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Saturday, 04 November 2006


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There were a couple of agitprops by Watkins that impressed me - Culloden and one, name forgotten, about the aftermath of a nuclear war. Just remembering Culloden makes me realise that W is the Bonnie Prince Charlie of our time -undertaking an extraordinarily rash war for which he suffered little punishment but plenty of the little people suffered lots.

I never saw any of his 'documentaries' so I can't comment on their efficacy as 'agit-prop' but, shooting from the hip, I'd say that TV is less likely to make an impression than film, *possibly* because to see a film one has to invest time and effort in going to see it. On the other hand, *repeated* TV 'agit-prop', by which I mean a sustained campaign over years (one thinks of Vietnam), does work exceedingly well.

A friend of mine once did some gardening work for David Hare, at his beautiful Hampstead home. You know he's married to the fashion designer Nicole Farhi?

He's the epitome of the Hampstead liberal. A grotesquely wealthy writer condescending to lecture the rest of us on the merits of (inter alia) the Chinese revolution and the demerits of (inter alia) privatisation and the commercial newspaper industry.

In other words, a complete c***. Personally, I wouldn't cross the road to urinate on him if he had decided to immolate himself in protest at something or over. Not that that's likely. Much easier to sit at home (and it is a very beautiful home) and write a play about it.

At least Brecht wrote a few half-decent songs.

As for 'Oh What A Lovely War' - well, I had the misfortune to train as an actor under Joan Littlewood's wardrobe mistress. Just how dire an experience that was, I leave to your imagination. However, you're spot on about the effectiveness of that show as theatre, and I'm glad you recognise it. It all hinges on the highly selective presentation of facts while the audience is too bamboozled by the (stunning) presentation to stop and think.

Bring back John Galsworthy, say I. Have you ever thought of tackling 'Strife'? Now that would be a challenge for the Richmond SC.

Andy, I'm not in a position to consider anything at the moment. Just finished "Ghosts" and have already started on "Hamlet"!

Further to David Hare, back in the days when I was a Spectator subscriber (before 'Bonkers' Boris ruined it!), Hare used to write the occasional essay and oddly enough, in contrast to his silly, trite plays, they were elegantly well-written and highly readable.

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