Archive | December, 2014


31 Dec


space photo:  IMG_8904.jpgOh the complexity of the Universe!

As one star burns itself out another one is born until there are no more births and only deaths, and then nothing.

Except a Power.

And, suddenly, a flimsy remnant of Janie Cobweb, a wisp of thought, an atom’s breadth of consciousness, the least murmur in a vacuum. That was there. Somewhere like the fading echo of a papal sermon might be somewhere. Insubstantial, without form, and in a void.

And of all possible coincidences it nudged against a Power. The Power. The most ancient of all Powers. From before the beginning it had rested, had nurtured this and that, had overseen almost nothing, had sniggered at a nemesis that hadn’t really existed, had threatened to gather souls to it, then sniggered again at the joke. It was fun being a Power and taken for granted before being turned into a comic-strip deity. Though that might be considered a bit of an insult!

And here was a proper nemesis.

Janie Cobweb!

“Welcome to my heaven,” it rumbled at the wisp of her.

“Bollocks!” she hissed back, somehow. “There’s no Heaven! Nowhere! How can there be?”

“There’s me.” The Power yawned, already bored at the mundanity of the conversation. It despised mundanity – and why shouldn’t it? To be mundane was to be almost totally boring, and the Power was never that. It had interests, gigantic, omniscient and omnipotent interests, and they kept its attention as epochs came and went.

“And you are?” projected the remnant of Janie Cobweb.

“Call me what you want. See if I care! They once called me Creator until they saw sense and called me God – and I was neither of those. I toy with things, never build, never destroy, never interfere. They had me being a serpent once – idiots the lot of them, and so short lived I hadn’t the time to tell them…”

“So what shall I call you?” asked Janie Cobweb, curious and gaining strength from nowhere.

The Power sniggered, a long affair that rumbled around the emptiness of a dead Universe. And sniggers take time. They roll hither and thither, they absorb what isn’t there, they fill hearts with dread and delight. If there are hearts to fill, that is. And there weren’t, though the dread and delight persisted.

“You know what to call me,” breathed the Power, and for a fractured second Janie Cobweb could smell its breath. Lilac? Roses on a summer’s day in a long-vanished England? New mown hay? The merest hint of smoke in ancient air? Wood smoke.

“You know what it is?” giggled the Power. “The petals and the fire?”

“I was a baby,” thought Janie Cobweb. “New born that day, and they took my mother, and burned her like kindling, bound to a stake and weeping…”

“Join with me,” sighed the Power. “You know what I am … but who am I?”

“We,” whispered the remnant, “You are … we!”

“More haste, less speed!” clucked the Power. “First, think of what you’re doing! Haven’t you had enough? Haven’t you seen enough? Been evil enough? Just slow down, young woman, slow down!”

But Janie Cobweb, or the wispy fleeting fragment of her, had a new determination. She/it/they smelled power. She nudged the Power and like a sperm entering an egg she merged with it. One fragment with another, maybe, or, indeed, a sperm and an egg.

And in the darkness she was blind.

“I am you,” she told the Power. “We are me, and things are going to change!”

“So you know what comes next?” it giggled.

“I do.”

“Then so be it.”

“Let there be Light!” commanded Janie Cobweb.

© Peter Rogerson 31.12.14



30 Dec


satan photo: Satan satan36.jpg  There always has to be an ending.

Janie Cobweb knew that when she was born. She had watched as her human mother had been dragged to the Burning Field on that first day of her being, even then she had known it was an ending. But she often said that her first thought was of her own death, that she savoured the notion but was determined to pack as much as she could in the gap between birth and death as any mortal could. It might have been a challenge, but she’d been up to it.

And she’d done it all right.

Now she stood in the hinterland of existence and watched as the stars blinked out one by one. For a moment she felt sad. Even she had emotions despite everything. True, she’d been responsible for more deaths than any other sentient being over more years than any other sentient being could possibly have lived. True, she had brought down the black veil of misery on many another heart, watched as children and old women wrung their hands at the agonies she had piled onto them and died at her behest, had smiled inside when tears or blood or both had flowed, had been as rotten as she could be, just for the sake of it.

And she had loved. Of course she had loved!

“You haven’t!”

The darkening void was shaken by the sudden burst of syllables.

She knew that voice! Of course she did! In between times, when she’d been bored, when there was nothing cruel or spiteful to do, when she’d been on the knife-edge of solitude herself, she had sought this particular speaker.

Some called him the devil. Others the Necromancer. Even others referred to him as Satan, and it was by that name she knew him when he’d turned to her for his own kind of release, and shagged her.

Not like any mortal man, but like the fiend he was.

He’d taken her in his arms, had bound her to a gigantic wheel in the depths of his hell, had imbued her flesh with unendurable pain and watched her endure it, smiling cruelly to himself through a mask of hideous evil. And she’d loved it! As the pain had reached its peak, as her body had twitched with the monumental depths of distress, flesh tearing, bones cracking, eyes bursting, the orgasm it produced had caused every atom of her flesh to really shudder and had made it all worth while.

Many was the month she’d spent repairing herself afterwards, had lain in the blackest of black moods as slowly her tissue had healed and she was whole again, only to seek the devil out once more sooner or later. And she knew why. For every dark deed there must be a balance in the Universe. For every light there must be darkness. For every laugh there must be a tortured sob.

That much was important.

And now Satan was addressing her for one last time.

“You haven’t. You haven’t loved. Not ever…”

She knew she had. But the love had been for pain as a salve to eradicate the sickly sweetness of pleasure. His pain. The things he’d done to her. The way he’d been. She’d loved, all right.

“You don’t know me, Satan,” she snarled, but the skies, once alive with constellations and stars and vast whirling vortexes of galaxies, was dark. It was like the last night of them all: it was the last long night of them all.

“I have loved,” she whispered. “I have loved me!”

“That doesn’t count,” he snarled. “Love must be for another!”

“You don’t know me, Satan,” she repeated.

But he did, and she knew it, and at that moment, that very evil moment, his eyes shone redder than any furnace had ever glowed as he turned his head away from her and commanded “Let there be Darkness” in a voice from the distant past.

It was a waste of time, really, because the Universe was already consumed by nothing, and the edge of darkness rippled everywhere, in every corner of an ancient creation. Then, with the command and like a living parasite the hollow voice consumed both devil and Janie Cobweb in a last fleeting shadowy moment, and the last star popped out.

And somewhere a power stirred. You see, there was still a somewhere and still a power. And the power cleared its throat.

© Peter Rogerson 30.12.14


29 Dec


qi photo: QI Crop Circle QICropCircle.png  Here’s a little thought. It might not seem very interesting to you but it fascinates me.

Facts are temporary things! They exist and then, like radioactive isotopes with half-lives, they decay to nothing. They become non-facts. Most of them, that is. Some may be absolute.

Social media is overflowing with well-meaning and, one might say, almost intelligent people who are so convinced about the absolute veracity of a “fact” that they become evangelical (almost) about it. But in years to come that fact may become lost in the absurd dustbin of history and other men and women may mock the “evangelists” for even daring to believe it. The fact will have passed its half-life and decayed. It happens all the time.

It’s not just me that might propose this. Far greater minds, amongst them the QI elves* headed by the great John Lloyd, are obsessed by this theory, which means it will probably decay and become nothing pretty soon.

In human history there have been some weird facts. The war in Heaven, the one between God and the Devil, springs to mind. It was such an incontrovertible fact in the bad old days of the Middle Ages that draconian punishments were meted out to those who appeared to be on the wrong side. Witches, for example, were clearly on the side of the devil and needed to be taken out. There was a great deal of quivering and quaking and actual, blood-curdling fear. Ecclesiastical law took the reality of this war into account when orders were issued and people were flogged.

Then, some time between then and now, the war in Heaven was no longer a fact, and the persecution of elderly ladies with warts ground to a standstill. After all, there’s no point in punishing a transgressor if there’s nothing for them to transgress.

A lot of these facts on the way to being obliterated as their half-life comes along consists of a great deal of the nonsense to do with other religions, but I’m not prepared to enter an arena that I’m ill-prepared to enter. It’s bad enough that the facts might be on the way out without me expressing an opinion on them! Just wonder where the seventy-two virgins come from when a suicide bomber succeeds, and ask yourself what they might think of the matter.

All my life I have been aware of diets. They come and go like rose petals in a summer breeze, and they all have one thing in common: follow this diet and you will gain an extraordinary amount of health and life. And some of them are quite contradictory to others, to the point that if you follow more than one set of rules in the belief that two is bigger and better than one you might find yourself starving to death. And not one of the diets considers the long evolution of the human gut; it’s proponents believe, rightly or wrongly, that they can improve on it.

At the moment there are popular movements of right thinking people who advocate a vegetarian diet and others who go further and maintain that life cannot be lived fully unless you enjoy a vegan diet. And they support their beliefs with “facts” about damage to the environment, the planet, ending with a forecast of the eventual death of Mother Earth because of human excesses etcetera etcetera. The actual truth, of course, the real fact, is that the Earth is good at recovering and if mankind disappeared tomorrow because the environment became all wrong for his continued survival, by this time next century it would be well on its way to a complete recovery from human silliness.

Facts simply decay.

Take true evangelical posturing, the religious sort.

Once upon a time it was a “fact” that a mysterious deity created the world and everything on it in six days and a bishop actually calculated that this was in 4004BC. The discovery of ancient fossils soon put an end to this “fact” and even the existence of that mysterious deity soon became widely doubted. And now the notion that religion is a last remnant of primitive thought is a fact according to a great deal of current philosophy, but facts have a half-life, facts decay…

I suppose all this is a cynic’s charter. What fun!

Now let me get back to the book of QI facts!!!

© Peter Rogerson 29.12.14

*QI elves – the team researching for the television programme QI, which is, of course, a deeply-cut abbreviation of Quite Interesting in which often almost unbelievable facts are given an airing and sometimes discussed at length. The programme’s been going for some years now (they do a letter a year and they’ve reached L) and already they’ve had to admit that some early facts are no longer facts. For example, they once stressed that there are nine planets in the Solar System and then someone decided that Pluto wasn’t one at all, and the fact was suddenly wrong.


22 Dec


MEDIEVAL BABY photo: baby untitled.jpg
Isn’t education a good thing?

It’s what stops every new generation having to reinvent the wheel or rediscover fire. It’s how progress marches on through the centuries, and how the discovery of throwing stones leads to nuclear bombs. And how a simple line drawing on a cave wall has led, inexorably and pixel by pixel, to 3D colour television.

Janie Cobweb, aged three, would have appreciated a bit more education, but her village had no school, no teacher and only a celibate priest who kept on wanting to feel her bottom. She could deal with the priest – she did, regularly, and left him scarred for life – but the lack of teacher and school was something else.

She had spent all but the first day of her life (the day her mother had been burned at the stake for failing to feed her placenta to the Lord of the Manor’s pigs) being cared for by Susie Swashbottom. She had selected this excellent surrogate mother from lines of nuns cheering and whooping at the burning. Yes – nuns can get as excited as regular folk, and these most certainly were. A good burning, with all the excitement and roasting fragrances of the occasion, contrasted favourably with their usual tasks of praying and providing unusual services to the monks from a nearby monastery. They found domestic chores to be enjoyable, but other activities involving mutual nakedness and artistic dancing they were less keen on even though they had been assured it was what the Good Lord wanted of them.

Susie Swashbottom, once selected by the day old Janie, had little say in the matter. The child had strange powers and few could gainsay her when she had made her infant mind up. So Susie cast aside her nun’s raiment and set to caring for the child. She fed her, somehow contriving to squeeze milk from her own breasts, she clothed her using material from the aforementioned cast-off raiment, and she even educated her.

This was the important bit.

She taught the child all manner of things and managed to impress herself with the range of her own knowledge.

“The Lord made the world and everything in it in six days, and on the seventh he rested,” she said assuredly.

“Poppycock,” retorted the child. “Haven’t you given any thought to evolution and the possibility there might have been a big bang to launch the Universe?” she added.

And Susie thought for a moment before admitting that it was possible, and moving on to another lesson.

“The Lord sent an angel to a virgin, and the virgin ended up with child,” she said, sensing all the love of the occasion in her emotional mind, and shedding a virtuous tear.

The child thought for a time and then shook her head. “I have heard of angels,” she said, “and they don’t seem to be the sort of guys going around shagging young virgins, and it’s only through a thoroughly intense sexual union that a woman can be with child,” she told Susie, who was shocked at her own ignorance and proceeded to ask the Priest the truth of the matter. The lesson provided by the Priest was a thorough one, and in well under a year Janie had a brother as a consequence of a particularly delightful practical demonstration.

That brother, though, charming as he was, had to go. Janie wanted no competition, at least, not while she was still an infant, so there was a mysterious cot death in the Swashbottom household and Susie cried every night for a week until Janie pointed out that the dead baby would have been an urchin and sadly the world’s already got enough urchins in it. A girl, she informed the surrogate mother, especially a Janie Cobweb girl, can only bring happiness and joy, and to prove the point she sweetly cracked half a dozen smutty jokes in quick succession. Never was so much laughter and joy heard in any cottage in what amounted to a backward medieval village! And Susie Swashbottom cheered up.

And then Janie was three, and in desperate need of a proper education. Not the biblical sort beloved by her surrogate mother, not the fantasy tales from an ancient Jewish book but real knowledge.

“What I need,” she pronounced to Susie Swashbottom, “is a really knowledgeable teacher, and it’s your job to seek one out for me. But I realise I’m asking a lot, so I’ll give you a clue.

“Go forth into the world and search out Mr Google.

“He knows everything, and I’ve a feeling in my waters that he’ll help me.”

© Peter Rogerson 22.12.14


21 Dec

WITCH BURNING photo: Witch Burning WitchBurning.jpg

There’s probably something a little obscene about a culture that can see nothing wrong with a mother, having just given birth to a drooling baby, being sentenced to death and burned at the stake because she refused to let her afterbirth be used to feed already fat pigs, but that’s what happened to Janie Cobweb’s own mother.

Janie was less than a day old and had delightful curling ringlets of ginger hair, (ringlets that would gradually darken as she sped through her first year or two) when she was stuffed (along with a sack-cloth blanket and a teat made of cow-horn) into a crudely-crafted wooden box and carted off to the Burning Field as part of a procession of excited villagers.

They loved a good burning as long as the person being burned wasn’t them. It didn’t matter if they were close relatives or distant strangers, a burning was a burning, the cries of sheer unadulterated agony that rent the air were as audio-nectar filling the darkening air at the end of the day and the aroma of singeing flesh rather like the roast pork fragrance that emanated on a weekly basis from the Lord of the Manor’s extensive kitchen. They, of course, only tasted roast meat if the creature being roasted was small, caught clandestinely and without any employees of the mighty Lord knowing anything about it. A rat would often fit the bill, and sometimes (on foggy days when visibility was poor) a sickly rabbit.

So the procession, accompanied by singing and chanting, made its way to the Burning Field. Every villager, man, woman and child, was there. A small orchestra of whistle players started a cheerful jig, and small children, their backsides hanging out of worn-out clothes, danced joyously to the anarchic rhythms. There was a party atmosphere everywhere, one that was elevated to the orgy status by the arrival of a barrel of sour beer, donated by the publican as a benevolent alternative to swilling it into the nearest ditch. Young men exposed themselves to young women and those young women, in return, screeched in horror at what they saw. Old men nodded and hiccuped and quietly dozed off whilst old women stared in envy at the young men. The youngest people, children, small and eager to get see what was happening, forced their way to the front in order to get the best view.

Then the Lord of the Manor arrived.

He was unique on that field as the only person dressed in clean(ish) clothes and carrying a weapon. He had a sword, a rusty implement, true, but he was the only member of the community with the right to bear arms so he wielded it freely. He never felt the joy of having parochial power if he didn’t inadvertently remove at least one pauper’s head from uncomplaining shoulders.

He held his hands up, and there was a sort of hush. A small group of children continued a racing dance until their leader was clobbered and rendered senseless by a scowling guard. The villagers were rapt. You might have heard a pin drop had pins been readily available in medieval times in a village such as this.

“Well, my duckies,” he began in a voice strangely conflicting with his magnificent manly appearance, “well, my duckies, this woman, this condemned woman, will soon be burned. Every scrap of her flesh will be consumed by the fires as just punishment for her failure to feed her placenta-thing to my sweet little piggy-wiggies. And this must be a warning to everyone: there must be no avoidance of feeding my piggy-wiggies, for if you fail and they stay thin and bony, what will I have to eat on Christmas day for my banquet? I have great people coming, mighty Lords and those whose name begins with Sir! And ladies in voluminous skirts wearing extravagant muslins on their heads. They will be arraigned round my table and filled with the most succulent pork, and if my piggy-wiggies are starved, then it will hardly by succulent, will it!”

There was a rumble of agreement and one or two communists might have been heard asking what meat they were going to have in order to celebrate the Christmas festival and a holy birth, but they kept their objections down to a feeble whisper.

“Take her to the pyre!” thundered the Lord of the Manor in his most manly tones, and four henchmen grabbed the weeping mother and dragged her towards a massive pile of dry timber.

“Strike a light, duckie,” grinned their Lord.

“What wiv?” asked a henchman.

“A flint. Strike a flint!” commanded the Lord.

A flint was struck and a swathe of sparks crashed into the try tinder at the bottom of the timber pyre.

There was a great and sober silence. Not even a tin whistle shrieked.

“Now,” came a tiny voice from the make-shift box. “Now light it! I want to see my mummy burn!”

All eyes turned to the crude wooden cot and the little head of red hair poking out, and the grown-ups all shivered when they caught a glimpse of the penetrative eyes that swept from it across the Burning field.

© Peter Rogerson 21.12.14


19 Dec

TERRORIST photo: Terrorist Terrorist.jpg

If humanity is on a road that can basically be called progress, from, say, the very primitive to the delightfully superior, then we in the so-called civilised world of the west have progressed so far – just a little way – and others, sadly, have not.

At the moment swathes of the middle east are involved in internecine conflict and all in the name of a god that reputedly existed once a long time ago because it was dreamed up by clever but bored men at what I like to roughly call the dawn of human time.

It’s no good trying to explain to them that murder in the name of hocus-pocus is no sensible thing because they, quite rightly, would turn to us and point out our own obsession with hocus pocus. They might even suggest that the words in the book that Christians like to treasure as their own propose even more violence to others than is suggested in their own book.

Books, you might ask? What have books got to do with bloodshed and murder and the mutilation of children, the massacre of innocents in the twenty-first century?

The answer, of course, is beautifully contradictory because it’s everything and nothing. The present swathe of atrocities has nothing and everything to do with religion. There always have been bully-boys and men with an absurdly simplistic view of life and they would be what they are with or without an old book to spur them on – yet that old book is there and open to a weird assortment of interpretations to justify their bullying and simple-minded ways. So devious and bearded old men make their interpretations and as a consequence the young bullies sally forth in search of someone to kill because they’ve been presented with a motive.

I suppose we might dispose of the books because, ultimately, it all boils down to them. The books pretend to be ancient truths and any wisdom in them is hidden by the fact that they are old. There’s something almost trustworthy about wisdom from the dim past. It’s odd, that. Because that same so-called wisdom would never stand up to scrutiny if it were wisdom evolving in the here and now. It has to be ancient because then devotees can claim that once upon a time there was real and singular magic in the air and truly wise men knew truth when they dreamed it. They can maintain that their devotion has arisen from that magic. After all, it’s in their Book.

So men get beheaded, schools filled with children get attacked, blood gets spilled, thugs glory in a belief that they’re right even though in their heart of hearts they must know they’re not, and the rest of the world looks on in disbelief and horror.

I suppose we could all quite simply get rid of the ancient religious books. All of them. Even the Old Testament. And the New. The Koran (spell it how you will). It might not solve the problems, but it would help.


18 Dec

About eight years ago Janie Cobweb arrived in a blog I wrote on MySpace, and since then she has had a career that has taken her across space and time, provided her with many a stepping stone in history and the future and here she appears as a prequel to her life… This part Three, the first three parts being  A Strange Conception and The Very Peculiar Birth, also on this site.


PLACENTA photo: Placenta alltheiphonepictures104.jpg  Autumn in medieval middle England. Leaves drifting from trees, strips of land golden with a rough harvest, spirals of smoke from crude cottages cleaving the air and merging into a stinking mist, children in rags raggedly running to help their parents in the three gigantic fields, the Lord of the Manor having someone soundly whipped for having injudicious coitus whilst not wed, the priest looking benevolently on enjoying the spectacle, scrawny dogs fighting over a dead midwife in the mud, Mistress Cobweb weeping as she held her new-born angel and rocking her gently whilst crooning about pain and death in a sweet country soprano.

All very normal.

And then the new mother felt her body tense yet again and then push, and a plate-sized placenta squeezed into the light of day.

“Mine!” squawked the baby, not yet half an hour old but gifted with the power of speech anyway.

“No, darling,” crooned the mother, “I am weary after my long labour and I need nourishment and nutrition. I will roast this meat and baste it with its own juices, and when it is done to a turn I will eat it! Then I will become strong enough to care for you, my sweetness.”

The child, its eyes unnaturally wide and fierce for one so young, scowled and opened its tiny mouth and shrieked “MINE” at the top of its new-born voice.

The word, loud as it was, drifted out of the cottage, across the muddy lane that separated it from one of the three gigantic fields that constituted the agrarian system within the community, into a huge number of toiling ears (and out again), swirled everywhere and ended up in the inner ear of the mighty Lord of the Manor, who had just finished arranging the aforementioned whipping.

“That sounds as if it started in Mistress Cobweb’s cottage,” he mumbled. “And it was brought to my attention that the fat Christmas man shagged her last winter whilst he was on his silly gift-giving round of the poor. I’d have him thrashed if he wasn’t a proper saint, but the Pope would be offended and that wouldn’t do! Having it away with dearest Mistress Cobweb, whom I almost love myself, ought to at least warrant a flogging!”

“She’s had a brat,” said a uniformed butler, though the word uniform in this instance was more a euphemism for ragged. “They say, do those in the know, that she’s roasting the afterbirth.”

“What!” howled the Lord of the Manor, suddenly enraged. “Did I not make a dictum only last week? Was it not inscribed onto parchment and pinned to every fourth tree down the main lane?”

“You did, sir,” quivered the butler.

“And what was my dictum?” roared the mighty one. “What did I have inscribed? What did it concern?”

“That you need meat for your suckling pigs, so that they be fat and meaty for the roasting season at Christmas, and that any women producing a brat should donate her placenta to the cause!” squealed the butler, visibly shaking. “I wrote them out and stuck them up myself!”

“My little piggies need that fodder!” growled the Lord of the Manor. “And I am the big man round here! I say what goes into their little pink mouths, and I order every morsel of afterbirth be brought hence so that my darlings may scoff them! So where is Mistress Cobweb’s?”

“Roasting on her fire…” mumbled the butler, wetting himself.

“Then we will go!” shouted the Lord of the Manor. “Take me to her!”

The butler might have said something along the lines of you know the way, you dirty old clown, you go there often enough when your passions run high and your lady wife has a headache which is at least once a week… but he was too scared to, so instead he guided the Lord of the Manor, one in rags and the other in gold-threaded finery, along muddy tracks and lanes to the home of Mistress Cobweb.

He flung open the door of her lovely cottage and stood in the entrance, his face like thunder.

“Where’s the meat?” he demanded.

Mistress Cobweb was in the act of munching a slice of placenta between two slices of bread, and she chewed and swallowed before replying.

“This is just the afterbirth,” she said, smiling sweetly. “Are you needing to lie with me? I won’t be long if you are…”

“That meat should be in the bellies of my pigs!” shouted the Lord of the Manor, and he turned to his slavering butler. “Take this woman,” he roared, “and before the sun sets this night, bind her to a stake and burn her! For that is the punishment for denying my pigs their meat!”

“Yippee!” squawked the tiny figure in its home-made cot.

Janie Cobweb was wide awake.

© Peter Rogerson 18.12.14