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Sunday 25 August 2019

King delivers sequel to The Shining

SHEA TOMKINS

IN 1977, when Stephen King unleashed his horror masterpiece The Shining on the world he subsequently revealed that main character, the troubled Jack Torrance, was based on the author's personal struggle with alcohol and an unjustifiable anger towards his family during that period of his life.

He later criticised Stanley Kubrick's big-screen version of the novel, though the Jack Nicholson-starring feature has gone on to be credited as one of the best horror films ever made. In time, King warmed slightly more towards the film though he was displeased by the casting of Nicholson based on his association with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; he felt it gave the viewer a major clue about the loss of sanity that lay in store. Was it a case of the film being better than the book? For me, the answer is no. But it came closer than most.

It is with little enthusiasm that I welcome the news King has penned a sequel to The Shining, due for release in September 2013. It is reportedly entitled Doctor Sleep and will pick up with the child star of the original book, Danny, now middleaged and about to get up close and personal with a colony of vampires. In an era where America seems to have an obsession with fanged creatures of the night, King revisiting one of his greatest pieces of work sounds like it may be little more than a half-hearted contribution to the vampire overkill we are currently experiencing. Unnecessary you might say, unless it's for the cash.

King has tried resurrecting characters before. After the short story The Body, which was later adapted onto the big screen under the guise of Stand By Me, he explained in a subsequent novel, Needful Things, about what had happened to Gordie Lachance when town bully Ace Merrill eventually tracked him down after their stand-off with a gun in the woods. That hurried effort to tie up loose endings fell flat for me. I worry then, as a fan of King's work, that any effort to explain what happened to Danny Torrance after he survived the horrors of the Overlook Hotel will underwhelm too - though such a masterful storyteller deserves the benefit of a read, before success can be definitively ruled out.

The Shining had a perfectly acceptable beginning middle and end. Let's hope King's giving it an after-life doesn't come back to haunt us all.

BYE BYE DODI

The younger lad is under pressure this week. The good woman has decided that the time has come to wean him off his dodi, and I feel as if I have fallen between two stools. Steely eyes versus doe eyes; and at the moment I am surrendering to both.

We never had this problem with the young lad, as he never took to a dodi, instead we had difficulty getting him to say farewell to the baw baw. Now I hear the younger lad in the kitchen being told to take the dodi from his mouth, that it's only for bedtime. He coyly slips it into his pocket and then he comes to find me, whispering for permission to stick it back in his mouth. And most of the time I fold.

Dads should be for the easy stuff like teaching him how to strap on his bicycle helmet, or drink from a cup, or showing him how to pee standing up. Women are for the truly trying parenting challenges, and thank heavens we have them for if it was left to me then the younger lad would probably still have a dodi in his mouth when he turns up to celebrate his 21st - though I would have to draw the line on his wedding day.

KINDEST OF GESTURES

At a time when the world has not enough philanthropists to go round, and the public have their heads frazzled about which charity deserves their spare cents the most, it is heartening to hear of the recent €7m donation made to the Barretstown Camp in County Kildare.

This service, established 18 years ago by the late actor Paul Newman, provides recreational programmes for children that have been through a serious illness, mainly cancer.

Though the organisation is reluctant to reveal the identity of the donor, it is believed to have come from the former owner of Stackallen Stud in County Meath, the late Elizabeth M Burke. A seriously sick child is the cruellest reality life can throw at any parent and her donation, which cover the costs of running Barretstown for over a year is more than a gift, it is one of the kindest acts imaginable.

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