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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Martin Clunes

Have any of you noticed what a sublime actor Martin Clunes is? Yes, he of Doc Martin and if you are old enough, of Men Behaving Badly. Apart from many other fine roles, he directed and starred in Staggered and appeared in Shakespeare In Love.
Did you know his cousin was the late actor, Jeremy Brett who portrayed Sherlock Holmes in the long running ITV show The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes? In 2002 he playfully played serial killer John George Haigh in A Is for Acid, but as far as I am concerned it is his performance in ITV's production of Goodbye Mr Chips made in 2002 which sets him apart as an actor of supreme skill.
I had always been a fan of the films of the novel by James Hilton and one of my favourites is the 1969 musical version with Peter O'Toole (which many critics hated!) But Martin's portrayal of Mr Chips borders on the genius I believe. Don't believe me? Look at what his eyes are doing when he receives the worst news of his life. Outstanding. Never before was I so drawn into a character's sadness.
We look at Martin and think we see a comedy actor but I believe he is far more than that. Look out for him in the future.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Bad Blogger

Well, this proves my point. The fact that you are now able to read this. Because as I typed, when I looked at the screen, my words were in hindi!!!! And I couldn't change it to English either. That wasted ten minutes of my life, farting about in settings, clicking here and there until I accidentally discovered what had happened. But as to why, today, the damn program decided on on its own to change into a different language I still have no idea.
Anyway, as to prove my point, I hate Blogger. For the last twenty four hours, I have been attempting to place a counter on here so I can see how many visitors I get. One would thing, given the vast complexity of the damn program with its array of different settings and adjustments that one can make, that the creators would have incorporated something like that. But no! That would be too easy wouldn't it?
Why so complicated? I do suspect its a 'filling up" exercise. Pack it out with fluff; insubstantial nonsense to make it feel as if the end user is getting their money's worth. (Except here, mysteriously, its free) Its a blog site for Heaven's sake. A simple place where one's thoughts are laid bare. Why give us the option of different type fonts, sizes and colours?
I've been around a few years. And I so I know a few things. I know the meaning of life for instance. Why we are here. I also know who I am (and therefore, who you are) Now I could write a book about that. I could make it, say, 100,000 words in length. I too could pack it out with fluff and history and opinions but I could also tell you in just half a dozen words. Which is why I haven't written the book. How can I justify asking people to part with £15 of their hard earned when the essence can be given in a sentence? There are quite a few authors out there doing just this and I find them deplorable. People might spent £10 on a book about losing weight and the truth is, to lose weight we must eat less and move more. Thank you, that'll be £10 please. What's to learn?
I know I'll never be rich. But I sleep extremely well at night. And I still don't have a counter. Can you see one? No, nor can I.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Martina Cole's new book, Faces

I know, I know, I know! I did promise that this post would be positive but I'm not in control of this stuff! :-) Anyway, it could be construed as positive...in a sense...to someone. Perhaps on Mars.
So I saw an advert on the side of a bus yesterday which surprised me somewhat, and then, giving it some thought, this feeling morphed into indignation. (At my age, it doesn't take much for this process to occur)
The advert in question was for Martina Cole's new book, Faces. Not a problem there one might think, except that her publisher, Headline Book Publishing (and we must remember that the lady has published over twelve best sellers) has felt the need to entice readers by using the ploy of downloading the first chapter free to your phone. Is there something 'tacky and tasteless' about this? This is a well established and renowned author. I think people should queue for the privilege of reading her work. Are her publishers so afraid of losing profits that they feel they have to set themselves on this course?
I know what you are thinking. So what if they are? They are just taking advantage of the new media and of new forms of promotion. Its just sour grapes on my part isn't it? Well, there's a 5% truth in that. However, I guess I am overly concerned with the quiddity of writing and with the the non-prostitution of myself. For what I write is not just words, marks on a paper, but an altogether complete expression of who and what I am. And I believe that that essence should not be given away lightly and especially for free. I am worth more than free. And so is Martina Cole.
We know things are getting tough in the publishing world. Oh my God! There are events taking place globally that are changing everything. Recently, I read of a fellow author who has had six books published and his seventh was rejected. There appears to be little stability under this current climate of financial fear.
Sometimes, I feel as if I am selling myself too easily and I feel a little sick rise up into my mouth. And at times like that, I feel like taking myself off-line and becoming what nature has intended me to become all my life; a proper penniless writer. All I need is a garret. Can't afford one though.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

SIMON & SCHUSTER

Suzanne Baboneau and Julie Wright. Remember those names. So, let talk about rudeness. Today, I've recently returned from a shopping trip which took me into the heart of the city of London. Its been some years since I undertook anything similar and although I expected my experience to be, perhaps, a little on the stressful side, nothing had prepared me for how rude Londoners had become.
I won't offer any examples but if you can imagine the common and unsettling things people do to other people when they are in a state of unconditional selfishness, then you will have hit the mark. At times I was left open-mouthed. What hideous people (and if your work in any large city you are probably one of them) Everyone was rushing about as if they had just five minutes of life left to them. Astonishing. You will all be dead soon from heart disease.
What else? Oh yes, waiting for me when arrived home was a letter, the contents of which basically floored me. For in all the years I have been sending material to publishers and agents, and receiving the usual silliness by return of post (sometimes months later) I have never open up a returned letter to find what was inside this one.
You see, a few days ago, I had sent out 70 letters to see if anyone would be interested in my latest work and, (of course) placed an SAE in each one. So when I noticed a letter from SIMON & SCHUSTER had arrived and that being one of the companies I had written to, I was fairly sure it was going to be a common rejection, complete with the normal inane platitudes that they feel they have to bulk the letter out with. As if they care a jot about me or any other writer.
However, not this time! For inside was my...SAE...folded up. I looked of course for any accompany letter and there was none. Nothing. Some rude and hate-filled person had spent 34p (of their employers money) and wasted an envelope to return my second class SAE! There was not even a rejection note. Get your head around that! How unprofessional. And how just plain awful to be in that person's head! Can you imagine being married to him or her or even just going out with them? Ugh! And what a poor reflection on SIMON & SCHUSTER if that is the type of person that works for them.
I do remember sending off three letters to Africa House, Kingsway, to three imprints registered under their umbrella name but I have no way of knowing if it was Suzanne Baboneau or Julie Wright or the Devil with the upright handwriting. I'll probably do the simple maths if and when the other two return my SAE's. I think I'll keep the envelope.
Something positive next time. I promise!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Lets go for mentioning something today which should, depending on your sensitivity, send you quite mad for up to three days if you really understand what I am about...or not at all! Now, imagine I am a secret agent. Here I am, Miss Molly Bond! And I have been given the task of preventing an hydrogen bomb from exploding.
There I am, sitting next to it, my face perhaps nine inches away from the control panel as the clock counts down. Three, two, one...Boom! Except there would be no boom. Not for me anyway. Why is that?
Now when one of these explodes, it reaches an internal temperature of 400,000,000°C!!! Which, as that's just plainly impossible to visualise or experience, here is a guide. Think of temperature as length. And take one centigrade to be the equivalent of 1 millimetre. So a lovely day in the Mediterranean, 40 C would be the equivalent of half the length of your thumb. The hottest flame we can make is about 3300 C which works out to nearly 11 feet. Therefore the temperature of an exploding hydrogen bomb reaches out to 248 miles!!! Get your head around that!
But anyway... Why will there be no boom for me? Because the expanding fireball produced (about 180 miles a second!!) will be of such tremendous velocity that by the time I've noticed that something strange is happening with the control panel, the fireball (of some millions of degrees) is already some 200 feet past me! And completely evaporated me of course. Almost totally instantaneously. So I'm not going to notice anything. Not a bad way to go actually. One moment I am sitting there with my screwdriver poking away at the control panel and then

Monday, June 02, 2008

Our dear friends, the animals.

Ok, I'd like to try and keep this summery of my thoughts somewhat on the positive side. However, at my age (and we are supposed to become a bit grumpy as we reach a certain age aren't we?) it might prove to be a little difficult! So, I'm going to do my best by alternating a positive blog with a negative. If I do feel the impulse to put one in!
And today is lucky expression day! The licensing of carted deer hunting and hare coursing. In the 15th century, the people of England thought it was quite normal to chain bears to a wooden post and set large fighting dogs against it until it bled to death. Besides asserting that the meat tasted better, it was considered entertainment. However, despite the hundreds of years which have passed, this very same unimaginative and singularly barbaric mental altitude exists in the same form the way some people view fishing and horse-racing today. Some may comment that it is not the same but where it counts, where it originates, in our minds, it is the same. Disrespect and disregard, cruelty and bloodthirstiness originate from the same place.
Some may squirm and writhe at this accusation, this suggestion; this association of events and topics but a death for amusement is a death for amusement is a death for amusement. How you take what is being offered here depends, of course, upon your personality, your point of view, your humanity and the level of respect you show for all life. Not just human life but life of any kind.
When the Conservative government under Benjamin Disraeli took it upon itself to deny the greater public access to public executions in May 1869, a great sense of ill feeling and resentment was generated. Partly, no doubt for the revenue the, 'hanging days' generated (because of the sensational amount of crowds generated) but the need to satisfy an ancient bloodlust was, we can have no doubt about it, also a mighty factor.
However, how many today clamour for the, 'good old days' when up to 20,000 people could witness, even children gasping for their last breath as they pointlessly struggled and fought to live whilst tied and blindfolded? Very few I would imagine. At least here in the UK.
The youngest children ever hung in Britain were Michael Hammond and his sister, Ann, whose ages were given as seven and eleven respectively. They were hanged at Kings Lynn on 28 September 1708 for theft.
The corruptible mentality continues today of course bolstered up by reality shows where crowds abuse solitary 'victims' but the desire for real bloodshed is not entirely diminished. There are companies and individuals, perhaps altogether acting irresponsibly and most probably illegally, who make a crust selling films of death scenes. Beheadings, shootings and hangings appeal to the barbaric just as much today as they have in the past. When a certain African government recently advertised for an executioner, over 200 people applied, some from the UK and some were women. Naturally, whatever is good enough for men is certainly good enough for animals. Cockfighting in Cumberland is still known to exist. (2006)
But I am no 'creature cuddlier' I derive no emotional fulfillment in the friendship or companionship of animals of any description. However, everything lives at the expense of other creatures. In Chief Seattle's words: "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts soon happens to man. All things are connected"
Even our own decay is brought about by other organisms. We must be honest. Our race is still immature. Intellectually, we sit atop of an irrepressible, evolutionary, dynamic pyramid of life. All competing for the next meal, it is only right and proper that the most specialised succeed and develop. There is a Zen to the process and of course there is no doubt that human beings, with our intelligence and advanced sense of self consciousness, are more than equipped to succeed than any other animal. Social or solitary.
However, we will not arrive to where we are supposed to go in evolutionary terms unless we give up our past. And here we immediately arrive at an impasse for how can we rise above our animal ancestry while we still need them? I believe that is a good question.
What has this to do with the licensing of carted deer hunting and hare coursing? The answer to that is within yourself.