Potpourri

Ernest Cassara


Rumpole Returns

I feel so sad that we will never see Leo McKern, who died in 2002, at the age of 82, in another “Rumpole of the Bailey” dramatization.  But, it is marvelous that John Mortimer continues to write new adventures.  It is said that Britons did not think much of lawyers, until Rumpole came along.  They, like I, fell in love with that wonderful barrister. 

This trip to London, I did not get hold of The Penge Bungalow Murders.  You will recall that Rumpole often brags that he did that case, early in his career, “without a leader.”  So, it is marvelous that Mortimer has gone back into Rumpole’s career and given us the story.

I did find Rumpole and the Primrose Path, published in 2002.  I heartily recommend it to you.

Among the plays we saw in London in November was the revival of John Mortimer’s “A Voyage Round My Father,” featuring Derek Jacoby.  As The Times of London wrote on 14 June 2006:

“Jacobi certainly catches Father’s infectious sense of mischief, wayward exhibitionism and almost aggressive facetiousness. But note the play’s title. This is a voyage round a man who remains elusive, not a voyage to his centre. Maybe Old Mortimer’s flippancy was defensive, a way of preserving his privacy. Maybe it was his response to a world he thought essentially absurd. Or maybe it was a sign that he had no centre at all.

“The play leaves us guessing and manages to stay funny and intelligent in the process. You can see why John fell under the spell of this charismatic, cantankerous, affectionate old boy. You feel he’s right when he criticises himself for being over-influenced by him. And you can’t miss the touching truth: Voyage Round My Father is a confession of posthumous love.”

The play was so delightful that, had we had more time, I would have seen it several more times.  On return to the environs of Harvard Square, one of the first things I did was to pull off the shelves some of Mortimer’s non-Rumpole books, which I had never gotten around to reading.  His autobiography, Clinging to the Wreckage, is very engaging.  And, one can see that provided the raw material for “A Voyage Round My Father.”


Scams on the Net

I’m sure that we have all received messages from Nigeria, and elsewhere, from folks who claim to have millions of dollars, from one source or another, and need your bank information, so that they can transfer the money!

I have never called up e-Bay (if that is how it is spelled) on the net, yet, periodically, I get e-mail messages telling me that there is a problem with my credit card information.  Another obvious scam.  Messages I do not open!


A Hypochondriacal Nation

It is incredible how many of the ads on television are for drugs.  My favorite is the one that shows something like a butterfly hovering over a woman, as she dozes off, having taken the particular sleeping pill.

If our kids experiment with drugs, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

I’m looking forward to the next visit to my doctor, so I can follow the advice of so many of these ads: “Ask your doctor if [the drug name] is right for you!”


Our Roving Governor

I see from the papers that Governor Willard Romney, who prefers to be called Mitt, is spending money here and there, in his attempt to win the Republican nomination for president.  His PAC has donated $143,500 to Republican candidates thus far.

Someone asked me recently what he has accomplished in Massachusetts, and I was genuinely puzzled as to how to answer him.


Best Bumper Stickers of 2006

“Join the army.  Travel to exotic places and meet fascinating people.
And kill them.”

“Be nice to America or we’ll bring democracy to your country”



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Harvard Square Commentary, December 18, 2006