Pete Postlethwaite (1946-2011)
My portrait of the actor, Pete Postlethwaite was recently bought by the owners of The Green Dragon, Little Stretton, Shropshire and now hangs in the bar above the chair the actor used to sit in. Best known for his roles in films like; The Usual Suspects and Brassed Off, he was also an extremely accomplished stage actor.
Steven Spielberg called him “the best actor in the world” though he was far too modest a man to describe himself in those terms.
Chapter Four: Wake up, my love
LYING ON his back, his eyes closed, as he drifted in that half world between sleep and wakefulness, Harry felt a warm breath against his ear.
‘Harry…Har-ree, are you awake?’ That familiar voice; soft but insistent, whispered in his ear.
‘Hmmm,’ he murmured and turning on his side, rolled into Annie’s arms. She held him to her and he breathed in the scent of her warm skin.
‘Wake up, darling,’ she said, her voice husky with desire, and carefully placed a kiss on each eyelid. ‘And, about time too,’ she chided, as his eyes blinked open and he took in her smiling face. ‘For a man who says he can’t sleep, you take a lot of waking up.’
‘Why, what’s the matter?’ he asked, trying to shake off the last vestiges of sleep.
‘Oh, Harry. You are slow on the uptake this morning.’
She cradled his face in her hands and pressed her lips hard against his. Something cold and metallic dangled against his cheek.
‘You slept in your earrings? You’ve never done that before,’ he said.
‘You’ve never bought me diamonds before. I love them so much, I’m never going to take them out,’ she replied and kissed him again. ‘And…I know it was my special birthday but I think you deserve a present too.’
‘Oh, you don’t have to…’
‘Shhhhh,’ she said, and pressed a finger to his lips. ‘You don’t know what it is yet.’
She took the finger away and slipping her hand beneath the duvet, reached between his legs. Harry closed his eyes and, with a low groan that came from deep within him, surrendered to her touch…
When he opened his eyes again, he was wide awake and alone in his darkened bedroom. Annie, such a physical presence a moment ago, seemingly so real that he could feel her touch, smell her perfume, had returned to whatever recess of his mind she still lived in.
Annie had come to him many times before in this way. Each time it was a different version of the girl he’d first met when he was just twelve and she was eleven; sometimes the younger, sometimes the older Annie. But just as on every previous occasion, he felt that same keen sense of loss and a reluctance to let her go. He supposed he was in denial, that awful piece of psycho babble that, along with closure, people trotted out at times like this. But Harry didn’t want closure. He had no wish to get over Annie and move on, to consign to the past the woman he’d loved for the best part of fifty years.
Harry glanced over at the bedside clock; the large, red numbers showed it was 3:30 am. It would be several hours before daylight brought some relief from the darkness of the night but the gloom he harboured within him would remain.
Extract from forthcoming novel, Now You See Me copyright Christopher Niblock 2015
Picture this, you buy a house for £471,000 and discover that you have a Damien Hirst spot painting on one of your walls. It’s painted directly onto the wallpaper so you think, “I’ll have that off there, mount it and sell it – it must be worth a few bob.”
No problemo, you might think, but you would be wrong… oh, so wrong. It’s not yours to sell, not without a certificate of authenticity signed by Mr Hirst anyway, and his company Science have got that. You see, the painting was originally bought as a present for the previous owner and, when he sold the house, he was given an alternative version of the painting on canvas in exchange for Mr Hirst taking back ownership of the original, which should have been painted over.
Now, I’m sure Mr Hirst is acting within his legal rights (there are precedents for this) to demand the return of the, now portable wall painting, for destruction. Incidentally, I’d be happy to lend him a hand with the destruction of any of his works, but I digress. The real artwork apparently is in the concept, not the work itself – in this instance a few scribbled half-circles of colour and some written instructions on a scrap of paper. I note the youthful Mr Hirst has misspelled surrounding on this early example of one of his certificates of authenticity.
Call me naive but I’ve always assumed that an artist was a man or woman who, not only conceived, but created works of art with his or her own hands! After all, if you pay $12 million dollars for a Picasso, you have a right to expect that the great man himself actually put the paint on the canvas. Surely, it ain’t a Picasso if he didn’t!
What makes it different in the case of a Damien Hirst or others of his ilk? And if they do get someone else to turn their ideas into a physical piece of art, shouldn’t the maker also get a credit for his work? I think a little more transparency is called for here. When this type of work is displayed in a gallery or placed with an auction house, perhaps the catalogue listing should be something on the lines of; ‘A spot painting by (insert the name of the assistant or contractor) based on an original concept by Damien Hirst.’
After months of work, I’ve finally finished a second painting of Jimi Hendrix. Unlike the first, this one is for sale. Painted in oils on canvas, it measures roughly 600 mm x 500 mm. Enquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org. If Jimi isn’t your favourite, I’m happy to accept commissions for other rock stars, screen goddesses and even your dear old uncle Fred!
The painting is based on a famous photograph by Gered Mankowitz, the British photographer who has chronicled the rock music scene for the last forty years. He photographed Hendrix in 1967 at his studio in Picadilly. He found him to be a “quiet, humble and modest man. He wasn’t remotely the sort of wild man of rock n’ roll that people have come to think of him as.”
I think this comes across in this picture, as does Hendrix’s sense of humour. Some of Gered Mankowitz’s portraits are now part of the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery.
When I finally sold my old Daihatsu Fourtrak it had over 250,000 miles on the clock – roughly the distance from the earth to the moon. But this impressive mileage pales into insignificance compared to NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft. So far,this remarkable machine has clocked up a staggering 12 billion miles and is still going strong! After a journey of 36 years, Voyager has finally reached the final frontier (as they use to say on Star Trek) and left our solar system to journey on across interstellar space. On the way it has visited Jupiter; providing us with some startling new information about its moons, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.
About the size of my old Daihatsu and weighing 3/4 of a ton, Voyager was built to last. It’s powered by nuclear batteries which won’t run out until the 2020’s or beyond. However, radio messages from its transmitter now take 17 hours, travelling at light speed to reach us.
It’s a fascinating thought that barring a catastrophic collision in the vast emptiness of interstellar space, Voyager 1 could still be clocking up the miles long after the men who built it, indeed the whole of mankind has become extinct. In the event that Voyager may one day come into contact with an alien civilisation, it carries a gold phonograph record containing music and speech along with the sounds and images of earth.
I just hope the aliens can dig up an old record player to play it on!
So first time author Robert Galbraith isn’t a fledgling writer, and neither is he a man – in fact, he is a she, and is Harry Potter creator, J K Rowling. She wanted to see if her second novel for adults, The Cuckoo’s Calling, could succeed on it’s own merits without the cache of the Rowling name being attached to it. Unfortunately her secret was leaked by a friend of her lawyer’s wife. J K was said to be upset at being outed but, will no doubt be consoled by the fact that her detective novel now tops the best sellers list.
In the same week, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan have been talking about their new-found success as best selling novelists. Madeley believes his fame as a television presenter, far from being an advantage, left him open to harsher criticism, as people would view his work far more analytically. His wife, Judy Finnigan agreed and said: “It would be particularly humiliating if what I wrote was rubbish and no one bought it.”
Really? As I’m sure J K Rowling can testify, it isn’t easy for an unknown author to find a publisher. The publishing world abounds with stories of now famous writers whose work was rejected time after time. I don’t blame Richard and Judy for using their fame to sell their books; frankly if I were in their position, I would do the same. But let’s not pretend it is anything but a distinct advantage to have a ready made fan base. Why else would publishers be so eager to hand out big advances to celebs for books that, in most cases haven’t even been written yet, if they weren’t pretty confident that they were going to sell.
The time can’t be far away, now that David Beckham has hung up his boots, before he sits down to pen his first novel. A crime thriller set in the glitzy world of Premier League footballers and their wags perhaps… now there’s an idea. Anyone out there got David’s number? He may need a ghost writer!