Call that a Roman Villa?… (Gozo cont.)

When last seen, Our Hero and Lone Support Angel were enjoying a latte and pastizzi before going in search of Ninu’s Cave… Good news: We found it… Bad news: It’s closed…

So what do we do now?… Well why don’t we go find Calypso’s Cave? ooooh and they have a Roman Villa nearby… Bit of a Busman’s Holiday for Our Hero but … but… History!!

According to Homer, Odysseus was trapped on the island of Ogygia (Gozo) by Calypso until she was ordered by Zeus to release him… Now we all know that the Odyssey isn’t an entirely factual account of the events following the Trojan War ~Nicely put. Legal~ but that hasn’t stopped the tourist sector from cashing in on the events it recounts… And why not… Hell, if people were (are they still?) prepared to pay good money to follow in the footsteps of Robert Langdon (The Da Vinci Code) then why not visit the sites mentioned in the far superior Odyssey?

And so we shall… Oh Glod! who left the car parked in the only unshaded part of the street? Well done, Our Hero, now you are not only cramped and breathing diesel fumes but also being slowly cooked…

So head towards Ramla Bay and follow the signs for”It’s There!! Take that turn…  ” again the road sign is almost past the road we want… “it should be down here about half… Oh we’re here”… Soooooo… Calypso’s Cave is marked by a slight widening of the road, an ice cream van and a little shop selling jumpers… No, the cave is just beyond the shop… it must be along that path.. or should that be up these five steps to the viewing platform…

So, where is it? Oh, I get it… the cave is directly under the viewing platform… and, we can’t go in because it’s unsafe… Well, let’s just buy LSA that nice jumper she saw and then head on down to Ramla Bay for the villa…

The next mile of road leaves something to be desired to say the least… Our Hero is now cramped, hot and (despite avoiding most of the very worst pot-holes) bouncing around like a five year old on a bouncy castle… LSA appears more relaxed but that may be the bottle of water, the lack of steering wheel producing a permanent groove in her knees and not having her left foot twisted at an almost impossible angle to reach the clutch pedal… Wow, look at all this parking… Something tells me Ramla Bay is very popular…

[You mean all the kids running about, the people playing ball games, the swimmers, surfers,the huge cafe bar and the five ice cream vans isn’t a clue?]

First let us get our bearings… According to this map the villa is just beyond the public conveniences… so it must be here…

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Surely that’s not it…

No, it must be further on… Maybe it’s over this dune… Or maybe this one… OK, it must be over this one… I’m just going to go back and have a look at that map again…

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Nope, this is it…

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Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the Roman Villa at Ramla Bay

Now, I know that my archaeology  experience is primarily armchair based but I have seen the odd one or two villas in my time… to say that this one wasn’t particularly well presented… Actually, I’m not going to complain about it… I know that Gozo doesn’t have a lot of money and that, for them, the villa probably isn’t that culturally or historically important… For all I know, it might not even be that well preserved or architecturally significant… but I do feel a little cheated…

Oh well, it’s almost siesta time so let us brave the Rocky Road to Dublin Gharb and have a rest before we head out for our evening meal… Tomorrow is another day…

It seems the hunting is tailing off… this morning Our Hero is awoken by about five shotgun blasts a minute rather than the twenty or so that so generously greeted each sunrise over the past few days… By Glod, it’s still only five am… I really want to kill somebody…

Fortify yourselves folks, gird your loins and sort out which is your best foot to put forward for today we are going for a hike up the coast… today we go in search of the Ancient Salt Pans… And so to Marsalforn… Let’s head out early so we beat the traffic (hahahahahahaha), and get most of the trek done before the heat of the day… twenty minutes later we’re at Marsalforn… are we ready for this? Yes, let’s go…

Gozitian guide books and maps being what they are we have no idea how old the salt pans really are… and, truth to tell, I don’t know if there is any way to actually find out… We do know that they were in use before the arrival of the Romans… So they probably do date back into pre-history… and are still in use today… Why are we so surprised that the hours long hike we were expecting take about half an hour? You’d think by now we would be used to how small this island actually is…

The Salt Pans is another history geek moment for Our Hero… yes castles, villas and temples are all fascinating but things like salt pans, aqueducts (and for some strange reason sewer systems) are always thrilling for me… They are the reminders of our humanity… the way I look at it, buildings reflect the relative wealth of their owners but we all need to eat, drink and crap so studying the methods and systems put in place to provide for these universal demands is a great reminder that we are all human… history from below the bottom up 🙂

Also, the salt pans are a fantastic innovation  when you think about it… and they look nice too…

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Sea water and sunlight = salt

But hold on… Wasn’t that the mountain that the aliens landed on in Close Encounters?

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LSA stood about ten feet away to give scale…

Oh no, you’re alright… it’s just a copy 😉

OK, even I’m getting bored with this now… I mean there are only so many ways I can say WeWentHereWeSawThat… and even the bad running joke that was the car can only go so far… Besides, most of the historical sites have been visited now… I don’t mean to sound dismissive but, truth to tell, I’m not really feeling this any more… Besides, there really not much more to say… We went back to the Citadella… We spent a few hours wandering around Victoria and the Craft Village… We climbed a hill looking at a bunch of statues about a cigarette smoking Roman soldier and some bloke carrying a log… We ate in some  delicious restaurants… We met a very cheeky ginger tom… We only just made it through security and passport control as last call for boarding was being announced for our return flight… We came home to our four legged flat mate and two friends (who proceeded to ply us with enough alcohol to render us barely coherent for the rest of the day… 🙂

I would like to thank Jackie and Mark at Ta’ Matmura Farmhouse B&B for the delicious meal they made for my B’day that we all celebrated together…

I would also like to add a recommendation to go visit Gozo… Oh and if you do go I suggest you stay at the Ta’ Matmura Farmhouse B&B… oh and tell them Our Hero and Lone Support Angel sent you…

TTFN

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Blimey! Has it been over a week already?

A bit cryptic that title, innit? Well, truth to tell, it’s only a working title… I really can not think of a name for this latest piece of drivel… I mean I could go with the classic “What I did on my holidays”… or maybe I could try the not very imaginative “GotoGozo”… I’ll tell you what… I’ll just carry on with this… this… whatever this is… and then if I think of a title I’ll let you know… Sound fair?… Yeah that’s what I thought… 

Actually part of the reason I’m having trouble with the title is because I had all this planned out [Well there’s a first] but due to some magical wi-fi/interweb/roaming issue the photos I was hoping to entice you with [as opposed to the unfunny, dad jokes you usually open with] aren’t available at this present time…

Oh and I had better warn you… Our feline flat mate has taken exception to my laptop being on my lap so this may take a while … and any gibberish you come across will probably be down to her[Yeah, Right!] 

{I’m sorry, did you say something?}

[Nope, yeralright.. gori’aheadwi’ya…. excOO!ooses]

{Are you pissed?}

[Not fully…hic]

{Not fu…. Oh FFS!! Go sober up… I need full fact checking, the TOMT dept, Childhood dreams and … and… }

[Legal?]

{Hopefully not…. But yeah, just in case….}

[I’m on it!! Just let me grab{Leave that!…. I said, leave the bottle… Just… ju…Get out of here and get sober!}]

Now where was I?… Oh yeah, photos… Well, just to whet your appetite I shall give you a quick look at where I; That is Our Hero and his ever amazing Lone Support Angel, went for their holiday/major history fix a week or so ago..

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Yes, that really is all the way around…

I’m not going to insult you by repeating where we visited but I will, before we go any further, encourage you to visit… 

So… where to begin… ?….?….?

The journey out was pretty much uneventful… Nice trip to the magic-flying-metal-bird park… Easy check in… Forced to go through the body scanner because I would rather keep my trousers up using a belt rather than shuffle through security with them swiftly falling around my ankles… Uneventful flight… things start to go loopy as we get to the other end…

We land at about 16:30 and make our way to baggage claim… But hold on! car hire closes at 17:00 so I’ll just run through to get that sorted while LSA grabs our suitcase… Something should have warned me when I said gave our booking details and am told I am late… I continue with the booking as LSA joins usBOOM! “What the Hell was that?” Everybody is ducking and looking out through the windows as a plume of black smoke rises not half a mile from the airport… and then we all just turn back to what we are doing… No panic, no screaming… Just back to sorting out car hire, meeting arrivals, getting coffees… “Was it a bomb? Who cares, where’s my frapacino?” Humans huh?!

“Well, thank you for the car… We’ll see you in a week.”

“No. Tomorrow. At 9:00.”

“What? But we’ve booked the car for the week.”

“Not according to this booking.”

“What? We booked it all through ^Redacted-Legal^ and it’s for the week…”

“Ahh… yeah ^Redacted^ are always doing that… First thing tomorrow call this number and they’ll rectify it for you…”

Welcome to Malta :)… Now, let’s get over to Gozo 🙂 🙂 🙂 And cue a game of hunt the roadsign… Honestly, how difficult would it be to put the directions from the roundabout on the entry rather than at the fucking exit? And while we’re at it, How about cleaning the first sign everybody coming out of the airport will see?

LSA may be regretting this holiday already… Only been here less than an hour and already Our Hero is ranting about the roads, the Maltese drivers and the FECKING CAR!!!  But it was an incredibly uncomfortable car for Our Hero to drive… Pedals too close together forcing left ankle to twist awkwardly, knees rubbing against the steering wheel even with the seat fully back… Oh Glod!!! and it’s a fucking diesel *sob*…

And it’s getting very dark on these unfamiliar roads… Whoa!!   Where did that fucking bend come from?!! Oh look, the ferry… I hope Gozo roads are better than Malta…

and from the Port to Victoria they certainly are… “So where are we going LSA?” “Gharb… or is it l’Gharb… or maybe Arb…” “So where’s that?… ” Cue lots of wrong turns and calling the B&B to find where we are staying…

And here it is…

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Ladies and Gentlemen… Ta’ Matmura B&B

Let’s just fall into this comfortable bed and start all the history hunting tomorrow… 🙂

Tomorrow starts at 5am with the planets noisiest bird colony and what turns out to be about a million “hunters”… Yes, they do deserve the parenthesis because blasting birds the size of golf-balls out of the sky using a twelve bore shotgun isn’t really hunting… It’s illegal throughout Europe but the Maltese/Gozians claim exemption as part of their cultural heritage… Yeah, I’m not going there…

Now I fully understand the reasons our hosts don’t supply tea making facilities in the rooms but as LSA will corroborate, I am not good before my first cuppa and air-freshener… Wake me before the sun on the first day of my holiday and I’m one wrong word away from needing the lovely white canvas jacket with long sleeves…

Luckily for me (and probably most of down-town Gharb) we are welcomed into the dining room with a delicious breakfast and REAL TEA! Not Twinnings English Breakfast but REAL TEA 🙂

A leisurely breakfast (with fantastic scrambled eggs) later and we are ready to explore… Right, lets get to grips with this matchbox car…  I swear, I need a second knee (on a right angle to the current one) in my left leg to drive this thing… Victoria, here we come!

Oh wow, we’re here… But I can still see l’Gharb in my rear-view mirror! Oh well, lets find a parking space… A puddle filled football pitch, in the centre of town, for €1.50 all day? Don’t mind if I do…

[Are we going to get a minute by minute account of every day?]

{You’re  probably right… This should probably be more of a personal impressions piece… After all Gozo isn’t really that big (well the bit that we were in wasn’t; though one couple that were staying in the same B&B claimed they had walked around the whole island in one day) and if I do go day by day all the unlucky reader is going to get is “wentherelookedatthat wenttherelookedatthis” and even I’m not that cruel – or boring}

So let’s try this a little differently… There will still be a bit of wentheresawthis but that can’t be helped…

I will try not to sound like a snob… pull me up on it if I do… because I know that living and working where I do I’m a bit spoiled when it comes to Heritage Preservation, Interpretation and Presentation… Add to that my own expectations, privileges and historical knowledge… but I have to congratulate the Maltese/Gozitian heritage/tourism sector… when you consider the relative wealth of Gozo compared to the UK… the cultural differences…  the dominance of the Catholic Church within society and the current economic climate… they have certainly endeavoured to entice and enchant their visitors… at most of the sites at least…

If you are doing an historical tour of a place then there are obviously sites you wish to visit… I mean you don’t sit down to plan your trip and go… “Oh lets go to Wakanda and see if they’ve got some historic things just laying about”… No, you do some research… You say to yourself “Where have I always wanted to visit?” and you go from there… Well I have, for as long as I’ve known of them, wanted to visit the Ggantija Temples on Gozo… So let us go there… Or rather, let us go visit the Citadella and save the Temples for tomorrow because looking at this map, they are miles away and it will take us forever to get there… And there we go with my preconceptions… Gozo would easily fit inside the London Orbital Motorway (M25) [Indeed according to a couple of websites I’ve just visited…]

{You visited?}

[And who else pray? Five Year Old Self?]

*did someone call… because… CAT!!!*

{Great, now look what you’ve done… I’m going to have him badgering me all the way through this now…}

[I wouldn’t worry about it, he’s too busy playing with your four-legged flat mate… But yes, to answer your question, it was I that did the web-search… and according to the top three sites I checked Gozo is about the same size as the part of the City that you live in… In fact if you think about it it took you longer to go from your home to the supermarket last week than it did going from your B&B to the port on your last day… and that’s with accounting for traffic or lack thereof… Just saying]

So OK, Our Hero and LSA had miscalculated the distances they would need to cover during their trip but we had planned our days very carefully and saw no need to change those plans

Tell you what, how about a few photos while I change the music and grab a cuppa…

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Just some of the phases of the Citadella

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Goddesses brought from the Ggantija Temples

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Lone Support Angel doing bird

Now one of the reasons we wished to visit the Citidella, beyond it’s own historical significance of course was the fact that it houses a number of small museums…

And the first one we entered was? The Archaeology one of course 🙂

 

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How a fish would see the trap… If the fish were flying vertically through a room

The islands have a very long and sometimes quite turbulent history [Where doesn’t?] but suffers from being ignored for much of that history… Gozo in particular has never been either strategically or economically important enough for most of history’s superpowers to treat it with anything more than benevolent indifference… As a consequence, the people have pretty much just got on with life… I don’t mean to be dismissive here, but when (during most of it’s history) the entire population could and did fit inside the Citadella, the importance that population is going to represent to Classical Greece, Carthage, Rome and the Northern European Empires is negotiable…

Having said that, the different occupying groups did each leave enough of an impression on the island and it’s inhabitants to give it it’s own unique culture… and the tiny Archaeological museum reflects that perfectly… Charting the history of the islands in a small number of artefacts and unbiased interpretations… Indeed the lack of bias in the historical reporting was rather refreshing… Yes, there was a larger focus on the Christian (particularly Catholic) heritage but the superior attitude prevalent towards the Romans, or the sneeringly apologetic representation of the influence of Islam that can be observed in other nations is not in evidence here… The entire purpose of the exhibits appeared to me to convey a simple message… “These people (be they Pagans or Muslims, Roman merchants or The Knights Hospitaliers) were here, here’s some artefacts to prove it, but don’t think that that is all we are”

There are six museums* inside the Citadella… As well as a number of shops selling traditional craft-work (Silver and Lace) as well as the HUGE church and the wall walks and abandoned houses… as you may imagine, in a structure smaller than the average top flight football stadium, things are kinda on top of each other and a bit cramped… But on that first day we did three of the museums and the shops, as well as the new interactive exhibition space in the undercroft… All of them were informative and amusing for a pair of tired old history buffs like us… The weather wasn’t particularly kind to us on that first day… Just as we had found a nice table on the piazza St George the heavens opened, forcing us to move further under the umbrellas… just long enough to order our food before the rain found gap between the umbrellas… and it’s “can we have another table?”… inside and up the tightest spiral staircase ever onto the mezzanine above the bar… followed by another move (just as our food arrived) so that a party of eight wouldn’t have to sit a table set for three… “Here, have our table so now the eight of you can sit at two tables together set for five”

Lunch was followed by a siesta back at the B&B that lasted longer than anticipated… Cue day two….

Today we do what we came here for…. But first to find it… Our Hero has adapted quite well to the idiosyncrasies of Gozitian driving now and LSA has solved the puzzle of directions (namely if the road sign doesn’t direct you to turn off then just keep going straight) which works well up to a point… and parking? well that appears to be just pull in anywhere… Today it’s the twin temples at Ggantija… When we eventually find it behind the coach park we can see that quite a bit of money has been spent on the visitor centre/museum… and it is appreciated… well by us anyway… maybe not so much by the German tour groups that have got a total of twenty minutes at the site… including gift shop!!! twenty minutes? I spent that in the first room of the museum!!

I’m not sure where the originals of the famous goddess’ sculptures are held and nowhere did it say so, though I do have my suspicions… But unless there were dozens of them, each an exact replica of the rest, then I suspect both the ones we encounter today as well as the ones we saw in the Archaeology museum yesterday, are all copies… Not that I care… for copies or not they are beautiful… And judging from the facial reconstruction of one of the original temple users, so were the people that made them… But let us step outside the dimly lit, air-conditioned splendour and see the Oldest Free-Standing Structure in the World for ourselves…

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Not very impressive from the back

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Lone Support Angel welcomes me into the home of the Goddess’

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The alters in a side chamber

Now I could go off on one here about how much I hate antiquarians… Yes, I know that they are the fore-runners of today’s archaeologists but I just can’t forgive them for their attitudes towards our physical heritage… So much has been lost to the treasure seekers of the past… But that is all I’m going to say on the subject…

I do wish though that modern archaeologists and engineers could come up with a way to ensure the Ggantija temples remain standing and safe while removing the ugly scaffolding…

I know it is needed to prevent stones that weigh up to 50 tonnes, that have stood here since before Stonehenge was even a gleam in its architects eye… But a lot of money went into building the visitors centre and the security for the temples but surely something can be done to prevent any further damage or loss beyond that which has occurred since the Governor of the island made convicts demolish most of the structure in the 19th century…

I’m not saying the scaffolding makes it look too much like a building site to fully appreciate the structure but I feel the casual visitors would not get the most of of their experience…

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Another alter, this one in the younger temple

 

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The smaller temple in all it’s glory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now we have seen the temples… and my head is abuzz with theories and possible paintings… so let us venture forth to the windmill… via the world’s smallest gift shop…

The windmill on Gozo is the last of it’s kind… dating back to the early 18th century… Today it’s a “folk museum”… That is a museum that focuses on the lives of the general populous rather than military or religious rulers… and we love it…

We have been on Gozo for about 48 hours and we are hooked…

[Boss? Boss?! BOSS!!]

{What?}

[We have a problem… Have you seen how much you’ve said so far?]

{About 2 days worth…}

[Boss, you are at nearly 3000 words…]

{So?}

[So don’t you think people might be getting bored?]

{I doubt anybody’s actually doing anything more than skimming through looking at the pictures, to tell you the truth…}

[Well I just think you should be considering wrapping it up…]

{But I’m only on day two…}

[Then write a follow up…]

{Will people go for that, do you think?}

[they did with Pompeii and The Wall… I don’t see why not… I mean you’ve still got a lot to cover… the Salt pans.. The Natural history museum… The…{yes, alright… don’t tell them everything now… OK, I’ll do it…} Good idea… I’ll just let the rest of the crew know…]

He does have a pint dear reader… [Oi!] Sorry, I meant point… well that was a slip wasn’t it 😉 … So while LSA and Our Hero settle down to a pastizzi or two before going on the hunt for Ninu’s Cave, I shall bid you all farewell…

If you really want to follow our further adventures on Gozo come back in a couple of days… but for now…

Seeya xx

Oh… Before you go… How about a photo of the windmill?

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Inside the reconstructed top floor

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Don Quiote was nowhere in sight…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*In no particular order:

  1. Archaeology
  2. Natural History
  3. The Old Gaol
  4. The Courts (still in use)
  5. The Folk Museum (cultural/reconstructed period)
  6. The Cathedral

 

Four extra feet…

This may come as a surprise to you dear reader but I am not the constantly grumpy, rage filled ranter that most people think I am. I know, it’s shocking isn’t it?! Truth be told I don’t even know where that reputation came from. Oh alright yes I do. I created it. Created it, nurtured it, revelled in it and will probably continue to do so for many years to come, revealing my true squishy inner me only to those I choose to… But only in small doses, we don’t want to confuse people after all.

One aspect of this ogre persona has been the constant and (sometimes quite vehement) aversion to animals… Not all animals of course, I’ve always had a soft spot for wolves and bears for instance… And sloths can be quite endearing when they are not covered in crap…

Actually I don’t really have a problem with animals… At least not when they are in their natural habitat.. It’s the domesticated and semi-domesticated ones that cause my cognitive dissonance… Previous victims of this spam-filter evader will remember the encounter of the bovine kind during our hero’s epic Wall adventure… and if you have had the dubious pleasure of meeting my despicable self in the world beyond the screen then you may have heard a number of “humorous” anecdotes I have recounted over the years regarding sheep, goats, cats and on one occasion swans…

But why am I rambling? [We were wondering.]

It’s this cognitive dissonance thing… You see I quite like animals but I feel bad about “owning” them… This has been brought home to me this past week… All because of this lovely specimen…

 

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Say Hello Millie

Millie came into our home about two weeks ago… Suffice to say that Lone Support Angel and myself are very happy sharing our home with her but here is where that weird thinking comes in…

You see, Millie is a rescue cat… An eight year old rescue cat… An eight year old rescue cat that spent most of her life with one person… We are her third home since her previous “owner” passed… Her first stop along the way to us was in a home with young children and she was not happy… The second was with a foster family and while I believe she was happy there she was forced to share the space with more than one representative of more than one species and that wasn’t entirely to her taste… and so we “adopted” her… She is now in her forever home… But does she know this? How’s that for a question to keep you awake at night… Does your animal companion know that they are with you forever?

But here’s the thought that has been trying to rob me of sleep for the past week or more… Imagine you are between 45 and 50, you have spent most of your life living with a being that doesn’t speak your language… It may not be ideal but over time you have adapted (and so have they) to a greater or lesser degree… You have developed coping mechanisms and routines that allow you to function… You may even be happy (for a given value of happy)… And then your world ends… Overnight, the only life you have ever known is cruelly ripped away from you… You are forcibly removed from your home and dropped into an entirely new environment… and then it happens again… and again… So now you find yourself in an alien world, with more beings that don’t speak your language… don’t really know anything about you… They don’t really know what you like to eat (though they do the best they can)… They don’t know your habits, or your fears, your preferred way of expressing affection or your favourite toy… You are lost, probably grieving, and completely at the mercy of these aliens…

Oh they do try to make you feel welcome… They feed you, they provide hygiene facilities and they try not to overwhelm you with new smells, noises, physical contact but they cannot help it…

Now I realise I am anthropomorphising slightly here but c’mon it’s a cat… You can’t tell me that all cats are the same… They’ve all got their own personalities… They could pass for human… Well, almost… If they wanted to lower themselves to…

So maybe it’s not so strange that I’m having these thoughts… Cats get under your skin… they get into your head… They certainly inveigle their way into your heart… You have no choice but to worry about them…

Lone Support Angel has mentioned a couple of times that having Millie here is like having a flatmate rather than a pet… and I have to agree with her… Millie isn’t a lap cat… And so far she is still apprehensive around us…  Part of the problem, I think, is that we don’t know how she likes to be fussed and she doesn’t feel secure enough in her situation here to fully open up (I’m anthropomorphising again aren’t I?)… We don’t really know what she wants when she comes screaming/singing into the bedroom at 4.15 AM… Nor do we fully understand the rules of the paper ball game; are we supposed to flick it away when she fetches the scrunched-up envelope back to our feet, are we supposed to congratulate/fuss her? We’ve tried both and her responses have been ambivalent to say the least…

And another thing… Why do we infantilise our quadruped companions? I’ve found myself talking to this cat as if she’s a baby… We have started to refer to each other as Mummy and Daddy (only when we are talking to her of course, it’s not like we have gone completely gaga)… It may have something to do with her being tiny… Mind you I have heard  Entertainments Officer treat his feline (who is at least twice the size of our Millie) with the same attitude and tone of voice…

[Is this actually going anywhere, or should I get ready to ship this off on the Waffle to Lower Rambling train?)

{Erm… Ah… Er… Actually, D’ya know what… I’d check the timetable on that line…}

[So this is another of those pointless train of thought things then? You didn’t actually have a point to make? You are just wasting your readers’ precious time, making them sit through this, you do know that don’t you?]

{Why are you being so stroppy? I did start out with a vague idea but it kinda… well… it just kinda drifted away from me…}

[Did you learn nothing after seven years of university? Did you do a plan?]

{A plan? This isn’t an essay. It’s a puff piece about a cat}

[A rescue cat. A cat with her own history. A tiny bundle of emotions and demands; idiosyncrasies and tastes, that has changed your life in subtle but quite profound ways. You can’t just let it fizzle out.]

.

.

[Where did you go? Hey, you’ve left your tea… What’s going on? Did I miss something?]

..

.

[Oh, OK… I’ll Just… ah… I’ll turn the lights of then shall I?]

.

.

[Well goodnight then folks, he’s down there flicking a ball of scrunched up paper about the floor for Millie to chase. I need a drink.]

.

.

[Oh, By the way, he got his degree. He won’t mention  it but he got quite a good one. We’re all rather proud of him around here, but don’t tell him. He gets all grumpy and dismissive if people bring it up. Night then.]

 

From who?

What is it with the Racist Right? Why are they so obsessed with “Getting Our Country Back”? Who the hell do they think they are?

More to the point, Who do they think we are?

Throughout my entire life I have heard people go on about US and THEM. Us (The British) vs Them (Everybody else). Recently the rhetoric has become even darker; “We are being swamped” “We are being invaded” “They hate us” “They don’t fit in”…

But let us  look at this logically… Who is the Us that They don’t fit in with?

Thousands of years ago, with the flooding of Doggerland, Britain became an island. An island inhabited by a few thousand people. These, and only these, can be classed as native Britons. Alright, we’ll go so far as to say, their descendants as well 😉

But then came The Beaker People. Nobody knows exactly where they came from but it’s a pretty safe bet that they came from Continental Europe (probably somewhere around modern day Spain/Portugal). So not us.

(Please note: I am using the word ‘us’ to refer to people born on this group of islands)

After the Beaker People came the Le Tene culture… More commonly known as The Celts.

Another group of continental Europeans that enriched and enhanced our culture. For a few hundred years, these Celtic people became the dominant culture… and then The Bloody Romans arrived… and things start to get even more confusing…. Because when we say Romans, what we actually mean is various culturally distinct groups under the rule of Rome. We had people from… (Actually, to make this easier I shall use the modern equivalent countries (or region) rather than forcing you to work out where I mean)… France, Germany , Spain, North Africa, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Belgium, Italy, Palestine, Persia (Broke my own rule there, sorry)… Pretty much anywhere that Rome had already conquered…

So, for about four hundred years or so, we were the first great flourishing of the Multi-Cultural society we have become 2000 years later…

And then Rome left… Except they didn’t… The Legions left… The politicians and the Civil Servants left… But a lot of people didn’t… People that had made their little part of these island their home stayed…Lots of ex-soldiers, ex-slaves, ex-officials… Basically, lots of people that found that they liked living here, in a vibrant and multi-cultural society, stuck around… Not forgetting that some of those staying were maybe four, five or even sixth generation descendants of the original ‘Roman’ invaders…

‘Britain’ continued…

And then came the cultural groups or tribes that most modern right wingers identify with… Most of whom were from modern Germany and The Low Countries (Holland and Belgium)… The Angles and the Saxons. Not forgetting the Jutes and the Freisans…

Oh and the Danes, the Norwegians, The Swedes and a few Finns… All wrapped up in the misnomer ‘Vikings’ (it’s a verb, not a people)…

So, by the year 1000 CE we are a combination of the descendants of (in no particular order and again I’m using the modern equivalents) Spanish, French, German, Turkish, Bulgarians, Romanians, Italians, Greeks, North-Africans, Portuguese, Irish, Palestinians, Belgians, Germans, Danish, Norwegians, Persians, Swedish, Finnish, Russians, and quite a few others… But because of the dominant cultural society, we refer to them as Anglo-Saxon… (yes, I am ignoring the Danelaw because in terms of cultural identity it was pretty much defunct by the turning of the new millennium)

And then came the fateful day in October 1066 when a bunch of former Danish ‘Vikings’ that had been living for a few hundred years in Northern France came sailing across The Channel… the Normans had arrived… In what could be argued was the last successful invasion of Britain.

You see, like the Romans before them, The Normans didn’t sweep all before them and replace all those living here with their own people, they only replaced those at the top of society… England effectively became an apartheid state… Normans in control, the rest a subject people…

And throughout all  this time people from all over the known world made their way here… fleeing persecution and war, seeking fertile land, seeking fame and fortune, seeking safety… Border control? No such thing… I mean even when we were at war with other nations we welcomed the peoples of those nations… We may not have trusted them but we didn’t turn them away… Whether they were Jews fleeing Christians, Protestants fleeing Catholics, Catholics fleeing Muslims, Muslims fleeing Christians… We held our doors open and welcomed anyone prepared to give up their entire lives in the hope of somewhere peaceful and rewarding to live…

And that is how it continued… For hundreds of years… Britain was like Ankh-Morpork in that we didn’t care if you came to ‘Invade’ us as long as you brought money… And then it all changed…

Britain went out into the world and saw that it had things we didn’t… It had money that wasn’t in our coffers… It had land and resources we weren’t exploiting… Well we weren’t going to put up with that… So we invaded, we stole, we enslaved… And all the while we were telling each other and being told by those in charge (the descendants of the Normans) that we were the best… We were the greatest… We were BRITISH!!!

But then our empire crumbled… we had to give back the lands we had invaded (some of them anyway)… We didn’t give back the wealth of course, we weren’t stupid… But all the time we were told “we are still the greatest”…

And so, after a few truly horrific wars, and with the idea of peace and the free movements of people, ideas and goods we signed up to a “Common Market” which went through a few versions to become the EU…

So now we are being asked if we want in or out… But out of what? Out of Europe? Sorry, not going to happen… we may be an island off the west coast of Europe but we are fixed in place so you can’t just tie a rope around Lands End and tow us further away…

Oh that’s right, it’s not about getting out of Europe so we can physically remove ourselves from them… It’s “get us out of Europe so we are not told what to do by them” (and of course to stop those foreigners from “coming over here”) but does anybody really think we will get back control of our country? Does anybody really think that the people who have been in charge for 950 years are suddenly going to give it all up?

We are not controlled by Europe. We are controlled by the descendants of the people that invaded in 1066… And let us remind ourselves who they were… Danes that had settled and lived in Northern France for a while and then came here…

And who were they taking power from? Descendants of invading Germanic tribes…

And who did they have power over?…. Come on, you must have seen where this is going… Oh alright, here it is again… All together now: The Descendants Of Spanish, French, German, Turkish, Bulgarians, Romanians, Italians, Greeks, North-Africans, Portuguese, Irish, Palestinians, Belgians, Germans, Danish, Norwegians, Persians, Swedish, Finnish, Russians, and quite a few others… Oh and a tiny number of people that lived here before the flooding of Doggerland (The Only True Brits!!!)

So let us get this stupid idea that we want “Out Of Europe” out of our heads… We Are EUROPEANS!!! You probably can’t get more European thus us… Europe isn’t Us vs Them… It isn’t even Us AND Them… Europe is Us and Us… They are our cousins, they are our own people… Britain/Europe… A family divided by it’s own stupidity? Arrogance? Fear?

Nope, going to go for stupidity…

 

I think I’ve said enough… I’m going to go now… Mmmmm, d’ya know what I fancy? A nice German beer, to wash down a lovely Greek cheese and Italian ham…

x peace x

Yet another essay dodge…

Yes you did read that right… I am again dodging an essay… But as I’ve said before, writing these things helps me to clear out all the crap that is blocking the creative flow necessary for my college work… So here goes…

So where do I begin? Do I write my review of Star Bores: The Force Struggles To Remain Relevant… Or do I unload all my thoughts on the heinous act of male genital mutilation? It’s a tough choice… I know that you, dear reader, don’t actually care, because let’s face it most of you only read this through familial or “friendial” loyalty…

How about this… I do both… Good idea?

What am I asking you for? This is my blog, and I can write whatever I like, if you don’t want to read it go somewhere else… I won’t be offended… Off you toddle…

Have they gone? OK, so let’s get this started…

So while I’ve been sitting here trying to write my essay the radio has been tuned to a discussion program (alright, I know it’s a bad habit but when you are stuck alone in the house for about ten hours you need other human voices to prevent cabin-fever, at least I do) and the topic for part of the show was in response to this story: father loses circumcision court battle over sons. Now this broadcaster claims to be impartial, not that I’d expect you to believe that considering the amount of pro-government propaganda they produce in their so-called “News Department”, but for the purposes of this particular piece they did at least attempt to be impartial, inviting on two guests to debate whather males should be restricted from receiving a circumcision until they have reached their legal majority. Of course, when I say impartial, one guest was calling for the ban on child male genital mutilation while the other was arguing for it on religious grounds…

Please note… this blog is not intending to detract from the debate about FGM (another act I find abhorrent) but as a man [Nominally. Ed] {yeah, thanks for that} I am talking about my experiences and attitudes, not something I can do from the female perspective…

So, Male Genital Mutilation (and from what I call it you may guess my stance)… For the record, I am one of those men that was mutilated as a child. Indeed, I can actually remember the “discussions” I had with my parents when I was about four or five when the subject of my impending  mutilation was brought up… of course back then I didn’t see it as a mutilation… nor was it ever portrayed as anything other as beneficial to me… But I do remember I was asked to prove to the health visitor that I could “Reveal my Little Man” by pulling back my foreskin… Remember, I was a young child, for me my penis was for peeing through and twanging when I was bored, it’s usefulness as a reproductive or pleasure organ were irrelevant… I remember the nurse and my parents talking in terms of cleanliness and (bizarre as it is thinking back) aesthetics… “Don’t you want to be able to keep it clean?” “Doesn’t it look better without that horrible little bit of flesh getting in the way?” What did I know? I was a child! My parents said it was a good idea to have it done and I wanted to please them… So now I am a middle aged man with a mutilated penis.

I suppose that at the time my future psychological health wasn’t even considered (certainly not by me, at any rate), nor was the possible reduction in sexual gratification… I mean my parents were fairly progressive in their attitude towards child rearing but I doubt that many parents would consider discussing the future sexual activity of their five year old, not with the child anyway… I don’t have kids so this is a subject that will never arise…

I have had this debate a few times over the years and each time the two main arguments for appear to be cleanliness and religious… So let us cover those for a few moments… First, Cleanliness… Yes, men and boys do sweat down there… yes it can get dirty… No, it’s not particularly nice… and in planetary regions that are arid, it kind of makes sense… If you live in a desert and water is too precious to waste… But if you live in a country that has access to running water at the turning of a tap it’s all so much BS. Teach your child to always ensure that area is cleaned thoroughly and the chance of infections is reduced… If things do go wrong, we have drugs that can help… To claim that mutilating a child will ensure cleanliness is also a lie, plain and simple… Chopping off a part of a persons body does not mean that the bit that is left will magically keep itself clean, we still need to wash it, it’s just that there is less bits to wash…

So, Religious reasons then… ~Legal here: Please be careful~ {I’ll do my best. But no promises}… Religious reasons… there are a few religions that require this mutilation… But consider where those reasons come from… the two major religions that regularly require this barbarous act were originally desert sects… So we return to the question of cleanliness… at least originally… Further research will also reveal that male genital mutilation was akin to scarification in other cultures… In other words, a way for early tribal societies to recognise each other or to easily identify another person’s social standing… admittedly, with our current cultural mores it does seem a bit ridiculous to expect a man to expose himself to prove his allegiance to a particular tribe or cultural/religious group but who are we to say what was acceptable to a bronze age culture?

I won’t go into detail about how I believe imposing a religion on a child is psychological abuse because that’s another argument altogether… I will say that claiming you must mutilate a child (remembering of course, usually with days of birth) so that that child will be part of the only true faith is heinous and cruel… OK, if the child reaches adulthood and wishes to have a ceremony that allows them to fully integrate into a religion then let them make that choice for themselves… But what happens to somebody that wishes to drop out of that religion? If the parent has mutilated that child then that mutilation will forever be a reminder of their lack of choice.

I won’t even go into the aesthetic(??) argument… Except to say that not one of my sexual partners has ever said to me that they prefer a croptop… many have said they prefer the original “design” but not the “improved” version….

And that is also, for me and many others, another argument against the act… Those religious groups that practice MGM claim that their Almighty Being is perfect… So perfect in fact that their greatest creation (humans of course) is in fact flawed… One day, the great invisible beard in the sky looked down upon his favourite creation and went: “Oh Shit! I forgot to take that little bit of skin off the end of the willy…  I’d better have a word with that lot and tell them to chop it off for me… Of course, as I am omnipotent I could just make it magically disappear and then alter everybody’s minds so that they don’t remember ever having it… But no, it’s easier to speak to the bloke wearing the sacred feathers who keeps the tribal history in his head to make him cut it off to prove that they love me enough to mutilate their own children…” or words to that effect…

~OK, I think you’ve said enough about this now. Don’t you?~

{Just one more thing…}

{OK, maybe not… I’ve certainly shared more than is probably appropriate already }

So shall we go onto Star Bores? I know that one or two of you still reading this will be surprised that I have now seen the latest instalment… and they will need a stiff drink when they discover that it was at my request…

Firstly I have to admit a couple of things… I have not always hated Star Wars… I pretty much do now, but when I was knee-high to a grasshopper I loved it… My favourite toys for many years were my Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kanobi figures… But things change, I grew older and George Lucas got greedy… First there were the Ewoks… Do I need to elaborate?  And then there were the 25th anniversary editions on VHS… I remember when my sister brought them home… we say and watched all three back to back… and I remember thinking “What happened to that scene?” “I don’t remember that happening.” “Surely that didn’t happen that way last time I saw this…” You see, Lucas had already started to rework the original films to “fix” continuity errors that he created and to appeal to a more pacifist (or rather anti-violence/criminal) element in the viewing public… Han DID shoot first FFS!… So even then I knew I would never see the original film ever again… The film that had got me playing with pretend light-sabers and walking like C3-PO was gone… And then it got worse! Because then came the enhanced versions… New CGI distractions in every shot and the contortionist Han Solo…

This is the only thing I am going to say about the prequels…. From what I remember about all three films (which is about maybe thirty minutes in total) they were shit, shit and more shit with added green screen.

So now we come to The Force Is Back (and please forget all that shit about midiclorians)….

I will try not to spoiler but something’s do need questioning… First… The balldroid.. BP8 or whatever it’s called… Did they have to make it “cute”? What am I thinking… of course they did… It needs to sell millions of toys…. of course it needed to be cute… But R2 was cute… and he didn’t have to do all that trembling behind the protagonist’s legs and doing bad cat impressions… He was cute because he was the unlikely hero… not because he was constantly cocking his head to one side and making “mewling noises”

Moving on… Fight scene… lot’s of laser blasts… Some bloke is having a crisis of conscience… More cute droid… Oh look, a bloke that looks a bit like an original Cylon (go on watch it, whenever a red light reflects in his face plate he looks like a Cylon) and now he’s taking his helmet off… how hideous will he… Oh he isn’t… And you couldn’t get Bendabit Cumbersnatch then JJ? Oh well, he looks a little bit like him… Oh that’s good, I like to see films that admit women are not “the weaker sex” and don’t need to be rescued… Hello what do we have here? A new Emperor? No it’s Supreme Being! or as I immediately referred to him: the Thanos/Mekon hybrid CGI exposition godhead thingy… Time for the cameos folks… Here’s the creaky old space pirate and his furry friend… and here’s his love interest from the first three films but now she’s more than a princess in need of rescue, she’s a general… A general that is so sure of herself that when a self-confessed member of the forces turns up and says “I’ve had a change of heart” she takes him at his word and allows him into top secret meetings… No debrief, not constant guard, no “Let’s check out his story” first, nope it’s straight into “Here, deserter, help us with our plans because we know absolutely nothing about you other than what you’ve told us and that isn’t much really but we trust you because we are the good guys…” Cue more fights, space battles, big twist and The Search For Spock sorry, Skywalker… Nice to see that the oldest Jedi temple is in Ireland though…

So that’s it… My rant is over… My essay beckons… My back hurts… and you need to try to find a way to get these lost minutes back…

 

As always, I’m not that bothered if you comment or not… Actually, I’m not that bothered if you’ve read this… Like I’ve said before, I write these things are for me…

 

Anyway, I’m going now….

 

Peace…

Warning: Bad Fiction Alert…

Hello you lovely lot… Sorry, got past your spam filter again…

If you read the title you then reading the rest of this is done at your own risk 😉

OK, here goes…

I DON’T REALLY REMEMBER MUCH OF MY CHILDHOOD. I know it must have been idyllic. I know that because most of my life was idyllic. Until about a year ago that is, but I’ll come to that later. I’m sorry, talking about this is quite painful so please bear with me.

I grew up in my father’s house. Actually, that’s not quite true. I grew up in his garden. I loved it.  How could I not, it was idyllic.  I remember the trees. The tallest, most luxuriant trees you could ever dream of. The fruits they gave were the most succulent, the shade they offered was the deepest pools of quiet contemplation one could ever hope to find . I would sit beneath those trees for days at a time. I don’t know what I used to think about. Truth to tell, I don’t even know if I thought. I know that sounds strange but it’s the truth, I don’t remember if I ever really thought about anything while I lived in my father’s garden. I certainly never had to think about food or clothes or shelter or, well, anything. Again, I know that this sounds strange but please believe me, my life really was idyllic. I wanted for nothing. Well almost nothing. I know I had yearnings sometimes. I don’t know if I ever really knew what most of the yearnings were for only that there were times when the idyll wasn’t quite as golden as it had been. I know these yearnings weren’t for life’s necessities, as I said my father’s garden was idyllic and bountiful. If I wanted fruit I just had to pluck it from the branch or the vine. The water from the spring was always clear and sweet. As I write this I can almost taste the meat that would occasionally arrive hot, pink and tender. I never had to hunt for it, nor did I take any animals life. I would merely see an animal and wonder how it would taste and some time later meat would be available somewhere in the garden. It was never in the house. In fact I never went into my father’s house. I know he had one for he was fond of telling me how glorious it was but he never me brought inside. I only ever remember the garden.

My father visited me but rarely. I would often know he was in the garden for I could follow his progress as the animals grew small and quiet at his passing but not all of his paths would lead to me. I never went looking for him. I couldn’t tell you why, just that I never really felt the need. I suppose I must have felt about my father’s visits in a similar way as I did about my need for food. If I needed him he would be there. Actually, that’s not quite true, there were many times in my life that I needed him and he was nowhere to be found. As I said, I never searched for my father but his absence from the garden was palpable. Not that it really mattered if he was there or not though for everything in the garden knew whose garden it was. In the same that I knew he was my father.

I knew because he told me so. Often. Whenever I felt a yearning he would be there. Be there to say: I am here my son. I am your father. Stay here in the garden and you will never want for anything.

And I would listen to him. I would lay back on the soft ground letting his voice wash over me and the yearning would leave me. At least for a time. These yearnings always retuned.Not always for the same things. Sometimes I would yearn to be able to fly. To soar as high as the sun like the eagle and the wren. And my father would say: That is not the life for you my son. Stay here in my garden and you shall want for nothing.

Or I would yearn to be like the salmon. To feel the crisp, sparkling water rippling along my spine through all the hours of the day. And my father would say: That is not the life for you my son. Stay here. Keep your place here in the garden I created for you. All things here are for you. Stay, and you shall want for nothing.

Or I would yearn to see beyond the garden. To walk beyond the trees that held the eagles nests, feel the sun bless my skin in meadows that were not my fathers. These particular yearnings always brought forth my father’s wrath. His voice would thunder through the garden, sending the birds shrieking and screaming into the azure everness above. I would cower in the undergrowth as he stormed above me. Gone were the words of comfort and plenty. Now it was demands: Stay Here! Rage: I made you. Control: You need only stay here. Love only me and you shall want for nothing.

I would cower. I would cover my head and shiver until his rage blew itself out. It always ended the same way. He would crash hither and yon about the garden, kicking at the plants, throwing stones into the water. Then he would turn to my models.

Did I mention my models? As I said, I was raised in my fathers garden but had never been inside his house. I used to dream about his house. What did it look like? How big was it? Was it as richly colourful as the garden or as subtly jewelled as the river bed? Some times these dreams were incredibly vivid and would haunt me for days. When this happened I would try to give shape to my dreams using twigs and mud, fire and pebbles; rings of stones stood alongside straw palaces, mud built ziggurats shared the shade of ancient trees with wooden platforms leading out from the riverbanks. Each one a half remembered dream imagining of my fathers house.

I couldn’t look at him as he smashed my dreams. I had no idea whether he smiled as my creations were returned to their natural state under his destructive temper. I don’t know if he wept. I would cower and shiver, keep my eyes tight shut until he stopped. Suddenly it would be empty silence in the garden. I would lay there, frightened and confused as the garden slowly returned to it’s former idyll. It was never the same though. Each time he crushed one of my imaginings I would lose a little trust in him.

The garden always felt a little smaller after his rage passed. More constricting. I tried not to entertain these yearnings but as the seasons passed they came ever more frequently.

I remember I asked about my mother once. I didn’t know what a mother was but I felt it was something I should have. I expected my father to be angry. I don’t know why I brought the subject up, only that I needed an answer. He wasn’t angry though. For a while he didn’t move or smile or say a word. I asked again. Eventually he sighed and moved to sit beneath my favourite tree. I asked a third time. He smiled then. Smiled and invited me to sit, patting the earth beside him. He told me again that I was his son and that I should live here in the garden. I never asked the question again.

As the seasons passed and my body grew my yearnings were joined by another. I felt the want most powerfully. The need. It took me many days to realise what my yearning was. I searched the garden. I knew my father would provide for me if my need was great enough. But he didn’t. I know he must of known of my yearning because I had spoken of it as I travelled about his garden. I could feel him watching me as I stood watching the animals during the time of freshening in the garden. I could feel his sadness as he watched me.

When my yearning became too strong to ignore I went to my father. I told him of my yearning. I tried to explain a concept that I didn’t fully understand myself. I pointed towards the beasts and the birds. I told him that I loved him but that that love wasn’t enough. I told him I needed more.

Seasons passed and the stags were trumpeting their need when my father finally granted my request. I awoke one morning to find her there. I didn’t know from where she had come. I didn’t really understand at first that she was a she. We sat looking at each other throughout that first day without saying a word. I didn’t know what to say. All I knew was that I was no longer alone. Correction, we were not alone. Wherever she had come from she had not come alone. Standing forever five paces away was her servant.

My father came to us on the second day. He told us that we should always love him. He told us that we should live together in his garden and that we would never want for anything. I told me I should now be happy. He told us to never try to leave the garden. He told me to never speak to the servant.

I tried. I avoided the servant as much as I could but my new companion spoke to him all the time. I didn’t mind. My new companion spoke often of outside the garden. Only once though did she speak of these things in a voice louder than a whisper. My father’s wrath the first time she spoke of it was the most fearful I have ever witnessed. My models were crushed, trees stripped bare of leaves with his anger. We both cowered beneath our shelter and waited for him to leave.

We tried to please him. We avoided the edges of the garden, where guards now stood. My idyll was slowing being destroyed. I want to make this clear. It wasn’t my companion’s fault. Nor was it her servant. It was my father that was destroying the garden he had made for me. I know now that it was his jealousy that was causing the rift between us. All the time I had been alone in his garden we had been content. But now my affection was divided. I loved my father but my companion now held the greater part of my heart. My father hated her for that.

I think it was my father’s attitude towards my companion that led me to seek out her servant. Her servant wasn’t happy in the garden. He was always attendant on his mistress, he always fulfilled her wishes but he never smiled. Whenever I saw him not in attendance on his mistress he would be looking towards the edge of the garden. Such a look of longing would come across his face as he gazed out towards the meadows that were not my father’s.

I waited until I knew that my father was not in the garden before I went to the servant. I sought him out among the trees in the season of fruit. I found him eating one of those most succulent fruits. He was again looking towards the edge of the garden. It took me a long time to gather my strength to talk to him. My father’s anger was a powerful force upon me. I struggled to push my fear of my father away as I moved towards the tree beneath which the servant lay. I asked him why he was so sad in my father’s garden. Why did he ever look towards the edge?

He told me of places he had seen beyond my father’s garden. He told me of people that didn’t even know of my father nor of his beautiful garden. He told me of cities and markets, of ships and people. He told me of bread and beer. He told of how people beyond the garden didn’t live in such an idyll. He spoke with such passion. He spoke with such longing. I began to cry as his tales spun around me.

I told the servant and my companion that we should never talk of these thing when my father was near. We all knew of his jealousy. We all knew of his wrath. We knew that for my father his garden was everything. We knew he loved us for he was always telling us. We knew also that it was no longer enough for us. Knowing of the lives that were being led beyond the garden made us want to explore the meadows that were not my father’s.

When my father learned of our desires he was wroth. He ordered us to stay in the garden. He ordered us to love only him. He meant to keep us. He would not even entertain the idea of us visiting outside the garden. He blamed my companion. He accused me of throwing his love back into his face. He raged against the servant. The longer he raged the more I came to understand that when my father said love he meant obedience. I came to know that he didn’t want me to just accept his love but to bow down to him. I was never to question him, never challenge him. Never do anything that would bring his wrath down upon ourselves.

I had lived with these rules for my entire life but now I had a companion and I could no longer endure this life. I could not endure it for her or for her sake. My companion was weeping. I was shaking and shivering, as I had many times before but now my fists were clenched in rage rather than fear. Now my hot and shameful tears were for my companion rather than for myself. I hated my father for how he was treating my companion.

When I had first asked for somebody to join me in the garden I had meant another like me. Another son from my father that I could share my days with, another man that would make my idyllic days fuller. It was my father’s choice to bring me a woman and yet from her very first day in the garden my father had railed against her being there. He blamed her for every perceived wrong. He accused her of stealing my love from him. He looked upon her with contempt.

I knew that I had to get my companion out of my father’s garden. I knew that being there, under his constant distrust and suspicion, my companion was wilting. Her head became bowed, her smile came less often. I knew that she would never flourish if she continued living in my father’s garden. She should flourish. She should be allowed to walk in the sun with her head held high, never fearing the wrath of another. I grew to hate my father for how he treated my companion. I knew we would have to leave.

There are many stories about the following events. My father’s is probably the one you have heard. I have heard it myself. It has followed around after me for years. I have tried to put people straight when then try to vilify my now wife because of my father’s stories but it is difficult. There are too many people in the world now that believe my father’s stories for me to argue against. That’s why I am telling you this now. So that somebody will hear the truth. My father is powerful. He is persuasive. He draws people to him with his stories and his promises but he is also demanding and uncompromising. He claims that all he wants from people is the same as he ever asked from me. Love. But I must tell you, it is a lie. What he wants from people is obedience. Unthinking, unquestioning servitude. I know that now.

While I was young in my father’s garden I accepted his assertions and his demands for I knew no different. I allowed him to smother my will with his because I knew no other way to be. I believed him when he told me that he created the garden for me and that everything in the garden served me. How could I not when his was the only voice I ever heard? But I now know that all of these stories were just that. He didn’t create the garden, he simply took over another’s abandoned place.

In my father’s story I was banished from his garden because my wife broke the only rule. This is a lie. There were many rules. The first of which was, my father’s whim was law. My father’s story, the one that even now is being spread across the land by his servants, tells how the servant tempted my wife and myself away from my father’s loving embrace. Again, lies.

We chose to leave my father’s garden. We did that. He did not cast us out. We walked away with our heads held high. No longer would my wife suffer under my father’s disdain. No longer would my wife be forced to endure the judgement of my father’s servants.

I no longer felt that my father deserved my love. I no longer felt he should dictate how I live my life. I may never forgive my father for how he treated my wife and for how he now dictates his servants to treat all wives and daughters. I know my father blames my wife for stealing me away from him but that is his delusion. My wife has brought me nothing but love and understanding while my father would rather I live my life in fear and ignorance. This is why he hates her still. Because it was her that helped me find the strength to challenge him.

My father’s story is spreading ever farther. Soon people, who never knew my father, will spread the lies his servants tell. Soon my wife will be despised by people who do not know her, for they will believe my father’s story because he is powerful and I am not. All I can hope is that, even as my life becomes nothing more than the ghost of a memory in the minds of my children’s children, my father’s lies about my wife will disappear into myth and legend.

I started this by telling you that my childhood was idyllic. Now that I look back upon it I realise it was not. Forced to grow up alone, living as an animal in a wilderness of my father’s creation. Never knowing the loving embrace of anyone before my wife. Never being allowed to question my father’s lies. Yes, if I had been content to live forever in my father’s garden I would have food aplenty. Yes, I would never have wanted for anything but I would never have found out who I am. I would simply be his little play thing. I would spend my days bowing to him, giving him all of myself that I had to give. But in the end, that life would have been hollow.

Since we left my father’s garden my wife and I have grown in a myriad different ways. We have grown in thought and compassion. We have grown in love and acceptance. We have grown in waistline and wrinkles. I think most importantly we have grown to understand that my father is not the only one that deserves our love.

Now I really must go. I can see my two boys are starting to get a little rough in their play. I swear, one of these days one will kill the other if we’re not careful.

It’s been nice talking with you. Hope to see you again sometime.

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I don’t know if the above story is any good. I’m not a fair judge of my own work. I know that what you have just read is not the story that has battering at my consciousness for the past week or more. I don’t know if what I originally intended to write would have been any better.

Anyway, I hope you liked it.

I’m going to return to my own life now and I’ll allow you to return you to yours.

Peace.

The Dudeney Test: The Role of Men in Film

I can wash-up, do laundry, cook a meal and discuss my feelings with my male friends… So why can’t the men on screen?

fromthemindoftinapj

watching films

Since the controversy at the upcoming Oscars with regard to the pitiful representation of people of colour in the cinema there has been open dialogue about the overwhelming whiteness and maleness of the film industry, peaking at white male representation.

The DuVernay Test is proposed as a discussion start for assessing the representation of people of colour (the preferred US term and given the predominance of the United States in film production and promotion and its domination of the film world, the one I am using) in the Western first world; I applaud and support this fully.  It sits well alongside The Bechdel Test which is a basic tool for assessing the representation of women in film.  Both tests are flawed in that any basic list of rules will require further discussion to clarify the points being made, but both provide an invaluable method of first assessing and developing an understanding…

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TAX… What’s the point?

Yes folks, I’m supposed to be writing an essay… Which is why I’m on here 😉

Don’t worry, I’ll try to make it quick…

So, Tax*. What’s the point right? Why do I have to keep putting my hand in my pocket just for somebody else to benefit? We’ve all said something similar… Now, don’t tell you haven’t… And don’t go assuming I’m accusing you of being *ist about this… Alright, let me put it this way… TRIDENT. There you go… Why should you put your hand in your pocket (tax for the slow of uptake) just for somebody else (The makers of trident) to benefit?

So, yes… there are areas that lots of people agree that tax shouldn’t be used for… Bombing Syria? Building fences in Calais? Keeping the Royals? Paying MPs ‘expenses’? Building specially adapted homes? (One of those things I really DO believe the money from my pocket should be spent on, and I’m sure you’ll agree… Actually I’m not sure, but I hope)…

So here’s the thing… Yes, there are things we don’t wish we were paying for but for many reasons put up with it… Mainly because for the majority of people we don’t actually have a choice when it comes to paying tax… Not on PAYE? Good for you… Bet you didn’t scream at the lady in (Insert Supermarket of Choice) about how you are not going to pay VAT on your groceries because you don’t like your tax going to such and such…

But corporations get to play by their own rules… yeah alright, if you are a self-employed builder, or mechanic, or comedian, or Rock Star, you can fiddle the taxman but I very much doubt that the taxman’s response to some 16 hour a day cabbie caught cooking the books will get the same treatment as Amazon or Google, nor would the ‘penalties’ be proportionate…

So why is it we are so angry at Starbucks et al?

Well I’m no economic scholar… [You don’t say!] and I’m sure that better educated people than I have made this argument much more succinctly than I ever will [You can be damn sure about that]

{Yes, thank you. Is this an unopened bottle of Glenmorangie?}

{Hot Damn! Seeya…]

So while I am sitting here the boss of Google is (supposedly) answering the questions of a parliamentary sub-committee about it’s criminal (my word) abuse of the British tax system… the British Corporation Tax rate is 20%, Google effectively paid less than 3%

I wish I was there! I wish I was asking the questions… I would start with an easy one… What the fuck gives you the right to shit on the British public?

Too harsh? Ok, how about this? How did you get here today Mr Google? Did you drive? Were driven? Used public transport? (sorry, just thought I’d lighten the mood)…

Before you left home today did you go to the toilet? Did you eat a hearty breakfast? Did you turn on the radio? Did you actually have to do anything today, beyond getting out of bed, that didn’t rely on someone else doing something to make it possible for you to be here?

EVERYTHING Mr Google did was made possible because somebody had done something to allow it to be possible….

Drive on the road? Who made it? Not Mr Google! Went to the toilet? Who made sure the waste was removed, cleaned, reused? Not Mr Google! Turned on the radio? I’m pretty damn sure Mr Google did not make himself a wireless before he went to bed last night just so he could listen to the weather forecast!!

So all these systems have to be in place for our mutual benefit… Roads, sewers, street-sweepers, police, schools, binmen, flood specialists, teachers… the list goes on and on and on…

Corporation tax is a thank you! It is a way for the Googles, Starbucks {Am sooo tempted to put an F in there instead of the B} ~And we’ve told you why you can’t sir~ Boots, Amazon, Murdoch Lies Media… It is a people backed contract designed to thank us! It’s simple… The rules say: If the British Public give you money you say thank you for that money by putting just 20% of it back into our society… Thank you for building the roads that allowed so many of our staff to make it into work… thank you for building and maintaining the sewer system so we don’t all die of cholera… thank you for educating our workforce to such a degree that we are able to make £Billions from their labour…. Thanks for ensuring our staff have good health…. Thank you for making sure our buildings didn’t fall down because they were designed and built by healthy, educated people… Thank you for making sure that if something terrible happened we would be made to feel safe and protected (Fire, Medical, Police)…. Thank you British People for all pulling together to make our society work for the benefit of most, if not yet all!!

But AmaGooBootbucks don’t see it like that… They see it as: We’ve made lots of money because you educated our staff, created roads, laid rails, built hospitals, cared for the elderly and infirm, put in street-lighting, police the streets, clean the windows, plant the trees, design our offices, built our operating systems, INVENTED THE FUCKING INTERNET, kept our kids safe in school, again the list goes on and on and on. But FUCK YOU!!! We will benefit from the British system but we won’t contribute!!!

So actually, maybe my first question is the right one… What Gives You Mr Amazon/Google/Boots/Starbucks/Et Al the right to fuck over the British people? Where do you get off treating us like shit simply so you can have the prettiest shroud? Who do you think you are? Do not sit there and tell us you are a self made man! Do not sit there and tell us we need you more than you need us.  Everything you have done, and have become, is because everybody else made it happen! The system didn’t just magically appear just before you slithered into the world and it won’t just all blink off when you are visited by the Goth Girl/Seven foot tall skeleton!

The system needs to be managed, to be enhanced, to be improved. It needs people to invest in it… And I don’t just mean “throw money at it”, I mean that people need to be educated, housed, kept healthy, safe, warm and able to travel… So don’t sit there and tell me that you contribute what you believe to be fair!! WE SAY that what is fair (actually we say it should be more but we are stuck with a braindead, coke addled, fuckwit as chancellor)… We say, that for every £1 you earn in or from the British then you should give 20p back to us to ensure that you can continue to make all those £s!!!

We have not evolved to our current level of human/cultural ‘progress’ simply to sit in hovels, starving and cold so you can have a pretty watch or eat over-priced crap…

Do your duty and thank the British people properly! Pay your fucking tax!

 

*I’m using British/Britain in this rant because that is the culture I was raised in but it should go without saying that you can replace Britain/British/£ with whatever system you wish…

 

Anyway, that’s all for now… Back to the essay for me…

Peace x

Here, have some pointless bollox…

I’ve done it again… I’ve had an idea for one of my occasional rants and as soon as I’ve opened the site my brain stops…

I mean, I usually write these things to clear out the brain fog that comes with writing an essay but the essays I’ve had to write over the past few months have created fogs that are too impregnable… which has meant two things have happened… One (1) You haven’t had this sort of drivel filling up your inboxes and my essays have got even worse than before… 🙂

[So, where is this going?]

{I don’t know yet… I did say… Don’t you even read these things before coming in here, sleeves rolled up, chomping that foul smelling cigar, getting whiskey over everything?}

[Read them? Why would I read them? It’s not like they are real literature or reporting, is it? Just the rantings of a middle-aged wannabe hippy.]

{You’re my inner editor, for crying out loud!}

[*Sigh* I know. That’s probably why I drink.]

{Oh just… ‘k off! Koff! Cough! Sorry, tickly throat}

~Legal here sir. Can we just have a word with you about this image that has just arrived in my inbox? It’s not too clear but it appears to be of a bald white man, laughing as he urinates out of a Rolls Royce window onto lines of people in wheelchairs, outside foodbanks? At least, I think he’s urinating, the light in here is a bit..~

{Um…}

[I’ll just go deal with this shall I? You just get back to…. Whatever…]

Actually, that image… Well let’s just not go there with that image but I think I know why it suddenly arrived… And no! Not because my inner editor looks like Iain Dunkedin~Legal here sir. All of the screens in our office have just started filling up with the phrase “Work Shall Make You Free” on a repeating loop. Could you get hold of Technical for me?[I’d leave him for now, he looks like he’s on a roll.]-top desk. It’s quite a good film. Much better than the remakes of course. So yeah, him. Or you might know him from Ar…. Ahhhh er… What was I saying? You really shouldn’t let me wander off like that… You really don’t want me just wandering around down any old mental pathway… I mean, every.. I dunno… maybe every two out of three ain’t bad but what happens if we end up in “Holidays with my family”… or “Saturday nights in Helsinki?” … Christ! we could run into that thing with the bananas, the wok and the three feet of green string!!! I mean, yeah they both agreed it was fun at the time… Especially when we brought in the Swarfega™ but I’m sure… and anyway, arms aren’t meant to ben… $Technical here sir.

We’ve sorted out the screens in legal… There may be a slight smell of gas for a while but it should dissipate soon… Are you OK in here sir? Only those walls look a funny colour… and that deckchair is looking a mite worried…$

{What? Oh yes I’m fine. I’m just a bit dazed…}

$And confused if you ask me sir. I’m not sure you’re allowed to do that with a ripe pomegranate sir, and what has that young lady got in her ha{Thank you. That will be all for now.} $Right you are sir. I’ll just go and… er… Just go…$

{Yes thank you…. Could you just pop the light on as you go? I’ll just clear away these photos…}

{Yes? What is it now?}If…

~Sorry sir. I’ve just brought in the three safest topics for you this week sir. Sorry they’re a bit late sir. We’ve had to reject quite a few.~

{Right. OK. Thank you.}

So ,what do we have here?

  • My Job (and how much I love it). Oh please. As if I’d ever write anything like that.
  • Winterwatch. Hmmmm maybe… actually, that could be a killer…
  • Queen (and how they rock my world) Ooh right. I’m that bloody predictable am I? Mind you, they do help me to keep on passing the open windows…

Right so, all I’m safe to write about isHello. what’s this?

  • If completely lost: Some mawkish drivel about some imaginary misplaced childhood interspersed with gushing tributes to Lone Support Angel…

Well really! I’ve a good mind to go in there and%DEEP Storage Here Sir.

You Asked Us To Alert You Any Time Someone Put In A Request For “Bizarre Behaviour Around Old Ladies”. Well, Legal Just Put A Rush Request For Years Three Through To Eight. With A Special Urgent For Year Twenty Three. It Says Here ‘Special Emphasis: New Years Eve 1994′. Do You Want Us To Upload It Sir?%

{…K! No! I mean, no. No, thank you. That’s actually a mistake. I’ll sort it.}

Excuse me a moment, dear reader… I’ve just got to… Go and… … … TEA! Yes, that’s it. Tea. I’m just going to go refresh… I shall be but a moment..

..

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{RIGHT! YOu fu

.*Whap!* *THUNK!*

.

.and those… no… the Red

.

… SHOES!!!

.

.now put those…

for those!!! and don*SLAM!*

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.

Sorry about that delay, but I really needed a… Yeah you don’t need to know that… TEA! Yeah, I needed a tea… Got it now 🙂 Did you get something? No? Well maybe afterwards… As a memento…

So what was I going to write? Actually do you know what? I sort know what I was going to write but the more I thought about it the more I realised it would just be another middle-aged, disheartened, old fart just moaning on and on about how shit things are nowadays…

I mean let’s walk this way… we are heading back into earlier this week… Please keep your brass in pocket and don’t step on the cracks… Lone Support Angel and I were watching some thing or other on the idiot box the other night… Something about foxes and wind I think it was… I know it involved some freezing people sitting in the rain talking about eagles and stuff… I don’t know what they were wittering on about… I’m a city kid…

So yeah, on this program they were talking about how wooded hillsides retain up to 63% more water than bare hillsides… and they weren’t just waffling about it, they were specialists talking to specialists… and these people are sitting there say how if you plant lots of trees you get less flooding… Quite simple really… But that no matter how many times the people in power are told nothing gets done… See, it just stupid isn’t it…

The following night these same people are talking about some white rabbit or was it a hare? (Like I said, City kid)… Now this white jumpy thing is everywhere up there… Or maybe it isn’t… You see, they just don’t know… Nobody has ever really counted… But, and here’s the thing that rattled my chain, there are rules in place to control their numbers…

I’m just going to repeat that… We don’t know how many there are but there are rules in place to control their numbers!!! And why is that? Because these hares like to live in the same place as grouse… That’s right, one of the chattering class’ favourite things to terminate with extreme prejudice… So we have huge tracts of land that are not allowed to be forested and people allowed to slaughter animals of an unknown base number simply so that people with 100 year dress sense and something missing in their souls can drunkenly blast innocent creatures out of the sky…

And when these morons are not doing this? Well, they are poisoning our water or bombing children or blaming the homeless for causing the financial “crash”…

See I told you this would end up as a boring farts rant… Sorry… I’ll try to lighten up a bit….

So… Read any good books lately? Really? … And it’s good is it?

Actually, that reminds me… Is it possible to have too many books? And what would you say is a good ratio? You know what I mean? Nobody wants to look at a set of shelves and see just one subject matter do they? Well obviously Solicitors and Doctors do but they’re weird… and anyway, that’s only for the old nine to five… No I’m talking at home… I mean, I’ve got no problem if people categorise their shelves but how do you divide[ation… Right that’s it…. Oh god he’s gone off on one again… Didn’t you give him the safe topics? OK well somebody get a cup of tea ready for him… Come over here you…

Sorry about this folks. His version of normal service will be restored shortly… Just talk amongst yourselves…]

{No, no I’m fine… honestly… But what ratio graphic to non-graphic novel? Really, think about these things…}

Actually I think that’s it… I think I am going to sign off now… I really don’t have anything interesting to say anyway… But then I think you have already worked that out…

See Y’all x

The Final Goodbye… When will I be able to?

Hello again lovely people…

Yes, you guessed it, your spam filter has failed again and let me through…

So are you ready? Shall we get started? Oh, you want to get a drink first? Well I don’t blame you… Best make it a large one, this could get mawkish…

As usual I don’t know where I’m going to go with this… Indeed I don’t even know where I’m going to start…

No honestly… Where to start?

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..

I know what I want to talk about… In a general sort of way… A vague notion… Sort of…

So… Well… Yeah, um…

Oo! How about this? My beautiful Lone Support Angel bought me a lovely, thoughtful, beautiful and very much appreciated gift way back in June of this year…It arrived this week…

No, don’t go! I promise this isn’t going to be another of my delightful rants about the inefficiencies of retailers and/or delivery companies, rest easy… Well maybe have another sip of whatever it is you have in that glass… What is that by the way? Actually, I don’t want to know… Just, please, avoid using heavy machinery while you are on it…

So the reason it only arrived this week is because this week is when it came out… And if you know me in real life then you can probably guess what it is…For those that aren’t so cursed I had better reveal that it was a special limited edition of the latest Discworld novel… Wow, I’ve been saying “latest” for so long that it just slipped out… I suppose I should say it is the last…

I’m sorry, I’m having real trouble writing this… Not for the usual reasons of lack of anything interesting to actually say or because I’m too hippied to see straight… I just keep drifting off into reverie…

*weeeeeeee! are we gonna do the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey stuff?*

{No. Besides, I’m sure that that phrase is copyrighted. You just sit there and let me get this done without you and the rest of the idiots butting in.}

*aw, but you said the words that make the screen go all wavy and blurry. i love it when that happens becoz the next fing you no is you is back in time. and you might see disonaurs and romans and evryfing.*

{Sorry Little Dude but this isn’t one of those stories, this one is more about my history than the stuff I study. Maybe next time I will tell you about the fun stuff…}

I think it might help you to know why I still have trouble processing the last Discworld novel… not the words… the object… the book itself…

You see, I have been a huge fan of the Discworld and it’s Creator for a very long time, almost since the very first book was published… *

I wasn’t the first in my family to discover The Disc. My older brother had that honour and it was through him that the denizens of Ankh-Morpork, the Witches of Lancre and, a particular well travelled Wizzard began to enter my conciousness… I didn’t jump straight onto the Disc though, I sidled into it’s orbit slightly less gracefully than Corporal Nobbs enters Capt. Carrot’s office in search of the tea-kitty… In the early ’90s I found my brother’s copy of Good Omens** and proceeded to devour it in about three hours; after sitting breathless, aching and tear-streaked for about an hour, trying to process what I had just read and still giggling at the jokes***. I rushed out and snapped up the first three novels that afternoon… You could say that I was hooked from that very first moment…

Hooked? Did I say hooked? I think I should say that I immersed myself in the the environs of the Disc at every opportunity … I wanted to live there… I couldn’t get between those pages enough… I’m sure I’m not the only one that has walked into a bookshop or library with that tiny wish that this time I will find the passage through L-Space…

I have, over the years, experienced the Discworld through lots of different media  I have played the games, watched the TV adaptions, directed (and had a walk-on part in) Wyrd Sisters; I own dried frog pillboxes, Dwarf Bread and an Ankh-Morpork passport (among lots of other wonderful things that fans and friends of The Creator have produced over the years)… I even went (with Lone Support Angel) to the 2006 convention – that was quite a bitter sweet event actually… I got to meet The Creator for the second time (joy) though I did get a bit tongue-tied and gushing fanboyish when I tried to invite him to see our production of Wyrd Sisters… Unfortunately my lovely Lone Support Angel was taken violently ill during the Gala Dinner and while I was arranging an ambulance for her somebody swiped our commemorative shot glasses from our table… we never did get back to the convention as L.S.A. spent the next three days in hospital with very serious food-poisoning… The lovely people behind the convention did try to replace the stolen shot glasses for us but nothing ever came of it 😦

Sorry, got a bit side-tracked there…

Where were we?

Oh yeah… the books… the books were something special… The anticipation of a new one, the excitement when we found out whether it would be a Rincewind, or a Witches, or a Watch novel… or if this time it would be something completely new… Of course, like many of PTerry’s fans, I shared the books with other members of my family… I shared the Disc with my late father… Indeed, the only books I ever saw my father read were Discworld… Not that my father didn’t read anything else it’s just that this series was the only one my father and I would not only have hours long conversations about, but would display the same giddy excitement about the new one… Whenever I was out with my father and he was forced to use his wheelchair we would joke that he should be referred to as Windle Poons… I think that if I had ever been able to find a true bath-chair for my old man he would’ve quite happily kitted it out with all the bells and whistles Poons’ “Great Toe-Crusher” displayed (and probably blades on the wheel-hubs 😉 )…

*i miss the old man*

{So do I Big Man. So do I}

So now we come to the purpose of this blog… [Purpose? Does this thing have a purpose? I thought we were heading {Do NOT finish that sentence! I have already warned people that this one may get mawkish… Of course, that’s assuming anybody is still reading it… Hello? is there anybody out there?… Look, just butt out of this one ok…} Yeah OK…]

And so The Shepherds Crown arrived this week (last week actually, yes it has taken me that long to write this…) and now I am facing a dilemma… I have books to finish… I have other books to read… I have this burning desire to read it but I also know that this will be the final goodbye… Can I actually bring myself to actually say goodbye?

The Discworld has been a huge part of my life for so very long now…

Lone Support Angel asked me if the reaction I am having was similar to when the greatest musical influence on my life passed… I honestly don’t know… I know that when my musical hero died I played his albums non-stop for about three weeks… and I was lucky in that there was more stuff he had recorded and that that was released posthumously… Yes I know technically this book was released post-vitality but it’s not the same…

In reading this final book I will never be able to pick up a new one… I will never be able to get it signed… I will never be able to thank The Creator for his words and his magic…

I know I will read it… I must… I need to know how it all ends…

I just don’t know when…

This may sound strange but while there were still books “coming soon” I could imagine that I still had a connection with my late father… I know he would never read them but it was a way to keep him with me for just a little longer… Don’t get me wrong, I grieved for my father a long time ago but the magic of the Disc was something we shared and now even that tenuous link has gone…

So maybe I should treat the book as a plaster and rip it off… save myself the pain of the slow removal… just get stuck in…

I have tried… I have pulled the book from it’s slip-case… I have seen which number of the 5000 it is… I just can’t actually turn that first page…

I will… Just… Not yet…

I did warn you that this could get mawkish… Maybe I should have said it would also get maudlin…

Maybe I’ll hold off until my B’day? Maybe until Yulemas? It may well be that I suddenly find the strength to open it tomorrow…

I’ll let you know…

*The Colour of Magic (TCoM) first published in the UK 1983.

** Good Omens first published 1990

***not a particularly elegant sentence but hopefully readable 😉