Friday, October 19, 2018

Blurred Lines

We have woken up today with the tragic news of yet another student walking round a school with a gun, killing. This time it was in the Crimea and, at the time of writing this there are 17 dead and over 40 wounded. Valdislav Roslyakov then killed himself in the college library. His mother was a nurse at the local hospital, treating the victims of the shooting without knowing if it was her own son whose finger had been on the trigger. As is fairly typical, the perpetrator was said to be unsociable and spent much of his time putting depressing messages on social media.

Anders Breivik

It caught my eye as I was intending to blog about the TV drama I watched last night.  22nd July. It’s about the atrocities of Anders Behring Breivik in Norway. Firstly, the bomb attack on Parliament and then he, a far-right extremist, took guns and ammunition to an island, Utoya, where some teenagers were on a Workers' Youth League summer camp. Eight died in the explosion, sixty nine on the island. The total injured was over three hundred and twenty. He was sentenced to 21 years' preventive detention.
It’s uneasy viewing, but very low key on the horror of the situation. The emotional hook was the boy who Breivik shot seven times but survived.  He’s on record as stating that Breivik looked at him, ready to shoot him again, then walked away. The boy believes his Aryan looks made his assailant think twice.  In the drama, we see his parents go through all the emotions. They find one son alive, the other is unaccounted for. Then they find him at the hospital, fighting for his life.

What does come across is the dignity of the Norwegian people, ‘we shall not react down the barrel of a gun but by the due process of law.’
The drama was heavy on fact, light on horror. The events are allowed to unravel and tell their own story. I have also seen Elephant, the film based on the Columbine School massacre. It’s also hard watching, but the story is there.  Yet I suspect there would be outrage if something similar was made about Thomas Hamilton and the events at Dunblane Primary School. Is that a matter of emotional distance?

I was doing an event last week and was asked if there was anything that I wouldn’t write about. The answer is I wouldn’t write about something that is recognisably true. I am uneasy about a dramatized version of real life events. Especially if there are no survivors.
And I’ve read books (well half read them as I tend to fling them against the window) where the events are basically a real-life crime where real people died with the names changed and little more. Sometimes they are so close to a well-publicised case, I can tell how it ends. It ends exactly the same way the real life version ended.

The last two books which have won the McIlvanney Scottish Crime book if the year are both based on ‘real ‘events.  One based on the Peter Manual killings, the other on the Bible John case. Both cases are recent enough to be in living memory of victim’s relatives.
                                                           Simon Toyne 
Simon Toyne has a programme Written In Blood, were he walks a crime writer through the case that inspired the book. Sometimes the word ‘inspired’ is accurate. There is very little correlation between the real life crime and the fiction that comes out at the end of the process. In other cases, it is far too close, for me, to be comfortable and I can't help but sniff profiteering at somebody else’s misery.
One book was Alex Marwood’s Wicked Girls, inspired by the case of James Bulger in 1993. This was the two year old boy that was led out a shopping mall by two older boys, along a towpath and eventually killed by them. For all kinds of reasons, it was a horrific and unforgettable crime. Thompson and Venables were only ten years old at the time of their crime.
                                            The film that shows the two year old being led away

The boys were released, their sentences short (in English law ) due to their age. One is back in jail for possession of child porn,  the other lives under an assumed name.  They have been ‘outed’ by the press a few times, their locations made public, gag orders have been invoked by the courts, people have been prosecuted by citing their supposed whereabouts on social media (in an attempt to cause bodily harm to and the persecution of a totally innocent individual). Alex took that idea, turned the guilty party in to two girls. What would happen if they grew up to be respectable mums themselves. Time moves on, they have served their sentence, they have new identities in every sense. Then somebody finds out who they are.

A lot of what ifs.

The story is far removed from the real life case that inspired it. And I could see my own imagination taking that story as a baton, then running a fair way with it before committing a fictional spin off to paper.

What would his mother feel like, picking up a paperback and reading something she recognised?

I was once asked to read a book which was a fictionalised account of Britain’s most famous female child killer, Myra Hindley.  Hindley died in jail in 2002 without ever gaining her freedom. The book starts off with the premise that she gets out with a new identity. The story of her death was faked. The character in the book has the same name as the killer, it’s in the title. She has plastic surgery, a new face, a new body, and moves far up the social structure.

                                                Myra Hindley

It was the kind of book that made me want to wash my hands after I had finished it.
It doesn’t sensationalise what she did. Myra comes across as a rather pathetic, unremorseful character. The book is well written, and the story comes across as not a far fetched as it may sound.  But it would, in my opinion,  have been so much more acceptable if the main character had not been called Myra Hindley. Or if the title of the book had not used that name, or the name of the famous landscape they used as a disposal site.

But then it was nominated for a few awards so what do I know.
I’m interviewing two crime fiction writing journalists at Grantown’s wee crime writing festival. I think the blurred lines of fact into fiction might come up in conversation.

19 10 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Natural instinct and the windscreen phenomenon revisited

Michael - Thursday

This wasn’t meant to be a rant, but I did feel my blood pressure go up when I read the transcript of the president’s interview with Associated Press yesterday. Here’s the piece that upset me (among others, but this is the relevant one):

"Scientists say this [climate change] is nearing a point where this can’t be reversed,” the AP reporters said to Trump.
“No, no,” he replied. “Some say that, and some say differently. I mean, you have scientists on both sides of it. My uncle was a great professor at MIT for many years. Dr. John Trump. And I didn’t talk to him about this particular subject, but I have a natural instinct for science, and I will say that you have scientists on both sides of the picture.”

Okay, so let’s digest this. The president had an uncle who was a scientist. (He was an electrical engineer at MIT, but he died thirty years ago so it’s not too surprising that Trump didn’t discuss climate change with him.) He goes on to claim that he has “a natural instinct for science”. Well, the bad news is that science is not always intuitive. Sometimes it’s counterintuitive. It’s not something that works on the basis of who your relatives are. Certainly, you may have an aptitude for it, but it’s 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Come on. General relativity intuitive? Natural instinct for soft quantum hair around black holes?

Of course, you could say that the president is talking about the more everyday stuff that’s actually important to us. Well, let’s go there. If you swing round a corner fast, you can feel the force pulling your car away from the centre of the bend, right? It’s like when you swing a weight around on a piece of string. It wants to fly away – a force is pulling it away from you, right? It even has a name. Centrifugal force. The only thing is, it doesn’t exist. There is no such force. Newton’s laws of motion explain what’s going on. Not intuitive, then. Not what one’s natural instinct would suggest.

And climate change is the same sort of thing. “Natural instinct” might suggest that we are seeing a normal cycle as in the past. That’s Trump’s argument. Actually, that’s not at all what the evidence suggests – in fact, all the natural explanations fail to explain what’s going on. Here’s a really good link to see a graphical summary of that evidence by NASA people who actually put in the 90% of work instead of relying on the 10% of natural instinct. 

And the mathematics is complicated and predicts chaotic behaviour. (I talked about that here.) It does not, for example, imply that we will experience stronger and stronger hurricanes. (Trump pointed out that a much stronger hurricane than e.g. Michael was recorded in the nineteenth century. True, but totally irrelevant.) It implies that we will have less predictable and more extreme weather. Anyone notice any of that recently?

It seems that Trump’s natural instinct has led him to the wrong conclusion, as natural instinct so often does in science.

El Yunque National Forest
So much for the rant. I actually wanted to talk about an update on the windscreen phenomenon. I blogged about that before here. Briefly, it’s the observation that when you drive over some distance these days, you find less bugs squashed on the windscreen than you used to – the suggestion being that we are seeing a die off of insects. There are a variety of explanations for this “bug apocalypse” as someone called it. Among the most obvious are loss of habitat, insecticides, and pollutants.

But a new study has trumped what’s been done in Europe, and it was reported in The Washington Post under the heading: Hyperalarming’ study shows massive insect loss. The new study took place in a pristine rain forest in Puerto Rico – El Yunque. It’s been a protected area since the king of Spain claimed it as his private preserve in the nineteenth century. So it seems that loss of habitat isn’t an issue. At 28,000 acres, and situated on mountain slopes, the area is at least reasonably protected from chemical impact. Also, the use of insecticides in Puerto Rica has declined by 80% since 1969.

The study by a team of biologists was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy. In the seventies, they recorded a detailed inventory of the populations of insects, birds and animals in the forest. They returned forty years later (but before last year’s hurricanes) and found an almost 50% decline in the insect populations. Everything was down – butterflies, bees, beetles, grasshoppers, spiders… Some were worse off than others – ground insects measured had decreased 60 fold in biomass.

Ruddy quail dove
There were corresponding declines in the numbers of insect predators – bird and animal – but it was variable. The population of the ruddy quail dove was the same as before. The colourful Puero Rican tody had declined by 90%. The former eats seeds and fruits, the latter eats insects.

So what’s going on? Here are a few clues. The average temperature of the forest has increased by 4 degrees Fahrenheit over the forty years. Insects can’t regulate their body heat, and above a certain point they don’t reproduce. A recent paper in Science on the effects on insects of climate change predicted a decrease in tropical insect populations. An analytic technique applied by the authors of the study to six specific populations produced strong support for a correlation between temperature increase and population decrease in five of the six populations.

Puero Rican tody

And the rain forest itself? So far it looks pretty good. But most plants rely on insects for pollination. If the insects go, the whole system will inevitably collapse. May as well stop worrying about that illegal logging in South America.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

heat wave in Paris and too much fun in Penelope's bookstore

At the cafe today someone was saying it's the hottest October in 75 years. It's almost 80 every afternoon...not complaining but the trees on the boulevards seem confused. Their leaves are crinkling brown and orange but some have green leaves on top.
I felt like hopping off the bus and jumping in the fountain at Saint Sulpice.
Instead I hung out with Penelope Fletcher who has opened her Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore (formerly in the Marais) bordering the Jardins du Luxembourg. 

Here she is with Bruce, her pal and Canadian publisher who just came from the Frankfurt book Fair. 
 We all had lunch next door and who's sitting in the cafe but my fave French actress Sandrine Kimberlain ! I shamelessly asked for a photo and she graciously agreed! No shame is my motto!
Back in the Red Wheelbarrow 
Caroline, a documentary film maker joined us!
Cara - Tuesday 

Monday, October 15, 2018

Yankee Vagabond - Redux

Annamaria, On the Road Again

It's Sunday in San Francisco as a prepare to fly and join Susan in Japan.  I am over the moon about this trip.  If you haven't read her blog from yesterday, please do.  For one thing, it will tell you exactly why--of all my travel--this trip is super special.  I confess that today I can barely sit still long enough to repost one of my most heartfelt blogs of the past, which tells how I got to be a vagabond.  It is from four years ago this month.  I find it curious that it mentions two of the reasons Japan holds a special fascination for me.  I have never toured there before, only visited on business trips.  And I am about to go and be there in the most privileged possible circumstances--with Susan as my guide and companion.   There are times in my life that I can hardly believe I am me.  This is one of them.  I started out as the kid you see below!

Having had a chance recently to exercise by vagabond nature, I have been thinking about where it came from.

It may genetic.  It certainly feels as if it is coming from every cell in my body.  If I wasn’t born with a wanderlust, I acquired one so shortly thereafter that I cannot remember a time when I didn’t long to hit the road—to see the world. Not to vacation.  To travel.

A book and a few pieces of music stirred these longings when I was very young.

As a child, most of what I read came from the nearby public library, but the one book we had a home—called the Wonder Book of Knowledge as I recall—had everything to fire a child’s imagination.  A huge volume, with a blue linen cover, at least five inches thick, it contained an encyclopedia, a collection of children’s stories, brain teasers and riddles, glossy pages showing the flags of all nations and birds and animals of the world.  And best of all, an atlas.  My brother and I would lie on the living room floor for hours on end, pouring over the maps.  I especially liked ones that showed small islands off exotic coasts, remote and intriguing.  I would point to a tiny pink speck in the blue ocean off a pale green coast and say, “Imagine going to a place like that.”

My brother and me about the time the bug bit me.

When I was four and five, my father was in China, sent there with a battalion of US Marines who had fought in the Pacific.  They went to accept the Japanese surrender in Tsingtao and were kept on to oversee the repatriation of Japanese prisoners of war.  The letters and cards he sent during his six months there came to us with pictures of people the likes of which I had never seen, but whom I wished I could know.  And I missed my daddy so much that when, during my first week in kindergarten, the teacher asked us “What do you want to do when you grow up?” my answer was, “When I grow up, I am going to go to China.”

The first song I heard that talked of wanderlust was probably the one written by Puccini.  The recording in my house in those days was Caruso’s.  Here is Luciano Pavarotti’s rendition.  The aria is from Madama Butterfly and contains the words “Yankee vagabondo,” the title of this blog.  It begins “Dovunque al mondo”—wherever in the world.  That was where I wanted to go:  wherever in the world, because so many far off places promised to be fascinating, filled with wonders.  Listen carefully and you will hear the magic word:  L’aventura!

In my very early years, our big Philco radio broadcast songs that fanned those flames of intrigue.  Songs whose lyrics attached specific destinations to my longing for the far away.  Here are a couple of big hits from the 40’s with words I learned by heart without effort before I was eight years old, since I heard them so often and they spoke to my soul:

Maps and music formed an important part of who I became and still am—a creature who longs to be on the move.

When I was leaving for my recent trip to Africa, people I know voiced dire warnings—of Ebola, of terrorists, of the everyday slings and arrows of being alone in a foreign land.   They tried to talk me out of going.  But I know who I am.  So I went, and I would not have missed it for anything.

We are all going to die of something.  If I could have my choice, rather than die quietly in a hospital with a tube up my nose, rather than the security of going nowhere, I would choose to die of adventure.

Annamaria - Monday

Sunday, October 14, 2018

From Snow to Snow - and Mountains Full of Lessons On The Way

--Susan, every other Sunday

On May 14, 2018, two weeks after completing chemotherapy for breast cancer, I moved to Japan to face my fears by climbing 100 mountains in one year.

Me, May 2018 - two weeks after finishing four months of dose-dense chemotherapy.

Shortly after my arrival, I set out on the grand adventure, leaving home at 5 am to climb my first summit: Mt. Akagi, a day trip from Tokyo.

Yes, it was still dark out when I left that first morning. So eager. So naiive...

That day, I learned an important lesson: I am capable of climbing mountains. (A fact that remained somewhat up in the air before I actually started this adventure, despite its relative importance to the ultimate success of my hiking plans.)

Shortly thereafter, I left for the northern Tohoku region of Honshu, Japan's main island, where I discovered that May is still "snow on the peaks" season in much of Japan. I also discovered that vertical, snow-covered slopes are slippery and absolutely terrifying.

It doesn't show well in the photo, but this slope - on the final rise to Mt. Hakkoda's highest peak -  is extremely steep.

I reminded myself I had trained for this. I broke through the paralysis of fear. I made the summit.

Lesson learned: it is possible to push through choking fear.

And learned not a moment too soon, because the next two mountains also featured quite a bit of snow. (But with admittedly less "steep" in the snowy bits.)

Snow on Hachimantai.
By the time the thaw arrived at the upper altitudes, I'd made my peace with snow . . . and discovered rocks.

The road to Mordor runs through northern Honshu.

Another lesson learned - this one somewhat obvious, in retrospect: Mountains are made of rocks. You'll have to climb them.

While becoming one with the boulders and pebbles, I also learned that Japanese summers are the playground of the largest, and loudest, cicadas known to man (or woman).

Bug. With hiking boot for scale. In the tree, it sounds ten times this size.
Fortunately, I like cicadas (at least, when they stick to the trees and not to my backpack). And not too long thereafter I had the chance to hike with something else I like:

My family and friends, who joined me in mid-July for an overnight ascent of Japan's highest and most famous peak: Mt. Fuji.

Team Fuji 2018.

The lesson here? Climbing alone is good for meditation and mental health, but climbing with friends and family gives you someone with whom to share your joy.

No visit lasts forever, but mountains do, so after my family went home I returned to the wilderness, learning more important lessons like, "don't eat raisins on the summit, because the nearest bathroom is still at least two hours away," and "this might not be a good place to drop your hiking pole." (Spoiler alert: I didn't drop it.)

When I arrived, two young guys were jumping up and down and shooting "aerial" photos at the end of this ledge.            No, they didn't take the short way down.

I also learned that butterflies like the taste of human sweat. Which is awesome, because it causes butterflies to land on your hands when you're hiking.

mmmm....tasty salty human...

It's also pretty gross, if you consider it too long.

By the time September rolled around, I'd climbed just over 20 peaks, most of them well over 1,500 meters high. With a little experience - and many lessons - behind me, I headed over a thousand kilometers north, to the island of Hokkaido, where I met an amazing trio of guides from Hokkaido Nature Tours who hiked with me on six of Hokkaido's hyakumeizan peaks.

I climbed six mountains in eleven days - a personal record - in which I also learned more about myself, and about hiking, than in all twenty-plus mountains that went before.

With Ido, one of my guides from Hokkaido Nature Tours

I also made three great new friends (four if you count Hokkaido itself, as well), who I hope to see again as soon as possible.

After leaving my guides, I made a solo ascent of Mt. Asahi - Hokkaido's highest peak - arriving on the summit on a spectacular, temperate day two days after the mountain had its first real snowfall of the year.

On the summit of Asahidake, Hokkaido, Japan

I've now officially climbed through all four seasons, from snow to snow.

Fortunately, autumn is only now arriving in most of Japan, and I still have a couple of beautiful months of hiking ahead before the snow begins in earnest.

icicles on Mt. Asahi.

With 67 mountains left to climb before next May, I suspect I also have a lot of lessons yet to learn.

The next time my post here at MIE rolls around, I'll be in the mountains once again - but I won't be climbing solo. Annamaria Alfieri arrives in Tokyo next Thursday, for two weeks of adventure, history, and shenanigans - some of which, we may even share with you here at MIE!

Jokes aside, it surprises me just how much I've learned about myself, and life, in these high mountains.

Early morning, on the summit of Mount Fuji

From profound to profane, and silly to sacred, the mountains have as much to teach as we have the capacity to learn, and then some. I can't wait to see where they take me in the months to come.

Sunset on the Sea of Okhotsk, Shiretoko Peninsula, Hokkaido.

And I hope, if you can, you get out in nature, and listen to its lessons, too.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Stray Cat Redux


This is Jeff, but only for a paragraph. The rest of this post is the product of one of our favorite people in all the world, a distinguished writer (the Queen of Nordic Noir) and founding member of Murder is Everywhere, the inimitable Yrsa Sigurdardottir.  We at MIE thought you might enjoy seeing some of our illustrious alumni's archived posts, and I thought where better to start than with our #1 most viewed post--Yrsa's STRAY CAT, from February 2011.  So, here's Yrsa.... 

We have not moved in yet. I feel as if I am going bananas, especially considering that although as of tomorrow we will have our house back, we must for the time being share it with tradesmen from varying professions. One mentioned to me that he was looking forward to coming to work on Friday morning and having bacon and eggs with us before starting his tiling of our bathroom. Little does he know about our early morning cooking – or enthusiasm to keep him from his work by catering to him.

Before we moved out there was a stray cat living in the neighborhood that we would feed, once in the morning before going to work, and once at some point in the evening. The cat was a bit scraggly, parts of his ears had been lost somewhere along the line, but despite this the animal had a lot of charm. I cannot put my finger on it exactly but it has something to do with the cat's independence. He had the best of both worlds in some respect – food aplenty from those who would prefer to domesticate him, without having to compromise his freedom one bit. This does not mean that his life was a dance on roses, the elements here are something to be reckoned with and not many places provide much of any shelter.

There have been snowstorms so bad that we believed the poor animal would die of exposure if it did not get in from the cold. As it is wild, it will not under normal circumstances come into our house, but during such times it has been willing to step into the entrance, if we leave the front door open and close the door separating this space from the rest of the house – and us. We have thus numerous times left our house wide open over winter nights in order for this little black cat to be able to curl up on a woolen blanket and get some shelter. The snow on the floor the morning after was a small price to pay for the warm feeling it gave us to know that the cat was safe and warm.

When I was in Santiago I was shocked at the number of stray dogs everywhere. According to my local source Harpa, these dogs are fed by city officials to prevent them becoming ferocious in the hunt for food. Although this made me feel a bit better I still felt sad when I saw these poor animals, most of which had at the beginning of their lives been beloved pets that were thrown out or got lost after the cute puppy stage was over – again according to Harpa, my local source of information.

During a break from one of the meetings I attended I went outdoors to smoke. A scraggly dog came and lay down in the shade from one of the flower pots decorating the office building’s grounds. I cursed myself for not having anything edible on me, but became a bit happier when I saw a coffee shop/restaurant in the adjacent building. I hurried over there and was handed a menu which was all in Spanish. Stressed that the dog would wander off I tried to explain to the waiter that I wanted to order meat - and no I did not want a table or any side dish. Just meat. He thought I was crazy for good reason and it did little to make me appear more sane when I told him I would rather have the meat raw than wait for any cooking to be conducted on it. The only thing that saved me from him calling the police was that his English was not all that good and for this he gave me the benefit of doubt.

I ended up with a lot of precooked bacon in a plastic box and to my great joy the dog was still there when I returned with it. He ate it happily and I felt good for what remained of the meeting. After that I always kept meat with me in my purse and managed to feed a few more dogs during my stay in Santiago. But I could not live there because of this. My heart would break at some point.

So how does this fit in with not opposing whaling or game hunting? I have often thought about it and come to the conclusion that I admire and respect life, not death. By this I mean that it is of more importance to me how an animal lives than how exactly it dies. For most animals death is but a fraction of life, and if I use myself to mirror what I want from my existence, it is to live free and happily - how exactly I die is not of much consequence to me. For this reason I do not like meat from commercial farms, where animals usually live a horrible existance although they may very well die painlessly.  Aside from the dog incident in Chile I have stopped buying pork because of the treatment of pigs here in Iceland after the banks took over the bankrupt pig farms. Opposed to pigs and chicken for example, whales and game at least have a life prior to their killing. This might seem odd but to me it makes perfect sense.

Our stray cat has sensed that we are coming back and tonight he was outside the house when we arrived after work to see what had been accomplished today. Like in Chile I had nothing edible on me, but a quick trip to my parent’s nearby house fixed that and canned tuna seemed to hit the spot when placed in the same place we used to put his food. Yet again that tattered, scruffy animal has managed to evoke within me great happiness and fulfillment.

Tile guy however will not be getting any bacon on Friday.


Jeff's Coming Events:

10:00 a.m., Saturday, November 17th--ICELAND NOIR, Reykjavik
 The Hot-pot
The best way to enjoy the outdoors in Iceland is sitting in a hot-pot by one of Reykjavík´s many swimming pools, enjoying the conversation immersed up to your neck in thermal water.
Karen Robinson (Moderator), Felicia Yap, Jeffrey Siger, Louise Voss,  Stuart Neville.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bloody Scotland; Carry On Sleuthing

It has been a very busy week, two groups to visit, words of wisdom to give out (?), one church ladies' group wanting to know how to kill their husbands, one two hour workshop on novel writing and tomorrow night the mighty players of Carry On Sleuthing  tread the boards for the third time in a month.

That will be the Crime Writers Amalgamated Players. CWAP. It was suggested it should be the Crime Riters Amalgamated Players. 

Maybe not.

Here is Letitia Luvibod and her wart  treading the boards at the intro of Carry On Sleuthing; Murder at the Knickerage. Now Agatha may have written Murder at the Vicarage but ours has more jokes about pants. It's about the death of a man who made his fortune in undergarments.
He left it to his kids in a truss fund.

This is my round of applause after my tongue twister  was enunciated correctly.
Everytime we do the play, Douglas Skelton adds in another word.
This was 'the fiendishly fantastic phantom knicker filcher of Finchly.'

Trumps get a hand onto the stage!

Trump the panto horse fell up the steps onto stage R, so had to climb the stairs on stage L,  which placed the cart before the horse.
All aboard the pony and trap to the Knickerage.
Trump, Phil McCavity the plasterer, Letitia and Bunny Sprocket ( He's all ears, terrible gossip) 

The body comes on at high speed for comedy effect.
It wasn't supposed to skid off the stage into the audience.
They crowdsurfed it for a few minute before I warned them that interfering with a corpse was a criminal offence.

Letita and Anthony Adverse Camber- the famous racing driver.

Fi Fi the french maid was looking a bit hairy,

The identical twins  Tom and Tim Tomtim. 
They nearly invented the sat nav,

 The wonderful writer (and Bunny, and Farqhuar the butler) Mr Douglas Skelton and Mr Michael Malone,  a man of a thousand accents, all of them from Yorkshire.

Farquhar channelling Sir Alec Guinness.

Here we have just said the line about the (better) Fi Fi's ex husband who got drunk in Paris and fell in the river. You can fill the line in for yourselves.

We are at a proper theatre a week later, missing a member of the cast but nobody noticed.

Ah, here we have a real french Fi fi to allow the previous Fi Fi to play Tim or Tom Timtom.

Farqhuar and Letitia. Everytime we say 'Cashew'
 the audience shout 'bless you!'

And another set of twins! 

Who corpsed so much I went and sat in the audience until they got themselves together. 
Farquhar, Emily and Letitia find out what happened to the gas mask.

We survived to the end, nearly! 

And so it ends.

The plays, the Letitia Luvibod Head Scratchers are all written by Douglas. Well he takes the blame. The first play was more or less written when I first laid eyes on it but all the cast members add jokes (usually on the night when nobody else is expecting it). If the joke works, it gets written in.  Even  if the audience don't laugh but we do, the joke is in. Death On The Ocean Wave was the first one. The murder and the plot is more complex in Carry On Sleuthing 2, Death  At The Knickerage.  The third one is being premiered this year at Grantown On Spey; The Mysterious Affair at Pyles.  It's about the death of a proctologist  by the name of Dr Emma Roid.

Just remember that Shakespeare wrote for the common people.
Pushpin is as good as poetry,

Letitia Luvibod 
12 10 2018