Just a short one today - my time's pretty tight. I'll be working for the next two days on "Legends of the Seeker", and they tend to be 15 hour days: so I probably shan't be writing anything then, either.
I was clearing my emails this morning (unemployed as I am, I still get 10 to 15 emails a day. Some of them are from friends - the rest seem to assume I have aproblem with having a tiny dick that I can't get up any more.
Anyway: there was an email from the Skeptics Society today: always a welcome sight in the Inbox. There's always something new there, and this week it was a link to a YouFace of a Larry King Live programme on UFOs, featuring the Skeptic Society's prez and editor, Michael Shermer: one sceptical face among five True Believers. Although, it must be said, Shermer did get a little help from Buzz Aldrin half way through.
Anyways. It was the usual "Hallelujah, I Believe, oh Lordy lordy, I Beleive, come and get me, visitors from 240 light years away etc" from everyone, with Shermer trying to get a few words of sanity in there somewhere.
But that wasn't what I wanted to talk about. The whole programme, commercials and all, had been downloaded onto YouTube.
Bloody hell. I thought our commercials were dire. Frankly, even the Frank Allan Tyres commercial makes the best of the sampling I saw look like a work of communications genius. I saw about 15 commercials -it was a full hour show, anhd most, if not all, commercials were 60"long. Two were of my email correspondents' businesses: getting my little dick up. Several were for treatments for ailments that sounded as though they'd been invented purely for the snake-oil they were selling, and several more were for prescription medicines. The capper was avery, very long one featuring wotsisname Wagner from that TV show thirty years ago about a Mr and Mrs private detective set up. He was hawking a reverse mortgage company, one of the most vile facets of the finance business.* And there was a really expensive one for a Cadillac. If it was indicative of GM's TVCs, it's no wonder General Motors went bust.
In all cases, including wotsisname wagner, the acting was appalling. The scripts were rank - and really did seem to be written by people whose third language was English.
I gather Larry King's pretty big in the States - I understand he attracts upwards of 60 million viewers. So why were their commercials so uniformly bad?
As I say - in comparison, the poorest and worst of ours shine out like beacons of rare creativity in comparison.
*I will not- can not - refer to anything called "The Finance Industry" for exactly the same reason I won't talk about the "Real Estate Industry". Neither group have ever actually made anything. And industry's purpose is to build, create, and make stuff. tangible stuff.
LISTENING TO: Ray Davies "Other people's Lives". Yes, the Kink. His forst solo album, two years old now. It's brilliant. buy it. At once.
READING: harry Potter. Big fat book, and very good.
MORE HENRY: You're coming up to some good bits. Finally!
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of Authors and Poets that Henry will always recommend.
James Lee Burke
Look, Ma. They’re all men.
The silken mist.
Mary Talbot is, it has already been said, a mainstay of our Henry’s life. And now that Henry had enjoyed the first fruits of his bullet and crisis, she decided that she would be the mainstay of the rest of his life, no matter how short that may be.
This much is true: Mary knows her man. She knows him to be stiff-necked, to be stubborn, to be inflexible, to be dull and dowdy and forest green and plaid jackets and old-fashioned cars and a rack of pipes that he’s never, ever smoked.
“It’s just that they look good in my study, sweetheart.”
“Did I say anything?”
“Of course I looked. I’m a good-looker.”
“Yes,” he said, smiling, and ignoring the hyphen. “You are.”
She also knows that inside that stuffed shirt lives a loving, living, vital, caring, simply wonderful man. Of course she also recognises and understands that she may be biased.
“But not much, Charlie. I don’t think many people see my Henry the way I see him, but the lucky few who do know precisely what I’m talking about.”
“I’ve been his sister for an awfully long time,” replied Charlie. “All my life, really. And it’s only been in the past few years that I’ve admitted to myself that because Henry’s the man he is, is why I’ve tended to churn through men. I never realised that I was looking for another Henry.”
“But I found one.”
“Wolf?”“But uff cuss, Frau Talbot!”
“A bit of a difference in size.”
“Not where it counts, dear girl. Wolf’s lederhosen hide a demon snake of immense proportions!”
“I wonder if he’d pose for me –“
“Nude? He’s been wanting to, ever since he saw the sketch you made of him. Actually, since before then: from the moment he met you!”
“I think I’ll wait,” Mary laughed, “‘til later.”
Mary has an intense belief in life and love and goodness, and Henry has been heard to remark that was because she had a great belief in herself. When Henry told her about the early diagnosis, about the visitor in his head, he felt that he had been violated. For Mary, it was a knife to the heart. But it was a wound the agony of which she had to conceal. The Painting (for her, it was always capitalised. The Painting was her mirror on her life: the love and pain Miriam and her son and husband had given her, the love and sorrow she shared with them. But more of that later.) had been in the periphery of her sight, and when Henry had uttered those words –
“I spoke with Joe Know,” said Henry, “and he tells me that I may only have six months to live.”
- the colours twisted and smoked and writhed on the canvas, and all went black, and she went to Henry, and took his strength, and looked again, and saw the laughter and love and joy of the past thirty-eight years, and she started to understand that she and Henry had been given a gift.
But right now was not the time to open it.
That time came later, an hour or so before the family came to 22 Talbot Terrace.
That time came after much thought, and careful consideration.
That time came after Mary had left Henry alone, sitting in the big overblown ugly deep-buttoned leather armchair in his brown study.
“I need a moment or two to myself, Mary. Do you mind?”
She had been watching him carefully, all morning. He’d enjoyed a good breakfast, after Baz Thorndike had left, taking the baby-faced Gibbs with him. By that time, Baz had been sworn to secrecy by Mary, who had, of course, told the burly copper everything.
“Christ, Mary. Why didn’t he say anything about it.”
“Family first, Baz, you know that. Even before the best of his friends.”
“Yeah, but Jesus. There’s no mistake?”
“Almost definitely not. Joe’s a good doctor, and he wouldn’t make a mistake like that. Now don’t say anything, Barry. You hear me? He's trying to keep on an even keel, and it’s hard. Precious hard. You’re not to say anything to him.”
“I won’t. You know that, Mary. I won’t. Stiff upper lip, wot!”
Her laugh was a carillion in his head, the chiming of a thousand silver bells, a balm to the bleeding gash that had just been torn in his life.
Mary had drunk the banana, yoghurt, raspberry, and peach smoothy Henry had made, shooed him off to his study, organised a few details with Charlie and sent her off on some errands, then gone to change.
She had been wearing candy-striped tights under a huge floppy black sweater – her best Audrey Hepburn look – but decided that she needed to be flamboyant. She needed colour, she needed style, she needed pizzazz and rumpty-ha-ha-ha! And she had just the outfit that gave it to her.
First, the underwear: fire engine red knickers and bra, and a pair of emerald green stockings. Thank god suspender belts weren’t needed in these elastic-topped days.
Then, the dress.