Saturday, 30 October 2010

The Fugitive Kind, Fort Worth and the Frisco Kid

Over the last week of October 2010 I experienced films by three cinema legends, Marlon Brando, James Cagney and Gary Cooper 4th, 8th and 11th in the American Film Institute’s list of top male stars. Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and James Stewart being the first three.

I have experienced most of Brando’s early films, A Street car named desire, Viva Zapata, Julius Caesar, The Wild One, On the Waterfront(I have DVD), Desiree, Guys and Dolls, The Teahouse of the August Moon (one of my favourites) and Sayonara. I cannot remember seeing his first, The Men or The Young Lions. The Fugitive Kind made in 1959 was next although I cannot remember seeing before Saturday October 30th. One Eyed Jacks, Mutiny on the Bounty, and a Countess from Hong Kong and The Night of the following Day followed and I also remember seeing The Godfather part one, (DVD and Video Tapes) Last Tango in Paris, and the Missouri Breaks, before the latter years films Superman, Apocalypse Now, The Formula, and a Dry White Wine, Christopher Columbus, the Island of Doctor Moreau, Superman Returns and Superman II. 24 films before today out of some 45.

The Future Kind is based on the Tennessee Williams Play Orpheus Descending, generally regarded as the first of his second era plays 1957-1980, having become an International playwright and script writer with The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar named Desire, The Rose Tattoo and Camino Real, and with Sweet Bird of Youth, Period of Adjustment, and The Night of the Iguana to come. Along with Arthur Millar, Williams is regarded by me as one the great 20th century theatre writers. I have a Penguin edition of the Menagerie which I saw on film in 1950 at the Odeon Wallington with my birth and Care mothers and also later saw the 1987 remake. The volume includes A Street Car named Desire in which Brando starred in 1951. I saw later, the 84 and 95 versions. The third play in the volume is the Sweet Bird of Youth which starred Paul Newman both on stage and in the film which I saw subsequently on TV. Over a decade ago I saw a Royal Shakespeare Production of Camino Real, in Newcastle at the Playhouse Theatre. My favourite work is the Night of the Iguana with Richard Burton and Ava Gardner, the story of a former priest. I thought I had the DVD so will add to my list of films to see again before I die.

The Future Kind is set in a southern USA State county where anyone with Negro blood is prohibited from staying overnight. Brando plays a jazz blues guitarist who wears a snakeskin coat who drifts into town and calls in at the local five and dime general store in the hope of finding work only to encounter Joanne Woodward then aged 27 with some film and TV credits, who calls in to see her sister, played by that great actress Anna Magnani, the wife of the terminally ill owner and unstated Klansman leader. She has been repeatedly warned to keep out of her home county because of her drunken and wanton behaviour and she plays with extraordinary brilliance given the mores of the time. Brando accepts a lift to the local roadhouse where he stays although Woodward is told to move on and he obtains work at the store.

We learn that prior to her marriage Magnani had become pregnant by a local worthy who return claiming that her had no idea of her condition and therefore that she and subsequently lost the child. Her lack of love or respect marriage has imprisoned her until husband is restricted to their first floor accommodation following his discharge from hospital. She sets her cap at Brando who succumbs after she persuades him to make use a room on the ground floor as a bedroom.

The situation comes to a head when she is about to open what appears to be a combination of sweet shop/cream parlour/refreshment bar against the wishes of her husband, especially as she is puting Brando in charge. This leads to the Sheriff, under the instigation of the sick husband giving Brando his marching orders. Woodward returns saying she is leaving not just the county but the USA for a villa in Italy and wants Brando to go with her. He says he is leaving town after the threats but not with her. The wife is distraught and we learn why because she is pregnant by Brando. He stays and they are murdered by the husbands cronies in a fire, repeating an admission that her husband had made that he was part of the mob that burnt her father to death in the past. The wife is played magnificently by Anna Magnani. Woodward ends the piece with a comments about snakes shedding skins. The steamy intensity of the film remains at a high level throughout achieved from the combination of the writing and acting. The film is however depressing with the disaster always the likely outcome.

In contrast Forth Worth is a stock Western film about the battle between the emerging railroad and traditional cattle drivers. Randolph Scott plays a newspaper publisher and editor originating from Forth Worth where he established a reputation as being fast and accurate with his gun but has not returned for two decades following a failed love affair. He is part of a wagon train which is joined by a woman known to Scott who is on her way marry his former best friend, a local wheeler dealer with ambitions to be state governor, buying up local real estate and knock down prices to make a huge profits when the railways come to the town and where he has invested in a cattle depot for what he hopes will become the state transit centre for the cattle meat business in the future. Scott is travelling with his mobile printing press, producing newspapers on their journey en route to a majro town which will support his campaigning approach to journalism.

The town is terrorised by local outlaws who fear the impact of the railway and the local Sheriff is a coward while the would be governor talks big but defends his inaction as waiting for the right time. The “outlaws attempt to kill Scott while on the wagon train, stampeding the herd they are trail taking which leads to the death of an orphan boy the trail with his grand mother and who been befriended by Scott.

Following this incident Scott and Wagon train reach Forth Worth where he is persuaded to stay and help run the local newspaper. The story has several layers including the relationship between the fiancée of the former best friend played by Phyllis Thaxter whose late father had run the local newspaper which Scott now develops into a campaign against the outlaws and the failure of the Town to deal with them. The situation becomes more complicated when the former fiancée fo Scott returns to confront the would be governor for his part in the downfall of her father and which led to her leaving town.

Gradually Scott realises his friend is not the man he thought he was but when he confronts him, he is persuaded to hang fire as the man states that the intention is to return the town to its former development having reduced in population from 5000 to 1000. He is also persuaded to go along with a plan to trap the outlaws to attacking the train in the mistaken belief that it contains $50000 to be used to extend the railway into the town centre. However the promised security agents are not on board and the would be governor is using the expected attack as a means of getting rid of Scott in which he nearly succeeds. Scott escapes and goes after his former friend who returns to his ranch where the fiancée is waiting. The governor persuades Thaxter to his cause and Scott returns to newspaper to launch his print attack in retaliation.

His printing publishing partner has previously been murdered and this has spurred the people to get its act together and attempt to drive the outlaws from the town. However they have been taken up with train fever volunteering to lay the track extension into the town leaving the place deserted. This provides the former friend and the outlaws with the opportunity to launch separate attacks on Scott’s life fortunately witnessed by the fiancée who shoots to prevent Scott being killed. However Scott realises that although she did shoot he had heard two shots alerting him to the other assassin.

The film moves on to the arrival of the train into the town and the celebrations marking the development. Scott has married Thaxter and writes a piece paying tribute to the good actions of his former friend. So what happened to the dream?

Fort Worth is now a major city in the United states with a central population of three quarters of a million, expected to rise to a million and a quarter, and an urban population of over 6 million. The town did become the cattle industry centre and the arrival of the Texas Pacific railway in 1876 did result in the boom predicted as it became the centre of the cattle wholesale trade. However it did also become a traditional wild west city with saloons, gambling and bawdy houses on a grand scale, akin to the Barbary coast in San Francisco with high levels of crime and violence. It was several decades before this aspect became under civil control. The development of oil drilling in Texas added to the economy while its local natural gas deposit improved its position further. The city is also an important cultural and multi cultural centre with the Hispanic and Latino population one third and Black and African just under 30%.

Newspaper publishing and Wild West excess and lawlessness is also the main subject of the Frisco Kid. The film begins with Cagney arriving on the Coast as a seaman and is Shanghaied by a local gang but escapes and retaliates. His actions bring him to the attention of the local newspaper editor and its female propriety whose father was killed by elements on the Barbary Coast because of his campaigning against them. Cagney is attracted to her but sets his sights on making it on the Coast, establishing a theatre like entertainment which attracted the sons and fathers of the growing middle class. His approach led to taking a leadership role in organising the Coast to protect its interests and eliminate the violent and major criminal elements. Just when it seems everything is coming together and his relationship with the newspaper owner blossoms there is a disaster. A close associate is unjustly accused of murdering leading citizen when it was the citizen who drew the weapon and death was accidental. However this is taken as the opportunity to mobilize the town into vigilantism and open warfare with the Barbary coast develops. Cagney narrowly escapes the lynching with the help of the Newspaper owners It is not one of Cagney’s great performances or a memorable film but as with Forth Worth is does chronicle small towns in the USA which grew quickly into major cities is less that 100 years.

Africa United and Brothers at War

It has been a good week for films. I would not have bothered with Africa United had I not heard the praise from the good doctor. Mark Kermode and his buddy, Simon Mayo last Friday. It is an odd film which as one reviewer suggests is a combination of a United Nations education film about the importance of condoms in the fight against the spread of AIDS, a GCE geographical guide to the countries of black Africa, a protests against the use of young boys in domestic warfare, and against the exploitation of young women as child brides and prostitutes, together with an appeal for a programme of education for all young people.

A streetwise orphan Rwandan boy small in stature called Dudu played by Eriva Ndavambje and his sister Beatrice (Sanyu Joanita Kintu) scrape a living, it is not clear how, while the brother dreams of the world Cup, and acts as unpaid manager fro a young man, Fabrice(Roger Nsenglyumva. with talented ball skills but whose middle class parents want him to concentrate on his education and turning out like brother who is a doctor in the United States.

Om an occasion when Fabrice has been breaking a record of the number of ball controls before the ball touches the ground an agent fo the creation fo a skills team to perform at the world cup invites the young man “and his manager” to attend an audition at the national stadium in the Rwandan capital Kigali and gives them the fare. In Europe there would have been contact with parents but this is Africa. They get on the wrong bus heading for a city with a similar name but over the border in a neighbouring country of the Congo to the West. Having got on the bus without tickets, Dudu assume that the stop is for a ticket check not appreciating it is a passport documents control point. Thus the trio find themselves without papers and in the wrong place and are quickly are placed in a refugee camp having encountered a teen soldier Foreman George( Yves Dusenge) who persuades the trio to run off with him when some men, he alleges will press gang fit young men into the rebel army, bribe their way into thee camp at night. In fact they are after him, because he has run off with the General’s money. They escape the chase this time and use the money to cross a lake in small boat which they buy. They arrive at a white tourist hotel where they encounter Celeste (Sherie Silver) who later reveals she is the daughter of a King who fell on hard times and who attempted to sell her a young bridge with six cows to someone she did not wish to marry and eventually became a sex slave girl for the hotel manager/owner.. Typically from their naivety as well as thin story telling they reveal their wealth which is quickly removed but they manage to escape again but encounter the General’s men again and where we learn that one fo these in in fact the older brother of Foreman George. They hand over the money in exchange for their lives, although Dudu later reveals he has kept some back.

This they use to gain transport by boat. There are three mini adventure before they reach the South African Border. They are chased by young teenage thugs in one community and Fabrice is forced to give up his boots in exchange for the return oft he case which contains their remaining money. Crossing over the next border Dudu thinks he had done a great exchange rate deal only to find the new money is worthless because the currencies has been changed. They then go to an Aids testing centre when in exchange for the test there is a monetary payment. Celeste is understandably concerned about her condition but all given the all clear and everything appears set fair for the rest of the journey. Dudu then becomes ill and is taken to the nearest hospital a charitable undertaking run by a order of Nuns who also provide a free school. It is revealed that he has Aids presumably the disease which killed his parents and he is told to wait for three days before required medication arrives, but this will mean they will not arrive in time for Fabrice to arrive and stake his claim for a place in the World Cup ceremony. They elect to go off, that is everyone except Beatrice who with consent of her brother, stays to take up a place offered to her at the school and follow her dream of an education and becoming a doctor to cure disease. The four adventurers reach the border in time with Dudu increasingly ill and being carried by the former boy soldier who and confronted his past and thrown him pistol away.

They are detected as they attempt to cross the border without paper and with little money and the story of why they have come is not believed until Fabrice demonstrate his kills and contact is made with the stadium. They arrive amid the excitement and traffic chaos of the build to the World Cup and Fabrice is allowed to participate despite lack fo rehearsal .

Throughout the 3000 African tour Dudu tells them imaginative stories in which they all have roles and these are shown in as mini animations. The film has been given a 12 certificate which meant there were several groups of unaccompanied 12 to 15 year olds in the audience include one trio of barely looking 12 year olds sitting in front form whose behaviour I anticipated a noisy interventions. The film opens with Dudu explaining how to make a football from a condom. It first blown up into a ball, then placed in a plastic bag and then tired around with string to give it strength. There was no giggling or anticipated sniggers when the term sex worker was used in relation to Celeste. There could have been parental decision taking involved, responsible parents or teachers encouraging responsible secondary school age children. I was remind of watch the first Lord of the Rings film on a Saturday night in a packed auditorium filled noisy young people. I prepared myself for the worse, but you could not hear the proverbial pin drop throughout the three hour epic.

Brothers at War is also an odd film, set at the end fo World War Two it appears to have been sponsored by the Masons’ to indicate the part they have played in promoting good behaviour in wars whatever side they are on. In this film the story is more substantial A British Officer, played by Hugh Daly is attached to the Russian Army as an Observer as they enter Germany from the Eastern front and head quickly for Berlin. The Russians are about to execute the Polish Government in exile before occupying the country as a satellite communist state, a factually true event, and their attempt to keep the British Officer occupied while this happens fails and escaping from he local headquarters where he is supposed to be entertained he see the event, but is captured and held to be taken to Moscow where he encounters another prisoner, a rebellious German officer, a Mason who has been under threat because Mason are among the many groups who ere rounded up by the Gestapo and sent to the concentration camps if not summarily executed.

The unlikely pairing escape and then rescue an attractive Polish girl who has been used by German and Russians in order to survive as she is about to be raped by a group of drunken soldiers. The trio also go on the road encountering wounded German soldiers without medication and who will be killed by the advancing Russians and the Gestapo who order the men to continue fighting or be shot as deserters. They eventually make the allied lines, the Americans, where the British Officer is short by one the Russian officer who undertook the massacre under orders to prevent the plan to occupy the whole of Berlin and Poland from being disclosed. The German Officer, having discovered that he and the British officers are Masons, manages to convince the USA/British army authorities of the authenticity of the information of the massacre and the Russian intentions. The authorities however decide to suppress the information from their respective governments on the basis that having gone to war following war with Germany because of the treaty with Poland, and with the war with Japan continuing, there was no enthusiasm for War with Russia. A depressing tale of the reality of war and international relations but with a common link with Africa United in that both are about a disparate group of individuals bonding in common cause, developing a loyalty to each other cutting cross everything which divides and separates.

I will write separately about the Fugitive Kind with Marlon Brando, Fort Worth with Garry Cooper and James Cagney in Frisco Kid together with half a dozen James Bond Films.

Friday, 29 October 2010

London to Brighton

It is 2 pm Saturday, cold and raining. I did not rise from bed until 11am having stayed up Blog writing and it was midday before I started to tackle, the Man with no Identity.

It is not that I am afraid of death itself but I am afraid of what the process of dying could be like.

I am more afraid of writing about myself.

I did make a start. A few opening paragraphs. I am not yet in the dimension to write and write, abandoning everything else/ I need to organise myself better than I have so far., but I have the experience of completing works of 200 x (3), 300 and 400 pages, the later also had an addition of 75 pages of photographs, so I know what can be achieved when the research has been completed,, the work is clearly set out in my head, or at least there is a notion of a beginning and an end.

I have made toast and coffee.

I have looked at what football and other programmes there are on TV during the rest of the day and will listen to Sunderland at home against Arsenal at 3pm. I could watch one of the two DVD's that have arrived over the past two days about which I know almost nothing. I will concentrate on getting myself up to-date with project work in hand and hopefully return to the writing before the day is done. The car insurance documents have arrived. I will switch the heating on and make lunch. Do I want to put myself through the pain of writing? Do I need to do it? Is it right?
A good lunch of vegetables followed by a chunk of sea bass with seasoning, black grapes and tea. Complete printing of recent Blogs for Creatives sets in Volumes 5669 5673. Transfer photos of Durham parading with trophy at Riverside, and the latest condition of the patio plants from memory sticks to computer and then recharge the camera battery. Prepare five two set volumes for future Blog sets while listening on Century radio to Sunderland hosting Arsenal on Century radio. The commentary suggested that Sunderland were well organised and defended well but did not sit back and took the game to Arsenal whenever they could. Five minutes before the end a 0.0 draw seemed a worthy result and then Sunderland scored a brilliant goal electrifying everyone including men. Then according to the commentators there was no justification for the referee adding four extra minutes which was sufficient for Arsenal to equalise. Later I watched the whole of the second half on Sky and the Match of the Day highlights and noted that the Manager, Roy Keane, did not complain about the additional time, perhaps it looks as if Arsenal had a good goal disallowed when the linesman thought the ball had gone over the end line before a player sent it into the goal mouth where is was struck into the net.
I have been enjoying playing different games against the computer recently. Ink Ball is a game when with the use of the mouse one has to steer coloured moving balls into their correct pocket, allow one to enter a different colour and the game ends. The mouse can create ink strokes which prevents a ball going astray or help steer. About between 1000 and 3000 points can be won per game and my first target was 10000 points although I quickly reached just under 25000 and then just under 50000, and then in one long game I not only broke 50000 and then 75000 but went on to 82166. My effort now only reached 11000 but later I made 66000. About a decade ago I played all the numbered games from 1 to 10000 on free cell so this time I am concentrating on percentages wit 46 games won from 50 a 92% after a shaky start losing two games in succession but with a run of 41 wins since. Winning 269 from 278 games at level three the best run has been 57 but the three loses is unacceptably high. Hearts is the game where I had an appalling start winning only one in ten games before working out how to play and win so that now the percentage has risen to 43% 638 games from 1468 and were a winning streak of 26 now is better than an early series of loses which reached 25. Spider Solitaire is another form of patience which I quickly mastered winning 718 of the 788 games played 91%, There is a three form child's game where one of the three is spatial, and two guess and memory. I occasionally enjoy a game of finding matching pairs of tiles among 20 with 37 turns to find the ten pairs is the best effort. I am hopeless at Minesweeper with tune squares and one has remember of ten mines. And Mah-jong Titans is yet to attempted.

I watched Strictly dancing while enjoying bottle of beer some pasta, and small apple pie with custard. Around midnight, may have been later I had a tomato sandwich. I have discovered two video tapes of Brideshead and went though most of my cabinets of tapes thinking there should be a third until in the early houses I discovered that although the first was marked as having episodes 1-3 it has 1 to 7.5 with the second having the remainder. I look forward to seeing if the quality has been maintained and enjoying the big screen showing.

Whereas I went to the cinema to experience the film of Brideshead with my head filled with visuals and sounds from the TV series I knew nothing about the low budget independent film London to Brighton produced in 2006 and which had limited showing but received some good reviews. The DVD contained a good range of additional material including the after show discussion at the Curzon Cinema. Films about gangsters and low life set in London and Brighton are popped up over the years with Graham Greene's Brighton Rock set just before World War 2, appearing in the late 1940's. I have the DVD. I also may have on tape Mona Liza. The film is what happens when a young girl, aged eleven runs from home and tries to live on the streets of London and is picked up by a drug taking prostitute whose pimp has demanded she finds such a girl, for a millionaire paedophile. The girl is played by thirteen year old Georgia Groome, an already established child actress who has attended both a school and an academy of performing arts. Understandably her mother was unsure when reading the script but the girl claimed she had a fair idea of what it was about from what was talked in the school yard. She was subsequently chosen to star in a teenage film released this year, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging which is based on the work on someone who has become a world wide recognised writer about the reality of being a teenager in contemporary society.

The film is described as gritty and authentic. I would add grim and realistic about the behaviour of men with money and the exploitation of the young at risk whether here in the UK or from central Europe and Russia and Asia. The film avoids glamorization, titillation and sensationalism and cannot be regarded as entertainment, My problem with the film is that the story will all too familiar with social workers and those working in the justice system and rather like the latest attempt to put people off smoking with lurid pics on the fag packets, it will have no effect as a cautionary tale. What impressed me was the quality of the performance of the cast who were not paid with the shooting and cutting script around £80000 and the whole film about a quarter of a million. If contemporary art is to reflect the truth of contemporary life, then while this is no Shakespeare it can be regarded as a contemporary art performance captured on camera and then edited.

Brideshead Revisited the film

It has been said that Evelyn Waugh was not content with his novel Bridesehead Revisited, rejecting its tone as pretentious. I do not know if he regarded the eleven hour TV adaptation of the work as justification, but I felt both were triumphs with the eleven hour TV series capturing the nuisances, the complexity and intensity of the characters. Recently I caught a repeat of the first two episodes which centre on the life of Charles Ryder, an upper middle class young man, and Sebastian Flyte, the second son of an Aristocratic Catholic family as they meet at Oxford University, and whose beautiful and spectacular country home and estate is Brideshead. I knew that a film version was about to be released and when I saw that this was today I had only one thought which was to get to the cinema theatre in time for the afternoon showing.

The first surprise was that audience comprised three sets of older women and one other male also within my generation. I feared that the experience was going to by spoiled by three housewives catching on the latest gossip. I know this because they spoke in loud voices throughout the adverts and then the trailers but then kept quiet throughout a film. Glory be.

The book and the TV adaptations are long and for me it was difficult to work out the core story, especially with the focus on Oxford and then Venice, two of the most beautiful cities within my experience/. Having rushed off I had not prepared myself for a film, a fifth the length of the TV series and for different music, music which had added to and branded the film the inter war era of the upper classes it represented.

I have to admit what the Director has achieved is a beautiful but coherent and serious film about the nature and impact of Catholicism upon the psyche in a way which should please the Pope and his Vatican Therefore the film will mean less to non Catholics unless they also have become embroiled with Catholicism. Charles Ryder is not just a non catholic but an open atheist and that he is consistent in his rejection of the notion of any God, let alone a Christian God is the one aspect of his personality to his credit, and this serves as a means of exposing the strengths and the weaknesses of the faith. I say this because the film, (I do not know if it is in the book or TV adaptation, the wealthy American husband of the eldest daughter, Julia, and female love of the life of Charles, tells him that had been willing to convert to Catholicism like he, he would have been allowed to marry Julia.

Because of the emphasis on Catholicism, the film spike to me directly and I was not distracted by the views of Oxford where I lived for five years and I found myself making mental notes for the book about my quest for a core identity and the relationship with my birth and foster mothers. I had hoped to have written the greater part by now, although it is fitting that this moment arises during the first anniversary of the death and funeral services for my mother and within three months of ten years of finding out who my father was, and was not, and a further two months before my seventieth birthday.

In the TV series Jeremy Irons plays Charles Ryder and has a likeable and intense quiet inner certainty and presence, arising from his comfortable and well educated background and drive to become a painter. He is comfortable within the society of after World War One Oxford and immediately at home at Brideshead, to an extent this Lady Marchmain sees him immediately as a potentially who could help protect Sebastian, and invites him to join them in the Chapel for prayers after an evening meal, in the hope that despite his stated atheism, he is convertible. While Irons, and the book character is not completely convincing as an artist painter, in contrast to Michael Yorke, who plays the bisexual artist writer in a version of Christopher Isherwood's Berlin based books, the musical Cabaret, the actor who plats Charles in this film version is hugely disappointing.

Matthew Goode is not able to communicate the kind of personality that would seduce all the members of the aristocratic family within moments of first meeting, together with the audience, or able to make the audience feel sympathy for someone who stripped of all the flim flan is a social adventurer trying to establish the family he never possessed as a child and young man, who is full of judgements and moralising about the behaviour of others, while least critical of his own behaviour as be betrays the relationships of everyone he encounters. This is harsh and he is given the opportunity once to show something of why Charles takes to him when his wish to become a painter is ridiculed at the first lunch party in college when one says you are an artist or you are not, and argues that photography has replaced the need for painters, Charles shows his self belief arguing that the painter reflects what one feels about a subject, and such is the level of those surrounding Sebastian that no one points out that this is also the what can make a photograph art when it sets out to express the totality of a moment rather than the objectivity and detailed memory of a scene.

By second and only other criticism of the film is that by concentrating on the key events and characters, the film almost bypasses the wealth of other characters who help to create a symphony about the upper classes between wars whereas what we are left with is an important and profound piece of chamber music about the impact of Catholicism on a family and with whom they interact.

In the TV series and book you also feel that the father is an interesting man and would like to know more about him and why he has such a distant, almost detached relationship with his only child. In the film the father and his social status is downgraded to an extent that he is unlikely to have sent a son to Oxford without academic ability and pushed him off to study art and its history. I and I suspect that others were not convinced that Charles from a lower middle class home in Paddington would feel at home among the Aristocrats.

The film is rescued by the other actors. I am most impressed by Ben Wishaw which I hope is considered as an Oscar/Bafta supporting actor nomination fro his performance as Sebastian who tries to lose his maternally inspired Catholic conscience through drink and debauchery, and who then finds redemption in caring for someone in a worse condition than himself, until his own ill health takes him to a hospital run by a religious order in North Africa. Charles fails in his mission at the request of Lady Marchmain to bring Sebastian home to make peace with each other and their God before she dies. She is comforted that at least he is with men of faith. Sebastian has gone to pieces when he discovers that Charles has switched his intentions to Lady Julia, his sister, when they journey to Venice at the request of their father who is living in sin with an Italian Catholic in a mini palace overlooking the grand canal. The Venice adventure has however a greater significance as Lord Marchmain half admits that he has escaped his wife Catholicism and attitude towards sex and his mistress explains that the Mediterranean Catholics are different from the English as they enjoy life, and by implication sex, and then go to confession on a regular basis to repent their sins. It is no accident that the last two Popes, one Polish and the other Germanic, are men who adhere to the puritanical form of the religion.

The brilliant Emma Thompson also gives a major performance which could get her an best actress nomination. She takes her faith and her family seriously and one immediately thinks of Cheri Blair the wife of Tony Blair who has converted to her faith, and Ruth Kelly who has not only left the Cabinet but is to leave Parliament. Charles frustrated that Lady Marchmain prevents Julia marrying him describes her actions as poisoning the lives of Julia and Sebastian and fails to understand that she was right in banning him from further contact with the family when while attempting to save both his soul and his body Charles gives him the cash to go out and get drunk on the day when the eldest sister is twenty one and her engagement is announced.

In real life that should have been that. Charles who denounces all contemporary art as bosh at one point finds fame and wealth as an artist through the help of a wealthy and influential young admirer who he marries but several years later he encounters Lady Julia on an ocean liner returning to England from New York. They have sex but Charles being Charles cannot then carry one with the life he has made and persuades Julia to live with him as if helping to destroy one member of the family is not enough. His interest in being able to visit and possible live at Brideshead is too strong and he successfully gets Julia's husband to agree to an annulment fro the price of two of his fashionable counterparty art paintings. He appears to have no understanding of the impact on Julia of living in sin as a Catholic until the elder son who is about to marry a Catholic widow with family says his future wife will be unable to receive her while she remains in such a state. Julia who believes the still birth of her child within the marriage was God's punishment for her religious disobedience agrees to leave with him despite knowing that she is disinheriting herself, but them she is given the first of two signs. He father is rushed home to die as they set off. Charles sensing that the combined pressure of the eldest son, the devout younger sister and the Catholic Mistress will affect his future, attempts to persuade Lord Marchmain to reject the visit of a priest to perform the last rites and at first is successfully, but as Lord Marchmain, played notable by Michael Gambon dies he makes the sign of the cross upon himself, restoring Julia to her faith and home from which Charles departs again, apparently not to return. The TV adaptation and book opens with Charles finding himself moved to unknown new base during World War Two prior to the Normandy landings and in the morning gets of his tent in the grounds of an estate to be told they are at Brideshead. He learns that the title inheriting brother has been killed and that the Lady of the House is away on war work. Charles re visit the Chapel signing himself with Holy water, the first indication of man who knows he made the wrong choices in the past. Theer is a holy light flickering and for a moment in goes to extinguish it, but desists. This is not just the actions of an atheist in wartime creating a reserve position or responding to an earlier statement that Lady Marchmain had infected every stone and blade of grass, but the actions of man on the verge of finding faith in something other than, we are born, we live and we die, as expressed by his batman.
Some will see the film as a bi sexual love triangle without the usual torrid sex scenes or as a commentary on the decline of the British Aristocratic way of life. Most will find the work a travesty of the wit in the writing of Waugh and a poor attempt given what many regard as thee greatest drama series ever made for British Television. I cannot see those who go to the cinema on weekend evenings queuing up to see the film and then going off to buy the book. For me he film did great justice to the intentions of the author, Evelyn Waugh who converted to Catholicism and who described the work as the operation of divine grace on a diverse but closely connected group of characters. Amen to that.

Amen also to the Democratic and Republicans who put their duty to their country and all its fellow citizens before their political future and personal ideologies. I hope they will experience the operation of divine grace as the money they have voted to the President and his administration is put to effect lasting good use. They did on a two to one basis and restored some of their standing in the rest of the world, if not among many of their electorate.
Amen to Gordon Brown for tacking an extraordinary decision to ask Peter Mandelson his arch enemy for over a decade, but one time close political friends because he supported the candidature of Tony Blair for the Labour Leadership over that of the Prime Minister., to return to the Cabinet as Trade Minister with a peerage to the House of Lords on the grounds he was the best person available after the resignation of the present, Mandelson is a hated figure within sections of the Labour party and the media, who was forced to leave the Cabinet twice because of allegations of misuse of position although he was cleared of the latter and is reported to have been a very successful Trade Commissioner for Britain and for the European Community during the past four years. The argument of the Prime Minister is that at this important moment it is essential to have the best available people working together regardless of what has gone .., especially between them. No one was more surprised than Mandelson and most commentators regard the development as a stroke of desperation rather than of genius. However most also hope that it works such is the reality we now find ourselves in. So amen to that too.

Memoirs of an Invisible Man and Cello

Practicals, pleasures and politics does not quite sum up Thursday October 2nd, but nearly. The alarm did not go off but the inbuilt body clock ensured that I was up around 8.30 but it was still a rush to get myself ready to take the car for its annual service and MOT. Last year the bill was around £500 but this year it was less than half, although there is a list of things that could go wrong over the next year. I walked back in bright sun light but there was a chill air. There is no progress with the new supermarket, and the site has been cleared and partially made good but in such a way suggesting the contract was not completed. The opportunity was taken to buy two punets of grapes at the station on the way back. The credit card payment for the month was made after working out what one debit was for and sending an email to Spectrum internet regarding a double charge for the use when in Croydon in August.

Although it was chilly outside I decided that with the car being serviced I would sweep the floor of the garage and patio, attend to the plants and assess the need for additional spring bulbs given the increase in container space. On the way back from collecting the car I looked in at B and Q to see what was available including some autumn flowering plants but decided to return next Wednesday when a 10% discount will be available. I received two telephone calls regarding the car and then one from the GP Health centre to invite for the Winter flu jab next Tuesday at lunchtime.

For many decades I have been interested in the workings of the mind and the interaction between mind and body. The mind control all body functions as well as creating our awareness of the external world, and our inner life, from normal waking dreams to the hallucinations of disturbed minds, in some instance substance induced hallucinatory experience. This interest was aroused several times over the past few days, including in the morning. There was a radio interview with a researcher who argued that changing the sound of cooking and eating food affected our perception of the pleasures of the food. Apparently by altering the sound rather than the food we think we are enjoying some foods better and an example of this was crisps, although I although believe that the look, the packaging, and the feel are also involved.

This afternoon I watched a film called Cello and there was much cello playing to enjoy and in fairness I had read that it was a sinister frightener from Korea. Despite the language barrier it was genuine frightener with moments of horror and with a very effective twist at the end, which for once I do not reveal in this edition. The story is that of a music theory teacher who was a promising cellist before she married but no longer plays and who is confronted by a student who she failed and who now threatens to make her pay. What follows can be attributed to this student, or to the woman becoming increasingly disturbed and hallucinating, by a series of unrelated family tragedies and horrors, or by some something she did in the past. The film does not attempt to provide answers for specific events but makes the general point that what we do and in what we do not, lives with us for eternity, and that if we do bad or evil things and then run away from our action, refuse to take responsibility and face up to its social consequences, then such behaviour will affect our lives in appropriate proportion in other ways. While I have no direct experience and I appreciate there are conflicting views on such situations occur, I do believe that the human mind can create physical manifestations.

The previous day I watched the Memoirs of an Invisible Man, again, and found this concept film just as enjoyable as before. It has always been considered science fiction that someone could have a physical presence in an environment and not be seen by others in the same environment. Animals, fishes and insects have developed evolved natural coverings which help then merge into their environment in such a way that tot eh casual eye they are not recognised for what they are, and similar approaches have been used to disguise solders, and their weaponry, including craft on land, water and airspace. Why not then the human form?
I also saw part of an X files in which a combination of a chemical spay and subliminal messaging created violent, murderous and self destructive human behaviour.

I am not sure the explanation of the present financial chaos is that presented to the public by politicians a d in the media by financial and political commentators. If I was a fundamentalist who wanted to inflict my beliefs upon the world and regarded causing harm as well as death and destruction as means towards an end, then the use of the terrorist bomb is surely only one weapon, especially if I had access to unlimited funds. I would look go creating havoc and undermining confidence in those I wished to persuade or eliminate, and I would not need to signal my actions in any way. Destabilising financial systems and depressing economies is one obvious approach where the risk to ones warriors is limited, however similar to weapons of mass destruction, such an allegation and not be made unless there is the means to substantiate. I was alarmed by a couple of news reports recently which are open to different interpretations, It was alleged than Iran has been taking steps to further disguise its nuclear weapons programme and was also said to be undertaking tests which were the basis of an inter continental ballistics programme which if so has to be dealt with as strongly and effectively as possible for not to do so threatens the whole middle east and consequently the rest of the humanity. There was also a report that the UN Nuclear minority body were claiming they could not do the job required because of lack of funds to employ the required number of people and monitoring equipment. I would rather see spending a greater proportion of our defence budget in this way than in developing a new generation of nuclear weapons ourselves.

The subject of the Middle East, the security of Israel, the deployment of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan was one of the subjects in the Vice Presidential debate held at 2am British time and which I stayed up to watch, I was pleased that both candidates were aware that the future of Pakistan poses greatest threat to world peace and our safety from terrorist activity, and consequently fighting the enemy when they went to Iraq and back to Pakistan is preferable from having to conduct a war within Pakistan and its nuclear capability.

Senator Palin did better than I and most neutral commentators expected. It was important to view the whole debate rather than fifteen second sound bites selected by the media. Finding neutral commentators is also difficult especially within the USA as they jockey for position and favour after the election. The idea that Senator Palin could take over as President is ludicrous and it became more obvious than before that she had been chosen by the Republican would be President as a vote winner who will be sidelined if office is gained. The idea that one wants two let alone one maverick to hold one of the most important positions on the planet is even more ludicrous. Listening to the debate what stuck me was that the best of the four was Senator Joe Biden as a man of principles but who was also capable of getting things done within the present American political system. There are two things which voters should look for when making their choice at the ballot box. The first is proven record of good character. The second is the ability to get things done. Ideologies, policies, programmes and plans are irrelevant as what ever is said has to be modified because of changing circumstances and being part of a global financial system and economy. In Britain Labour's attack on Cameron is to argue that once a Thatcher Tory always a Thatcher Tory to which he has now replied Yep and I am proud of it what is your character and principles other then to try and cling to office. A charge which I though Prime Minister Brown answered with authority and conviction. Until now Cameron has also resisted the pressure to bring forth detailed policies, or make specific commitments. The reasoning for putting the pressure is obvious. The public are tired of Labour and do not like Prime Minister Brown and the slightest failure or difficulty is being blown up out of all proportion and in the absence of detailed programmes and election commitments the only thing which can be attacked is his and his party's character, which is always a two edge sword. Cameron has shown effective ruthlessness is ending the political careers of anyone who threatens the present image of his political party. He has also presented himself as a solid family man and is travelling the Queendom engaging as much with the floating voter and opposition as he is with the Party faithful. As a consequence he is tackling the charge that coming from a privileged background he cannot know what it is like to live without up. The problem for Brown is that Cameron does not apologise for his background and appears genuine in his efforts to engage in direct communication with those who have and continue to lead very different lives. The problem of Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is that by nature he is a conviction politician who wants to translate ideas into practice and worse still for him, but far better for the country, he is weary of taking decisions which change things without understating all the potential consequences as well as seeing the forecast of possible unintentional consequences. He is no good at communicating his ideas to Joe Public and looks as if he is manufacturing an manage when he tries to do this. It is the media after all that has created the media society and I thought the best Cameron swipe of the day was to point out that Britain is a country and not a media channel. In my view if politicians showed more contempt for the media and did less going on media training course, the public would have more respect for them and more contempt for the media who on the whole are politically gutless in that few have been willing to put themselves up for political office and put themselves and their families up for public and media scrutiny.

American Gangster

Today the British and USA political systems are on trial financial systems are on trial. Yesterday while the American political leaders awarded themselves a recess in which to try and re-establish their authority and integrity behind closed doors the British Conservative leader took a leaf out of the approach of the Republican party when concern over the potential impact of a second major hurricane upon the New Orleans forced them to change their Convention to formally elect their Presidential candidate by agreeing that his Shadow Chancellor should meet with the Chancellor, as was the Liberal Democrat Shadow spokesperson to try and reach a non partisan agreement about how to immediately proceed with the financial crisis and avoid it becoming a Party Political one. He made a short speech explaining the approach and then ordered those Ministers speaking to the rest of conference to amend their speech to take out any cheap jibes at the opposition and set about also adjusting his own keynote speech which he is to make this afternoon. He will seize the opportunity to convince the public that despite being a novice he is ready to become Prime Minister if given the opportunity. All three Political Leaders will return to the debate about how this present financial and consequential economic situation came about and attempt to hold those responsible to some form of account. Thus I do not expect the crisis to have major repercussions for the political system and structures in the UK.
This is not the situation in the USA where the perception of the USA general public is that its political as well as financial system requires fundamental change and many will not be bullied into accepting the chosen approach of their President and his administration because he is asking them to effectively deny that their God exists. One problem American politicians face is that they are continually being reminded in their popular entertainment that there are fundamental weaknesses in their judicial system and that many of their worst criminals get away with it or appear to get away with it time and time again.

I did not go to see Ridley Scott's American Gangster in theatre because I believed this was a film covering a well worn story, albeit with a twist in that an American Black Man had effectively outwitted and undercut the American Italian based Mafia in the distribution of heroine. However it seemed a good choice of film to view on DVD rather a Korean version. As soon as the film commenced I realised that I was aware if aspects of the true story which I subsequently researched further on the internet.

Frank Lucas was a murdering maniac who destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of Americans who effectively got away with it by turning in everyone in his organisation and those with whom he was associated. The investigation led to three quarters of N.Y.P.D special drugs investigation unit going to prison for soliciting and accepting money from criminals, perverting the course of justice. I do not know if their executives were also punished in some form for negligent management as these men ran around the City in expensive cars and suits behaving no defiantly from those they were supposed to be policing.

Frank appears to have rewritten his background but what is known is that during the Vietnam War he made his way to a Rest and Recreation Bar in Bangkok where he met up with Leslie Ike Atkinson who was a major supplier of heroin into the USA. He established his operation during or after service as an Army Sergeant paying $4000 dollars a kilo which he resold to distributors for $100000 dollars a kilo. He used USA army planes to transport the drugs in teak furniture. He was caught out by accident. In 1975 the shipments were being sent to elderly women in North Carolina to be picked up by the army claiming the package had been misdirected. However in one instance the woman first called the police thinking it was a bomb and discovering its contents were able to establish a case and a successful prosecution. In the way that such men operate within the prison system, using their wealth and connections to threaten and to bribe he continued with his operation. However this also came to light and all together he served 32 years in prison released in 2007. When I was in prison in the early 1960's in the UK, tobacco and money was brought in on a similar kind of route sent in within newspaper and periodicals mailed to former inmates in wrappers which looked as if they were posted from the publishers. The post was rarely opened by prison officers who used prisoners to prepare correspondence to be read before distribution.

In Britain there were controls on what convicted prisoners could received by way of food, cigarettes and other improvements to daily living although there were less restrictions for those on remand or who were civil offenders, mainly debtors with the latter being able for example to wear their own clothes. When I elected to wear my suit on the last days of the sentence one prison officer thought it was a great idea to move me from my work in the wing library where books were issued directly to prisoners, and where we checked each book to ensure it was not marked or contained notes and the like, to scrubbing the floor of the recreational area and wing entrance floor. I sued to save my six pence a week, nay have risen to nine pence or even a few pence more and only drew out money for proper toothpaste and the occasional choky bar. Some of my comrades bought tobacco to buy from within the system proper underpants than the curiosity which was a kind of nappy which was then the basic issue. They had also become vegetarians which entitled them to specially prepared food and to sit together at meals. I took a different approach and fitted into the system as just another prisoner, accepting the authority of the prison officers and doing my time as other prisoners, treating them as equals who had broken the law. As a consequence throughout the six months I was only picked on two prison officers who hated the idea that I was "normal" accepted that I had put myself into system but that I could chose to leave whenever I wanted. Even the one who made points whenever he could, such as finding me with the bed down and sitting on it during day time making me put into the required position, changed when I joined in a one day hunger strike to protest against the news someone was to be executed. The sentence was commuted. Several officers said they had forgotten I was one six disarmers, as we were collectively known, and asked about why I had done it and was still there. Certainly in the main wind of this prison I was not aware off anyone leading a quality of life different from the rest or having special privileges unless they were red band trustees. My understanding of the system in the USA is that there is a prisoner hierarchy and those with wealth and connections can have a good quality of life.

I mention this because what happened to Frank Lucas raises more questions than have been answered. Until he established his operation Black Men were expected to buy drugs from the Italian run Mafia for reselling within their residential ghettos, thus reducing their personal profits. Lucas cut them out and became something of a folk hero among drug users because he sold a better quality heroin and a significantly reduced price to his then local community. However as a consequence of greed and in order to appease the Sicilian and Irish mobsters who had bought the Special Drugs squad and therefore became the monopoly supplier to the fashionable city centre, and a as consequence mixed with the highest , primarily black society. At the time of his capture he had over $50 million dollars saved in Cayman Island and other off shore banks and a stock alleged to have been worth $300 million brought in because with the ending of the War, it was expected that that his transport system would also end, Part of his success was the lengths he went to present himself as an ordinary low profile businessman using his large family of brothers and relatives to run legitimate businesses which were the local supply centres. I addition to his saving investments he bought property throughout the USA with apartments in Miami and Los Angeles and an office block in Detroit and in North Carolina a ranch of several thousand acres. He was married and all together had seven children.

For his crimes Lucas only served 5 years in prison with his sentence of 70 years commuted to lifetime parole, he claims to have been successfully stripped of all his wealth and it is said he bought the reduced sentence by providing information which led to 100 drug related convictions.. He was subsequently charged fro attempting to exchange one ounce of heroin for$13000 and served seven users for this discharged in 1991 and subsequently creating a legitimate business for himself. After separation from his wife after she had also served five year and returned to her home country Puerto Rico where he has also bought property, they reconciled. The only daughter of the marriage runs an internet site for the children of incarcerated parents.

So what did Ridley Scott make of all this? It is very curious as he appears to paint Frank Lucas as ruthless but noble, omitting his womanising and parenting, a good son to his mother, going to church with her every Sunday and distributing help to the poor. He paints the corrupt NYPD task force as greater villains with no redeeming features, He also introduced things which are debatable claiming that it was Frank who did a deal with a Chinese nationalist leader for drugs and claims that the drugs were brought back in the coffins off soldiers killed in the Vietnam war for which there is no evidence.

Perhaps the oddest aspect of the film is the way he presents the lead police investigator Richie Roberts played by Russell Crowe. In Real life Roberts went to school and college in New Jersey and after service in the Marines joined the prosecutors office as a detective while studying for the Bar which involved night class five days a week for four years. After qualifying he was appointed Assistant Prosecutor and head of a narcotics strike force under the F.B.I. Contrary to what Ridley Scott made up to make the story entertaining he and his force knew from outset that Frank Lucas was the drug boss behind the flood of cheap heroine the streets. Contrary to the film which has the big bang ending raiding all the distribution centres and arresting Lucas after church on Sunday, the arrests were more systematic and over a period of time tackling each distribution points and those involved. Lucas was the last to be arrested and proving the case was a challenge especially as it became known that a contract had been put on the life of the Prosecutor. It was only after conviction that Lucas corroborated. After the conviction Roberts remain Assistant Prosecutor and became disillusioned he was passed over for the top job. He then changed sides so to speak joining a firm of former of state prosecutors as a defence attorney. He then established his own firm. It is fact that he acted for Frank Lucas when charged from his first prison sentence and that he agreed to become Godfather to one of his sons.

Ridley Scott counterpoints the noble side of Frank Lucas with Ritchie when his marriage was breaking up and he was fighting to have contact with his son. The film claims that his wide criticised for not being like other cops and on the take and for his life style which involved casual relationships with ladies of disrepute. The film seems to make the points that the dividing line between criminal and cop is a narrow one, a point which the average American may tends to accept more these days in terms of the behaviour of Wall Street and politicians on the Hill. Ritchie is said to defend his subsequent association with Lucas on the grounds that he became a changed and reformed character. The core of Christianity belief in atonement and redemption.

Mob Rule

This is the Day that members of the House of Representatives in the US failed their country and the rest of the world. They are now as much to blame for the outcome of the problems previously created on Wall Street, and before then by everyone who borrowed for the present beyond their means, hoping for a longer term improvement in their financial position to more than balance the books. It is possible to label them as true democrats for paying attention to the overwhelming views of their constituents. It is also possible to call them political cowards who failed to it act in the best interests of the constituents from fear of losing their own jobs in six week's time while putting in peril those of their constituents. Ford has announced a four day week in the UK

At first sight more of the blame can be laid upon Republican Members who failed to meet the commitment of their leadership that approximately half would vote in favour of the Bill. It is important to understand that the Leadership of both Parties, including the Presidential candidates agreed that whatever their personal political viewpoints and political position in the forthcoming national elections a Bill had to be agreed to steady the market and protect individual investors and savers, those with pension funds, those who had borrowed money for their homes. The argument is that if the lack of confidence remains, people we move out of holding shares in banks and other companies, into gold and other commodities, raising their prices with gold forecast to raise to $2000 dollars an ounce for example. This will make it more and more difficult for financial institutions Banks and Building Societies to loan money and in the UK mortgages fell by 95% last month. The consequence of this will be a loss of jobs and with the loss of jobs their will be an increasing failure of borrowers to repay loans. There will be less payment to government through taxes for services and increased pressure on socials security and other payments. The consequence of this is long term shrink economy, increasing unemployment, inability to improve and develop public services and greater dependence on financial and other benefits, and the implications of this is a rapid change in the relationship between Britain and other countries and increased dominance of China, resurgence of Russia, continued wealth accumulation of Arab Muslim countries and with only the Indian economy with whom we have relationships continuing to grow.

Many republicans are genuine in their belief that the success of American system is dependent upon the minimum of state intervention, It is also true that Wall Street, in the sense of the financial institutions contribute to political parties to gain protection from controlling legislation and inhibitors on the acquisition of personal and corporate wealth. It is one of less attractive aspects of the American Way of life that you can buy yourself into power and also buy yourself out of trouble. Republicans and Democrats alike were also responding to the feeling of the public that why should taxed be sued to bail out the fattest cats of them all outside of the mobland. As one Republican out it if a store on main street goes bust because of bad management decisions, they do not expect a government hand out, so why should the managers of the financial institutions.

The Democrats realised that they had everything to gain in the forthcoming elections if they put the blame for what had happened on the Republicans and therefore although they had a majority in the House they insisted on delivering only half. The record of the Democrats in relation to the failure of the big two Mortgage lending firms in the USA needs to be taken into consideration in relation to their defence of the bodies in the face of Republican criticism about the high risk way they were being run and the extent to which there were links between the firms and the funding of the Obama and Democratic campaign. No one is whiter than grey

This is what I think happened when it was evident early on that the vote could not be carried on Tuesday or if held over on Thursday when the House reassembled after two days without official business because of a Jewish religious event. The vote went ahead in the knowledge it would be lost and the markets would plunge around the world bring home the serious of the situation. This would give it for people to realise by opposing the package they would cut their own noses to save their face. The Democrats not only appeared to have made not last minute effort to persuade their 90 members from voting against, including several chairs of committee, but the Speaker, a Democratic nominee spoke just before the vote and instead of calling upon everyone to rally round in the national interest launched such an attack on the Republican administration that if I was a Republican in support of the measure I may well have changed my mind caught up in the emotion of such a blatant partisan speech. For Democrats to then to accuse the Republicans of having thin skin is hypocritical in what was an irresponsible speech from the Speaker unless it was planned as part of the deal to eventually sell the deal to her Democrats in the country that they had said where the blame was before bailing out the Republicans, in just the same way that the Republicans can show they voted against when first called upon and that they only voted differently when it was clear that not to do so would damage everyone and the future standing of the USA in the rest of the world

If a new measure is agreed early on Thursday morning there will be seen to be honour all round in biting the bullet and they can get on with slanging each other in the national elections. There is honour all round and this will bring the markets back up and restore confidence in the USA and around the world. However this will only help to prevent meltdown it will not resolve the problems which governments face with their economies. Financial assistance in terms of cash will need to be pumped into the system in order to make money available for new loans especially house buying loans. People will need to feel more confident about their ability to pay off loans and a reduction in interests will be required but without a turn to the borrowing more than you can afford to pay. One problem has been the amount of fund which were made available in the UK to buy property to rent out. Traditionally the policy would be able demonstrate that the income in would be greater than the interest being paid on the money but then with house prices rocketing the approach was to not to worry about income as any loss between payments going out and in would be offset by the increased value in the property. However this meant those borrowing in this way had to have the funds to meet any shortfalls when the property was not rented out or when expenditure on the property was required and to be confident of getting the money back when the sold and that the property could be sold. For this reason mortgage firms were offering loans of more than 100% sometimes as much as 125% where previously the lender would required an income of around 125% of the loan provide, the opposite situation that developed. Those lending the money were on bonuses for their business created on which greater profits were being booked although this as all illusory on the debts being repaid in full with the interest, and not defaulted.

Whatever the short term solutions adopted the crisis will impact on other aspects of government policy because the extent of tax payer's money being used in this this way will mean a limit on tax cutting and a limit on knew public expenditure. This will make it difficult for political parties on both sides of the Atlantic to offer tax cuts and new expenditure proposals as a means of winning over voters and taking power. This was the policy of Senator Obama who promises tax cuts for all and an effective national health service.

Here the Conservative party at its conference has been more cautious offering a freeze on local public taxes by saying that if local authorities limit their increases in budgets for two years to two and half percent they will meet the costs of this out of reductions in Government advertising and publicity budgets and by reducing the use of Management Consultants. Given that this situation is two years away the intention is to put pressure on the British Government to concentrate on keep new taxes down and achieving savings which do not impact on people in general in a damaging long turn way. This is a difficult balance to achieve because it is difficult to making government savings without having an effect on jobs and wages reduce dependency on management consultants and they will have to shed jobs to reflect the loss of business or accept reductions in profits and wages. Similarly cutting back on government sponsored building projects has its effects on the already depressed building industry. Watch this space
It was to have been a day of more than good intentions when I tackled my in tray but it was past midday and all I had done was to book in my 88000 mile travelled nine year old vehicle for its annual service and MOT. "I will send a cheque to the car insurance broker and sort out two queries on my credit card account of double payments before paying the bill and that will be enough for the day unless I find something as urgent. I have to do this before shaving and the rest and putting on a suit and finding my Durham cricket tie to attend the welcome home trophy presentation celebration the ground around 5pm which means setting off not later than 3.30 to get a parking place at the ground and opportunity see some old friends if I have any."

One reason for the inactivity is that I wanted to finish writing after watching the late night film Untouchable. I needed some games against the computer after getting up earlier than the body indicated in order to put the wheelie bun outside the back garage door for emptying alone with the environmental box of newspapers, cans and bottles. My inclination is to work on My Space sorting friends into categories, adding to match the same number as Blogs completed, finding out who has left either because of what I have said or their own reasons. This is slow because I get interested in the sites and their music and occasionally their writing. Requests to be added to Friend list of other is over 10 to 1 music and finding someone calling who inhabits the same dimensions is rare, but it happened to day and makes my day. Plus two others from this morning's examination there are three replacements to the provisional 101 list already. I wrote a cheque to my insurance broker and then hesitated sending.

I did this on learning that the nominated insurance company, one who I have been with for a number of years was part of the Belgium Banking House, Fortis had to be rescued by the French and Belgium governments. My car has done 88000 miles and it would be good to reach 101 thousand miles. I wonder how many miles I have motored since my first car as an eighteen year old, a Ford, then when I became a child care officer a Mini Estate and a Triumph Herald with an open top. Something like 40000 miles in those three years. Then a Vauxhall which was something of a disaster. Did the Datsun estate come before or after the Ford Transit? The pride in every sense was the gold executive what's you em call it vehicle with the air conditioning and what did I have before that? And what did I have after that and my present vehicle. I will have to create a list and other information as part of the project in in time.

Talking of 101 I came across a Friend who is a mental health counsellor who and 101 responses to a challenging Blog, which included her responses to the comments of others. I therefore decided to add comment 102 as follows. "

We are all clones of human beingness and everything is circular and connected. You cannot understand yourself or anyone else without first grasping the infinite nature of time and space. Hegel developed the concept of the dialectic where the juxtaposition of extremes produces the equilibrium through which each individual and the universe is able to evolve. The sub atomic particle smasher in Switzerland is a circular construction. No one is original or unique, in any meaningful sense, but repetitions, continuations and extensions and even creatives who sometimes make jumps which advance our knowledge and understanding or produce artistic perfection are themselves products of collective ancestry. Blessed are those who are able to heal the fractured mind and body."

I then set off for Durham having put on a suit and my Durham club tie. There was a reasonable number of spectators who had travelled from all over the county and I was pleased to se former Chairman Don Robson present with his family. There was a delay while Steve Harmison arrived and Captain dale Blenkenstein was relocated having been present and then disappeared. There were lots of media present and the golden trophy was put on display along with that awarded for the second team who also won their four day league competition. There was also a couple, three to be precise speeches, with one from the present Chairman and one from Geoff Cook in the form of an interview with reference to Don Robson who brought a prolonged round of applause followed by one from the captain who touched on the question of captaincy which suggested he was after a new contract. The event was a warm for the club dinner which was held in Newcastle, a Black tie affair at a major hotel where people could wine and dine and stay on overnight if they wished. It was a good end to the what had become a disappointing one having got so near to winning two other trophies.

Later in the evening I watch an awful film called Mob War released in 1989 in which a public relations man is hired against the advice of his wife and an investigative journalist friend by am ambitious Mobster. The problem is that Mobster is about to go it alone alienating the God Father and others and finds himself in the firing line, in part because of becoming high profile with TV interviews and public good works donations. The TV journalist is murdered when he causes too much trouble and the public relations man's wife is kidnapped to persuade him to continue working after he decided to pull try and pull out. This leads him to fighting for his own life and that of his wife and turning for help to Godfather and having to join the mob in gratitude. A sound warning for politicians and others who think they can benefit from Mob money without having to the price.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


A lazy kind of day digesting the previous week . It was the bright, not cold autumn day for a walk along the cost or into the countryside. I hated myself for not feeling up to it or wanting to. It is no good working hard at cutting out dairy products, increasing vegetables and oily fish, paying the higher cost for brown seed bread and the like and then overdoing the quantities and eating more meals a day because of working mentally 18 hour days with inadequate physical exercise.

For a brunch I enjoyed a chicken stir fry with a lemon sauce accompanied with a bottle Peroni beer and for the afternoon evening some sardines in tomato sauce on crackers, some soup and apple pie with custard, finishing off with a bowl of cornflakes and cold milk.

There was I fact only a matter of an hour between rising and deciding on the brunch while watching the first evening floodlit grand prix on a road circuit to rival that of Monaco. The event was declared by the media to be a great success although it was very very boring in that the cars were unable to overtake except for a couple of moments on each lap thus eliminating competition other than concentrating on avoiding hitting the sides of the track and the car malfunctioning. I learnt that the organisers are keen to arrange other similar events on traditional circuits. Louis Hamilton came third behind former team mate and rival the Spanish driver Alonzo, and in so doing increased his lead in the driver's championship as his nearest rival failed to register any points. With the forecasts that he could win two of the remaining three events the title could be his in only the second year of competing at this level.

In football Portsmouth recovered from their thrashing at Man City to beat Spurs 2.0 keeping them at the bottom below Newcastle and creating further problems for the future of their manager. The behaviour of the owner is almost as puzzling as Ashley at Newcastle. You sell your two best players, Berbatov and Keene for some £45 million and leave yourself insufficient time to find suitable replacements. The situation puts paid to their assistant coach Poyet coming to Newcastle as had been strongly rumoured. However Man City failed to repeat their magical performance of last week and lost 2.1 to Wigan in a frenetic match with considerable skill shown. The league has an odd look at the moment with Aston Villa third above Arsenal and Manchester United in Mid table and Spurs last. West Ham are fifth and Hull sixth. Alan Shearer denies that there has been any approach or suggestion that he will return to Newcastle in a Managerial capacity and other papers explain that although Kinnear is supposed to be in charged for only six matches he is banned from the touch line for three games because of an offence four years ago which makes his appointment even more ludicrous and someone is taking the proverbials with the customers. If there is no significant change confirmed by the end of October I forecast revolution in people staying away in their thousands having paid for their season tickets or not. The Newcastle folk are not as masochistic as that.

I quickly turned my attention to what the media had to say about the Durham winning the County Championship and was pleased that those writing about the development understood the significance, and gave appropriate recognition to all those who contributed to this development over the past sixteen years. This will help raise the finance to develop the ground into being able to hold major international events, weather permitting, Hopefully the development will also result in increasing support although the way the finances of the sport are presently structured the club can only balance the books through the revenue from international and the 20 20 format.

The main activity of the day was to search the My Space database for traditional jazz bands and artists, for historical literary and classical figure and classical composers. This was a slow process for two reasons. The music was all worth listening to, mostly familiar but of the kind that one can hear time and time again. I also experienced software problems.

There much playing of games the computer with having reached 90% wins at Spider Solitaire from the initial 75% and progressed Hearts to 42% from the low of 11% while good progress is being made at third level chess with overall 98 percents wins, five draws and one loss, achieved by consistently having winning runs of forty to fifty games.

Part of the ability to relax came from the news that agreement had been reached between the White House and Capital Hill over the terms of government intervention to prevent an economic meltdown along with total financial collapse. While one inclusion replicates what is happening in Britain to prevent the loss of homes another does not, at least at the moment, this is to limit the pay of some senior executives in the firms being rescued. This is a good development and I presume restricts the cap to those in post and responsible for what has happened but not to those who may be brought in to rebuild firms to function effectively and make appropriate profits thus limiting the longer term impact upon tax payers. Congress has rightly insisted on strict oversight. It is understood that both Presidential candidates are now in agreement with the proposed legislation. There is also to be a phased release of the money. It will be interesting to se how the markets react on Monday and if one negative side effect is an increase in the price of oil per barrel.

The day ended with a French film which had great significance to me. A Caucasian looking young French woman learns that her father was an Indian living in India (not the genuine American as opposed to the land grabbing ethnic cleansing murdering ancestors who stole the country and when they elect an a genuine Redskin President they really will have something to cheer about) and worse still from the viewpoint of sorting out her psyche he was regarded as an Untouchable, hence the title of the film, The untouchable. L'intouchable.

I had anticipated there would be no information on the internet except for the Elliot Ness films and TV series the Untouchables, but found two reviews as the film had been screened as part of the 2006 Venice film festival. I which had drawn a blank because one reviewer made the very point I had made at the time of viewing that it seems essential for any French film about a young woman to shed her clothes at very opportunity although in this instance it was immediately evident body doubles were being used. There was no justification or relevance for this or for much of the way the film was made, but I believe, because of my own experience, I understood what the film was trying to show. This was someone who discovered that their origins, their identity was very different from what they had been led to believe. In her case an Untouchable from the Indian Sub Continent and in my mine a dodgy member of the Catholic Hierarchy from Malta based in Gibraltar . She had somehow managed to overcome the basic insecurity, feeling of being an outsider, an illegitimate child, by becoming an actress and being will to engage in anything and everything to further her career, from having sex to flaunting her body on the screen. She goes to India in search of her father among 400 million as soon as she can get the money together and this second part of the film attempts to show something of contemporary Indian society although I was not sure what. She dresses up as an India girl, accompanies a gay stranger met at a hotel pool where she is not staying to visit his former friend who is has become a nun which is introduced to make the point about life choices and that solutions to the answered questions and issues of meaning and purpose and who has found her place in the universe by shutting herself away in a convent praying. For who she is asked, for everyone, she answers. Having satisfied something of her curiosity she return to France and her former way of life. It is possible she has seen her father according to one sources but given this opportunity she makes no attempt to establish one way or the other. It is a slight film of wasted opportunity and will only be of interest and significance for others the likes of me, unless seeing young French actress take off their clothes is your thing. For me I am left pondering what I should and should not do next.

The Assassination and the Assassination of Jessie James by Coard Robert Ford

It was perhaps unintentionally significant that the film watched over the past two days has the word assassination in its title, The Assassination of Jessie James by the Coward Robert Ford. Later in the day I watched the assassination of a football club, Not significant in terms of the damage caused by the speculations of the money lenders although the self destruction of uncontrolled market capitalism may be some compensation of all those lives ruined.

First the film . This is a long and at times incoherent , mostly boring film, based on historical material and artistic licence. Sometimes I find that I live in a different dimension to the critics who hated Mama Mia and adored this film.

I can understand that in prison and among the criminal fraternity there is a hierarchy where those who use physical violence are held in greater esteem than those who do not and that even among the prison officer population there are those who hold criminals in esteem and give them preferential treatment over others because of the violent power which some men hold over others. I can also understand why there is more interest, sometimes obsessive interest with those who become violent killers who are high born or come from educated and cultured backgrounds.

Jessie James was the son of financially successful Baptist Minister who was also a hemp farmer and who helped found the Liberty College of Liberty Missouri. He travelled to California during the Gold rush and died when Jesse was three years old laving his widow with an older son and a younger daughter. Jesse's mother back in Missouri remarried, twice, secondly to a doctor with whom she had four other children and she brought up all seven on the family estate which was assisted by six slaves which became seven for the tobacco crop produced on the farm. They lived in a area where there was strong division of opinion and open conflict over the question of racist slave owning and it is said that it was in the neighbouring Kansas territory that the greatest conflicts boiled up over the issue leading to the American Civil war. Hollywood has tended to divide its portrayal of these times between films about the conventional army forces who had some sense of discipline, codes of behaviour and respect for the enemy who were after all fellow Americans, and the militia who behaved a ruthlessly as any other such group in the history of the world murdering, with the pro slavers establishing a reputation for murdering Unionist sympathisers, including scalping the dead, while the Unionist militia's are said to have held summary executions and imposing banishment with both sides take properties, burnings and some raping. Frank James joined in on the side of the separatists and at one point Unionist torture their step father buy a partial hanging. Legend has it that this was turning point in the life of Jesse. Who is said to have joined the Quantril Raiders although there is no evidence that this was so. However it is correct that Jesse and older brother Frank did join in the civil war gangs, including one led by Bloody Bill Anderson and they were involved with the massacre of 22 unarmed Unionist troops one point, dismembering the dead. Jesse was also show in the chest at one point, The penalty for this horror was to be exiled from their home state.

The ending of the civil war left Missouri in shambles and three continuing opposed factions and interesting given the present impression that the Republicans are the conservative party of the right and the Democrats, the political party of the left, it was the pro slavery conservative Unionists who founded the Democratic party (Mr Obama to note) and the anti Slavery radical unionists who founded the Republicans and the secessionists. In Britain there is still a totalitarian right wing conservative force within the British Labour party and some trade union leaders, and a Liberal Libertarian force within the Conservative Party.

Jesse, still no more than a boy, bedridden with his chest was cared for by a first cousin as his mother had been exiled to Nebraska, and he married the young woman nine years later. The militia gang which Frank and Jesse had been members then set on various robberies which also involved killings but which were also sectarian and political motivated, situations which are all too familiar here in post world war Europe, including in recent times in Ireland and the Balkans. There is no evidence however that Jesse and James were involved. It was not until 1867 when Jesse was 22 that he and his brother became involved with a robbery and the killing of a man, the cashier who it was said they mistakenly believed had shot their original militia gang leader, Bloody Bill. Newspaper publicity resulted in Jesse quickly becoming the most famous of the former Guerrillas turned outlaw. I was fascinated to learn from the interview with John Le Carre, the other day that there is a code which means that former agents remain silent on the names and activities of former comrades who turn traitors or become common killers and robbers, and I continue assume that this is so for the CIA as well as Special Forces personnel on both sides of the Atlantic. Some state made killers live the rest of their lives quietly in guilt and regret, some continue what they have been trained but for their own interests and those of their families o just to settle old scores. Few I suspect can live ordinary, respectable lives as if their former lives never happened.

It was at this point after the first publicity that the James brothers joined up with the Youngers and after a series of successful robberies from Iowa to Texas and |Kansas to West Virginia, they turned to trains and it was with trains that they began to be popular because on the while they restricted their robberies to the train safe rather than robbing the passengers, although they did this now and again.
It was at this point that the feud commenced between the James and Youngers and the Pinkerton Detective agency. This led to the Pinkertons who were just as ruthless and lawless murders as the James Youngers to raiding the family home, murdering a half brother and blowing off the arm of the Frank and Jesse's mother. This changed public opinion and led to a Bill offering them boys amnesty being narrowly defeated in the state legislature. Jesse married and led a normal family life with one of his sons growing up to become a respected lawyer. Two years later there was a politically and sectarian motivated bank robbery at Northfield's Minnesota which led to the killing of everyone in the gang except Frank and Jesse although the extent to which the James brother participated in this robbery, if all is in question. Frank is said to have settled down in the Nashville area after they escaped but for Jesse settling down never appears to have been a option. During he day I also watched the Bonnie Parker story were it is alleged that her downfall came because the thrill, the fear, the get away with it became an addiction and she could not stop and this resulted in an informant alerting the authorities and an ambush and to her death.

The film, the Assassination, concentrates on this period in the life of Jesse when he recruited new gang members who did not have the experience or the trust as former guerrillas, so he became suspicious, introverted and cautious. If you enjoy a couple of hours watching his and nothing much else then this is the film for you.. The film lasts in total two hours and fort minutes. It ends as he takes in the two Ford brothers into his home so he can keep an eye on them, and on a hot day removes his guns leaving one who as done a financial deal with the state governor to shoot him in the back of the head. The brothers were charged and convicted of murder but given a pardon. The general; belief is that the Governor knew they would kill rather than capture. They and law enforcement officers involved received the bounty and the killer brothers fled with their loot to Missouri. One of the brothers committed suicide and the other was himself shot and the killer sentenced to death and then had the sentence commuted. The mother of Jesse and the following inscription placed on he tomb. In loving memory of my beloved son Murdered by the traitor and Coward whose name is not worthy to appear here.

After the death it was rumoured that the he had not died and the killing of someone else was an elaborate state plot. Such were the continuing rumours that in 1995 the body was exhumed fro DNA tests which were reported to be consistent with those other members of his family. His wife died in poverty

Films were made in 1921(2) ,1927, 1939 (2) 1941, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1957, 1966, 1969, 1972, 1980,, 1986,, 1994, 1999,, 2001., 2005 (2), 2007. There have been TV films and references, books and music which have helped create the legend.

There was a different kind of association later in the evening

19.00 Sky show the Newcastle Tottenham Carling cup game. Will the focus be the game, the size of the crowd, protests, the manager? Can it get any worse? And what of Tottenham with Jonathan Wood gate. John Beresford played some 200 games under Kevin Keegan. Latest rumour is Terry Venerable as temporary manager to steady the club until everything is sorted out.

19.05 Having had four anchovies halves on plain crackers with a glass of wine, a some pasta with cheese sauce I eat farmed sea bass which sounds a contradiction.

19.15 The programme presenter Simon Bates reads our sad human interest stories in agony aunt format and Sky borrowed him this evening to tell the recently Newcastle story

19.25 a small apple pie and a mince and custard end the meal with coffee to follow at the interval is a subdued and sombre and desolate St James Park about a third full I would guess.

20.30 It is a boring game with few opportunities given to either side to score. John Beresford says her expects to comment on game goals and excitement but there is nothing the pace of the game is unbelievable slow as if being played in slow motion, such is the fear and lack of confidence among the players of both teams. Never experienced a ground that in such eerily silent.

20.30-21.30 Newcastle had one good and one commendable attempt to score a goal before Spurs score first and then again after an atrocious defending mistake and woe piles up upon woe. It was a very sad night. It could be argued that the owner, Managing Director and Director of Football will go down as the assassins of the club unless there is a dramatic change in fortunes.

I then watched a disgraceful exchange on Newsnight with Jeremy I can play the bastard Paxman. It is evident to anyone with half a brain that that the Republican candidate was playing a political game in suggesting that the role of both Presidential candidate should be to mix it back on the Hill appearing to sort out the national financial crisis rather than hold a TV debate on the issues before the electorate on their governor ship. The Republican face an uphill battle to convince the hard core of their supporters that adopting socialist anti free market measures is the only way to prevent the whole system collapsing and western capitalist democracies and their allies being propelled into a financial and stock market collapse worse than 1929. While the Democrats are in favour in principle they want strings, especially to punish those responsible.. Obama's agent was asked why he had refused to stop campaigning and cancel the debate returning to work as a Senator. He pointed out that as President elect he was keeping in close contact with his political colleagues to ensure the nation was saved and the maximum political advantage was obtained. It was evident to those with the other half of the rest of the brain that the Republicans were in a panic given the polls and the decision they were forced to take and wanted a halt to the election campaign in order to try and salvage something of their position. Paxman and his editorial staff appeared to be pro Republican and ant Obama by the stance they took thus making fools of themselves and destroying whatever credibility this bankrupt format and personality still clings. The same applied to the Politics show, the Tonight Programme and other media analysts and commentators as they desperately tried to undermine the great speech and conference management of the Prime Minister, Who leaked that the Transport Minister and former Education Secretary was leaving in the reshuffle so she could start to give time to her children and husband after 15 years in politics and nearly a decade in government. Why she did not take the opportunity of going with Tony Blair and goes now or at the next election is extraordinary and no amount of spin will; convince that there is more to it than anyone in Government is saying. It just shows the gulf between the world in which the politicians and top civil servants, international finance and business operators now live and the rest of us has widened beyond bridging. It is no different to that which has developed between football supporters and their club owners and managements. The lesson which I hope the supporters at Newcastle have sent out lighting a torch which others will take into eve very aspect of life, is that if you are going to continue to treat us as you have, then even if we cannot reverse we will bring you down with us and make you pay for the rest of your lives. The assassination of people's hopes and dreams can have as lasting consequence as the assassination of a life. When politicians understand that they begin to have a chance and realise that clever speeches, expresses of regret, admittance of mistakes is only the beginning and the period of probation and community service will need to be long before there is forgiveness and redemption.