INDEX April 2, 1987

April 2, 1987.

3 St Helier's Road,
London E10 6BH

Phone 556 8928 (home)
261 1604 (work)

Dear Frank & Jenny,

According to the papers yesterday the arms of the Venus de Milo have been discovered and Fox Talbot was not the first person to discover photography------that honour goes to a previously obscure Japanese person who ' took the first photo in about 1782. Yes it was April Fools Day.

I turned to the Murdoch press (yes the Times dispute is over so I'm allowed to read Bernard Levin again!) and what did I find but a story about plastic being magnetic, well, the Times reckons that some unnamed Russian scientists have discovered that some types of plastic are magnetic. The strange thing about the story is that it appeared to be true. It's so hard to tell with the Murdoch press.

In America I saw a copy of the Sun, not Murdoch's British Sun but an American newspaper of the same name. The front page was just covered in headlines. .There were no photos------and I don't blame them on that point since I reckon some of their stories would have been pretty hard to illustrate------and no text. One headline was about a man who was struck by lightning and then had an arm grow (it didn't say if it was a third arm or a replacement for one he had previously lost). Another told the story of a three month old baby who was pregnant. The remaining stories were about equally believable.

Yet strangely the American press, the real American press, was not half bad. The newspapers are mostly city based and obviously totally obsessed with the city they happen to be located in. But given that, they were serious and did a good job of telling people what was going on. The absence of the vast number of rules and regulations we have about what you can and can not print does not seem to have made them reach for the gutter.

The St Louis Post Despatch was actually backing a purchase tax rise in a referendum due to be held in that city shortly after I left. It was also pouring massive scorn on the antics of the only mildly racist white right wing.

I quite liked America. Mind you it is the sort of place where one sticks to the affluent areas and keeps well clear of the other places.

By the way, I presume you knew I was going to America? Did you get my letter?

We are all well. Arthur, our son who you have never seen, is going to be six soon. That must mean that you left about six years ago. Laura, our eldest, is 7 but I think you saw her before you left. She has changed a bit, mind.

Clare now has a job, as I'm sure you must have seen from one of my earlier missives. I'm a councillor and getting pretty fed up with the local council. We have just put the rates up 62% and I was not exactly in favour of doing so-- ----in fact I fought it tooth and nail. I lost and I think the Labour Party is going to lose the next election because there are too many people in the party who just like playing politics and don't actually want to do anything. Obtaining power would mean they would have to compromise and they would do anything rather than compromise their principles.

Still maybe the Liberals and the Social Democrats will win the election. If you can believe the opinion polls, they might. I don't much like the Libs and friends but I reckon that they could be less destructive than the Tories. By the way did I tell you that John Williams, who is a Waltham Forest Councillor, is prospective parliamentary candidate for Chingford. Of course, Chingford is Norman Tebbit's seat and under ordinary conditions the Liberals would have no chance there (do you remember they used to put Henry up as a candidate) but the situation is so volatile now and Norman Tebbit has been making such an arse of himself lately (he's chairman of the Tories and all the people who've had that kind of job lately have been making fools of themselves for some reason) you never know it could be John Williams MP. Mind you I wouldn't bet on it if I were you.

I've had the same job for the last four years and if I can hold onto it I'm likely to be there for the next three years at least------it's not easy to find jobs at editor level (magazines) when you're a Labour councillor!

Still we have a fairly good lifestyle now. We can look a bill in the eye without taking out a second mortgage------in fact Clare has been known to pay some bills before the red ones come in! Now that's wealth for you.

It's spring over here, at least according to the calendar and to be fair we have had some decent weather lately. It was quite sunny today. The clocks have gone back so officially it is British Summer Time. The Government is massaging the unemployment figures down. Those who are in work have never had it so good. There are plenty of people in the streets begging, but I saw that in the States as well. Maybe it's the same in Aus?

It's fairly late now so I think I shall go and watch the box for a while. Oh, hang on though, I must just crow about this. I went for a ride on the footplate of the Flying Scotsman today, you know the steam engine that won all the high speed records half a century ago. The Flying Scotsman used to pass near where I lived when I was about five and my dad used to take me to see it sometimes so it was quite an event to stand and watch the boiler being stoked. See you sometime.

Jo and Clare

Return to autobiography See theatre & criticism