That Pile of Clippings Needs to be Read

I collect articles from newspapers that I want to read. I only sometimes have time to read them in detail, and I’m always sure there’s something that I will miss. On Sunday I went through a pile and kept notes on what these prompted me to think.

The first clipping is an interview with Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz of Talking Heads. They stand against a blank wall, Tina wearing a felt hat and Chris in dark glasses. This article is to publicise a book called ‘Remain in love’. They talk about how they met and why they are still together. Tina writes about how she hated boyfriends who told her what to wear and used to follow her into the bathroom. Chris said that he would never do that. They work together from home and always have a regular date once a week when they go out, and that’s why it works.

The next is an article about Lt Col Lucio Arcidiacodna, Commander of the investigation unit of the Carabiniere’s special operations group, on capturing Matteo Messina Danaro, nicknamed Diabolik for the number of murders he ordered, enough to fill a small cemetery. Particularly heinous is the murder of Giuseppe de Matteo, a 12-year-old boy who was kidnapped, then strangled, and his body dissolved in acid. Diabolic went on a run in 1993 and was captured this year.  The Carabiniere finally caught up with him because of an appointment at a cancer clinic.

Then by chance, I see a short article on the back of a sheet about Daniel Harris who is 19 years old and was jailed for eleven and a half years for terrorist offences making right-wing videos in his parents’ house. Gendron and Anderson Lee in the States had viewed these videos. There is a small photograph in the article. He stares sullenly into the camera lens. Where did all the hate come from?

The number of Russian dead in Ukraine number approximately 180,000. This spring, the experts say that we shall see renewed attacks on both sides. Russia’s tactic is to overwhelm the Ukrainians with Russian soldiers, but the Ukrainians hold the heart of the battle – they will stand to the last man. Maybe it is time for the next Russian revolution. Don’t the Russians love a revolution?

I have an article about a concentration camp called Mauthausen near Lintz, in Austria built on a hill overlooking the Danube.  Sam Jones who lives in Madrid wrote the article. Out of 190,000 Jews, Romani people, LQBTQ+, Jehovah’s witnesses, asocial and political opponents, 90,000 were murdered, worked or starved to death. Of these, there were 5000 Spanish Republicans who had been stripped of their nationality and deported from France.

There was an article about Michael Rosen. His face reminds me of a Quentin Blake drawing. His new book is ‘Getting better: life lessons on going under, getting over it and getting through it’. I didn’t know that he had lost his son who went to bed with a headache and didn’t wake up.

I enjoy reading obituaries. These are stories from lives. There is Piers Haggart who directed the original BBC adaptation of Pennies from Heaven. When I read this, I think, “Oh, I would like to see that television series again.” So, I searched on YouTube and found some clips. The way the actors break into dance is seamless, just like those wonderful 1930s American dance musicals. He also directed a horror film called The Blood on Satan’s Claw which is regarded by some as one of the finest British horror films ever made. This is on YouTube as well. I watch the trailer first. Such strange characters. I promise myself that I will watch the whole film to the end.

There is an obituary about Donald Trelford, the ex-Observer editor. He often saved the paper from collapse. He had to look for rich people to buy the paper and ended up with Tiny Rowland. This gets me thinking that newspapers are all about selling stories; these stories all come with an opinion, and we buy a paper to match our own opinions. What if there was a newspaper called ‘The Opinion’ or maybe just ‘The Facts.’ Maybe Phil Talke works for The Opinion. And opinionated he will be.

There is an obituary for the science fiction writer Greg Bear. What a great name: ‘Greg Bear’. He wrote 35 novels. When I was at school, I read lots of SF novels, but not now: nowadays it tends to be the classics. His themes are politics, technology and genetics. He always researched his ideas, and he was always thinking about the future.

Next is a chap called Jeremy Bullmore, who worked at JWT for 33 years and wrote a consumer report in which he said, “the consumer has a mind as well as a stomach.” And he also said, ‘Within every brand, there is a product, but not every product is a brand.’  He wrote that ‘products are made and owned by companies, but the people, the public, and the consumers own the brands.’ So the brand is something that makes you feel comfortable. It’s more than the product: it is a philosophy.

Then there is an obituary for Chris Boucher, who wrote Doctor Who scripts and his line in the episode ‘The Face of Evil’ in 1977. “The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don’t alter their views to fit the facts; they alter the facts to fit their views.”

Let’s finish with a review of Italo Calvino’s book of essays, ‘The Written World and the Un-written World.’ Asked how he found inspiration for his works, he said, “I have the thought: Ah! How would I like to write like X! Too bad it’s beyond my capabilities! Then I imagine this impossible undertaking, and I think of the book I will never write but would like to read, to put it beside other beloved books on an ideal shelf, and suddenly some words, sentences appear in my mind.”

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