Archive | October, 2015

DOCTOR DOMUCH’S PATIENT

31 Oct

mushroom cloud photo: Mushroom Cloud soldiers mushroomcloud.jpg

I know that I tend to tell lies,” murmured Thomas Crotchley. “I’m afraid it comes with the territory, so to speak. I just can’t help it.”

Doctor Domuch shook his head sadly. “It’s a new condition to me,” he confessed frankly, “in all of the reading I’ve done, and all of my studies, night school and all that as well as goodness-knows how many years at University, I’ve never met a condition that forces a man to be untruthful against his own will.”

“Well, I’ve got it,” smiled Thomas. “For instance, yesterday when the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocked my door I couldn’t heLp inviting them in and telling them I’d just killed my wife…”

“Killed your wife?” almost gasped Doctor Domuch. “Did they believe you?”

“I doubt it,” grinned his patient, “after all they’re Christians and the lies they’re used to swallowing whole are really big ones and me killing my wife is relatively insignificant. It’s what I call the waging war theory. Send a nuclear missile hurtling to your enemy makes shooting a single unarmed civilian a relatively harmless thing to do, don’t you think? And easy. It’s very easy to dismiss one when a million souls have been sent on their way to Paradise. Quite painless, you might say.”

“You’re a lost cause!” exclaimed the doctor. “Talking of mass murder as if it meant nothing at all, and you a politician!”

“We have to think that way,” sighed Thomas, suddenly adopting a sad demeanour. “We who hold the reigns of power have to take in the big picture…”

“There’s nothing big about mass murder!” snapped the doctor, irritated.

“Depends on the size of the mass,” suggested his patient, barely aware of the sudden agitation in his medical adviser. “It depends on how many get incinerated, get sent to eternity in the blink of an eye!”

“You’re impossible!”

“Someone has to think that way,” sighed the politician, “and because we’re the chosen few it falls to us. Even now there are the rumours of war. It’s got to happen sooner or later and whichever side launches the fiercest attack will be the winner. It’ll be over before the bombs explode, you know. There’s something wonderfully human about the concept of mutually assured destruction, don’t you think? Even as the heavens roar with the approach of a thousand megatons and people pause in the streets to admire the sound the war will be as good as over. That will be their last pause, their last chance to pray…”

“You’re mad!” snapped his doctor. “Fancying such things! Imagining war on that scale and almost laughing it off with wild tales of killing your wife!”

“The Jehovah’s Witnesses believed it!” laughed Thomas Crotchley. “They went scurrying off to tell the police, and when the police arrived I couldn’t help admitting it! Yes sir, I told them, she’s been dissolved in acid and poured down the drain and I’ll admit it in court if you find one piece of evidence that proves I’m not a liar…”

“You’re mad!” exclaimed his doctor.

“Hey, watch who you’re calling mad!”snapped the politician, suddenly. “I might be barking, you might be right, and I might be the king of liars but don’t forget who I am!”

“No, sir,” muttered the doctor, almost contritely.

“So the police went away when it was clear as day there wasn’t any evidence against me. No wife and no evidence, think of that. Of course, the whole idea of a lowly Inspector investigating the affairs of the Prime Minister and looking for clues of a foul murder in his home is almost a joke! But we can’t have Jehovah’s Witnesses getting in the way of a war, can we?”
The doctor sighed. “There is no war,” he murmured. “At least you know that much! You’re here and you’d have to be somewhere else if you had your thumb on the big red nuclear button! Now take your underpants off. I want to test your balls and see if there’s any improvement.”

“Now be careful, doc! They’re quite all right, take it from me! If there was anything wrong with them I’d know! Take my word for it! I’ve got first class balls and I’ll keep them mostly to myself if you don’t mind, though you can take a little peek if you really must, just for the fun of it.”

“Please yourself. I’m beginning to lose all interest in whether you live or die.” growled Doctor Domuch as he groped the Prime Ministerial testicles with a latex glove.

“We’re all going to die soon enough,” grinned the Prime Minister. “I pressed the big red button you seem to fond of thinking about a good half hour ago, and the missiles are well on their way to the enemy whilst I’ll bet their missiles are well on their way here. We’re all doomed, you know, all doomed to perdition!”

“And you’ve got a serious cancer,” the doctor told him. “There’s a lump the size of an egg on one of your gonads and it’ll take you to Hell sooner than soon, before Christmas anyway.”

The Prime Minister, Thomas Crotchley, shuddered.

“Don’t think I’m not aware of that,” he murmured. “Of course I know that! It’s been growing for months and I know it’ll take me off! I’ve even a good idea as to when! Why do you think there’s a war? Why do you think the bombs are on their way? Didn’t I tell you it’s a darned sight easier to see one man die when a million are going as well? And it’ll be more than a million this time, mark my words! There’ll most likely be nobody left, anywhere in any land under the sun! And the big joke is that bloody Inspector will never find the wife’s mouldering bones in my back garden, not when everything’s blown to Kingdom Come and everyone’s dea…

He never finished his sentence because the doctor squeezed so hard that the scream he made cut words and sense off – and which itself was silenced as the first bomb fell agonizingly loudly and close enough to kill them both.

© Peter Rogerson 31.10.15

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TO HAVE AND NOT TO HAVE

29 Oct

I reckon that there’s got to be a darned sight too much of the old-fashioned “I doff my ‘at t’yer, Master Bigman” about these days.

It seems that too much respect is being shown to the Eton and Oxford boys ruling our country than they deserve or have earned, and too much obsequious toadying done to their old school ties. And all this by men and women who ought to know better.

These paragons of all worthlessness, the millionaires waving their cruel wands at the rest of us, might have been educated expensively, but we are not what our education makes us: we are what we are. We are born with capabilities and gifts, and those qualities are not shoehorned into us by any school anywhere but are innate. All the school can do is provide us with the “right” tie so that the toadying can take place.

Wealth is not cackled into existence by a posh accent or dreamed up by a schoolboy engagement in porcine copulation but by the genuine hard labour of a workforce that consists of skills and power. That forges steel out of iron. That actually creates much more than crooked columns in fanciful ledgers. And the tragedy is too many representatives of that workforce are quite happy to forget who they are and do a bit of quite unnecessary cap-doffing because they who they are doffing at appear to be in some archaic way superior.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the posh boys were right, but quite often they’re wrong.

I’ve news for the doffers. The toadied-at are not superior in any way save the almost automatic habit they have of assuming superiority. And that is fed by the cap-doffing from those they perceive are way below them. I think that the late and unlamented Thatcher woman said it best when she declared that there’s no such thing as society. To her and her ilk there isn’t, just old school ties and an inbuilt need to take command irrespective of ability. And she never went to Eton!

THE MAGIC OF MONEY

26 Oct

I need someone to explain something to me. Well, quite a lot of somethings actually, but let’s start at this one.
There’s a lot of talk in high government places about huge sums of money and how to save them by fiddling with various benefits. One of them is the strange world of tax credits.
Tax credits have always been a mystery to me. I’d have thought that if a person was working and paid for that work the wages should surely more than equal the cost of living. But apparently some businesses don’t see it that way and like to pay wages that are less than what is needed for a man to feed, clothe and house himself and any family he might have. So instead of paying some of his meagre income in taxes he receives a tax credit that helps him out.
In my rather simple imagination I revisit (in my mind) my ancestors who hunted and gathered in order to remain alive. And that was their work and the meat/veggies they brought home had to be sufficient to keep their families alive or someone died. So back then even the most boring bit of hunting, where prey was hard to find and the sun beat down remorselessly from a bright blue sky scorching his bald patch, had to provide enough. There were no credits of any sort back then. Life was both hard but fair. The rich needed to hunt too.
So how have we come to a state of affairs when it isn’t? A man (or woman) goes out to work, toils away with his sweeping brush and at the end of the day he needs his wages topping up. How’s this come about?
Is it the truth that those who pay his wages are so poor themselves that poverty is all they can afford to provide him with in his buff envelope? Or is his work of so trivial a nature that he really ought to find something else? I mean, he (or maybe she) probably only cleans hospitals…
But wait: it’s the richest one or two percent of the population who pay the poorest their wages. It’s those who have who decide what those who don’t have are worth. It’s the millionaire who drives down the income of the home with the hungry kids in it.
Now the Government wants to save money and they have stated that they can save four billion pounds by tinkering with the benefits, and nobody is going to lose out, nobody is going to be a brass farthing poorer, according to their sums. Mind you, many of them were schooled at Eton and maybe their maths isn’t as good as it ought to be…
Four billion pounds is an awful lot of money. Think how many Cruise Missiles it could buy…
But my question is, and this is what all the above preamble has been waiting for, if nobody’s going to lose out, if the poor aren’t going to get a penny poorer, where is the four billion pounds coming from?
It’s a mystery to me. Maybe they’ve discovered a kind of fiscal magic spell that solves all our problems. Or maybe they’re a load of lying, cheating, deceitful bastards who don’t see why those beneath them (in their opinion) shouldn’t go hungry.
They’ll be taking away the right for health care for those who can’t afford it next. See if they don’t.
They’re tories, and that’s the tory way.
© Peter Rogerson 26.10.15

THE FATHER

23 Oct

“It was so short a time to have so much worry attached to it,” murmured Joshua as he struggled to sit up in bed. His son, sitting on the edge of a crisp white sheet, looked at him.

“Dad?” he queried.

“I was sitting outside a Parisian café back in the day,” sighed Joshua. “I tell you, David, sitting outside Parisian cafés is just as fascinating as the words ‘Parisian Café’ make it sound…”

“You’ve said before,” murmured David, “That’s when you met my real mum.”

“Bless her loveliness,” sighed Joshua. “You’re in your middle-age yourself now, so you’ll understand if I tell it how it was…?”

“Of course, dad, if it helps.”

“She moved like a dream towards where I sat sipping my coffee and she sat down opposite me. She excused herself and asked if it was all right and of course it was! I’d never seen so much perfection in a human body before, such a shape, such breasts, such hair, such wonderful blue eyes… There was nothing about her a man, any man, would want to change! And the way she dressed…. It hurts to remember….”

“I wish I’d known her…” sighed his son.

“You did! But not for long enough,” murmured the father. “She talked to me, an English girl talking to an English man is Paris. At first it was chit-chat and then it was philosophy, her thoughts, her beliefs, and, you know, when someone as spectacularly beautiful as Jeanette was starts talking you start listening. At least, you think you’re listening but you’re not. Words spill out but it’s the mouth they spill out of that you watch and you let what she’s saying drift away on the Parisian air…”

“You make it sound so romantic, dad,” sighed David.

“Jeanette was to dominate, either directly but mostly indirectly, the rest of my life,” said Joshua slowly. “You know, she spoke to me for ages about all manner of things – I can’t remember one of them, not now, not so long after – and then, as if it was the most natural thing in the world she took me to her hotel room, took me, you understand, out of all the men in Paris…”

“Dad!”

“And without it seeming at all unnatural she undid my tie – we all wore ties back then, even in Paris on summer days – and like it was pre-ordained and the most natural thing on this planet we both ended up stark naked in a slow mutual dance…”

“I don’t think, dad…” muttered David uncomfortably.

“That I ought to tell you?” Joshua coughed painfully. “Well maybe you’re right, son, but that’s not going to stop me because it’s all part of what I want you to know. That afternoon in that hotel room was the most magical time of my life. We made love more than once, I won’t embarrass you by going into any details of that but what you must understand is that afternoon was more special than any few hours of my life have been ever since, and I’ve had some moments I can assure you. She was an artist. She knew so many ways in which a man might be excited, and she used them on me, and got me to torment her in the same way. There was nothing I could do but experience it and swim in a sea of sighs and giggles and hissed appreciation. I might say enjoy but that’s the wrong word. A man doesn’t merely enjoy being in Paradise, he lives it with every nerve in his body. It’s as if the earliest part of his life, since his own birth, has been a preparation for that one ecstatic sojourn and that he’ll never experience its like again!”

“That’s enough, dad!”

“I left her after dark that day and wandered, alone, through the streets of Paris, my mind in a whirl as what had happened to me over several beautiful hours played itself in my mind time after time. Strangers passing me by must have wondered at the expression on my face! But I was still in Paradise. It took me ages to climb down from so lofty a perch as Jeanette had put me on. But my holiday was almost over and that was the cloud that swamped my ecstasy with reality.

“Once back home I decided I needed more! I decided to be reminded of that one afternoon and I decided to find my Jeanette again. It’s not easy trying to find a stranger these days with the Internet and everything and back then it was well-nigh impossible, but somehow I struck it lucky. Somehow I found a trace of her and followed it, and found her.”

“You don’t have to tell me any more, dad!”

“But I do, David, I do. You see, and you know this but I want you to understand it. It took me a couple of months to find her, mostly because back then everything was slow compared to these days. If I wrote a letter a reply rarely came in less than a week! These days you google stuff and can get an instant reply! But in a couple of months I found her, and decided to go and see her.

“Jeanette was in hospital, on a life-support machine, and she would have been unplugged from it had it not been for the child she was carrying. She’d been in an accident, a road accident on the newly opened motorway, and she was lucky to be alive. The country had been swathed in a blanket of fog and there were idiots on the roads who thought they could see in the dark. Jeanette had been pulled out of a bus on which half the passengers lost their lives, but she was almost unharmed save for a savage blow to her lovely head, and she never regained consciousness. They kept her alive, on a respirator, for the sake of the child she was carrying.

“That child was you.”

“I know, dad.”

“I visited her daily, though I doubt she knew it. She didn’t open her eyes once, or flutter those gorgeous eyelids or make any sign that she knew I was there. When you were born they said the best thing would be to remove the machine that was breathing for her, and let her die in peace. And that’s what happened, though it did take a few hours before her heart stopped its labouring and for those few hours I had hope that the hours spent one afternoon in Paris would return. But they didn’t. She finally died, beautiful as ever.”

“That’s sad, dad.”

“But I had you to worry about! After all, I was most likely your father. I brought you up, pretty sure that I was your biological father, and it wouldn’t really have mattered if you hadn’t been. There were no paternity tests back then, so I had no way of knowing what was really what.

“And that’s it, dad?”

“Almost, son, almost. You see me here in bed? With a pipe in my arm and a bottle dripping into it? I’m dying, son. I’m off to meet and greet your lovely mother pretty soon. One afternoon in Paris led to a lifetime of caring for you, bringing you up, helping you when the other kids bullied you, sympathising when this or that girl rejected you … and now I think I’m going to need the least amount of the time I spent over you back. If you will, of course. Take me with you, son, and let me die amongst family…”

David smirked at his father.

“You’ve got to be joking, dad!” he spluttered. “I don’t mind popping in to see you every week or so, spending a few hours listening to your self-absorbed autobiography and tolerating you warbling about a woman you only knew once, but I’ve got my own life to live, thank you very much! She might have been my mother, dad, but I never knew her! No. You’ll be best off here where they know how to care for sad old men who’re dying… they’re used to it…”

And he stood up and stalked off, almost angry at his senile old dad.

© Peter Rogerson 23.10.15

OLD STORIES

22 Oct

manuscripts photo: Bodmer Papyrus, P13, Hebrews, 150 AD 12_Bodmer_Papyrus_P13_Hebrews_150AD.gif

Next year we will, to a man and a woman, be made aware that William Shakespeare died exactly 400 years ago, in the year 1616 AD and roughly on the same date as his birthday. For the uninitiated Shakespeare was special because the dramas he supposedly wrote have come down all the years since then as phenomenal works penned by a genius. And they are just that. I’ve lost count of the number of phrases he created that are still part of our language. Yet, as sceptics never tire of suggesting, there is no actual proof that the man wrote anything. His plays (if they were his) were as appreciated in his own time as enthusiastically as they are now and he was bigger than the biggest pop star of his day. He was Robbie Williams and David Beckham rolled into one.

Yet nobody can produce a shred of evidence that proves that he wrote anything. Time has warped things, academics have posed questions and the whole business of the authorship of his plays is a mass of confusing contradictions.

So, four hundred years less a few moons has been enough to create an eternal puzzle.

But it’s not just Shakespeare that we might find ourselves scratching our heads about. What about that great folk hero, Robin Hood? The chap who was supposed to live as an outlaw in the Greenwood (otherwise known as Sherwood Forest) and who robbed the rich in order to provide sustenance to the poor? Supposedly performing his altruistic deeds in the twelfth century, not a syllable about him exists earlier than a few lines in a fourteenth century ballad and there’s even doubt about where he did his outlawing. Was it Nottinghamshire, in Sherwood, or was it Yorkshire? Who can tell? And when exactly? Does anyone know? Not me, that’s for sure, even though I’ve penned a few stories about him. But then, he allegedly lived above eight centuries ago, twice as long ago as Shakespeare, so evidence for his life is, to say the least, is twice as hard to come by if it exists at all outside of folk tales.

So eight hundred years more or less has been enough to add an enigma to an eternal puzzle. Was there ever a Robin Hood? Or has he come down to us as an amalgam of the brave and noble deeds of a whole host of men over a period longer than a single life-time?

History loses stuff. Especially history of times that were considerably less literate than our own. Bits of paper get lost, blown away on the wind, burnt to ashes in a vast number of conflagrations, even blown up in wars. And the men outlined on them become distorted and eventually erased except in folk memory.

And this is the best reason I know for questioning religious texts that are considerably older than either Robin Hood or Shakespeare’s times. Best evidence suggests that nothing in the Bible (Old Testament) was penned (or scratched in a clay tablet) earlier than 900 BC. That makes it less than 3,000 years old, and that’s a great deal older than the maybe real or maybe fictional life of Robin Hood. So how come there are people so absolutely sure of its accuracy? And that’s merely when the Old Testament stories started to be written down, hundreds of years after the events described in them – nobody’s sure of dates any more but it’s quite likely that the events in Moses’ life occurred as long before they were written down as did the writing by Shakespeare of his plays, and that’s a ball of confusion if ever there was one. Four hundred years with no written support is a long time for a series of events to be kept accurate and alive by the tellers of old stories round winter bonfires. In fact, it’s unlikely that, after so long, one of the verses about Moses contains even a grain of truth.

Children play Chinese whispers, passing a message in the form of whispers from one end of a line to the other, and the fun is seeing just how the telling of even a single fact, when it’s badly heard, can change into something completely different. This distortion must surely have occurred during the centuries when the old testament was only an oral tradition. Old men telling old stories on chill winter evenings may well have added little touches of their own to a story they only half-remembered anyway. I would have had I been one of them! If so much that was true about Shakespeare has been lost, and bearing in mind that there was a reasonable degree of literacy when he thoughtfully drafted his plays, how much more of considerably more ancient events must have been lost when the facts were passed from generation to generation in the form of songs and tales, and literacy was for the future? And were they facts in the first place, or just garbled tales by bonfire gaffers eager to be heard?

Yet those old stories are believed as absolute truths by some. People have been persecuted as a consequence of various opposing interpretations, wars have been fought, lives have been lost in bloody battle. Completely muddled and confused accounts of long dead people and the things they may have done are still the substance of faith. Yet there’s no absolute proof (or even dubious half-proof) that any of the events happened. Robin Hood, a great outlaw, has been lost in a single millennium and it’s almost certain that the baby Jesus has been more lost in twice that time since he was allegedly born.

Maybe next time a brave young man straps a bomb to his flesh and sallies forth to help his faith grow he might think on this. Religion and gods are fine things if they comfort souls in distress, but they mean less than nothing in the real world unless there’s proof, and nobody’s found any yet.

So why on Earth are environments being degraded, women and children killed and millions made homeless in the name of something that probably has no foundation in truth or fact at all? It doesn’t make much sense to me.

Peter Rogerson

MARIA ON THE BEACH

20 Oct

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Naked, dressed in glowing skin
and glorious like her soul within,
Maria with the turned up nose,
Maria minus all her clothes…

singing, with an angel’s voice,
notes of hope, her spirit’s choice,
and standing with her legs apart,
love pounding in her beating heart…

and no-one watching, no eyes to dwell
on how her bosom rose and fell,
and how unseen and sadly crept,
her tears as Maria softly wept….

The wind sighed and couldn’t reach
dear Maria waiting on the beach,
or stop the fading of the day
as the sun so slowly slipped away…

© Peter Rogerson 20.10.2015

WHAT A WINDY DAY

19 Oct

wind blown skirt photo: An angel Blown by the wind Image052.jpg
The wind caught her, tore her cotton skirt,
dragged her stumbling, flailing arms,
tangled hair until it almost hurt,
yet she was laughing at the rampant ease
of every breath in every breeze…

and off to wonderland she blew,
where ice-cream warriors tumbled by
and lollipop children turned askew
with faces flushed and eyes so bright
her heart leaped at the very sight…

let the waves crash onto golden sands
let the sun blaze from an azure sky,
and brilliance rest on all the lands
let the teasing wind lift high that skirt
and billow out the schoolboy shirt…

it shrieks nature in the blasted raw,
nature crashing on the shore,
blood-red scion, tooth and claw,
blow it wildly, blow it more…

© Peter Rogerson 19.10.15