Archive | February, 2015

INSANITY IN POLITICS

25 Feb

INSANITY IN POLITICS

astral chart photo: astral chart astro_ac.gifI’m almost totally convinced that there ought to be some sort of sanity test for aspiring politicians, and that if they fail they should be barred from holding influential office for life, or at least until they can retake the test, and pass it.

Now, I’m not going to be too controversial here. If I were to have my own way I’d suggest that belief in any supernatural spirit, like a deity, ought to be a perfectly good reason for being denied the right to seek office, but I’m not going that far. I guess that believing in gods might be a borderline test of insanity. But then, I might be called biassed because I find gods to be ludicrous and belief in them more so. I’m an atheist.

But I read today of a Member of Parliament, David Tredinnick, who believes that a sound contribution to the treatment of illness may be astrology.

I’m not sure what part of his brain thinks this, but it’s got to be a big enough part for his words to be reported.

It may be obvious to him that consideration of a patient’s birth chart, the time and date of his birth, the whereabouts of various planets and constellations at the time, are relevant to a man’s health, but I don’t get it.

It’s marginally madder than thinking gods might have a hand in it.

I mean, there are billions of us down here on Earth yet you can multiply those billions by quite a big number to get anywhere near the number of stars in the Universe. And planets. There are (possibly) a heck of a lot more of those than there are stars. Yet, with the naked eye, we can only see a tiny few of them, winkling away and winking at us. And amongst them are constellations other than our own Milky Way, and they’ve all got billions of individual stars in them because they’re other milky ways, as seen from the planet Zog.

By the way, I doubt anyone living on it has ever called a planet Zog, yet, come to think of it and bearing in mind the absolutely ginormous number or worlds and possible populations on them, one or more is likely to be called Zog or some alien, guttural version of the word.

Yet at least one politician is on record as believing that this chaos of stars and planets can personally influence every single (and I mean single rather than group of) people on Earth.

Now wait for it.

Mr Treddinick has been Chairman of the All-Party Group for Integrated Healthcare (PGIH) since 2002. Yes, you read that right. A man with beliefs that not even the fairies venture to have has a say in some aspects of medical care!

But let me not pick on this one individual. That’s not particularly fair, though his reported views are laughable, and if he actually does really hold them I’d describe him as being insane.

It’s as bad as suggesting that an American-style gun maniac ought to be in charge of defence. I hope that’s not the case, but if it is my argument is most probably proven.

The thing is, we live in a complex world. The vast mass that makes up humanity consists of a few billion egos (we all have one) and this has led to trouble since time immemorial. At the moment there are bully boys in the Middle East trying to carve out a new state in which they can brainwash anyone likely to be born there into believing in their version of religion, which being religion, by my definition is borderline insanity anyway. And I don’t want Islamic friends to think I’m picking on them. I’m not. It’s just that over recent years they’ve made themselves an easy target. In the past the Catholic Church was twice as horrible as they could ever dream of being, and other Christian offshoots are far from innocent.

With religion the world is a mad enough place. But with provable insanity in charge of the masses, with a close and convinced examination of such esoteric delights as birth charts in the hands of loonies guiding the future, what hope is there?

Remember Adolf Hitler?

He may not have actually believed in such nonsense as astrology himself, but he let himself be guided by astrologers…

©Peter Rogerson 25.02.15

READING FOR PLEASURE

24 Feb

KINDLE photo: Best Amazon Kindle Price Amazon-Kindle-price-drop.jpgOnce I was a dinosaur and then I saw sense. Once I declared that an electronic book, like a Kindle or any of the others that you might stumble upon as you trawl through the gigantic internet that governs us, would never replace the papery things we love so much.

I was convinced of that. To me it was a given. Books were sacred things, their text permanent (though I did read Fahrenheit 451 and know it’s not) and modern contraptions mere shadows of the real thing.

But I got myself a Kindle and opened an account with Amazon – and suddenly I began to wonder why I’d been such a stubborn old dinosaur because the electronic book has the sort of advantages over papery things that I never dreamed would ever be available to a humble peasant like myself.

Let me explain.

I’ve already explained that when I was a callow and shallow youth I fell in love with Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings, a masterpiece created from a superb rearrangement of 26 letters and a few odd accent marks.

And when I was that shallow youth I read the book so many times even I thought I must have some obsessive disorder, some literary compulsion to ingrain my psyche with travels through Middle Earth, with the monstrous creatures that threatened the peace of a nation of happy hobbits and the glowering, evil and near omnipotent power in the East.

I make no apologies for my literary preferences, not then and not now. We all have our fetishes and that was mine.

I think I explained quite recently that I’d downloaded my favourite fantasy onto my Kindle and was going to relive the glories of my relative youth by reading it again.

Back then it was quite often bedtime reading matter because my days were remarkably filled with other, more boring, things. But I’ve long had a habit of reading in bed (though, spookily enough, I don’t do any more). I explained, also quite recently, about dud batteries in a flashlight the small boy me had.

Well, as a bigger person I had no problems with a torch because I read by proper lights, but lying in bed is such a comfortable thing that reaching for secondary stuff like a dictionary when I stumble on an unfamiliar word is one activity too many and if I chanced upon a word that was new to me I guessed its meaning from its context and hoped that my guess was right.

Well, haven’t things been up-graded since then?

My three heavy volume Lord of the Rings is now an invisible file on a small electronic device and I don’t need a dictionary because it’s got one inside it, a good one at that. I don’t need to say much more, do I, because it’s amazing how many people have Kindles these days, and you all know all about them. But my reading pleasure has blossomed. Tolkien was a learned professor and he, quite naturally, had a much wider command of the English language than is possessed by one such as me, and although his books are reasonably simply written and his use of difficult or unfamiliar words insufficient to put a simpleton off, there are words like “whin” that I’ve never met before.

Correction. I have met them before, lots of times because I’ve read the books lots of times in the callow days, but I’ve never checked them out. Now I know that whin is a kind of furze or gorse and may use it myself in the future if I find the need to write about gorse. But having stumbled upon it – and many others, incidentally – that I ignored in the long ago of my life, I’m now able to further my education of words known by brighter men than myself without disturbing the pages of a dictionary.

And I’m no longer a dinosaur because I no longer think the papery things are best.

Because I know they’re not. Whin.

© Peter Rogerson 24.02.15

THE DAY THE CLOCK STOPPED.

19 Feb

THE DAY THE CLOCK STOPPED.

god photo: GOD OGD.jpg  When my clock stopped the world ended.

Just like that. It simply ran out of time, and ended.

And God looked down and shook his ancient curls and wondered whether he should nudge the pendulum, should get it going again.

But he’d made mistakes, and knew it.

He’d better think it all out first.

Things had gone badly wrong, and it was all his Almighty fault. He’d known since the beginning.

The trouble was, he hadn’t ever had a clue what to do about it. There was something he couldn’t get his omniscient head about.

Maybe it was women. Maybe if he hadn’t created women…? But his world needed women or there’d only be the one man on it, and he wasn’t immortal. He’d have died ages ago. Man needed to breed, and he needed women to help him.

Maybe it was that sodding apple back in the garden. Maybe if he hadn’t forbidden that? They wouldn’t have discovered they were naked and felt shame because of their different genitals and wouldn’t have invented fig-leaf clothes.

They’d ended up with fashions and elaborate decorations, but there’d been a side-effect. Clothes kept them warm.

Men and women more bothered about the cold in winter than what time it might be … they’d all still be going about gloriously naked and my clock probably wouldn’t have stopped because nobody would have seen the need to make it in the first place. Why make clocks when the time didn’t matter?

And what about the bloody rainbow? He’d promised about never doing it again, like a fool. Promises made are sacrosanct, and if he hadn’t made promises about floods and the like back then he could have enjoyed orchestrating a few more, with drenching downpours and exciting lightning, when things started going wrong again…

But no. It was none of those.

What was it, then? He’d done all the right things, surely? Given the little toe-rags a beautiful planet to sprawl all over, free will to do what they liked with and the brains to work them out…

Maybe it was those brains?

Maybe he should have been more careful with his distribution of intelligence? Taken away the mental power that would lead to disaster?

But it wasn’t that, either.

He’d made a much more vital mistake.

Then, in a flash of inspiration, he knew what it was.

He knew where he, the Almighty, had gone wrong. He saw his own big error.

He’d created man and he’d told him right there in the beginning that he’d moulded him in his own image. Sod it! That must be it! It meant they all thought they were clones of him. They all thought they were little gods!

But – and here was the rub – he could put things right. At least that much was possible. He could take away all awareness of himself. Then they’d have nothing to be in the image of.

So he reached down to the dead world and picked up every last copy of every last religious text that proclaimed to be his own word, and threw them into the sun where they made a jolly new (and temporary) solar flare.

He looked in corners everywhere. He smashed stained glass windows with images of himself in them. He wiped videos, he obliterated religious films, he levelled steeples to the ground. He actually removed every trace of himself from every mean and meagre corner of every synagogue, ever cathedral, every mosque, every chapel and every papal palace before destroying them.

And he leaned down, winked it me, and tapped the pendulum of my clock.

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock….

“Time for lunch!” called my smiling wife, and without noticing my own nudity I sat at the table.

© Peter Rogerson 19.02.15

A HISTORY LESSON

14 Feb

A HISTORY LESSON

HENRY Viii photo: King Henry VIII of England and his six wives henryviii.jpgI suppose one of the most disgusting thing about religion is its divisive and corrosive nature.

Let me take you back, for a while, to Tudor England and the famous King Henry VIII and his near frenetic desire to father a male heir.

Back then, there was no doubt about the existence of God, his angels, Satan, as well as hundreds of examples of divine intervention in human affairs. Every storm was a portend of this or that tragedy, and as tragedy abounded in an age when hygiene wasn’t top of the list of things to do for even the members of the highest strata of society, there was plenty of evidence of divine wrath.

Smallpox was a definite killer and if you survived it the chances you were marked by its dot-to-dot patterning for life. And smallpox wasn’t alone. The list of diseases with a fair chance of a fatal outcome was as long as a very long arm. And they weren’t caused by bacteria, germs, micro-organisms of any kind, they were punishment from God for this or that bit of wrong-doing. To the Tudor mind, this was was obvious and irrefutable as the wisdom of Darwin is today. Old ladies with warts were even burnt at the stake as witches because witches were servants of the devil in a timeless celestial war of attrition in which the witches might give the necromancer an upper hand. And this was a certainty, like evolution is a certainty today. Oh? You don’t believe in evolution? Watch out, then, there may be a fiery stake round the next corner!

Now here’s the history/faith bit. Before she married Henry VIII his first wife, Catherine, was married to his teenage brother, who died after a brief period of wedded bliss, and Henry married her. They became King and Queen and apparently he was devoted to her, but even though she had half a dozen pregnancies only one child lived, a daughter. It might seem unfortunate for a woman who was offered as much royal care as was Catherine to suffer so many miscarriages, but the truth is she tended to by a special team of midwives who specialised in royal confinement, and as a consequence of there not being so many of these lacked any proper experience.

When it was obvious that the lovely Catherine was never going to produce a son Henry cast around for a replacement and found one, Anne Boleyn, who managed to provide him with a daughter. And this is where God came in.

It was argued that there was so much disapproval in Heaven (Henry had married his brother’s widow, for goodness’ sake, and that was frowned upon in some interpretations of the Bible) that the inevitable punishment had to be no male heir. Henry, though a King, had gone against the will of God!

In order to put things right with the Almighty he needed a new and more legitimate wife and Anne seemed to be just the ticket, so a divorce appeared the best way out, out with Catherine and in with Anne. But the supreme arbiter of such matters, the Pope in Rome, saw things differently. No divorce!

We all know the solution that the King found. He became the head of a new church, the Church of England, which would be persuaded to provide him with the divorce he wanted. He changed religion for good, and this was no easy task, nor was it one taken lightly. I doubt whether the parade of Popes from over the last five hundred years have forgiven him yet!

Religion was divisive. It even divided itself. It was corrosive. And as, during subsequent monarchies, the two branches of the Christian church vied for supremacy, it caused a lot of people to be executed, many for inadvertently supporting the wrong branch of the Christian church.

Taken to more parochial levels, it divided families when one branch of, say, the Smiths wanted to offer their tithes and worship via the Popish legions in Rome whilst the other was happy with the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England. Internecine quarrels raged and during periods of civil unrest fathers slaughtered sons, and vice-versa. And the greatest tragedy is that the quarrels were apparently over which form of worship of a non-existent god was truest.

The inexperienced and certainly unhygienic midwives in the Tudor court were to have the last laugh, though, if laugh it was. Henry VIII had, in total, six wives and one did produce a son … a lad who did actually become King on Henry’s death, but who himself died in his mid-teens, without an heir of any sort. The baton of monarchy led eventually to one of Henry’s daughters, Elizabeth 1. But had a few more hands been washed and advice been sought from an experienced woman in the village, one who knew something about childbirth, who knows where we’d be now… maybe sending our pennies to a Pope in Rome and our prayers to his idiot deity every time we wanted forgiveness for this or that transgression.

And maybe the increasingly secular nature of the good old UK, the one that encouraged Darwin to publish his theory, might have been suppressed by Catholicism and maybe we’d all still be in the intellectual backwaters where, sadly, quite a few other cultures still find themselves today.

© Peter Rogerson 14.02.15

REAPING THE WHIRLWIND

12 Feb

REAPING THE WHIRLWIND

NEANDERTHAL MAN photo: Neanderthal Man Neanderthal2.jpg
Anyone who might be usefully influenced by this will stop reading any moment now. The rest will say “Yes, we know that, but what can we do?” And because I’m an honest man, I’ll admit that I don’t know either.

A long time ago, before the first literate man devised any kind of alphabet or cuneiform representation of his thoughts, was the longest of ages. Ahead of him, mankind had the discovery of drawing on stone walls in caves to make. Ahead of him was the wonder of the discovery of fire. Ahead of him was the simple understanding that round things moved more easily over the ground than do squarish things. And in that early time he did most of his evolving.

Evolving, or evolution, was damned important because without it we wouldn’t be who we are. Without the trials and tribulations of those primitive ancestors of ours we would be very different today – maybe physically and certainly mentally.

The tribe will have been important in much the same way as the pack has always been important to wolves, the ancestors of our domestic dogs. But unlike wolves, the human tribe will have had more than just a pack leader but an increasingly knotty hierarchy that, though simple, was complex enough to protect the entire tribe, and that hierarchy will have had its eye on the enemy within as well as the grisly bear without. For unlike a pack of wild dogs there will have been the threat from internal strife.

Those early men, though primitive, were far from stupid. They had brains, and they used them. And creatures with intelligence need rules, or laws, to hold a tribal family together or all hell might get let loose. So even in the long, unbelievably long, period of pre-history, there were laws, and I dared say that if a member broke those laws he risked being cast out, and being cast out at a time when mankind was the feeblest of the carnivores would have been no joke.

Slowly, imperceptibly, certain traits would become more advantageous than others because they led to greater favour within the tribe. A toady would have been no real threat, so he was accepted and probably helped up the nearest greasy pole, but a spirited individual … he was a different matter. And the traits that evolved protected the individual, his own family and ultimately the entire tribe. And it is those long-forgotten traits that entered the fields described by Darwin as evolution because they contributed, ultimately, to the survival of the fittest, but intellectually rather than physically.

Those traits sowed the wind of human survival.

And from them has emerged the whirlwind.

Because the very traits that helped bind a simple society together were the very same traits that provided our ancestors, and through reinforcement down that countless generations until they became instinctive, ourselves, with much that is now abhorrent. And try as we might, we can’t shake them. They are responsible for the current spate of Muslim outrages and the murder of innocents because too many years ago to be easily understood, treating folks from outside with distrust and hatred was a survival thing.

And kowtowing to a stupendous range of spirits to whom imaginary control of human affairs was given, and communicating especially via the witch doctor or individual who claimed spiritual powers, over hundreds of thousands of years became entrenched in the human psyche. Why else do people still attend churches and mosques today?

Of course, too recently to have had more than a peripheral effect on evolution, the worship of a panoply of spirits morphed into monotheism, or the worship of a single deity. The change will have been simple because the element of worship and a special being to act as a conduit of that worship was the same. One god supplanted the many with indecent ease.

And the human population grew, and grew and grew. Tribes became nations and more vulnerable to pressures from other nations. There were even divisions within nations as one variety of the dominant religion divided and became more than one entity, at war with all the rest for no reason other than they were different.

And blame gets muttered in dark corners.

“It’s the muslims” or “it’s the catholics” … and nobody looks to see the real cause of the problems. Prehistory. Evolution. The inbuilt tendency for people to believe what they pick up during their formative years even though they know what they’re believing in might well be nonsense. Take a look into human psychology and you’ll discover that being told that there might be something really wrong with your beliefs is possibly worse than working it out for yourself because you rebel against feeling foolish, and you’ll begin to suspect that the whole sorry mess must continue forever or you’ll look like a twerp.

But it all hailed from unconscionably long eras of prehistory and was a survival essential. Now it’s the present and threatens, if taken to the ultimate, our survival. What was good and positive is now bad and negative.

Somehow we must breed out the need to believe in the absurd because it’s that belief that is behind the aforementioned atrocities. Not a belief in a particular creed or faith but a belief in religion itself, and even more the capacity to swallow it hook, line and sinker.. And I mean any religion. Because if we are to survive at all as a species then we must cast away our need for spiritual leaders and the gobbledegook they are charged to infect us with. It’s part of the genetic heritage we’ve brought from the dead past with us, and threatens, via violence and foolish nationalism, to create a dead present.

We might have sowed the winds, but do we really want to reap the whirlwind?

But then, those of you who know this are still reading. Those who reject it aren’t.

© Peter Rogerson 12.02.15

WITH PHIL COLLINS ON DRUMS

11 Feb

WITH PHIL COLLINS ON DRUMS….

ADAM AND EVE photo:  IMG_1470.jpg

1. In the beginning was the word, and the word was “fuck” and suddenly, out of nowhere, a gigantic spout of something creamy shot into being and spread across the firmament like nothing had spread before.

2. And a mighty bearded bloke lifted his wand high above his head and scattered seeds on the land, and the seeds grew into flowering plants and shrubs and trees and little monkeys and big elephants and nasty mosquitoes and the tsetse fly, and the world was suddenly glorious with life.

3. And rivers flowed in deep places and little fishes pursued by bigger fishes swam in them whilst on the land the lion lay down with the lamb and looked around for some mint sauce…

4. And the land needed a guardian, for it was out of control, so the bearded bloke lifted his wand high again and in the twinkling of an eye he made his very first mistake (if the mint sauce wasn’t a mistake) and created a creature in his own image. In his own image created him it!

5. And it was five feet seven inches tall, clean shaven, for he’d had no time to grow whiskers, and naked, and the bearded bloke sighed his satisfaction when he saw what he had made and spoke:

6. “Why, it’s like looking in a mirror! But I will call you Adam, for Adam begins with the first letter of the alphabet, and you are the first man. And I will bequeath to you the world you see about you, for it is a garden of all wonders, and you will see within it all manner of creepy crawlies and omnivorous beasts, and you will protect them all.

7. “And I, being fundamentally petty and small minded, have created a tree that you must not touch, which I will call the Naughty Tree. All around you is the evidence of the abundance I have provided you with: cabbages and cauliflowers for you to eat and fleshy creatures for you to roast, and you will be happy. Yet if you pick of the fruit of the Naughty Tree then, being small minded, I will expel you from this garden and into the deserts…

8. “Now tell, me Adam, will you be a good boy?”

9 And the man thought awhile and nodded, but said, “You have provided me with all a man could want, yet I feel strangely lonely. How’s about crafting a companion for me?”

10 And the bearded bloke thought long and hard, and Adam grew weary and cast himself onto the fertile plains to sleep, and it was while he slept that the bearded bloke decided during that first night to provide Adam with a chum, and he removed a rib from the man and caused it to grow into a woman and as an extra treat he made the woman three inches shorter than the man so that the man knew who was boss.

11. And when he awoke next (and second) sunrise the man found his companion, saw the fleshy bumps on her chest and noted the absence of equipment to urinate through, and struck her savagely across the face.

12. “Woman,” he shouted, “I have been created in my Lord’s image and am therefore perfect, but you have no willy, which makes you considerably less than perfect. You are my subordinate and in all things will do as I say, even until the end of time.”

13. And she wept and rubbed her flaming cheek and, in order to get into the big man’s good books she offered him a lovely red and delicious apple and bade him eat it.

14. And he, forgetting the warning about the Naughty Tree and anyway not knowing from whence the apple had come other than her hand, did bite it, and suddenly a snake arrived and sniggered and said “You’re my souls now…”

15. And the bearded bloke waved his wand yet again, and created a second jar of mint sauce, and there was thunder and lightning, and the lamb ran away from the lion….

There are some who might be offended by the above little yarn, probably because it is ridiculous or maybe because it reminds them of something they have heard elsewhere and to those I will say, of course it’s ridiculous, but then so is the book I nicked it from before reworking it…

© Peter Rogerson 11.02.15

THE RIVER

9 Feb

THE RIVER

BLACK RIVER AT MIDNIGHT photo: Troll Bridge IMG_1804.jpg Jennifer Rolouge stood on the bridge at midnight and stared down into the inky black of the river running below her. Somewhere a distant train hooted at the night, and a lazy-sounding dog replied with a bored bark.

Jennifer wanted to die. She had decided over the past few hours that there was nothing left under the sun for her to live for. Timmy had left her, taken his toned body with its bronzed skin, those rippling muscles he had tempted her with and told her that there was someone else. And not just any someone: a princess, a jewel encrusted member of the royal family and one well known for her depravity.

Jennifer knew just how much Timmy loved depravity. He lived on it: it was food and drink to him. No evening under a taunting moon, awash as all evenings were with the best of wines, was worth living if he didn’t end up in bed with somebody beautiful. And for the past few weeks that somebody beautiful had been Jennifer.

Sometimes it had bordered on being too much for her, but never quite. She had told herself more than once that had he been less small in the genital region he would surely have expected too much of her average body, but he was small, so she was safe enough from his demands and excesses.

It wasn’t him she had learned to love, though, but the aura he took with him everywhere he went. He had confidence, enough for twelve good men with loads to spare, an easy way that oiled its way through life. He didn’t work, but then he didn’t have to. Things came to him – wealth, people, this bloody princess, and he expected them to. And all the plenty needed somewhere to flow, and some of it flowed to her.

And then he had ruined Jennifer’s life.

She only knew how much she wanted him when he’d told her to leave him and never darken his doorway again – and that was minutes after he’d ravished her and used that inadequate penis on her for one last time. It was as if his dismissal of her was all part of a game plan she really ought to have known about, but hadn’t because nobody had explained life to her.

She stared into the turgid depths oozing like midnight oil below her.

Soon she would jump. Soon she would end the misery of life without Timmy. Soon her lungs would be filled with the black water and her life would be snuffed out. Soon her misery would be ended because that’s what death does to misery.

She pulled herself onto the nearby parapet and prepared to leap, but something pulled her back. It was a sound a definite sound. She heard, like a pre-echo of her plans, the whisper of a splash. Not her splash, not her search for eternity, but someone else’s.
She jumped back down onto the safety of the bridge and her eyes opened wide with horror as the writhing figure of the cause of her grief drifted into view, moving with the turgid speed of the river from beneath its arches.

It was Timmy, whitely reflecting the moonlight, and someone had placed a glittering gemstone ring on his tiny flaccid penis.

And he was dead.

Jennifer thought for one brilliant moment that she might jump in and join him. But then she thought, no, that would be silly, let the silly sod die, there’s more than one fish in the sea.

Or the river.

© Peter Rogerson 09.02.15