Thursday, 27 August 2015
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Enter stage right the venerable Nayland smith himself, chasing this fiend from the orient. It would be generous to say that he is the very embodiment of crumbling empire. To modern eyes and ears he comes across as little more than a swaggering colonialist stooge whose tawdry and mean spirited observations about the dangers of the" yellow peril" and other ethnic visitors to the shores of Albion make him sound like a bit of a John Bull when he is actually a more layered character than that. I suppose you have to allow for the ignorance of the age and look with kinder eyes than that. (Not forgive, just understand and be glad it is over.Well, it should be.) and enjoy the rip roaring boys own quality of the writing and the home grown swarthy exuberance of Sax Rohmer. A one man tsunami of exotic adventures on the fog soaked cobbles of old London Town there is a lot to enjoy.One can only hope that in time he also saw the mind boggling scarlet inking that passed for racial understanding and appreciation of ethnic diversity within his stories as the Stereotype Sax Rohmer helped create was reinforced by the success of the stories in this book. The stories had previously appeared elsewhere but were collected in this incredibly successful first volume. Their influence has bled down through the culture over the decades since the stories saw print coloring everything from pulp serials to other iconic dramas such as the adventures of the good doctor. Who could ever forget the absolute classic Talons Of Weng Chiang, a veritable tick-box of ripperesque phantasmagoria..
You have heard Nayland Smith's words with regard to Doctor Fu Manchu now here are the Devil Doctor's words about himself; "Out of Fire I Came-The Smoldering Fire Of A Thing One Day To Be a Consuming Flame. Into Fire I Go.Seek Not My Ashes, I Am The Lord Of The Fires..."
Blimey. Would not want to bump into him in a dark foggy alley in 1922 Limehouse ,as it were.
In the novel it is ms Marples old lady chum who witnesses the murder but for the movie they seem to have decided to shorthand this to Ms Marple herself. One of the surprising tone differences, and I suspect one that Agatha Christie herself was unhappy with, was the difference between the frail old lady on paper and the super old lady as played by the indomitable Margaret Rutherford. In the book old age has in fact caught up with Jane Marple and it means she is just physically unable to take on the strain of entering the fray. Her mind is as agile as ever but her aching bones tell a different tale. Margaret Rutherford comes across as a sort of female Doctor Who, a sister figure to the role as played by William Hartnell himself in high church fashion. She quite marvelously comes across as a Galifreyan eccentric. Even going as far as getting a companion in order to share the adventure(and tiring legwork,) This younger woman goes undercover as a maid in the remote manor house they suspect the killer has hidden the victim's body and hides himself. On screen it is Jane Marple herself who straps on an apron to become that house maid doing the work of a team of servants( Happy days at Downton Abbey; My Arse!). In time she must not only do all that work but she must detect and confront a younger and very aggressive ruthless killer who has already murdered a younger fitter stronger woman. Old in years but young at heart she must deal with all who stand between her and the truth. She is something of a Lionheart is old Jane Marple.
In the novel, again with tonal differences, there are two posh school boys who make it their business to yomp their way into the great game of detection, whilst in the movie it is a singularly judged performance by a Rodger The Dodger type who also becomes a young set of eyes and ears for Ms Marple. For all the tone and script differences both versions are by now very much the products of another age. Both seem as remote as the Edwardian or Victorian eras as so much has changed in the world of then and now. Yet time has been kind and there is much to like in both versions. Murder She Said and murder there was on the 4.50 From Paddington. Sometimes journeys end in lovers meeting but sometimes the outcome is altogether something very different.
Sunday, 16 August 2015
Saturday, 15 August 2015
Was working on an idea for a story for my niece about a little kingdom ruled by a little princess. A sort of medieval Faerie land which is actually just someones back garden. The Princess liked to go out into her kingdom riding on the back of a snail. A nice slow journey where the sky is always blue and the sun always shines. Like the summers of childhood which exist now only in memory.
Saturday, 8 August 2015
This wee volume feels like one of those Conan Doyle Holmes anthologies of cases and stories with some being better than others but all adding to the overall sense of curiously English Noir with an oriental flavor. Some with recurring characters, good and bad, and situations that bleed into each other. Well, they are all occurring in the same area of London, Limehouse, in the same time frame which really adds to the sense of place.The collection contains a story Tcheriapin which has appeared in other anthologies. It is one of those stories the reader might feel he or she has read before or is vaguely familiar without being aware that is a Sax Rohmer story.
The foggy air is cold and damp and the streets resonate with the tap tap tap of well shod heels upon cobbles.Oh the game is afoot once more (as the Great Detective himself put it.) as night falls over Chinatown..
Tuesday, 4 August 2015
Callow keeps the spirit of the great man alive.He writes with sympathy and wit and I would love to hear him perform a reading of this work in much the same way Dickens himself entertained his audiences. Keeping them enthralled as though wondering through a world of Dickensian characterisation and insight, funny,moving,scary and the absolute full gamut of life;Dickensland.
That is the dander of a man reborn.