End Of All Things

The Last Post on My Old Blog, Migrated Here To My New Blog

This is my last post on this blog before migrating to my website

I considered hard and long today whether to write about the following but, since it’s certain nobody will read it, here goes.

Last night I had an intense and scary dream. Some despot who looked like Max Von Somethingorother (Ming the Merciless but without the fancy gear) was determined to destroy the planet. No idea why. He began by sending wasps which wiped out a few people and caused a lot of panic; then spiders which were too skinny to do much in the way of destruction or scaring. Then a kind of fog created by wierd pollen engulfed the world. Various government reps came to him to ask him to desist but fell under his control. Finally he created a wave which spread about the world devouring mainly lovers and their bodies became part of a psychedelic mush. By now the world outside the despot’s bubble was almost black. Some said he would retreat to a better place. I asked if such a thing still existed.

Throughout this nonsense I was, mercifully, an observer. At one point I saw the despot cradling in his arms a sickly young boy who was apparently his son. Perhaps this was the reason for his hatred of life. The only others remaining in the bubble were gathered in a sycophantic group, paying the despot compliments so that he would not cast them out into the horror he had created. One woman had black lips and many piercings. How can they trust him – I wondered.

Then, as it became clear that all hope was lost for beauty and goodness, I tried to retreat from the dream I knew I was in. But suddenly, amidst the panic and confusion three orbs appeared; not orbs exactly because they had a skirt of shining silver around them and from that flowed a purple material which looked to be made from light. ‘May we live in your world?’ they asked the despot. ‘For it is sure we can do you no harm.’ I did not hear his answer; he may have fled to the other place. But the orbs hung in the air and their light pierced the darkness. ‘Shall we show you what you have done?’ they asked those who remained, the ones who had done the despot’s bidding.

And I heard the people cry and wail as they held in their hands some cloths. I did not want to look at what they contained but I did and saw nothing ugly. Instead I saw bright shining items of gold and silver such as bracelets and rings. ‘These are what your loved ones left behind,’ said the orbs. And the people were wailing because they knew that the most precious things of all were gone forever.’

Now, am I mad to have dreamt such a thing? Or is it just the fact that I’m suffering from a chest infection.

Goodbye first blog. I promise to write more sensible stuff on my new one.


People Are Brave

One Of The Last Posts on My Old Blog, Migrated Here To My New Blog

Nothing to do with any current nastiness in the world in the form of explosions; it goes without saying that, in general, people react admirably in the face of disaster. This is just following the ten minutes I spent sitting in a comfy chair in the corridor of our local hospital while waiting to pick up my grandson from nursery.

I watched people come and go into and from X-ray; the usual assortment of plastered ankles, etc., belonging to people not used to balancing on sticks as well as a number of beds wheeled from wards containing the frailest of souls. And, although a hospital is where you go because your body has been damaged or let you down and could well be causing you a lot of anguish and pain, every person I saw was smiling (or trying to), sometimes cracking jokes in an effort to make those who were tending them feel better.

There is something within most of us which comes to the fore at such times. And even at the very end, when everything medicine can do must be put aside in the face of the inevitable, most people think first of those they love. If things are going to be OK for them, then that’s all right. Yes, people are brave, tragically so sometimes but always worthy of admiration.


In Praise of Pollution (mk 2)

One Of The Last Posts on My Old Blog, Migrated Here To My New Blog

Trying again in the hope my laptop consents to publish this time.

When I was a child I spent every summer holiday with my Grandma in Bolton, Lancs. We visited relatives and the highlight of the stay was when we spent a week in my uncle’s boarding house in Blackpool.

But there was excitement too in the journey North. From the coach window I viewed changing landscapes and dreamt of magic times to come.  By the time we reached The Black Country with its funnel shaped chimneys there was no doubt we were entering a different land and, arriving at last after dark, our destination gleamed under street lamps. Yes, Bolton gleamed!

The women who lived in those back-to-back terraces took pride in their homes, both inside and out. Front steps were polished, as were windowsills.  I could have believed an army worked on hands and knees throughout the night, buffing pavements and cobbles.  Bolton shone like jet.

The Town Hall was magnificent, with an underground aquarium (bizarre).  My relatives told me the building was exactly the same as the town hall in Portsmouth – only theirs was black, they added with pride.  What colour is it now, I wonder? 

I loved the black of Bolton and I loved the smell; like bonfire night all year round.  Of course, pollution had to go.  But what a shame it took with it the splendour of black.


Immortali: Renaissance Italy, Commedia dell’Arte, a Love Story


anne lewingtonOriginally Posted on Suite 101 by Mari Nicholson

The much talked about novel, Immortali, by UK writer Anne Lewington offers a crash course in the life of Renaissance Italy wrapped up in an engrossing and entertaining tale of a group of travelling players in the tradition of the Commedia dell’Arte.

Having had a long love affair with all things to do with Renaissance Italy for as long as I can remember I found it difficult to put the book down. Apart from the great story, there is so much knowledge imparted in an easily absorbed way, that the book can be read on many levels. For anyone doing Renaissance studies I feel this would be a great background book to have on hand as Lewington’s research cannot be faulted yet the research never overpowers the story and the period is illuminated by the writer’s own voice.

Renaissance Tuscany and Venice, Settings for the Novel

Immortali is set in 16th century Tuscany and Venice and the story centres round the travelling players of the Commedia dell’Arte. The tale is told through events which befall the young Giulia Olivieri who falls for the company’s charismatic Arlecchino, in a plot that brims with sex, heresy, murder and intrigue. It is written in a style that reflects a romantic comedy but it has a sub-plot that also addresses contempory issues, such as the spiritual and philosophical themes that were prevalent at the time..

Impossible to single out a favourite parts of the book as I found the vivid insight into Renaissance life so intoxicating that I was swept along with the travelling players as they journeyed through areas of Italy still familiar to us. So much of the architecture and narrow lanes and streets of Tuscany remain medieval. that even today one can marvel at how Giulia, a young girl from a privileged background, survived life on the road with the acting troupe.

The Commedia dell’Arte

The Commedia dell’Arte was part of the Italian scene during the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Renaissance was at its height, and was active during a time of great creativity. It is perhaps not surprising that it was in Tuscany that the travelling players flourished because in that place of immense wealth and the growing influence of powerful men, their performances challenged the audience with tales of intrigue, jealousy and romance and, something quite new to that society, an awareness of the growing tension between servant and master: a case of art reflecting life.

The Mona Lisa and the Cover of Immortali

Lewington is also responsible for the intriguing cover, a re-working of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa and there is a fascinating account of how this came about on her website. It is no surprise to learn that she is a former graduate of the St. Martins School of Art in London, that she had her own studio producing paintings to commission and that she founded a centre for the arts in her local area.

Read more about Anne Lewington

Buy the book online – click here

Immortali is available from all good bookshops (in the UK Waterstones and WH Smith) and is online at

IMMORTALI – Indepenpress 2011

ISBN 978-1-907499-50-0


Screen Shot Below taken from New York Times – What You’re Reading This Summer