Monday, September 22, 2008

Agatha Christie

Last night I watched an episode of Poirot. David Suchet is far and away the best impersonator of Agatha Christie's famous Belgian detective and his performance has improved over the years. Coincidentally last week saw an investigation into Suchet's ancestors. Although Jewish, David is now an evangelical Christian; that never stops him being Jewish, of course. He ancestors came from an area of central Europe that has been Russian and Prussia in its history. The persecution was the same whatever the nation.

Suchet surpasses both Ustinov and Finney. Three new 2-hour episodes are currently being shown on ITV. 'Cat among the pigeons' which was aired last night has a fairly silly plot, but just watching Suchet's performance and soaking in the period brought me a great deal of pleasure.

However, it reminded me of my childhood. Agatha Christie was banned from our house, not on grounds of taste, but because she was ajudged too frightening. Today we regard these films as light entertainment; when I was a child she was for adults only. People were murdered! How things have changed.

In the 1940s and 1950s in Britain murder was very rare and a thing of horror.


Vance said...

To what do you attribute the rise in violent crime in Britain?

Terry Hamblin said...

At least one factor was the abolishment of the death penalty for certain types of murder in teh 1960s.

Vance said...

I was wondering whether it might also be due to the banning of guns. In the USA, states which allow citizens to possess and carry concealed firearms for self defense have lower rates of violent crime. The idea is that criminals don't know who might be carrying a weapon, so they are less inclined to try something.

Terry Hamblin said...

The right to own semi-automatic weapons was abolished in the UK after the Hungerford massacre in 1987 and handguns followed in 1997 after the 1996 Dunblane massacre as one of Tony Blair's first pieces of legislation, even though a parliamentary commission had concluded that it would make no difference. Time has shown that it indeed made no difference.

However, the increase in homicides occurred well before either piece of legislation and dates from the abolition of the death penalty in 1966 or 1967.

Finland is now foing through the same arguement after the latest mass killing.

The situation in the States is very different. In many areas hunting is part of the livelihood of rural communities and I dare say Sarah palin needs a gun to protect herself from bears in Alaska. I think the argument that a gun in the home increases protection from intruders is moot. Soke studies have shown that family members are more likely to be shot than intruders, and they are a means of suicide for the drunk and depressed.

However banning guns does not affect the ease of access for criminals.