Tom Aitken's professional activities since leaving New Zealand in 1967
After arriving in London in 1967, Tom taught History, English and Drama in grammar schools there and in Gloucestershire. During that time he directed theatrical productions including The Mikado, Orpheus in the Underworld, La Belle Hélène, Julius Caesar, Macbeth and Much Ado about Nothing.
He became a freelance writer in the early Eighties and has published articles reviews and obituaries (including one for The Times on Douglas Lilburn) for, as well as The Times, The Guardian, The Times Literary Supplement, The Charleston Magazine, Brass Bulletin, Winds, The Morning Star, The Church Times and The Jewish Chronicle. He interviewed the poet Fleur Adcock, the organist Gillian Weir and the actress Nicolette McKenzie for The New Zealand Woman's Weekly. He has appeared, occasionally, on British radio and television, and edited Brass International, Brass Band News and English P.E.N. News.
He edited the last for part of the eight years he spent working for P.E.N., an international writers' organization which campaigns for freedom of speech. He played some part in the campaign to lift the fatwah (threat of summary execution) imposed on the novelist Salman Rushdie, during which he addressed a conference at the Mosque in Regents' Park, attended public demonstrations and helped host a dinner party for the beleaguered author that was guarded by security men and women all well over six feet tall.
During this time he also played in the London Collegiate Brass under Edward Gregson and James Stobart at many performance venues and on radio, and wrote programme notes for their CDs. Later, he wrote programme notes for the Richmond Concert Society.
In 1995 he became film critic of the Catholic weekly The Tablet--without, incidentally, becoming a Catholic. During his eight years in the job he served on juries at the Berlin, Venice and Estubal (Portugal) film festivals. At Venice he found himself reading part of the Gospel of St Mark in the presence of the patriarch of Venice during a reception in private apartments within St Mark's Basilica.
These connections led to an invitation to lecture at St Deiniol's Library (now Gladstone's Library), of which he is a Fellow, on cinematic topics and on William Gladstone, the 19th century British Prime Minister, including talks on Gladstone and the Antipodes and on Gladstone and William and Catherine Booth. (The two Gladstone papers can be found online in The Journal of Aggressive Christianity.)
He has also lectured at the Graham Greene Festival from 2003-05.
The Graham Greene Birthplace Trust published his Ways Affirmation and Ways of Escape: Graham Greene in Mexico and the Congo as an occasional paper in 2005.
He contributes articles on cinema to De Gruyter's Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception New Catholic Encyclopedia and Bible and Cinema: Fifty Key Films ed. Adele Reinhartz, forthcoming from Routledge.
He currently writes for Kapiti Independent News (online), Plays to See (online) and Brass Band World.
His other published writings include:
two novels for 10+ readers: Water Lane (1986), Nowhere to Hide (1994);
in Cinéma Divinité (2005) and Through a Catholic Lens (2007): essays on Film and Thelogy;
in Ambit, The Spectator and several anthologies edited by the late Eric Parrott: poems etc;
Blood and Fire, Tsar and Commissar: The Salvation Army in Russia 1907-1923 (2007)
101 Beautiful Towns in Great Britain (2009);
Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (Walter de Gruyter, forthcoming): sundry articles.
Monte Cassino at War: The Political and Military History of an Abbey, is currently in search of a publisher.
Tom is working on a history of the political and religious circumstances that influenced the composition of the Bible.