Archive | May, 2015

OWONGO’S LONG WALK

31 May

OWONGO’S LONG WALK.

MAP north africa photo: Africa Map Ani afr_map.gif  “There is,” thought Owongo (an ancient ancestor of mine from the dim and wonderful past) “nothing quite as exhilarating as a good long walk. Nothing at all.” Then he turned to Mirumda, his patient and ever-loving woman, and grinned.

“I’m going for a walk,” he said, smirking.

“That’s good!” she exclaimed, “and while you’re walking why don’ t you pick up half a dozen eggs from the ostrich nest?”

Owongo might have sneered, but sneering at Mirumda could be a dangerous thing, so he smirked again.

“Not that kind of walk,” he murmured. “I’m going to go for many days’ walk. I’m going to go up to the ocean and round the land at its eastern edge and right up to the great river! I’m going to create a record! I’m going to be the oldest caveman to achieve such a feat! You wait and see! There will be praise from every quarter and even the chippers of the Daily Sun Tablet will engrave my portrait for all to see.”

“They only make one copy of the Daily Sun Tablet,” pointed out Mirumda. “The chippers are fully engaged producing that! They don’t have the time to make multiple copies!”

“I know that,” almost sneered Owongo. “But everyone reads it. Every single person from the Western Hills via the Northern slopes and the Eastern humps right down to the Southern river!”

“I hope you know what you’re planning,” she muttered. “That’s a long walk that you’re planning and as far as I know you haven’t walked anywhere near that far before, in one go.”

“But I’m a man,” explained Owongo. “And if I set my mind to it I can achieve anything I like!”

“When a woman couldn’t?” grated Mirumda. “Well, man of mine, when are you going on this long walk?”

“Next month,” decided Owongo. “I’ve a lot of preparations to make, a lot of organizing to do. I need to invent a wind-proof umbrella, to start with. And I’ll need maps, loads of maps if I’m not to get lost, and as yet I can’t find rumour of even one cartographer! And supplies. I’ll need a back-pack full of supplies. It’s many a mile I’m planning to walk, and a man can’t do that on an empty stomach!”

“And what about me?” asked Mirumda. “What’s going to become of me while you’re gone? Chief Longi has eyes for me, you know. I’ve caught him gazing in rapturous lust at my bosom! I think he’s got a hankering for my mammaries! And there’s that mate of yours, Yongi. He tries to cuddle up to me when you’re not looking, and if you’re not looking for week after week I hate to think how far he’ll get with that great serpent he keeps between his legs!”

“You’ll be all right,” sighed Owongo, “there’s aren’t so many men around here who could stand up to a tussle with your tits!”

“That’s cruel…” almost mewed Mirumda.

“Now give me some peace!” demanded Owongo. “I need to make preparations! I need to pack my bag, and without interference from a woman who can’t possibly understand the more intricate needs of a man!”

“Intricate shit! Suit yourself,” glowered Mirumda.

From the above you might conclude that my own DNA, stretching back through innumerable years, owes more to the female line than it does to the male, and I suppose that may be true. Anyway, whatever the case, I have no intention of braving the miles of a truly long walk myself. I’ll leave that to more many men and take the girlie option, and stay at home.

So for the time being I’ll leave Owongo and his preparations for a really long walk while I get on with my tatting…

© Peter Rogerson 31.05.15

OWONGO AND HIS BEST SHORTS

30 May

OWONGO AND HIS BEST SHORTS

caveman photo:  captaincaveman.jpg
Owongo was sure the sun would return.

He was so certain that he chopped the bottom yard off his deerskin trousers and thus made a pair of shorts. They were his favourite shorts, and he was proud of them even though they were far from fashionable back then.

Owongo, you may recall, was a distant prehistoric ancestor of mine and the connection between us, via our DNA is simply that we both, in our different eras, choose to wear shorts whenever we can.

That’s why we’re both healthy. Everyone knows that sunlight helps the body produce its own Vitamin D. Both Owongo and I benefit by allowing the sun’s rays to rest on our legs whenever we can. And in addition a whole army of pests can be kept away from sensitive parts by the judicious wearing aof a nice pair of shorts.

Owongo was out in the wide open prairies that stretched across his homeland. He had Yongi with him. Yongi was a dear friend and brother of Mirumda, his woman, and they often went hunting together.

Every man went hunting in those far off days. It was how you fed your family. These days, of course, we use supermarkets, which can be considerably more damaging to your health that the good honest toil of hunting. Ask any caveman and he’ll agree with me.

Owongo and Yongi came upon a familiar figure, also hunting. It was Pasto, the witch doctor and general medicine man of their village, and they were shocked to see that he was hunting at all. The witch doctor usually told tall stories about the plethora of gods that controlled their lives (so he said) and in return was given riches in the form of left-overs by the simple village folk. But here was Pasto, crooked spear in hand, trying to hunt! It was unthinkable!

“Look at those trews!” whispered Owongo, pointing at the man’s trousers that peeped from under his ritual cloak. “He must be sweating his goolies* off in there!”

“Nasty,” murmured Yongi. “It’s much too hot to be wrapped up like that!”

“That’s why we’re wearing our shorts,” nodded Owongo. “For comfort and elegance,” he added.

Yongi was about to say something harshly critical about the sartorial choice made by the witch doctor when the latter gave a loud and certainly painful shriek, and started dancing around like a man demented.

“What’s got into him?” asked Yongi.

“I’ll ask him,” sniggered Owongo. He stood up and sauntered towards the still gyrating witch doctor.

“Pasto, my friend, what ails you?” he asked mildly, simulating archaic speech in order to be able to humorously recount the event when he got home to Mirumda.

“I have crabs on my goolies!” wailed the witch doctor. “Nasty pinching crabs. They must have crawled into my robes and made their way up my trousers, and now I’m being eaten alive!”

Owongo noticed that there was a strange series of movements in the man’s trousers, bumps that shouldn’t be there and crunching sounds that made the man howl in agony. There was only one thing he could do and that was deal with the problem there and then. So he took a big stick, whirled it about his head and brought it heavily into contact with the witch doctor’s crotch.

The suffering cleric gave an additional howl, grabbed his own groin and started weeping. At the same time a concussed crab fell out of his trousers and lay twitching on the jungle floor.

“That’s sorted that,” grinned Owongo.

The witch doctor merely wailed and cuddled his crushed goolies and staggered back in the direction of his cave where, rumour has it, he remained childless for the remainder of his days.

Which didn’t really matter because his own DNA was hardly the sort of stuff anyone would want drifting down the millennia from then to now.

Owongo nudged Yongi and grinned. “He should have been wearing shorts,” he murmured, “like sensible souls like us!” And he and his companion continued on their hunt.

© Peter Rogerson 30.05.15

*Goolies: British slang for testicles.

OWONGO’S MARATHON

7 May

OWONGO’S MARATHON

cavemen photo:  SkotW246-Cavemen-CitizenBismarck.png
Owongo was a prehistoric relative of mine with DNA that has winkled its way down the years until it resides in my own semen and will, inevitably, course on into the future. But he didn’t know that because he didn’t know anything about DNA or semen, just that fun might be had with the grotesque (but lovely) Mirumda during winter nights when it was much too cold to go outside.

But this part of his story has nothing to do with his DNA or its journey down the generations because that might just amount to porn, and he didn’t understand that either. This part of his story concerns a race – a running race rather than the human race.

Every year the people of the valley bottom (even including the painted spearmen from the other side) held a race commemorating a victorious battle that was already in the dim past.

The story was told of how an earlier incarnation of Owongo (the people rather liked using the same name from generation to generation back then, it gave their lives a sort of continuity that use of Tony and Simon and Peter wouldn’t have given them.) had led his people into war. And this Owongo, his name already part of sacred memory, had defeated the Geeks in battle.

The Geeks (of the Nerdish tribe) had ventured once too often into the lands that Owongo’s people considered to be theirs by right. After all, hadn’t they hunted and gathered in it for centuries already, probably since the very first Owongo of them all had climbed out of the trees of the jungle and walked upright like legend said he had? Yes: of their ownership of the land they were convinced.

Anyway, there was war.

Even back in Prehistory, in the oldest stone age of them all, war had been a terrible thing. Blood was shed. Heads were cleaved. Stones were even thrown; lives were actually lost.

And when victory had been assured because all the enemy lay either dead or begging forgiveness for their many transgressions Owongo had set out to take the good news back to the home caves.

It was quite a long run, from the battlefield and its twisted remnants of dead foes to the homestead, and he had run all the way. There had been all sorts of obstacles for him to climb over, somehow contrive to swim across, and jump … back then nobody had even started to think of creating roads. All routes were freshly made, unless they found a rabbit track to follow.

Owongo reached the first real obstacle and paused. It was a vertical cliff, and as he’d already run quite a long way he didn’t feel disposed to climbing it. He was about to do the unthinkable and give up when a voice from above him called down:

“Owongo, my friend, grab this!”

He looked up and a painted spearman was holding a rope, and he let one end down for Owongo to grab.

Now, the painted spearmen lived on the other side of the valley floor and any communication with them was brusque, partly because they had a language problem and partly because they were sworn enemies that only coexisted in peace and harmony with them because peace and harmony was preferable to bloodshed. But the rope looked to be a welcome sight and he gladly took hold of it and was half-pulled, half crawled up the sheer cliff face.

The painted spearman slapped him on the back and, in a halting, rather brutish ((to Owongo’s ears) language, thanked him for defeating the Geeks, whose incursion was to their territory as well, of course. Thus Owongo learned a precious lesson concerning the rewards that might come from friendly cooperation, and continued on his way.

The next obstacle that pulled him up short was a torrent of a river. He surveyed it and shook his head; if he attempted to swim across it he was sure he would be dragged by its fierce currents to certain death. And in those far distant days nobody had thought of inventing even the crudest of boats.

He was standing there, puzzling, when he glanced upstream and noted that giant tree had been uprooted by the storm that had caused the river to swell and that its topmost branches rested on the far bank.

No sooner was the idea formed in his mind than he ran towards it and clambered along its hoary trunk until he was midway across the almost flooding river. He looked down into the depths and shuddered. Had he tried to swim across that torrent he would surely have been battered to death. Although his limbs were aching he completed the river crossing and made a mental note.

Tomorrow he would invent the bridge!

The last obstacle, close to home when he was at his weariest, was a pit in the ground. Unknown to him it was a sink-hole, created when subterranean waters eroded soluble rocks and the surface ground gave way.

He was exhausted, but he managed to leap across the chasm, almost slithering into the depths when he landed on the far side. But he succeeded, and pulling himself as much together as he could he ran the last short distance home.

The village was quiet but the few, mostly the womenfolk, who had not been in the battle gathered round him as he proclaimed the victory of his people over the Geeks.

That had all been a long time ago, of course, but the famous victory was commemorated annually by the running of a race, the same length as the distance the messenger Owongo had run and climbed and jumped.

One day it would be called a little over twenty-six miles.

One day it would be a marathon!!

© Peter Rogerson 07.05.15

OWONGO’S GENERAL ELECTION

6 May

OWONGO’S GENERAL ELECTION

cavemen photo: cavemen sptfc063.jpg

As many of you may be aware, Owongo was a distant ancestor of mine, living early in the Old Stone Age, though he didn’t call it that. He merely referred to the times he lives in as “our days”.

Democracy in Owongo’s early stone age was a given, though.

It had to be: there were too few people in Owongo’s settlement for there to be anything other than democracy. After all, any important decision regarding the well-being of the entire community was taken by the entire community in a meeting attended by both dozen of them. Even baby Owongii had a vote, Owongii being Owongo’s youngest son and just short of what would be his first birthday when birthdays came to be recognised, which they weren’t back then.

And Owongo was, for the time being, the chief.

There was no vote. No secret ballot. No long convoluted period of electioneering. No Flintstone-style buses carrying the candidates from cave to cave in order that they might tell their lies to one and all in the intimacy of their own homes.

In fact, there were no lies.

That might seem hard to believe in our enlightened modern age with protracted periods set aside for lying. But back in the days when Owongo was, for the time being, chief of his tribe it was expected that in all things he would be truthful. No telling extraordinary tales of a wild bear rampaging in the almond groves a day’s good march from the settlement because he wanted to sneak all the almonds for himself. No accusing the painted spearmen from the other side of the valley floor of incursions into their territory because he fancied battle and bloodshed. No. Nothing like that.

It was expected that the Chief (which, for the time being, was Owongo) would be truthful and he was, with the smirking exception that he occasionally exaggerated the dimensions of his own penis when the subject cropped up, amazingly honest.

And if he were ever to be found lying there was a fit punishment for him, one that involved stones and the nearby duck pond and certain death. It had to be so, for if a leader was to guide a small tribe wrongly then the whole tribe might be wiped out at the drop of what in the future would be called a hat. One ill-considered decision would be all it might take for the limping tiger from the mountain reaches to not be seen and notice not taken of his whereabouts and consequently his hunger-driven attack not be prevented. Those were serious days and the Chief (in the current instance Owongo) had to be careful how he trod and what he said.

The time had come for the selection of a new Chief (not I use the word “selection” rather than “election”. Owongo was quite happy being Chief and the tribe was perfectly content that he was a good Chief, but after the turning of a year, when the snows went away (if there were any – it didn’t snow many winters but the people knew when it should snow and consequently were perfectly aware of when those snows should melt and be gone) it was deemed necessary to appoint a Chief for the forthcoming period – until this time next year, though the word year wasn’t in common usage.

So a meeting was called, and because it was a particularly important event a feast was prepared, fermented liquors in fired jars were called for and mischievous herbs cast into the glowing embers at the edge of the fire in order to relax the minds of any who chanced to inhale their fumes.

There was, of course, music, a rhythmic sort, created by a wild variety of percussion instruments, that pounded until it was in the minds of everyone present. The liquor was passed round until everyone could see everyone else in duplicate, and speeches were called for.

Owongo, as the outgoing Chief made his speech, a coherent affair in which he praised himself, his woman and his offspring ( and the might of his penis) whilst the rest of the small tribe applauded. Then there was a silence because second on the unwritten agenda he had called for volunteers to replace him, and in order to reduce the silence before it became embarrassing he nominated himself for another term in office, but made no promises.

He merely said “Owongo Chief again…”

And there was rapturous applause of approval, he smiled, his woman nursed Owongii at her adequate breasts and then Owongo sat next to her. The election was over.

And note: I repeat: no promises were made. No lies were told. They had the system just about right.

Hurrah for them!

© Peter Rogerson 06.05.15

LISTEN TO THE RHYTHMS OF THE FALLING RAIN…

3 May

LISTEN TO THE RHYTHMS OF THE FALLING RAIN…

rain photo: Rain lisalindsay0087rain.gif
In that vast hinterland that we call pre-history there lived many generations of Owongos, and they all had two things in common. Firstly, they were all my distant ancestors in an almost spooky unbroken line that DNA tests have confirmed and secondly they were all, to a man vastly intelligent despite the bleak times they lived in. Oh – and if you want a third thing they have in common it is the simple fact they enjoyed scribbling on cave walls, telling their thoughts to the future, marking their present with charcoal and mud.

If you chance on a news item concerning a newly discovered cave drawing you can be reasonably sure that one or other Owongo did it.

And it is via the gift of these cave drawings that I have transcribed reams of accounts of the brilliance of my distant ancestors. And I am so proud of them and set them down elsewhere!

One particular Owongo managed to actually embed something glorious into my DNA. It happened like this.

The day outside his cave was dark despite the fact that the sun ought to have risen a good hour ago, but as neither hours nor ways of measuring them were known back in the dawn of time, Owongo was still in his bed of furs, lying on an assortment of skins and hay that he shared with his woman and half a dozen rodents.

Outside the rain was battering down, falling in virtually solid sheets from the heavens.

He knew what rain was, of course. Such things as superstition and attributing natural phenomena to either the anger or pleasure of a rich assortment of gods lay in the future. Owongo and his people had long worked out that there was a cycle which involved the evaporation of water from rivers and lakes (he’d never seen an ocean or he would have included those in his list of wet places) culminating in it forming clouds and descending from on high when it was ready. That was his science, and it made excellent sense to him. Gods didn’t.

What he particularly loved was the sounds it made. To start with, there was the rhythm of a steady downpour, something like the beating of a beautifully tuned drum partially deadened by the weight of the leaden skies. Then there was the melody – a drip here, a tinkle there when a rivulet found a new way from the sloping hill above his cave, all manner of watery notes that seemed to form a coherent melody.

But it wasn’t the music with its almost mystical rhythms as such that he particularly loved but the way he felt. He was in the dry. Not even the most damaging gust of a wild wind could blow the least drop of water into his corner, where he lay curled up with his furs and menagerie. And for once the rats and their rodent comrades were still, probably also enjoying the dull morning in much the same way as he was and probably hoping he wouldn’t rise yet, at least not whilst it was so wet outside. So he was aware of the very miracle of his comfort, and all this was added to by the heat radiating from the slumbering Mirumda who added to the rainfall overture with an accompaniment of her own resonant snores.

Of such moments as that morning is Heaven crafted! And what more could eternity offer than the security and safety of a warm bed on a rainy day? Unless, of course, the skies decided to create a counter-music via the gift of thunder and the light-show of lightning? But such delights were considerably less common, and on most occasions, including this one, Owongo had to weave just the emotions he felt listening to the rain into his DNA.

And he did just that. I know he did, because it’s still there.

When I was a small boy I became aware of it. There had been a dreadful war, the most evil in history, and the world was recovering from it. So the concept of peace and harmony was a special one and even managed to seep into the psyche of this small boy as he lay in his bed and could hear the rain beating on his window and juggling with itself as it danced down nearby drainpipes.

And he knew, did that small-boy-me, that somewhere in the deepest mists of time, somewhere when the world was a simpler place, another soul had listened to that rain and whispered loving words to his sleeping woman before stirring the odd rat with a moving toe and sleepily saying how much he loved it….

Years pass, of course, and one of the things that time has done to improve the lot of mortality is devise double-glazed windows. Never again will I scratch my name in the film of ice on the inside of my bedroom window! But the downside of that undisputed improvement is the way the rain has been hushed. Yet this morning I heard it, rhythms beating just outside our home, and something inside me squirmed as Owongo’s DNA wriggled and jiggled and wanted to be free, if only for a precious moment…

© Peter Rogerson 03.05.15

THE WAR THAT ENDED ALL WARS

2 May

THE WAR THAT ENDED ALL WARS

nuclear destruction photo: Destruction Devastation-1.jpg
It was a strange kind of place. The war had fizzled out – the war that really did end all wars, you can’t fight if all the armies are dead – and the Mullah stood there in a blasted wilderness looking around him and shaking his head.

“Destruction,” he muttered to himself in his own language, “is pretty damned ugly. All this rubble! All this stench of dead bodies and foetid flesh… it’s all pretty damned ugly!”

“You talking to yourself?” asked the Pope in his own language, stumbling onto the scene. “I suppose it’s what you Muslims do, spend eternity talking to yourselves. I suppose it’s your eternal search for an evasive truth that caused the wars?”

“If I could understand a single word you’re saying I might find myself agreeing with you,” sighed the Mullah. He smiled without a trace of humour turning the corners of his lips. “But as it is I despair! Yet I suppose there’s one positive to come out of all this mess. At least I’m not alone at the ending of the days. At least I’ve got the companionship of another man even if he is of another God.”

The Pope shook his head. He might have spent some of his earlier life learning Arabic, but he hadn’t. Instead he’d prayed a great deal and, in order to understand sin, crept off to a nunnery in order to tup the odd glowing novice. Then he’d grown up and almost become serious. So communication was likely to be a problem, especially if, as it appeared, they were the only two men left on an entire planet of smoking destruction.

“The right side has been victorious,” he said after a while. “We’ve wiped the Islamic scum off the face of the planet! Now, in time, there will be a new population and the only God around will be mine!”

The Mullah was no better linguistically educated than the Pope, and he couldn’t understand even a smidgen of the frocked man’s Italian. So he smiled and bowed his head and nodded.

“Allah made it and Allah supervised its destruction,” he sighed. “We fought like demons for the right to worship him and yet, you know, very few of us believed in him! Underneath it all we are men of science like the rest of you! But faith was important to us. It was a cultural thing. And it provided me with a living, of course, better than most to tell the truth!”

“You could be speaking Martian,” smiled the Pope, “for all the sense I can make of your words. But I’ll tell you this: if I’d known back then the consequences of my devotion I’d have changed direction as a young man and gone into prostitution. As it is, the last twenty-odd years have been spent with a series of clandestine meetings with geriatric nuns who wanted to taste the joys of the flesh before god claimed them, and I was too weak to resist… Prostitution would have been a most satisfying calling…”

“I could have been a scientist,” sighed the Mullah. “I had ideas, you know, about the storage of solar energy and how to make batteries that could power an entire house from a few minutes’ sunlight! I’d researched the science and added a few ideas of my own… But no: they showered me with prayers and I became their spiritual adviser instead, and all for this what did I end up with? … The brutality of a religious war and the chaos of destruction.”

“Yes, I’d have enjoyed being a male prostitute,” sighed the Pope. “A great deal more rewarding than masturbation, which I became quite good at in the privacy of my papal palace. But I did my best … I preached the good word from the even better book, I told them all about our Lord and His loving kindness and forgiveness… but they didn’t listen… it was as if I was speaking a different language…”

“Instead,” murmured the Mullah wishing he could make sense of the other but not able to, “I had my head in ancient texts and forgot there’s always a tomorrow following hot on the heels of today as I tried to tease significance out of bland words. I was lost in a century in which our prophet preached his hatred, and tried to make out that it was love…. and now look around.”

He waved his hand at the chaos all around them and the Pope nodded. There was something in the physical language that he understood.

“We may well be the last men on Earth,” he murmured. “There must be a future, though I cannot see whence it might come…”

“And all the ashes will blow away … green shoots will master the deserts … mankind will return!” suggested the Mullah.

It was as if the Pope suddenly understood what the Mullah was saying, as though his fabled Tower of Babel had informed his mind of a new possibility and created a fresh understanding of what had seemed to be an alien tongue mere moments ago.

“We will have to play a game,” he grinned, humour at last lighting something inside his eyes. “If there is to be your dreamed of future, we need to kick-start things. How about this, my friend, one of us will have to play Adam and the other Eve. How are you when it comes to sodomy?”

© Peter Rogerson 02.05.15