MOUSSAKA AND OTHER ANIMALS?

NINE MONTHS LATER…

Some people think it necessary to dump a blog onto the Internet every day. Not the author of this web site. We’ve got it down to a fine art of once every nine months.

Most extraordinary but no TV company has taken up my previous suggestion of launching a reality TV showwhere sub primal bankers, hedge fund managers, Berlusconi and Madoff & Co are given a multiple dunking in a slimy Russian lake on a pay to view broadcast basis every Sunday night after the Antiques Road Show.

THE SANTA MONICA SUICIDE CLUB is in its final few months of gestation and looking good on the ultra scan. It’s going to be a boy but one with a girl’s name. No more information until February 2010.

It’s never a good idea to read too much when writing a novel but here are three books I would recommend:

RAYMOND CHANDLER – A BIOGRAPHY by Tom Hiney.

Fascinating to read about Chandler’s early life, his subsequent battles with alcohol, and devoted obsessive love for his wife Cissy. And that his first novel, The Big Sleep was not published until he was 51. Also that he attended Dulwich College, the same school as the great PG Wodehouse

THE LADY IN THE LAKE –by Raymond Chandler.

Muscular, tough and often funny story that takes you in into the fictional world of Bay City (Santa Monica) and Gray Lake (Silverlake). The book provides a great peepshow into a 1930’s unsentimental world of a private detective, bad cops, secretaries wearing nylons, men wearing hats, uppers and downers, loneliness, violence and despair.

Did anyone find out whether Chandler and Wodehouse had the same English teacher at Dulwich College?

CHILD 44 – by Tom Rob Smith

A serious thriller set in Stalin’s Russia. Partly based on a true story this is beautifully written novel is disturbingly compulsive and something to keep you up all night. Makes one think about what Russian people have had to endure over the last eighty years.

FILMS

Three recent films I would strongly recommend are:

  • FISH TANK- directed by ANDREA ARNOLD
  • SIN NOMBRE- directed by GARY FUKUNAGA
  • MID AUGUST LUNCH- directed by GIANNI DI GREGORIO

All three films are beautifully made and are totally different from the others. One set in Essex, England, one in Mexico and one in Rome.  See them on DVD, if they are not at your local cinema but please see them. Should any one of these directors feel inclined to direct TAKING LEAVE… we of nine monthly updated web sites would be honoured and delighted.

HBO EUROPE

An appeal to the owners of Home Box Office Inc to create a European based broadcasting network.  To fund, make and broadcast film and television material in Europe.  Run the network on a subscription basis where viewers could see new movies and television drama no longer being made by British broadcasters. A channel that could show movies from all over the world, uncut versions of films such as Revolutionary Roadand US TV shows such as Weeds and John Adams.
Begin it now, please.

FRIENDS OF ECCO

Grave news (well, nearly.). Plans for the greatest state funeral since that of Queen Boadicea were nearly set in motion recently.

To summarise, having breakfasted on minced quail and Weetabix, Ecco was chauffeur driven to Cattersea Park for her morning constitutional. As per tradition, once inside, 99% of other dogs and their human owners bowed, nodded or curtseyed as she trotted past. The sun was shining, the air full of resplendent dog smells, another perfect dog day morning… until suddenly… a slobbering white Staffordshire Bull Terrier shot out from beneath a park bench, pinned Ecco to the ground and sank its teeth into her neck and wouldn’t let go. Blood, fur, yelps, and barking accompanied by Mrs Thomas’s screaming replaced the tranquillity of Cattersea Park. The owner of the Staff tried to pull his dog away from Ecco, so did a distraught Mrs Thomas, other brave souls tried, but still the bull terrier’s teeth sunk even deeper into Ecco’s neck, blood now spurting like a children’s playground fountain. A swat team in a helicopter arrived overhead, a man shouted through megaphones but the Staff remained firm in its wish to terminate Ecco. Something had to be done, before it was too late! Just then a ghostly figure of a large black cat ambled up to the psycho dog and sank both sets of front claws into the dog’s nether regions. The effect was instantaneous. The dog yelped a high pitch scream, released Ecco from its jaws and charged off at high speed after the athletic cat…

Ecco was air lifted to a private clinic in Chelsea and given emergency surgery. After nine and a half weeks of recuperation she was able to return home to celebrate her thirteenth birthday. Mrs Thomas shed a tear of relief and took herself of to Moscow to see Patrick Barlow’s ‘The 39 Steps.’ Meanwhile many other people are wondering just who that brave black cat is…

ARCHIVE: MISCELLANEOUS

PASS THE PARCEL UNTIL THE MUSIC STOPS?

December 16th 2008

In this age of unnoticed financial tsunamis, endless santimonious media interviews about credit balls being crunched, excruciating get-me-out-of-here TV shows, parliamentary committees enquiring into enquiries and Premiership footballers earning more than the population of Zimbabwe, it seems fitting to suggest an ultimate TV reality programme that could put some money back into the community.

A fun one where viewers can press a £5 pay per view button to watch senior executives of banks, credit card companies, Hedge Funds managers, city wide boys, Mugabe and all smug government officials be collected from their homes and transported by helicopter. Thence to be transported and dangled at the end of a rope over a choice of three lakes in South West Bavaria. Viewers could become Nero and Ann Robinson for the day in the comfort of their own armchairs as they choose who should be dropped off into a boiling hot sulphur lake, freezing slimy cold lake or for those inclined to spend that extra five pounds, a lake filed with pike, piranhas and man eating crabs. Copyright: Thomas Madoff TV Gameshows.

YOU DO HAVE HAVE TO HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER TO HAVE MANIC DEPRESSION.

Bipolar Disorder is exactly the same thing as Manic Depression. Shock horror! Booksellers and libraries please note!

An interestingly live and flu ridden interview was recently recorded with yours truly and Iain McNay of Conscious TV regarding the book ‘You Don’t Have To Be Famous to have Manic Depression. An A-Z of Good Mental Health’ book. You can access this via the conscioustv.com web site under the heading Healing or via You Tube.

FAMILY GUY

Currently my favourite cartoon on television. The characters and writing in this show put most of the other stuff on TV in the bin. My favourite character is Stewie, the British accented baby of the family, a delightful megalomaniac who sounds and looks like a cross between the Right Honourable William Hague , Terry Thomas and George Sanders playing Sheer Khan in the Jungle Book. Clever, funny stuff.

AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY

A new play into London that draws on the angst of addiction and toxic family relationships set out in Tennessee Williams dramas mixed with echoes of TS Eliot’s ‘A Family Reunion’ to modern films like ‘American Beauty.’ Tremendous performances and a giant set reminiscent of Priestley’s ‘An Inspector Calls’. The play captures the essence of a disintegrating family and the idea of people who’ve given up on how families used to be, and how their country used to be. People who’ve stopped pretending things are going to return to normal. The play is possibly top heavy in terms of the female parts being the only effective ones and the male ones appearing disempowered or emasculated. Perhaps that was deliberately intended by the writer. Whatever, it was wonderful to see something so well written, so well acted and designed!

‘BEIDER MEINHOF COMPLEX.’

This is a powerful film and a great production by the same people who made ‘Downfall’. It made me think how little people care these days about anything that is not connected to their football team, bank balance or reality TV show. The only disappointments with this film are that it gets too bogged down in the detail of what the gang actually did and does not reveal enough about their prior personal histories. German cinema is on the up without any doubt.

MY FAMOUS GREEK VESPA

Shock, horror, prevailed all over Patmos during October when it was discovered said pictured above scooter had disappeared. Due to its recent appearance on BBC TV (see earlier report) it was assumed that the Vespa had been kidnapped by a gang hell-bent on extortion. Allah was praised when the Vespa turned up in late November in the courtyard of the groovy Hotel Archontariki in Hora. In return for the owner’s kindness and attention, the revered scooter will now live safely for a good part of the year at the hotel.www.archontariki-patmos.gr.

TAKING LEAVE AND PATMOS MAY-JULY

July 1st 2008

HUGH MENDL (1919-2008)

Responsible for creating the Deram label and for giving me two important breaks in the record business, Hugh was by head and shoulders one of the most entertaining and amusing people I was fortunate to meet.

IF ONLY YOU CAME OUT IN GREEN SPOTS

April 11th 2008

DOROTHY PARKER ONCE SAID THAT GUNS WEREN’T LAWFUL

Owning a gun or a knife seems to have become a designer necessity for many self respecting British teenagers in 2008. In fact, having a gun or a knife when you are over twenty-one seems a wonderful thing to do as well. Soon there will soon be enough guns in this country, so that we can try and catch up with the Columbine mass shootings that occur every month or so in American schools and universities. On the other hand, you may agree with me that there nobody needs to own or use a gun in this country outside that of a farmer or member of the Armed Forces.

I would like to suggest that anyone found to be in possession of a handgun, rifle, or automatic weapon should be fast tracked to the Isle of Piles for five years to spend their time learning how to meditate and harness energy from the waves surrounding the island.

LIVE APPEARANCES

MILLERS HOTEL- NOTTING HILL GATE, LONDON 9PM –16TH APRIL
A RARE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET MYSELF AND THE LEGENDARY DR TONY HUGHES LIVE ON STAGE.

THE BALLR OOM, GUILDHALL HALL, GRANTHAM, LINCOLNSHIRE. AT 2PM ON 26TH APRIL.  JEREMY THOMAS TALKING ABOUT THIRTY WAYS TO STAY SANE IN A MOST INSANE WORLD.

FILMS

Check out the Irish film- The Garage
And the Lebanese film ‘Under the Bombs’

RUGBY

Speaking of which–Congratulations to Wales on winning the Six Nations!
Good to see Shane Williams, Lee Byrne, Gavin Henson and Ryan Jones playing so well. Keep it up! And good luck in South Africa.

ALBERTINES WINE BAR 25TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION SHOCK!

It seems unbelievable that Albertines, arguably the best wine bar in London, is going to be 25 years old on April 19th 2008. Thanks to the careful guidance of the owner, Giles Phillips, former racing correspondent to J. Walter Thompson and a top mate of many years standing, this bar remains the best place to go for a groovy night out. Congratulations!

Read reviews of The A-Z guide to good mental health / You don’t have to be famous to have manic depression

SIMPLE AS A PIMPLE

February 1st 2008

SURPRISINGLY the dark but wondrous thriller, ‘Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead’ has not been nominated for any Oscar awards – despite top performances from Ethan Hawke and Philip Seymour Hoffman and being so intelligently written by Kelly Masterson and directed by veteran wonder boy, Sidney Lumet. This is a morality play worthy of Hitchcock. But don’t see it if you are feeling gloomy- it might just push you over the edge.

A film that has been nominated for Oscar awards is ‘Michael Clayton’.  A straight ahead no messing about thriller, starring Tilda Swinton, George Clooney, Sidney Pollack and Tom Wilkinson.  This is the best made film since Lives of Others   but not in the same league of greatness. A film that manages to feature a manic depressive without screwing it up and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat for ninety nine minutes can’t be bad. Two possible Oscars, maybe three if you count Tilda Swinton who, by the way, nobody seems to remember is English.

No Country for Old Men is a wonderful film, relentlessly bleak but a great return to form for the Coen Brothers. Am I sounding like a film critic? The cinematography alone makes this an extraordinary film, as does the script and all the performances – the stand out being Javier Bardim’s portrayal of a highly effective psychopath. You will never be able look at a compressed air tank again without touching your forehead.  Call me a heretic, but I’m afraid there are flaws with the script in terms of the Mexican bad guys and American villains in general, let alone the much talked about ending. Suspect though this will win Oscars for best adaptation, supporting actor, cinematography and possibly best film.

Hope the young Irish actress playing the vindictive girl in Atonement shares an award with Tilda Swinton.

JANUARY IS A GRIM MONTH SO LET’S TALK ABOUT LAST MONTH:

January 28th 2008

Armed with a new biodegradable B1/B2 visa, I was able to successfully pass through US Customs at Los Angeles airport in December without incident. This is disappointing news for the dramatists out there but the best plan after a thirteen hour flight.

We were lucky to be staying with good friends in Larchmont, a mere five minute walk from the picket line at Paramount studios. Apart from supporting the writers strike, trips were made to Santa Monica and the Palisades to visit Taking Leave writing haunts and reunite with old pals.  Could not find Henry Miller’s house but thankfully made it back to the Rancho J. Burns.

Note: Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Carolyn Altman, formerly of Portland, Oregon, please alert her to this website.

A high speed holiday was taken in a groovy Mexican seaside place called Sayulita, The Mexicans that we met, whatever their station on life’s railway were universally cheerful, up for a laugh and keen on playing music Loud. The waves were powerful and the marijuana powered Catamaran boat trip we undertook most entertaining – that is to anyone who ever saw Polanski’s Knife in Water. Highlight of the trip was meeting the man who played the barman in The Kite Runner.

Need to return to LA soon to spend time seeing folks in the fascinating area of Downtown and those cool folks off Larchmont. Interested in spending some time on some Amtrak trains and assembling some short stories.

Books to be plugged are: Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami. The Colossus of Maroussi by Henry Miller. Noughts and Crosses- Ian Rankin

MOVING ON, MOVING BACK AND FORTH.

November 5th 2007

The sojourn to Greece was productive and I can confirm that a new book is definitely underway. It has a two word title, the first of which is Eating.
No more details will be posted about this until next year or when it is finished.

A trip is planned to Los Angeles on the 8th December for four weeks. The first time I have been back since writing some of Taking Leave there in June 2000. 
Looking forward to researching a new collection of short stories- one of which will be based on my time in LA when I was wrongly accused of being a ‘dead beat dad’ and not paying alimony to my second wife nor my two teenage children. This was interesting as to the best of my knowledge I had no children and at that time only been married once – to a lovely girl called Lisa who had managed to escape back to Australia. Try that telling the County Sheriff and the DVLA of Los Angeles.  It took two months to unearth a cock up on the computer and my name getting mixed up with that of Mr D. Dad’s.

 
THIS WEB SITE.

Is there anything that regular visitors would like to see on this site?
Answers please  

 THE END OF THE WORLD COMING SOON?

While the forest fires were burning people’s homes in California, back on Patmos, the island of St John’s Revelation there were three days of terrible thunder storms during which at least seven inches of rain fell. A true but sad story emerged. One hundred and twenty goats had become trapped at the bottom of a mountain. A high sea wall suddenly collapsed behind them causing a flash flood in which they were all drowned.

I am indebted to Ecology Magazine for informing me about the about the current state of bumble bees. In the last three years, the worldwide bumble-bee population has diminished by a third and possibly more. The culprit? Radio waves from mobile telephones. We like bumble-bees on this site. Maybe we have some reservations about wasps but not bumble-bees. So please, when you are in the country or the garden or a park, please switch off your phones and give bees a chance.

 
THE TIMES CHELTENHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL

QUICK LINKS

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO GWYNETH LEWIS AND JEREMY THOMAS (bbc.co.uk)

Cheltenham Literature Festival 2007 on BBC Gloucestershire Website

I was invited to join the redoubtable and focused poet and writer Gwyneth Lewis on a platform to discuss writing about mental illness in fiction in non fiction. This was in front of an invited audience of about 80 people, sponsored by the Welcom Trust and moderated by Brain Hurwitz. In an adjoining room the Duchess of Devonshire was making them reel in the aisles with stories taken from her autobiography. It was an interesting experience because although used to speaking in public, I was not used to speaking on the same stage as other people nor under the glare of overhead television lights. Gwyneth was very kind in keeping the talk flowing whenever I stumbled.
I tried to get across the importance of humour, not only in dealing with mental illness such as depression but in trying to explain to people about mental health either in person, on the television or radio or in fiction or non fiction. The subject, I maintained, did not have to be shrouded in a cloak of Hammer Horror. It’s 2007 and time we should be able to talk about all this stuff without fear or shame. Anyway, the audience seemed to get something out of it.

My lasting memory about the Festival was how genuinely interested and kind all the staff were. Bravo and thank you!

 BOOK PLUG

The Comedy Writer- Peter Farrelly
Chesil Beach- Ian McEwan.

IN SICKNESS & IN HEALTH…….GET A BICYCLE, OR A VESPA

October 10th.

The jury living inside my head is finally out regarding which work is to be started next. An Olympic Airways ticket has been purchased and I depart for the exciting but deadly Greek islands this Thursday 10th October.

A more detailed note will be posted regarding this journey and indeed the Cheltenham Literary Festival very soon.

Meanwhile a note about the means of transport displayed on this page. My 1974 Vespa was hand painted in 2001 by a young slightly drunk icon painter from Ikeria called Sophie. That is not a place from where you buy Scandinavian furniture but a Greek island famous for Communism and Icarus. Further artistic contributions were also made by Eddie from Albania, Suzanne from Sweden, Yvonne from Amsterdam and the irreplaceable Wayne from Canvey Island.

Would somebody like to commission a collection of short stories concerning bicycling in London?

My other mechanical delight lives in London and is a bottle green Mercedes Estate
and born in 1988. It has racked up 187,000 miles so far and apart from some dubious rear suspension, multiple dents to its bodywork, a non functioning driver’s electric window has nothing wrong with it whatsoever. The interior is large enough to house a small family of Korean gymnasts and the roof rack capable of transporting a couple of hardy golden retrievers.

Book Plug:

Pat Barker- Life Class
Gwyneth Lewis- Sunbathing in the Rain.
ZZ Packer-Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
David Sedaris- Me talk pretty one day.

MOVIES 
Atonement
When did you last see your father?

IS PROCRASTINATON THE THIEF OF TIME?

LONDON AUGUST 5TH 2007

THE TIMES CHELTENHAM LITERARY FESTIVAL

I will be appearing on October 10th as part of a discussion panel, appropriately entitled ‘In Sickness and in Health’ at the Cheltenham Town Hall. Check out the following link:http://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/whats_on/event_detail.html?id=1770

STEPHEN FRY

This web site salutes the Great One on the occasion of his Fiftieth Birthday this month. Congratulations and long may you last. Your country definitely needs you!

BEN THOMAS

Happy 21st birthday to nephew Ben. The World needs more people like you.

25th January 07

Radio Interview

London Greek Radio interview  with ace Arts editor Vaislis Panayo and my specal Greek painter friend, Elene Sanicou takes place Saturday 27th January at 2.15/2.30 pm on 103.3 FM.

Greeks, Patmians and ex pats can also hear the broadcast on www.lgr.co.uk

22nd January 07

I love The New Yorker

I love reading the New Yorker for their wonderful cartoons.

Leafing through my latest copy, I found this cartoon about book promotion and for fairly obvious reasons, it made me laugh and laugh!’

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