Monday, November 25, 2013

Getting closer.

The fog is now very thick and I back the car slowly away from the cliff edge. I can’t see anything behind.
  “I can’t see anything behind,” says Dobri.  The rear of the Tatra hits a rock.  I drive slowly forward, turn, and eventually find the way out, peering through the windscreen.
  “Is Corbusier prize-winner,” says Slama.
  “What?”  
  “Hotel Jested.”  This guy Slama is too much, Kakonin is too much and the vodka was also too much, but at least we have the painting.   I open the window to get some fresh fog.  When we finally get back to Prague, we drop Slama off at the Casino Red Dog and pull up outside the Three Violins Cafe.

The Three Violins Cafe is a single large room with a vaulted ceiling.  A notice in an elaborate gilt frame hangs on the wall and reads:
  'Already in the 16th.Century this famous building belonged
to the Court Painter of Emperor Rudolf II, and violins were made here.  
It became later the most important violence workshop in Prague.'

Dobri and I sit at a long table and order coffee and buns and review the situation.  The painting is placed carefully on the table between us.  I ask him how he will go about authenticating it.
 "There've been a lot of ways of identifying painters' work - there was even a school which said look at the ear.  Many artists paint the ear the same way no matter what the subject's ear actually looked like.  Or the shape of the hand.  Then there's simple connoisseurship.  You know, the biggest expert on the artist looks at the picture and then gives his opinion. But for me, digital imaging is the best by far.  A multi-spectrum camera can show you the layers of pigment, the weave of the canvas, and the way the brush strokes are applied. These can then be compared with the same images from a fully authenticated painting.  It's foolproof.  So that's what I'll be doing when we get it back to London.  After I've cleaned it. Very gently."
 "Dobri," I say.  "Would you mind taking the picture back yourself? I have something I want to do here and I need to stay on a few days."





Thursday, October 31, 2013

Who is Diana?


INT. BILLIARD ROOM, GOVERNOR'S RESIDENCE - NIGHT

DIANA CAMERON, nineteen, very pretty, tomboyish manner, is
about to make what looks like a difficult shot, watched by
two ARMY OFFICERS.

FIRST ARMY OFFICER
Lay you ten to one she does it!

SECOND OFFICER
Of course she'll do it! Always
does. Though how she does it, I'm
damned if I know!

Fellowes enters.

Girl looks up. Fellowes stops still. Their eyes meet.

Girl fluffs shot.

FIRST ARMY OFFICER
Oh, I say! Too bad!

SECOND OFFICER
Damn! I should have taken your bet!

An Army ORDERLY enters.

ORDERLY
'Scuse me, gentlemen.
Embarkation's been brought forward.
All ranks to report soonest, if
you please.

FIRST ARMY OFFICER
Come on then. Let's go. Forgive
us, Diana, for dashing off!
We'll soon have your brother back,
safe and sound. Don't you worry.

DIANA
I know you will. God speed!
(to Fellowes)
Don't you have to go, too?

FELLOWES
Not yet. Allow me to present
myself. Captain Tom Fellowes,
commanding Her Majesty's sloop,
"Dryad".

DIANA
How do you do, Captain. Diana
Cameron, commanding the billiard
room.

FELLOWES
Delighted, Miss Cameron. Did I
overhear that you are Consul
Cameron's sister?

DIANA
I am.

FELLOWES
I'm most desperately sorry for
his plight.

DIANA
Oh, don't be. Stuart was always
getting into scrapes and then
coming out of them, unharmed.
I'm sure he'll do the same again.
He's certain to be back soon, now
there is a rescue expedition.
Are you going to Abyssinia, too?

FELLOWES
Yes. In fact, I'm going to
Magdala. I have been given command
of a Naval Rocket Brigade.

DIANA
How lucky you are! Sometimes I
wish I had been born a man.

FELLOWES
Indeed! Would you care to dance?

DIANA
Not really. Do you play?

FELLOWES
I do.

DIANA
Then let's stay here and have a
game. Ten pounds on it?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Why Does Gabriella Reject Tancred?




TANCRED

Tell me, Gabriella, why I cannot

accompany you. Surely not because

of this disagreement with Guido?


GABRIELLA

Yes! No! Yes!


TANCRED

Is that all? Tell me.


GABRIELLA.

Then I will! My grandfather was

a mercenary. He was killed in

battle. My father was a mercenary.

He was killed too. I was only a

child. My poor mother died of a

broken heart. So I made a vow to

myself. Never, ever to have

anything to do with mercenaries.

There! Now you know.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Who is Gabriella?


Tancred trains the telescope on the road and focuses,
through the dust, on Gonzaga. A tall man, thin, hook-
nosed, head held high.

Tancred moves the telescope to the left and focuses on the
next rider. A very handsome young man, gaily dressed,
armed with sword and dagger.

Tancred moves the telescope again. A second, very handsome,
young man, with identical features to the first. Tancred
moves the telescope back and forth to see if they are the
same person.
MAYOR
Gonzaga's sons. They are twins.

Tancred moves the telescope further to the left. He
freezes.

MAYOR
Ah. You have seen the girl.

Tancred is riveted to the telescope. The dust clears and
he sees a beautiful girl, swaying gently with the movement
of her horse, pushing a strand of hair from her face.

TANCRED
Who is she?

MAYOR
She is Gabriella. Gonzaga's ward.
She is the daughter of a mercenary captain
who died in battle. Gonzaga took
her in his charge.

TANCRED
What beauty!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What does our hero do for a living?

Here's an extract from the book:

"Hey," said Boulton. "I came across something interesting in Liberech. A grotty town near Prague.  One of the oddballs is offering a small collection of what he calls baroque pictures.  Says they could benefit from restoration but assured me they would be a good price. I haven't seen them but he gave me a list. Basically a half-dozen smallish paintings, mostly landscapes but two portraits, one of a girl."

"There were many portraits of girls in the Baroque period," said Dobri. 

Boulton raised his eyes to the heavens. "I know that, mate, but one of these portraits is signed with a single initial. He says it's an 'L'. Interesting, eh?"

"You mean it could be a 'Z'?" I said.

"Ah ha! You already know about Edward's famous quest. Anyway, I reckon as you're a Czech, Dobri, you should go. Maybe you'd like to go, Ben? What d'you say?"

"Prague was my next port of call before I got the news about Edward," I said.

"Really? What for?"

"Work."

"If it's not indiscreet, what do you do for a living?" asked Boulton.

"I'm what's known as an issues manager." 

"What's that?"

"I specialise in foreign and export problem solving. If a company has a problem overseas or with its export business, I can get called in to fix it."

"A trouble shooter! Have iPad, will travel!"

I can't count the number of times I've heard someone say that.


Monday, February 25, 2013

How Many Romances in The Search For Gabriella?

There's the narrator and his girl, in Sydney and Prague,
Tancred and Gabriella, in Venice,
Forlan and the street-girl, in London,
Tom and Diana, in Abyssinia.

And, maybe, Mr. Slama and Karenina.....

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Love Venice? Here's an excerpt from the book...


INT. GONZAGA'S PALAZZO - NIGHT



The ball is in progress. The rooms are candle-lit by huge

glass chandeliers, the walls are decorated with flowers

and tapestries, venetian glass glitters on chests and

tables.



Musicians play on a small stage, one sings gaily.



The guests, gorgeously dressed, chatter, laugh, move

gracefully. Some eat off heavily-laden tables lit by

candlebras, wine is served in goblets by retainers. A

group of young men and girls dance languidly.



Gonzaga works the crowd. Guido stands by a pillar, watching

the entrance.



Tancred enters, hands his cloak to a servant.



Guido moves quickly to Gonzaga's side.



GUIDO

He's here. That's him.



Gonzaga walks over to Tancred and stands in front of him.



GONZAGA

Good evening, Captain Tancred.



TANCRED

Good evening, sir. I thank you

for your invitation.



Guido is talking quietly to two men in masks.



GONZAGA

I hear you frightened off an

unwanted troop. For the Doge.



TANCRED

I was glad to have the opportunity.



GONZAGA

Well. Make it your last.



TANCRED

My last, Captain?



GONZAGA

You hear me. I don't want you

around Venice. I do the work the

Doge wants. All of it. Do you

understand me?



TANCRED

I understand the situation very

well, Captain.



GONZAGA

I'm glad to hear it. Enjoy your

evening. And stay away from my

ward.



He turns contemptuously away to welcome more guests.



Tancred surveys the crowd. Nods to a few acquaintances,

bows to others.



He sees Gabriella and moves quickly to her.



TANCRED

Donna Gabriella, good evening.



GABRIELLA

Oh! What are you doing here? You

should not stay.



TANCRED

I only came for one reason. When

we met at Bellini's, you said you

could not allow me to accompany

you. Why was that?



GABRIELLA

You must leave!



TANCRED

Tell me why.



GABRIELLA

The reason is my own. It is

private. Please go.



TANCRED

I cannot.



GABRIELLA

You must!



Tancred takes her arm and moves her behind a pillar.



TANCRED

We are safe here.



GABRIELLA

No, you are not! Not here! Go!



TANCRED

Tell me, Gabriella, why I cannot

accompany you. Surely not because

of this disagreement with Guido?



GABRIELLA

Yes! No! Yes!



TANCRED

Is that all? Tell me.



GABRIELLA.

Then I will! My grandfather was

a mercenary. He was killed in

battle. My father was a mercenary.

He was killed too. I was only a

child. My poor mother died of a

broken heart. So I made a vow to

myself. Never, ever to have

anything to do with mercenaries.

There! Now you know.



TANCRED

But you live with this family of

mercenaries.



GABRIELLA

I have no choice. For the moment.



A musician starts to sing Stefano Landi's beautiful "We

all have need of Love".



Gabriella and Tancred stay still. The verses mirror their

situation.



Gabriella breaks her glance away, looks around.



GABRIELLA

Please go. For me.



She indicates that Guido is approaching.



Tancred bows to her, turns and bows to Guido, brushes past

him and leaves.



GUIDO

He won't be bothering you again.