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
ENO's production of La Boheme is a triumph,
Murder, decapitation, nudity, cannibalism, bestiality, depravity, foolish husbands.
If that menu appeals, then this show is the perfect antidote to a surfeit of Christmas pud.
More to the point, it's ideal for kids who may want to get their imaginations into gear after being swamped by CGI on the box.
At the show I saw the house was packed with schoolchildren who absolutely loved this retelling of six middle-European folk and fairy tales. Their
shrieks of laughter spoke volumes.
Included in the adaptations from poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy's "retelling," Bluebeard, The Beauty And The Beast and The Emperor's New Clothes are well-known, yet in director-designer Melly Still's and adapter Tim Supple's hugely inventive and witty rejiggings they come across as new.
Jack Tarlton's emperor is a vain model prancing up and down the catwalk surrounded by toadying courtiers who at the drop of a disco beat go into Saturday Night Fever gyrations.
Conned into wearing a non-existent suit of clothes his manhood is masked at one point by such ever-shrinking props as a tea pot, milk jug and finally a teensy-weensey tea-cup.
When finally a small boy points out he is in fact stark naked he turns his back on the audience to reveal his bare buttocks.
The squeals of shocked delight brought the house down.
Elsewhere, the relationship between Beauty (Kelly Williams) and the frightening yet pathetic Beast (Jack Tarlton) elicits real emotion.
The love child of Max Schreck's Nosferatu and Voldemort's mother - if he ever had one - he bounds ape-like over stage and furniture, ripping up and devouring rabbits.
Creative use is made of simple props - a cow is a man in a skirt holding a pink rubber glove, a snow storm is a table cloth full of white confetti - and scenery is "drawn" onto the wall using a slide projector.
An ideal show for any family's very own little beasties and beauties this holiday.
And for mums and dads too.
Runs until January 7. Box office: (020) 7722-9301.