The Irish Pound Note

The Irish Pound Note

Dr. John Flynn

November 1989

I was caught by the Tube inspectors at Victoria one Sunday evening on the way back from Croydon. Not for the first time, I gave a false point of embarkation. “Vauxhall,” I offered, adding that there had been no one there to give me a ticket. The senior inspector, the main man in black, then asked if the stairs went up or down at Vauxhall. I tried to be smart.

“There are no stairs at Vauxhall.”
“Wrong,” said the chief.

There were three of them in black. He told me to empty my pockets. Then he took whatever was there. It amounted to about four quid in coins. There were no notes and they duly escorted me from the station.

With more time to think I walked from there to Piccadilly. There was a pub – St. James Tavern – that I knew well on Shaftesbury Avenue and…

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Sartre and Heidegger

Sartre and Heidegger

A Galway peeping tom case recalls an obscure parallel between two philosophers…

It’s funny that Heidegger (of Being and Time), like Sartre (of Being and Nothingness), spent his wartime army service in a meteorological unit. Was that where they developed a nose for the winds of fashion?

The Angel of Godot

The Angel of Godot

Photo (c) Marie Claire

The French expression “un ange passe” is used when the conversation in a gathering suddenly ceases, not by any interruption but as in when all ideas are exhausted.

In late 1952 the most famous play of the twentieth century was marooned at a little theatre that was going broke. The actors had recently got a grant to rehearse and keep paddling but there was no sight of land.

Delphine Seyrig was only twenty when she gave an inheritance from an uncle to Jean-Marie Serreau at the Théâtre de Babylone. With this unexpected contribution, Serreau then had enough money to stage the first run of Waiting for Godot, which opened on 3 January 1953.

After famous films such as Last Year at Marienbad (1961), The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972) and The Day of the Jackal (1973), Seyrig reunited with Beckett for a final collaboration in the spring of 1978.

It was a production of Footfalls in Paris. Beckett let it be known, to others at least, that he was very fond of Seyrig and admired her talent, but it seems she was intimidated even then by his reputation and by his persona, as a man of few words.

As if she was still twenty, she thought she might have done more with her part, had it not been so, but just who should have been in awe of whom?

Night in Vienna

Night in Vienna

Dr. John Flynn

On the Ring the sight of the Burgtheater recalls Thomas Bernhard’s at times grotesquely funny 1984 novel Holzfällen, which for a time turns into a rather good play, once the Actor appears, to ramble on and on about Ekdal in The Wild Duck, even while slogging through his dinner party soup. Suicide is a theme – the funeral earlier in the day has been for a woman who hangs herself, in some detail – but by then its treatment has turned blackly comic, as in when the host asks the Actor if working at Vienna’s Burgtheater wouldn’t give someone every reason to do that. Before the end, as if to stress the point, the host also waves his false teeth in the Actor’s face.

Behind the theatre can be found Harry Lime’s doorway in The Third Man (1949), where Orson Welles first appears by the smooth, sloping cobbles…

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The Prefect

The Prefect

When Milan Kundera was fashionable in the Eighties, two things stood out from the books even then:

(a) the taste (and talent) for philosophic abstraction;

(b) the dick-measuring (more commonly termed misogyny).

At the time he was outed as an informer (2008) he of course got the backing of several Nobel Prize winners who foolishly claimed Kundera had “refuted” the accusation. Others more subtly tried to shield him in the jargon of technicalities but Kundera himself did not explain beyond stating he could not remember. Neither did he sue.

On that same list of prominent backers we can also see a couple of his fellow Jerusalem Prize grabbers. Kundera’s 1985 acceptance speech for his share of the cash is remarkable for its brown-nosing of Israel but nowadays that can be seen as part of a pattern.

When the scandal broke in 2008, no one for or against him seems to have asked what he was doing as prefect of the dormitory in the first place. What kind of student, of person, would have landed that job in the Czechoslovakia of 1950?

Anyway, he was then let continue with the fantasy of his dotage – that he was a French writer – and the very next year he took his turn at the depraved mutual back-scratching of arts celebs, when he publicly backed Polanski.

The Visit

The Visit

Dr. John Flynn

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Photo sources (above): montazsmagazin.hu and kino.de

In 2008, an Austro-German co-production of a TV film version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 play Der Besuch der alten Dame (‘The Visit of the Old Lady’) shifted the setting from Switzerland to Austria. There the filming took place in Styria. Most importantly they picked a very good ‘Claire Zachanassian’ in Christiane Hörbiger, niece of the porter in The Third Man and aunt of Falco’s manager in the biopic Verdammt, wir leben noch.

At the climax in the original play, though, the richest woman in the world does not waver an instant from her quest, which is to return and exact deadly vengeance on the man and the town that ruined her life.

Otherwise, given that Alfred Ill is still in the end murdered by the townspeople for the fortune she has promised them when he dies, it remains a good version of the classic…

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Doors nostalgia

Doors nostalgia

Dr. John Flynn

Photo © New York Times

Dublin

26/04/99

Saw Ray Manzarek at HQ. M. got a couple of free tickets by phoning in about an Irish Times promotional offer. Vast quantities of alcohol were consumed by the crowd. The references to cosmic energy must have been over their heads e.g. going by an impatient shout of “Play us a f*cking song!

The quotient of cool was surprisingly high, as was the number of fine women. Must have been the new venue. On Jim’s father’s desire that he join the Navy: Ray asked the audience to imagine Jim Morrison in charge of a battleship (“Hey man, point those guns over there ’n’ blow those suckers up”).

There was a nice instrumental version of The Crystal Ship. A music lesson on how they wrote Light My Fire.

Man I need a beer. Can somebody get me…

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Córdoba … the Spanish one

Córdoba … the Spanish one

Dr. John Flynn

Andalucía 28/12/16

Frosty morning. B. and I headed to Córdoba after ten. The high-speed train from Puertollano was too fast for the camera. I saw a lot of olive trees down south. On arrival, Clonmel’s permanent representative in Castile-La Mancha thought it wise to ask someone how far we’d have to walk. We were then advised to get a taxi from the station to the old town. Córdoba’s charms are quite stunning. The Romans took it from the Carthaginians in 206 BC. The Moors took it from the Goths in 711 AD. The Christians took it back from the Moors in 1236. Perhaps Spain will never be one of my favourite countries but there is something awe-inspiring about the key sights down there. We didn’t go into the Alcázar fortress – the queue was long – so we missed the gardens. That was a research blip on my part. The…

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Tihany

Tihany

Dr. John Flynn

map_of_hungarylake balaton map

Tihany…

I was here in April 2009. Tihany village lies near the narrowest point of the eighty-mile-long Lake Balaton. The little lake behind the village (see the video below) is a geological anomaly that is 25 m higher than the real one. The stone jetty below the Benedictine abbey is on the eastern side of the peninsula. The hazy Balaton is a light, smoothie green. We had lunch below the crest of the great lake view beside the abbey (apatság) and then we got the ferry to the south shore.

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This short drone video (courtesy of Zoltán Tóth) is well worth watching.

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