The Exorcist, BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, writer William Peter Blatty and director William Friedkin.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00116dq/the-exorcist

I was around ten, big for my age, but not big enough to sneak into the La Scala and watch The Exorcist. The media warned us—don’t go. Rather than see it, there was talk of church boycotts and a spate of suicides. And those that did see it fainted, spewed up, or went insane. But my sister was made of stronger stuff. Jo even smoked and drank vodka. She wasn’t eighteen, but there was a buzz about the film that made it a rite of passage.

We heard, of course, about the highlights. Regan (Linda Blair) poking herself with a crucifix and her head turning back to front like a piegon while spouting green goo. This was a step up from Christopher Lee as Dracula, who hung about open windows, waiting for the lady of the house to arrange her negligee so her big boobs were showing, before inviting him inside to bit her on the neck and leave two pin-prick marks. It wasn’t safe to go to bed without a crucifix. Being Catholics, of course, we’d more crucifixes that the average American had household personal guns. And if my wee brother was sleeping, I could set him out as a tasty snack, with a big arrow pointing to the room next door, where my two sisters were more than a match for Dracula. Just let him try laying a fang on them.

The Devil, of course, was a different matter. Atheists could poo-poo the existence of ghosts, or use logic to prove that God didn’t exist, but you’d need to be mad not to believe in the devil’s existence. Wherever sex was, he was sure to follow. Ironically, the swinging sixties saw a surge in numbers to religious institutions. The Exorcist was a reminder of the good old days when good was good and evil was truly evil, and nobody abused anybody in their beds.

When, for example, Regan’s mother, Chris MacNeil (Ellen Burstyn) asks Father Karras (Jason Miller) to perform an exorcism on his daughter, he quips, that he could, but he’d have to find a time machine and whisk them both back to the sixteenth century.

Father Karras is having his own Dark Night of the Soul (St. John of The Cross) and doubts if he can continue being a priest. If he believes in God. This is centred on his Italian Mama, who is ill and lives alone. He thinks he should be caring for her in her last days. When she’s taken into hospital, his uncle, her mother’s brother, remonstrates with him there’s nothing they can do. They haven’t got the money for private care. He asks, Who’s going to take care of her? – you?

Father Karras has no answers, but as well as being a priest and psychiatrist, he’s a keen amateur boxer. Lt. Kinderman (Lee J Cobb) buttonholes him on the track. He’s investigating a strange death on a stairway, outside Regan’s window. Chris MacNeil’s boyfriend fell down those stairs, his head turned back to front. Father Karras might know something about that, he hints, some wayward priest with a grudge. After all, there’d also been the desecration of the church.

Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) brings the storylines together. The film begins with his architectural digs and ancient demons. When Father Karras tries to tell him about Regan’s medical history, Merrin tells him none of these things matter. He’s Peter Cushing’s Doctor van Helsing hunting down Dracula to his lair. Instead of a brace of wooden stakes in his hand: a worn  Bible. Father Karras follows the formula: Good versus Evil. God versus the Devil.

The Prodigy (2019) a horror film directed by Nicholas McCarthy, and written by Jeff Buhler gives this formula a twist. A child at birth is inhabited by the soul of a Hungarian born mass murderer, who’d relocated to the United States. The battle for the body is the battle for the soul.

In The Exorcist this is shown graphically with the words ‘help me’ appearing on her abdomen, underneath the skin for her mother to read. Twelve-year-old Regan is innocent, but the devil has taken her.

We all know how it ends in a boxing match. Father Karras knocking the living hell out of twelve-year-old Regan and the devil inside her. ‘Take me,’ his invitation accepted. One for the other. Broken in body (Eucharistic rites: this is my body, broken for you), but time enough for Confession and repentance. The Catholic Church 1—0 Devil nil.

Watching the film, forty years later, you see how run down New York is. This is the Nixon era. There’s rather a corny scene when Chis MacNeil goes up into the attic to investigate what she thinks are rats. She has a torch, which doesn’t work. Instead, she lights a candle. The traps for mice lie empty. The candle flares up and just as suddenly goes out. The real surprise is the caretaker appearing, immediately, with a torch. That’s what you call service. Things were better in those days. Servants could anticipate your every need. They even knew when the devil was going to flare up and stand ready with battery power.

Roe versus Wade, 1973, the year of The Exorcist. Nostalgic religious porn. The rise of the religious right. The election of the demonic moron’s moron backed by the religious right. 2021, the squashing of Roe versus Wade. Peter Cushing or Father Karras,  we need you to put one on the evil ginger quiff and pink-faced one spouting green goo and household cures by injecting common disinfectant? Evil lurks—still.  

The Little Stranger (2018) Channel 4, based on a novel by Sarah Waters, adapted by Lucinda Coxon and directed by Lenny Abrahamson.

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-little-stranger

All Gothic fiction requires a big house, a crumbling manor, think Dracula or Frankenstein with unruly peasants at the door with their torches. Before they’re invited in, of course, they’ve got to wipe their feet. Here we have Hundreds Hall, and like its master, second world war pilot, scarred and shambling Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter) the centre cannot hold and everything flies apart. He’s been nursed by his sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson) who might once have been a glamourous debutante with a bright future, but is now spinsterish and resentful of what may have been. Mrs Ayers (Charlotte Ramping) straddles two worlds. That of before the first world war when Hundreds Hall was at its peak and masters and servants knew their place. Now a large part of the house has been closed. And they are down to one serving girl, Betty (Liv Hall).

Dr Farraday (Domhall Gleeson) is the central character, the book’s narrator. Like Mrs Ayers, he too straddles two worlds. He’s one of those peasant types. His mum worked as a servant in the glory days and he was brought as a boy to pay homage to their master’s largesse. They were hosting a parting in the grounds. The house was out of bounds, but he’d been sneaked into the kitchens with his mum and filled with cake. A day to remember, but he’d left the grey of the servant quarters and entered the main part of the house, come out of his underground hole and into the light. He’d stolen an acorn from a picture. The daughter of the house had watched him, silently.

The little girl, the little stranger had died as a girl in an accident, but she’s still there in knocking sounds, and scratching noises and spontaneous fires and all kinds of malarkey associated with poltergeist activity. But the little stranger has a big canvas to play with. Post-war guilt and class.

Ruth, it’s generally agreed, is the best of them all. Trying to totter on to the inevitable, but she too wonders if their only servant Betty will leave them for some god-awful factory and processing line. Then she’d be left to do all the heavy lifting herself.  

Roderick rallies that there’s nothing they can do. Labour with their 75% death duties are killing them off. He accuses Dr Farraday of being one of them. Such accusations are, of course, bats.

Mrs Ayers reminds him that he should know his place, but in a nice way. Servants weren’t servants in those days, but bits of grit she made into pearls.

Dr Farraday is a strange fish. He admits her mother worked herself to an early grave to give him the education (and accent) he needed to get on in life, but he was ashamed of his parents.

Light the touch paper and watch it all burn.   

Book Week Scotland, Karen Campbell (2019) The Sounds of the Hours, presented in Parkhall library.


Long story. I was in Dalmuir library yesterday. For some reason I wanted to check out Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Diaries.

As you know Gramsci was leader of the Italian Communist Party.  Gramsci writes about how capitalism mutates and appropriates art and literature to establish a cultural hegemony. If that sounds pretty long-winded it’s probably because I don’t understand it either. Gramsci did. And it’s increasingly relevant today. The working class (that includes me) lost the propaganda war. What’s normal, just seems so.

Gramsci was imprisoned when Benito Mussolini’s blackshirts marched on Rome, which is the kind of lie Gramsci would recognise as myth making. Mussolini who wore a bowler hat and spats when taking flying lessons and petted a lion club in his lap, while his driver chauffeured him around the streets of Rome is a leader who sounds vaguely familiar. His switch from supporting the Communist Party to supporting Fascism also resonates with leaders whose only ideology is self-glorification.

Fascism shorn of its spats and bowler hats and lassez-faire disguise sounds to me just capitalism with added imperialism. Making Italy great again, by invading Ethiopia.   Making Germany great again by Anschluss and Lebensraum and seizing the lands of the lesser nations to give the German people breathing space.

Volksfuhrer, Adolf Hitler, demanded Jews and Communists be kept apart and concentrated in camps, caged as Trump cages refugees and immigrant children.

Business leaders’ demands of the fascist leaders were deregulation and a cutting of red tape.  Deregulation = no regulation.

Work makes you free. Himmler’s SS were paid a fixed fee by employers such as Volkswagon for them to provide labour. The SS provided food and accommodation and took a fee, in much the same way Sports Direct Workers or Amazon workers are not employed directly be the company. Zero-hour contracts, mandatory.

Short story. The Prison Diaries wasn’t in Dalmuir library.  Library staff said they’d purchase a copy, even though it’s been long out of print. There’s something beautiful in that.

I noticed there was a leaflet for an author, sponsored by Book Scotland, who was selling her book The Sound of the Hours in Parkhall library.

I couldn’t be arsed going and it was cold outside. But I’d been there. I’d did a gig 2016, Book Scotland, Dalmuir Library, when I was a writer, trying to sell my book Lily Poole (West Dunbartonshire library book of the week).  I decided to go to Parkhall and show solidarity with my fellow worker.

Karen Campbell was great. She talked about her journey as a writer. The Sound of the Hours was her seventh book, but her first historical novel. There were things I can relate to, her setting was often Glasgow, and her having been an ex-cop, but admittedly, not a very good one–write what you know –  she’d wrote detective novels. She also wrote about immigrants and the homeless.

The Sound of the Hours was a harder sell. It was set during the Second World War in Italy, but the Glaswegian part of Italy. Barga. You’ve probably spotted the contradiction. She told me things I was vaguely familiar with, how immigrants from the poorer Southern regions had come here to work, mainly to sell ice-cream and chips to the Scottish working class. A niche market and culture.

They were immigrants like my Da from Ireland, standing outside shipyard gates waiting for that call.

My hand was first up when she asked if we’d any questions. I said, ‘My Da, when he was drunk would always shout about the Gothic Line. That we should get on the blower to Paki.’ Paki I explained, was an Italian and was called Paki because he had black hair. I guess we could say those were more innocent times, but I’d be lying.

‘Was the place she was writing about anywhere near the Gothic Line?’ I asked her ‘Because that’s were my dad served in the army and watched his pals die’.

‘Aye.’

Barga was the Gothic line. Italy is mountainous. The Germans when they’d freed Mussolini from his hilltop prison split Italy like the Brexit vote. She said she’d thought about having the word Gothic line in her title. I was a step ahead of her here. That would have put her in the wrong camp, with Dracula and co.

We don’t judge a book by its cover. She admitted her cover was of the Friday night coup d’état from Bloomsbury order. I’m reminded of Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy in Truth & Beauty: A Friendship discussing how a bad cover can kill your book. And many of my readers reminded me the best part of my book was the cover. So I’m up to speed on the cover issue and she admitted on the foreground it’s got hanging branches with lemons. That fruit doesn’t grow anywhere near Barga, or Italy, generally.  A bland, blue-greenish cover is a bitter lemon for any author to swallow.

Luckily, I was already hooked. I bought a copy…Having read the first few chapters…well, that’s another story. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have, usually, have picked this type of book. Read on.     

Conspiracy Files: The Billionaire Global Mastermind? BBC 2, BBC iPlayer, directed by Mike Rudin.

conspricy.jpg

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m0008c6g/conspiracy-files-the-billionaire-global-mastermind

George Soros is a billionaire. In 1992 British taxpayers handed Soros over $1 billion. Soros gambled that the British pound would continue to fall in value. He shorted the pound in the currency market and won his gamble. Britain’s financial loss was Soros’s gain. Soros also happens to be Jewish.

Remember the Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of Zion. The Learned part is optional. It’s the kind of hokum that brings together ideology, literature and eugenics. Jews are subhuman monsters that want to take over the world. Stir in a bit of natural selection and Darwinian influence channelled by the Nazi Party in post-Wehrmacht Germany and you’ve pretty much got the modern version. George Soros is a Jew. George Soros therefore wants to take over the world.

I used to have this belief that all Americans were stupid, I’m not therefore immune to sweeping generalisations. Then they elected the moron’s moron as President. In August 2017 at Charlottesville neo-Nazi marchers were met by anti-fascist demonstrators. James Fields, a neo-Nazi, drove a speeding car at the demonstrators, killing one and injuring 28 people. Brennan Gilmore filmed the speeding car with his phone. If you go online you can read that he was a CIA/ State Department plant for the deep state. Here we have a couple of shock-jocks re-iterating this kind of lie.

LIAR > AMPLIFICATON ONLINE> FOX NEWS > AMERICAN PRESIDENT > LIAR > Amplification

Initially, the American President claimed both sides were to blame. We’ve become so inured to President Trump’s alternative view of the world it doesn’t really register. Now imagine that after the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995, the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, when asked about it, argued both sides were to blame. That’s how far we’ve gone backwards.

There’s nothing new about creating a bogey man, or women. Witches used to fit the bill quite well. The other is not always Jewish. Often he or she is Muslim. Immigrants carrying contagion and wrong-headed beliefs. Terrorists and rapists. That’s the kind of arguments we here in, ironically, largely Muslim Turkey, Italy, Hungary, China, Russia, Britain and of course, bearer of the flag, America. Soros would fit the bogey man position better if he were Muslim and Jewish and, of course, if he arrived off the coast of Cornwall in a ship in the dead of night and turned into a bat. Dracula was a Hungarian Jew. Soros is Dracula.

Soros is Dracula? > Amplification> Fox News> Tweet by moron’s moron, ‘watch your children, Soros wants to suck your blood.’

  • Don’t elect a moron.
  • Follow the example of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, JACINDA ARDERN, after the mass killings in Christchurch and do not name the gunman. Do not give moron’s a platform to promote hate.
  • Follow the example of our European Union leaders and call out and fine corporations such as Facebook and Google by no longer letting they get away with a legal technicality that they are not responsibility for content.