Archive | November, 2015

A MEETING OVER DRINKS AT NO. 10.

30 Nov

This story is about a Prime Minister.
Notice I said “a” Prime Minister and not “the” Prime Minister. It’s too late in the day to think of libelling a real live human being, especially a Prime Minister, and anyway I wouldn’t presume to know much about the real McCoy or Cameron or whatever his name is. So this is about some totally fictitious Prime Minister, one who went to the same public school as many of his predecessors and nearly all of his chums.
He probably knows the pertness of their bottoms in remarkable detail. But this is no time for crudities, so I’ll forget that I typed that last bit, especially as no non-fictitious human being or even Prime Minister can lay claim to such intimacy. Not publicly, anyway. Not so that the people know.
And our imaginary Prime Minister is having drinks with some chums. He enjoys having drinks with those eye-catching representatives of what the best schools churn out because, in between reminiscing about their education they can do some dirty little deals.
“Remember buggering Simpson?” he asks to one and all in general, and there’s a sudden squawk created by memory. With people like this memories are often accompanied by squawks, the sort generated by a septum that has been melted away by delicious cocaine.
“Don’t forget, you promised to let my little business have a big bite of the NHS,” replies a chum once the general revelry about a well-buggered Simpson has faded into the meaningless hum of meaningless conversation.
“Of course,” he nods, winking. “It’s being done on the quiet. You know what the proles are like, how they think their health is important! The first hint of selling off their precious health service and there are pages and pages of quite offensive cartoons on Twitter and Facebook!”
“But they only last a day or two,” smirks a chum with an erection brought on by memories of Simpson.
“A two-day wonder,” agrees the Prime Minister. “And don’t you worry, chums. The war that’s on its way will line your pockets okay! As long as you remember which shares to buy and who told you!”
“That newspaper man – what’s his name – the foreignor with the really popular paper, who owns half of the yank media too … he gave me some vital tips,” sniggered the purely fictitious Chancellor of the Exchequer.
“He’s an all round good egg,” giggled the Prime Minister. “We’ll get shot of the Beeb and he can have the lot when the fuss dies down… so there’s some more shares to get your mitts on… Now, who remembers Wilkins’ bollocks?”
“Me, sir, me!” gloated the group as one.
“Who’s for a line of coke?” asked the Chancellor, and even he knew his grin felt a mite twisted. It’s a good job these characters aren’t real.
© Peter Rogerson 20.11.15

THE MISADVENTURES OF HUMPETY DUMPETY

29 Nov

“When you’re an egg,” mused Humpety Dumpety to himself, “when you’re an egg it’s best if you keep clear of walls.”
It was a wet day, the wind blew coldly through his huge boxer shorts and whistled round his dumpety genitals, and he needed a short-cut. He was still a mile from home, for goodness’ sake, and fit as he was a mile was a long way for him to roll.
Humpety Dumpety might have been an egg, but wasn’t. After all, he was quite capable of musing odd thoughts to himself, and musing is one thing never associated with eggs. No, Humpety was a very round and very fat and very awkward little man. He had legs that were far too short for his rotundity, and they tended to buckle under him if he walked too far, and too far was the short distance he occasionally opted to go when he visited his local hostelry, “The Boiled and Scrambled”.
But this time he’d gone a great deal further afield and he was, as I suggested, a good mile from home and rolling along. In summer it would have been rolling merrily, but it was winter so he was rolling miserably.
And it was at a point a mile away from home when he came upon the wall that had been the object of his earlier musing.
That wall was in the way. It blocked his access to a wonderful short-cut. Without the existence of that wall he would have little more than a hundred yards to roll, but with its presence he had a good mile, and knew it.
The trouble with Humpety was he had been educated very well and knew of the cruel misadventures of a near-namesake, an ovoid who had entered the realm of fairy stories as a consequence of falling off a wall. The story he had been taught had involved the attempted rescue by a great number of King’s men mounted on an equal number of King’s horses, and he had always shivered when he remembered the bit about their inability to put the shattered remains of his near-namesake back together again.
But this very wall, the one he stood shivering and dripping before would reduce his journey home so considerably he seriously considered climbing onto it and dropping off the other side – into foliage and within easy reach, as a consequence, of his little cottage in the country.
So he tried to haul himself up.
“Can I help?” chirruped a voice.
He looked, and it was a child, a tousle-headed boy with a cheeky face and a handful of marbles. In all the best stories boys have hands filled with marbles – or at least they did an age ago when I was a boy.
“If I get over this wall I’ll be almost home,” muttered Humpety Dumpety. “And this rain is getting into all of my clothes and wetting me through and through.”
“I’ll give you a leg up!” chirruped the boy, and he held his hands clenched together at the level of his own knees and invited Humpety to place one foot in them.
It did help. With the assistance of one small boy Humpety found he could grasp the edge of the wall and heave himself up. And within moments there he was, sitting astride a tall wall and looking every bit as foolish as he felt.
“Thanks,” he said to the boy, and tossed him a coin as a reward for his stalwart effort.
“Ta, mate!” chortled the boy, and he ran off because he, like Humpety, was getting wet in the rain and beginning to feel uncomfortable, what with rain forming rivulets and pouring down his neck on the inside of his clothing.
So Humpety Dumpety was sitting on a wall.
And it was then that he had a big fall.
It was the fault of one of the boy’s marbles that he’d accidentally dropped, all rolling and slipping under poor old Humpety, but it wouldn’t have been so bad had he fallen on the other side of the wall where there were soft and gentle shrubs and things that would break the most vicious fall, but he didn’t. He fell splat back to where he had started from, and the fall hurt him.
“If I was that near-namesake of mine I’d have been smashed to smithereens,” he thought as he rubbed himself down.
“I say, that was some fall!” said a pretty voice, and he opened his eyes almost painfully wide when he saw who had spoken. It was a Princess and she was sparklingly, wonderfully, erotically beautiful. And even though she was standing next to him in the rain, not a drop of water landed on her, not even the remotest splash, because right next to her and very proper was a regiment of King’s men, all mounted on horses and all holding wind-proof umbrellas so that they formed an impenetrable roof over her head.
“I’m sorry, miss…” he mumbled, and she trilled with happy laughter and offered him her hand.
“I really ought to help you, my fine fat young fellow,” she giggled. “And I will! I tell you what! I’ll get my men to take you to your little home and I’ll follow on behind, and when you get there you can invite me in and we’ll have tea and buns and a jolly good chat, if you like, and you can tell all of your friends how you spent an hour with a princess after she rescued you in the rain!”
And that’s what happened. The King’s men did take Humpety to his little cottage (though they kept the umbrellas to themselves, so he still got wetter than wet) and the princess did go with them, and he did put the kettle on and he did make a pot of tea.
And after tea and buns he did take the princess to his little boudoir under the thatched eves of his cottage, and they did make endless, romantic and very physical love together until they fell to sleep, exhausted…
And the tale was told throughout the land how a little round man seduced a beautiful princess and why she wept real royal tears the day he was hanged for his cheek…
© Peter Rogerson 29.11.15

On the Brink

24 Nov

Despite the worst efforts of the Murdoch news empire to suggest the opposite (via the Sun in the UK) I believe it is true that the vast majority of Muslims are as peace-loving as I am, which is very peace-loving. So, incidentally, are most Christians, Jews and adherents of other monotheistic religions.

But there are minorities. And at the moment it looks as though our governments are playing the minority’s games and walking us all, step by step and horror by horror, towards a major war.

Didn’t anyone learn anything from the disaster that was Iraq? Bombing other countries doesn’t make friends. It makes the most bitter of enemies and stirs the poison pus of resentment for decades, the sort that in a mean and cruel way will emerge in the future and create yet more conflicts – if there is to be any sort of future, that is.

War destroys futures, scars the present and eventually, when it is the past and over and done with, gets misrepresented by the victors.

As a species we ought to consider growing up. It isn’t Muslims or the members of any faith that are causing the trouble at the moment but a large and brutal handful of self-serving thugs who are hiding behind a cloud of religious confusion to justify their psychopathic insanities. And that’s how we should see them. They’re not a nation, have no real claim to so much as a sod of Mother Earth but are merely thugs hiding behind long-dead prophets.

Here’s an idea.

Take away the faith – and I mean exterminate all religious faiths that have a deity to pretend to defend – (none of them have any basis in reality anyway) and you take away the cloud the thugs hide behind. You demolish their assumed raison d’être.

It might seem simple, and I suppose it is, but it’s worth a try, isn’t it? Before it’s too late? Before the bombs fall on us?

Thoughts on Terrorism

14 Nov

terrorist photo: Achmed the Dead Terrorist achmed.jpg
It’s damned hard to shake off the mental moulding we were subjected to as children and many of us never do. Ask a committed Christian to cast off his faith and nine times out of ten you’re on to a loser. He won’t because he can’t. That weird mixture of belief that there’s got to be more than the flexible three score years and ten we all have combined with ancient stories that have gained a special credibility for no better reason than because they are ancient gets in the way.

He has his Christ because it fills a vacuum in his world, a vacuum that might be filled by reality, but isn’t.

And it’s the same with the Muslim. He was put under similar influences as he emerged from the nest of pre-pubescence and he has his carefully crafted beliefs. Tell him that they’re irrational and he’ll scorn you.

In fact, tell your average nice man next door, be he Christian or Muslim or Jew, that he’s part of a majority in whose midst a tiny minority can hide and he’ll probably sneer at you. Yet that’s what he is.

It’s not just Muslims who have discovered the power of terror. Christians have been good at it, too, and Jews. It’s in the history books and even in the religious texts themselves.

No. To get rid of religious-inspired terrorism the rest of us have got to go to the source of it all. We must get rid of religion itself, and not just for ourselves but for everyone. And by “get rid of” I mean by rational argument and education, not the threat of bullets and bombs.

There’ll probably still be thugs who like imposing terror, of course. Psychopaths who know they’re right even when they’re wrong. But they’ll be easier to deal with when they haven’t got a majority to hide in.

Peter Rogerson 14.11.15

A SUNNY DISPOSITION

11 Nov

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Roamy Miller was a cheery fellow with loads of good advice and wise words. He knew people like no other knew people and what he knew wasn’t always as light and cheery as his outward personality might suggest. And it was sometimes muttered darkly by some that he had an agenda.

Saying he had an agenda suggested dark motives that could lie behind his cheery words, and sometimes, when the “Dish and Dachshund” was quiet in the mid week some of the regulars would discuss serious stuff, and serious stuff often included the wisdom of Roamy Miller. Let’s listen in. Let’s acquaint ourselves with the gossip that echoed mid-week round the tap room of the “Dish and Dachshund”.

“Old Roamy said,” breathed Tom Bull, “Old Roamy said as there was summat wrong with the vicar. Summat deeply wrong.”

“You mean, he’s ill?” asked Bert Topley. “He’s a right good egg, is the vicar, and I don’t like to think of him being ill!”

“Not ill so much as what he is,” muttered Tom Bull, tapping the side of his nose with a crookedly dirty forefinger.

“And what’s that, Tom Bull” asked the landlord, polishing a glass with an oily rag.

“He just said as there’s summat amiss with the man,” nodded Tom, and not knowing any better he was sowing one of Roamy Miller’s seeds.

Then, next day or maybe the day after that and with the weekend on its way Roamy Miller was seen in the corner shop to pay his paper bill, something he did with wonderful diligence towards the end of every week.

“Has the vicar paid yet?” he asked, “if you don’t mind me asking,” he added.

“That’s for me to know and you not to ask about,” retorted the shop-keeper, who wasn’t too fond of Roamy Miller.

“I can only guess why not,” sighed Roamy Miller, shaking his head sadly. “Poor fellow,” he added, wiping an imaginary tear from the corner of one eye.

Then, come Saturday evening when the lounge bar of the “Dish and Dachshund” was busy with all manner of folks standing in comradely groups and gossiping nineteen to the dozen and Mick Crudgeon stroking Amelia Hemmingway’s bottom in the fond and mistaken belief that no-one could see, Roamy Miller breezed in and ordered drinks all round.

“On me,” he said, winking.

And everyone in the lounge-bar was given a fresh drink and the landlord even took two for himself knowing that nobody was counting.

“Cheers!” the general populace chorused at Roamy Miller, who cheerfully winked back.

“Better not tell the vicar, though,” he grinned.

“Why not?” asked Mick Crudgeon, sipping his lager.

“I’m not saying,” smiled Roamy Miller, and he breezed back out. He’d sown his own seeds and he felt good about it.

And things carried on like that until Christmas hove to on the horizon. By that time Amelia Hemmingway had allowed Mick to make her pregnant and both were delighted. The only trouble with the parish was the way everyone, every single one, looked at the vicar.

“He’s probably gay,” said one, forgetting that the vicarage contained more than a vicar but also a vicar’s wife and four vicar’s children.

“He’s probably a secret drinker,” opined others, even though not one person had ever seen the vicar so much as wobble on his way down the road.

“I heard he was found guilty of theft,” contributed a third, who had heard nothing of the sort but knew something was amiss at the vicarage. He felt it in his water, or so he said.

Then, with December almost half way through and Amelia showing quite a significant bump (it’s got to be twins, was whispered) Roamy Miller announced he was going to be Santa this year seeing as the vicar hadn’t so much as mentioned it yet. The vicar, it seems, dressed up as Santa every year because he loved the fun Christmas can be and thought that Santa was much more likely to be real than a virgin birth, which he dismissed out of hand though never said as much. So traditionally, during part time on Christmas Eve, he toured the village leaving small but delightful gifts for all the children.

And nobody questioned it when Roamy Miller made his announcement. They all knew, in their minds, that the vicar was a bad one and best ignored. Quite a lot of seeds had grown into tall and wayward lies, though nobody knew exactly what he’d done wrong, or when, or why. They just knew that he had.

So Roamy Miller did the rounds that year and most houses lost something to his thieving ways as the happy people danced and sang in the “Dish and Dachshund”, and poured delicious liquids down their throats and rendered “We Saw Three Ships” several notes flat.

But when they arrived back at their homes, laughing and joking and filled with cheer, they discovered their homes had been entered and their Christmas wares stolen.

Roamy Miller was never seen again, and after a great deal of head-scratching the good folks decided that the vicar must be to blame.

© Peter Rogerson 11.11.15

THE BOOMING VOICE

9 Nov

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“There’s one good thing about growing old,” twittered the Very Reverend Vincent Pugh to himself as he carefully plucked a longish hair out of a mole from the chin in his mirror, “and that’s that hairs like this don’t really matter any more. Why, this one must have been here for a month if it’s been here a day, and I wouldn’t have noticed it had not Mercy Fairbright not mentioned it to me after the service on Sunday. She saw it and she was sitting ten rows back!”

He held the tweezers with the offending and freshly plucked hair in front of his eyes. It was really quite long, and dark. Not the jet black he remembered his teenage hair being back in the good old days, but darker than the white hair that grew sparsely on his head these days.

“That’s quite an achievement,” he whispered. “This fellow growing there for goodness knows how long, and me not noticing until dear Mercy told me! And even then I didn’t really care about it being there. It wasn’t until she offered to pluck it out herself that I promised I’d get my tweezers to it! I can’t have old ladies plucking hairs from my face, not with me being a Man of God and all that. I mean, what would people say?”

He poured himself a whisky from a decanter he found himself refilling remarkably frequently these days.

“I wonder who’s been helping themselves to this?” he asked himself irritably. “I seem to be providing the substance for someone else’s alcoholic habit! I only have the odd little drop myself and the decanter’s nearly empty again! I must check on the verger!”

Then a suggestion formed into words inside his head in the irritating way that suggestions sometimes did. “The verger never comes in here,” it said. “He wouldn’t know the way! He barely comes into the kitchen and this is my study, half a dozen rooms away from there!”

“It must be someone else then,” he muttered, audibly, though he didn’t know why.

“It’s me,” said a voice, also audibly. At least, he thought it was audibly, though these days he couldn’t always be sure.

“Who’s me?” he asked, again irritably.

“Ho, you know me all right,” exclaimed the voice, a booming affair that made the curtains waft about. “You’ve studied my words all your life! You interpret what I say and explain it to your congregation, though I must say you get some of it quite wrong.”

This was clearly going to be a booming session because he boomed back, “who are you to say I get things quite wrong? I’m a man of faith, I am, and I get things quite right, thank you very much!”

“But you’re mad,” boomed the voice, a little more gently. “You must have guessed that you’re insane! It’s just got to be clear to you! After all, you let hairs grow on facial moles until sensible old ladies offer to tweezer them out for you! And you drink too much. A great deal too much.”

“I never touch the stuff!” boomed the Right Reverend Vincent Pugh, taking an extraordinarily large sip from his glass, and consequently emptying it. Then: “Who are you anyway?” he asked again, refilling his glass and emptying the decanter.

The curtains rattled for a moment and the decanter refilled all by itself, making the Right Reverend Vincent Pugh swallow his extraordinarily large sip in one gulp.

“I’m God,” said the voice, “and I’ll thank you for stop spreading fanciful tales about me. “I’ve only ever done one exceptional thing in my life and yet you go around booming about how I was born of a virgin, allowed myself to be crucified, did all manner of unnatural things like turning water into wine in a trice when everyone knows it takes an age of fermentation, cured the sick and did all manner of impossible things like making lame men walk. They’re all fanciful but not the one exceptional thing in my repertoire.”

“And what’s that?” demanded the Right Reverend gentleman irritably. “I need to know so that I can keep my flock up to date, if you see what I mean.”

“Think of hat hair you plucked out,” said the voice in B-flat. “The one you gazed so lovingly at before you swallowed half a dozen units of intoxicant! Think of it growing from something so small you didn’t know it was there and then proceeding to develop day by day, week by week, until it was so huge even you could see it!”

“Like on oak tree from an acorn?” suggested the partly-inebriated Right Reverend.

“Exactly!” The booming voice sounded as though its speaker was beaming. “Like that! Well, in the beginning was my one big trick….”

“Creation?” muttered the cleric.

The boom shook its booming head. “Nothing as magnificent as that,” it said, “nothing as splendid and all-embracing as creation! No. In the beginning was the word. My word, sown sweetly amongst idiots where it would grow and divide and create opposing forces and eventually cause a catastrophic and humongous collapse of everything as fires raged where bombs fell! Bombs in my name thrown at people who retaliated in my name! You see, mine wasn’t the Creation…” The boom paused.

“It was the destruction!” it raged.

© Peter Rogerson 09.11.15

THE THINKING APE

5 Nov

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The human brain has hardly evolved at all since mankind lived in caves and told stories to his chums outside on cool winter evenings, warmed by a blazing fire. Evolution is quite slow.
So bearing that in mind I often find myself wondering why some people think that they represent the end-product so far as evolution is concerned, and that it drew to a halt with their birth. Because it plainly hasn’t. And if it has, how come there are some who seem to be trapped in the Middle Ages, with medieval thought processes and medieval belief systems. Not that I’m trying to pooh-pooh such archaic times, but though evolution may not have marched so much as a hair’s breadth in the time that has elapsed since, say, the bloody Crusade wars, the general trend of philosophy has.
For instance, quite a lot of people (and more every day) dismiss the notion that they live in a god-created world with a bearded bloke overlooking them. Instead they conclude that we as a species are masters of our own destiny. The trouble is with the structure of some belief systems, those that don’t allow for the development of ideas.
Way back in the stone age they must have experienced similar challenges to belief, and brains similar in processing power to our own must have struggled to come to terms with new and more attractive ideas. It’s not always easy to dismiss sacred thoughts as being old-fashioned and consequently wrong, especially if actual physical evidence isn’t straight forward and unambiguous. So Owongo, for instance, in his wisdom may have struggled to dismiss his firmly-help belief that everything beneath the sun was created by a gigantic all-knowing daisy.
But that doesn’t mean that Owongo was thick. It means that unambiguous evidence wasn’t exactly at hand whereas the daisy’s diminutive offspring were, to herald a new growing season or decorate his woman’s love-nest while she produced yet another little Owongo.
Someone might have tried to convince him that the Creator of all things was the sun, but where was the evidence for that? The sun vanished every night, weary and in need of a good long sleep, and sometimes, when it should have been bestowing blessings on the world it was shrouded with clouds. The sun, therefore, was ambiguous.
These days we have a huge amount of proven evidence at hand, and the sum total of most of it points in the direction of there being a natural Universe in which order is maintained by natural laws. No big bearded bloke there, then, and no giant daisy or need for an intelligent sun.
Yet there have been many centuries before us, many millennia even, during which really bright people have thought very differently from the way we are tempted to think today. If we select a genius at random we might well select Isaac Newton, the man who did so much to guide the future along specific lines of scientific discovery, yet a lot of his own time was consumed by what to us is arrant nonsense. He believed in alchemy and the Jewish god as well as the innovative work he did on light and gravity. Yet the man was a genius and he must have considered he had sufficient evidence for what are, to us, preposterous ideas.
What about our own evidence for whatever belief system we have? As I suggested at the start of this piece, we haven’t changed very much at all as a species from our caveman ancestors. What has changed is our viewpoint, and so far as that’s concerned we’re by no means at the end of a metaphorical road. What we think we see quite clearly now may, over time and in the light of even more precise vision, blur and our conclusions, or those of our progeny, may change until we become the primitives with primitive vision and our philosophy has morphed into something quite unforeseen and unforeseeable.
We are, quite possibly, the thinking ape waiting for the thinking man to emerge from our gene-pool. So it might be humbling to suggest that the wisest amongst us don’t condemn too forcefully those who see things differently to us. Because their vision may be the clearer and ours be ready to recede into the dustbin of lost thoughts.
© Peter Rogerson 05.11.15