War and forgetfulness

We are told that Steven Spielberg’s new war film, Saving Private Ryan, begins with 30 solid minutes of unadulterated carnage, and that this makes it something to celebrate.

I’m not suggesting that Spielberg is out to glamoiirise combat, any more than he was trying to glamourise Nazi death camps in Schindler’s List or slavery in Amistad. But if the Bosnian conflict taught us anything useful, it was that terrible brutality and unthinkable atrOCities occur in every war however recent our memories may be of the preVious one, and however much more 'civilised’ we consider ourselves to be in the modern age. We Just don’t seem to learn.

If history is unable to provide anti- war aversion therapy, how can films do a better iob? None of those 'Nam nightmare: classics prevented the Gulf War, did they? And if Spielberg and Hanks aren't trying to strike a blow for peace, what are they up to?

Justine O'Connell Glasgow

Editor: Morphine is the recommended battlefield painkiller, but maybe a bottle of Smirnoff Blue will assuage your agonies, Justine.

Start scribbling, because the best letter each issue wins a bottle of Smirnoff Blue

Poison poet

You may remember me from last year, when I went on hunger strike in an attempt to attract a publisher for my poetry collection Beauty ls /n The / Of The Beholder. This was reported in every quality newspaper and I was asked to write articles about it for The Big Issue, The Sunday Times Magazine and several poetry and New Age magazmes, including a new publication based in Edinburgh called Being.

This year, two of my songs were adopted by the Newcastle United FC supporters after they were released on the professional Wemb/ey ’98 CD. All this means nothing to me. Beauty ls /n The l Of The Beholder, which is my life's work, remains unpublished. It tells the story of the soul’s confrontation With the forces of ZOth century obsidian darkness and is the only purpose of my eXistence on this difficult planet,

HaVing tried everything, I am losing

faith that I \NIII ever be a published poet. Therefore I have decided to do something special for National Poetry Day: kill myself. If I have not received confirmation in writing from a publisher that my collection has been

accepted onto their list by 3.30am on I Oct 1998, I shall go down to the rocky beach on the north side below Tynemouth pier. In the half-light of the silvery moon, to the maternal lament of the long low waves and the occasional cry of the odd early seagull, I shall then drink the contents of a 500ml bottle of Dettol.

I have chosen a slow way to die in order to try and expiate my bad thoughts for certain poetry publishers

over all these years. Andrew Tait Newcastle-upon-Tyne

PS: My manuscript is currently with Canongate Books (Edinburgh).

PPS: This is the last letter you will ever receive from me.

CC. To every UK and USA book publisher, the Prime Minister, Kenny Dalglish, every player in the new 1998 Newcastle United team and the Dalai Lama of Tibet (Chicago).

International Velvet i

In a recent letter to The Stage [the actor’s weekly] I took exception to some derogatory remarks about Wales and the Welsh made in a recent edition of The List. I felt that the remarks made by the writer


There were no competitions for the month of August due to our weekly festival and non festival coverage.

Winners from 341 will be announced next week.

concerned were insulting and insensitive. The writer concerned was not, as I stated, Rob Fraser but Steve Cramer. I am deeply regretful for this mix-up. I am puzzled as to how this happened, as I did check first to avoid just such a mistake.

I would like to apologise to Rob Fraser, who is an innocent party in this


Sean Carlsen


Editor: We felt the review of

Saturday Night Forever (issue 339) was fairly innocuous, but we accept your apology. We should stress that Steve Cramer is Australian, and therefore no stranger to cruel jibes.

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10—24 Sep 1998 THE usr 21