Praise has been received for ‘Love In Trieste.’ Naturally I will not let this alter my lifestyle of lolling about in the Mediterranean. However, praise is something to face up to and accept, rather than run away and cower from. And I believe I am quite capable of receiving more praise without it having a negative effect on my character. But to clarify, ‘Love In Trieste’ is loosely based on Debussy, though the fictional composer in the story is not Debussy. After all this is fiction, not a documentary. Also, I have never been to Trieste, though I used to know someone called Jon King, who did his National Service with BETFOR, (British Empire Trieste Force) in 1949-50 defending Trieste from the Communist hordes. He told me that if Tito’s armies had ever launched an attack, his small force would, in technical terms, have ‘run.’ Anyway Jon said it was a good depiction of Trieste and so I’ve always left it as that. I hope these bits of information won’t spoil your enjoyment of the for now ‘free’ story, but as Spike Milligan’s dad said to Spike Milligan after waking him up at 3 a.m. to say, ‘I’ve never shot a tiger.’ To which Spike asked, ‘But why do you have to tell me? then said ‘I’ve got to tell someone.’
Calling all followers. Calling any followers. This is the start of what I hope will be a monthly blog. It’s an age where no one writes letters anymore. Considered commentary seems to be missing in a world of facebook and tweeting, those arenas so easily occupied by both the willfully ignorant and the nasty piece of work. So I have decided to talk as if I am addressing a Public Meeting.
We all know where our collective attitudes have got us over the last twelve months – staring down both barrels. The idea therefore is to simply express my own thoughtful opinion on things I think worth pointing out.
Things have now gone so wrong in civil society it is possible to imagine the crisis of the Roman Republic 2100 years ago, when it had stopped coming up with the answers and the pressure was on to adopt a dictatorship model. And today Representative Democracy seems to have reached a similar position. Low quality professional politicians often with their hands in the till and skewwhiff attitudes watch as their bored and disappointed base of support contracts. This is how it must have been in early 30’s Germany. The environment Hitler exploited. You can imagine how bad the so called Social Democrat position was back then because the same calibre of people are around today, sheltering in the traditional ‘identical’ parties of both left, right and centre. And on that cheery note I hope to be back with you in December.
I have begun to help crowd fund things I’m interested in. Reflecting my income I have set aside 200 Euros a year to fund in a small way things that come to my attention. It’s no more systematic than that, but boy does it give me a sense of making a difference. What catches my attention is saving significant buildings from terrible property developers, supporting arts events in an England, where being a philistine is all the rage in a country where such a sentiment has never gone out of fashion, and Wikipedia, or anything that distributes things which give people better opportunities outside of a commercial environment. I was particularly impressed with the crowd funding of projects Cat ads. where all adverts in a London Underground station were replaced by pictures of cats. In this way I can see how I’m operating differently and getting meaningfully involved in things people I don’t like are silent about.
On a more personal note given my technical limitations,(I was one of the last people not to have computers at school.) I continue to miss the publishing middleman out through my own organisation, or me and my organisation as I like to call it. It’s all part of my small attempt to help bring down the baleful influence of the mainstream and its increasingly negative effects both on information and creativity. I am glad to say it seems to be a mainstream which is getting smaller and smaller.
It’s a new era all-right, where things are different. Now if we could only sideline the increasing amount of people who are deliberately ignorant, and proud of the fact everything would be fine.
I am concentrating on getting more people to read my work, yet I am increasingly involved in the wider world as well. Such as making things like owning guns designed solely to kill people within civil society, making the creation of new forms of slavery through indentured labour, and inciting hatred illegal. Coincidentally these are all policies supported by world-wide right-wing Conservative parties.
I’ve become energized just as the forces for evil are gathering in force. I hope you are energized too.
Goodbye then Wagland, (the union of England and Wales) The EU cannot say it’s been nice knowing you. These are interesting post Referendum times, but I am glad I am not living on the inside of the experiment, having made my decision to live in Catalonia, Spain in 2010. The Referendum campaign was certainly unpleasant , never mind the result. Let’s hope the racist fringe remains only a fringe. At least the boys and girls in blue look like they are clobbering its abusive outbursts. What do I think now might eventually happen? Something like this perhaps? Scotland and Northern Ireland will remain in the EU, England and Wales will leave and the United Kingdom will be loosely kept together. There is an example of this that can be already pointed to. Denmark is both inside and outside the European Union. Denmark is inside and the autonomous Region of Greenland, (still a constituent part of Denmark) is outside. Plus neither of them use the Euro. It’s a solution I think might be worth putting an outside bet on.
Swallows return March 23 – Yeah. I have started in a country diary style so I will continue. Lush Places – ‘Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole,’ that kind of thing. But when you are on the terrace in sunglasses, Fenland is left far behind. Instead to the east the wooded ‘Gavarres,’ the height of Ilkley Moor and Beamsley Beacon, stretch down to the Mediterranean 25 Kilometres away. To the west, there is a larger Lake District without the lakes, except for the ‘Estany de Banyoles’ where the rowing events for the Barcelona Olympics were held. And to the north,50 Kilometres away, are 3000 metre mountains under new snow. This is not to forget the need for social justice and equality of opportunity. To defend it where it is under threat, which is most places, and to resuscitate it where it has been made gravely ill, by too much free market, more money to the already rich, multi national medicine, such as say the place where another referendum on the wrong subject is to be held. But today the swallows have returned.
Many people are moving away from the larger television news channels – they now piece together their news from various sources, things they are interested in. If people make a list of where they go to for information it has a spread impossible twenty years ago. Personally I like pure news reporting from agencies such as Reuters which report events rather than has a dulling ‘take’ on them. An interest in Middle east events means I visit Al Jazeera etc. But even these sources are not so important compared to the information coming from friends and acquaintances through media such as Facebook. What are multinationals up to that is against the public interest? apart from virtually everything of course. Is there a petition to sign on an issue that should be debated in parliament? all this comes through such media. Now it seems we are all the media and an intermediary is no longer necessary. An ‘impartial’ intermediary is seen as not so impartial anymore, especially when they seem increasingly lazy mouthpieces where a set process has blunted any investigative elan, cover up being easier than investigation. Naturally this is no reason to hand over such organisations to the usual suspects, then they really wouldn’t be impartial. So let’s all of us keep on being the media in our own small way and a new balance will be achieved made up of healthy developments and no doubt some not so healthy ones.
One of my interests is classical music, for instance this week I have mainly been listening to the symphonies of Boccherini. I can now spell Boccherini.
Anyway last Saturday the 14th of November I went to see the Terry Gilliam production of Hector Berlioz’ opera Benvenuto Cellini at the Liceu in Barcelona. I now know how to pronounce Hector Berlioz. The H isn’t pronounced and the Z is.
The two and three quarter hour Opera with one interval was brilliant. Terry Gilliam talking about the Opera on youtube said Berlioz made three versions of this Opera and none of them worked, then laughed. Dramatically some of it could have been written by my mum. ‘It was a miracle I escaped,’ stuff. But as we know dramatically this Opera doesn´t work and musically it is phenomenal. Terry keeps to the music.
At the end of the first half nothing happens plot wise for half an hour, but musically there are four finales following on one after the other. Terry throws everything at the audience in a visual spectacular, so at the end of the act the audience in a semi stunned state find themselves at the end of the act. Start big and stay big like a Mussolini speech is the way to get people from A to B in Benvenuto Cellini.
The two production highlights for me? It’s the best entrance by a Pope I’ve seen all year. And a large golden head follows us around until the final casting of the sculpture when it disappears and is replaced by a giant pair of legs and a cock to scale which vertically fill the stage. (The legs, not the cock). A visual surprise right at the end.
Some might say there was nothing different in Gilliam’s approach of excess as a discipline. The man is 75. We don’t want different things from him we just want more of them.
Faced with putting a play on in Girona I had the problem of finding two English speakers to read through the text dramatically for 18th June 2015. So using my extensive network of people in the know I ended up doing it myself, and my world stage debut was set for two months time with Duncan Stewart, the well known computer programmer originally from Thames Ditton playing opposite me. The Catalan version of ‘A Game Of Two Halves’being already secure with Ramon Pujol and Alba Cabrera playing the parts. Duncan and I get on, but would we get on 3 times a week for 2 hours at a time reading through the text? I am pleased to say the answer was yes and on the night we gave our best performance, reminding me of the Roman adage, ‘make drill like battle and battle will become drill.’ Am I going to become an actor? No. I have got to a stage in life where youthful enthusiasm is easily sidestepped, but I know if I have to I can.
I have begun to collect up the first thoughts of a new language called Catalan English. This means recognisable English used in Catalan but that doesn´t exist in the original version. I don´t mean Catalish, which is a mangle of two languages, but words used generally in Catalan speech to mean precise things.
Firstly campings and parkings, which show up the peculiar nature of English where the collective implies the singular, or does it? Anyway the Catalans improve on the English by putting an s on the end of both and making them plural for when they mean a number of parking or camping spaces. It seems a reasonable adaptation to make.
Footing, which means jogging or running slowly, as a Catalan explained what footing was to me.
Balconing; to travel from one balcony to another. This is usually done by young drunk Danes, Dutch and Scots on the coast in places like Lloret de Mar, except that three or four times a season it does not mean travelling from one balcony to another, but travelling from one balcony to the floor Darwin award style.
Finally Kit Kat, which means to have a break, as in the advert, “Have a break, have a Kit Kat.” Somehow the tag line of the advert has become an expression for to take a break.
I don´t know how many of these words are needed before you have a different linguistic species, but from now on I will be looking out for further signs of evolution.
I have now completed a year in Catalonia. It’s my second attempt to stay put here in Girona, the first one being interrupted after eighteen months. I’m now laughing more but still not in all the right places, but it was important for me to find the right place to get stuck in, and with Girona I think I have found it. Incarceration in first London, and then Peterborough was certainly not the answer. Now I am gradually filling the diary with things I actually want to do – seeing Siegfried at the Lyceu in Barcelona on Wednesday and dinner at an excellent restaurant called Viart in Platja d’Aro at the weekend.
Somewhere over the horizon the U.K. still threatens, and I will always be from Bradford, (the formative eighteen years have provided me with a range of burdens and handicaps I am unreasonably proud of,) but apart from the glacial bowl I no longer think any of it really exists.
For the moment my Catalan is just at the right level to not understand when people are complaining, and I’m sure it will stay like that for some time to come. On the other hand I have never been more social and actually feel of some use and value to the community I’m in, and I have finally managed to get ‘Stooge,’ onto my CV as I am the customer in English role plays at the Escola Hosteleria – the restaurant and hotel school here in Girona. ‘Waiter, waiter, there’s a fly in my soup. Don’t shout out everyone will want one.’