she protests too much daughter of the rival governor.

On return from the Jazz in he Park I watched the main part of Cat Balou, a film I have not seen for several years although I have enjoyed more than once before. The film brought an academy award for Lee Marvin as an old drunk gunslinger hired by Jane Fonda to protect her father and his ranch from a development corporation who have hired another gun fighter to harass and eventually kill the obstinate owner. Jane who has been away to a convent school and trained as a teacher encounter two young petty criminals on the train home who she subsequently invites to help her thinking that they are gunfighters or at least will defend her is sadly mistaken although a romance develops with one of them.

When her father is killed Cat determines on revenge and robs a train carrying the payroll of the development company. . Lee Marvin then sobers up and kills the hitman murderer and Cat poses as a prostitute to gain the attention of the Development company boss who is killed in a struggle. Cat is caught and sentenced to by hung but escapes at the last moment. Among those also in the film are Nat King Cole as the Sunrise Kid and Stubby Kaye as Professor Sam the shade. There is also the appearance of Butch Cassidy!

In the evening I watched a remarkable passionate and moving performance of Carmen. The performance lasted three hours and excluded the intervals which meant it was the full original score and libretto and which I have known reduced to one and half hours. The German State Opera production was conducted by Daniel Barenboim and features to singers who for once looked and acted their parts with extraordinary levels of passion and sensitivity. Marina Domashenko was unknown to me but appears to have made her name through Carmen while Rolando Villazon was very convincing with a voice which is powerful and sensitive. The news that he has had to cancel some appearances this year earlier than anticipated prior to an operation is disturbing although both artists have recordings which provide posterity with the best of their work to-date. As with the Met Performance of Madam Butterfly I would pay real money if I had it attend performance of these two singers. I was in bed by 11pm once more.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

European Fim Awards : 3 days of the Condor and TV Messiah

Three reasonable night's sleep in succession but a little later start than desirable around 9.30 so it is now 10.30 when I begin a week where the priority is to work on the house. First is the kitchen. I worked hard cleaning all surfaces and the room has been left to dry. I have the first of three washings in progress, the other two will be the covers for the settee. For lunch I had two salami and lettuce rolls, Pepsi cola and the vitamin tablet. Will get myself ready for going out later after lost which runs from 2 to 3pm although there has been strong rain most of the morning and heavy snow falls in the region. Elsewhere there is flooding in Yorkshire and other parts of the country.

The ironing has been completed and the day room floor ready for washing tomorrow. I delayed going out hoping the rain was ease or stop and watch 3 days of Condor for tenth time, yet there were aspects which were not familiar. Given the extent of private clubs associated with American universities it is natural for writers to project such gathering into adult life and the major institutions of the state, or in this instances states. I did not understand the nature of the CIA within CIA plot of the film or the naiveté of its ending although it was a post Watergate film. It was watchable. After the film I went to the post box and the refuse centre while it still rained and on to the supermarket. It was a good shop where I remembered almost everything. Bananas and three lots of grapes which are of high quality and inexpensive. Sweet and sour sauce and two more of the chicken breasts with stuffing and mini sausages. A beef noodles stir fry, some prawns in shell, Custards and butterscotch whips. Kitchen surface cleaner, foil, refuse bags and washing tablets non bio. Some salami, rolls, cheese slices, milk. Large bottles of water 2 containers at 74 pence each. Steam fresh vegetables frozen. Should have got a sliced loaf and some instant porridge oats.

No success in the Lottery although the Euro was not won and will £54 million on Friday. No Premium Bonds win for December or January adds to the disappointment. Hope springs eternal and there are some interesting properties in Gibraltar going for between £1 and £1.6 million.

Of all the events involving celebrity's and performers who undertake serious activity outside their comfort zone the ice dancing competition appears to be the most dangerous from the number of falls and serious injuries which they have from week to week. There is two months of learning and practice before they go on the ice in a dress rehearsal and the live performance, and then produce a new work with compulsory technical features week on week. The programme has achieved the right balance with clips on the week of practice, incorporating some information about individual families. I am tempted to watch the live show which is coming to the Newcastle arena.

In order to record the football this morning I had re configure the media system which present comprises of the 32 inch with the HD ready Freeview TV, the Sky Sat unit, the all singing dancing DVD CD player and the video tape player. The TV can also be linked to the PC and other media units. With difficulty and some trial and error I was able to get both the Video and the FVD player to work with the three scart links/ with two directly to the TV and with single line connections. The opportunity was taken to play the Diana concert on the desk top[ for a few minutes to see if the programme enabled anything other than play and pause as one day I want to go through to see if I am shown on any of the crowd scenes, someday. The day was unbalanced regarding food with hot cereal and then two slices of toast with the last slices of the Black Forest smoked ham under toasted cheese and then the roast chicken dinner and since then nothing. I will have tea and a banana now. Interestingly I forget to mention two cans of Pepsi cola and the first of the hard Turron. Work out Monday with the kitchen and ironing having done some washing and drying on Saturday before going to the match

The unexpected highlight of my Sunday evening experience was the 2007 European Film awards, now in its 20th year as this was not an Academy I had encountered before which shows the limitations of my knowledge. The awards ceremony paid tribute to Ingmar Bergman with the presence of Liv Ulman and the presentation of the white sea washed stone from his beloved Island home with ten given to the founder members of the Academy including Lord Putnam from the Uk and Jeanne Moreau who remains an Honorary Member of the Board along with Ben Kingsley and where the Actress Brenda Blethyn the UK actress is a current Board member. Win Wenders from Germany s the new President following the death of Ingmar, having been its first Chairman elected in 1990. Interesting the Academy is mainly financed through the German Lottery and the European Cultural Commission. The full list of 1800 members is available online and other honorary members include Sophia Loren, Deborah Kerr, Milos Forman and Eric Rohmer. In 1988 awards included Richard Attenborough for Merit, Marcello Mastroianni and Ingmar Bergman for Lifetime Achievement and Bertolucci for the Last Emperor, Max Vin Sydow was best Actor and Carmen Maura, In 89 the Lifetime award went to Federico Fellini In 1990 Kenneth Branagh got the Young Filmmaker award for Henry V and achievement award to Andrej Wajda 1991 Juliet Binoche the actress of the year and the Lifetime achievement to Billy Wilder. In 1993 the award went to Michelangelo Antonioni with a special mention for the film the Man who loves Garry Linekar. Nominations for best film 1994 included In the Name of the Father Ireland and Four Weddings and a Funeral UK an odd choice methinks as also nominated but not successful was Trois Coleurs, Bleu, Blanc et Rouge. In 1995 the film award went to Land and Freedom Ken Loach where one Sunday paper was giving away the DVD this morning but I decided against going for. Ian now Sir Ian McKellan was the best actor for his Richard III and the lifetime achievement went to Sir Alec Guiness. Secrets and lies was also a Best film nomination. 1998 The Full Monty was the best film, Bob Hoskins the Male Actor for twenty-four Seven and Jeanne Moreau the Lifetime award, and Juliet Binoche for the English Patient. Emma Thompson was nominated along with the English Patient as best film. La Vitta et bella was best film 1998 Jeremy Irons a specials achievement award. There was a special people's award introduced which went to Kate Winslet Titanic and Antonio Banderas for the Mask of Zorro. In 1999 Pedro Almodovar for Todo Sobre Mi Madre, Ralph Fiennes the make actor and a people's award went to Catherine Zeta Jones. And Sean Connery. Bjork and Dancer in the Dark were successful in 2000 with Richard Harris the Lifetime achievement among those also nominated in 2000 were Chicken Run and Billy Elliot also Julie Walters. 2001 saw Amelie take the film prize and Ben Kingsley best actor. Colin Firth was a peoples award choice for Bridget Jones Diary and Juliette Binoche for Chocolat. Ewan McGregor a special achievement and the Lifetime achievement went to the Monty Python team. Habla Con Ella (Talk to her) gave Almodovar his second film award along with best Director and Screen writer. The entire cast of 8 women were awarded best actress. Kate Winslet was a people's choice for Iris and Ken Loach an award fro sweet Sixteen. Goodbye Lenin was the film award for 2003 and five other awards. Claude Chabrol the Lifetime achievement and Charlotte Rampling best actress for Swimming Pool, In 2004 Imelda Staunton for Vera Drake. Liv Ulman for achievement and Penelope Cruz the People's Choice best actress. Sir Sean Connery the Lifetime award in 2005 Pedro Almodovar the Best director award in 2006 for Volvo with Penelope Cruz best actress and People's Choice best film. Roman Polanski the Lifetime award.

I watch Messiah, a two part bloody and violent mystery which did not impress because it failed to communicate the pain. The plot concerned a most unconvincing murderer who after an epiphany set about enacting words in Old Testament about the build up to Armageddon. The programme would have achieved more focussing on the weather with all day torrents of rain and several inches of snow leading to blocked roads and flooding. The implausibility of the plot was communicated to the actors who did their best to earn their money but I have not seen such a bad drama on the BBC for sometime. There was also some Big Brother House where I warmed to the characters who do the Big Brother Big Mouth and what came over is that they are better than the script created image they are asked to perform. Chanel 4 is yet to learn that appealing to the worst instincts of human nature while attracting viewers is one of the basic causes of the British malaise.

The Good Shepherd

Friday 18th of January 2008 commenced early around 6are after good night of 2 sessions of two hour sleeps. The highlight of today was to have been the first press conference by Kevin Keegan and as I will report later he not disappoint. But whereas Keegan and Newcastle AFC is an affair of the heart and of faith the intellectual stimulation came from watching a film, The Good Shepherd.

I played chess against the computer for the enjoyment of it and then sorted out the accumulation of material over the past three days and then filed. As the series three of lost progresses it is evident that I had seen many of the episodes especially that of today, but my appreciation has increased because of having also viewed the first two series. The Big Brother House catch up previous 24 hours was also available but had no appeal.

Around 11am when up to date except for some in tray communication related to my mother I decided to watch a DVD of the Good Shepherd, a film experienced in theatre in 2006, and a timely arrival given my interest yesterday in the covert activities of the CIA yesterday, it was a timely opportunity to remind the place in post war America of the CIA. The film was recognised as a major contribution to the cinema in 2006 and has some memorable moments and in my judgement ranks alongside the BBC productions of Le Carre novels and a Dostoevsky storyline.

It is one of those interesting coincidences that the main character has the same surname as Charlie Wilson, although as this point the resemblance ends because whereas Charlie Wilson was, and is, a self confessed hedonist, Edward Wilson is a conventional man without a natural sense of humour, someone who witnessed and then covered up the suicide of his father, carrying the guilt, unable to have a normal relationship with his own son conceived in a relationship without love. He becomes a man who will what is necessary for his country's and for his family's welfare, but we are left uncertain as to his true beliefs and convictions, especially after he learns the hard way a message given to him by his former university tutor in English Literature, played by Michael Gambon, that you cannot trust anyone, including your closest friends and family, and the point is later reinforced by his USA based Russian counterpart, that enemies can also be your friends, and friends your enemies.

As with all significant film, theatre and literature, the work can be appreciated at a number of levels. The film is a story about one individual, his work, his relationships and his family and ideally suited for Matt Daemon. It is also a story about the nature of post World War II American society. At one point the is asked about what drives him in the context of American society where the first loyalty of Italians is to their family and their church, the Irish to their homeland, the African American to their music, the American Jew to their tradition and rituals whereas Wilson represents the White middle class American, probably of English anxiety, educated at Yale and a member of one its private clubs where members and their families continue to meet thought the rest of their lives, in addition to treating each other as a brotherhood. His response is to regard himself as an American, someone with a willing sense of duty toward his country.

In the film it is the Yale Club, the Skull and Bones which is portrayed as the recruiting mechanism for the creation of the CIA, but while this is not accurate in relation to the CIA, it is in terms of the role of such university based clubs in the control and development of American society. The clubs are private, in that membership and membership rituals are intended to be restricted to those who assessed as likely to accept and further the standards and rituals of the group. The term private is more neutral than secret society, as most of those existing as part of American Universities are known and listed and the most well known members have also been documented? The Skull and bones include George W Bush as one of its three members who became Presidents and others including a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and the first presidents of the Universities of California, John Hopkins and Cornell.

The film is in the style of a documentary about the creation and development of the CIA with great attention to detail and many of the roles modelled on actual well known figures in the story of the CIA. Such is the attempt at fictionalised authenticity that the CIA has published an official analysis of the film. A key element of the story is the failure the attempted counter revolution against Castro, The Bay of Pigs fiasco, in 1961 allegedly because of an information leak within the CIA. The CIA review explains that the nature of the operation was such that disclosure of the date, time and location of the landing was widely known to the Cuban exiles community where it was likely that Castro had several informers. About the only historical fact which the official review accepts is the impact on involvement in the organisation upon family life.

The Kevin Keegan interview was spectacular and Sky TV were thrilled which is potentially counterproductive in terms of the response of fans of other clubs in the North East and further affield, While it is not my intention to get season tickets for either Sunderland or Newcastle next season unless my financial and other circumstances significantly change I will attempted to get rickets for games I want to see and which are not on TV or could be special events. There were 900 single tickets available this morning for Saturday's televised game on Saturday when Kevin is back in charge and I was able to get on in the corner where I had a sat for all but the first year of his time as a manager. I want to be able to say I was there.

Charlie Wilson's War

Yesterday afternoon 16th January, I went to the cinema for the first time in two months. The choice was Charlie Wilson's War because the subject was of interest, the US covert operation in Afghanistan and the man who arranged the required funding was by all accounts one of the creatives.

Charles, Charlie Nesbitt Wilson was born Trinity Texas in 1933. While a student at Dam Houston State University he was appointed to the United State Naval Academy serving for four years attaining the rank of lieutenant and joined the pentagon as part of an intelligence unit which evaluated soviet nuclear forces. His political interest commenced at 13 years when his pet dog was killed by his next door neighbour who put crushed glass in the animals food after he had got into the neighbours yard. The neighbour was he leading member of the town council and Wilson, holding a driving permit drove 96 African American voters to the poll with the consequence hat the neighbour was defeated by 16 votes. He did not become politically active until joining the John F Kennedy Presidential Campaign as a volunteer, In 1961 he was elected to as Texas State representative for his home district.

Wilson served on the Texas legislature for 12 years supporting several liberal causes such the regulation of the utilities, Medicaid, tax exemptions for the elderly, Equal Rights, minimum wages and pro choice re abortion. In 1972 he was elected to the US House of representatives and was subsequently re-elected 11 times, resigning in 1996.

Wilson became notorious for his private life best described as hedonistic and which he was always open about. He was something of a political maverick and adventurer deciding to support the corrupt dictator Somoza in Nicaragua and at one point attempted to organise 1000 force of ex CIA operatives to fight on behalf of the dictator but this broke down when the funds for the enterprise could not be raised and the dictator sexually assaulted his girl friend at the time. In 1980 Wilson was appointed to the small committee responsible for authorizing black "covert" CIA operations and touched by what was happened in Afghanistan after the Soviet intervention he was responsible for a doubling of the CIA budget from 5 to 10 million dollars to support the Mujahedeen. He then persuaded the committee chairman and other members to dramatically increase funding, especially for anti helicopter and ant tank weaponry which had been caused widespread casualties among the civilian population. He retired from Congress in 1999 although he continued to represent the interests of the Pakistan government having previously been a paid lobbyist on behalf of Israeli weapons manufacturers who it is alleged provided the soviet look alike weapons bought with US dollar for the Afghan forces who eventually forced the Russians to withdraw. He received a heart transplant last year and the film staring Tom Hanks is based on a biography published in 2003.

There are those who argue that the ten years unsuccessful fighting of the CIA backed Mujahedeen in Afghanistan directly led to the break up of the Soviet union and the film concludes with Wilson attempt to get his colleagues to support the reconstruction of the country which he feared would revert to the tribal war lords and criminal drug traffickers which is what happened.

From my research and the film it is possible to reach two conclusions with some confidence. The evidence is that Mr Wilson was individually responsible for the funding and provision of weapons to the Afghan people which led to the withdrawal of the Russians and that his work with the assistance of another individualist CIA member was recognised within the secret services and military. Secondly he was a hedonistic character, a man of the moment and therefore looking ahead at the potential implications of his actions was not one of his strengths. However the legacy of the USA intervention merits further consideration especially as it British young men who are now giving their lives in order to bring about the kind of stability which the USA failed by the continuing funding of the Mujahedeen enabling them to acquire the latest weapon.

It is fortunate that the internet search revealed an important in depth article by Paul Wolf written in 2003. The reality at that time is that Afghanistan has now experience over two decades of warfare with the majority of the population still illiterate, no telephone service and few paved roads, half the capital still in ruins and millions of land mines un accounted for. Vast areas of the country remain under the control of drug trafficking war lords now armed by American financed modern weapons. Those working in the drugs trade were then earning 100 times the salary of the police, the military and the university professors, although public salaries were frequently being defaulted.

One side note from the article is that it confirms the presentation in the film that Mr Wilson staffed his office with beautiful young women, who were known as Charlie's Angels. And that his home which rivalled Hugh Hefner for its hedonism.

One aspect which interested me is that he was and presumably still is an insomniac spending part of most nights reading, researching and thinking about issues which concerned him. Especially the writings of Winston Churchill a hero together with the one spitfire pilot over London at the time of the battle of Britain whose painting he hung over his bed since childhood.. There is no doubt from this article that throughout the Arab world Wilson is regarded as the man who enabled the Afghans to defeat the Communist infidels by providing the weapons. However once this battle was over and the west concentrated on the changing of Europe the hundreds of thousands of well armed afghan were left to revert to their tribal rivalries and criminal interests. This point needs to be underlined As relationships between Russia and the West changed it was a future Russian foreign Minister who warned that both countries needed to concentrate on stabilizing Afghanistan to prevent radical Islamic elements from taking power and it was to Wilson that this message was given. It is not clear from the article how the message was received and how effective he was in ensuring that the administration listened and then took appropriate action.

It is alleged that most of the Iraq weapons acquired after the first gulf war found their way to the Mujahedeen. It could be argued that no one could have predicted that the break up of the soviet union and the arming of the Mujahedeen would become the catalyst for awakening the dormant dreams and visions of fundamentalist Islam or that individuals who had fought for USA interests would then turn on the country. One consequence is that an estimated 30000 young Muslims came from all over the world to Afghanistan to be radicalised and trained for the jihad. The assumption was made by the CIA that once the money was cut off the new zeal would burn itself out, especially if internal conflicts and rivalries consumed their energies and their lives.

The film was enjoyable and at times very funny and some prior knowledge helped but through I had the sense that the way to hell is paved with good intentions and that while there are times in war and rapid change when one type of leadership is required.

However another is necessary to ensure the peace. Unfortunately this did not come from the USA or the West, instead one of the Saudi princes, and head of the country's intelligence arranged for a twenty three year old to set up operations, visiting the country in 1980, established a base in Pakistan from which with family funds, the Saudi government and other wealthy backers he carved out tunnel cave complexes to provide an infrastructure for the Mujahedeen. He departed in 1990 disillusioned at the warring factions returned to work in the family business in Saudi Arabia. He continued to take an interest in the welfare of the Arab fighters who and joined the Mujahedeen formed an organisation to give the support, estimated at 350000, which was called, the base, Al Qaeda. Instead of just providing veteran benefits it became the Means for commencing a global jihad.

In fairness it was also in 1990 that strong elements in Russia and the USA became concerned about the uncontrollable monster they had been created in Afghanistan and attempts were made to establish peace plan which the major powers, Iran, Pakistan and the Afghanistan government agreed but it was too late as the plan was rejected by the fundamentalist parties of the Mujahedeen. While the world concentrated on the break up of the soviet union Afghanistan reverted to medieval chaos with the economy based on providing 70% the world's heroin requirement.

It was around 1974 that the Taliban developed as a reaction and quickly became the dominant force fuelled by thousands of volunteers filtered by the religious schools in Pakistan and at one point their forces totalled twenty thousand against government forces of twelve and by 1998 they controlled sufficient of the country including its capital and imposed the system which banned television and music, required women to remain illiterate and stay at home looking after the rest of their families and a system of justice in which ears, hands or heads chopped off depending on the crime and with stoning for adultery. By 2001 the Taliban controlled 90% of Afghanistan.

Omar bin laden having returned to Saudi Arabia in 1990 moved to the Sudan in 1992 opposed to the decision of the his government to agree to the US involvement to free Kuwait from Iraq. There rather than in Afghanistan he built up his organisation for global Jihad and his inspired acts of violent outrage commenced resulting in the Saudi's recognising the potential damage to their own position and standing, revoked his citizenship. He was also asked to leave the Sudan he therefore returned to Afghanistan and to the cave complexes he had established. When the CIA identified Bin Laden behind the attacks on the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 they launched 72 cruise missiles on his known bases. The failure of this attack resulted in in laden joining forces with the Taliban our of mutual self interest. The Taliban needed Bin Laden's international connections while Bin Laden was able to make use of the religious schools in Pakistan for new recruits. Then in September 2001 two events r=rmaatically affected the future of Afghanistan. With the assistance of Bin laden the main opposition leader to the Taliban in Afghanistan was mortally wounded on September 10th and the following day the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trades Centre and the Pentagon set in motion their downfall. Although as events were to prove after the article written in 2003, the majority retreated to the hills and to Pakistan where they waited for their opportunity to practice what they preached as did Bin Laden.

It is possible to argue that without the removal of the Russians from Afghanistan, the nature of their dictatorship of the towns would have prevented the Taliban from gaining control and providing refuge for Bun Laden to operate. It is also possible to argue that the causes of subsequently events had their roots in the west approach to the Arab world, the way the state of Israel was created, the western attitude towards heroin and other drug use which as was covered when reviewing Tai Pan has been a traditional means for developing trade. It also helps to put into perspective the claim that with the help of one CIA operative Charlie Wilson was able to raise the funds and secure the weapons to force the Russians to Afghanistan. It struck me that given that the Afghanistan operation was covert and the largest of its kind in US history, it is difficult to believe that one individual could have such power independent of the national administration. It is convenient for this to appear to have been so and the evidence made available suggests that it was so.

I have mentioned before that during my year at Birmingham University I med a young academic from Afghanistan sharing a lunch table one Sunday and that he gave me his card for further contact which never came to pass. I have always wondered what happened to him, as the fate of the people in his country became known.

Keegan euphoria on Tyneside continued, hyped up by the media and painting a one sided picture of the local response which attracted a counter reaction on the evening radio phone in. The televised game against Bolton on Saturday should help to sustain the initial momentum and the press conference tomorrow afternoon could provide an indication as to the composition of his managerial team.

I was a little upset more than alarmed as this morning I appeared to be developing another cold after what had been an early night and early getting up, to bed by 11 pm and rising between 3 and 4 am. I had a hot cereal around 5 am and two slices of cheese on toast around 8 with kippers for lunch at midday with a banana and some grapes, and water. I then went to bed around 1.30pm sleeping through until after 4.30.. I watched the Big Brother House programmes before 9 followed by the next Lost and this evening the new series of American Idol, the new series of Trial and Retribution, Question Time and the political programme This Week. I did not feel very hungry this evening so had the two salmon fish cakes and more water and grapes. It is bed time at 1.20 am and the cold did not break. I have not made progress on the Work, housework or the in tray.

Saturday, 4 July 2009


To day I discovered the play list of David of Madrid a comparatively new friend with some eighty titles although only about half play and where I thought I knew many of the titles but not the performers who are a revelation. (Mr Jones- Mike Jones, You Belong Me to Jason Wade, Billie Jean-Chris Connell, Mad World-Gary Jules known, Roscoe- Midlake, That's what lonely is for -David Wilcox, Bella Luna-Mraz and I'm Yours, You Got a Friend a live performance with Celine Dionne, Shania Twain, Gloria Estafan, Carole Kir. Needles and Pins Ramones an odd inclusions given the others selected so far, Kinda Hard-Eric Hinan, Kery Largo-Bertie Higgns, Sophia-Nerina Pallot. Hate me- Blue October. More tomorrow. I had decided to go through the list of friends to check out the changes having noted that one of the top 24 had disappeared Rejection.

I managed to get to the bank, the first step in getting my finances sorted for 2008, my old branch Fullwell which has been radically redesigned after the occasion when there was an attempted hold up just after I left although there were indications of the individual being spotted while I was there, which led to one of those what would I have done had I arrived when it happened. The reason for making the trip was that I managed to get the car started and it needed a little run to ensure the battery was charged up a little. Then went to Morrison's for Grapes, bananas, tomatoes milk, salmon fishcakes 4 for 1. Manx kippers and a bass having misread the sign for the fish which looked interesting, I have the carton of bass where I need to work out how to separate without defrosting and some lamb chops which I fancied. This evening however I did not have fish but a cheese omelette. For lunch, not feeling like soup, I had some thin slices of German smoked ham with the fat cit off with lettuce rolls for lunch, followed by a banana and custard, Grapes after the evening meal. Got oat cereal for breakfast, Half a glass of red wine with half a dozen olives evening treat.
Brian Sewell provided the Big Brother House with the food for a gourmet meal this evening and some timely chat about how to behave in polite society and then had the expected conversation with Amy about the nature of contemporary art. Given that she had time to prepare for such a question, I was disappointed.

The decision to abandon the London trip is the right one after yesterday's efforts to bring my work up to date the inclination is to fritter away the time. Last night was mainly stupefaction with vague memories of having watch the Big brother House and deciding to watch again the film of the James Clavel novel Tai-Pan which I have not read. The film is a fictional attempt to explain the back ground to the rise of Hong Kong when British merchant adventurers imported opium into China as means of paying for tea, silk and porcelain rather than silver as he Chinese then had no need for British manufactured goods. When the Chinese government took exception Britain (and France) showed their true moral nature of its Victorian era politics by going to war and to enforce the ability to turn the Chinese people into drug addicts and commenced a course of events which led to British establishment of Hong Kong and a trading, commercial and crime capital for the Far East and to the establishment of Communism. Admittedly there are other viewpoints.

The film is a fictional account of how after being evicted from China after refusing to abandon the opium trade, merchants persuaded the British Parliament and the French to go to war with the establishment of Hong Kong and its natural harbour as British controlled trading base, and the rivalry between two unscrupulous heads of trading enterprises to be recognised as the merchant, social and political leader. The film [paints one father and son rival as the baddies although the film's hero is the greater hypocrite buying and selling his Chinese concubine which are hidden away from the polite society of the money and land grabbing other exploiters of the indigenous population. The most enjoyable aspect was a sub plot in which the sexually and physically abused daughter of a missionary (father and brother implicated) apparently rescued by the hero Tai Pan becomes a high class whore to a Chinese mafia boss who helps out the Tai Pan will a loan of 1.2 million in silver bars to thwart a move from the opposition to oust him from his position. She then attempts to become the wife of the Island's commanding officer although her brother attempts to blocks this and I cannot remember how this was resolved if it was. There is also the usual sub Romeo and Juliet plot although his so marries his daughter and becomes Tai-Pan when his father dies in the arms of his latest Chinese mistress in a storm. We are meant to pleased by this development when in fact the rightful heir was the elder so on an earlier mistress who was sold off to become a third wife when he decided he wanted a younger model. As you can see it was a thoroughly enjoyable film and cheered me up no end.


The reason for the post was to try and get a return of two more DVD's from my mail order internet package for the London trip where I am more likely to go than as not. But will continue to leave the decision until tomorrow. I watched the "extras" DVD on the second series of Lost in two sessions. It was not as good as that with the first which covered how the series came into being, the auditions and selection of the main characters and their perceptions. The second DVD, Music and Lyrics was a romantic comedy which obtained good reviews at the time although I would not have viewed in theatre when I had the monthly pass unless there had been nothing else to interest during the period of performance. The film features Hugh Grant who if you set to one side his good looks and tabloid involvement with Elizabeth Hurley and others. He is brilliant comic actor who can make script seem funny through his delivery and that combination of danger with vulnerability. Drew Barrymore also has good looks and charm but also convince as an actress and there is a good chemistry between the two which makes the story more convincing that otherwise could have been the situation. Grant plays the former less well known singer of a band where the lead went off to individual solo success, making full use of Grant ability to compose good tunes. However he is not a lyricist and although he continues to perform at nostalgia functions, including theme parks, he has become small time. His big opportunity comes when the teen star of the day, a cross between Madonna, Britney Spears and Kylie Minogue, brilliantly played by first time actress in a Hollywood role, Haley Bennett liked his work when she was a seven year old and gives him the opportunity to compete for a duet number on her new album. Barrymore arrives at the flat as a stand in plant nurturer, that is someone who visit's the homes of those too busy to look after their own house plants, as a lyricist struggles to find a theme and phrases to get his blocked creativity going. Drew steps in and the rest is pure Hollywood but credible to a degree and highly enjoyable.

A different kind of film was Intrigue regarded a minor 1988 cold war spy film in which its star Scott Glenn goes behind the Iron Curtain to search for his former mentor who has defected, only to discover that he wishes to return home to die. The plot twist is conventional in that the Russians want to keep him and the Americans want him dead but not for the obvious reasons. The main interest for me was the journey from the Soviet into Yugoslavia and onto Venice which had a credibility as did the story overall. Had the main character been played by a Richard Burton, Gene Hackman or Robert Duvall then the film might have had greater recognition.
My appetite has returned so the test of determination about losing weight has begun. So far I am rating myself 8 out of 10 for effort. Given the usual kick start effects the aim is to get below 16 stone by mid February, under below 15.7 before the end of Summer. I had one more can of Pepsi Coke, three than the two being allowed a week. But the alcohol restriction was maintained and no snacks although I am having an afternoon tea which has been one slice of toast and 50 grams of smoked salmon. I had shell on prawns yesterday. I nearly had a pint of lager with the evening Tex Mex but had forgotten to take out o store to the fridge, so hat was a bonus.

After hesitant start I achieved 50 games without loss or draw at second level chess. I have decided on playing to enjoy games rather than the 101 target as part of my New Year approach to life

The Life of David Gale, Evil in the Sun, The Mirror Cracked

Yesterday I saw an astonishing film The Life of David Gale. So much of it was familiar that I must have viewed it before but not engaged with attention, or perhaps I did and the subject was so challenging that I buried memory through the subsequent layers of experience. Perhaps that is how I cope with painful experience, avoiding similar sets of circumstances and covering with layers of good or different experience?

About two years ago now I watched the Forced Entertainment Company perform two plays with the first the reproduction in theatre of the Sophie Calle's Performance artwork Exquisite Pain and the second a history of the world, the World in Pictures, in which at the end Chorus reminds that while a moment we experience, such as a theatrical performance appear significant to us and to others, it quickly becomes lost as fresh experience upon fresh experience is lived. In any event I had missed what I suspect is the unintended point of this film which was justifiably slammed by the majority of critics. The amazing aspect is that far from convincing anyone who supports capital punishment into an abolitionist, it not only reinforces the case but could turn some cautious liberals into believers.

The story, without giving too much away, is about a former college Professor who passionately supports the abolition of the death penalty in the state of Texas, whose marriage breaks up, possibly because of his drink problem, possibly because he started the ring of unfaithfulness that leads to his wife having an affair which becomes permanent. There is one scene presented early on in the film which holds the key to unravelling the complex plot. The Professor engages in a televised debate on the subject of capital punishment with the Governor of Texas and appears to be winning the argument until rounded by the Governor to produce one case of the 137 executed individuals where there was a miscarriage of justice. Shortly after this the Professor is arrested and charged with rape of a recently expelled student with who he has sex as her requested leaving present. The case is dropped but the Professor is unable to secure a new appointment, sinks into alcoholism and loses all direct contact with his son who is living abroad with his mother. Throughout this time his only friend is the full time worker for the Texas branch of the anti capital punishment organisation, and their relationship remains platonic until he learns that she has an incurable disease and they become lovers.

He is then convicted of her horrific murder and spends six years on death row and only two weeks before his execution he persuades a journalist to try and prove his innocence for the sake of the memory of him by his son. She had been to prison for contempt after refusing to reveal information.

Unfortunately if the film is intended to rebut the contention of the Texas Governor that all those executed were guilty and the debate should be about the sentencing policy and the grounds for commuting to life imprisonment, if fails badly, all it achieves is confirm my long held view that those at the extremes of politics have more in common than those in the middle. Fortunately this is a view increasingly shared by the majority of people in the British Islands, but is does create problems for the democracy when all the major parties share the same values and beliefs and the issue becomes one of effect management, and this is a problem for politicians at local level let alone at the centre in a system where the managers are supposed to be neutral and were until two decades ago there were career men and a few career women in the senior positions. This situation has commenced to change with the introduction of performance contracts and performance pay I the public services and where a proportion of the work is privately managed, by fear of the loss of contracts because of failure to meet targets and standards. The independent and private organisation enables senior managers to be hired and fire and paid at commercial levels, and it take accountability for individual cases away from politicians, a development which even the most reactionary of politician can see merit, unless of course they gained and maintained their political power by being able to intervene in individuals cases irrespective of the individual merits.

Yesterday was a day of who dun it plots with lots of possible answer, misleading sub plots and eventual solutions which explained the casual links between clues which had been planted in the story an which the clever should be ale to work out long before the official explanation. The afternoon started with Evil under the Sun, the 1941 Agatha Christie Hercule Poirot mystery, set in Cornwall made into an all star cast film in 1982 with Peter Ustinov in the role of the detective, and James Mason, Maggie Smith. Jane Birkin, Denis Quilley, and Diana Rigg, to name some. In this film version several people had the motives but everyone has what seems to be a watertight alibi. The film moved the setting from Cornwall to an Adriatic holiday resort for the rich and famous, although filmed in Majorca. My aunt Harriet adored David Suchet and would just about manage to sit through one of his TV series productions which are still shown on one satellite channel after another to this day, and for many a day to come, In 2001 the story was made into the 53 episode of the 8th season so she may have seen both this edition and the film on television. Last year there was a point and lick computer game published. A key aspect of the solution which is not revealed during the films, (I have not read the book) is that Poirot remembers the similarity of the case with another recent unsolved murder insurance investigation. The extent to which people commit murder, or fake their deaths for the life insurances was something I assumed was more fictional than real life until the recent return to life of a man who disappeared off the coast in this region several years ago and media reports about his wife living in Panama and her return to face the music in this country shortly afterwards.

Immediately following Evil under the Sun was a Miss Marple film, The Mirror Cracked which begins with an early Agatha Christy mystery being shown in the village hall and breaking down as the solution is about to be revealed. Poirot and Miss Marple are Agatha Christie formula mysteries written over half a century ago, and exhibited a skill with was sadly deficient in the Life of David Gale, but not in one of my recent favourite drama series Foyle's War which commenced its six short series last nights. There were four two hour episodes in the first three series and then just two for the next two with three planned for this.. The short length of seasons is match by the quality of each mystery set in a carefully reconstructed wartime South Coast England, the exceptional character acting of Michael Kitchen and his interaction with his Sergeant, and his female driver, the traditional English Rose, matured through war work and with a clergyman as her uncle. There were several fine moments in an good mystery where we were led to believe three individuals could be the cause of the death of a young secret government establishment worker who had misgivings about providing up to date maps for bombing raids on Germany for the allies.

The thou shall not kill argument was taken up with a small ecumenical conference held in the area about the continuation of the war until a complete German surrender, the implications of the mass bombing raids and the role of the churches in achieving reconciliation. The brilliant aspect of this episode was the juxtaposition of the two extremes, the clergyman threatened with prosecution if her said anything which the Police Inspector would be able to use against him, and the wife of the Police Inspector, after he had been shot, who explained that her view of the only good German was a dead German after they had lost both their sons and only children earlier in the War. At the time it would have been exceptional if those fighting or bereaved thought otherwise, or were able to understand that the average German parent felt the same way in relation to the losses at the fronts and from the bombing. There was also a magnificent closing sequence, which spilt the mystery element when the local Minister was unmasked as a spy who has been planted a refugee in 1927 and worked towards a south coast parish in order to send home intelligence about troop activity, only to have the good fortune to find that several parishioners worked at a secret government establishment and that one was willing to talk about his work through the Catholic confessional. When Foyle attempts to adopt moral and Christian superiority over the activity of the man who admits that he was not ordained a priest, killed the young man who could have unmasked him and then accidentally shot the Police Inspector instead of the Police Sergeant who had also been asking worrying question, the man makes the point that he was only being a good patriot and serving his country during a time of war, and when it was unwise to claim that God would be on the side any of the participants.

My only reservation was the those who prepared and sent him over to England would to have made the mistake of providing a background of serving for five years in a part of a town which did not have a catholic church, or apparently any church, or that eh would have been allocated a parish by the Catholic hierarchy without checking his background. The Catholic church remains meticulous in the record keeping of its sons and daughters of Christ and the German nation has always been thorough and comprehensive in its administration hence the justified boast about the trains running on time and pioneering development of the motorway. They would not have made such a simple mistake which suggests a story line not sufficiently researched or thought through on this key issue. But the rest was excellent, including the way some of the others involved in a defrauding scam siphoning off funds and giving backhanders were to be dealt with, the equivalent of sending one to the Russian front. In war time there is always a cheaper and more useful way of using criminals than to lock them up.