Lek’s Darkside Car Services*
Normal Service has been resumed…
Yes, I know more unexplained breaks .
Please bear with me, I am going through some difficult and trying times and they are far from over.
I did have some small hopes that my house might be sold last week, but it was not to be. Not all is lost however, as the potential buyer is still on board, but completion date has now been put back to next week.
These things have a propensity to go pear-shaped at the last moment so I will believe it when I see it, and in the meantime I just live in hope.
To make matters worse, the latest update reports from the administrators who are investigating the fund where all my savings have been invested, makes very bad reading. I had thought that there was a reasonable chance that in the course of time – maybe 2 or 3 years – I stood reasonable chance of getting at least half my money back and that the sale of my house would tide me over in the meantime.
I now know that this is a forlorn hope and that hundreds of millions of dollars of investors’ hard earned money has as good as disappeared. Frankly I will be extremely fortunate to get back even 10% of my investment, and that will only happen, if at all, after many years of legal process and lengthy litigation. The most likely result is that I will get nothing and that any current residual value in the investment will be eaten up by administration and liquidation fees.
Shades of Dickens’ Bleak House
In other words I have been well and truly fucked. My savings are gone and I am on my own, at the age of 67, (just turned… what happy birthday that was…..), with little or no means of generating any new income.
But things could be worse.
I have a small sum left in the bank, we own two, nearly-new vehicles and there is a reasonable chance that my house may get sold some time soon. Most of all, I have the loyal, loving Noo who I know will stick by me and take care of me.
Maybe Noo’s love and loyalty makes me richer than if I were a lonely, unloved multi-millionaire, which at one time I used to be.
So we will do what we can do. We will try to rent out the pick-up and Noo will try to do occasional work as a private taxi driver for local expats. These projects are both in their initial stages and we have no idea whether they will prove to be good money earners.
The business cards are in the process of being printed (see above *), and we shall see how it goes.It is now low tourist season and business everywhere is slow right now. I have another idea or two, but they are just thoughts at the moment and may prove unworkable.
All in all, I have tried to remain as cheerful as possible but it is difficult. Most of my waking thoughts are consumed by the fact that I have lost all my money, whether the deal will go through on my house and WTF I am going to do when the money is all gone?
Depression is always hovering and I have some very dark moments. I suppose I could consider going back on anti-depressant mediation, but for the time being I think I will soldier on without.
A Lust For Life
In the meantime, I have started work on restructuring my novel – ‘A Lust for Life’. Following several rounds of correspondence with a London-based literary agent, I am doing doing some re structural work based on her suggestions. I am still a million miles away from doing a deal with her, but at least she has shown a genuine interest, has read the book in its entirety, and has made some quite complimentary comments.
I have accepted her comments and suggestions, as they make much sense, and I have been busy restructuring the novel along the lines suggested. The work is not too time consuming and I have already made considerable progress. Depending upon on my mood and the amount of time I allocate to this task, I anticipate that it will be finished within the next month.
There are no promises that the restructure will lead to the agent taking me on as a client, but merely that she will read it again, when completed. She has warned me that the restructure may actually ruin the novel, so I have to proceed with much care.
If and when I have completed this task, I will publish the revised version in my blog and explain the changes for those who have already read it, as is. There is absolutely no change in the story lines, but simply a re-working of the way and order the events are presented in the text.
The Royal Shower and their showering Babies
It was as a young and naïve Englishman, growing up in sheltered East London that I remember first coming across the term ‘Baby Shower’ when reading some stupid American contemporary novel. I couldn’t for the life of me understand what such a strange term could mean, and visions of babies being bathed in some specially designed hot water shower sprung to mind.
Later, I came across this strange phenomenon in American movies, although I still struggled to understand quite what a baby shower was all about. However, scenes of young women getting together in someone’s house for what appeared to be an afternoon party and presenting presents to a heavily pregnant woman did give me a few strong clues.
Through the years I came across ‘baby showers’ more and more in American literature and movies, and I eventually realised that baby showers were as much an American ‘rite of passage’ for young, pregnant, usually married American women as was the ubiquitous graduation ball for American teenagers when they finished high school.
Stupid as I am, it was only relatively recently that I realised the term ‘shower’ referred to the act of metaphorically ‘showering’ the expectant mother with presents for her baby. You all probably knew that already …..
I am the first to admit that during the past hundred years or so, the world, and especially Britain, has adopted huge chunks of American culture and language and assimilated them into our own parochial cultures. The list is endless and I won’t even attempt to start such a list here. Much of what we and the world have taken to our hearts from our Yankee cousins has enriched us and give us tremendous joy and satisfaction.
There are those who say that the Soviet block would never have crumbled if it hadn’t been for the soviet citizens’ craving for all things American, especially jeans (which were almost impossible to obtain in the Soviet Union), fast food, Coca Cola and American pop music culture.
But surely there has to be a limit to the amount of Americana that we, foreigners have to assimilate? After all we do have our own British way of doing things – don’t we???
I don’t know about you, but events like ‘Graduation Balls’ , (yes folks, the practice is rapidly spreading throughout British secondary schools), and in particular, ‘Baby Showers’ are simply an outrage.
It is so puerile and pathetic. We watch these stupid events on a succession of inane, American ‘rom-com’ and ‘rite of passage’ movies, and before you can say ‘Elvis the Pelvis’ we have decided to ape them.
I have nothing against the Yanks, and in many ways I love them dearly, but surely us Brits can maintain our own traditions and customs without resorting to adopting vulgar American imports which offer the worst of Hallmark consumerism. Are we so devoid of imagination that we have to copy the latest American crap that we have just seen in some third rate Yankee movie!
If anyone ever invited me to a ‘Graduation Ball’, or heaven forbid a ‘Baby Shower’ in the UK ,I think I would probably have a heart attack. Thank God the likelihood of this happening is minimal.
It has been estimated that 28% of British mothers now have at least one of these ghastly ‘Baby Showers’. I wonder if all the attendees speak in phoney American accents?
These baby shower parties often turn out to be worse than ‘hen nights’ and more than one mother-to-be has admitted to being bullied by friends into holding Baby Showers, when all they wished to do was be alone and out of the public eye until their babies were born.
Grasping consumerism is fuelling the Baby Shower boom. John Lewis now offers a baby shower gift list and a Mothercare’s survey coincides with the launch of its royal range, including a romper suit bearing the words “Prince in Training”.
And to top it all – that bunch of wastrels – our beloved ‘Royal Shower’ have announced plans for ‘Kiss me Kate’ to hold a ‘Royal Baby Shower.’
I mean I ask you! It was bad enough when young ‘Arry played strip poker in Las Vegas with a bunch of hookers; but that pales into insignificance when compared to this pathetic decision to hold an ‘all American event’ for a someone who is clearly in no need of any gifts to clothe, feed and entertain her forthcoming royal brat.
There’s already plenty of government funded royal millions swirling around to pay for the brat’s upbringing, private education and provide him/her with a livelihood.
So just WTF is the Baby Shower for?
All it will do is encourage hundreds of thousands of Kate-besotted mums-to-be, to persuade their friends to fork out money for unneeded presents that in these hard times, many can ill afford to buy.
What a load of right royal crap!
The Great Gatsby – A Review
I had been waiting with bated breath for many months for the cinematic release of the latest attempt to put the ‘great American novel’ on the silver screen. This time, strangely, it was an Aussie who was handed the poisoned chalice by the Hollywood moguls.
There were several reasons for my eager anticipation.
Firstly, I am a great admirer of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and while I personally prefer his inspirational ‘Tender is the Night’, (which amongst other things, relates the rise and inevitable fall of an alcoholic), I do nevertheless hold ‘the Great Gatsby’ in very high regard. Fitzgerald was so naturally talented and was a beautiful writer of the English language that frankly everything that he has ever written is just fine by me.
I can see why Gatsby is considered as one of the finest American novels. Apart from it being beautifully written, it also tells the story of the ‘American Dream’ – in a country where you can totally reinvent yourself and become unbelievably rich and successful.
Although there is much dark stuff in Gatsby, it is nowhere near as dark as ‘Tender is the Night’ and maybe Americans prefer to exalt ‘Gatsby’, which they have clearly taken to their hearts rather than the complex and troublesome ‘Tender’.
Secondly, I saw the 70’s version of Gatsby, shortly after reading the novel, and while it was okay-ish, on the whole I found it somewhat disappointing. Considering the great cast, headed up by Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, I felt that they could have made a better fist of it.
Thirdly, I have long been a fan of Aussie film director, Baz Luhrmann. In particular I loved ‘Strictly Ballroom’ and the magical ‘Moulin Rouge’ although I was quite disappointed with ‘Australia’, (especially Nicole Kidman’s ridiculous upper class English accent – almost as bad as poor Dick Van Dykes cockney accent). So after the somewhat poor reception of ‘Australia’ I wondered whether he could rediscover his directorial touch with Gatsby.
To be honest I’m still not 100% sure, two long weeks after watching it.
It certainly divided the critics; it seems they either loved it or hated it.
I’m not in either camp. I enjoyed watching the film and never got bored despite its 2 hours 20 minutes length. Much of it was great stuff and it was certainly a huge improvement on the 1974 version, but somehow the movie as a whole stopped short of being really great.
The actors, with the possible exception of Toby Maguire were brilliant – particularly Leonardo as Jay Gatsby and Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan– and there is no doubt that the movie told the story quite faithfully and used much of Fitzgerald’s original dialogue.
The grossly over-the-top scenes of the parties at Gatsby’s mansion and the scenes of drunken, drug-taking debauchery in downtown New York were fascinating and highly entertaining to watch. But I suppose I fall into the camp that feels that with such a great novel, the director owed some kind of duty to the spirit of the novel and should not have taken us into such surrealistic flights of fancy.
I believe the movie would have been truly great if these scenes had been portrayed in a more realistic manner; maybe with a gritty, 1930’s feel to them. After all, surely they were wild enough as originally written without having to undergo the ‘Luhrmann treatment’
It was almost as though that in these fantastical scenes, Moulin Rouge met Moulin Gatsby. Great fun – a feast of voyeurism – but somewhat out of place in one of the greatest ever American novels.
I also feel that the scenes at the motor garage were rushed and could have been longer and more developed, as they are so integral to the story; but maybe I am being a bit picky.
The device of Nick, (Toby Maguire), telling the whole story from a sanatorium was somewhat contrived, (by Lurhmann), and in my opinion, unnecessary. Maybe the pointless, Lurrhmann-invented scenes at the sanatorium should have been sacrificed and replaced with extended scenes in the ‘valley of Ashes’. I am sure it is all there in the rushes. A Director’s cut?
While I still believe that 3D is largely a gimmick which will probably disappear from main-stream movies, the use of 3D in Gatsby probably enhanced my enjoyment, and I have no complaints on that front.
Don’t get me wrong – this is a fine movie; but whether or not it will reap any prestigious awards, or go down as the definitive Gatsby film remains to be seen.
If you have a chance, I recommend that you go and see it. There’s not too much on at the cinemas these days that are worth the effort of getting up from your sofa, but Baz Lurhrmann’s Great Gatsby is certainly one of them.
Click here for this week’s collection of Mobi-Pics