Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011 from Janette Miller

Last day of 2011. I loved it! Best year I have had since 2002 so it is a time to reflect and think how lucky I am to have managed to get this far.

Back in 2002 when I became so ill that I nearly died I would have given my eye teeth for just one day of 2011. Clostridium Difficile plus Giardia plus the horrific death of my husband and the subsequent effects of Benzodiazepine, tricyclics and Vancomycin had left me a physical mess but alive.

Fortunately not a mental mess although the drugs had wrecked my nervous system and my internal organs. I was like a canackered apple perfect on the outside and rotten to the core. I did not know how to live through one day let alone survive 10 years! If anyone had told me that I would see 2012 I would not have believed them.

But I have! Although I shall never be back to my old healthy self my life is now more or less normal. My head no longer spins continually, my balance is back and I can wait in queues in the supermarket. I have gone from misery to comfortable. I was lucky most in my situation do not live. 30 sufferers that I knew died. One man in the USA was so nice. I spoke to him on the phone. He was so desperate he hung himself in the garage.

Now I can sleep all night and if I am careful I can eat what I want but still I regret nothing beginning with C like citrus, curry and coffee.

Some things will never be normal for me again. My lack of an immune system  really means I have to live alone to avoid bugs. I do not enjoy it but it gives me the time to do the things I love. Wagner said the greatest threat to creativity was the pram in the hall!   I am fortunate to have plenty of time to myself to learn how to use the technology that is necessary to be part of the world today. I can and do take part. I learned to sing again without an accompanist.

I have lost one or two dear friends to death this year and my daughter had a lousy time with death and earthquakes too. Because we live so far apart I was very little help but even so this year has been memorable as you can see from the above.

I should love to share my life with more people in real life but I do my best with YouTube and Facebook and of course this blog. Here I can be franker than I am in real life. I have it printed out each year for my grand daughter who I hardly see, again mostly because I cannot travel, so that she can know something of her 'strange' granny.

But even with all my problems I am lucky. To an outsider my life looks pretty good and it is but let me assure you all not one of you would want to go through my last ten years to achieve what I have today.

Lastly my greatest friend is my garden. It has never given up on me or I on it. I have loved it and it has repaid my efforts of 37 years. I think it is my greatest achievement.

So onto to 2012. From now on I live through dangerous territory but at least I have lived.

Happy New Year to all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Disgraceful Year with The English National Ballet

In 1947 when I was four I watched the opening of Belsen on BBC Television. It put me off God for life. I knew at that moment that any God who allowed those horrors was no God of mine.

Last night I had the same revulsion to ballet after watching The Agony and the Ecstasy: The English National Ballet I found the content of whole series appalling and disgraceful. According to this series the way the company was managed appeared to be amateur and cruel and I am surprised  that Wayne Eagling remains the artistic director and that government funding continues for the company and it seems I am not alone.

I ran a small professional opera ballet company for 14 years with no funding and under continual financial difficulty. I am a woman and this was the only way for me. I was forced to do it myself so it was with great educational interest that I watched the  programme to see how my peers ran their companies. Here was my chance to learn how to do it properly. I have no wish to do it again but I was naturally intrigued.

What I saw shocked me. I had no idea that a ballet company could be run like that! If I had managed my company small though it was like that I should expect to fail and receive no funding.  What shocked me most was the disrespectful manner in which the dancers were treated by the management, the artistic director and the male choreographers. These wonderful talented artists who give their lives for their art were treated like dirt. If I had ever treated a dancer or singer as the dancers of The English National Ballet appear to put up with daily my dancers would, rightly, have walked out and I deserved to be prosecuted for abuse .

Their undervalued  and loyal ballerina Daria Klimentova was embarrassingly and distressingly treated. The company does not deserve her.  Derek Deane the choreographer of Swan Lake at the Albert Hall was a tyrant. His remarks on camera showed he had nothing but distain for the woman and dancers who were to save his career on the night.

It was not Klimentova's fault that the company had failed to get a Visa for the Russian ballerina.  The Management should have arranged one the moment the Russian ballerina had been hired possibly a year before. To leave it until a day before the ballerina was needed and be refused was their fault and bad bad management. The management had also failed to see that the conductor had attended rehearsals. He only turned up for the dress rehearsal and of course it was chaos. The conductor who may have been excellent at other times had no idea of what he was doing and damn near wrecked the whole thing. This should not have been allowed to happen.

Klimentova was expected to step in at the last moment  not only with the orchestra in chaos but with a talented but inexperienced 20 year old Vadim Muntigirov making his debut in a star role at the Albert Hall. Deane's treatment of her was a disgrace. He refused to speak to her after the dress rehearsal as obviously he felt her performance was inadequate. This is not the way to get a performance out of anyone. At this moment Kilmentova should have left.

The saddest shots were of Kilmentova and Muntigirov waiting to go on for the hellishly difficult Act III Black Swan pas de deux. They were in a corridor looking like frightened, naughty children facing a firing squad. Yet these two were supposed to go out and pull this management and choreographer out of the shit.

Wayne Eagling's behavior was simply grotesque during the rehearsal period of The Nutcracker. Because of his lack of preparation and his strange way of working he had not finished the ballet. His answer was not to let the dancers have a run through. Eagling is a dancer himself! It was only because of the professionalism  and loyalty of the dancers that this company scrapped through the opening night. Again it was Kilmentova who got them out of a disaster.

I think if this is the way ballet is achieved these days it is about time all grants were withdrawn. Ballet in my day was never run like this. If I were a mother today my children would not be encouraged to become professional ballet dancers.

But why I ask myself is Wayne Eagling still the artistic director? Even if this ballet management method gets results it is surely unethical? Ballet is not a gulag or a concentration camp where inmates starve and worked to death for art.

I was revolted and I want no part of ballet if it is run like this today. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Copyright Obama and YouTube and free speech

YouTube, Twitter and dancing Schools are in danger of ten years prison under new copyright rules that are in the process of being passed by the USA Congress.

This is not a joke. If this law passes it will mean that any infringement of copyright by a single YouTube user could mean the whole website can be legally taken down. The USA authorities do not have to give any reason they can just remove the website and there is nothing anyone can do. The wrong doer will face up to ten years in prison.

Up until now YouTube, Twitter and Facebook have been protected from its users' copyright infringements but the Obama administration is against this. Many think this legislation is the greatest threat to free speech in present times.

Even the Library of USA is against this Bill. As it stands Audio Archiving is at a stand still as it is virtually impossible not to break some sort of copyright law. Ditto with scanning books which are in danger of disintegration because of the Brittle Book Syndrome although some progress is being made in that direction.

All to protect the Big Content Users who are persuasive lobbyists and the only group to benefit from this legislation which will stifle progress and hamper archiving for future generations. Already our computers are being monitored for shared files. You probably do not notice this but any person who uploads videos  to YouTube as I do will be aware of the copyright notice infringement that arrives with threats even if the composer is Mozart.

Copyright legislation is a mess. Some copyrights on work created 177 years ago will still remain in copyright until 2067. Also it means if you sing a song or your child dances to a copyright song on YouTube you could spent the next ten years in prison.

I have been a victim of artistic vandalism when Boosey & Hawkes had the tapes of the 1959 production of Britten's Turn of the Screw destroyed. I should like to upload September by Richard Strauss but cannot arrange a license even for ready money. This sort of negative activity only serves the publishers and not the artist. Fortunately R Strauss is out of copyright on 8 September 2019. I can wait.

This is a sad day for the creative artist and amateur performer. Today Shakespeare could not function under these restrictions. If today's conditions were in force Britten would not have been able to write any of his operas as they are based on previous creations. For many artists their work will be lost through lack of archiving.

I decided last year that from now on I should only sing and work on composers that are definitely out of copyright as it is the only safe way. I am in the happy position of being to do everything myself but this is limiting and I suspect I am one of the few if not the only one who can do it all myself. I am now limited to works written before 1923 which is sad because I sing 1930's music well.

YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are now under threat. Anything that the Big Content Users and the USA government do not like and they will go. Please oppose this Bill.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hypothecation or How to Have your Cake and Eat It

Have you heard of Hypothecation? I hadn't until I watched Russian TV The Keiser Report. I thought he was joking but when I looked up  Hypothecation in Wikipedia there is was just as Keiser had defined. In fact it was the definition Keiser used.

The first is the common definition but scroll down a bit to the Rehypothecation section and this is where it begins to get scary.


Goldman Sachs Tower – banks that provide Prime brokerageservices are able to expand their trading operations by re-using collateral belonging to their counter-parties.
Re-hypothecation occurs when banks or broker-dealers re-use the collateral posted by clients such as hedge funds to back the broker's own trades and borrowings.
In the UK, there is no limit on the amount of a clients assets that can be rehypothecated,[3] except if the client has negotiated an agreement with their broker that includes a limit or prohibition. In the US, re-hypothecation is capped at 140% of a client's debit balance.[4][5][6]

That means the world's banks, if they use the City of London, can have their cake and eat it and go on eating it for as long as they like. They use our savings over and over again and eventually you and I will pay.

Like a second mortgage the UK banks can take out a second loan, and a third loan and a fourth loan  ad infinitum all on the original deposit which you and I gave them for safe keeping. They just eat our cake and go on eating.

No wonder David Cameron wanted the City of London exempt from new European bank regulations and no wonder Europe would not comply. It looks as if the City of London is running a giant Ponzy scheme and like all Ponzy schemes it will be found out. I cannot believe that my country men could do this!

If I can see this is a mess why can't our leaders?

I never thought it would be Russia TV that would point this out. Russia is not part of this great scheme of things and can take a more objective view as Russia can sit back and watch the West crash safe in the knowledge that it is rich in natural resources and can survive.

Be warned. Innocence and ignorance are unwise traits.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Favorite Elizabeth Taylor Jewel - Edith Head Necklace

Elizabeth Taylor had the most fabulous jewels but the one I covet is not any of the diamonds, pearls and goose egg emeralds but the necklace above.

It is just a bit of gold and a few bits of ivory but the associations make it for me priceless. The necklace was commissioned by Edith Head the famous Hollywood dress designer who designed Grace Kelly's wedding dress which influenced the dress worm by Kate Middleton at this year's wedding of the year.

The necklace is simply a collection of Opera Tokens that were used by the London theaters in the second half of the 19 century to denote the occupiers of the box named on the night of the month. You bought a box on a certain night for a season. That is what I find so fascinating. I love opera, I love Covent Garden, I love dress design and I love jewelry.

This was Head's signature necklace which she wore daily and eventually left it to Elizabeth Taylor and that is why it came up among the sale of her major jewels at Christie's New York last night.

Tantalizingly  Christies suggested price range was well within reach just US$1,500/2000  and I did dream. I reckon that if it did not have the associations that it was worth more than that in gold alone. I actually went as far as to contact Christies about making a bid.

I would have gone to US $15,000 including buyer's premium. My DVD sales are good and I have a few spare US dollars which will only lose value. In truth my bid was well over the top for what the necklace is actually worth with no associations and I doubt if it will hold its price. Famous personalities soon  disappear into oblivion in the sands of time and although the great personalities may be remembered Edith Head is not one of them, even Elizabeth Taylor is suspect.

I thought better of it! Other than leave the necklace to Auckland Museum I have little use for it as I seldom go out these days but I was interested to see what it fetched - a staggering US $314,500! It was on at Number 3 of the evening's sale . Christies placed it well to get maximum price. If it had been tucked into one of the lesser sales four days later I could have been in with a chance.

But at least I have my dream although I lost out to a higher bidder I tried and lost but at least I tried. If I were young I should collect the  opera tokens and 'do it myself' as it seems I always have to do. I am a great collector. Like Taylor I have charm bracelets galore but I am older and wiser now so I won't but I may have something similar made if I can think of a substitute for the tokens.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Dark Side of Ballet

Last week I wrote of my love of ballet.  Ballet in the fifties and sixties was a magical art. But today although the ballet technique has improved beyond the impossible ballet for women and increasingly for men too has become a  Dark Art where starving to dance  has become the norm and socially acceptable.

Obviously I have been aware of the Eating Disorders for some time and I have been surprised that steps have not been taken to prevent this condition but this week I became aware of just how emotive this topic is when I commented on the excellent Facebook site Ballet News who invited members to comment on this emotive subject.

As I have had much experience and have witnessed these Eating Disorders at a professional level I broke a rule I made to myself and commented on the subject. The Ballet News editor who is nameless wanted dietitians to recommend a Safe diet for young dancers when I pointed out perhaps too forcefully that there is NO SAFE DIET all my posts were removed and a deathly silence has ensued.

I have no intention of making Eating Disorders a life priority but suppose I must take a stand. If ballet vocations were cigarettes a sign would be put on the package to say that ballet as a vocation could ruin your health with pictures like this to discourage the applicant.

What has ballet come to that we are prepared to let out girl and boy children starve themselves for their art? In my day Eating Disorders were unheard of. Even GP's and I was married to one had never come across the affliction. Ballet Companies employed normal women. Margot Fonteyn's figure at the time would not make it today. She would be considered obese! Not so today. Everybody has heard of Eating Disorders and one in eight sufferers die of it and yet in ballet it is still regarded as Taboo! It is unseen!

I was born in an age where food was short, ordinary life was beginning again and perfection was not required.  At my ballet school we looked and behaved like ordinary school children. Diet was never mentioned. At AES we were well fed and made to eat lunch every day. Chocolate semolina  had to been eaten! At Covent Garden I saw steak on the menu for the first time on a regular basis. Dancers were fed when the rest of then population was still rationed or steak priced like gold.

I was a size 10/12 all through my musical career and was considered normal. All of us were this size. At Covent Garden it was the odd thin ballerina, Annette Page was the first ultra thin dancer and she stood out because it was painful to watch. Belsen was never far from our thoughts at that time. It was unfashionable to be ultra thin. The pictures of starving adults were in our minds and alive.

Even in the 70's when I ran a professional ballet company my dancers were of slight build but in  now way skeletal and they look perfectly acceptable. You can see this in my Children's Ballet Series Dance Tales for the BBC or my pilot Bluebirds danced by The Royal Ballet Sadlers Wells.  What is unacceptable about them?

Today technique and styles have changed. The huge, spectacular lifts which were unknown in Petipa's time require female dancers that are liftable. The current style in everyday street fashion is for models to look like an inmates of Belsen. Male Fashion designers appear to hate the women they dress as they make us look so unattractive and this has spilt over into the world of ballet.

I gave up teaching ballet and rhythmic gymnastics when I became aware of the danger to young girls of eating disorders. After a lifetime I felt I had to give it up as my conscience would not allow me to continue just as I could not cast a young boy as Miles in The Turn of the Screw  as I know what the plot is about. It was a personal decision and one I have not regretted it as I can live with myself but I think it is time for the world of ballet to put an end to starving dancers to give pleasure to a few. Dancing Skeletons even dressed in white tulle are not attractive and dangerous to health.

Change has to come from the top. It is up to the Companies and Schools to put the house in order. They could do it if public opinion and dancer's parent force them to do so. Dancers today are not appreciated. A recent ballet programme of a well known company gave notes on bio notes on everyone except the dancers.  Dancers who are the companies' bread and butter  were overlooked. Their years of training, starving and self discipline were not worth a mention but the set designer was.

Dancers are worth more than that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Beauty of the Human Body

Seeing the video of depicted in the picture above reminded me of just how beautiful the human body can be. It made me appreciate just how lucky I was to be taken to the ballet because ballet is the one art where the living human body is shown to its most magnificent advantage. My eye was trained to enjoy both the male and female form. I realize now that this is extremely rare.

Most people I know do not like ballet. They may enjoy the odd  Swan Lake but they do not know anything of the art. Ballet is one of the few moments where one can enjoy the unadorned human form both male and female. The only other moments one gets is the Olympic Games where one can appreciate the superb athletes in swimming, diving and gymnastics although in gymnastics the male is clothed in the most unattractive trousers and lack of turn out ruins the line.

Most normal people have no idea what the human body can do or express as they never see it. Classical ballet shows the human form off to perfection that is why it has lasted for centuries. Today the ballet dancer's technique has reached a level that I thought unobtainable when I was a child. Ballet dancers are doing things with their bodies that seem impossible. The strength and beauty and the line they obtain is nothing short of heavenly. There is nothing so sexy as ballet dancers in full flight.

As a child I was trained as a classical ballet dancer at Arts Educational Schools in London. I spent my youth at Covent Garden watching and appearing in The Royal Ballet. If I had my time again I should devote all of it to ballet. Dancing ballet is so satisfying. It never disappoints and watching ballet is the same. I hear music in terms of dance. Even today I can feel the dancers dancing. I know  the sensation and it is fulfilling.

Nothing I say can express what I mean as well as the video below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Female Genital Mutilation Story

I read this article in the Guardian today and it inspired me to write this short story.

Nina was just eight days old, the longed for daughter had at last arrived and the time had come for Nina's rite de passage into the race to which she had the good fortune to be born.  This old belief system, as old as the world was very fussy about who exactly belonged and so this ceremony was performed to ensure that Nina would be recognized and accepted as part of the old Yucari race, a special race, the race of the Gods.

That the opertaion controlled her sexual pleasure and could be life threatening was overlooked and anyway this made her clean and acceptable to her husband as he would know that his wife was a Yucari.

The practice was it is true barbaric and not for the squeamish. Although it involved cutting Nina's Labia and clitoris in a special recognizable way being but eight days old meant that although it would hurt as say pulling out one's fingernails she would not remember and she would never know of the pleasures of sex that would be denied her. What you don't know you don't miss and her mother and her mother had all gone through this ceremony and so now it was Nina's turn.

All the family gathered for a huge party to watch as Nina was inducted into the Yucari race. Placed on a white pillow the tiny sleeping child had no idea what was in store as she cooed at the lady doctor who was to perform this operation.

The lady doctor was calm and matter of fact as if this was the most natural thing in the world to do, cut tiny little girls private parts away in public with no anesthetic. Her father had a swab with wine for the tiny child to suck on. This would help to ease her pain.

"Oh isn't she a sweetie" cooed the doctor as she removed the child's under clothes and parted and strapped the child's legs which were held in place by vel cro. Joking to the audience who had come for the fun.'There's a good little girl" and the tiny eigtht day old sucked her thumb in pleasure.

'This will only take a minute' reassured the doctor as she pulled on some sterile gloves in the not very sterile room in the local hostelry. The parent's house was too small to accommodate the large crowd of well wishers who were there colds and flu and all to welcome this  girl child. Girls were special to the Yucari religion as they alone could ensure the continuation of the Yucari race.

The doctor started by separating the skin that was to be cut from that which was to be left. This is like putting a needle or small knife between the skin and a nail. Naturally Nina screamed in agony . Her mother closed her eyes.

The doctor continued while Nina screamed on. "There there' She cooed " Nearly over, stick the swob of wine in her mouth so she can suck it." Child continued to scream as a clamp was inserted over the skin to be removed but instead of cutting immediately the doctor very unhurried intoned the prayers that were necessary to ensure the job was done.

As she raised the sacred knife for the cut the whole room erupted in glee and rejoicing. Shouts of Yucari for ever filled the room as the child screamed on. Men and women danced and clasped each other and the doctor smiled at a job well done.

There was not a lot of blood to see as a bandage was quickly placed over the offending parts and the baby now in shock stopped screaming. The party and champagne erupted and feasting and rejoicing abounded. Nina was now a Yucari.

Her mother was in shock too and was crying as she held her tortured little girl whose face was contorted in pain but she was forced to join in the celebration.  In the past many little girls bled to death or died of infection but not today, today there would be feasting and rejoicing that another girl child had be accepted into the group. It was as natural as birth. Nothing to make a song and dance about. Quite normal. Men and women who would not torture a cat in this manner felt it perfectly within the rights to cut a defenseless little girl without seeking her permission first. The power of the belief system and the purity of the race demanded they overlook the abuse of an innocent child.

However the landlord of the hostelry was not so powerless. He was horrified at what he had witnessed and phoned the police who soon put a stop to these ancient revels. The parents were convicted of child abuse and genital mutilation and the revelers fined as accomplices. Society was appalled at the cruelty  to the little girl and saw that the perpetrators were duly punished.

Genital mutilation  is a crime but only if you are a girl.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Death by Liverpool Care Pathway

Loved ones not always told their relative is on controversial 'death pathway'

NHS doctors are failing to inform up to half of families that their loved ones have been put on a scheme to help end their lives, the Royal College of Physicians has found.   Telegraph.

I watched my husband die in a hospice which used the Liverpool Care Pathway. It was revolting experience and I was truly horrified and shocked. My husband had chosen to die but I am not sure he realized just how horrible his death  would be for him and me.

My husband Miles was 72 and had a very rare blood disease MDS. He struggled on for 9 months and then decided that he had had enough. He had the choice of staying in hospital or going to the hospice. Miles made the wrong choice for even though he was dying Miles needed to be treated.

Miles did not wish to bleed to death and he needed platelets but these were denied him in the hospice although he had been promised them in the hospital. Fully conscious Miles was slowly bleeding  to death in front of my eyes. I had a blazing row with the staff who told me they did not treat and even if it were allowed they had no free staff to collect the platelets from the blood bank. Eventually I walked  the 15 minutes to the hospital and got the platelets myself. What they were allowing to happen was inhumane.

They stopped the anti biotics and his eye started to fall out! Again I made them put him back on anti biotics and again I had a row to get them to do this.

Immediately he got there he was put on drugs and started twitching. I know now that this is an adverse reaction to these drugs and he soon lost consciousness. I also caught one of the staff handling him very roughly which I found offensive. I was too stressed to do anything about this.

Meals and drink are placed on a tray beside the bed but of course the patient is so ill he or she cannot eat it. They don't starve you as they present the meals but no one feeds you.  The food is there, the water is there - Oh it is so clever.

I fed him with Complan but eventually the drugs took hold. He obviously wanted a drink. Miles was literally dying of thirst. If I swabbed his mouth with water his tongue sort out the moisture. He dried out in front of me. I felt this lack of water treatment was worthy of Belsen. This I found the most distressing of all.

It took seven days to kill him for that is the only way I can describe the Liverpool Care Pathway. They could kill anyone that way. I would not treat my cat in such a fashion. As it happened my cat had to be put down at the same time and I think the cat had the best of it! My cat died with dignity  at the vets and that is more than can be said for my husband in the hospice.

It was his choice and it is apparently legal but I am not going anywhere near a hospice. I do not want to die of thirst. I think if the public were aware of the cruelty that the Liverpool Care Pathway entails it would be stopped instantly. 

I am disgusted that this cruel way to die is not even discussed with the patients' families. The sooner we are allowed to die with dignity like my cat the better.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Psychopaths and me

I have just been reading an excellent article on Corporate Psychopaths.

I never thought I should meet a psychopath in my life but I did.  It was a deadly encounter for me and one from which I have never recovered. My psychopath has had, I have been told, a stay in prison for unsocial behavior and now this person is still proudly preaching to the community in a series of lectures as if nothing had happened.

Psychopaths are very difficult to spot. They are only 1% of the population but they have no empathy. They are greedy  are out to destroy anything in their path. In fact they will do anything to achieve their goals and feel no remorse after. This is why they are so dangerous.

My psychopath stole my opera and my reputation. I have no heistation in saying she made mince meat of me. In three weeks my career was destroyed. The bullying, the intrique and the organized conspiracy was masterful and successful. The company got what they wanted my work, my production and my kudos. The production made a huge profit which set them up for everything going, grants the lot. As they said at the time the production was a triumph.

Justice delayed is justice denied and it took me five years to achieve it by which time my day was past. Even the judge who told me I should settle was misled. It was like a novel. The conspirators case had relied on a so called meeting where they lied separately on oath  that at that meeting I had been read the riot act and if I did not do exactly as I was told I would be removed. There was no such meeting but after five years how could I prove it?

When confronted with this information just before a meeting with them that the judge had instructed me to attend I could not remember where I had been that day five years ago but the company settled that morning. That night I remembered that that day I had no time for meetings. I was in sight all day rehearsing in front of about 150 people and left at 10.30 pm being driven home by a judge's sister.

Only years later did I find out that lying on oath is a criminal offense. The justice system takes a very dim view of this. I still have all the affidavits in my possession and  so does the court to prove my case. I never found out why I was dismissed. I had done nothing to deserve such a punishment. They wanted my work and they stole it. I lost everything at the time. I felt devastated.

The psychopath won everything, a well paid job, a recognized successful opera company to run, a fortune to get it started and I was socially shunned. My name did not even appear on the programme. It was replaced with the name of the director who took over and who trumpeted for years that his production was the first in the new civic theatre until I stopped him. I was airbrushed out of history! I am not the first but today that is no longer possible thanks to blogs.

Like all psychopaths the run came to an end and the person I believe ended up in prison.  I suppose I should feel triumph but I do not. The damage done to me and Auckland's artists who I fostered over 14 years cannot be repaired. The company is still there under another name but it has not been the innovative venture fostering native talent that I had seen in my vision but at least the painted scenery has gone.

I have a new career by the accident of timing. A better and lasting one that I can enjoy. Producing live opera for another ten years would have killed me so maybe I can say thank you to my psychopath.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A weekend in hospital

Over the years it has become apparent to me  that I am an 'early adopter'! This week a survey of UK Hospitals has found that becoming ill on a Friday night is not a good idea as hospitals at week ends are dangerously under maned as all the senior are off duty. It is the same in Auckland New Zealand as I found out over ten years ago when I had the misfortune to get the life threatening  stomach infection, Clostridium Difficile.

If it is at all possible time your illness for a week day when the appropriate staff are on duty because it became very clear to me that the hospital closes down to all but the most immediate emergencies at around 6 pm on Friday night.

I timed my illness extremely badly. When I first presented with this infection the specialist in this area was at a conference in Los Angeles for ten days so nobody
qualified in gastroenterology was available. The junior staff just guessed cancer which of course it wasn't and gave me all the tests including a colonoscopy the preparation for this on an infected stomach was torture.

The first weekend when I was dying there was nobody to treat me. I was seen by a doctor who was a specialist in broken limbs. He was in charge of the whole hospital but he agreed diarrhea was life threatening and he knew nothing about it. I never saw the specialist.

I was sent home but not cured so I had to return.  I was dying.  I knew it but the hospital didn't. It was a 5 am Friday morning when I arrived. I was told nobody could see me and I was to sit in the waiting room. I did for 17 hours. I was even interviewed by a psychologist to see if I really was ill, my husband had died and the doctor thought it might be grief and at about 2 am Saturday morning I was admitted reluctantly as it was felt I was a malingerer!

I didn't see a specialist until Monday morning. The hospital was put into hibernation for two whole days just ticking over. By the time I was seen I was really ill but I did not look ill. No temperature  just extreme weight loss and constant diarrhea. I was in a ward and really left to look after myself. No help was given. Fortunately I knew my way around.

They wanted to throw me out. Telling me I was not ill and should get better at home. I knew I was dying and I was as I had Clostridium Difficile, the bug you pick up from hospitals or too much anti biotics from my previous visit. It killed 495 patients in Maidstone Kent.

It is highly infectious and in those two days I must have given it to many patients. It took two days before any tests were made in which time I could have collapsed and died from infection and nobody would have had a clue as to why because I had not been diagnosed.

It was the same for everyone in the place. It was like being in limbo.

Maybe someone should tell hospitals that with illness it is impossible to keep to working hours. One gets very ill at inconvenient moments. It must kill many people who cannot wait until Monday morning. On the whole it would be better to go home for those two days and be looked after by family and return on Monday morning if that is possible. For me this was not an option.

I survived but it was a close run thing. Because of the failure to diagnose I was left with drug related injuries that have lasted for ten years but I am alive and for that I am grateful. Once I saw a specialist on Monday and tests began I was on my way to recovery.

So schedule your hospital event and avoid weekends.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ken Russell Salome and Me

I have admired Ken Russell since I was a child. I was influenced by his BBC Monitor programmes especially Debussey which made a big impression on me so when the chance came to actually appear in his first feature film Women in Love as an dancer in the Chalet scene set in Zermatt I jumped at the opportunity.

I knew he had seen me work. I was playing the comedy lead in the Desert Song at the Palace Theatre in the West End. I saw him in the front row on the night The Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret had attended. It was a terrible performance as most of the men got nervous at the Royal presence and my partner dropped me!

I loved the part but not the show although it was fun. I should have preferred that Russell had seen me in The Turn of the Screw but he saw me in a very sexy role where I appeared in a revealing Middle Eastern harem costume.

As I did not want to be noticed I did my hair in a very different way at my audition. Yes Russell auditioned the extras and he noticed me. When I went to the costume fitting his wife who was the costume designer said 'Ken knows you from somewhere?' I said we had never met and rattled off a list of my best work and Shirley Russell said 'no not any of those'. I took a deep breath and said 'I played Susan in The Desesrt Song.

'That's where he saw you!' Shirley Russell gasped then she added 'Ken thinks you are marvelous and the best thing in London'. I was so flattered.

During the shooting Russell took no notice of me but at the end he called me over and said. "I love your work and I have something for you'. It was Salome in Salome's Last Dance his film based on Oscar Wilde.

For me it never materialized. Russell used someone else but he based his conception of the role on the way I played Susan. His Salome looked just like me and I might add did it far better than I could have done. I could never have handled the nudity as I think Russell may have suspected although I had a figure to die for but the part would really have helped my career and I think I should have done it justice. Russell did not take a chance but fortunately Britten did.

I never met him again. I admired him so much although he never matured professionally and his style looked a bit infantile and dated as can be seen in the clip above towards the end but he was a child of his time and a great innovator. RIP Ken Russell. You will be missed

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Week with Marilyn

The up coming film My Week with Marilyn based on a brief encounter by Colin Clark in 1956 made me take a look at the film on which this story is loosely based. I was just 13 when it was made and although I heard about it I never saw it. The only glimpses that I got were all in black and white. At that time I never saw any of Monroe's films as I was just too young and I never really appreciated her either. I thought she was over rated. A silly uneducated woman who traded on her sexual personality. I was definitely under whelmed.

I had heard of the problems Olivier had had with her on the set and how difficult he found to work with her and I was surprised that he actually chose to do so. He was the producer and director but of course I was wrong. It is so nice at my age to able to admit one was mistaken.

In my day the show biz world was small  and paths crossed often but the nearest I got to Sir Laurence and Lady Olivier is that I slept in a bedroom occupied the previous week by this illustrious pair. Now do not get the wrong impression this was not a room at the Ritz but an average set of theatrical digs in Bristol. It was clean humble and for me more than adequate but for the Oliviers? Even then I realized a lot of their magic was show.

Thanks to YouTube yesterday I was able to catch up on the film I had missed. To my surprise it was in color! But the biggest surprise was that Monroe stole the whole show. Her stunning performance reduced the great Olivier to second rate status. Her presence radiates off the silver screen and still would today. Here was an intelligent woman playing a bimbo and knowing exactly what she is doing.

At the time the Oliviers held all the cards but now all is different. That old style of acting and direction has past. Marilyn knew exactly what she wanted to achieve and wiped the floor with all the other actors with perhaps the exception of Richard Wattis but then I am biased as he was exactly like a parody of my husband Miles.

Marilyn encapsulated the position of women of that time. Extremely bright but totally uneducated and reduced to bimbo status which was not deserved. The way she tackles her pompous betters and acts them off the screen is a lesson to us all.

Monroe had every right to behave as she did. She knew the power of the Rattigan play and she knew it was a perfect vehicle for her talent. She bought the rights and she produced it with Olivier as her guest producer and director who then treated her as we say like muck.  I can vouch for the treatment handed out to women producers/directors, as late as 1986 I had to employ a male director for my TV series as the men refused point blank to take orders from me. I had to beg for every close up and I was paying the bill.

If Monroe wanted to be late she had every right to be late and for Oliver to insist that his wife Vivenne Leigh who was the first Showgirl attend each day of the shoot must have been intimidating to say the least. If you want to put somebody off that is exactly what you do. Again I had this happen to me when taking over a major role at short notice and the experience was horrible.

To tell Monroe to Try and act sexy was a first class insult and Olivier must have realized that with this woman he was way out of his depth in film technique.

Actresses of my day had only one choice and that was to be a bimbo if you wanted to work. We were intelligent but bright women were not required. I am just so pleased I had not seen this performance before I took over the IT girl in The Desert Song which is a similar role that of a sexy intelligent girl overlooked by everyone around who cannot see her worth as I should have lost all confidence in my ability to pull this off immediately. All women can sympathise with her character and all men want to go to bed with her.

Monroe may have had an abused upbringing and no education but she married the foremost playwright of her day Arthur Miller. She knew what she did well and did it.

Bravo Marilyn. Here she is with Richard Wattis when her character realizes she has been set up. I expect many of my friends would have had to cope with this sort of situation on a daily basis. I have found myself here on more than one occasion. I too knew how to get out of such tricky moments.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cold Calling Jehova Witnesses

Today I had a call from The Jehova Witnesses. Usually I see off these calls with a curt 'Don't have the time' a la Karen from Outnumbered but I had a few moments to spare and I wanted to try out an argument based on the Creation Myth that had hit me a couple of years ago at the time of Darwin's Double Centenary.

The ladies looked and indeed were delightful and about my age so with the warning that  they were about to enter the house of a died in the wool atheist they bravely decided to come in on the condition that I should listen to them for five minutes and then they had to listen to me and then give me their opinion.

They accepted. They were charming, intelligent and totally uneducated in science.  Women of my age were. The social contract of the time saw to that. Boys were educated and  girls like me were not. Children who were lucky enough to go to state schools had a chance of escaping but middle class women were sent to convents and that is the problem.

All of us had received no education in sex or science and were taught to believe what we had been told. Only the rebellious like me escaped the heavy indoctrination. These two ladies had never met anyone who was in favor of The Modern Scientific Theory of Evolution only the opposite variety.

I listened to what they had to say and then I had my turn. It was a  friendly meeting with no conflict and I choose my words carefully  as I had no wish to offend but they had knocked on my door and wanted to talk about this touchy subject so I felt free to put my side of the equation. I broached the unmentionable subject of Adam & Eve and that Sin. Because it had struck me in a Eureka moment two years ago that of course if they didn't exist, they couldn't have sinned! Darwin had killed the bible because he had doubted the existence of this first very human couple. Darwin could not prove their non existence but today we can with DNA. Not a trace of the couple and if they had lived they would show up.

For those who have forgotten Adam & Eve, to whom we are all supposed to be related, Sinned and God the Father who had made them in his own likeness was so peeved that he sentenced the whole human race to eternal torture in hell. Totally unacceptable today as one would never condemn anyone for guilt by association but this loving God is not like that.

Adam & Eve are the basis of the whole saga and today DNA can prove beyond all doubt that this pair never existed and could never have sinned thus proving that the bible is a story and of course none of us is related to this couple so we are not even guilty by association. This of course relegates the bible to  the waste paper bin.

There is of course no answer to this! Except that the world is only 6,000 years old which of course it isn't. The ladies took it well and I did not push my advantage. One lady was 78 and I must admit it may be too old to change and indeed why should she if it gives her pleasure and makes her happy but the younger lady might. She was clever and I hope open to my suggestion. I showed her a fossil, an ammonite from the pre Cambrian. She was fascinated. They both were and as neither could use a computer  I suggested they buy one for Xmas and make up for lost time and take a basic science course say Science made Easy on YouTube by Potholer54.

I was lucky. I met my husband who filled in the gaps in my education but these two excellent likable ladies have not until today when they met me. We had a delightful morning and I must be the only person alive who experienced two Jehova Witnesses who were actually longing to go! It was their good and bad luck to meet me. It was a pity their teachers let them down.

At least I made them think! My experiment was a success. I managed to put my point of view without confrontation or coming to blows and there I shall leave it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What we need is Karen on the Bond Market

Living in New Zealand I have only just discovered Karen from the BBC's Outnumbered. The Brits have known about her for the last five years which gives some indication of how behind the times TVNZ is but what I have come to the conclusion that what the economic crisis needs is a Karen.

Out of the mouths of babes sometimes comes a lot of insight. I should love to get Karen on the Bond Market. That's the market where governments lend money they don't have and promise to pay it back in the future by lending out some more money they don't have. When this tactic eventually comes to the point where a government has to pay the problem is solved by printing a lot of money they don't have to pay back the punters! Karen would see  immediately that it is not going to work.

How can we all be so gullible? I know UK has taken Karen to their hearts but it is now time the rest of the world woke up to her. Karen is very good at seeing off door to door salespeople too.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Euro Crisis - a Replay of the French Revolution?

The Comedy or the Crisis of the Euro rolls on getting more complicated everyday with it seems, no answer in sight. Italy and Greece are hopelessly in debt due mainly to a certain sections of the elite who demand to retain their privileges to tax exemption, tax evasion and corruption and the rest of the Euro countries and the rest of the world who have foolishly lent their country's savings to Italy, Greece, Ireland et all without due diligence now face losing their money.

The world never learns. We have been here before and the outcome for the elite was unpleasant. From 1792 until 1799 there is a period known as The French Revolution of which the present crisis is sadly showing signs of repeat performance possibly without the guillotine but nevertheless chaos.

The problem is then and now that the Elites have avoided paying their fair share of taxes, leaving that to the Third Estate (middle class) and working class to do that for them but government institutions are expensive to run and eventually there is nothing left to tax. Continual mulching of the cash cow is unsustainable. Capitalist's free markets means that everything becomes centralized with the loss of manufacturing and civil service jobs and there is only theThird Estate  left to tax and because of the downsizing many of them are unemployed or on the bread line. Capitalists refuse to be taxed as they  plead they add to the economy. How they actually do this is never stated but they are quite sure they deserve their bonuses.

The most brilliant plan  that is being offered now by France and Germany who would suffer if these two debtor countries go broke is to solve the problem by offering more loans and more austerity for the Third Estate.  Louis XVI tried this with spectacular failure.This will solve the problem in the short term but you cannot get blood out of a stone when more money is needed to pay up.

Or one can just print money but Germany knows that that solution doesn't work either having had practical experience in the Weimar Republic. Both the methods above are mirages and any intelligent being will know they are not going to work

The Elites have to pay their share, tax exemption and corruption have to stop, Germany and France and the rest of us have to write off the debts and Italy and Greece have to be given control of their own currencies to kick start their economies otherwise the masses will rise and the results will be ghastly. 

Oh they need me there! But we know all this! In 1929 Hendrik Willem Van Loon wrote a history primer for children entitled  The Story of Mankind. His conclusions are still relevant today and I think this book ought to be essential reading in schools.

Stand by for the next thrilling installment!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Hands up all those who think the Greek Bailout will work!

Hands up all those who think the Greek Bailout will work! I am not an economist but even I can see that unless there is a miracle, this bailout is not going to work.

You cannot get blood out of a stone and Greece is broke it seems. Greece may be the foundation of democracy but it is also very good at corruption so I have been led to believe in the press and has a history of the rich evading their taxes. Like the Third Estate in the French Revolution when the poor who did pay the taxes to keep assorted Kings, Queens and clergy who didn't, in the luxury to which they felt they were entitled, could not longer pay.

So this whole thing has been shunted forward another three months and then will the fat hit the fan? I think it will. I am quite happy to be wrong on this one. There is no way Greece can pay up without reducing its citizens to penury!

The EU wants Greece to sell off all its assets to greedy bankers and it is going to force Greece to do this. Poor Greece! But countries have a mechanism which private companies and us do not. Countries can Nationalise. NZ has had to do this twice quite recently. NZ had to buy back its airline and railways. The railways cost a $1. If I were Greece I should do just this!

Times have changed . The Ship of State has been turned into a very different Ship of State from even ten years ago. The sailors, us, have moved into the present day, the 99% will no longer put up with greed and tax evasion but sadly the captain and officers, our politicians, still imagine they are running an old aircraft carrier which ought to be decommissioned years ago.

All in all, interesting times and whatever happens we are in for a rocky few years.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Too many people?

Oh dear the world is going through a difficult stage. There are just too many of us and not enough jobs to go around. Technology has seen to it that, except for a very few mind blowingly boring jobs, the amount of people needed to make everything the world's consumer could desire is minute in ratio to the world's population and in the future jobs for every one is not possible as it was in the past.

Capitalism good as it was in the past for some of us no longer works for the majority. Developed countries have seen all their manufacturing jobs exported to Asia and not one political party in the West bothered to consider what was going to happen to the thousands put out of work or where these people were going to find new jobs.

What this crisis needs is a genius to come up with some new answers. Somehow the world has to work out how to pay for all the billions who don't have a hope in hell of finding a good old fashioned boring job. Growth and capitalism no longer work as it used to do so politicians should stop castigating their electorates about hard work and self reliance put on their thinking caps  and start finding them something purposeful to do to fill up their lives. Self reliance has had its day. It is just not possible for all of us to have a job that pays.

Nature will of course solve the population problem in the end but probably in a very unpleasant way.

Monday, October 31, 2011

How to read a book you don't want to!

Besides being very informative this is one of the few YouTubes I have seen which I consider an excellent example of a well made YouTube. It is professional to the core with original images, a blend of live and still. Beautiful sharp editing, crisp and clean with a smattering of simple effects.

The message is clear. The presenter's voice is attractive and the whole is convincing which is why it has 65,000 views.

It is easy to make.True it would have taken a considerable amount of time and thought, but this video will stand the test of time. It does not require exceptional video editing skills. Anyone with iMove 6.3 could make this.

My point is that it is a pity people do not spend a little more time on editing.

Sadly nowadays video editing is not as easy as it was.The old version of iMovie was brilliant, easy to use and excellent quality. The new version is not. It is a version for beginners and it is so difficult to use that most would give up. I did after just one trial. Getting the soundtrack to sync was a horrible experience.

Lastly my mother always taught me to split up any job I disliked and just do a little every day. You then wake up one day and find it is done. I am painting my shed this way. I read Proust this way and I am doing Wintereisse this way. I only hope the result is as good as above.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Lord Mayor's Show- Glitter and be Gay!

This week it all seems to be happening. At last the 99% of us who have been ripped off by the Establishment for really all of our lives is being confronted. It must have come as a bit of a shock as The City has been a way of life for the rich and grasping ever since Dick Whittington and his cat!

The final straw this week was when I read of the CEO's of the 100 largest British Companies have given themselves a 49% pay rise while the rest of us pay for their mistakes! No wonder St. Pauls has been invaded. Being paid £17 million a year  today is grotesque but some of them are and complain about 50% tax.

I never realized how rich and privileged the City Establishment was until 1997 on my last trip back to UK. Being in the London theatre I thought I knew wealth. You expect the Royal Family to glitter and they do. Even in a darkened theatre the Royal family glitter but I have never experienced anything like my visit to the Barbican to see Hamlet.

The tickets were bought at the last minute. My husband's Oxford educated cousin kindly took me. To my delight he bought seats in the stalls, almost in the middle of an empty row about three from the front. I was so appreciative of my companions choice as my usual seating arrangement for most of my life has been the gallery or standing at the back of the stalls at Covent Garden. When I married my Oriel Educated GP I suppose I joined the elite by default and graduated to the stalls.

I was not dressed up for the occasion. When I looked around I noticed that there were a fair amount of formally dressed men an women but who cares I was there to see Shakespeare's greatest play. Being underdressed never bothers the English Upper Classes, it sort of runs in the territory.

Suddenly I felt the warmth of a spotlight hitting where we sat. The whole house hushed and I thought how did they know I was coming? I stifled my inclination to stand up and take a bow but before I could I was accosted by a party of brilliantly dressed people who looked like something out a 'Iolanthe' G&S's spoof on the House of Peers who were entering our row to major applause from the rest of the house.

I had to stand up to let them pass. Before me paraded in full evening dress the Lord Mayor of London and his party who were gracing the performance. I had never seen the male City Establishment in full array before. I was astonished.

The rich black velvet, the ruffles of lace, the black silk stockings, the formal decorations and the diamonds and gold glittered and shone in the limelight and these were the men. I have never seen men wearing such a show of jewels before in my life other than pantomime and those were false. These were real. The men glittered. Their wives paled into insignifiance by comparison. Just a tasteful pearl necklace and an understated frock. Nothing ostentatious or showy.

It was the first time I had seen the black velvet knickerbockers with diamond garter and black patent leather ballet pumps. A get up I always admired from Iolanthe as I find it sexy. Gilbert knew that everyone loves the House of Peers, they appear such buffons but they are not. Far from it, these Eton/OxBridge educated creatures know how to use the power life has given them to the hilt.

It was these rich city men who were the dominant features. They looked like cockerels as they edged their was past me to their seats. Hamlet which starred Susanna York as Gertrude was nothing so grand as this display I witnessed before me. These men were the stars of the evening.

As we walked to the foyer we witnessed the Establishment having a party with the champagne flowing. If I had been better dressed I could have gate crashed. My companion probably knew half of them anyway as Oxford is a free masonry of its own.

I left having a new respect for the  power of the City. I have never been one for displays of wealth. I find it distasteful especially when half the world is unemployed or starving. The British Establishment better change its ways before it is too late and the tumbrels start running. I for one will not be sorry to see them go but not to the guillotine.

Am I bitter? Yes in a way I am. These men took all the education and jobs for themselves. Merit did not count in my day just an Ox/Bridge Education and the Old Boy network. Women were kept in their place and that night they still were. Now I can hold my own with any of them thanks to my husband who gave me the confidence  and education to do so and now I know they look silly but they are no joke

Lastly I looked for an image that represented this fabulous show of wealth but could not find one. These men are careful not to advertise their wealth and power in the press as it might annoy the hoi polloi but when it comes to an evening out with the boys it is the full regalia. Scary.