The shipyard painter, political activist and razor-sharp cartoonist Bob Starrett has just written a new book The Way I See It on his eventful life and times. Below we reprint one of his stories and review an essential read
If you get a chance to see this Wales National Opera revival of Puccini's Madam Butterfly, seize it with both hands.
This two-act version is a glorious production, gorgeously sung and acted.
The company are in the middle of the Free Spirits run of three operas celebrating strong women characters and Cio-Cio San - Madam Butterfly - is certainly a different kettle of fish to Berg's Lulu, the first "free spirit" in the season.
But Cheryl Barker as Butterfly takes centre stage for almost the whole opera and carries us with her.
The opera tells the story of US sailor Lieutenant Pinkerton (Gwyn Hughes Jones), who's in Japan with the rest of the fleet to have some fun and to hell with the consequences. He pays a marriage-broker to marry Cio-Cio San but the match ends in tragedy.
Barker is faultless, especially in her love duet with Pinkerton at the end of act one after their marriage.
But it is when she is on stage with the wonderful Claire Bradshaw as her maid Suzuki that this production soars.
Butterfly has waited three years for her UShusband to return to her and their son. When the harbour cannon sounds and she sees his ship Butterfly and Suzuki get ready.
Both women are shown in silhouette through the paper walls of Pinkerton's house leading us to the almost unbearable end of a heartbreaking story.
The WNO chorus, in the form of the bridal party and then the humming chorus as Butterfly waits for husband's return, is also especially good.
While the sepia-tinged staging of this opera is a little odd, its focus on a single setting at Pinkerton's house allows the singing and acting to take centre stage.
Yet the clash of two different cultures is played out, almost pantomime-style, as good versus bad.
This is continued at the curtain call when Gwyn Hughes Jones ruefully acknowledges the fusillade of boos greeting him.
But the combination of good acting, beautiful singing and an orchestra at the top of its game make this a must-see production.
Runs until March 2, box office: (0292) 063-6464. For tour details, visit www.wmc.org.uk.