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Diana Dors

Caught a viewing of ‘Yield to the Night’ on Talking Pictures TV the other day, a great British film, with a stunning performance by Diana Dors.
Made the year Ruth Ellis was executed, it’s not an overt plea against the death penalty, but it certainly makes one aware of the gravity of the subject.

Only managed to grab the opening titles for this post, but Dors is worth considering as a fine screen actress, personality and star. So here are a couple of items that tell her story.

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#PoetryandProsebyJPFGoodman

 

The solo readings from my prose and poetry at 4.30-5.30 at Mettricks Guildhall continue.

Each week’s readings will have a theme.

November

21 The 00’sStarting Over

28 The 10’s – Edwardian values!

December

5 Novel extracts – Not all of them from novels.

12 Futures – Whatever next?

19 Best of – You decide!

All at 4.30 till 5.30.

(No fixed charge but contributions will be received with gratitude.)

 

Horribly in love

[From my unpublished novel, ‘Claire and Sophia’ – which features a group of young adults getting by in 1980’s London – this extract attempts to show the effect of “the culture” on sensitive minds as they attempt to embrace the possibility of love. As you can imagine, it’s pretty horrific!]

“Let’s do it first and talk about it later.”

“Are you serious? I haven’t even seen the place yet, if there really is
one.”

“Don’t blow this, John.”

“Keep your butt out of this Jack. Mind your own.”

John’s tone was so harsh Jack was quite confused by it, as well as hurt.
He would have jumped on the chance to live with Sophia, like a starving man
on bread; at least he told himself he would. But the he was never likely
to find himself receiving such an offer in real life, and so he didn’t have
to consider any of the difficulties involved.

“Well I’m not going to beg. I’ve got places to stay.”

“Great, thanks for mentioning it now I’m sorted.”

Sophia’s habitual smile had disappeared, and the look in her eye demolished
Jack even though she didn’t see him. Without saying another word she got
up and went to the Ladies.

“What on earth are you doing John?”

Jack genuinely believed he was speaking so passionately from a desire to
save his friend from making an awful mistake, and that being the more sober
he was for once the wiser of the two. Later it would occur to him that he
had also been acting out of guilt, as if John had been infected by his own
negativity, or had wished to spare him the sight of his and Sophia’s
happiness.

“I’ve know that girl two days and already she thinks she owns me,” John
said gloomily.

“I’m sure it’s not like that. She’s a good person, and she loves you.”

“Or maybe she’s a dangerous lunatic. Or maybe she’s and evil bitch who’s
planning to live off me.”

“With all due respect, wealthy as you are in many ways, I really think that
if she was a vampire she would have chosen somebody a little more
prosperous.”

” “With all due respect,”! What kind of language is that? And what makes
you such an expert?”

“All right, it’s your decision, but if I were you I’d go for it. You’re
youn, if the worse comes to the worst…”

“And she cuts my throat while I’m sleeping.”

“…you’ll get over it. But if you pass something like this you’re much
more likely to regret it than if you don’t. At least, if you do you
certainly will, and if you don’t you might not.”

John’s silence went on for so long Jack thought he might not have been able
to follow his phrasing, and was he just about to put it another way when
John interrupted him.

“I’m not going to live with that girl because you tell me to.”

“Course not! It’s entirely your decision.”

“She doesn’t seem to think so.”

“She’s really put it on the line for you, man. She’s putting her life in
your hands, giving you her absolute trust. It’s incredible, it’s
beautiful!”

“But it’s not necessarily a good thing. She’ll probably change her mind
before it ever happens. But suppose it does, and she changes her mind
then.”

Feeling awfully confident and experienced for once, Jack adopted the
ringing tone he usually reserved for English Literature seminars at
college.

“I suppose you really have to ask yourself exactly what you feel for this
girl. Is it merely the pleasure that naturally arises from a mutual
attraction? Or is this something that is really substantial and complete,
but can nevertheless be built on and developed over a period of possibly
years?”

“You’re full of it, mate.”

Sex had become so divorced from love in Jack’s mind that he was quite
capable of ignoring John’s honesty and imagining that he had simply “taken”
Sophia for the hedonistic pleasure of it, as cold bloodidly as a movie
hero. When it came to his idea of romantic love shades of feeling meant
nothing to Jack. Anything less than utter unquestioning devotion wasn’t
worth bothering about, might even obstruct the chance of achieving “the
real thing”. No wonder he was so often disappointed.

“I mean, do you love her?”

“Oh sure,” John answered airily, becoming annoyed by this interrogation,
“She’s a good wagon, got a great bod. But do I really want her hanging
around the house all the time, getting on my case, asking for cups of tea
and sympathy at all sorts of inconvenient hours, asking me what I’m
thinking, and getting pissed off when I tell her, leaving her dirty
knickers around the place and that awful rancid sani pad smell? I think
not!”

“Course you do! Anyway, I’m sure she’s not like that.”

“They all are, mate. You are when nobody’s looking, aren’t you?”

“Actually I’m pretty obsessive about personal hygene.”

“But your shit still stinks, right?”

Jack couldn’t deny that, but John’s sordid realism was beginning to get him
down. All right, he thought, it might all blow up or get spoiled, but what
a chance! He admired Sophia for taking such a risk, and, though he did
partly admire John for being so sensibly dubious, and enviously recognised
that this clear sightedness was one of the qualities that made his friend
so attractive, and which he himself lacked, the idea of throwing himself
into such a commitment, or being thrown, seemed to him the very essence of
life.

“So, have you come to your senses yet?” Sophia asked John as she sat down,
apparently composed.

“No, but I’m having another beer,” John told her, going off to order.

Jack wondered if the girl had been crying, she seemed unnaturally tidy and
stiff. Although he wished he was in John’s position, he did want this
thing to happen, just to prove such things could, and because he’d decided
Sophia and John were true lovers who were meant to be together. He was
pretty uncomfortable, not wishing to intrude, but felt compelled to say
something.

“Don’t worry, he’ll come round.”

“Yeah,” Sophia said, rather grimly, as if, having chosen this road she was
finding it less pleasant than she’d expected, but had no option but to
follow it. Every now and then she would glance over at John chatting to
the barman, taking her eyes off him before he noticed her.

“So you didn’t actually live at Mansion House Street, did you Jack?” She
asked casually, keen to take the conversation away from her and John. Jack
thought this was courageous of her. She looked so vulnerable and uncertain
that Jack fell in love with her all over again. He wanted to put his arm
around her, or at least hold her hand, but was afraid of being rejected, or
of John catching him.

“No,” he answered, not sure how to continue because he wanted to cheer her
up, but not to sound too pathetic. “I’m living in the suburbs with friends
for now. I just finished college, you see, so I haven’t got my own place
yet.”

“What college was it?”

He told her but she’d never heard of the place.

Now would be the time to amuse her with a fund of stories about his
experiences there, but he couldn’t think of any, and so gave her a rather
dull account of his quite commonplace course and tried to explain how it
was related to his ambition to be a writer.

“Oh,” she said, brightening up at this potentially interesting topic,
“Perhaps you’ll write about me one day.”

“No, it’s a terrible thing to have someone put his version of you down on
paper, especially such a witless witness as myself,” Jack warned her, and
then he had an awful feeling that they’d already had this conversation, and
were having it again because she wasn’t listening and he had so little to
say. The shock spurred him on to greater effort.

“Well, if I do put you in a story it will be about us having sex together.”

“I see what you mean! Okay, I suppose that wouldn’t be as bad as actually
doing it. But make sure you’re accurate about what a great lover I am.”

“Tell me!” Jack panted, carried away by the excitement of the moment, so
that it was probably fortunate that John returned with the drinks just
then.

“Did you miss me, darlings?”

“Jack and I were just talking about having sex together.”

Jack turned bright red. Creatures like him are always vanquished by
honesty. He was horrified to discover that in his heart he was ready to
betray his friend, but John wasn’t worried – he knew they were only messing
about. Nevertheless, he attempted to take advantage of the opportunity to
win his argument with Sophia.

“I aint living with no slags!” he hissed violently, sounding more vicious
than he’d intended, because of the drink.

“It was my suggestion John,” Jack said, anxious to defend the girl’s
honour, “And even then only fictionally.”

Sophia was doing her best to keep her cool, but she wasn’t used to such
language being addressed to her.

“I wouldn’t lower myself,” she said, a bit too seriously.

“There’s plenty of other ways of doing it!”

To Jack this all sounded very much like the things they all said jokingly,
just to make fun with each other, but it wasn’t at all funny this time and
he couldn’t think of anything to say which would make them all laugh and
lighten the mood, so he just had to sit and watch things get worse and
worse.

“You can be very ugly sometimes,” Sophia said.

“You love it, something rough you can complain about to your posh friends
when you play croquet together.”

“I don’t have posh friends. But I don’t have crude ones either.”

John made a moue and bleated an incoherent imitation of Sophia’s voice.
Then, speaking in a high grotesquely middle class voice he said

“Not pretentious either, just naturally superior and, super!”

“Nice to hear you talk properly for a change” Sophia sneered, apparently
relishing the squabble Jack was finding so painful to watch.

“There’s no need for this!” he cried. Mating ritual it might be, but Jack
sensed that this exaggerated display of hostility would end up poisoning
their relationship.

“Shut up Jack!” they barked at him almost simultaneously.

Jack promised himself that the love he would find would involve none of
this savagery. But it was as fascinating to see as two animals biting and
clawing at each other before mating.

“I guess I was wrong about you,” Sophia muttered darkly, “You’re just
another boozer half way to the gutter.”

“Give me a big kiss and I’ll turn into Prince Charming,” John said,
puckering up and grabbing her arms.

“Don’t touch me!” Sophia shook him off and shuddered. “You disgust me!”

“Just imagine when we’re living together. I’ll come in beside you when
you’re sleeping and wet the bed. I’ll fill your dreams with the smell of
puke. I’ll come on top of you when I’m soft and you’re cold and hard, and
put a clammy hand over your mouth to stop you screaming.”

“That wont ever happen, because I wouldn’t live with you if you were the
last man on earth.”

John drained his beer, slammed the glass mug down on the table and grinned
at Jack, evidently satisfied.

“That’s the way to do it!” he shrieked. “Treat ’em mean and keep ’em
keen.”

Then he staggered to his feet and walked out of the pub with a studied
dignity that faltered every few steps, until he almost fell forward and
continued his progress. He stopped at the door for a long moment, but
finally pushed it open and left without looking back.

Jack found that he was angry with both of them. He was prepared to concede
that their silly quarrel was somehow a necessary way for them to express
their passion, but deep down what really upset him was that their words had
been so lacking in real wit or originality. For him love had to be the key
to unlock the genius in every human breast, amongst other things, but here
were two of the wittiest and most original people he knew just acting,
spitting out lines that, had he read them in a book or heard them in a
play, he would have confidently designated as second rate. It was barely
possible for him to believe that real love could lurk behind such
banalities. In fact, though he tried to resist the idea, it occurred to
him that he now had the opportunity to show Sophia the eloquence and beauty
of a sincere love. Even Jack realized that this wasn’t a good time to
offer the girl his heart, however, not in so many words. He would simply
stay with her, not asking for anything, but hoping that she would
appreciate the soothing quality of his calm, dependable, undemanding
presence, and eventually realize that more real feeling lay beneath this
comfort than any amount of shouting and screaming. Jack felt up to the
task, as it only seemed to involve sitting quietly and not saying too much.

As Sophia’s breathing slowly returned to normal she sat with her head bent
forward, looking down at herself, her shoulders held high, rising and
falling with her struggle to relax them, her slender fingers tightly
gripping the table. Jack thought of rubbing her arched back but was afraid
to touch her. He became aware of his own breathing and tried to inhale and
exhale at the same time as Sophia, but kept having to breathe in before she
did.

Sophia gave a final sigh and looked up at Jack.

“Phew!” she said. “That was rough. Why is it men always get so aggressive
when you try to talk about anything serious?”

Jack stiffened a bit – her words were confiding but implied that she didn’t
consider him a man. He didn’t know the answer to her question, however,
but tried to do the decent thing and defend his friend, albeit in a way
that was intended to show himself off as well as possible, in the
unpleasantly, egotistically self depreciating way that Jack had.

“John does seem a bit mean sometimes, but it’s because he cares very much.
I’m sure he cares about you, Sophia.”

“That’s no excuse!”

“No, but I guess it’s the same thing that makes him able to open up his
heart to you in a nicer way. I don’t think I could give you a tongue
lashing like that, but perhaps that’s why I can’t seem to, make people
understand how much I love them.”

Sophia’s eyes narrowed and looked at Jack so warily he found himself,
against his will, becoming quite scared.

“For instance, Claire. She never understood what she meant to me, and I
couldn’t make her.”

“oh, she understood all right.”

Jack’s heart leapt. He would be much happier if he knew that Claire at
least believed that he hadn’t just been after her body. All his old hopes
and dreams came back in a rush, because if Claire knew then it surely
wasn’t too late to make things right with her. But then he recognised a
certain hostility in Sophia’s voice.

“She knew you were after her.”

“That’s not right, Sophia. I didn’t want to own her, or anything like
that. I just wanted to be with her, and when I was it felt so good, like I
was complete. I could have been happy with her, and that would have made
all the difference to me.”

“Oh Jack, couldn’t you tell that she wasn’t interested? She could have
been your friend if you hadn’t got so heavy with her.”

“Heavy! I like that, after what John just put you through!”

Of course Claire hadn’t been “interested”, he knew how offputting his
neediness was. But if she could only have seen beyond that, to the
goodness Jack so wanted to release. It made him angry to think that hadn’t
mattered to her, when Sophia was prepared to deal with John’s garbage.

“If she knew what was going on, then why wouldn’t she at least talk to me
about it?”

“Why should she? You can’t say anything to a guy who wants you the way you
wanted Claire. They’ll just twist what you say to suit their own purpose.”

“I would have listened if she’d talked to me honestly.”

“Really? I think you just would have kept on and on at her without mercy.”

Jack couldn’t answer that, he knew it was true. It seemed his attempt to
introduce himself into the conversation had been a failure.

“So anyway, Sophe, what about you and John? Do you think you can forgive
him?”

“I expect so,” Sophia sighed, “But I’ll make him crawl first.”

It all sounded a bit too much like a game to Jack, who had no appreciation
of the ways other people dealt with the pain of loving somebody.

“But this is a serious business,” he told her sternly, “If you’re going to
live together you mustn’t be at each other’s throats like that.”

“It keeps things lively,” she said jokily, but Jack was making her feel
defensive.

“Yes, and it’s important to air grievances and discuss differences, but I
know even the most harmless scrapping can become habitual over the years,
until that’s the only way people can communicate. They know which buttons
to press, and hurting each other becomes a sort of compulsion.”

Jack had partly acquired this impressive insight from personal experience,
but mostly from books he had read.

“I don’t think we’d let that happen. And I don’t know about “over the
years” either. I’m ready to have a real try at this thing, and make the
most of it while it lasts. But as soon as he really pisses me off I’m out
of there, and he knows that.”

“Does he?”

“Oh yes, we’ve discussed it.”

Jack respected this open attitude, but it seemed to make the whole
relationship desperately fragile, and he doubted that he could ever commit
himself to such a precarious arrangement. And, he thought, couldn’t he
show Sophia that love didn’t have to be a constant battle? If she had
chosen him, even now if she had a change of heart and chose him now,
couldn’t they make a love that was so pure and uncomplicated that there
would be no more difficult questions, only a wonderful life to share?

“Love is always a risk Jack, even when you both know it’s right. You just
have to try to be realistic and honest, and keep your independence.”

Sophia’s voice was gentle, and the affection and warmth Jack heard in it
made the bleakness all the harder to bear.

“I love you Sophia,” Jack said suddenly. It was true, of course, and he
was fairly certain he wasn’t trying to get anything by saying it, except
perhaps a chance to escape for a while to the world of his imagination
where love was all that mattered.

“I love you too, Jack, as a friend.”

The horribly familiar phrase snapped something shut in Jack’s heart. He
snatched up his glass and hastily finished his beer, though half of it was
left and he almost choked on it.

“Well, I suppose we better go and check out Ziggy’s new place,” he said
briskly.

“I do, you know.”

“Yeah yeah. Come on, the Heath will be dark soon and you’ll have to
protect me from all the perverts and the dogs.”

Sophia laughed heartily at this feeble jest, and Jack wondered again at the
resilience of women in general and this one in particular. As they made
their way out of the pub he decided to be tough too and resign himself to
the thankless role of comical supporting character. He didn’t doubt that
John and Sophia would make up, considering himself the only one who ever
really lost in love.

Chills!

#PoetryandProsebyJPFGoodman

October 31 Mettricks Guildhall 4.30-5.30

 

Please don’t mind the gap.

Sincere apologies to all who are looking forward to another eight sessions of #PoetrytandProsebyJPFGoodman at Mettricks Guildhall, as there must be a delay in the continuation of this series.

This week’s performance had to be cancelled, as the redecoration of the venue (which I hadn’t known was going to happen) is not yet complete.  So I’m taking the bold step of cancelling next week’s show to give Mettricks time to complete their refurb and for myself to make even better selections. What’s more, as the following week will be dominated by So to Speak’s Festival of words, featuring many talented and intriguing poets, it would seem gracious and sensible to make way for them, with a hearty best wishes to the talented individuals involved.

I’d hoped that the early time slot would prevent their being put in the shade by my efforts (as if!) but making a strategic withdrawal at this point seems to be the right thing to do.

 

 

#PoetryandProsebyJPFGoodman

I shall be giving solo readings from my prose and poetry 4.30-5.30 each Tuesday at Mettricks Guildhall for the next nine weeks. Please come along, support and above all enjoy! No charge but contributions will be very gratefully received as I  am in desperate straits at the moment!

 

Work in Progress

Yr Sweet!

USP?

None

Hobbies?

Just the usual

Preferences?

Honesty and consistency

Everything agreeable to me

Without being a pushover or a bore

A naturally passionate nature

That maintains a preference for good humour

Tolerance, openness, an achievable level of romance.

Such was the gist

Of a Lonely hearts checklist

A cris de coer as sincere

As only a young man’s should be,

Which, sadly, was not to be answered satisfactorily

Throughout the twentieth century

Nor in the twenty-first, so far

Lost in an Ocean of Information

She is lost

Fled to the other side of

The information ocean

So I try to cross it and find her

Find even the tiniest echo of her

But that bit filled sea disappoints

Too lost in its own wonders

To bother about my lost wanderings

Poets at an exhibition

Here is a handsome new poetry anthology, resulting from John Hansard Gallery’s “ever growing creative writing and visual arts crossover engagement programme” which, along with workshops and talks from academic writers, saw poets responding to themes arising from its exhibitions.

While this collaborative approach had the potential to enrich the experience of visitors to the shows, it also gave poets involved an exciting context in which to display their work, beyond their own abilities to perform it, adding an extra authority to their individual voices.  My contribution – ‘Advice to Other Poets’ –  seems, for example, to have acquired a sinister new power.

It all makes for an interesting collection, and those interested may be able to acquire their own copy by contacting hansard@soton.ac.uk.

I should pay less attention to Screen Actors and more to real people

1

I should, and believe me, I do

For example, I’m looking at each and every one of you!

Don’t worry, I’m discreet, won’t gossip or dub you in

The intention behind this glare

Is merely to turn the stark truth of your lives

Into beautiful, uplifting poetry.

Real people are marvellous

There’s so many of them for starters

Though one is instinctively less fond of those

Who barge past, inside their cars,

On their bicycles, skateboards, skates, fashionable footwear,

Wrapped up warm and safe in whatever media their devices allow,

Determined to demonstrate that the fashion, costume or attitude they effect

Gives their reality precedence and permits them to barge.

I’m like that myself, on occasion

When armed with enough chips on my shoulder

But plenty of real people aren’t and deserve our attention all the more for that.

2

I should pay less attention to Screen Actors, of course,

But they are trained to distract and attract attention, after all –

In a way that many real people aren’t –

Carefully prepared by experts to withstand close scrutiny

And placed in situations designed to be interesting.

But then again, don’t we all design our own situations to be interesting?

Talk to real people, when you dare

Discover what interests them,

Talk, by all means but with respect

Talk and listen with equal attention

You might learn something yet.

Of course, real people might mind,

As Screen Actors don’t seem to,

Someone taking an interest in the details, gossip and trivia of their lives,

May even shyly object to a glimpse, a glance, an outright stare

May not relish, as Screen Actors must

Lengthy discussions of their roles, careers, cares and motivations

3

However, one can’t avoid observing the irony

That real people are increasingly obliged

To observe the standards formerly only enforced upon

Such public figures as the very Screen Actors we prefer to eschew,

Which we agree so to do

In the hope of obtaining the sort of goodies

That we believe might make life more tolerable –

Not just bits and bobs and properties but lifestyles

Which many learn to appreciate and later to actually emulate

Through the efforts of our own favourite role modelling personalities

And those of real people who have influenced us in their turn.

Now, just as we ourselves succumb

To the latest available advances

Tempting us to create and recreate our favourite versions of ourselves

So others impose their own imagined not entirely realistic ideals

Expecting our reality to adhere to and conform with theirs

To the point where the artificial yet familiar

Seems more authentic than the unvarnished, poorly presented truth

And we are judged not as real people but as Screen Actors

Performing before the ever watchful, judgemental eye

Of the latest surveillance technology

Which is why you and I

Should, if we could, pay less attention to Screen Actors

And more to real people

Before we find ourselves replaced

By some more attractive simulacrum

And all that’s left of the real person we used to be

Is pics and clips and fragments of memory.

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