The play opens at the Printer’s Playhouse in Eastbourne. Follow the link below to watch a video trailer and for links to ticket sales.
As we near the end of what has been a very exacting year for most and an even worse one for others, it gives me great pleasure and not a little satisfaction to confirm that my stage play, entitled “Mengele” will open in Eastbourne in the New Year, before moving to London. Co-written with one of my oldest and most trusted friends, Tim Marriott, it is a three act stage play, dark, sinister and challenging which will test both the imagination and the sensitivities of the theatre goer alike.
For those of you who have read my novel, Right to Live, you will know about my research and sometimes exhausting quest to discover more about one of the most evil men to have walked this earth. His background is well documented and his life picked over with a fine toothcomb, but his last years are still a matter of conjecture. Much revision has taken place and there are those who believe that he died a very lonely man, yet others are still firmly convinced that his ’empire’ stretched way beyond the South American jungles and into the USA and Europe. There is no doubt that he was well-financed by his wealthy family back in Bavaria throughout his years in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru and Brazil and he never appeared to want for anything. Unrepentant to the end, according to his son Rolf, a lawyer, the ‘Angel of Death’ was a committed genocidal and nihilistic Nazi, who saw purity in his crackpot experiments, juxtaposing immense cruelty with random acts of kindness and acting with a dispassionate cruelty seemingly on a whim.
I hope that many of you will get to see the play, whether in Eastbourne or London. We are planning to take it on tour to festivals and fringes across the country and in time, turn it into a TV play. I wish you all a peaceful Christmas.
For those of you who dislike the idea or feel of an ebook reader, it gives me
great pleasure to inform you that both Amazon and eBay have made the
paperback versions available. You can find them here:
Just click on the highlighted links above.
The sequel to Greed, entitled “Greedier” will be published in early 2016 and the sequel
to Right to Live, entitled “Left for Dead” will be published in late 2016.
This headline might possibly bring about some unwanted views, but perhaps its intrinsic ‘appeal’ to the curious may work.
Lyn and I spent the evening at HMP YOI Isis, part of the Belmarsh complex in south-east London. Not a place one would relish going to, as a visitor, educator or prisoner. Built in 2010, it houses men between the ages of 18 and 30 who have been sent to prison often as a last resort and was built to Category ‘B’ standards, which means that it has quite high security for longer term inmates. I hesitate to use the word, ‘offender’, as I feel it is a term used far too frequently by the establishment, often erroneously.
For me, initially, it was about going back to prison, this time as a visitor. Yes, going beyond the visits hall and into the jail dressed in civvies and knowing I would be able to walk out later felt very strange, almost unnerving, yet the staff made the ingress as easy as possible. The Pimlico Opera company, a truly great bunch of individuals who put on shows in UK prisons had taken on the task of producing a new version of Our House, a light opera inspired and written by Madness, featuring songs from the truly brilliant back catalogue of same. The prison gym had been transformed into a theatre, complete with full lighting rig, sound system, tiered seating and interactive stage. I had taken the opportunity to read a critique of ‘Our House at Isis’ by Musical Theatre Review, so kind of knew what was coming our way. However, as the production was on its final night last night, I felt that a more generous appraisal would be appropriate.
Led by Tom Child and Jocasta Almgill as Joe Casey and Sarah, his girlfriend, the cast featured Suggs McPherson as Joe’s dad and Victoria Ward as his long-suffering and loving mum. As a Madness fan, the music was, for me, going to be a big part of the evening and it did not disappoint. To say at this stage that the production was professionally run from start to finish wouldn’t even do it justice. It carried weight, gravitas, emotion and passion, which brings me to the best part of the whole evening, the supporting cast. Twenty-four inmates of HMP Isis played their roles extremely well and whilst I would hesitate to single anyone out, I found Ray C as Reecey to be highly convincing. Let’s watch out for him in the future as his previous time spent studying performance arts at Kingsway College doesn’t seem to have been wasted at all. Great stuff. Other notable performances were Hakeem J as the hapless and ultimately ‘unsuccessful with girls’ Lewis and Jordan H as Emmo. Their interviews in the programme show them as self-effacing and displaying an honesty rarely found amongst the young. I also enjoyed the performance of Callum, played by Jordan D, an inmate who on his own admission speaks mainly Patois but managed his role very well. The supporting professionals from Pimlico Opera were highly entertaining, especially in the song and dance routines which were superbly choreographed by Chantry Dance Company.
So, a two hour light opera. In a prison. On a Friday night. Was it worth it? You bet it was. This is rehabilitation working at its best. Among those in the audience were the Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick-a man who in this writer’s opinion will be sorely missed by those wishing to improve conditions in Britain’s prisons, James Timpson of Timpsons-a company which has chosen to employ ex-prisoners in the workplace and many others who believe passionately in the right way to help the incarcerated.
We need a lot more of this.
I have often agonised over my belief in the legitimacy of this work, but have been bolstered up and reassured by many good friends and confidantes that I should go ahead and do it. To write about the Holocaust is indeed a challenging task and to write a novel seems in some ways even more of an ordeal that to write about it from a historical, academic point of view. I hope that readers will understand my reasons for continuing with the project and will see it for what it is: a story.
If you do decide to read the book, I would be grateful for honest, forthright reviews on any of the review sites. If you like the book, tell your friends. If you don’t, please tell me.
Apparently ISIS are looking for a new warmongering leader who thinks he knows a lot about Middle East politics, is efficient at extracting millions, is a recent convert to an extreme religion and will shortly be looking for a safe haven, away from the forces of British law. Step forward…TONY BLAIR!
Despite the Chilcot Inquiry inexplicably being delayed until after the election, though Cameron did make it quite clear that it was Labour who did not vote early enough to get it through prior to the General Election of this year, (I wonder why?), it would seem that things are hotting up for our former great leader. This will be, for sure, his annus horribilis.
Where to start when talking about such a truly special person as Mum? For that, simply, is what she was and what she always wanted to be. As you will know, I am the only child from her long and happy marriage to my Dad, Tom, yet we are certain she would have loved to have had a large family, for she had more than enough cotton wool to wrap an army in. To be a part of my growing up was one round after another of tea and cakes, themed parties, newly washed football shirts and filling the house with my friends, to help compensate for a lack of brothers and sisters, something about which she worried, yet never needed to. She made sure that we were all catered and cared for. She had an abundance of love to give and made sure it was doled out in large portions.
Sadly, Mum was widowed in 1983, yet in 1984, her lovely grandson David came along and a new chapter in her life began. After leaving Cardiff, she settled in Devon for a few years before renewing her nomadic approach, during which time her garden acquired sandpits, toys and footballs to keep him entertained during his holidays with her. Devon gave way to Eastbourne, then came Spain, where she met a clairvoyant who told her that the Mediterranean lifestyle would extend her life by 7 years. Let us hope that it did. She welcomed so many friends to the villa over there and in some ways, reincarnated her times spent with my Dad in Gibraltar and southern Spain in the 1950s. Happy times she often referred to. I look forward to welcoming you all to join me at the Riverside Inn later to look at some of those memories in picture form and to raise a glass of champagne to someone who truly made a difference to so many.
During the past year, after moving to Chelmsford to be nearer to us, she talked a lot about what she had done and in some cases, what she hadn’t done. At the age of 93, to hear someone talk so clearly and so fondly about where she had lived, the people she had met and the experiences she cherished was very uplifting.
In 2013, she took the great step of embracing technology, announcing that she wanted “one of those Apples”. An iPad was duly purchased and she began to enjoy the delights of Facebook, photographs and searching out childhood memories. From here one, whenever we talked of anything she needed to research, she would fix me with that look of hers, as Dad often called it and say, “…just ask Dougal. Dougal it…” Chats with David on Skype were a constant source of amazement to her. “Ask him what he is doing, Philip”. “No, Mum, you ask him. He’s right there”. Video Skype was something else!
“Well, I just want to know who is paying for all this.”
She played a huge part in the Christmas of 2013, staying for all of the Christmas Day and Boxing Day parties at our house, keeping the family entertained and joining in with all the fun and games. Laughter rang around the place and the newer, younger members of her extended family made all the difference to her.
There were aspects of her life she wished she could have expanded after the war, such as tennis playing in her beloved Cheshire she had enjoyed as a teenage girl in the 1930s, but the accident had put paid to that.
“Of course, we didn’t have teenagers in those days,” she would say, in that gently authoritative voice she used, especially when talking to me, as in her eyes, I generally never passed the age of 6. The war and the ambulance incident put paid to pretty much all physical activity for her, save for her love of swimming, yet she regaled me with stories of playing tennis with Fred Perry’s doubles partner, tea dances in Manchester and holidays in North Wales as a child in the 1920s. We managed one last northern tour with her in 2010, visiting all her favourite places, including the house where she and her brother Gordon grew up in Glossop. The present owner even invited us in for tea and a look round. Much of it was just the same and you could clearly see she was back in her young days once more.
Right until the end, she still had that wicked sense of humour, in fact it came out even more. We had to fill in a health check at Broomfield Hospital in August after she had been admitted again and during this, the nurse had to ask about her lifestyle. “Do you smoke, Mrs Wharam? “No”, she said firmly. “Do you drink?” “Not any more”. Mum paused and looked up, “…but I do watch an awful lot of pornography…”
Thank you, Mum.
January 27th 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation by the Soviet army of the three camps of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II Birkenau and Auschwitz III Monowitz, the slave labour factory operated by German company IG Farben, the manufacturers of Zyklon B, the gas used to murder millions of Jews and other races/groups in the extermination camps.
For many, it will be a reminder that even the horror of that place could finally come to an end. For the survivors, a new, shaky and terrifying beginning elsewhere; some to Palestine, others attempting to return home to what was left. For the many thousands of perpetrators still free to enjoy their lives, with luck, a time for atonement for the heinous crimes they themselves perpetrated and helped to perpetrate. For Ephraim Zuroff and his courageous “Operation Last Chance”, an opportunity to play on the minds of those who have helped to hide the murderers and others party to the Nazi killing machine and to shame them into finally disclosing the whereabouts of the despicable thousands lurking in Europe, South America and beyond.
On that day, please spare a few thoughts for the millions who did not make it. As we near Christmas, take a look at the picture below. These are children’s shoes, placed carefully for the visitors to see, to remember, to never forget.