Tuesday, 29 May 2012


Today, a delightful parcel of goodies arrived from my dear friend Heidi, all the way from Pori, Finland.  Within the box was to be found a small cornucopia of various Finnish sweets, mostly differing brands of liquorice, which for those who have been reared on either Bertie Basset's Liquorice All Sorts and the only alternative has been the liquorice stick in your Sherbert Fountain, well, you simply don't know what you have been missing out on.  When not making Mars bars or jelly babies, the English confectionary houses tend to have a tendency to attempt to make English renditions of continental sweets and generally, not always to do it especially well.  A good analogy in this instance might be when one hears the English tourist in Paris or Rome, armed with their trusty Lonely Planet phrase book, endevouring to ask directions.  No attempt being made to disguise one's thick English accent  nor nuance and every word, be they French or Italian or otherwise, pronounced and enunciated in that uniquely English way, and generally not terribly well.  After all, to pronounce French with a French accent would sound either pretentious or contrived, surely...(?!)  Never mind that the accent tends to play an essential part in the pronounciation of the various words.  Therefore English variants of foreign foods have been created.  Some are honest copies (such as the terribly sweet Greek dessert Baklava), others are actually better than the originals (such as Bombay mix, which when compared to the bland Indian original is far more spicy and tasty), and others simply fall flat on their face.  For example, take nougat.  I love the stuff, especially that made in Motelimar.  Rather sweet, rich and with chopped almonds, cherries, or pistachio nuts. Although Greek in origin, and with the French version (probably) dating from the 1600's, one gets a real taste of something earlier, almost able to imagine bars of this being brought along the trading routes into France and Italy in mediaeval times by the exotic Greek traders together with spices, olives and fabrics.  The English have created in the wisdom their own version of nougat, which is, in a word, revolting !!  A travesty of the original.  The English version is pink and white, soggy, soft, gloppy and inedible.  Best avoided completely.

I don't know where the English tradition for liquorice came from, but it is certainly nothing like that of the Scandinavian variety.  I suppose that most of the English, when tasting some of the Scandinavian liquorice would probably find it unpleasant and distasteful.  The worst denounciation I have yet to hear for the much loved, iconic, Ga-Jol was the disclaimer that "they sort of taste like cough sweets".  In Scandinavia you get so many different sorts of liquorice, yet somehow very few of them seem to appease or appeal to the English palette.  It seems so strange as the nations are not that geographically distant and I am sure most English would find somewhere in their geneological pasts some sort of Viking blood.  That said, the French and English are such opposites "the old enemy" and have made a subconscious decision not to embrace each other's cultures too strongly.  Anyway, the parcel itself contained wonderfully named sweets such as Pantterri ("Panthers"), Salmiakki Mix (proclaimed as "The Original Finnish Salt Liquorice"), Bis Bis Bis Bis, and two different varieties of Tyrkisk Peber ("Original" and "Volcano").

Shunted to the side of these sweets was a copy, in translation, of the Finnish epic poem The Kalevala, which I must confess that, until I had spoken to Heidi, I had never heard of.  The translation is over 600 pages long, and though the printed version was first published in the mid nineteenth century, it harks back to the oral tradition as far back as prehistoric times.  The translation appears to be more literal in nature than poetic, which, in certain cases, as a matter of preference, I do tend to prefer.  I am not especially fond of such poetic translations (such as Dryden's of The Aenead, which, although masterful, tends to jar).   I feel they are, as I described above, mere renditions that, yes, conserve the original idea, some of the flavour, but lack the panache and mood.  This is not always the case as I say, I can revel in and find entertainment a-plenty in reading out loud (to myself) Simon Armitage's Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; yet, even in the original Middle or Early Modern English, prefer the choice of words of Donne, of Spenser, of Chaucer, of Wyatt, etc - over a modern translation.

I have so far, admittedly briefly, leafed through some of the various cantos therein.  I can't wait to start to read through this.  Sibelius playing in the background, nibbling on some salt liquorice, with rain pattering outside and wrapped in a snug blanket.  Sounds idyllic and delightfully escapist.  So, to Heidi, in conclusion to my ramblings above, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for this wonderful, and unexpected, heartfelt and uniquely Scandinavian gift !!

And so, in "Kris Finnish", I will conclude...

Kiitos siitä sydämeni pohjasta tästä ihanin lahja!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Fin de la semaine.

And another week draws to a close... Admittedly, it's been something of a mixed blessing in terms of weeks, insomuch as I managed to write another article for my other blog, which, once again as my own worst critic, I suppose I am relatively pleased with. In fact it was more difficult to write than might seem readily apparent, as I have become so used to writing on an AZERTY keyboard of late that I kept punctuating every sentence with numerous Qs and Zs which proved tiresome to say the least. The perils of habitual usage of a French laptop. Equally so, I found it difficult to incorporate other ideas and motifs into my article on "The Wanderer", a splendid Anglo Saxon poem, in the manner in which I had done previously with "The Dream of the Rood".

My laptop is away being repaired after the keyboard stopped functioning a couple of days ago whilst online. Whilst on the world wide web, I managed to catch up briefly with a few friends, not least Mark whom I hope to catch with soon, with Heidi in Finland who's worrying about her dog Coco (recently spayed), and to scribble down some notes down about a book called "Sacrifice" by Enel (the pseudonym of Mikhail Vladimirovich Skariatin) dating from 1923. After an excessive number of expletives in English, French, Danish, Italian, Swedish and German, I retained my self control despite the swear words and obvious frustration felt. I then picked up the telephone and called the head office to report the fault. After twenty-five minutes of anguish/speaking to "Kieran", a call centre operator in the back of beyond in India, wherein I had to spell everything twice and explain that French postcodes were different from British ones, as well as telling him my name three times, which culminated in my being addressed as Mr. Kris at every possible juncture. I loathe this familiarity in which people, especially strangers, use your first name, and tag it on to end of every sentence; this truly grates on me in whichever context it occurs. After much straining of the patience, we got somewhere. After speaking to "Kieran", I spoke to UPS to arrange a pick up, and their courier was around in approxmately twenty minutes which was mighty impressive by comparison.

Today is a beautiful, bright day, one in which were Akhenaten alive and in Northern Europe, his worship of the Aten would have been justified; nonetheless I find myself feeling fatigued and suffering from a headache. Neither right nor fair! Furthermore, I feel uninspired and indifferent. This morning I had a great idea for subjects to doodle over the weekend but there seems to be some barrier in the way of my getting the drive to put these words down. It's not writer's block, because I have a good idea of what I want to say, I just lack the incentive and the desire to do so. Maybe later this weekend.

The other blog has received a lot more visits this last week. It surprises me how many people happen upon it through Google, and from so many different parts of the world, yet, thus far it only as four followers. Not that I am ungrateful to those following my writings and doodlings, far from it, I just don't understand why there aren't more. Admittedly perhaps, it is scattered in what it covers, such diverse themes that I have touched upon Gnosticism, Anglo-Saxon poetry, and Akhenaten and aspects of his reign. But surely this makes it more interesting than one specifically thematic in style. The Akhenaten themed writings appear to be the most popular, based upon the specific visits to articles,or the strange things searched for under Google. One of the strangest of late has been "was Akhenaten Gnostic". I chortled to myself when reading this. Clearly someone has read Keith Laidler's "The Head of God", which might be best described as rather confused in its historical understanding and interpretation of various historical episodes, but, when taken with a pinch of salt as regards the veracity of some of the statements made, is an interesting endevour to understand the worship of heads, normally under the guise of the name Baphomet, by the Templars. Even the theories proposed in the various works of Michael Baigent or Graham Hancock make more sound sense than some of the hare brained suggestions presented by Laidler which have been proved to be erroneous to say the least.

Maybe over the weekend I shall attempt to write some more on one or both blogs, but in any which case, I wish you all, dear readers, a happy and joyous weekend !!

PS: My first entry using an iPad, not as an bad experience as I feared, though admittedly I miss my AZERTY keyboard.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Did Catherine of Aragon speak "Catalina English" to Henry VIII?

Language is a wonderful thing.  I continue to find it endlessly fascinating.  Not just the languages themselves, even though I find that they can be an excellent stimulation for the mind and an opportunity to learn, grow and develop as well.  Hence my desire, from time to time, to immerse myself in a new language when my brain can cope and stay focused.  At the moment, pointless an endeavour it might seem to some, but I am attempting to teach myself Anglo-Saxon (or Old English).  This might well seem pointless to some, or to others that it simply ties in with my affinity for "dead languages" (such as Latin, or Ancient Greek).  Yet, in response to that? I ask how does that explain my having taught myself the basics in living languages such as Italian in the past.  How and ever, it is not only interest in the languages and their learning that inspires me.  I do enjoy to immerse myself in etymology of words (the best way to understand other languages and to expand upon one's vocabulary in my opinion), as well as in semantics, semiotics, and most recently I have started reading Jung and Freud's interpretations on dreams, and depending upon the individuals agreement or disagreement with these two thinkers, the language of the subconscious and it's interpretation and it's relevance in dreams.

The title of this "blog entry" refers to the union between Henry Tudor, second son of Henry VII and Catherine of Aragon (born Catalina) and their relationship and communication.  Catherine had arrived from Spain in the early sixteenth century to marry the young Prince of Wales, Arthur Tudor, the eldest son of Henry VII.  However, soon after their marriage and (supposed, alleged) non-consummation of their nuptial privileges, Arthur was to die and leave Catherine a widow in her early teens.  However, her miserly father-in-law, Henry, not wishing to return the dowry, kept Catherine in England, with a small retinue of her (Spanish) household staff and, for a royal princess and daughter in law, in rather appalling conditions.  However, Catherine caught the eye of Arthur's younger brother, Henry, now the heir to the throne, and despite being six years Catherine's junior, made her his wife and queen upon his ascension to the throne in 1509.  Catherine proved to be a popular queen and even following the ensuing and messy divorce between her and Henry in the 1530s, her being supplanted by Anne Boleyn, was still popular among Henry's subjects in England.

Catherine of Aragon.
I wonder how Catherine communicated initially with her one-time doting admirer and later husband, Henry.  Marriages between foreign princes and princesses in arrangements made by their parents had been a tradition that extended far back into English history, and was to carry on for a number of centuries after.  These unions generally seem to have proved successful on the whole, with the wives producing a number of heirs and daughters for marrying off in order to forge alliances with foreign kingdoms.  However, this union, much like that between Henry's maternal grandparents (viz. Edward of York, later Edward IV, and Elizabeth Woodville) appears to have been born out of love, and not purely a dynastic match.  At this time Henry was a young, handsome, highly intelligent and educated Renaissance prince, yet he still chose to marry Catherine.  As Catherine had spent much of her time subsequent to the death of her first husband surrounded by Spanish ladies in waiting, and despite being in England, had she learned sufficient English to communicate with Henry.  We know her English was good enough after she became queen, but before one cannot be sure.  Could a foreign princess have been enough of a command of English or any other language than her native tongue to enchant Henry?

Ultimately, to impose a modern viewpoint upon things, it is not always necessary to be fully eloquent and exact in one's command of a language in order to express and deliver one's feelings.  I know this from speaking to a friend of mine in Finland, Heidi.  Her English is far from being absolutely perfect yet she possesses a very good vocabulary and can convey thoughts, feelings and her meaning without it being exact and absolutely correct.  I know she wants me to correct her but I find myself doing so only when she makes real a real faux pas in what she has to say rather than picking up on every little spelling mistake and grammatical error.  It would make our conversations seem contrived, boring and like those between a teacher and student.  She knows when she makes mistakes but cannot always manage to phrase everything she wants yet she can convey what she is feeling.  Hence, this has sometimes I have affectionately named her English as being "Heidi English" (to her delight I hasten to add).  This follows in the tradition of bad movies liked by my friends Fred and Devin as re-categorized "Fred movies" and "Devin movies" respectively.   Heidi worries incessantly about what other people would think of her English yet she is confident enough to speak and write it with me.  And I don't have to "dumb down" my English with her, and we can talk on all be they matters, serious, fun, intellectual, etc.  I do miss having academic conversations with most people around me, but that is in part my fault, yet finding people with like minds and outlooks of ideas to share opinions and knowledge with has always been rare.  I am grateful for those few friends on that similar level I have.

This attitude and outlook towards language in some ways might seem a contradiction in terms towards my usual philosophy.  I must confess in someways I am rather a purist in terms of language and how I hate it when a language is corrupted and wrecked by people who simply are lazy and cannot enunciate their words correctly.  I suppose for me it's mostly frustration and annoyance at the laziness and arrogance that people have towards communication.  I wince and shudder on buses when you "overhear" conversations, and as anyone will tell you who's been on a London bus, it's hearing those booming voices of teenage girls, each of them sprawled over a seat and refusing to move for others, ensuring that each and other passenger on the top deck can hear their conversation.  On subjects as fascinating as how badly they are treated by their boyfriends, or their wild sex lives, or what would be simply dismissed as banal gossip, punctuated with much teeth sucking and expletives at individuals who dare to look around at the cause of the unnecessary drivel  (sorry, conversation) we are being forced to eavesdrop upon.   And the same words/statements are repeated over and over again in a half patois/half lazy form of English.  This is a generation by whom writing is communicating via abbreviations and text speak.  These are people who have supposedly been "educated" yet somehow these random bleetings are allowed to pass as English in schools today.  Frightening.  Heidi, who has never lived nor been educated in England, possesses a better command of English (without having to endlessly repeat herself) than these morons.  Yes, tolerance is essential in this day and age, but why should it extend into the domain of stupidity and ignorance?

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Drifting in the afternoon

Last night I found myself sleeping rather badly.  Well the sleeping itself wasn't actually that bad, it was the getting off to sleep that was somewhat more arduous a task to achieve.  I lay there, reasonably comfortably, on my own, and although I felt rather sheepish and tired, I could not get to sleep.  I tried reading but I coudn't focus.  I tried to watch clips on Youtube and similar, that didn't work.  I tried to meditate, but my mind felt too alert to calm down.  In the end I fell asleep at arount 2am and slept until around 8am or so.  Even if I don't have anything planned or a specific objective for the day, I don't like having "lies-in" regardless of the weather, it just feels like a day has gone by and I have let myself down by not having achieved anything.  Today I have been rather insular, keeping myself to myself, without a desire for interaction nor human contact.  I ignored the phone when it rang and resisted the urge go into town with Neville for lunch at Prêt à Manger (consisting of crab meat and rocket sandwiches, and fresh soup) as is my norm on Saturdays, followed by trolling around the department stores, specifically menswear for him to look at clothes (Ralph Lauren and Belstaff in particular), and then, maybe, to slip in the odd bookshop along the way.  I was worried I would be either cranky or I woudn't want to say much, and that this would result in my subsequent condemnation, regardless of my course of action.  Damned if I do, damned if I don't, damned whatever happens.

So this afternoon has been spent largely reading interjected with a few short term naps in between.  Unusually for me, I decided against listening to music whilst reading, preferring to try and focus upon the words and let my mind attune to them rather than drifting to and from the music to the words on the page.  The weather has been mostly pleasant, I can see, from looking out the window. The sky has been mostly blue with patches of cloud from time to yet it has felt nippy, rather than fresh, outside.  So this afternoon, for the most part I have been warm, my toes have felt like blocks of ice.  To satisfy the occasional pangs of hunger I have been nibbling on IFA (Ivar F. Andresson) salt liquorice, one of the last remaining packs, which dear Heidi sent over from Finland, although IFA strictly speaking is from Norway.  Despite not having been back to Denmark in many years now, I still miss the taste of Danish food. Every now and then I seek to replicate it as best I can, simply because I do enjoy the taste of Scandivanian food.  I have a book of Scandinavian recipes that needs diving into and some culinary treats to be prepared from those delicious looking dishes on its pages.  Every Christmas when I have gone home to my parents in the Gironde (there are times when I so wish they were closer), we have had cold rice pudding and cherry sauce.  One of the sensations (in this case, taste) I always associate with Christmas, I used to eat bucket loads of the stuff.  Mostly because I genuinely do love the taste, not just the hope of winning the marzipan pig (or other such novelty) - as I am far from competitive in nature.  The last Christmas I was at my parents I admittedly found it in two mouthfuls, but still ate plenty more after.  Hence the ensuing podginess and the diet of carrots, celery, rice cakes and water for eight weeks after.

IFA salt lakris, Norwegian salt liquorice.

Other Danish/Scandinavian delights include Gajol, asier, ymer, gammel ost, sødmælk, pebernødder, and pickled herrings on rye bread.  Also Danish pølser made by Tulip with lots of onions, sweet ketchup and mustard.  Strangely enough the last time I had pølser was about four years ago, when I saw a genuine pølservogn in London's Soho of all places (!!).  I had to have two just for old time's sake.   There is also an abundance of potatoes served with most every meal, but I have never, generally been the greatest fan of boiled potatoes, skinned boiled potatoes but new ones with butter and dill, that's something else.

Therefore, being on my own this afternoon I started to read Man and his Symbols (ed. Carl Jung), a book which I have refered to upon occasion but have not actually read to from cover to cover, so now I felt the time was right.  The idea of signs, symbols, semiotics, and allegory continues to inspire and increase in interest within me, so I felt that this was an appropriate place to understand, from a Jungian perspective, interpretations of symbols, etc.  However, owing to the desire to shut off at times, rather than boredom at the subject matter I was reading (anything but, as I have respect for Jung and his theories), I felt my eyes grow heavy and the need to drift off to sleep for a while.  I was conscious of doing so, in order that I wouldn't spend the afternoon in slumber I set my alarm to wake me up after 20 minutes.  Ultimately I drifted off for 18 minutes before my body clock woke me up and I went back to reading.

Man and His Symbols (ed. Carl Jung)

My dream:-  To start with I was walking up a long staircase.  Not a typical staircase but a winding one, all white, probably painted wood as it had an articial sheen to it so it wasn't marble.  It also was a spiral staircase that snaked upwards towards the heavens.  There was no banister to hold on to for support yet I felt comfortable and confident enough to mount it.  Some distance below me was a wide open countryside, suggesting I had already been walking up this stairwell for a considerable time.  No walls were thtoere  enclose me in.  I was watching myself ascend this staircase from a distance, almost a third person perspective, even though I was aware it was me that I was watching.  This allowed me to progress further upward, as quite probably had I been walking in the footsteps of myself as the walker - then my fears and hesitation would with taken over, and my agoraphobia/vertigo would have induced me to stop and not allowed me to carry on.

As I climbed further I reached some of the clouds which the staircase passed through.  I could see clearly the greenery of the countryside, mostly fields, uninterupted by houses and other buildings of human construct.  As I stood on the cloud, I seemed to have reached a plateau.  As I stood still the sky, a cerulean blue seemed to somehow draw in  closer to me, or else the cloud and the stairwell were moving closer towards the sky.  The sky had a cross dividing it in a similar manner to that of the Dannebrog is described by Christiern Petersen and by Saxo Grammaticus.  The sky then enveloped me.

Suddenly, I became aware that I was standing in front of a large white church or cathedral.  It was Gothic in design yet, once again, a brilliant white.  Although it had the feel of being mediaeval it equally had the feel of a church I remember driving past in San Diego just under ten years ago, in August, when Mike and I were driving across California over 6-8 days, from Los Angeles (where, two days into the trip I learned at 6am in the Red Roof Inn, Van Nuys that my father had been diagnosed with cancer), to San Francisco (a long long drive along the 5 highway) where we spent a weekend with the late, splendid David Hess and his family, and finally down to San Diego (to meet and record an interview with dear Beatrice).  Over those days, we covered a huge amount of mileage and interviewed six leads (not forgetting Carlo Rambaldi as part of the prep work for the documentary on Lizard in a Woman's Skin) for four DVDs in that time.  Our interviewees included two porno actors, one of them being the infamous Jeff Stryker(!)  When we asked the offices in New York to wire the monies owed to us, we were initially told that we were asking "too much" (two months pay for two months work!) and it was considered that we hadn't done much in that time.  The month before we had been in Paris and Rome. No pay for that month.   So when I left for the United States in mind August, despite promises of payment, I had less than $10 left on my overdraft and nearly missed the flight to Boston thanks to London Underground being completely screwed up.  So when we were finally paid (five days after arriving in the US), John suggested we were asking for a lot of money when in fact we were simply asking for money owing to us.  Words escaped me then, they still do!

Back to San Diego, though Mike and I never went into the church proper and only saw it from a considerable distance away and the just the one time, that is, driving into San Diego, somehow, I still remember it quite vividly.  In addition and in fact, despite the visit to California being emotionally rather fraught to say the very least, I still find myself able to remember a great deal of the time I spent there, and a lot of it was truly positive, not least owing to the people I met and befriended in those few days.

The "Temple" in San Diego.
Back to my dream.  The church externally had a similar aspect and appearance to it the one illustrated above.  Inside, it was like a typical Medieval Gothic cathedral in stark contrast to the glaring white, modern looking exterior.  The interior looked more like Wells Cathedral.  Initially when I stood outside the doors, I heard murmering from inside.  Upon entering the church itself I realised my thoughts and speech were in Latin. (N.B. Other than weddings and christenings, I have not attended a church service in over twenty years!!).  Suddenly, the booming sound of an organ filled my ears as well as the room as the priest entered.  The service and the hymn sung as the priest entered was extraordinary.  If one stood to the left hand side of the pews (which ran down the centre of the church so the priest had to walk down the congregation on the right hand side) the words were sung in English, and on the right hand side, the words were sung in Latin.  Where I was standing, in the middle, the first part of the hymn was sung in English, followed by the same verse yet repeated in Latin.  The words of devotion had a mediaeval feel and sentiment behind them, extolling devotion, yet were bright, jaunty, more like troubador songs rather than pious and solemn.  There was no smell of incense, and the overwhelming senses I felt were those of sight and sound.  The church itself, although the walls were elaborate, were not gaudily decorated.  The priest was dressed in late sixteenth century robes.  The congregation were dressed in a mix of fashion eras, some in modern dress and some in mediaeval garb.  I recognised some of the faces but now I cannot remember who they were.  I cannot remember how I was dressed, yet I remember my hair being down to several inches below my shoulders, loose, slightly wavy and curly and lightened from having been in the sunshine.  Some people in the congregation were appearing to be making notes as the hymn was sung.  One of the individuals dressed in modern, smart clothing immediately in front of me turned to ask, in Latin, if he could borrow a pen as only fountain pens were allowed - biros had been banned lest they damaged the books.  The verger walking along the aisle glared and told us to be quiet, the priest then mounted the steps towards the altar. Bells rang out, followed by silence in the hall.  Then I woke up... 

Wells Cathedral.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Introspection, Italy and Inconsistancy

To think, a decade ago I started a strange journey in my life, and yet, upon reflection, the person I was ten years ago is someone who I would barely recognize any more.  Ten years ago I was working in a somewhat self created role that would later be listed on my CV as "DVD Supplement Producer.  Despite having conversed in three languages, conducted located numerous well known and obscure actors, directors and film technicians, written and directed a documentary and been interviewed by a national UK newspaper, The Guardian, various unimaginative, uncreative recruitment agencies would relegate those two and a half years to a single sentence; proclaiming those experiences to be irrelevant to the (generally banal) roles they were considering me for.  That said, although I am aware that those experiences and that work was part of who I was, I find it difficult to maintain much of a connection with that time in my life.

After it all came to an end in Spring 2004 I found myself feel uncomfortable discussing those experiences and reminiscing with people about them for many years.  Partially because, I guess, I thought that no one was especially interested, and for the most part because I felt ill at ease discussing those times.  To be honest, unless I am in good company, I still do.  It was only when I met Adam, who was soon to become a good friend, and his infectious enthusiasm for European cinema, and his desire to hear stories of those trips to Rome, to California, to Torremolinos that I felt sufficiently comfortable to talk about them again.  If Adam hadn't unlocked that doorway to my past then, to be blunt, I feel that I would not have talked about them again.  This reluctance to discuss this period of my life was accentuated by the release of a DVD by my former business partner entitled Paura:  Lucio Fulci Remembered.  Mike had originally conceived of this DVD to accompany an unpublished book of interviews with a large plethora of individuals who had worked with an Italian film director, Lucio Fulci, idolized by Mike and numerous genre cinema fans the world over.  Despite having worked extensively to locate a lot of the people who spoke on the disc, I did not wish to finance it, nor spend hours compiling the translations for Mike.  As a result, and I suppose a misguided sense of betrayal on my part, I was bestowed with minimal, nominal and almost token credit on the disc.  Furthermore, Mike was soon after to express his disappointment in a number of interviews relating to the release of the DVD which built up further barriers between me and my affiliation with European cinema.

FF: It sounds amazing really. Oh... You actually will only have 49 of the limited edition copies because one is definitely mine. There's a lot of talk about what you are doing with the DVD yet no mention of Kit's involvement...

MB:...He’s distanced himself quite a bit from me, but even more from our once business partnership. I really don’t want to speak badly of him because I love him like a brother, but personal issues have plagued Kit since I’ve known him, and this past year has been especially bad. He had no real interest when I was initially putting the Paura site together over a year ago. 
(Shocking Images)

 Is it any wonder that I have distanced myself when my former business partner klaxons on a public forum in an interview that I have had personal issues plaguing me for as long as he has known me.  And now, Mike is seen by his fellow Americans as a champion of European cinema because he has brought numerous guests to conventions for fans in their black t-shirts to meet and ask them to sign their glossies, or their posters, etc.  Yet ten years ago, Mike had no real idea who Alida Valli was (other than that she had appeared in Suspiria) or who Romy Schneider was after we befriended her half sister, Sascha, and ate at her home on several occasions.  To Mike, it was not a priority nor of any real import to know anything other than sketchy basics on these actors and their careers (cue print outs culled from the IMDb) nor to be able to communicate in any language other than English (I had to act as translator too).  Even learning the basics in Italian might have added a dimension to meeting people, yet Mike saw this as unimportant and almost "surplus to requirement".  Pointing a camera and penning a few questions was enough, it seems.  My self respect took a bashing then for various reasons and on various levels.

This article is not an attack nor diatribe against Mike and the way that he (and by extension, I) conducted ourselves after our work at Media Blasters came to a rather abrupt end back in 2004;  Mike and I are of different mindsets, all the more now as, next year, it will have been a decade since we last saw each other.  I still hear of Mike from people we both met met and have befriended, and thanks to Facebook, I have managed to retain some degree of contact with as I always feel rather nervous and hesitant to pick up the phone and "touch base" with those I haven't spoken to in many years.  When I met these people it was partially due to a fascination in their lives and their careers that spurred me on, but when that was forged into a friendship, partially due to a sense of being awestruck that X, Y, or Z would want to befriend me but also a lack of self confidence in my making friends with people; famous or not.  My hesitation in helping Mike with his conventions has arisen from liking a number of the people he represents and my inner worry that by acting as some sort of "manager" to them, I would lose their trust and friendship.  To me trust and friendship is vital to any connection with someone which one cares about.  I also am aware that I have had the tendency to disappoint and to let people down, so I didn't want that flawed character trait of mine to interfere and possibly damage any friendship I might have.  Also, to be honest, I feel I would be totally out of place with Mike and his friends, who hang around with him and these personalities; many of Mike's friends are adorned with tattoos and wear black t-shirts embellished with horror film titles or heavy metal bands (Neither of these fit my outlook, persona nor taste).

Italy came into my thoughts because I was talking about cities in Italy and also I was conversing in Italian in one of my dreams last night.  I am so out of practice with my spoken Italian and it was horribly rusty last year when I was in Venice that I felt embarrassed speaking it in the hotel and lacked confidence when I was looking around the bookshops for art books.  I still feel I can understand enough when reading it and when hearing it.  I guess I am lacking the inner confidence and well, having spoken in French on a regular basis since 2005, has made me blot out a lot of the Italian I acquired.  I still feel that my vocabulary is reasonably strong yet erratic, however it is that old bugbear of syntax and grammar that continues to elude me.  Also, I have returned to being more self-conscious, uncomfortable and introverted and one of the side effects of this has manifested itself thus.  Furthermore I am getting older and my memory has neither the capacity to retain information, nor is it as strong as it once was. I find it difficult to remain focused as well.

My passion for cinema, in particular Italian cinema, has largely dried up since those days in Italy.  I am certainly no longer interested in collecting unusual and obscure b-movies nor the materials connected with their release, be they movie posters or lobby cards.  Another reason why I find it difficult to identify with that person who a decade ago was collecting DVDs, watching movies and creating databases in an attempt to identify cast members, or cataloging releases of these movies around the world, or such like.  I cannot see that person anymore, I cannot recognize him and I do not identify with him anymore.  He seems so far away.  A different person, a different time, a different dimension.  In some ways it feels like a great loss but at the same time it feels like one is mourning for a person who one never knew.  I suppose I feel somewhat jealous of those who have had lifelong interests and passions such as cinema whereas most of mine I tend to tire of, they wilt, they fade, and they get forgotten.  There is also a degree of snobbery at play as well, I suppose, in as much as I feel like I have grown up and that my interests have become more attuned, more mature, and more sophisticated as I have advanced into my thirties.  Yet these interests actually tend to hark back to a period prior to my becoming interested in cinema; those interests being art, history, archaeology, books and languages.  These seem to be important supportive pillars to my being, my personality,  and are constant, rather than mere diversions and deviations along the way.

At the moment in life I feel rather plagued by self doubt.  I long for consistency in my being and that seems to be sorely lacking.  I find this not just in myself but generally in the friends around me.  It makes me question my validity as a friend owing to their inconsistency in keeping in touching, in retaining and remaining contact with me and I am continually ascribing blame to myself for this shortfall in a number of friends and my feeling that it is me that makes the first move, more often than not, to retain some form of contact with people.  This is not always the case but sometimes it does seem to be terribly one-sided in nature.  I question whether, as has been the case, that weeks, months, years would drift by.  I find that when I tend to think about people I will want to get back in touch.  Also people who once were enthusiastic about our friendship mostly seem to vanish.  I fret, stress, worry and wonder what happened and whether it was something I did wrong to make them lose interest in me and our friendship, or simply they did not want to stay in contact with me.  Maybe I am low down in their list of priorities.  Maybe they did not value me on the same level in which I valued them.  I treat all my friends with equal respect, value and worth, and those people who aggravate and annoy me with the same disdain and contempt.  For sure, years of friendship can and does add value and worth but I feel disillusioned by those who claim to value my friendship yet simply disappear without reason.  It diminishes my fragile worth all the more and makes me worry for how I am perceived and what impression I gave and whether it was because of simply being myself that they fade into the ether.