Interview of Giuseppe Giulio to Max J. Aldridge and his "Peter Pan and the Amazing machine of Lord Rubbish"
Pleasure is the happiness of fools. Happiness is the pleasure of the wise … Barbey d’Aurevilly. There are many roads of life, sometimes crossing, sometimes straightforward and sometimes difficult to follow, but only a tiny star in our heart, almost lost in the darkness of night can guide us towards the right decision, towards the new day. In 1907 the dream of finding new roads and constructing alternatives was realised for the first time by an author named James Matthew Barrie, and now is realised once again, on the fifth of December 2011 by Max J. Aldridge.
“Peter Pan and the Amazing Machine of Lord Rubbish” is the title of the sequel to the story of a boy who has captured the imagination of entire generations and continues to do so, even in today’s trying socio-economic times.
A character created by this English author whose story became a classic Disney film. A small boy chasing after freedom, that pure freedom, free of any prejudice which the world still awaits and dreams of seeing once again.
That freedom-loving boy has become a model for many young people as well as for a plethora of organizations which work daily to provide happiness for children and alleviate their sufferings, among which the “Peter Pan” charity of Rome.
A freedom which has also crossed the path of this author. Born in England in 1942, Max J. Aldridge, the son of an RAF pilot shot down in action in the skies of London a few days before his son’s birth, the young Max grew up day by day with the myth of his father and of flight, and this was the first but crucial step towards the bond which would lead him to Neverland.
In 2004 the author decided to participate in the “New Peter Pan New Competition” organized by Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity and wrote the book which became a cult in half the planet.
This is some of the information provided by the magic parchment published on his official website.
A large, bright light shines upon the table where the map to find Max J. Aldridge sits. I turn, startled by the sound of low, deep breaths …. “You are Max J. Aldridge! “… It was he, ready to take me flying to Neverland, straight on till morning
Max J. Aldridge: “I’m ready, Giuseppe. Let’s start our journey”.
G.G.: “Let’s go, Max!”
G.G:. Mr Max J. Aldridge, what does the word ‘magic’ mean to you?
Max J. Aldridge: Magic is the art of those who can change reality. I love magic, and I like writing about it and approaching the theme from various points of view. Peter Pan has always fascinated me, especially because he lives among the fairies, and with their magic dust can not only can fly but can also make his little friends fly, taking them with him to a fantastic world, far away from any reality. In ‘Osman the Wizard’ (my new novel, which should be published in March-April 2012), magic is a central element of the story. ‘Osman’, which could be a tale from the Thousand and One Nights, is the story of the love between a wizard who is able to cast extraordinary spells and the girl who seeks him out, drawn to him by his legend. At the end of the story, however, it is the magician who discovers that the most powerful magic, the one which will turn his life upside down, the one against which his art has no powers, is another altogether – the magic of love. I don’t like soppy love stories but I do know that love is a kind of extraordinary magic which not only allows us to see completely different realities but also lets us change ourselves and the world around us. Isn’t it a kind of wonderful magic that Benigni is doing in “Life Is Beautiful” when he makes even the awful concentration camps disappear? This is another kind of magic which I like to write about. As you can imagine, since even before I started writing I have always loved telling stories, particularly to children, and I have often seen their eyes look upon the distant worlds that my words evoked for them. This is a kind of magic too, and as all mothers and fathers who love telling their children a bedtime story know, seeing those eyes look upon the world you’ve created for them after a long, stressful day at work is worth more than any literary prize.
Max J. Aldridge: I’ve been living in Italy for over forty years, and England and London are only very special places to visit for me now, so when I started writing Peter Pan I felt the need to go back and and see the things that I was writing about, in particular the statue of Peter Pan which Barrie had commissioned in 1912 and had placed in Kensington Gardens. In the book, Peter Pan saves England by fighting enemies in the skies over London and so I wanted to imagine that, just as a statue of Nelson was erected in Trafalgar Square after he saved England on the seas, Peter, who saves her in the air, is rewarded for his heroism at the express will of King, who orders a statue to his abiding memory to be placed in Kensington Gardens. I find that, with respect to my youthful memories, London has changed completely because over the years it has managed to radically modernize itself without losing its old charm. It has become one of the most extraordinary places in the world, a place where you can find everything, theatres, shows and nightlife, without ever feeling as though the town has turned into a museum. London is a city of extraordinary beauty, and all the young people who visit it feel that they would love to live there.
G.G.: We are in Neverland… Peter Pan faces the many roads which make up life itself. What are your roads?
Max J. Aldridge: I think that I share certain qualities with Peter: imagination, first of all, and the enthusiasm with which I approach everything I do, and which means that I tackle the most demanding situations as though they were a game. Like Peter, I too am a totally free spirit, and so, being endowed with freedom and imagination, I have no problem changing my goals or starting off in new directions. Unlike Peter, however, who is fickle and always follows his whims regardless of the fate of his partners, I feel a responsibility to my “fellow travellers”, be they family, friends or workmates. It’s important for me that they feel that they can count on me. Over the years, however, I have realized that imagination and a free spirit are dangerous attitudes which can sometimes make life very difficult and demanding for those around me, who might occasionally want to sit down for a moment and catch their breath. Unlike Peter, though, I always wait for those who are travelling with me… although I must confess that if my partners decide they don’t want to follow me any more, I – being an Aries – push, pull, cajole and tug them until I somehow convince them to follow the path that “I” have chosen. I readily admit that it is not always easy to live with an Aries like me: it might be fun, might sometimes be challenging, but it’s certainly always hard work. I also confess that I desperately need my companions and cannot live without them, perhaps simply to hear their applause when I do something well (and in this I certainly resemble Peter). At my age the roads of life have for the large part been travelled. If I take stock, the balance is positive and I’m satisfied with the results, but I am always restless because I am constantly searching for new challenges and new goals to aim for. And as regards goals, I manage to keep the “child in me” alive, and look to the future with enthusiasm. I’d love my Peter Pan to be a huge success, but only because that success would drive me to tackle a new adventure: writing the next sequel, which I have already completed in my mind and of which about a third is already written.
G.G.: Let’s leave Neverland and fly over the Thames. The Globe and the London Eye are the background and the soundtrack is the wind from our imaginary wings… Might the characters in your book be helpful for the fragility of young people in Italy, Europe and the rest of the world?
Max J. Aldridge: Much more so than the original, “my” Peter Pan is a book with strong moral content, and there are many aspects of this new story which make the book suitable for a reader of a “developing age”. The positive values of patriotism and ecology and the negative values of Lord Rubbish (who exploits poor orphans in his dump and wants to transform London’s waste into food for the poor) are emphasised right from the very beginning. Lord Rubbish also wants to conquer Neverland to create a tax haven for himself, and then tarmac it over to build a theme park.He wants to use the Redskins and the Lost Boys as free labour for his new business, and catch the mermaids in order to stuff them and sell them to the Japanese and Americans – a catastrophe, in short. Peter defends his island, becomes a leader for the little orphans exploited by Lord Rubbish and even defends London against a potential new tyrant, becoming a true national hero, honoured for his deeds by the King, who makes him a baronet. From an ethical point of view, young William is another particular character: heroic, generous, charming … his speech to the Londoners will make every mother want a son like him!
“The English have a miraculous power of turning wine into water” … Oscar Wilde. The success achieved by Max J.Aldridge is all the more incredible because he has managed to turn his pain into “healthy humorousness”, an art, a gift and a power that only a few people or writers have. Our short journey has taught us so much, like a Christmas stocking filled with the simple, colourful things that only a lover of flight can communicate.
Our journey ends with the sound of the Big Bang in the background. It is midnight on Christmas eve, and time to go. “Thanks a million, Max,” I said, clutching a snowball with Neverland inside.
“Thank you ,Giuseppe and Oubliette Magazine“. I turned to give him my gift, but he was already in flight, his yellow fairy dust enchanting the skies of London. I smiled, because finally Max J. Aldridge Max had managed to show, in the pages of Oubliette, the beauty of life and humour, through a simple art …
“See you again, Max”.
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