Being invisible

Pippa does not allow Likes and Comments on her blog. She posts rarely, but always has something to say when she does. So I have decided to reblog her short post from today, to make more people aware of her many talents.

Pippa Rathborne

“Acting for me was a salvation into which I fell, a piece of the family puzzle that was given to me, and I snapped it in place, and there was now a whole image, a fuller person, something where previously there had been nothing…. acting affords me the luxury of metaphysical time travel….of living within someone else’s skin…

Acting is the only way I know of in which we can live the fantasy of being invisible.”

Alec Guinness, in an interview with James Grissom, 1991

Thalia drops her mask for a moment and, believing she is unobserved off-stage, looks disillusioned and exhausted.
She wanted to practise her ancient art invisibly, not sell it in the modern industry. I know how she feels.

Thalia, sculpture by Giovanni Volpato. 1790s Bisque, Liebieghaus, Frankfurt. Image: Web Gallery of Art

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A moving tribute to my great blogging friend, Sarah Vernon.


A memorial to Sarah Vernon compiled by her closest friends.

Sarah in 2008

Sarah Vernon had, to use her own phrase, “a passion for theatre”.

Like many actors’ children, she could never be sure if she would have gone into the entertainment industry if her parents, Richard Vernon and Benedicta Leigh, had not been in the profession.

It wasn’t an industry or a job for Sarah: it was a romance and a calling. Being an actor was her body and soul, an act of love uniting emotional longing with technical accomplishment, a child’s dream of perfection made real.

Her performing career was cut short by the progression of a rare autoimmune disease. Her contribution to promoting the importance, and fun, of theatre in everyday life was far more than a list of credits could represent.

She trained, and made lasting friendships, at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art from 1975-78…

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Michael Caine: An appreciation.

I have been fortunate to have another film and cinema article published on the website
It celebrates the work of the British actor, Michael Caine. If you are at all interested in film and cinema, I would recommend this excellent site. And if you would like to read my latest article, please follow the link, and comment too.

Michael Caine: An appreciation

Thanks in anticipation, Pete.

Saturday Morning Coffee – Variety with Sarah Vernon, Mary Smith and Nicholas Rossis

I hardly ever re-blog another blogger’s posts, as you know. But on this occasion, Sally Cronin has featured three people who richly deserve more attention, and promotion of their work.I hope that you can make the time to explore their blogs, and I am sure that you will not be disappointed.
(And I get a mention too!)

Significant Songs (66)

Warwick Avenue

Following on from the last significant songs post about Sam Brown, this looks at another British songstress, who started with a massive success, then just faded away. Amie Duffy, who records under the single name Duffy, is now thirty years old. She comes from Wales, where female pop singers have been few and far between. After her debut release went almost unnoticed by the public in 2004, she was eventually picked up by A&M records, and released her first album in 2008. It was called ‘Rockferry’, and contained a mixture of soulful sounds and up-tempo dance tracks, along with some standout ballads. Duffy co-wrote all the tracks, many with Bernard Butler, guitarist with the well-known Britpop band, Suede.

This was an immediate success, going on to become the biggest selling record in the UK in 2008, and unusually also reaching the top ten in the US Billboard Chart. More interest followed, when it reached the charts in ten more countries, eventually selling almost seven million copies worldwide. The small blonde from Wales, with the sixties retro looks, had proved that she could not only write good songs, she could sing them well too, and give good performances in the promotional videos into the bargain.

I thought that she was great, and loved the album immediately, with its unusual mix of sounds, from torch songs, to Northern Soul. I got my copy, and played it constantly, finally deciding that this tear-jerking love song was my favourite. Despite its old-fashioned feel, it also seemed remarkably fresh, almost a musical contradiction, but a good one all the same. I really love this simple song, as you can tell. I waited excitedly for her next release, meanwhile enjoying her numerous TV appearances, and watching her videos played on music TV stations.

In 2010, I saw that her new record, ‘Endlessly’ was to be released, and pre-ordered it, for delivery on the date it came out. As soon as I started to play it, I sensed something was wrong. Despite a few reasonably good ballads, this album had taken a very different direction. There seemed to be an overriding pop influence in play, and it was more reminiscent of a below-par Kylie Minogue record, than the Duffy I had anticipated for two years. I read in interviews that her change of direction was deliberate, and self-driven. She had parted from her previous management, and her association with Bernard Butler; and it showed. She had nobody to blame but herself. Her voice, so powerful on ‘Rockferry’, had become squeaky and irritating, and at times it felt like listening to something from the 1950s, and not a good something from the 1950s. I played it twice, just to be sure, and I have never played it again since.

By 2011, Duffy was dabbling in film and TV acting, and announced that she would be having a long break from music. Despite a smattering of live performances since, she has not released any more records.
Here is the official video, play it loud! (Warwick Avenue is a station on the London Underground)

Significant Songs (38)

Venus As A Boy

Ever since the band The Sugarcubes split, and she began her solo career in 1993, Icelandic singer, songwriter, and actress Bjork has divided peoples’ views about her, and her music. To say that she is hard to define or categorise, would be an understatement. She has covered almost every musical genre, and invented a few of her own along the way. Her persona has swung from appealingly cute, to outright irritating, with a fair portion of pretentiousness in there too. Even her most ardent detractors would have to admit she has talent, whether they like the result, or not.

Her vocal range stretches from a throaty roar, up to a glass-shattering shriek, and her image fluctuates accordingly, from endearing gamine, to completely bizarre. She is a show-woman, of that there is no doubt, adding theatrical elements to her concerts, and dressing in an eclectic range of outfits. Her Icelandic heritage appears on occasion, but she is very much an international music star, with a legion of avid followers. Her adventures in acting have shown that she has talent in that area too, so I am left wondering if there is anything that she cannot turn her hand to.

She shies away from nothing. Her songs have included big-band arrangements, unusual instruments, electronic music, and she has even recorded political songs, to support various causes. She is still working hard to this day, and also embraces Internet technology, with music apps, and has participated in musical art installations. There really is nobody quite like her. Singing in English, she has a delightful accent, which is both familiar and strange at the same time. Hard to explain.

I decided years ago that I didn’t like her very much. I had no reason for this, except that I found some of her music grating, and I was also irritated by some of her videos to promote the songs. However, she kept getting awards, and the industry obviously though that she was doing something right. So, I did something that I rarely do. I gave her another chance, and listened again to her first solo release, ‘Debut’. It contains this track, which I have listened to many times since. See what you think.

It changed my mind.

A day of rest

I have had a busy week on the domestic front. The kitchen has been cleaned, and the oven brought back to ‘as new’ standard. The living areas have been vacuumed, in a serious fashion that involved moving furniture, and deploying attachments to the hoses that have rarely seen the light of day. This was made more difficult by the attentions of Ollie, who rushed around barking and snapping at the machine, to the extent that he even got one of his droopy jowls sucked into the workings! Yesterday, despite high winds that made the job laughable, I tackled the growing mountain of leaves that have fallen from both Oak trees. I had a full arsenal of suitable implements to hand. Rakes, shovels, brooms, and a particularly useful item; a large pair of green plastic ‘hand extensions’, that are really excellent for grabbing up piles of leaves, and assorted plant matter. Plants and shrubs at the end of the growing season were cut back, twigs collected from the lawn, and a general tidy up completed outside the house. Again, I was constantly hampered by Ollie’s antics, as he chased the rakes, and jumped into the carefully arranged leaf piles.

So, I have decided that today will be an official day off.

This normally involves getting up at a reasonable time (today it was 8.40) , having coffee, and considering which film to watch. The choice for today, is Peter Greenaway’s excellent British Film, ‘The Draughtsman’s Contract’. I have seen this film at least twice before, though not for some years since. It is a film that rewards repeat viewings, as twists of the plot, unnoticed previously, become satisfyingly apparent. It is also worth watching for the use of light and colour, which leaves scenes with the quality of Old Master paintings. Breathtakingly good, with a cast of actors at the very top of their game, I really recommend it to any serious film fan who has never seen it.

Film viewing completed, there is time to look at this blog. A good delve into the statistics, a perusal of the followers, and a thorough re-visiting of my previous posts. It is interesting to discover, that those marked as ‘following’ this blog actually rarely read it. Also, despite many requests to publish additional posts in the ‘Ambulance Stories’ category, it is still the same ones being read over and over, and many have not been read at all. Of interest, to me alone of course, is the fact that some posts have never been read, including most of my personal favourites. This is not a whine, or complaint, merely an observation, that tells me as the blogger, that I may be going in the wrong direction, if it is only readership I seek. Happily, this is not the case, though there is some satisfaction in providing interest and entertainment to others, and being able to communicate stories and ideas effectively.

That’s the film watched, blog manicured, so what was next? I watched some news, hoping to keep up with current affairs. It seemed to me that the newsreaders were somewhat disappointed that the storm on America’s East Coast was not as destructive as first hoped. To inflate the figures of those killed and injured, the rolling news even added the total previously killed in The Caribbean countries, when the storm hit there. Despite some film of large gas explosions in New York, and flooded areas of New Jersey, they just did not have a big enough disaster to feed their news greed. A part of the district of Queens, where some houses had been destroyed by fire, was actually compared to the devastation of Europe by bombing, during the Second World War. Then there was more about the Jimmy Savile saga. It seems that his victims are not interested in receiving any money for their alleged sufferings, but have decided to sue his estate anyway. I cannot be the only person saddened by every aspect of this sordid tale, or the only one finding it increasingly difficult to believe that many aspects of these accusations could not have been brought before the Law when Mr Savile was still alive. There can never be any resolution to this story, that will not leave questions unanswered, and an uneasy feeling of Justice badly served. The last story was about Comet Retail going bust. Thousands more jobs to go, and another electrical giant disappearing from our trading estates, all over the U.K. I am as guilty as the next person for using Internet shopping to source those type of goods; nonetheless, it is sad to see another outlet closing, reducing consumer choice even more. If the companies like Amazon and Play can do so well, surely Comet should have followed this model, and they may not have faced disaster in this fashion. As buyers, we now have to face the prospect of rarely being able to actually view goods, lay hands on them, see how they suit us, or look in the metal. We only have ourselves to blame for not going to these shops, so little point shedding crocodile tears.

With the news watched, and frustration mounting, I decided to feed Ollie. He enjoyed a breakfast (yes, a late breakfast) of scrambled eggs and toast, his enthusiasm for the food, and obvious enjoyment, helping to mellow my mood. Later today, I will have to put aside around two hours, when I will take him for his long walk around the meadows. When you decide to share your life with a dog, you can never really expect to take a full day off, can you?