Back in June, anyone following this blog might have spotted that this particular marmoset wasn’t overly enthusiastic about Walter Meierjohann’s inaugural production – The Funfair – at Manchester’s newly opened flagship gallery, cinema, theatre complex, Home.
Six months on, how goes it at the Home that is in fact no one’s home?
Come on own up? What wazzock focus group came up with ‘Home’ as a name for a theatre? The one thing I don’t want a theatre to be! Come out, come out, wherever you are! I will find you and when I do I will subject you to slow and painful torture. Where was I? Oh yes… how is Home getting along?
Well. I attend the five screen cinema on a regular basis. The programming is superb and the projection and sound are flawless. The screenings are always well attended. Clearly a huge success and a major improvement on the old Cornerhouse screens. Tick.
The gallery isn’t my thing…
…but seems to be doing ok from what I can tell; there are usually people wandering around it. Query tick..?
As a Home member, I get £1.50 off cinema tickets and ten per cent off food in the restaurant which has a more than decent menu (yummy beef ragu if you like your shredded brisket). Tick and tick.
So what about the theatre itself?
Watching (the first half) of Inkheart, the building’s first Christmas show for children and young people, barely two thirds full (Christmas week) with an entirely unresponsive audience, was a truly depressing experience. From the bottom of my heart I do not want this still-new theatre to fail – it needs to succeed – I want it to be a place of theatrical excellence, adventure and entertainment. Not a Home – but a Palace of Delights!
My old boss at the BBC used to say that you should always be able to find five positive things to say about any production you see, no matter how much you dislike it.
I’m sorry, Chris, I just can’t – but I promise you, Dear Reader, that I did not go there to hate it. I always go to the theatre hoping to be thrilled and transported. ALWAYS. Otherwise what’s the point?
Children’s Drama is to Theatre what veterinary science is to human medicine. A vet can treat a human being, but a GP shouldn’t be let loose on a pet. The imperatives of children’s theatre will expose any director’s shortcomings – or illustrate that they have a vibrant, empathetic theatrical heart beating away under the pretensions that might stifle their adult work. Harness those skills for the most uncompromising of all audiences – kids – and that director will shine at everything they do. It is the ultimate theatrical litmus test.
So I’m scrabbling round for those five things, but like a marmoset picking tics off his mate after they’ve been de-flead, I’m not getting anything tasty.
As a preface to everything I say, I want to emphasise that I’m not blaming the cast. I don’t know any of them personally, and I have no reason to suppose that they aren’t all perfectly good actors in any other situation. But here, they looked entirely lost, and, at times, as if they had given up hope, delivering lines as if they were a random assembly of words… language devoid of all meaning. It was quite surreal at times. After twenty minutes I leaned across to my companion and whispered: ‘Have you any idea what’s going on?’
Like a low energy bulb, my friend James was unable to throw light onto the situation.
Only Rachel Atkins as ‘eccentric-woman-in-France-with-a-gun’ (I had absolutely no idea who the character was) seemed to be up for the fight, throwing her heart and soul behind every meaningless sentence.
First up, the script, from Cornelia Funke’s children’s novel, adapted by director Meierjohann and Stephen Sharkey, showed not the faintest inkling of the responsibilities and specialist skills a writer needs when producing work for young people.
Broadly speaking, it’s about a girl – Meggie – whose Dad can make books come alive just by reading them. (Seriously, books coming alive? Toys coming alive? Fairy tales coming alive? The lack of originality of the idea makes me feel physically tired.) He demonstrates this by reading a passage from Treasure Island after which gold doubloons fall from the sky. He then picks up The Arabian Nights… which concerned me as quite a lot of that is about men growing supersized genitalia.
So it’s about Meggie… Or is it about a Dad who can make books come alive who has a daughter who follows him around asking questions and standing watching for pages on end?
There’s a bald Richard O’Brian stylie villain called Capricorn who wants something or other which involves destroying books, or something… Then there are two ‘broker’s men‘ with cod Italian accents. Why? No idea. Perhaps it was in the spirit of internationalism. Anyway the idea seemed to be that the accents alone would be hysterically funny.
They weren’t. No one laughed.
Add into the mix a post apocalyptic punk called Dustfinger… There’s always at least one post apocalyptic punk in Mr Meierjohann’s productions. And a Narrator who was mic’d for some reason and described things we could see for ourselves… oh yes and a comedy Arab/Indian (?) Aladdin type with another funny accent.
Note to Arts Council, Manchester Council and the Association of Greater Manchester Arts Authorities: Is it really acceptable in 2015 to have an all white cast (one actor looked like he might possibly be of dual heritage) and have the one character of colour played by a white actor doing a racial stereotype?
So back to Meggie and her Dad. Whose story is it? The script has no idea. Usually in children’s drama you put the child – or the child equivalent – in the driving seat, pushing the action. You don’t leave them as not much more than a passenger on a journey, the objective of which I defy anyone to describe coherently. As I say, it was something to do with books…?
Oh and while we’re at it, the whole ‘book’ schtick…
Ok, let’s assume we’re all agreed that books are a GOOD THING… but wait a sec. This is 2015. What do we mean by books? Do we mean the tangible physical things with pages? Or is it the words and the content and the ideas – after all, more and more people read from Kindles and computers these days. Are we saying that absorbing literature through other delivery systems is somehow lesser? And what about other ways of absorbing literature? Is drama ‘lesser’? Films? Television?
There was an assumption in this show that the physical book was the significant thing rather than the content… or at least these ideas were completely confused in the script. The reality of modern technology, and the means of delivery wasn’t addressed (by the way, the characters had smart phones, so it wasn’t as if it was set in a pre-Kindle age). It would have been really interesting to find a way to dramatise this; to look at why the book itself has an inherent value. Without addressing this, the play was throwing around a wishy washy pick ‘n’ mix of ‘worthy’ ideas, and actually came across as a form of alienating cultural snobbery.
If this seems pernickety – and perhaps it is – it’s because the story was so weak, and spent so much time signposting its ‘values’ that this audience member was forced to examine whether those ideas actually hung together.
No single character seemed to be driving the action. It was impossible to understand clearly what was at stake, or for whom, nor what the quest was. There is a missing mother to find, but Meggie’s loss of her mother is never dramatised (certainly not in the first half). Meggie is an entirely static character. She loves books at the beginning. She still loves books at the interval (which was as far as I got). I suspect she was affirmed of her love of books at the end too. Nothing at stake. No arc. An entirely flat, aimless narrative.
This lack of focus persisted in every scene. Stuff sort of ‘happened’ but you had no idea where to look on stage, nor what anybody’s objective was at any point. It was as if it had been written and directed by someone who had been told about a mysterious art form called ‘theatre’ but had never quite got the hang of what ‘theatre’ actually is. So there is a stage, actors and a set, and some lines to say, but they have been assembled like a Billy bookcase without the instructions.
These narrative techniques can be learnt. What I would like to see from Walter Meierjohann is that he has an awareness that he has some way to go with this.
I wonder if he sees theatre as a plastic art rather than a temporal one. It would certainly explain why his shows lack pace, shape or tension, and have the air of ‘presentations’ rather than stories.
He’s been (anecdotally) reported in public forums stating that (new) writing isn’t a primary concern for him at Home, that he sees his brief as being more of a theatre maker (although how you do the latter without a passion for the former escapes me).
Nowhere does the failure to respect the power of the word (monumentally ironic in a story about the value of books) open its Nietzschean abyss more than in this production’s failure to demonstrate anything resembling a sense of humour. As with The Funfair, there were occasional ‘gag’ lines… (if you count a passing reference to Shaddap-You-Face by Joe Dolce as a gag) but every single one in that first hour failed to land. And the more the gags tanked, the more you felt the actors’ confidence draining before your eyes.
Each time another ‘gag’ approached, the actors’ delivery accelerated as if they wanted to skip over the oncoming tumbleweed as quickly as possible… not helped by the cod Italian broker’s men. Apart from the fact that I couldn’t really work out who they were supposed to be, the accents meant that what lines they had were hard to understand and the gags such as they were got lost amidst the garbled vowels.
Why? WHY????? Why were they comedy Italians?
Let’s talk about the set.
The opening image is a striking one. A huge rotating pile of books – maybe fifteen feet high in the centre of the stage. Great, I thought, that’s exciting…
…until it isn’t, because it stays there for the whole show (or at least the whole first half – I’m only reviewing that hour of the show – I’ll keep saying it, perhaps the second half was brilliant).
The problem with having a mountain of books in the centre of your stage is that it actually makes the playing space unusable. It takes ages to climb up and down the thing (the actors looking visibly nervous at times as they searched for footholds) and once you’re up there you can’t move. The book mountain is so big that when the actors are down on the stage itself they are either forced into ugly lines at the side or at the front, or they have to play upstage to whatever poor bugger is perched on the top of the books. The situation is made worse when a bloody great trap is opened downstage centre, leaving the actors literally nowhere to go but to hang around on the periphery like unwanted interlopers on a stage full of stuff and holes. As a piece of design it’s completely inept, demonstrating a woeful lack of basic stage craft by either the director, the designer or both.
And don’t get me started on the use of projection in place of painted cloths or physical structures – we saw a bit of it in Funfair as well – a visual trope that dominates the stage but simultaneously renders it flat, sterile and artless. Oh this isn’t some luddite prejudice on my behalf – it’s about the basics of stage craft. If you’re projecting an image onto a massive cloth, it necessitates a large amount of evenly distributed light. This flattens out the stage picture and makes it impossible to establish a spatial focus on the stage, nor any tactile sense of atmosphere. There’s no way the performers can interact with it. It’s no more emotionally engaging than the wallpaper you have on your computer home screen.
Finally, what’s the deal with Walter M’s productions that two out of the three I’ve seen have featured young women in tight shorts? There may have even been some tight shorted women in Romeo and Juliet, I don’t remember. I certainly disliked it in Funfair but in this children’s show it seems completely inappropriate.
Ok. Enough already. I think you get that I didn’t enjoy my evening, but I can’t sign off from this review without reference to the ‘fight’. If anyone reading this has seen the show, can they explain that to me, please?
So about three quarters of the way through the first half, the characters have a fight (absolutely no idea why) but for some reason they do it like the kind of mark-through that a fight director asks for in rehearsal before acting the combat for real. They just stand there doing these half hearted fist movements, with badly timed reactions. It seems to go on for ages and I actually had to cover my eyes at that point.
Sorry, sorry, one more thing…. Did I mention the completely random fire dance? No? Again if anyone’s seen the show and can tell me what that was about please feel free to contribute.
Okay, I hold my hands up, a blog dedicated to a demolition job on one show is not a dignified use of social media. But the reason I feel so strongly is because it does speak to something bigger.
The last time I saw professional theatre in Manchester of this low standard, was when Ben Twist was running Contact Theatre back in the late 1990s. It has the same pretentious, dead hearted negation of the joys of stagecraft… which ultimately sounded the death nell for that fantastic venue as a major producing house in the city (although it has since been reborn with a different brief). That cannot be allowed to happen here.
Mr Meierjohann clearly has high aspirations to push the theatrical jiffy bag and challenge our expectations. When the regime at Home is discussed in theatrical circles it is sometimes said that those who express criticism are being too British, too conservative, too resistant to the ‘European’ style of stage direction that Meierjohann is bringing to Manchester. Well, for the record I’m about as pro-European as it gets and I’ve enjoyed all sorts of amazing international work over my three decades in the entertainment industries. I contend that if Walter were from Swindon he would simply be written off as not quite up to the job. If anything, the ‘European’ tag is used as an excuse, and confuses a presentational style that has the patina of ‘other’ and ‘sophistication’, with the misplaced belief that this ‘otherness’ somehow negates the need for coherent narrative, structure, focus, content, passion, humour, elation and beauty.
Having made a sad comparison to the fate of the old Contact Theatre, a few years earlier, at that same venue, Bryan Elsley adapted and directed a gripping and visceral production of Alan Garner’s Elidor as their 1992 Christmas show. This was theatrical storytelling for a young adult audience at its very finest. It is possible to do amazing things when offering an alternative to the normal fare on offer for family audiences in the season of Panto and Jacqueline Wilson and spinoffs from TV and CBBC/CBeebies favourites.
What Bryan (more famous for Skins and the TV adaptation of The Crow Road) has, is a highly attuned sense of narrative – of the temporal nature of storytelling – of how to connect to an audience and take us into a world that we just don’t want to leave. Elidor was magical, frightening (in the best Christmas ghost story sense of the word), contemporary, and entirely involving. I watched a cynical crowd of reluctant year nines and tens from Rusholme and Moss Side turn into a thrilled buzzing throng as they left the theatre on that cold night in December 92. I’ve never forgotten it. I think this is what Walter Meierjohann is aspiring to, but sadly he is never going to realise it until he starts to respect the skills required to achieve it. He may sincerely believe that he already does, but on the evidence of three productions I see no sign that he respects the imperatives of narrative story telling, nor the nature of scene structure, nor design, nor how to use a stage, nor how to guide the audience’s eyes and their emotions by shaping his staging to bring focus and intention to every moment of the action.
So do I have some personal gripe with Mr M? I’ve never met the man. I hold no personal beef. I don’t need a job from him; he’s never turned me down for a job… but he is holding the reins to what should be the most important producing venue in Manchester – equal to or surpassing The Royal Exchange. Theatres are resource hungry, expensive, valuable places, and if they are paid for by a community, if they belong to the community, then I believe with all my municipal heart that it’s fair and right to hold them to account.
On the Home website the venue describes itself in the following terms:
‘...our mission is to make a new HOME for curiosity seekers, for lovers of the dramatic, the digital and the deeply engaging; for radicals and reciprocators.‘
I have a degree, a post graduate diploma and thirty-two years professional experience and I have absolutely no idea what that means. Except that it alliterates. What I do know is that Home’s current artistic director programmes like a man who has never had to worry about the cost of babysitting, or parking, or think about how attractive a show has to be for a normal person making leisure choices when resources are limited and day to day life is stressful and exhausting. And if he doesn’t understand that, then he doesn’t understand people – and it’s unlikely that he’s going to produce theatre that will strike a chord in the heart of the community he is there to serve.
If I seem harsh it’s because this is our money he’s spending, our resources he’s using, and our artistic landscape he’s shaping… but so far, it’s not a landscape I could in any way call Home.
But, hey, at least there weren’t any enigmatic clowns.
Walter Meierjohann said:
Dear Martin Jameson,
I normally don’t respond to reviews, but the tone of your review is extremely malicious and requires a response- I don’t even know if it is a review, as I have never come across such an unprofessional attitude to leave a show after the interval and still write pages about a show and drawing conclusions on 50 per cent of what you have seen.
I can live with criticism, that is part of my job.
What I do not accept is that you draw conclusions about my personality and my personal life from watching the shows I direct.
, I am not from Swindon, you are right. i was born in Holland, i have lived in Berlin, amsterdam and London -anything wrong with that? if you are writing with anti -teutonic sentiments, you are pissing against the wrong tree- i have lost half my family in the holocaust.I have two children, so I do know the costs of childcare very well – all this should not be any of your business, I have never met you, and I have no intention of meeting someone who seems to be campaigning against what I am trying to set up at HOME.
And do get your facts right – I was running a new writing company on the continent, prior to joining the Young Vic. I love new writing and don’t see this as a contradiction to having more of a director focus at HOME.
A bit of research does not harm anyone, not even a writer: horvath is considered a writer on equal par with Brecht. You did not like it, okay, I wanted to introduce different voices to Manchester and a different acting style. That was my intention, to insinuate that I am wasting taxpayers money with these artistic attempts is like Daily Mirror smearing.
Inkheart is a show for children, it was a best-selling novel, read by millions of children around the globe. We have had over 4000 school children here in Manchester watching it and they got it. Perhaps your comparison between GPS and vets applies to adult and children reviewers.
My assumption, and I am now dropping to your level, is that because Cornelia Funke has a German name, you consider this not worthwhile to be on a British stage or even worthwhile doing a bit of research into the novel, before you review it.
Assumptions- I might be completely wrong, but there you go.
We will have more of a British repertoire coming up, that will make you happy. Shakespeare, Beckett- but probably the interpretations will not suit you, and you can rant again on your website.
Good luck with that!
Martin Jameson said:
Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog, which I can see has annoyed and upset you. Although that’s completely understandable – some of the things I say would be tough for any director to hear – I’ve heard plenty of it in my time (take a look at some of the comments on my blog regarding my work for the BBC which everyone rightly feels they have ownership of) in every capacity in which I’ve worked! – there is absolutely no malicious intent to offend, and perhaps I can clarify and/or contextualise a few things. You may still take issue with them, but at least you will understand where I’m coming from. So please take a minute or two to read what I say next. It may piss you off even more, but I genuinely hope it doesn’t.
First of all, I should emphasise that although I do review professionally from time to time, this website – Ninjamarmoset – is a highly personal blog which is openly and honestly opinionated as I state in its strapline – ‘rants and reflections of a writer, director and grizzled media gunslinger’. In that respect I can’t be ‘unprofessional’ because I’m not editorially beholden to anyone, although as someone who has some journalistic training and briefing in media law, I am careful to qualify and source quotations where necessary, and clarify the context of the very specific viewpoint from which I write.
So first up, this isn’t a paid ‘review’, I wasn’t on a press comp (I paid my own good money to see the show) and therefore I’m sure you will agree that I am perfectly at liberty to express my opinion in such a personalised forum. I should also like to point out that this is less of a review than an expression of my feelings – as a Manchester resident, and professional working within the local arts community – about the important theatre that you oversee. So I make the objective of the blog very clear from the outset, and I also repeatedly emphasise that I only watched the first half of the show as I wouldn’t ever stoop to offering an opinion on anything I hadn’t seen. Far from being unprofessional, this is stating the terms of reference very clearly. The reader is then free to take or leave what I say with that in mind. Had I been a paid reviewer on a press comp such a thing would of course be completely untenable.
I think you have perhaps misunderstood the meaning of the references to your European origins. As I state clearly I’m very much into international work; I travel very widely; follow culture from every continent; I’m currently involved in the biggest adaptation of the work of Emile Zola ever undertaken by the BBC; and I too come from European stock (Polish Jews if you want to compete on that front although I’m not quite sure why you have raised the issue of the holocaust…?). The point I am making is about the British response to your directorial style. Yes, I am very critical of your work – I can’t pretend otherwise! – but if you look back over what I’ve written what I am saying is that the aspects of it that aren’t to my taste are nothing to do with your Dutch/non British origins.
The point I make is that when people talk about your work in professional circles – and opinion is very divided as I’m sure you’re aware (surely that’s not a bad thing) – if someone makes the kind of specific criticism of stage craft such as I have done in my blog, the response is often: ‘Ah but Walter’s Dutch’, it’s a European stylistic thing that you (i.e. the person criticising) just don’t understand’. To me, that is the generalised and patronising assumption based on nationality and origin. I’m saying the opposite – that my (strong) criticism of your work has absolutely nothing to do with where you come from, and can’t be defended on that basis either. The stage craft can only be discussed in terms of the stage craft and nothing else. So, although that doesn’t make my criticism any less severe, I hope you get that it is actually the OPPOSITE of being racist, or narrowly nationalistic.
The reference to the nature of your programming also wasn’t making any assumptions about your personal circumstances. I phrased the sentence very carefully, I suggest that you: ‘…programme like a man who has never had to worry about the cost of babysitting, or parking, or think about how attractive a show has to be for a normal person making leisure choices when resources are limited and day to day life is stressful and exhausting.’ That’s a tough thing to say – but I was careful to use the qualifier ‘like‘. I had no idea what your personal circumstances were and I certainly wouldn’t dare to presume anything about you. What I’m saying is that when I look at your brochure I can see that you are passionate about presenting innovative, unusual and challenging work – but the look and style of the copy is not very inviting. Years ago when I was a grunt assistant director at Nottingham Playhouse and very keen to do all sorts of hard-to-digest radical work, my boss said ‘remember that this theatre lives or dies on getting people through the doors and most of those people are making decisions based on how they feel at the end of a long stressful day at work, paying for babysitters, parking etc.’ I scorned my boss at the time, but his words came back to me years later, when I had kids of my own. I remember the visceral annoyance I felt every time I forked out on a night out and was treated to something miserable, head banging or soul destroying – especially if I’d been up half the night looking after a poorly child and then done a day’s work. I felt like my valuable money and time had been stolen – it wasn’t just the £10 or £15 for a ticket – it was £40 or £50! Suddenly I understood what he was talking about. That doesn’t mean one has to dumb down one’s work, but you do have to tell me that what I’m going to see is going to be worth the money and sheer effort! You have to give me a damned good reason to come!
Of course as arts professionals you and I are prepared to do this, but mostly people aren’t, and this may be hard to hear, but I’ve had plenty of casual conversations with non theatre people who find your brochure really quite off-putting. A friend of mine looked at the publicity for The Oresteia and said: ‘God that looks miserable! Why would I go to see that?’ You’ve got Macbeth coming – which is often people’s favourite Shakespeare play – and I’ve no reason to think it will be anything other than wonderful – but you’ve publicised it with a picture of two people who seem to have bin bags on their heads. Seriously? I could go on, but I hope you get my point. So far, you have appeared to programme and present the work in your theatre in the manner of someone for whom the cares of every day life don’t apply. Maybe have a think about tempting, teasing and enticing an audience… and making at least some of your shows look as if they might be FUN!!! (Challenging, stimulating fun, but fun nonetheless).
As for New Writing, I make no judgement at all about your past track record with New Writing, but I am clear to state in my blog that ANECDOTALLY I have heard (from several different sources) that you have publicly expressed that (new) writing per se is not your priority at Home. Now, it may be that you have been misrepresented, or that on the reported occasion you didn’t express yourself as well as you might have done, but can I please say to you, in a spirit of friendly counsel, that there is a growing sense that you are somewhat aloof from the local theatrical community? There does seem to be a lack of acting talent from the North West visible on your stage and it is being said that theatre professionals in the region aren’t getting the sense that Home is a place for them. Anecdotally it is commented that you don’t audition in the city (this may be untrue, so please take the opportunity to refute this. NB/addendum – since writing this reply, I have learned that Endgame is to feature David Neilson and Chris Gascoyne which goes some way to addressing this point, although I would still be interested to have a clarification regarding auditioning policy with regard to North West based actors). If what I’m saying here outrages you then please take a moment not to get annoyed with me, but to consider how you might make it clearer to the fantastic array of creative talent in the city that you do want to make your Home their Home too. Of course Home shouldn’t be parochial – it should be a mix of the international, from different ages, different cultures – but constantly making the region, the city its touchpoint. Currently many of the people who speak to me are feeling that you haven’t got the balance right.
And that’s where dismissing references to local accountability as ‘Daily Mirror smearing’ isn’t really appropriate. For a start, The Daily Mirror is a good left of centre campaigning tabloid that takes political/taxpayer accountability seriously. But more importantly, although it’s great that you’ve got in touch, it means that you perhaps should think twice before slamming a private citizen who has paid for their ticket, and pays your wages and not only has issues with the nature of your stage craft, but wants to discuss the role that Home plays in the city that pays for it. That absolutely IS something that should concern you and you should take on and be prepared to discuss. Please don’t tell people off for raising it. Come back at me with a programme, and work that absolutely addresses the 360 degree nature of being a theatre called Home in a proud multi cultural city like Manchester (and the North West). Answer me – inspire me – prove me wrong – don’t try to shut me up!
And you really do need to address the lack of diversity in the casting of Inkheart. That was – beyond my subjective opinion – a real issue which shouldn’t need to be raised in Manchester in 2015/16.
Thanks again – and best wishes for a great new year…
It would be good to meet you some time and we can argue the toss over a beer
James Leach said:
Pretty sure Beckett is Irish not British.
Martin Jameson said:
Well he was born outside Dublin in 1906… which is 13(?) years before the Republic was established… so it depends on your view of history. I think most people in these islands (including me!!!) would hesitate to call him British, but it is still a matter of some debate in literary circles. Whether Walter has a view on this or not I don’t know…
Isn’t Beckett Irish?
“We will have more of a British repertoire coming up, that will make you happy. Shakespeare, Beckett- but probably the interpretations will not suit you, and you can rant again on your website.”
Martin Jameson said:
For anyone following this blog, and the ensuing correspondence, I should say that Walter Meierjohann has since written to me personally, but asked me to keep the contents of that latest email private. I completely respect that, however I hope Walter will forgive me if I do quote one passage in which he clarifies the issue over casting from the Manchester/NW acting community.
‘I have worked with a ratio of 60 percent Manchester actors in The Funfair and 30 percent in Inkheart, The Oresteia had a community chorus of 56 local people, two out of 6 actors came from Manchester […] For the Funfair I auditioned 50 percent of the time in Manchester, for Inkheart, we struggled to get the casting director up from London, so I held auditions here on my own – the claim I am not auditioning in Manchester is simply wrong.’
I hope Walter will agree that it is only right and fair that I print this clarification in his own words, and I am only too happy to do so.