Thursday, 7 September 2017

Culture Corner



Maria Callas. What was she describing?
 
With the Edinburgh Festival ending soon the question arises at all decent dinner tables, “what was the greatest Edinburgh performance of all time?”

Contenders

 
In 1957 the glorious Maria  gave us the complete Callas  – complete in the sense that the singing was preceded by hysterical tantrums and contract disputes and she was  “unwell” for two of the shows. Twenty years later the tenor-king  Placido Domingo famously broke female hearts while lilting in Carmen while Rudolph Nureyev,  always willing to please, did the same for  the boys in 1984.
 
Rudy, in characteristic pose
 
Richard Burton’s growling 1953 Hamlet became a legend, while in the weird sixties Marlene Dietrich was exhumed to perform cabaret songs, a significant  event since, the Bureau understands,  Dietrich returned to her dressing room to find many welcome bouquets missing, apparently stolen by one of Edinburgh’s numerous street-alkies. Turning to Bert Bacharach she asked icily, “Vair have all the flowers gone?” – and the rest, of course,  is history.
And, of course...
 
 

The Winner

 
But none of these can touch, in acting power or anything else, the stomach-churning performance put on at the festival in 2007 by the celebrity story-teller  Gerry McCann.  You can search for a transcript of the programme, which we watched, but you won't find it. You can search for a video but, like the transcript, it's gone. Under whose instructions? Who knows. None of the participants want to be associated with it, even the main interviewer Kirsty Wark, who'd given GM his first publicity leg-up on May 4 of that year. Ah, show business.
 
 
Winner: Gerry McCann (with Liar's Rictus Syndrome) in Edinburgh 2007

Facts Corner


The facts of that dramatic performance are simple: Gerry McCann lied from beginning to end on a colossal scale to an audience of many millions, and lied so prodigiously  that we haven’t got space to list all the deceptions. 

His central lie is a self-portrait of Gerry McCann and a history of the Madeleine McCann Affair, all in a few hundred words. He claimed in Edinburgh that he was utterly mystified by the rumours that he and his wife might be under possible suspicion, just as he claimed in May to be mystified by the loss of his child.  He couldn’t explain why people might be writing such things since there was, literally, not a single fact or event he could think of that might justify such weird slurs. Nothing? Nope.
 
Richard Burton could never remotely  approach McCann in his acting. That is one reason why the videos are gone. He went through the whole  range of his expressions and tones of voice  - bewilderment, pain, surprise, reproach - as he confessed that he just couldn't understand what it was all about.
 
He knew how good he was by then, knew that nobody without inside knowledge could possibly believe that he wasn't telling the truth - for only a monster could be able to lie so convincingly about something so close and intimate and raw, and nobody believed Gerry McCann was a monster. That was his greatest strength. To millions of people world-wide, he lied, without a blush or a stammer or breaking sweat: to the people who'd sent money to help find the child and were emotionally transfixed by her possible fate, he lied; to his own relatives he lied; to those who had trusted him he lied; to the police in Portugal  who knew, first hand and directly, that every single sentence he uttered  was untrue, he lied. 

“What I would like to direct all of your viewers to are the official statements from the Portuguese police, which bear no resemblance to the wild speculation and, you know, the police yesterday made it very clear. First of all, we are not suspects; two, that there is no evidence to suggest that we are involved in Madeleine's disappearance and, if there was, they are obliged by Portuguese law to make us official suspects. So, you know, they just... they do not bear resemblance and Kate and I learned, very early on, only to listen to information that's coming through official channels.”

Further selected examples from the surviving, fragmentary reports to be found on Gerry McCann’s Blogs: “Mr McCann said that this wealth of speculation is being reported as fact in total disregard of the ongoing police investigation in Portugal…Clearly, he says, they [the media] are feeding each other…it's absolutely wild speculation with no foundation…pointing out that very early on in the process he and his wife were excluded as suspects…the pressure on journalists to find a story was leading to absolutely wild speculation about what had happened, he said, even early on, there was saturation coverage with nothing to report, and there are commercial decisions being made with filling column inches and time on TV. In the last six weeks particularly there has been been nothing…things have gone back to a degree of normality and some calmness has, errr... settled in.”

"Wild speculation. Things have gone back to a degree of normality. Calmness has settled in. Nothing has happened in the case for the last six weeks." The date of this performance was August 25 2007.

During those prior weeks of "calmness":
- The police had told the pair to prepare for investigative changes.
- On  July 30 all regular meetings with the police ended.
- On August 2 the police raided their apartment with a search warrant and threw them out while the search was executed. On August 5 Apartment 5A was forensically examined. On August 6 their hire car was seized and held for forensic testing.  
- On August 8 they were interrogated, not merely interviewed, about the night of May 3. The police stated that they did not believe KM’s version of events.  She threw a fit of hysterics as they accused her outright of lying about when she had last seen the child.
- On August 20, just five days before Edinburgh,  the McCanns appointed a criminal lawyer to defend them, having learned that they were due to be formally questioned by the police in the coming weeks.

Was there ever a bigger bastard of a liar? A more disgusting one? Anywhere? Anytime? The public thought that only a monster would lie on such a scale about a horrible, terrible family tragedy. They were right all along. He is a monster.