Those who read The Scrivener’s Fancy with close attention will be aware that we are now, despite the frigid weather, to have a ‘summer break’. I imagine that it will be much like at the end of Gross Anatomy, when Matthew Modine, as maverick medical student Joe Slovak, has finished all his tough exams and also learned a lot about himself, or like at the end of The Paper Chase, when Timothy Bottoms, as James T Hart, a law student, who, even though he has shown himself to be of a more obsequious persuasion than Slovak, throws his exam results, unopened, into the ocean. The Fancy has been in existence for just over two years now, which is, unfortunately, not yet a thousand days; I would like to have been able to make reference to the way that at one point in Anne of the Thousand Days someone who clearly was not the relentlessly intoxicated Richard Burton, who played the role of Henry the Eighth, executes a complicated minuet. In any case, our, no doubt restorative, break means that there are a few topics I wish to address now, in case I meet an untimely end, such as a fridge falling on me in the manner of Victoria Hill in Siam Sunset.
First, I finally saw This Is It, one of Michael Jackson’s many swan songs, and was interested to see that it commences with the written declaration that the film is ‘For the fans’, as opposed to, presumably, the IRS. In summation, the planned concert would, I feel, have had the same fascistic air as if the Argentinians had staged a spectacular with Eva Peron’s corpse as the central attraction, but that’s not to say it would not all have been hugely entertaining, as apparently it would have involved much coming out of trapdoors, not to mention a man playing a guitar behind his own head. Jackson himself (or MJ, as all and sundry refer to him in This Is It) wears tangerine trousers, chews gum and looks bored a lot of the time, though becomes a lot livelier when being lifted in a cherrypicker, which culminates in the contagiously excited announcement that ‘This is monumental – Michael’s back on the cherrypicker!’. Even though MJ himself resembles, of course, Paul Capsis had he got his face caught in a roller door, and demonstrates a tendency to issue mystifying instructions to those in charge of technical aspects, he is limber and seems generally in good health, not to mention disappointingly sane, bar a preposterous song that he sings about the need to save ‘the crying Earth’ (MJ clearly never had to wrestle with the relentless irritation involved in dealing with ‘environmentally friendly’ double-sided photocopying). In any case, those who worked with MJ seem genuinely to have got an enormous bang out of the experience, although I felt that the musical director was unnecessarily impressed at the fact that MJ was well acquainted with his own records. Also, in a DVD extra called ‘Memories of Michael Jackson’, the story that one of his entourage tells, of MJ offering personally to take his boa constrictor to a primary-school show and tell, perhaps raises more questions than it answers.
Speaking of pets, something else that has been on my mind is how very great it would be to have a cat who becomes eminent in cyberspace, leading to merchandising opportunities and, therefore, I would hope, bags of cash. What I want to know, though, is how people manage to obtain this footage of their cats, say, bashing with their little paw a great big dog over the head, given that you tend to be on the road to nowhere if you want your cat to do something noteworthy at a time that is convenient to you. I assume that people who’ve managed to make their felines into Internet sensations just have to keep the camera running all the time, as in a maximum-security prison. However, I did see interviewed on morning television, along with his owners, a gorgeous American cat who goes by the name of Cooper and who has achieved fame as a photographer. Quite simply, he has attached to his collar a digital camera that is timed to take a picture every two minutes; nonetheless, Cooper’s photographs, with their elegant compositions, have been receiving acclaim all over. The truly enviable thing about this, however, is that it’s the owners who are the ones reaping all the benefits, even though the cat himself is doing all the work. No doubt he’s still eating food out of a tin and being force-fed worm tablets, as opposed to living the kind of photographer’s life exemplified by Elvis Presley’s character in Live a Little, Love a Little, while his owners, presumably, sit in their counting house with the piles of notes they are making from the many Cooper-related wares they have made available on his website, not to mention the several exhibitions of his photographs that have been mounted. Actually, I’ve heard that the Cooper moneys go to charity but that would not be my approach. My dearest dream is to be a Mama Rose-style stage mother for a creature whose earnings I can embezzle freely, without worrying about any tiresome Coogan Law sort of strictures.
And, while I think of it:
if ever you’re bored, you should get hold of a biography of someone that has a big photograph of its subject’s face on the front and then place your own pair of glasses on the cover, so that it looks as if the person is wearing your glasses;
when Tom Cruise is dead, and so cannot sue for defamation, there are going to be vast numbers of magnificent biographies that will really spill the beans on a lot of things, and the prospect of these works is practically all that is keeping me going;
I would like to pose the question why after the success of Dragon’s excellent ‘Are You Old Enough’, there were not many more popular songs based around the theme of avoidance of the charge of statutory rape; and
I was astonished to read that Thomas Braden, the journalist and pater familias who wrote the memoir upon which popular, and wholesome, television show Eight is Enough was based, had an open relationship with his wife. Furthermore, I was very sorry to read that Willie Aames, who, even though he preempted Christopher Atkins, always seemed like the poor man’s Christopher Atkins, and who played second-youngest son Tommy on the show, went bankrupt and had his financial difficulties documented in a television program called Broke & Famous: Willie Aames, and that Susan Richardson, who played third-oldest daughter Susan (my favourite of the Bradford clan, although she was sporty and even married a baseball player who went by the name of Merle the Pearl), at one stage claimed that ‘filmmakers’ kidnapped and attempted to kill her in North Korea.
Finally, however, I would like to say how very pleased and grateful I am that anyone has bothered to read my columns until this point, as not only am I easily the most obscure person who has ever written for The Scrivener’s Fancy, this, obviously, isn’t even my real name. I would also like to say a special thank you to the brilliant Leigh Sales, who has given our website many wonderful plugs, despite, or probably because of, the fact she didn’t even know Tony Martin and me personally. I hope that by the time we return, I will be much more skilled at filling empty staplers with staples, not to mention having finally seen the 1973 companion telemovies Divorce His – Divorce Hers, savagely described by one IMDb user as being ‘obviously tax write-offs for the over indulgent Burtons’. In the meantime, I will have the consolation, as will we all, of once more watching on television Scrivener’s Fancy creator, and heart and soul, T Martin.