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Topics - andrew

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General topic / Midnight musings...
« on: April 01, 2005, 10:31:14 PM »
I trust none of my earlier remarks about "Finding Neverland" - or the fact that I still haven't seen the film - have sounded arrogant, or in any way sour grapes. I'm absolutely delighted that FN has done so well, not merely because it has drawn attention to Barrie (and, by extension, to "my" book/mini-series/website), but it has also put the on-going plight of the Great Ormond Street Hospital on the global map, and might perhaps one day embarrass Disney into donating a greater slice of their Peter Pan profits to the tens of thousands of sick children who would benefit thereby.

I was sent the script of FN some years ago, and was relieved to find that at least Barrie was not portrayed as a closet paedophile, although I can't pretend that I didn't find it all rather gooey on paper. But by all accounts, the boy playing Peter is so fine - and Depp's performance so beguiling - that it reduces audiences to tears... and that's no mean feat in an increasingly suspicious world.

All my boys knew the bare bones of sex before they could walk. They quickly got the point that there are some weird people out there - that for evolutionary reasons we're all born with different sexual appetites, and that a few thousand years ago paedophilia might well have been a successful gene (the guy keeps his sperm count high, the child gets protection) - but that nowadays it isn't such a great idea - indeed so unsuccessful that the rest of society hounds them from our midst. Maybe the gene will die out... at present it's probably present in about 3% of all males, of whom less than 1% of 1% do anything about it... but the point I was trying to make to "my boys" was that there was a tiny chance that they might run into such a guy, but very remote - and that on the whole men (including perhaps many closet paedophiles) were to be trusted, and not to be afraid of striking up friendships with total strangers. In short, had Michael Jackson invited them to sleep over, I would have unhesitatingly said yes - not because I know MJ to be sexually innocent, but because my boys would have known how to deal with the situation, had our Jacko started manifesting any "stirrings in the undergrowth", as Nico so succinctly put it.  

And of course the same goes for Barrie. Every child needs a magician in their life - someone who can demonstrate that non-mathematics is as valid as mathematics, fiction as valid as fact, magic as valid as science. Whatever the short-comings of FN might be, if it has restored some level of confidence in child-adult relationships, then I believe that to be a fine and positive thing. One or two people have wondered about the quotation at the front of my book - "You're old, but you're not grown up. You're one of us." Alexander Puttnam, aged 11."  Sacha was my George. He was 3 was I first met him, the son of David (now Lord!) Puttnam, with whom I was working on a film with Albert Speer. By the time I stumbled on the Lost Boys story - while working with Mia Farrow on Peter Pan - Sacha was 9, and we knew each other inside out. Reading the Dedication to Peter Pan was like holding up a mirror - it seemed I'd known this man Barrie all my life.

What followed - the television trilogy and the book - was in many ways autobiographical, which in turn made it so easy. I remember writing the Barrie/George scenes in about ten minutes - it just flowed out ... the same with the Michael scenes ... (which is what made my son Anno's emergence into a poet all the more uncanny. "Beware, or you may get what you want ...")   So when FN gets criticised for being less than accurate with the historical truth, remember that mine too was largely my subjective POV. I also another huge advantage over FN: whereas they tell Barrie's story in 100 minutes, I had 300 - as I explain in the intro to "my" website, so I won't repeat it here. But overall I get the feeling we're both telling the same story, only one is a little closer to the letter of the law. Cutting out poor Arthur is probably how Arthur would have wanted it; on the other hand it would have made Barrie's relationship with Peter a little more complex. Some critics have pointed out that it was George and Michael - not Peter - who were Barrie's intimates ... which is true, but that doesn't mean Peter's relationship is any less relevant, as anyone who reads his later letters to Barrie from the Western Front will surely agree.

But to get back to the initial point of this ramble, I just want to make it clear that I'm in total agreement with all those who have praised Finding Neverland, for all the above reasons - and one more.

While writing the Lost Boys, I had to imagine what it must have been like for JMB to lose Michael. The reality was totally different. Anno was - and still is - my Michael George and Nico rolled into one. Like Michael, Anno was a poet (and a musician), and as soon as the first waves of grief settled, I determined to publish his poems and songs - probably because I'm in permanent denial, and the on-going influence of those words and songs confirms my "delusion" that he's not dead at all. How strange, it seems to me, that Barrie didn't have the urge to do the same for Michael. Nico had no idea what happened to Michael's poems - and drawings - after he died. Perhaps Peter burned them. Perhaps Barrie did.... although the thought of burning Anno's poems is incomprehensible to me.  So while FN draws attention to my website, so that website has drawn attention to Anno ... and for that I am truly grateful.
General topic / Stolen laptop
« on: March 31, 2005, 07:26:24 PM »
My laptop was pinched by someone on the London/Holyhead train the other day. Fortunately I'd backed up 99% - pretty much everything except my emails for the past month. Therrefore if anyone has written to me recently and not had a response, please resend your email and I'll do my best to answer it asap.
Peter Pan / Where did Barrie write "Peter Pan"?
« on: March 14, 2005, 01:59:17 PM »
I've had a good many enquiries over the years as to where JMB actually put pen to paper on his dream child. The other day Albeburgh was put forward: apparently Conan Doyle's former abode carries one of those cheesy claims, to which I have answered as follows:

I don't know too much about the Barrie/Conan Doyle connection, other than what Mackail tells in his 1941 biography, but I think their relationship mnore or less petered out after their unsuccessful collaboration on the operetta "Jane Annie" in 1892 - long, long before Barrie had started writing Peter Pan.

PP first emerged in print in The Little White Bird (see my book/website for full details!), which Barrie was writing on and off between 1899 and early 1902 (it was published in autumn 1902). During that period Barrie was living at 133 Gloucester Rd while in London, and at Black Lake the rest of the time. It is of course quite possible that he visited Doyle @ Aldeburgh during this period, but I doubt very much that he wrote the six PP chapters there - my guess would be 133 GR.

In 1902 Barrie moved to Leister Corner, opposite the north side of Ken Gdns, and it was there for sure that he wrote the play, starting in the autumn of 1903 and finishing the first draft in March 1904  (he actually wrote it in the stable block at the back of Leinster Corner). The novel "Peter & Wendy" (now published simply as Peter Pan) was written in the spring and summer of 1911, initially @ Leinster Corner, then @ Scourie in Scotland while on a fishing holiday with Michael and Nico (see my book!)

Tthe final "he wrote Peter Pan here" claim can be tenuously argued for the island of Eilean Shona, where Barrie worked on the (unused) Paramount screenplay of Peter Pan in the summer of 1920 ..... but Aldeburgh?????????? I'd lay a few thousand quid against - if I had it to lay in the first place!  But hard evidence might persuade me otherwsie ... is there any?

Well, is there?????
Peter Pan / Peter Pan review, 1906/07
« on: February 17, 2005, 09:04:55 PM »
Just came across a fascinating review for the 1906/07 London revival of Peter Pan in the Sphere: "'The vogue of Peter Pan is really extraordinary. The first night it was produced on this its fourth-year season it was received with almost hysterical enthusiasm by a house which knew every line of the script and every turn of stage management. ... 'The other theatre entertainments for children - Alice in Wonderland not excepted - have never attracted such a huge audience as Peter Pan. This is rather astonishing, for unlike Alice it has curiously grown-up elements in it which deserve the attention of some serious student of psychology although nobody has treated it in that light. Yet I believe it is just those elements - some of them like a sad, far-off voice - that attract grown-ups, and it is just these moments which Miss Pauline Chase with all her charm does not capture. Thus, for example, when standing on the rock amid the rising seas, she exclaims "To die would be a great adventure," she says it as a child from a copybook not as one who feels it - as Melisande would have felt it. 'Miss [Nina] Boucicault with her fine wistfulness is the true Peter.... "   For the rest, visit:
General topic / The Barrie Exhibition at Yale University
« on: February 17, 2005, 06:39:43 PM »
To those like myself who can't get to the Beinecke's Barrie exhibition at Yale, Timothy Young's superb companion - "My Heart in Company: The Work of J M Barrie and the Birth of Peter Pan" - makes a welcome consolation. It has been exquisitely put together, with colour facsimiles of such gems as Barrie's poem to Michael (transcribed on p128 of my book), pages from the rehearsal script of Peter Pan, and a photograph - entirely new to me - of Barrie with his mother. The images - beautifully reproduced - are accompanied by sharp, incisive words that absolutely capture Barrie's spirit. The book costs $16.95 and is distributed by University Press of New England via their Customer Service Staff, 800-421-1561. The exhibition website -
also features the brilliant John Hassall's 1907 panoramas of Peter Pan. Having read Tim's book, I'm more delighted than ever that my collection has wound up at Beinecke.
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