1 July 2006 | theowinthrop
A Bit of Graham Greene's Wit and Wisdom
SHADES OF GREENE was a wonderful little series based on short stories that Greene had written over the years. Each episode was just over an hour in length, and had such stars as John Guilgud, Leo McKern, Virginia McKenna, Paul Schofield, and Roy Kinnear in them. Many dealt with Greene's fascination with guilt and with Catholic faith and dogma. But he also looked at life, with a witty and jaundiced eye.
In one episode, I think it was entitled "The Ten Japanese Gentlemen", the narrator is a writer who has been invited to lunch with a young woman who has just published a best selling novel called "The Chelsea Set". The narrator has been writing for years, and is fully aware that while it is wonderful to have a best seller, it is not the case that every book you put your blood into (which is every book a writer writes) is going to be a best seller.
The young woman is prattling on and on about her success, and she starts lecturing about the importance of catching onto life as it is live - of observing the world around us. The narrator is heard thinking about her prattle, and about the fifth or sixth time she mentions "The Chelsea Set", he thinks to himself, "In ten years will she ever recall she even wrote a book called "The Chelsea Set"."
In the meantime his eye is wandering over to a nearby long table in the restaurant, and the ten Japanese gentlemen sitting there, who seem to be performing rather odd ceremonies over the dishes and with each other. These men leave before the narrator and the young woman. After they have left, the narrator makes the comment, "I wonder what those ten Japanese gentlemen were doing?" The young woman looks at him quizzically, and laughs. "I don't know what the joke is," she says, "I didn't see any Japanese gentlemen at all."
One hopes this series may be released one day on DVD or video.