Fountains near the Byzantine wall

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Here are some pictures showing progress on a scene we are finishing for the Edward lear film. This shows the Fatih gate which is that part of the wall that first gave way to the Turkish assault of 1453. Next to the fountains here is a museum with an astonishing diorama showing the actual bombardment of the city by the Turks. Here is a copy of the picture that Edward Lear painted. This is unusual among the Istanbul collection because it is in colour, so probably worked up by Lear a few years later.

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Here is the completed picture we have just finished.

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and here is the companion piece showing the walls a little further down.

fatih walls part 2 a1b SMALLER and full size FLATs

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Richard Williams

In 1972 I wrote to Richard Williams and was invited to visit his studio. I think I also sent him some artwork. It would have been about this time that a kind lady was also trying to arrange an exhibition for me I learnt recently, so I imagine I was doing fairly well as a little 11 year old draughtsman and impressing more people than I realised. Certainly, it took years to get back to the dynamism and accuracy of those early days partly because I was consistently bullied by the art teacher at school. I was called names by this man, had my work ripped up by him, and was consistently slapped down with words like “slick” and “easy” which I understood then to be criticisms but which today I would accept as some sort of defiant badge of honour. Anyway, this is not meant to be a whine, but more an…

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Did Disney have a dark side?

julie andrews

The Dark Prince:

There was a dark side to Disney. There! I have said it. It is hard to imagine when the charm of the man exudes from “Saving Mr Banks” and when every outing of a Disney cartoon reaffirms his near-Divinity, lying just south of Father Christmas and in the company of St Francis of Assisi, the Doctor Doolittle of Paradise. To add to the sense of triumphant hagiography, Disney acquired his own Mother Goddess in the form of Julie Andrews, descending from a cloud to right the wrongs in London and returning there when things, to the echoing strains of that Sherman Brothers’ hymn “Let’s go fly a kite”, are just about right. To cement the deal of course, her name was Mary.

Later on, Mary affirmed her Catholicism, attended a convent and looked after a large family of Austrian refugees. Disney, meanwhile, died and was survived by his wholesome legacy, a global institution to rival the Vatican, and his surrogate son, Mickey Mouse who never aged and, though temped to perform magic to music in “Fantasia”, never did any real wrong. All this looks suspiciously religious!

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This picture is from “How to be Boss” which you can see here on Youtube:

 

Disney and the Nine old men:

But the dark myths about Disney lurk in the recesses of the Internet and in glorious books like “King Rat” and Marc Eliot’s “Hollywood’s dark prince”. The sins seem to fall into three areas- the first is his alleged anti-semitism, the second, his labour relations and his record as an employer and the third is his interest in surviving death. As a film maker, and moreover, an animator, the way Disney managed his empire is of great significance to me. If he made mistakes, then I would want to avoid them and if he did things right that it makes sense to emulate him. For the most part, I resent the endless stories in what are marketed as serious books about animation going on endlessly about who put the cat in the cupboard. When it comes to animation, it is important to learn the trade from the masters- how to convince an audience that a 2d drawing is alive and more than that, has feelings. So I have little interest in the private lives of the 9 old men. I met one of them some years ago- frankly, I have no recollection which one it was, though I think maybe Marc Davis. He talked endlessly about the Disney theme parks and pooh-poohed the use of cinemascope in “Sleeping Beauty”.

However, the life of Disney represents something different because it was Disney who held together, developed and maybe exploited his various artists to such remarkable and lasting effect. Unlike Richard Williams, Disney was no great Draughtsman, nor indeed a gifted animator, but he had an instinct for story-telling and was clearly ready to listen to and implement advice about marketing. It is the marketing that has made the movies from the appearance of Mickey mouse memorabilia within a year of the release of “Steamboat Willie” to all the party frocks for little girls that accompanied the release of “Frozen”. I remember having a much-loved carpet of “Mary Poppins”. A carpet, note and not a carpet-bag.It was pink, peopled with penguins and a tortoise or two while in the centre, Mary Poppins herself floated in serenity. I also had jigsaw puzzles. Indeed, my father was so frustrated by my devotion to Mary that he twice fired his shotgun out of the bedroom window claiming to have “got the damn woman”. Somehow, I knew that my father, despite the tweed suit, was not quite the crack-shot he claimed to be, and that Mary Poppins would survive as indeed she did. Like the birds, she may have lost a few feathers, but “spit spot” on she flew.

Uncle walt and the myths

Today, people want to believe the worst of their heroes. American articles have appeared in recent years suggesting that Disney was a hard-drinking drug user, an FBI stouge or spy, and even a secret Nazi attending meetings of the American Nazi groups. His public image as attested in “Saving Mr Banks” was avuncular. “Call me Uncle Walt!” Karen Dotrice, the girl from Guernsey who played Jane in “Mary Poppins” certainly did just this and made three films for her beloved uncle. There are endless postings on the internet about what appear to be sexual imagery in the films of the late 80’s renaissance: the 2 frames of nudity in “the Rescuers”, some (intentionally) suggestive stuff in “Roger Rabbit”, the phallic tower on the cover of “Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin”, the Bishop’s apparent arousal, the word sex in the stars in “Lion King” and the suggestion that the relationship between Scar and his brother hints that Jesus and satan were siblings; There is generally an innocent explanation. The animator who drew the Bishop in “the Little Mermaid”, Tom Sito, says that what appears to be naughty is in fact the cleric’s knee: “He’s standing on a box that his long robes cover.” There were complaints that the opening verse in the first song of “Aladdin” was racist and that the “Pocahontas” film covered up her subsequent conversion to Christianity. Perhaps the most impressive of these claims, and one that might stick to Disney himself were it credible, is that in 1937, Donald Duck is supposed to have said “Fuck you” to a clock spring that simply would not stay in place. Frankly, it is possible to read any interpretation into some of the duck rants and I doubt that this expression would have been that common in the mid 30s. The film is on Youtube, so listen to it: I could not locate these words but there was an AFA condemnation registered in 1996: “Disney blasted for using the F word in Donald Duck cartoon”!

The Disney in “Mr Banks” seems to know he is not perfect. When he stubs out a cigarette, he says, “I’d hate to set a bad example for the kids.”

is their any evidence?

Many of the spurious tales come from the Eliot book, “Hollywood’s dark prince”, especially the idea that Disney was a spy, flying to New York to attend left-wing meetings and later to file reports for the FBI. Much of Eliot’s material comes from a disgruntled Disney employee who was barely at the studio for 6 months. Indeed, much of the bile in general comes from the poor handling of a strike in 1941 that lingered on for 4 months. Disney was convinced that communist agents had stirred up trouble with the Screen Cartoonists’ guild. Disney detested the strikers and they him. It is hardly surprising that rumours began. Certainly it is true that Disney was registered as an FBI SAC Contact in 1955 and I suppose in the climate the allegations that he shopped suspected communists to the government may well be true; he was called to testify in 1947 and his testimony is fairly damning but naive: “Well, I think Sorrell is sure tied up with them. If he isn’t a Communist, he sure should be one.” His testimony certainly damaged the careers of some people in the industry and I think he must be held responsible for some of the blacklisting that went on. That he joined an organisation called “the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals” is quite true and this had explicit aims of getting rid of Hollywood’s communists. Some of the members were known anti-semites: Jack warner and Louis B Mayer did not join the organisation because of the anti-semitic bias, but that does not prove Disney was an anti-semite (despite the stereotypes in “three Little Pigs” and “the Opry House”). There seems little truth, equally, in claims that he was a Nazi and some of the war propaganda suggests he was firmly against Hitler though he certainly is recorded by Art Babbitt as meeting Leni Reifenstahl in 1938 She claimed Disney“told her he admired her work”; if he was a racist then he was a man of his time, but any charge that he was an anti-semite seems to be confounded hy his employment of people like Maurice Rapf, who also had a left-wing, probably communist background.

A serious issue

What is perhaps wrong and deeply so is that Disney implied that his workers would get a bonus for what they did on the early features and this never happened. Also, Disney hired women only to ink and paint the animation cels. He paid them a pittance. I have done this work and it is soul-destroying. Any corrections that the painter makes to sloppy animation go unrewarded and unrecognised. But such corrections are essential and part of the expected vigilance of the painter. The detail and discipline of the cel painting during the early Disney period- indeed, until “Sleeping Beauty” is astonishing.

Cryrogenics

There is one myth I have not touched on and that is Disney’s immortality: was he frozen? It always seemed a bit creepy. Would this have been done some time after his death or at some point when his body was still warm? The creepiness continues with stories that it was just his head that was frozen and that his body is kept somewhere under Disneyland for resurrection…It all sounds a bit biblical. But I believe his ashes are buried in Forest lawn memorial park in Glendale and that the story is false and probably dependent on a biography by Robert Mosley in 1986. But there was an initial report about freezing in a French Magazine, “Ici Paris” in 1969.

What can be stated with confidence is that there was secrecy about Disney’s final illness and that his brother was encouraged by Walt to keep everything quiet. This probably explains why the announcement of the death was delayed. Also, after having serious cancer surgery and the removal of his left lung, Disney returned to work in his office for about 10 days prior to his death. His daughter Diane is supposed to have said that her father hated funerals and insisted, “When I’m dead I don’t want a funeral. I want people to remember me alive”. That is a statement that alone might well have given rise to all the cryronic stories. It just depends how you interpret the words!

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There are some Disney pluses, again not all of them belong to the man, but they certainly seem to be in line with his legacy. Top of the list must be the continued brilliance of the marketing department. Then comes the equal opportunities employment of gay people, provision for their partners and the recognition that Michael Eisner notes that “40% of Disney’s 63000 employees are homosexual”. That seems to redress the balance in a way.

Photios of Constantinople and our new film

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Photios

Here is an icon of Photios, sometimes called Photius in the West and Saint Photios the Great in Orthodoxy.

 

We have just finished a new educational film about the 6 texts used in the Bible to condemn homosexuality.Because it is only 40 minutes long (it is divided into 3 parts on youtube) Below are parts 1 and 2:

I am afraid there are a number of glosses that i have made and which I will try to correct here over a number of blogs. I am aware that I have not really done justice (slight pun) to the text by Photios that is the lynch-pin of the main argument in the film. The issue I am discussing here occurs in the third part on youtube and the link to that part is here.

What Photios says

I have provided the Greek text of what Photios writes on the film, though it is on-screen fleetingly so here it is again:

photios on romans flat

Photios was very interested in the way Greek changes over the years from the various forms of Ancient /Attic Greek used by Homer to the Greek of the Septuagint and then the koine used in the New Testament. Photios was familiar on a day-by-day basis with the Byzantine Greek of the Imperial court and the Church but there was probably yet another more colloquial version of that in the streets of “the city”, H Polis.

Colwell’s rule

So his greatest work is probably his lexicon, which has helped scholars today to work out how words have changed their meanings and how Greek grammar has evolved. This is particularly important if you want to avoid the nonsense of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who wrongly ascribe at best an Attic grammar to the New Testament and at worst some inexperienced mumbo-jumbo. I met a man today who was sitting by the canal reading a bible. I asked which version and he said “the New World Translation”. I could not get away fast enough! There are endless errors in this Jehovah’s witness text, some simply bizarre- like the use of “torture stake” for “cross” because the Jehovah’s witnesses do not accept that Jesus died on a cross and the refusal to translate any words for hell because they do not believe in hell either. Anyway, the crucial passage is John 1:1 (in every manuscript except Codex L which has ὁ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος)- here is the correct version: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος the last phrase of which is in Greek a form of Yoda-speak: “And God the word he was” or some such “Star wars” jabber. But it should be translated: “the word was God” but is translated by the Jehovah’s witnesses as “the word was a god”. Origin thinks that John omits the article because he refers to Jesus as God and not to the Father and Origin argues, “the true God is Ho Theos” (Commentary on John Book 2, chapter 2) which comes close to the Jehovah’s witness position of denying the Trinity, but not quite. Later scholars absolutely reject this: Bultmann, for example, is incandescent at the thought that the omitted definite article means only or merely “divine”: Denn man kann doch nicht verstehen: er war ein Gott, ein Gottwesen, als ob θεός ein Gattungsbegriff wäre- (he thinks, instead, that the word THEOS has some special grammatical rules of its own) but there is another solution. Here it is: In koine greek, though not in Attic greek, there was an increasing temptation to omit the article when a definite noun (a name) precedes the verb or when a noun should be identified as the predicate. This is often called “Colwell’s rule” and other instances can be found in Mark 15:39 and Matthew 27:42- βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ ἐστιν. The rule can be adjusted slightly because the “anthrous” noun, that is a noun without a definite article, can sometimes (as maybe here) simply be a way of establishing importance or prominence. The purpose of this paragraph is not so much to rebutt the Jehovah’s witness but to demonstrate that Greek was at the time when the New Testament was written in a state of flux and that Photios understood this.

In his commentary, therefore, on Romans 2, Photios considers Paul’s use of words very carefully and concludes that Paul was being specific about a particular part of the law/ the Torah.

Tracking down the fragment

Only a fragment of this commentary exists today and is found in a collection of fragments so it is itself a bit obscure. I managed to track down the text but struggled with the translation and called on an old friend in Athens who sent me off to see a man he called Bill who turned out to be the same man who had first “discovered” the text and published a small article on it in the early part of this century. When looking at obscure texts, the chances are that you are dealing with just a handful of people who know about them, translate them and use them. So, I had a fruitful and entertaining correspondence with Professor Bill Berg, the very man responsible for digging up this brilliant little gem. For my part, I was struggling with elements of the paragraph which seemed to me to be deeply anti-semitic and he agreed. So that was that. They are not important to the argument but they suggest that the man who was writing was doing so quickly and with alot of passion. It is not really surprising that this was the man who single-handedly fractured the Church. Many Catholics today dismiss the “filioque” dispute as a linguistic quibble and I remember having a long debate about this over a few weeks in the letters page of the Athens News, but the Greeks and Russians still regard the issues in the filioque as central to their decision to perpetuate the schism. For Photios and the modern Orthodox one of the central issues of the filioque is its origin in the writings of Augustine and this itself taints the theology of Augustine for the Orthodox.certainly. I think this is why there is a slightly different understanding of “original sin” in the East.

Romans 2: 26-27:

Back to Romans. The verse Photios is considering is Chapter 2. 26-27. This is what it looks like in Greek:  ἐὰν οὖν ἡ ἀκροβυστία τὰ δικαιώματα τοῦ νόμου φυλάσσῃ, [a]οὐχ ἡ ἀκροβυστία αὐτοῦ εἰς περιτομὴν λογισθήσεται; καὶ κρινεῖ ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία τὸν νόμον τελοῦσα σὲ τὸν διὰ γράμματος καὶ περιτομῆς παραβάτην νόμου.

Ands this is the standard English translation: So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

Photios says about this: (Photios’ words in brackets here) “for the Jews, (them) Paul (he) talks about the Torah (the law); for the uncircumcised, he talks about the ‘justices of the law’ not the whole law but only a specific part.” Photios has not quite gone all the way but it can be demonstrated by statements in, for instance, the beginning of Luke when Luke describes Zacharia and his wife keeping “all the jobs and justices of the law” that there are two different parts to the Torah and that these two parts were acknowledged as such at the time of Christ. Things change when the Temple falls in AD 70- and Judaism redefines itself as rabbinic or Pharisaic Judaism so this may explain why such a distinction gets lost.

The Golden Rule is the King’s Law

“The Golden Rule” (to love one another), broadly speaking, is that part of the Torah which is endorsed by Paul as central to the Christian life and is also flagged up by Jesus. Let me explain!! The measure of our relationship with God is to be found in our relationship with one another. This is defined by Christ in the Golden Rule, (Mtt 7:12: Πάντα οὖν ὅσα [a]ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς· οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται.) but it is also found in Hillel (Shabbat 31a: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn) and is embedded in Lev xix 18. In the epistle of James, this is called “the Kingly law”: james 2:8: Εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, καλῶς ποιεῖτε· Now, a “kingly law” was regarded in the ancient world as something that took precedence over any other existing laws. An example of this can be found in Pergamum (Deissmann) but the idea is fairly straightforward. If Christ had issued the Golden rule as a “kingly law” then that takes precedence over anything else in the Torah. The Golden rule is to deal well with others. It is not about cultic practice. In other words, the Gentile might well be able to keep the “kingly law” (which sums up the whole Torah anyway) in the knowledge that he can not keep the  Torah itself.

This happens at a time when elements of Pharasaic Judaism were perhaps getting out of control. People were indulging in the cultic observances as a way to make up for their failing with one another. David Wood suggests that this is the kernel of Paul’s message- that no amount of cultic obedience can erase offences to the Golden rule. That is paramount and trumps the cultic laws, because the “kingly law” is absolute.

In terms of the two types of law, and here I think the film does an adequate enough job in part 3:

Homosexuality falls into those laws defined as “cultic”: rather than into those laws that support the “Golden Rule”, what Wood calls “the Justices”. Paul might not like Homosexuality (personally) but he does not think it is something that will damn someone to eternal death, particularly if they are mindful of the Golden Rule. What is damning instead is nastiness, and spite and I suppose writing hateful things in a blog. We must be nice to Jehovah’s witnesses when they knock on the door. Be nice but do not necessarily agree with what they say.

I will stop here and write something lighter next time!

What was Princeps eating?

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The History of the Sandwich:

The Sandwich apparently comes from John Montague, the Earl of Sandwich. The first Earl took the name Sandwich rather than Portsmouth as a tribute to the town of Sandwich where his fleet was anchored prior to his triumphant return to England with Charles II in 1660. In other words, had the wind been blowing differently, we could have been tucking into a cheddar cheese portsmouth, with or without the trimmings. The 4th Earl not only asked for meat to be served on his bread in 1762, but also financed Captain Cook who went on to Australia, but named the Sandwich isles in Hawaii after his sponsor in 1778. The first sandwich might, however, go back to Rabbi Hillel in Palestine, around the time of Christ, who put lamb and nuts on his matzah during the Passover.

For what it’s worth, I think the Jewish link is relevant, because my sense is that Princeps, the sandwich-eater was probably possessed. Maybe, he was driven by some evil perversion of nationalism, yet one of the great Serbian Archbishops defined Nationalism itself as a heresy, so that does not get us much further…(Sukkot shares similarities with hallowe’en. There are witches in Jewish tradition going back to The witch of Endor and in one ancient text, the spirit of Lilith who appeared as Adam’s first wife. It is the red string on the cribs that ward off the influence of Lilith, who wants revenge for being thrown over in popular mythology for the more insipid Eve. In contrast to the Dybbuk, the ru’ah tezazit, a soul, ר֣וּחַ without a body, there is the Golem, the body without a soul, the original monster of Frankenstein.)

No, I think of possession, pure and simple. It’s first appearance in the modern world is in Jewish literature really, where the play the Dybbuk achieved noteriety in the yiddish theatre. It was drawing on kabbalistic traditions going back to the 17th Century at least, but maybe, if we take the hebrew words used routinely to describe such a spirit in the Kabbalah or even in the talmud, the ruah tezazit (confusion) or evil sprit, we find the same description in the New testament again and again.

Princeps’ Sandwich:

There is a story that seems to be taken as fact today that Gavrilo Princeps was eating a sandwich, or buying a sandwich when the car carrying the Archduke and his wife passed Moritz Schiller’s delicatessen on Franz Joseph street in Sarajevo. Of course, as Necati observes, if he was eating anything it would have been burek but it is more likely that he was outside the cafe. Now, I did a bit of research and discovered that there is a source for the sandwich story in a 2003 Brazilian novel called “Twelve fingers” where the hero, Dimitri Korozec, a polydactil blessed with extreme clumsiness, meets his old friend Princeps in the cafe. At that point, Dimitri had been part of a twetve strong assassination team in Sarajevo and had himself failed to assassinate the Archduke because his 6th finger jammed in the gun. All this, and this is really the important bit, is complete fiction, the invention of Jô Soares. Later Dimitri will get caught up with Mata Hari, the invention of Spanish flu, the St Valentine’s day massacre, the attempt on the life of Franklin D Roosevelt in 1933 (he accidentally saves the President rather than shoots him) and finally the killing of Brazilian Getulio Vargas (picture above) in an attempt to stop him committing suicide in 1954. This is the man, one of the Presidents of Brazil (dictator?), whose genuine suicide note reads: “Serenely, I take my first step on the road to eternity and I leave life to enter history.” Fairly solemn stuff. Anyway, to the meeting in the cafe with princeps:

this is what was written,

It’s Gavrilo Princip. Feigning surprise, he says, “Gavrilo! It’s been such a long time! What’re you doing here?” “I’m eating a sandwich.” “I can tell that. Don’t treat me like a child.” They fall silent, while Gavrilo finishes his sandwich and takes a grimy handkerchief from his pocket to wipe his hands. When he opens his coat to put away the handkerchief, Dimitri sees a Browning pistol tucked into the waistband.

As I said earlier, this is a bit of fiction. There is no evidence anywhere before 2003 of a sandwich being eaten by Gavrilo Princeps. Another point that is interesting is that the statue I mentioned earlier that was erected in Sarajevo is not the only one! There is a mosaic being assembled in Visegrad and another statue in Tobarisevo, a little way from Belgrade.

No one seems to have noticed Mrs Pankhurst!!

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Bizarrely as David Cameron re-shuffles his cabinet and brings more women into positions of power, no one on the BBC  news has yet noted that today is the birthday of Mrs Pankhurst, she of the “Sister Suffragette” song at the beginning of “Mary Poppins”. This omission seems both rather odd and slightly sad but there we are! Andrea Leadsom is not on the list of women being elevated to high rank in the cabinet. She was being discussed a great deal today by someone from the TIMES: apparently, she has a reputation in the Party as “difficult” and a bit of a rebel. I have met her: one of the oddest things she claimed was that she would never put forward or speak in an early day motion because it was a waste of time and there was never any “resolution”. Sometimes, I think, issues nevertheless have to be aired. It can take years before a resolution is reached and I think I resent this cavalier attitude to the ordinary business of the house.  That said, I note that she has actually either changed her mind or my recollection of our conversation is wrong because she has signed an EDM for renaming the Parliament tower in honour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee after she signed an EDM proposed by Graham Evans which bemoaned the continued existence of EDM saying they “rarely have any influence on policy… and questions the value for money to the taxpayer”…Of course, she opposed the same sex marriage bill and made a great fuss in the press about her position- I don’t quite understand this bill as, other than nomenclature, it offers little that the civil partnership had not already established, but it seemed to cause so much more friction. I did a cartoon of Ms Leadsom where she stands among others who found the legislation- in her words “unacceptable” – she also added that her constituents found the idea of gay marriage to be “deeply wrong”. In the end, she lacked the guts to actually vote against the Government and simply ran into hiding during the vote. silly lady.

gay marriage

More interesting is Merton’s Elizabeth truss and St Hugh’s Nicky Morgan. Now Mrs Morgan also opposed the same sex legislation, but she managed to vote! I rather liked her comments in the Leicester Mercury and most specifically her “third reason” for voting against the bill. I think in time, this may be of significance –

“There were also three main reasons of my own that I voted against it.

“First, this is a very big social change. There have been plenty of little changes down the years but what’s never been changed is that the fact that marriage is between a man and a woman.

“I think that was one of the issues people, especially those who asked me to vote against, found hardest to accept and it also tied in with my own Christian faith too.

“I totally support civil partnerships and that same-sex relationships are recognised in law. But marriage, to me, is between a man and a woman.

“The second reason is that people have become a bit cynical about consultations about policy changes at national and local government level .

“And in this case, I felt the question was not whether the change should be made, but how it should be made and I think we forgot that step of asking if it should be made.

“And the third reason was legal aspects of the Bill. For instance, if we have gay marriage, should civil partnerships now also be opened up to heterosexual couples too? Or should we just get rid of civil partnerships altogether?

“Also, if same-sex marriages are to be dissolved, will that be different to heterosexual partnerships ending?

“I know there are a lot of worries for people like teachers and others in public sector roles and these are things I still feel need to be ironed out as the Bill goes through Parliament.

“I appreciate that there will be people in my constituency who will be unhappy with how I voted and I wish many of them had contacted me earlier and given me a clearer picture of what people thought.”

 

 

 

 

 

Gavrilo Princeps and updates about our films

moleskin20060 princeps

This weekend, we are working on three projects. I am trying to get the second part of the film about the 6 gay texts in the Bible finished and there are so many details that are left -simply in the presentation. Secondly, I am storyboarding the first of our polyglot Lear songs. So far, we have recorded sequences from two of these songs- the first is in english and Turkish (there was a young person of Smyrna) and the second is in English and Greek (there was an old man of Corfu).

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The music is by David Watson and the Greek sequence is being recorded later this week in Athens in a studio I know well from my days recording englsh language cassettes for “New Editions” and Longman or Macmillan. I recorded the english line a few weeks ago in Oxford. Anyway, the idea is that these songs will be thoroughly theatrical, looking and feeling like something out of the 19th Century. So this brings me to the third thing we are working on this weekend which is the backdrop to the Turkish Lear film. This is an image of the centre of modern Izmir, which was also used in Posters of the 1950s, one of which I am copying here

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…So while I am messing around with animation in one office, Necati is slaving away drawing the background in the other office. Later, we have some sketches of Leamington Spa to finish for “Clements and Church”.

Gavrilo Princeps was the boy who assassinated the heir to the Austrian throne, the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914 and this was the event that catapulted us into the first world war, courtesy of some bizarre activity by our then Foreign Secretary Edward Grey, who has the record for holding the office for 11 years from 1905 to 1916. Today is the anniversary of that event. Gavrilo Princeps was the son of a local postman,  a Serbian nationalist. I wonder what his name actually means: the word γαύρος in Greek is the word for a little fish or anchovy. (Incidentally, in writing the Greek word, I mistyped and hit an “N” instead of a “rho”. That would have come much closer to a word that certainly does not mean “fish” in Russian. I think it is one of the exclamations made at the beginning of “From Russia with Love.”) The general feeling one hundred years ago was that Princeps’ action was fairly unimportant, unless of course, one happened to be the Archduke Ferdinand or his wife Sophia, the Duchess of Hohenberg, then of course it was immediately a matter of life and death.

Princeps himself had had a troubled life. He wanted to join the circus but was considered too weak to do any serious stunts and also apparently he looked improbably gay in a leotard. There were apparently 6 (or 7) conspirators, linked to the “Black Hand” (led by Dragutin Dimitrijevic) and the assassination attempts went on for about an hour. Between them, the conspirators had six bombs and 4 Browning pistols. The first conspirator was the son of a minor Bosnian noble, called Mohammed Mehmedbasic and when it came to the point, he lost his nerve because a policeman was standing next to him. He was later arrested in Montenegro where he was overheard bragging about his part in the conspiracy. Nedeljko Cabrinovic threw a hand grenade at the open-topped car at 10.15 but the driver, Leopold Loyka, accelerated and the bomb actually exploded under another car that was following the Royals wounding Eric Von Merizzi and Count Alexander as well as about 20 spectators. Cabrinovic’s plan was to bomb the car and then vault over the railings of the bridge swallowing a vial of Cyanide as he did so. Cabrinovic’s poison was useless and his attempted suicide failed. He was captured by police.

The Duchess was slightly hurt by a bit of shrapnel which had cut her neck. She was stoic, though as was her husband. They went on to a reception at the Town hall and then to the hospital to visit his wounded aides, but on the way the driver took a wrong turn, passed Moritz Schilller’s cafe where Princeps was hiding. The car got into further difficulties, stalled and Princeps fired at a distance of five feet, hitting the Archduke in the neck and his wife in her lower right abdomen. She was pregnant. The second bullet also hit the Archduke in the chest. His wife was able to say “What has happened to you?” before apparently fainting. She had in fact died. He said, “Sophia, don’t die. Stay alive for the children.”  Count Von Harrach owned the Gräf & Stif car and was acting as the couple’s bodyguard; he was standing on the running board of the car as Princeps fired. He supported the Archduke’s head and asked if he was in pain. “It’s nothing,” said Ferdinand repeatedly. He died at 11am, having been carried with his dead wife to his suite in the Hotel Konak, exactly 1 hour after arriving by train in Sarajevo.

Oddly, the Archduke might have made a good Emperor. He rejected alot of his uncle’s fuddy-duddy approaches to the empire and wanted to make concessions to the slavs. The emperor Franz Josef disliked his nephew intensely, not least because he disapproved of his wife, Sophia who was not descended from Imperial blood. The archduke must have been a bit dim or received idiotic advice because the visit to Sarajevo, urged repeatedly by the Bosnian Governor-general, Oscar Potiorek, was made at a time of Serbian tension and specifically on 28th June, St Vitus day, a Serbian National holiday that commemorates the defeat of Serbia by the Ottomans in the battle of Kosovo in 1389. During the battle, the leaders of both armies, the Suktan Murad I and Prince Lazar who led the Serbs, both died. To make matters worse for the visiting Royals, this was their 14th Wedding anniversary.

Because of the Duchess’s lowly birth and the appalling pomposity of the Emperor, her coffin was placed on a lower bier to her husband’s at the funeral service in Vienna. More astonishingly, her children were denied access to the funeral because they were not considered Royal enough to share the Church with the emperor and his family. Ferdinand had anticipated some of this and had created two marble tombs under their house so they could at least be buried together. I suppose he did not anticipate that they would be used so soon.

Riots broke out in Sarajevo in the days that followed the assassination.

arrest of princeps

here is a photo I was sent that I understand shows Princeps’ arrest

The fate of Princeps is barely recorded in History books, but makes poignant reading. He was too young to be condemned to death so was given a 20 year prison sentence instead. A third conspirator, Danilo Ilic, was old enough to be executed a year later. The fate of two  conspirators is bizarre: Vaso Čubrilović was 17 and not particularly rebellious at all; the worst thing he had done to date was to walk out of school while the Hapsburg National Anthem was playing. I gather he claimed that he was worried any attack on the Duke might hurt the Duchess so on a point of chivalrous honour, he chickened out. After a 16 year prison sentence, he became a history teacher. Cvjetko Popović claimed to have weak eyesight and did not see the car at all. He served a prison term and then became a museum curator. I do not know what happened to Trifko Grabež (was he executed?). Once a year, the various conspirators were put into solitary confinement to commemorate the day of the assassination, 28th June. Princeps, in particular was singled out for brutal treatment. His arrest was apparently very nasty. He was kept in appalling conditions, and attempted suicide unsuccessfully with the same drugs given to Cabrinovic that were so out of date they simply made him vomit; later, he contracted TB, had his right arm amputated and died in the early part of 1918. He was buried in an unmarked grave which was subsequently identified and his remains were placed in a chapel built to commemorate Serbian heroes. His home which was destroyed during the War was rebuilt and became the Museum of Yugoslavia in Sarajevo until it was destroyed again in 1941 when the Croatians/ Germans invaded Sarajevo. It was rebuilt in 1944 by Tito and became a museum again until, the 1990s when it was destroyed for a third time.

Perhaps the most distressing aspect of the various activities today in Sarajevo is the erection of a statue of Princeps. Whether he is seen as a freedom fighter or as a terrorist is perhaps an academic point now, but the fact remains that he ignited one of the worst wars ever. I am not sure this is worthy of a bronze statue. I was sent a photo that shows Bosnian Serbs kissing and touching the statue in Istocno shortly after the unveiling ceremony last night.

ladies touching statue of Princeps- for luck?

Today is also the first day of Ramadan:

best wishes for ramadan from zontul films