Monday, December 28, 2020

WHAT IF?

A few nights ago, I watched the original version of, It's a Wonderful Life, a movie I'd seen countless times and admired. The dialogue, the direction, and the performances of those wonderful unsurpassed Hollywood actors never fail to engross me. Clarence, an angel from heaven, is sent down to convince George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart, that his life is worth living. George, who is on the verge of committing suicide, asks, 'why me.? Clarence answers to show you what it would be like if you hadn't been born

Shortly after the movie ended, I turned off the television and went to bed but not to sleep. The movie had awakened the 21 Aldgate story, which was never far from the surface of my mind. I asked myself the question Clarence asked George Bailey. What if I hadn't been born?  Clara, on whom the story of  21 ALDGATE is based often mused about her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren who would not have existed had she lost her life during the bombings in London during the war and in my mind, similarly my offspring.

Neither would there be a 21 Aldgate in any of the versions and different formats I've attempted from its inception. Each one finished, re-edited, and returned to publishers. I waited for positive results. They never came. Oh yes, it still had possibilities but needed a lot of work. It began as a musical, for which I composed the music and helped write the dialogue. Unfortunately, the producers presented it at the wrong time - a show called Blitz had literally just bombed in London's West End, and no one wanted to take a chance on another World War II content production. 

Never being one to give up, my agent suggested I write it as a play; which attracted much interest but no takers. For a while, it lay dormant in my computer documents. Occasionally, I'd play the musical CD, but mostly I concentrated on writing another book, a memoir Letters from Wankie. Then, one day, while looking through boxes of earlier writings, I came across one-labeled 21 Aldgate - pages of it with suggestions from editors all of which I had tried to no avail.  I called my agent.  She, a forthright no-nonsense woman, with no holes barred, stated, "forgot about the musical, dump the play, and write it as a novel". And so I did.  And the rest we know, except now 21Aldgate has taken on yet another life.  It has the interest of a director and the expertise of a competent LA  producer, and once Covid19 leaves us, it will have added another dimension, a TV series.

It's not a wonderful life, the one we are living in now.  It is a sad challenging one, but then so it was in the 1930's- 40's era of 21 Aldgate. With the help of Clarence, George Bailey came through the challenges that were set before him. I believe, there's a Clara watching over us who will help 21 Aldgate do so, too.

Paticia Friedberg


Sunday, December 6, 2020

 

FROM THE AUTHOR - DECEMBER 2020

It has been close to ten years since 21 Aldgate was published.  I've given book talks in Europe, Africa, and America; on ships, in cafes, in private homes and pubs. And because I no longer communicate with the readers of my book personally I'll use our blog to tell you how I'm coping with the Covid epidemic and the ridiculous political situation we find ourselves in here in America. I have dual citizenship - born a Brit, hence the story told in 21, and a resident in the USA, .- which brings me to what I am witnessing now.

Covid has isolated us - we are informed by our television broadcasters depending on the channels we watch. The party in power won't give an inch.  The opposition remains resolute. Education is interrupted. Social gatherings where opinions could be given, limited to just a few and they mostly agree with each other. The internet has taken over.  Tweets are the new information deliverers. Our Ma and Pa shops are closing. We are cut off from our families and cannot safely travel.  A curse has been put upon us and the world and we're only just beginning to work out how to deal with it. And worse of all science is ridiculed and magical thinking has taken its place.

History should have taught us we are heading for yet another disaster.  We have re-entered the era of the thirties.  We have half the population indoctrinated and the other half trying to bring some normality back into our lives.  You only have to watch documentaries of how the Nazis came into power to realize the similarities we're experiencing now.  It's the same - find someone, something, anything to blame and keep repeating the same lies and you have all the converts you need.  Then send money to the loudest voices, pass disinformation onto those who have swallowed the Kool-Aid and make sure your children and grandchildren get the message. And so it grows and becomes a movement which has every possibility in time of overthrowing democracy and the promise of the very reason America came about. If this doesn't sound like the period leading up to the Second World War then we are deafened by the rhetoric and blinded by the images set before us.

I haven't opened 21 Aldgate for many years, but I'm thinking of reading it one more time - why? Because it will remind me of my youth and what it led to in the 1940s, of my life as it was then, and I need a refresher course.  Perhaps you do, too.

PATRICIA FRIEDBERG






Friday, September 11, 2020

9/11/2019


21 Aldgate begins with the main character Clara watching on TV, from her home in London, the 9 /11 attack on New York.  It is 2001.  Clara cannot believe what she is seeing - neither could anyone; it was real, it wasn't a Hollywood movie, as Clara had first thought, it was, in fact, a terrorist attack, deliberately planned and carried out. 

Though dreadful and heart wrenching, first responders, fireman, police, leapt to action bringing out the very best in New Yorkers and in people from all over the country who came to help; all breathing in the fetid air, all risking their lives to rescue those trapped, injured and unable to move. Volunteers took on whatever was needed of them, risking their own lives to locate first the wounded and then the dead, We were united in our effort to comfort those who lost love ones, united throughout the country and the world against terrorists.  We were brought to our senses in one terrible moment. America had never before been attacked on its own soil, wars had been fought in foreign lands. This was a first terrorist attack and sadly, proved not to be the last. 

Today19 years later, I am here in Florida and this morning turned on TV to watch the observance of that dark day taking place at site of The World Trade Center in New York. We don't need another 9/11 to unite us.  What we do need is leadership to help us relieve the stress caused by the pandemic attacking us. We need to feel safe - we need to follow the scientists' recommendations, to mask and social distance, to protect our children, to protect our environment, to come together by not allowing evil to replace decency, to call out racists and white supremacists, demand elected politicians to obey the oaths they made when they took office.

 I wrote 21 Aldgate because I have lived in history.  Clara had survived the 1917 flu pandemic, two world wars, the Korean War, The Vietnam War, and  lived to see the devastation of the 9/11 attack.  I saw in Clara a determination to help make this world a better place.  She did it, not unlike a first responder, not simply as an onlooker, but by becoming involved.  She wasn't a heroine, just a woman of outstanding character, and one worth writing about. 

I wrote 21 Aldgate because I wanted to try to instill in readers and in my children and grandchildren, how imperative it is to be involved.  I wrote 21 Aldgate because I found in Clara a character whose life was worth more than those who spout intentions - she carried out hers and touched many lives, including mine and my family.


Tuesday, September 8, 2020


AUTHOR, PATRICIA FRIEDBERG ... Reacts to Demeaning comments made by Donald Trump

 I couldn’t hold back the tears this morning when Trump’s opinion of the military was discussed on television. It touched me deeply that he could stoop so low as to say what he said and again it brought back childhood memories of American and Canadian soldiers in London during WW2. So caring, so giving. Chewing gum and chocolates. Sharing bird seed in Trafalgar Square helping me feed the pigeons. Treating us like their own children they missed back home.

And years later visiting the cemeteries in France. Crosses and Stars of David by the thousands. Men who gave their lives so the world would be free of Nazi tyranny. That is why school children in the U.K are taken to these cemeteries by their teachers. They’re not only taught about war they see the results.

To hear the leader of the free world call these brave men losers and suckers for joining the armed forces is beyond belief, beyond anything anyone should think let alone say out loud.

                                                        Trafalgar Square, London 1942

Saturday, August 1, 2020

August 1st, 2020   Comment by Author of "21 ALDGATE"  and Memoir 

"Letters From Wankie" 

Patricia Friedberg 

I have lived through and in wars. I have survived tropical disease outbreaks in Southern Africa. I have been in 
unprotected riots while teaching in Africa. I have four children born in four different countries, I became a citizen 
of the United States with the hope of never having to relocate again. With all I have experienced Trump has made 
me question the Constitution of these United States. I knew Hitler was evil. I recognised Mugabe was deplorable. 
I thought the Klu Klux should never be allowed to exist. And yet, I cannot fathom how this experiment of democracy 
has fallen so far from its original intention to allow a lying, money grabbing, pretender to continue flouting his 
uncontrollable, egotistical, stupidity upon a nation in the flux of a pandemic without one Republican standing up 
shouting from the roof tops, ENOUGH. If this is the best Western Civilisation has to offer I am beginning to question 
why we escaped here.  Yet, I am not completely without hope. I will vote. My family will vote. And, whoever has 
read this far into my rant, they must Vote.  It is the only answer to rid the country of a man not fit to be anything 
other than a demon sent to remind all what America once was - a shining light of hope to all those who came to 
become citizens of a once great and admired land.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Patricia Friedberg's Response to JULY 13th Paul Krugman/s NY TIMES Article "America Drank Away Its Children's Freedom"


Patricia
Sarasota Florida
July 14
I am a Brit living in Florida, a child in London during WW2. We could not go out to play, we had to carry gas masks, our schools closed then opened with shelters dug beneath them, food rationed, sweets (candy) 2 oz a week - bath no more than 5" of water. not to mention the constant air raids. Our war lasted 6 years and here in the States, we are complaining about four months of safety rules, wearing masks. and following scientific advice. This once was the land of the free and the brave; we have become the land of the stupid and the selfish.

Published 7/14/2020 Ny Times Opinion (Letters to the Editor)

Sunday, July 12, 2020

July 2020 - A Word from the Author



American states are far from Aldgate in a myriad of ways. The state I'm beginning to like the least is Florida, where I live. Today reaching more than fifteen thousand new cases of the CoVid-19 virus - is giving us the unwanted title of the hardest-hit state in the nation. I find it difficult to concentrate. I'm weary of staying home. I'd love to be in London - but we aren't welcome there or to any other country in Europe and we won't be until we find a way to keep ourselves and those around us safe.  Americans have this thing about freedom and the Constitution. Freedom to not wear a mask. Freedom to congregate in crowded bars and beaches. Freedom to say, ' I don't want to' therefore 'I don't have to'. I have this thing about being sensible and not tempting fate. I cannot change their attitudes - a Brit at heart, I know I have to 'grin and bear it', or 'keep calm and carry on.'  We need to be patient - we're in the fifth month of this pandemic and I fear we're nowhere near the end of it.
21 Aldgate, the miniseries, is in a holding pattern as are all similar projects until we are free of this plague which threatens all our lives.

Patricia Friedberg.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

CORONA VIRUS

The days are not so bad, the evenings of this enforced isolation, are beginning to take their toll. Talking heads on television; I don’t want to watch but my curiosity, my desire to know, my fears for my family in New York and other doomed areas of this land get the better of me. This is a war against a previously unknown enemy. As a child in London, I knew who the enemy was; in retrospect it was awful, but now, all those years later, this pandemic seems worse. The numbers of those infected, the rising lists of deaths, the race to find a vaccine in the hands of scientists – not mine, not the politicians, but those who we trust to save us in the future.
I know I am fortunate to be able to look out my window onto a lake where ducks glide and the occasional cormorant dives. To see a turtle ease it’s way on to a rock to bathe in the sun. A crow sits on the branch of a pine tree – even he stays quiet. I’m told just a few feet away a goose sits on her eggs while her mate occasionally leaves to find sustenance for his wife. Soon those eggs will hatch and the family will come to visit me, just outside my window, the window that keeps me calm during the day, but stays far too dark at night.
                                                   Patricia Friedberg

Monday, March 16, 2020

Image courtesy of knowyourmeme.com

Apply this to the Corona19 virus.

This is what my grandparents and parents managed to achieve
during six years of war chronicled in 21 Aldgate.
Only now can I appreciate how well they concealed from me
and my cousins, their inward panic. They kept us calm during
nightly Luftwaffe attacks, when, even more, and unimaginably,                          they knew the very real possibility of imminent invasion.

They knew what could happen to us because we are Jews.