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At the end of his journey in Paradise, Dante reaches the outermost layer of the Celestial Firmament, the dwelling-place of God himself. The Empyrean.

There I saw Light like a river in its molten glow

That golden flowed between two banks a-flower

With spring’s fresh miracle.

From out the stream

Came leaping sparks that in the blossoms fed,

Rubies in cups of sunlight.

Fifteenth century Dutch painter Hieronymus Bosch also sees a light, possibly as the result of a near death experience and begins sketching two-winged figures travelling down a tunnel. Sniffing the charcoal on his fingertips, he names the painting “Ascent to Empyrean”.

Their faces were of lively flame:

alight their wings with lustrous gold:

the rest so white that dull in contrast

were the whitest snow.

Dante understood the Greek “empyrios” to mean “on fire”.

For Bosch, living in the Spanish Netherlands at the height of the Inquisition, the word had become Latinised as meaning the characteristic smell of burning flesh.

Bobby Hargis – Motorcycle patrolman, Dallas Police

Department:

“When Kennedy was shot in the head, brain matter and blood hit me and my helmet as I rode through.

Officer Bud Brewer says, ‘Bob, you got something on your lip there.’ And he flicked at it, and it was a piece of Kennedy’s brain and a piece of skull bone.”

“Well, I walked over to the sheriff’s office, and a guy came up

to me and offered me seventeen thousand dollars for my

helmet.”

It began in Minsk. At a dance for medical students at The Palace of Culture. She worked at a pharmacy. He operated a lathe at the radio factory.

As she took a shower, he stared at his handiwork on the bedside table. He still felt the same mix of pride and wonder that he felt the first time his creation left the assembly line. He clicked it into life…

When you walk through a storm

Hold your head up high

And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of the storm

Is a golden sky

And the sweet silver song of the lark

Staring at the tiny vibrations on the shade of the bedside lamp, he thought of the hours he’d spent learning to adjust the diameter of a tiny cylindrical piece of metal so it slid exactly into a tube. He then thought of a cracking a double entendre as she towelled off but she didn’t understand jokes. And she’d already proved twice that night that she didn’t understand radios either.

He was good. He was precise. He was fulfilled. Some days he felt his co-workers must be using sledgehammers compared to his detailed work.

He got angry one day when Boris, his supervisor, told him to stop worrying so much. He said the radio wasn’t his problem once it left the factory, so why sweat?

They called Boris “the comedian”. Boris was “a real shock” compared to his previous boss, Ivan.

Ivan told him that, just after the war, when Comrade Stalin was drinking less – work at the factory was very different. He showed him a faded yellow document he kept in his bottom draw that had been circulated by the bureau. “The empirical relationship between stimulus and performance”. Psychologists Robert M. Yerkes and John Dillingham Dodson had written it in 1908 but Ivan wasn’t bothered that they were Americans. They talked of how to increase the rapidity of habit-formation and Ivan liked anything that increased the rapidity of habit-formation. He read it twice before he left work that day.

The paper examines a rat’s ability to choose channels in a run following their exposure to an electric shock. They find that performance increases with physiological or mental arousal, but only up to a point. When levels of arousal become too high, the performance of the rat decreased. Too low – the same. The rats shocked with medium intensity learn the task quickly and effectively.

They lay there, half-naked, half dead in the half-light. Wrapped only in a sheet and laid out on her grandmother’s bed – embalmed in themselves. He felt a pain, like a scalpel scoring scars along his temple. Then she fluttered her butterfly wings briefly, teasing his soul back to the earth. Fanning the flames of a thousand-year struggle that no doubt was still causing earthquakes in China. Her uncle, Lieutenant Colonel Ilya Prusakov had said “Take care of this girl. She has plenty of breezes in her head.”

Well, sir, he liked her breezes just fine.

The radio crackled again. Russian voices gave way to Nino Tempo & April Stevens.

When the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls,

And the stars begin to flicker in the sky,

Through the mist of a memory,

You wander back to me

Breathing my name with a sigh.

They married in a registry office one month later and honeymoon for two days straight in their Minsk apartment.

A young KGB operative sits in a building across the street transcribing their conversation from a bug in the radio. The line crackles incessantly and the operative smacks the casing. “Shit technology” he mumbles before the sound of a smashing cup returns his pencil to the page.

He: You never do anything!

She: Have you ever cleaned up this apartment – just once? I’ve done it 21 times. You’ll do it and then talk about it all day.

He: …Marina, you sleep until 10 in the morning and you don’t do anything. You could be cleaning up during that time.

She: I need my sleep. If you don’t like it, you can go back to where you came from… You’re always finding fault; nothing’s enough, everything’s bad.

He: Well you’re ridiculous. Lazy and crude.

The operative snorted. The wife was an academic. A

pharmacist. Who was he to talk to her like that? He worked a

lathe. He made radios. He was an American.

March 12th, 1963

Dallas, Texas. She shouldn’t have made that threat.

As they unpack, he clicks on Dallas’s WFAA radio station. The lady selling soap tells him that WFAA stands for “Working For All Alike”. The Radio Moscow motto was always “Radio Moscow speaks the truth”. They’re not so different, he thinks and mails an ad coupon and a postal money order for twenty-one dollars ninety-five to Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago. The gun is shipped via parcel post the same month.

He turns the page on the free magazine they send with the package and scans an article on The Art of Trigger Control.

Number 7. A firm grip should be maintained at the same pressure while squeezing the trigger to fire one shot or an entire string of shots. To be quick and effective you can’t be too strong or too soft.

He thought of the rats in a tunnel scrabbling into the light to escape the electric shock. He thought of his lathe. He thought of Boris.

November 21st1963

He spends the night pleading for her to embrace this new country. This new beginning. He tried to kiss her more than once, but she rejected him. He pleaded for the two of them to get back together, and still, she rejected him.

The next morning, he leaves a wedding ring that has a tiny hammer and sickle engraved on the inside of the band, $187 in cash and a book on top of the TV. It drones away as Marina sleeps.

Later, two women are discussing the merits of hidden zippers in jackets.

What are these for, Betsy? They can’t be for bad money?

Betsy knows that you can zip the hood so that no snow gets in

and that very often you’ll find a zipper hidden in the arm.

Betsy also knows that good design can give you smaller hips.

Pierce Allman, a young news manager at WFAA runs into the studio.

Betsy and her zipper disappear in a hurricane of horizontal lines…

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen. You’ll excuse the fact that I’m out of breath… but, about 10 or 15 minutes ago a tragic thing, from all indications, at this point, has happened in the city of Dallas. Let me quote to you this… and, you’ll excuse me if I’m out of breath. This is from the United Press…”

Marina gave the one hundred and eighty-seven dollars to charity, but sold the wedding ring at auction for one hundred and eight thousand dollars on 22nd October 2013.

Bought by an anonymous Texan.

She kept the book.

Lee Harvey Oswald read a lot of Isaac Asimov. He liked his sense of humour and particularly delighted in his Elephant jokes.

Q: Why did the elephant paint its fingernails red?

A: So it could hide in the strawberry patch.

Q: How can you tell that an elephant has been in your

fridge?

A: Footprints in the butter.

Q: What time is it when an elephant sits on your fence?

A: Time for a new fence.

Oswald’s favourite poem of Asimov’s was The Prime of

Life.

It was, in truth, an eager youth

Who halted me one day.

He gazed in bliss at me, and this

Is what he had to say:

“Why, mazel tov, it’s Asimov,

A blessing on your head!

For many a year, I’ve lived in fear

That you were long since dead.

Or if alive, one fifty-five

Cold years had passed you by,

And left you weak, with poor physique,

Thin hair and rheumy eye.

For sure enough, I’ve read your stuff

Since I was but a lad

And couldn’t spell or hardly tell

The good yarns from the bad.

My father, too, was reading you

Before he met my Ma.

For you he earned, once he had learned

About you from his Pa.

Since time began, you wondrous man,

My ancestors did love

That s.f. dean and writing machine

The aged Asimov.”

I’d had my fill. I said: “Be still!

I’ve kept my old-time spark.

My step is light, my eye is bright,

My hair is thick and dark.”

His smile, in brief, spelled disbelief,

So this is what I did;

I scowled, you know, and with one blow,

I killed that rotten kid.

Friday 22nd November 1963

1.16pm Oswald flees to Oak Cliff where he shoots Officer J.D. Tippit before being apprehended trying to hide in a theatre. He was three blocks from home.

Sunday 24th November

11.15 A.M. Dallas Municipal Building. Inspector Thomas J Kelly speaks to the suspect prior to his transfer to jail. Oswald has nothing to say.

11:21 A.M. Lee Harvey Oswald is shot by Jack Ruby on the

steps of Police Headquarters.

8.30 P.M.

Isaac Asimov tells the following joke to friends before dinner.

Q: What did the Dallas chief of police say when the

elephant walked into the police station?

A: Nothing! He didn’t even notice.

Marina wakes. The TV is blaring. She barely sees the ring, the book and the wad of cash as she turns it off.

The screen narrows to a small tube of light before clicking to darkness.

“Such was the living light encircling me,

leaving me so enveloped by its veil

of radiance that I could see no thing.

The Love that calms this heaven always welcomes

into Itself with such a salutation,

to make the candle ready for its flame.”

Marina Oswald Porter is 73. She lives in Rockwall, Texas.

First performed at The Cabin, Brighton. March 20th 2015.

…and her front’s in the show too!

Very excited to announce my next project: Mrs Hudson’s Christmas Corker!

A right royal knees up of a Christmas jolly set in the most famous kitchen in literary history and staged in the most beautiful of hidden theatres in London. The venerable Mrs H. is brought to life by the brilliant Spymonkey (featuring the fabulous Sophie Russell) and the fantastic Ed Gaughan. Thanks to the beautiful staff at Wilton’s! It’s great to be back. See you all in the Mahogany Bar for an egg nogg.

BC x

Dates: 2nd December 2014 – 31st December 2014

Times: Tuesday – Saturday 7.30pm (except Wed 3rd at 7pm), matinees every Wednesday & Saturday 2pm
Prices: £35 table seats, £27.50 main seating, £20 side seats
N/B: The 3rd December performance will start at the earlier time of 7pm. There is no show on 25th December. Additional tickets will be available soon for those wanting to stay at Wilton’s after the show on New Years Eve
Buy Tickets

Written by Bob and Barry Cryer
In association with Spymonkey
Directed by Ed Gaughan
Designed by Lucy Bradridge

Situated in the kitchen of the celebrated 221B Baker Street, this riotous production contrasts the minutiae of a landlady’s daily domestic routine with the grand opera of Conan Doyle’s Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.

Witness the tale of what really happens below stairs in an affectionate yet hilarious take on the Holmes legend, using music hall routines, tatty magicians, cod ventriloquists, lady boxers and perhaps even a death defying finale worthy of Moriarty himself! Mulled wine and Christmas trees come as standard.

Special New Year’s Eve party! Book early to avoid disappointment, as they say!

Created by actor & writer, Bob Cryer, with his veteran comedy writer father, Barry, and in collaboration with the ultra talented Spymonkey company, all deftly wrapped up with a ribbon by director Ed Gaughan.

Cast in alphabetical order:
Aitor Basauri (Spymonkey)
Petra Massey (Spymonkey)
Toby Park (Spymonkey)
Sophie Russell

Buy Tickets

https://wiltons.org.uk/event.php?p=911

Had the pleasure of working with this guy last year on Paul Brook’s stage adaptation of his book “The Little Book of Prison” for Lynchpin’s Scriptease. Funny, eccentric, disturbing and occasionally inspiring.  Check out his natural move into bang on banged up stand up with time off for good behaviour here: Can you spread the F word? – Frankie Owens – Thursday 11th.

***Tomorrow night 9pm***

AN AUDIENCE WITH… BARRY AND BOB CRYER

Fri 7th February 2014 2pm

Barry Cryer is one of our best-loved writers and comedians. His extraordinary career has involved writing for the world’s greatest funny men including Dave Allen, Stanley Baxter, Jack Benny, George Burns,Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Dick Emery, Bruce Forsyth, David Frost, Bob Hope, Frankie Howerd, Spike Milligan, The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise. He’s also a regular panellist on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Cluefor Radio 4. Now, together with his son, the actor and writer Bob Cryer, Barry has created Mrs Hudson’s Diaries, a hilarious novel that reimagines the Sherlock Holmes stories from the point of view of the famous landlady. They reveal a portrait of life below stairs at 221b Baker Street that is by turns silly, slapstick and sentimental. This is your opportunity to meet Barry and Bob, discover something of their partnership and their work and hear more about the unsung heroine of the Sherlock stories. After all, behind every great man there is usually an even greater woman – this time she’s demanding rent!  Join Barry and Bob afterwards in the bar for tea and cake and enjoy an afternoon replete with relish, mustard and no small amount of dropped eaves.

 

Tickets £30 The restaurant is open from 12 noon for lunch. Please make your reservation with the box office or online.

 

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The Fortress of Solitude in the thoughts of the Superdude

Is the infinite zone to be Superalone.

 It’s the place that our Superguy is able to Supercry.

Beats retreat from the fray. But it wasn’t always that way.

In the beginning there was the S and the planet Krypton, cryptogrammatically the S at the heart of our Super Strong Man of Steel’s creation myths – his superannuated birth story that places the symbol anywhere from the literal Super S of Super Man to the cryptic codex of the Silver Age Siegel and Shuster segue into pseudo semiotics that sees the S as the First Nation symbol of Hope.

From First Nation finds First Republic and redoubling the S sees literally Latinate Hope dressed as spes – another serpentine double S sandwiching perpetual existence that does exactly what it spes on the tin. Often in Hope. Dorothy’s Thin Bloke. The Tin Bloke. If the Tin Man “only had a heart”, dee dum dee diddly dee… Just because I’m presumin’

That I could be a human
If I only had a heart…

A real man with no start, a Steel man with no past, cast adrift from the slow blast, made his mark as a Clark, yet was only one half of the whole cell, the whole brain, and wholesale he loved Lane, yet when they were asunder, the C’s forced him under –

Just a Warp with no weft

Or a midriff bereft of a sibilant clef.

We return to the heart of our Matter.

Of Our Latter Day Manhatten man.

Our Superman. Supercript but writ small. The last mite in a bursting of light fleeing the might of malignant Kryptonite. Jet black Jor El gets Kal El jettisoned from Krypton to Earth.

Wrapped in a cape but trapped as an ape. Forever to sever the link from his brethren. His kin forced to flee, he’s tethered inert, interred to the earth to fates lying in wait for the child in a crate. Or a manger. Or basket. Cast off downstream, a mythical dream floats away from the dreamer and into the dream.

Deep in the darkness the shard finds it’s niche, hooked in the earth to take root and release – surge faster than a seeding bullet! More powerful than bindweed! Able to overgrow tall buildings at a single bound!

It’s within us all. The Secret Citadel. The Fortress of Solitude.

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! Born again.

First Performed at Pulp Diction, Cafe Mila, Godalming, 25th October, 2013