(Cross posted from DKos because they never read past the first forty paragraphs of my not quite so short posts, it is not about religion nor about Bill Frist and so has squat all chance of being recommended)
In the main High Street in Caernarfon, there is one of those shops selling remaindered books.
I love these places. They are crammed with expensive hardbacks that no longer sell at a speed to justify their retention. I love the feel of a new book, the weight of it in the hand, the reluctance with which it opens to the next page that has never been read and the smell of the inked paper opened to the air for the first time.
I love that the big publishing houses measure the square footage of the warehouse space that they consume and the accountants do their bean counting and calculate the cost of the square footage of the footprint of the crates of books. Then, they end up in Caernarfon at a cost that I can easily afford.
I like, too, to see which books are languishing there with their dust covers in harsh primary colours to make them stand out on the shelves , now like tawdry street tarts desperately looking for a john in Manchester at lunchtime, when the bright daylight does them no favours. I love to see the ridiculous biographies of minor celebrities condemned to the cheapest of bins so that this final statement on their petty lives is all that remains of the champagne and canapés of the book’s ambitiously hopeful launch party.
Amongst the trash of the glossy cook books and poor romances of fevered yearning and a passion that fails to burn and lies flat and lifeless on the page, I sometimes find a Tom Wolfe, or a Douglas Coupland or a rare gem like the six hundred page collection of the letters of Ernest Hemingway.
The last time I went there, it was not with books with which I came away.
They had a shelf of DVDs for sale at just under three dollars each or four for nine dollars. I don’t normally buy recently released DVDs because they are ridiculously over priced in the UK and few are the ones that I want to see twice. Past experience has told me, also, that these cheap offers of discarded films are no great bargain either, being a hugely expensive waste of your life to view.
Yet one of them prominently displayed the name of the great Welsh actor Bob Hopkins. Another had Al Pacino in it, another of my favourites. I didn’t care how bad the movies might be, I will always watch these two exercising their craft.
Not looking at the titles or content I took them. There was nothing else worth having. So I added an early and probably very bad Nicole Kidman film because I am not immune to eye-candy, and a fishing masterclass filmed on the Norfolk Broads. These last two picks were pretty desperate but the lure of the price reduction on four always gets me, as God and the merchandising manager intended.
Well two months later, three of these films remain in their cellophane. Last night, however, I watched the Bob Hopkins film. The reason was, I noticed the title for the first time: “Then There were Giants”. It is an historical docudrama, recounting the fragile World War II alliance in which Hoskins plays the role of Churchill, Michael Caine that of Joseph Stalin and John Lithgow is a brilliant Franklin D Roosevelt.
Drawing on the actual cables between Washington, London and Moscow, the dialogue is interspersed with real footage of combat occurring in the war. It illustrates the controversies, the forceful personalities and the arguments of these heads of state as they tried to hold together the vital alliance to defeat a common enemy.
Each of these men was flawed and imperfect and none more so than Stalin. Yet each proved great leaders in fighting a huge and a terrifying war.
“Then there were Giants”, indeed. A great film, more than worth the two bucks paid for it.
When I come out of the theatre having seen a great play or out of the cinema having seen a good film, I am poor company. I am detached, introspective and resent the intrusion of a less bright world. Heaven help my companion if he or she starts to discuss what we have just seen and they do not have the empathy or sensitivity to understand its proper meaning.
After watching the movie, I made the mistake of coming on here. Cutting across the thoughts of what I had just viewed, and the effect on me of the power of great events being played out on the screen, was the need to contemplate John Bolton.
The reality that I had to face was the discussion about this nasty little man, this pigmy of an official. I read descriptions of his mean temper, of his petty revenges and his small mindedness. I read of how he despises the great institution that once carried our hopes for our poor world and which now lies shattered and broken under the boot of an ignorant power that allows no checks and balances to its craving for hegemony.
By the end of the night, I came to a perverse and startling conclusion.
Nominate this man, this pigmy amongst the giants of past world leaders whose mantle his minor ambassadorial role is supposed to touch. Rip him apart in congressional hearings. Let Barbara Boxer with unrelenting zeal identify his flaws and lies and dissembling. Display to the world his venal and grubby soul. Yet do not stop him being nominated by this President and by this administration.
I do not ever want again to see a Colin Powell, whom the world wanted to respect and trust, appear at the United Nations as your representative. I do not want to see a fine man, who came so close to being a great man, reduced to the poorest of hacks as he desperately tried to provide credibility to a President that has none.
Colin Powell did not change the direction of events in the Security Council. Nor will John Bolton, as the ambassador to it, change the inevitable course of where we are headed. This is a bit part in a sideshow, a charade for the people to believe whilst the determination of real policies takes place in a small room in the White House.
John Bolton is the truest, the most perfect representation of your country now. Let his presence be there on the television screens and in every newspaper. Let just not the world know the features on the face of this administration but let it be clear also to that blind, unseeing and uncaring majority in your country.
You will have to suffer so that more may know the truth about America now. Do so with resoluteness, content that John Bolton is a truth that must be shown. Then, maybe, the giants will emerge.