Monday, August 29, 2011

Murder THE Surprise of my life.

There comes to a stage in one's life when nothing surprises one very much. I suppose Being an optimist I believed that although I knew I was not going to conquer the world, being born a woman and not of royal blood made that highly unlikely but that I would in my time met a lot of interesting and famous people.

In fact I have and I think possibly everyone can meet famous or interesting people if they make an effort even if it is only at the stage door. I have meet virtually everyone I wished to meet some by accident, I bumped into Princess Ann in St Martins Lane, or my own effort but what I never ever thought I should meet or know were the victims of two grisly murders. I mean it is just not British! Comparatively few people get murdered so the chances of knowing even one must be few. I was wrong!

I never ever imagined that I should actually know two of them. One of them well.

What brought this to my notice was the murder in Malaysia of the New Zealand President of The World Association Croquet  whom I had met on one or two occasions as I played croquet, unsuccessfully, when my husband died.   I hardly knew victim number one as I am such a novice player. Unless one has a handicap of minus five one is not likely to get noticed in croquet circles but it was close. Why on earth  a president of a world association should stopped off at a Malaysian holiday resort which is well known as a sex hot spot I have no idea but no doubt it was not a wise thing to do. No doubt we shall find out.

My second murder victim I did know well. He was the secretary of the local stamp club, yes I collect postage stamps, and anyone less likely to get murdered would be hard to imagine. We would meet every month at the club or exhibitions and the man was a picture of respectability. His name was Rob. He was well regarded in the stamp world and had a special interest in youth stamp weekends. This should have raised alarm bells I suppose but it didn't.

He could be secretive. Once when I was standing next to him at a stamp fair I asked to see what he was buying. It was a miniature sheet of Victoria Universals which I also collect and he wouldn't show me. I found this strange as stamp collectors like showing off their treasures to anyone who shows the slightest interest. He became secretive and huffy. However he was jovial and pleasant and patronizing and upright as so many men are where I am concerned.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise to read on the front pages of the news and TV that he had been murdered. It was a full Agatha Christie murder, body found in his home bashed to death. Eventually the murderer was caught and arrested and we found out at the trial, where the murderer pleaded guilty that respectable Rob had a penchant for picking up young gentlemen off the streets and taking them home.

Nothing wrong with that but regretfully this one killed him!

I am not easily astounded or gobsmacked but this time I was. I had no idea that Rob had another secret life life other than stamps! But he did. I wish for him he had not as I had no desire ever to know a murder victim. It just goes to show we never really know people. They can surprise the best of us.

However I suppose after two home invasions and a couple of attempted rapes from which  I have lived to tell the tale I suppose I could be a victim myself one day!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Glyndebourne Turn of Screw Live Screening

Image Glyndebourne Ltd

Just finished watching Britten's The Turn of the Screw screened live from Glyndebourne in real-time in Auckland New Zealand and it was fantastic. What a way to be able to watch operas. Mark you I did have to wake up at 5.30 in the morning and I was, as all New Zealander's are,  a bit late, but I caught the main scenes that I was interested in.

The visual quality was superb and so too the sound as I listened through earphones but to lie in bed and watch a Glyndebourne opera is a treat without actually having to make the horrendous journey, the hours and hours it takes, the delays, the discomfort, the queues  and that is just the journey down from  London!

Now to serious matters! The performance. I found it interesting and I mean that sincerely. This opera has been my life so I know it rather well. In fact in the final scene where Quint and The Governess fight for Miles's soul it suddenly struck me that in this production the underlying theme that was prominent could have been the struggle that Britten had with his own sexuality. Britten for years could never decide whether he was a 'Martha' or an 'Arthur'.

In the production, whether it happened by accident or was a deliberate act of the director I noticed this for the first time. The torment of choosing between the total love of man for man as represented by Quint or the delights of heterosexuality and family as offered by the Governess is too much for the young adolescent. Flora, on the other hand, is much more mature and doesn't give a toss but gets on with life and takes it as it comes.

Britten could like women both Stephen Reiss, Aldeburgh's famous company manager, Colin Graham, the opera director and even myself can witness this. Britten was extremely fond of Jennifer Vyvyan, the original Governess. The part was tailored for her and Quint for Peter Pears. Britten did not know how to end the opera and it was Vyvyan who suggested a reprise of the haunting Malo theme but Pears, Britten's life long partner clung on like a leach and eventually, Vyvyan was 'ghosted'. Pears could be very vicious on occasions and very possessive. Pears loathed playing Quint. 

In the final scene, Britten who may subconsciously have cast himself as Miles would be torn between them. Neither won and Britten kept his sexuality a secret till his death. Nobody questioned his sexual choice during his life. They would have been sued and ghosted. Charles Mackerras, the conductor was ghosted and admonished just for pointing out there were an awful lot of little boys in Noyes Fludde!

There is no doubt Peter Pears was 100% gay and admitted it but Britten never did during his lifetime. He was androgynous. The Turn of the Screw has many interpretations but  I think this sexual struggle may have been very close to the composer's heart and one reason why this opera is so powerful. It was only on seeing this production that this thought struck me. I was too naive when I was 16! It is only now I am nearing the end that I can confront the unmentionable.

When I saw the rehearsals the Governess, played by my favourite soprano at the moment Miah Presson, looked perfect. With her long blonde hair and frumpy shoes, she looked every inch the 18-year-old naive daughter of a country parson. This I thought was perfect casting and would give Jennifer Vyvyan's performance a run for its money and then the designer stepped in with a 1950's wig! Oh dear, the 18-year-old became a frumpy 40. All innocence was lost. The governess looked as old as The Housekeeper. Big mistake. Tip, real hair always looks better and should be used if possible.

Regretfully however good Ms Presson's English, she is Swedish, and her command of the language does not have the nuance required for this opera. It is the shades of inflexion that are so essential. Vyvyan did this splendidly but for Ms Presson, although she was adequate just sang it. In her Susanna in the Marriage of Figaro, she was Susanna. With the fuddy-duddy wig, one had little sympathy for her. She was not helped by the direction. Confining her to a chair for the final scene did not allow much scope dramatically. Maybe this is what the director wanted.

Poor Flora! Beautifully sung and performed by Joanna Song was again relegated to the sidelines. Very few close-ups even in her big scenes and her charm were only allowed to show through in the curtain calls. Flora has to be charming. James makes a point of Flora appearing to be an angel. This Flora was not, in fact, she was crude and it would have been the director's decision. There was a singer who should have been given more chance to shine. Miles who was adequate should be able to look after himself. Lots of close-ups of Miles!!!

That poor Flora's head stuck in a washbasin for the whole of Quint's seduction was not a good idea.  For those unfamiliar, this is a long aria of ravishing music The director must have sure hated Flora! I am glad I was not asked to do this! I don't think Mr Britten would have approved one tiny bit. He would have hated it.

I don't think Mr Britten would have appreciated Flora sticking a doll up her jumper to make her look pregnant either in the churchyard scene. As I child of the 50's myself, I can tell you naughty or otherwise and you can see from the review I was always a bit of a rebel I should never have done that. I hardly knew what pregnant was! None of us did!

Musically I felt the orchestra just played the notes beautifully but without feeling. The ghosts seduction musically was too clinical for my taste.  It is sheer sexual sensuality of sound that counts and not what's on the page. Mackerras was far more sympathetic as Britten realized. Britten forgave Mackerras when it came to The Screw. Britten knew he needed Mackerras on this occasion.

However, I did enjoy the production. I loved the video of the train journey and the revolve and some of the direction was so clever. Did it do Henry James and Britten justice? Not sure. The Screw is so understated and this one was blatant and in your face. Those ghosts were real. Britten even though suspected he believed the children had been abused never went that far.

Would Britten have liked this version? Difficult question but it should be asked. I think not. Britten was fussy about this opera. He shelved it in the UK for years until he was happy with the casting. Then it was only performed occasionally under supervision. I am not sure this production would have healed the famous Glyndebourne/Britten rift. Perhaps it is better that he is unable to see it!

Oh yes! The Turn of the Screw will still continue to be the subject of many PhD's literary and musical for many years to come.

I am delighted to have seen it. More, please! Congratulations to all and if like me you were late you can catch it here for the next 3 weeks. Well worth it!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Woman's Place in Society Guide Lines!

I found the above parody  YouTube absolutely hilarious! The trouble is that it is oh so true. I feel sure woman of a mature age will recognize the sentiments expressed only too well. Our lives have been spent fighting this attitude and although gains have been made there is still a long way to go.

At the age of 17 I once experienced a similar situation at the local Young Conservatives, to my shame my mother insisted I went as you met such a  nice class of person!  The local MP a Commander Courtney was taking questions. There were obvious problems in with China in the Tibet region and I simply asked 'What was Great Britain going to do in the event of China invading that country?'

Absolute silence! A fly's footfall would have been distinctly heard. The Commander  looked at me, took a deep breath and said 'I don't think you have to bother your pretty little head about that one. Next question!'

I could have crawled under my seat with embarrassment. Nobody spoke to me again.

Three weeks later China invaded Tibet and is still there. Six months later Commander Courtney MP for Harrow East was caught in a Soviet honey trap and poor man was displayed naked on the front pages of the national tabloids!

Such a nice class of person!

Now for those cuddly kittens!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Auckland makes BBC News

Today Auckland made the headlines of BBC  World News.What was the topic that was so important it was the main feature? Another Rainbow Warrior? A plane crash?  The NZ dollar had reached parity with the USA dollar? No far more important than that. Auckland had SNOW!

Well as you can see from the illustration not much snow! If you blinked you would have missed it. I did miss it but somewhere in Auckland there was a smattering of the white stuff enough to hit the world headlines as there has been no snow in thirty years.

Snow always comes as a surprise in Godzone. The farmers are convinced it never happens and time lambing for the very worst of the winter. This is so the lambs will be ready for the European spring next April but it means that the lambs are born in the very depths of winter. Last year surprise, we had snow in winter and millions of lambs died. So many died that two freezing works have had to close this month because there are no sheep to cull.

You would think the farmers would learn but surprise, surprise it has snowed this year and the result will  I expect be the death of millions more more lambs. I think it is just to cruel. There is no need to make sheep give birth in the very worst weather but then I am a sentimental old thing. I do not have the hang of Capitalism.

It was cold today and I actually had to turn on my electric fire which immediately gave up the ghost in a puff of smoke. The NZ winter is nothing like the UK winter of 1947. Now that was a winter. Auckland is more like a cold August summer day.

Still I  shall be going to the Chateau Tongariro so I can film some of the stuff for my Wintereisse CD that I recorded with Miles when the weather is a bit better. I only require a light covering and not an avalanche. I shall have to buy some gloves.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Who needs a green belt?

It appears that the UK planners have gone completely mad and are about to concrete over the green belt. Concrete is the name of the game. Same in NZ at the moment. Miles and miles of concrete. The article was in today's paper and I couldn't help myself but add the rather long comment below. I can be so naughty!

Who needs a 'green belt'? Totally unnecessary.

Why don't we cover the whole of England with concrete and be done with it! We have to put the 70 million somewhere. The planners are thinking ahead.

Lots more motor ways and airports too and miles and miles of ribbon development. Wonderful. Can't wait.

I suppose we could allow a 'Last tree in England Square'  and a couple of stuffed badgers but are things of natural beauty necessary today? .

Soon the only green places left will belong to the Crown and it should look to  its laurels. Buckingham Palace  is ripe for development and perhaps Number 10 too, as a good architect could get at least three or four townhouses on that garden. I mean the PM doesn't need a lawn does he? Concrete is the very thing. Polished it can look quite beautiful.

Rioters love concrete. Makes them feel good and deprived. All that ghastly devastation. Perhaps a few trees in tubs for  them to burn might not be amiss and flowers, rioters love flowers. They  remind them of what they are missing.

Hell here on earth right now is what we want. The planners are so right. Lots of development and lots of money to be made so they can take off to ...... well I'm not sure! Where does one go to escape concrete these days? The world is so crowded but who cares! God will provide.... I hope and anyway all will be green and pleasant in heaven. No rioters there! God has a way with rioters!

Oh yes! This article really made me feel good.  Next lets start on closing every manufacturing industry down and send the work off shore.  Far cheaper and cost effective and we need more unemployed. I mean who is going to trash our cities?

Oh and lastly tax the poor! Forget about the bankers and politicians. They are allowed to shaft the system. It is legal for them.  They really need the money! They are just doing their job and very well too. Such upright citizens with such good morals. 'The rich man in his castle and the poor man at his gate' is so true. Why don't the poor know their place?  It is 'Do as I say 'not 'Do as I do'! Can't the poor tell the difference?

What the poor need is a solid private public school education so they can grow up to shaft the system too.

Oh and lots of religion! Total belief in Adam & Eve!

How wonderful the future is going to be! Can't wait!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Fish for free!

Looking for some free fish images for my Rhein Legend song by Gustave Mahler I found these absolutely free fishes to web users and all ready to use..... well sort of! Took a bit of working out and on this blog at the moment the fish are being prima donnerish and not moving about to the sweep of my mouse or feeding when I click, you may have to give them a bit of a prod!

But once published they are behaving! So cute. Remember to click to feed!

Thank you aBowman for an hour of pleasure. Love them!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

London needs Mrs Jack

Regretfully it seems UK chickens have come home to roost. It seems our young molly coddled children have run amuck. They are just not afraid of authority. It is no good having riot shields and batons and water canon if the rioters/children know you are not going to use them. I am not an advocate of the Spare the rod, spoil the child brigade but sadly it does look as if they were right!

Everyone needs a dose of authority! To live in our society one must have rules and one must behave even if one doesn't want to. Although I am loathe to admit it in the last resort a God who punishes the unruly with eternal damnation might be a good thing when all else fails.

So what to do? My recipe for success would be to bring back Mrs Jack.


Mrs Jack was the headmistress of my ballet school, Arts Educational, in Upper Berkley Street London in the late 1950s. She was a formidable woman and one who by character alone held all the pupils and staff in fear and dread. If one put so much as a toe out of line the result was the threat of immediate discipline of the first order. She gave the impression that the results of any digression from the rules would result in immediate expulsion. This worked. The school was terrified and the apocalypse never materialized.

Her presence as she walked into morning assembly was enough to give the whole school the jitters. Her eye for the school uniform code was like an eagle. Wrong shoes meant trouble. She insisted that we curtsey to her every time she passed. Her staff knew that the threat of being sent to Mrs Jack was enough to quell the bravest offender.

Consequently we learned to do what we were told without question. Ballet companies need dancers who do what they are told as one cannot have individuals in the corps of Swan Lake! If I am in any production I do what the director or conductor wants regardless of what I think personally.

Mrs Jack was strikingly beautiful but scary. She was superb at teaching English and although she never got me to spell I can parse my way through anything. This is not fashionable these days. I can be extremely cheeky on occasions and spent many hours outside the classroom door which was unfortunately right next to her office. This was dangerous as I could have been in great trouble but fortunately the loo was next door so if I saw her coming I would pretend that that was where I was going to avoid the unthinkable consequences.

Being of light complexion my mother used to get her rouge & powder out every morning and give me the once over as she thought I looked so pale and ill. Mrs Jack's eye caught the offending make up and all hell let loose! I was terrified and said "My mother did it!". The explosion that followed as my excuse was given has stayed with me to this day. A phone call to my mother followed. I was never made up again but I escaped with my life.

One does have to fear some authority if the group is to survive. Lets hope the politicians are up to it. No cell phones for under 17's might help.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Capitalism and Croquet don't work!

It struck me this morning after the financial and political travails of the past weeks that Capitalism is like a game of Association Croquet, both are outdated, both don't work in today's circumstances, both are brilliant if you are a winner and disastrous if you are a loser, both need absolute selfish dedication and adherence to the rules. No quater is ever given. No change is ever contemplated and all opposition must be quashed.

Croquet and Capitalism are horrible games played by horrible people. You have to be a totally without empathy to succeed  and able to live with a total lack of sympathy with your opponent. If you have these traits Capitalism and Association Croquet are the games for you but if like me you have some sympathy with your opponent and would like to give them a fair go you a destined to be a failure.

I think is it fair today to say that Capitalism as it has been played in that past no longer works. The free for all of buying up every company in site, sacking the workers and selling the assets and taking no responsibility for their fate is no longer acceptable. It is the same with Association Croquet. It needs hours and hours to play a game and if you hit someone just slightly better than you you can expect hours and hours of sitting in a deck chair with no chance of actually hitting a ball more than once. You will never get 'in' and your opponent doesn't give a stuff.  'That's the game' you are told and 'no we do not bend the rules. You'll just have to put up with it!'

The Croquet Association could change the rules  but the old players like the system as it works for them so to hell with everyone else. Consequently the game of Association Croquet is dying on its feet. Few new players and a huge fall off as potential players learn that they are just there to pay the club fees and watch the old codgers 'go around'.

People who are denied an opportunity to join in cannot fend for themselves. Eventually people will get angry if they are kept sitting on the sidelines for too long without a living salary, education and health care and demand changes. It is happening all over the world as the young realize that the system and politicians now in charge are only interested in themselves and not in their citizens. The young have youth on their side. Old clerics of any faith beware!

If you have winners you will have losers and it is up to the winners to look after the losers but our politicians don't seem to get this and neither does the Croquet Association. If the game is too unpleasant people eventually rebel and won't play. Rulers have to learn to look after the 'have nots' or be thrown to the lions as Marbarak in Egypt. Thirty years of selfishness and corruption and ends up behind bars. Bush and Obama are both guilty. You cannot get elected president of the USA with out bankers and corporations backing and that means offensive, in your face capitalism.

Association Croquet could be great game but needs a few changes  to the rules to let opponents have a bit of a hit every time the game is played. Capitalism is the best going as long as it is regulated and the rules of trade are fair to all. Greedy bankers unscrupulous speculators and corrupt politicians have to be kept in hand.

Anyway it looks as if time is up for both systems. What it needs is a Napoleon with a whiff of grapeshot to say 'stop this nonsense' and sort this out. I only wish I was younger!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Misogynists and me!

Janette Miller Greece

Why is it that the three men who at one time or another saw something in me enough to love me, to help me and become an important part of my and their life were all misogynists? In spite of themselves all three of them who were confirmed women dislikers, 'haters' would be too strong a word, found to their astonishment and I suspect much against their will that I was in fact 'rather nice' and en par with their male colleagues and peers and yet? All three were brilliant men at the top of their professions so I must have been quite something to attract their attention in my own right.

All three went out of their way for me and yet I feel I was almost an embarrassment. One even went so far as to marry me! This came as a shock to all his friends and family as he was 44 a confirmed bachelor and had a boarding house full of men at the time! I was something of a novelty. Oxford Educated Dr. Miles Heffernan was something of a 'catch'! It took 8 years and a 'kick' from  a mutual friend Noel 'Cupid' Tovey to make Miles propose.

The other two misogynists kept me very much in the background. The composer Britten who had many boy friends first met me as a 'necessity'. He was desperate for a young Flora found that I was brilliant musically at the age of 15 and watched me grow into a very attractive 19 year old English rose. I feel sure much  to his astonishment he enjoyed my company. I think I may have been the only 19 year old female Britten ever took home alone in this sports car after rehearsals having turfed out Peter Pears. It is a bit sad when I think about it now. I could have been a bit nicer. I was around for nearly 5 years. You did not stay around Britten if he did not like you! But you will not find me in any biography. It is as if I do not exist. Am I that embarrassing? But I do exist!

The last misogynist was the late Peter Goodwin who was a Master Bookbinder. I met him at my philatelic & bookbinding clubs and he would never talk to me. In fact for three years he never said one word. It was so bad I even complained but because the club bindery was shut much to my annoyance the offer was made that if ever I needed to use the equipment I could use Peter's. "You wouldn't complain if you could use a real bindery". He said smugly!  This offer was made because he never thought I should take it up! I did.

A brush with the hospital super bug Clostridium Difficele had left my nervous system in tatters. All I could do was Photoshop and book bind and I needed an embosser. I took Peter up, he saw I needed a helping hand  and I went to work for him. For three months I was an apprentice to a master craftsman. I soon discovered Peter was a Free Mason and his brothers came first. A bad marriage had left him bitter and he really did not like women but he too enjoyed my company and for nine years we met each week. I filmed him for posterity on DVD. Each festival Christmas, Easter, his birthday's he would spend with me and my small family and I went to the Masonic 'dos' when he needed a partner.

However all three men compartmentalized their relationships. For two of them I was a 'secret' my husband had no choice but to acknowledge me as I was not the 'living together' sort. It was only at Peter's funeral that I discovered how much of a 'secret' I was.  There was no room in the chapel for me as it was filled to the brim with over 300 of his brothers who had never heard of me. I refused to watch his funeral  outside on the TV but I did feel that the man being buried was not the man I knew. I was airbrushed out of his life as if I had never existed.

I had bought a posy of camillas which he loved. I took them often to the bindery. I wanted to place them on the coffin as it was laid in earth but again it was his 300 brothers who were invited to place an acacia twig on the coffin. I felt almost redundant. Fortunately a mason noticed and told me to push forward and place my flowers. He must have had a word with the vicar as I was then invited to do so but it was a close run thing. I wonder how many of his brothers will visit his grave and why none had invited him for Xmas dinner?

It was not their fault that 'my men' distrusted women. They were born in an age where women were definitely second class citizens who were uneducated and could be dispensed with and it says much that they rebelled or at least relaxed to allow me into their personal circle. The  secret world of the all male club where membership relies on having a penis is slightly unpleasant today but is still alive and kicking. I can vouch for that.

For Peter and Miles I have given them their posterity. Peter on DVD, Miles on YouTube. Britten has given me mine. All three have airbrushed me out of their official lives. I do not exist but I do and I live to tell the tale!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Is Wagner's Ring too long?

Is Wagner's Ring too long? Not according to my late husband who relished every note and knew what Wagner had for breakfast but for me who stood through my first Ring in the old gallery at Covent Garden when I was 15 (Hans Hotter was Wotan so it was a long time ago) some of the monologues were definitely a bit long on first hearing and I had to sit down!

Wagner knew that his audience would possibly only hear his operas once and that it takes the average music audience and least three repetitions of a theme to appreciate the musical line. Also he had a lot of plot to explain and there was no knowing if the audience had been in the previous evening so again a lot of repetition was necessary.

This is not necessary today. What Wagner needed was an editor and it seems now he has got one and in Bayreuth the very home of The Ring. Richard Wagner fur Kinder - Der Ring of des Nibelungen which is edited down from three operas and an introductory evening to just two hours!

I should have loved to have done this 30 years ago in Auckland where I ran a small progressive opera/ballet company against all odds and no grants. We managed Schoenberg, Ravel, Bartok but I did come to grief with excerpts from Tristan and Isolde. King Mark's monologue was too much for the audience and critics and on the third night I had to cut it. The King Mark in question was so miffed he almost threw me into Lake Pupuke and has never spoken to me again.

Auckland wasn't ready for Wagner's Ring and still isn't I suspect. Might get away with the early works and perhaps a Meistersinger but Auckland might like a shortened version to get them going though even this is doubtful without a large grant from the government.

I congratulate Bayreuth for having the guts to do this. Nobody else except me. if I had the cash and health would have dared. It is long over due and will introduce many to the most some marvelous music ever written.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Grand Duchess Anastasia

May I introduce you to HRH the Grand Duchess Anastasia. She was born/made in 1921 in Monte Carlo and now she is sitting on my sofa in Auckland New Zealand and it is freezing!

Anastasia is not amused. She was so 'not amused' that I found my real Russian fur hat for her to wear. She looked so lonely that I suggested Fred my trusty turkey try to cheer her up.

What is a Grand Duchess doing sitting in my drawing room in Auckland New Zealand? I am not sure Anastasia knows. She certainly looks very bored. When it ones to looking down one's nose at the hoi poloi Anastasia has got what it takes. Her look can kill!

In 1921 my Miller grand parents were rich. My grandfather Hugh Miller had escaped the slums of Glasgow by inventing the multi colored golf umbrella and for a few years held the patent pending. He made a fortune and was able to holiday in Monte Carlo where my grandmother discovered and bought Anastasia.

Anastasia was made by a Grand Duchess. The Russian Revolution had meant many a Grand Duchess escaped to the South of France with out the proverbial ruble and consequently scratched a living making the most beautiful dolls. Anastasia reeks class. She is no ordinary doll she is a royal doll.

My grandparents travelled all over the world. Anastasia has emigrated to Canada in the 1930's, not a success, lived through the Blitz in London, become poor again as my grand father's business collapsed, golf clubs are not much good in a war and eventually emigrated to New Zealand twice as my mother loathed the place and took her back to Bournemouth.  Anastasia was not amused. Now Anastasia is back again with me.

She reigns over my drawing room. She can look very dismissive even though she has some ravishing objects to look at such as a claret jug from Napoleon III's table and a Jane Austin piano but she hankers for the Winter Palace and the old good old days and all she gets is a turkey. I mean!!!

Nevertheless spring is on its way and hopefully Anastasia will feel better.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

World's Financial Madness vs My Mother

My mother was right! It pains me to say this but on one economic topic my mother  was right. 'Never mess about with people's jobs' she said.  'It is very easy to sack people and close organizations but almost impossible to start them up again' and she was right. Why don't politicians know this? They have enough evidence. Making people unemployed is stupid.

If you shut down a ballet company or an orchestra you lose all the trained personel and it would cost a  half the gold in Fort Knox to start one up again from scratch even if you could.  Ballet dancers and musicians take decades to train. This is my filed of interest but it is the same for virtually anything else.

How does HBSC improve the economy by sacking 30,0000 employees. It is good for the bank as it lowers the wages bill, allows them to sell off premises  and make their profits look better for shareholders but just where do they think that 30,000 unwanted clerical workers are going to go?

The governments too are great at shedding employees. In NZ 1,500 armed forces personel are being 'let go' from the payroll  where they could do something useful like rebuild Christchurch onto the unemployment benefit. How does that benefit anyone?

The only people who benefit from this madness are the bankers who do nothing to help the real economy. Their money is made from shuffling numbers in a giant ponze scheme. They shut down manufacturing companies, sack the employees and sell the assets in the name of free trade.

The Romans had the answer. They had this problem too but they made jobs. All Roman soldiers had to build roads viaducts and walls when not fighting. Hadrian's Wall comes to mind and for the rest there was 'bread and circuces'. Entertain the masses and feed the rest. In NZ at the moment we have the Rugby World Cup which is costing the NZ taxpayer 39 million but it does keep the unemployed youth happy for a couple of months.

Germany is doing well because through all this mayhem it has maintained its manufacturing base. UK & NZ have shed all theirs. How could the UK let Cadburys Chocolate, the most British of British organization be sold to Kraft and sent to Poland! In NZ we lost Fisher & Paykle  to China!

Still this won't go on forever. Oil will run out and then it will be uneconomic to have goods transported  from the other side of the world.

So once again I have to admit my mother was right.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Voyage that Shook the World and me!

Last night I watched by accident the film above on Sky TV in New Zealand. I missed the introduction so must have joined in about a third of the way through and being a great fan of Darwin I sat back to enjoy the rest of the programme.

It was beautifully made with great production values and must have cost a fortune and I wondered why I had not seen it before as there was a lot of interest created for Darwin's double centenary two years ago in 2009.

There were lots of experts with great credentials but it was only when mentioning that Darwins finches could have evolved like breeding pigeons and the flash floods could have caused the geological strata that I began to feel uncomfortable with what I was seeing and started to smell at rat.

When it started on the purpose Darwin's theory really being against religion and there were doubts as to it validity that I knew something was seriously wrong with this documentary. A search for the title, I had to find the Sky magazine and a quick Wiki showed that in fact it was a covert Creationist production set up to entice scientists who otherwise would not have taken part.

I have no gripe with alternative presentations but I do have a gripe with sneaky documentaries like this that have a hidden agenda ment to fool. For anyone not scientifically educated this documentary gives the firm impression that The Modern Scientific Theory of Evolution is still only a theory!

For me DNA sequence says it all. DNA, of course, was never mentioned. Darwin far from being displeased I feel sure would have been delighted with DNA as it proves everything he said.

However the film is worth a watch as an example of what can be achieved by propaganda and money in an attempt to deceive. Why didn't they just say Darwin is wrong and this is why!