It is a cliché, but in my case it is true. What has reminded me is the passing of my friend Rusty Coppleman a few days before Christmas.
Rusty’s story is typical of the 20th Century. His parents fled from persecution in Central Europe and settled in impoverished circumstances in the East End of London. But Rusty, by hard work, intelligence and talent, carved out a career in the UK film industry as a leading sound editor.
He worked on films such as ZULU, FAME, and MIDNIGHT EXPRESS and worked with Stanley Kubrick for a while. In the process he moved to a nice suburb West of London close to PINEWOOD and SHEPPERTON studios. Yet in spite of his struggle to better himself, and his success, Rusty never became hard, or bitter, or flashy and loud.
In a moving tribute by his son Daniel on Face book, he was remembered as a loving father, devoted to his wife Sylvia and his two sons, whose morals and decency were never in doubt.
It is that word decency that resonates with me. My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” was dedicated to my Father “A thoroughly decent working man.” Just like Rusty he was dedicated to my Mother – and to myself and my sister. And his morals and his high ethical standards were never in doubt. And he never ever raised his hand to my Mother or my sister and me. He lived a quiet and modest life.
Doesn’t that seem quaint and old fashioned in this narcissitic age of dysfunctional, blended and single parent families – and domestic violence?
It is heartening to read Donna Leon’s series of books, set in Venice and featuring Commissario Brunetti, a decent loving family man. Such a break from the American detective ideal of an omniscient, violent, cynical, hard bitten, alcoholic divorcee that started with Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, and continues through Harry Bosch etc.
Perhaps the pendulum is swinging back to an age of decency? I really hope so. It seems that an impoverished background as a child either produces a saint, or a sinner. My Jewish friend Rusty, or a Harvey Weinstein or Bernie Madoff – or that “man of peace” Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahoo.
And so to the Israelis, or the 50% of them that keep the right wing parties in power. Undoubtedly the Jews of Central Europe suffered unbelievable hardship and repression during the 1930s – but you would think that those lucky enough to escape and find safe haven first in Europe and the USA – and then migrate to their Promised Land – would understand the need for compassion in dealing with the downtrodden – the untermensch that they were themselves.
Israel now occupies more than 70% of the former Palestine, and in so doing has driven almost 1 million Palestinians into exile and destroyed about 400 villages. And they have killed untold numbers of Palestinian men, women and children in this process, and with incursions into South Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. Of the remaining 20 odd percent of the former Palestine, the West Bank, supposed to be the site of any future Palestinian State, the Israelis control 30%, and are building settlements at an accelerating pace.
It seems that the Israelis, with the complicity of the USA, are intent on obliterating Palestine from the maps – and maybe obliterating the Palestinians themselves.
My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, begins and ends with the plight of LAYLA, a young Palestinian woman trying to care for children orphaned, innocent victims of conflicts caused by the greed and arrogance of zealots. And the protagonists in my short story collection, expats washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, are veterans of arrogant and greedy politicians’ wars like Viet Nam, the battle for the BURAIMI Oasis, and the DHOFAR Campaign.
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