Friday, August 31, 2007


I'm in the middle of filming three seperate reports for a London based regional news program for the BBC. The second of the three has proved really interesting, not least because of the presenter. The item was about homosexual discrimination within big city work places, particularly the high earners in the prestigious financial sector of London called Canary Wharf. The director warned me the presenter was a little eccentric, he lives in Barcelona but was coming to London especially for the program. His name was Ivan Massow, and what I slowly discovered was how monumental his actions were during the break out of AIDS in the late 80s and the consequent victimisation of all homosexual men.

Because of the ignorance of the disease a lot of people assumed it was mostly spread by gay men. All over Britain people believed if you were gay you were most vulnerable to AIDS and therefore suffer death soon after. Suddenly life insurance was impossible to acquire if you were openly gay. With no life insurance, there's no mortgage, and you can't buy a house. All underwriters in the UK charged extortionate premiums for all homosexual men without any legal action made against them. One gay investment banker called Ivan Massow decided to quit his high-paid job and set up a small business that everyone in city circles laughed at so much he became a public joke and was ridiculed in all the tabloids at the time. He found a loophole in the system where he practically smuggled gay men in through certain underwriters enabling them to get mortgages at normal rates. As the papers laughed he made millions and millions of pounds.

That was where he got his fame, but I later found out he founded numerous charities that supported victims of various forms of discrimination. He was briefly the chairman of the Institute of Contemporary Arts until he publicly declared how fake the industry was. He influenced politicians because he was so outspoken.
It was quite odd to eat lunch with him during filming and talk about when he had lunch with Prince Charles. He was very down to earth, and not at all arrogant about his success and wealth. I think I read he never even wanted to be really successful. Jonathan Swift said "The wise man has money in his head but not in his heart." I'm more like Jackie Mason who said "I have enough money to last me the rest of my life, unless I buy something."

Monday, August 27, 2007


Went to see Mum in Dorking yesterday. She got some colouring books out for Juanita.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I got my camera back!

She was watching two older girls play clap hands together.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tabloid find

Mum told me she'd read in the gossip columns of a tabloid newspaper about a man my age who was head boy at my school. She asked me if I knew him and yes, I remember Nicholas Saunders. He was quite tall, blond and a little reserved... at least I barely spoke to him. I had heard a couple of things about him, that he tried professional golf for a while, that he even became a feature film producer for Warner Brothers in LA. Now *that* I couldn't believe! This was the short article I found.
The handsome man spotted embracing actress Keira Knightley in a cheese shop in London has been unmasked. He is, I can reveal, film producer Nick Saunders, 30, a former assistant to Keira's Pirates Of The Caribbean co-star Orlando Bloom. According to old friends, Saunders was head boy of St Columba's School in St Albans before he won a golf scholarship to study at Harvard. "He was always very popular at school," says a pal. "He's quite a man-about-town and is friends with Lady Gabriella Windsor. He's known Keira for years, but they're just friends."

Well, I wouldn't quite say that he was always very popular at school, he was a bit distant and aloof quite a lot of the time. It feels odd to think that we came from the same school, almost as if to say all one hundred of us that attended that year were at the beginning of a race, or a journey. There will always be people better and worse off than I. I am a little envious though. Is that bad? It's one of those seven deadly sins! I'd never swap places, but it certainly does provoke thought. Above all my thoughts, there is one question that I need to ask. Who the hell is Lady Gabriella Windsor anyway?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Looking right into the horse's mouth

I had to film a horse dentist paying his annual visit to a group of around twenty horses. The Dentist was called Mark, and from the very beginning it seemed he had too much information in his head. He had to share it. We would naturally ask him questions about the process so that I could film it efficiently, and he went into detail about how the best schools in Britain still don't properly prepare students for equine dentistry since the studies are too theoretical. He was sorry to admit the best schools are in the USA where all the courses are concentrated on vocational training.
Anyway, as we went along from stable to stable, a large assistant would hold the horse's ear and lean into it's shoulder to secure it's position, pinning the giant animal against the wall. Mark would pull out a pair of metal braces and secure them around the horse's mouth so that it couldn't bite down. Then he'd roll his sleeve and feel his way in with his arm, almost reaching up to his shoulder! He told us that the animal's back teeth were too sharp and then got out a long thin metal file and place it all the way in the mouth. Then he's start filing away at all the back line of teeth, it was incredible! After filming for half an hour, and a very detailed lesson in what teeth to look out for, he said to the director "Would you like to try?". So she rolled up her sleeve and I watched her entire arm dissappear up the horses mouth. When she took it out her arm was full of saliva! Yuck! Then he asked me and I thought, well, if I don't do it I'll regret missing the opportunity. So I did. When my hand was all the way up there I was scared I'd choke him, but Mark told us that you can't choke a horse! What was even scarier was that this horse was particularly moody, and quite aggressive at the best of times, so to have an entire film crew shove their arms up his gob can't have been very pleasant! When we left him on his own he turned his back on us all and lifted his front hooves up in a slow sulky way.
In the evening I phoned Rosario all proud at having experienced something new. To which she couldn't stop laughing! When I said I didn't want to pass up on the opportunity she said if she was offered 'the opportunity' she would have told him to get lost! So we laughed, then I stopped to try and tell her what else I'd been up to, but she was still laughing. I said if you carry on laughing I'll hang up. The last I heard of her was her rising gaffaw as she couldn't even hold the phone to her ear.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Friday, August 10, 2007


Rosario and I are enjoying Cornwall. We came down quite impulsively to visit my brother in Penzance where he lives with his partner and 14 month old daughter Leala. The sun is shining, and the beach we go to overlooks a castle that sits on a small island half a mile away from the shore. Last night Ro was sitting outside looking at the stars and called me suddenly; she saw a shooting star! We took that as a wonderful sign of good luck.

Earlier today we were touring the lovely seaside town and with our buggy found a windowcleaner up a ladder right in the middle of our pavement. Because of the buggy we had to go under. We laughed it off, the Ro reminded me that at my brother's house where we are staying there is a black cat. Also, Juanita was playing with her hand mirror whilst we were travelling in the van which she dropped and broke. Today after we'd been to the beach we were hungry amd found a fast food chain (which I shall not name on principal) and we bought a couple of burgers and two drinks. It cost £6.66. I told the guy that charged me we'd seen a shooting star the night before, and we weren't afraid! He laughed, and upon leaving I wished him good luck.

So, these little coincidences I laugh at during their moment then forget they happened. This afternoon Jeremy is telling me a telephone number for a cab company he' recommending, the last five numbers are 66 666. Ok, what's going on?

But I look upon all of this as a good omen. I see them all as good luck. Primarily because when Ro and I first went to Argentina we also saw a few of these signs as we were about to embark on the greatest adventure of our lives - marriage. What confirmed the 'good' luck charms that surrounded us was the number of our honeymoon room in a beautiful little hotel in Patagonia, Villa la Angostura. Number 13!

Anyone out there mildly suspicious? Looks like Leala is...

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Our House

Rosario and I have noticed a very run down and abandoned house on our road. It's not just one flat in the building such as the one we live in now, it's the entire building. The decoration on the lower exterior part has nearly come off altogether. The windows and front door have metal plates covering them so no-one can break in, obviously because it had squatters at some point. The garden is completely overgrown. And I've walked round the back to see the rear where I've spotted what could be structural damage; there are cracks in the bricks above each window on every floor. That looks like the costliest of all the neglect that embraces the house. And guess what; we want it. It would be amazing to buy a tip of a house and make it ours from scratch. Not because of the profit we could make, but because we could stay there for several years. And moreover, we would really make the place our own.
London is so costly now that it is presently unaffordable for key workers such as police officers, nurses, teachers. Generally staff who play a crucial role in the social services sector are classed as key workers and are given financial assistance when buying a house, unfortunately it doesn't help much for those that live and work in London.
A lot of people are more aware now more than ever of the investment value of a property that needs work done to it, so neglected houses don't sell as cheaply as they used to. Buying this place that appears to have been left for dead would be amazing, provided that 1) we can afford the purchase price and 2) the building is salvageable, also at a price we can afford. The ambitious nature of it all tempts me all the more.