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Just when you might feel it’s all up with Humanity you encounter a post such as this
What would you do?….you make the choice. Don’t look for a punch line,
there isn’t one… Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?
At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be
forgotten by all who attended.
After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question: ‘When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection. Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.
Where is the natural order of things in my son?’ The audience was stilled by the query. The father continued. ‘I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human…
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To avoid the dangers of The Ethereal stood the ever vigilant Custodians of the Lord God’s Word. Tireless, Evaluators of Sins and Blasphemies, Dispensers of Justice.
Custodian Vernünftig had dispensed with this view of the entire Custodial Office. Therein could be found quotas of time-servers, bombasts, opportunists, and fanatics; each adding their own handful of grit into the workings of the Imperial Machine and the Ecclesiastes in particular, through the Sin of Wilful Stupidity. He worked with a pragmatic dictum. Get the job down sensibly you will survive and possibly succeed.
Which made him valued and sent to deal with difficult, often dangerous matters. He could not make up his mind where this current deployment fitted.
A small princedom, not very strategic. One lordship within likewise, the noble puzzled more than flustered, welcomed his arrival.
The village did not exude any of the nascent or obvious threats he had grown to discern. The hill was some what abrupt as if someone had put it there to make a point, but not of sufficient dimensions to loom and brood.
‘I can make out the cave Guv’nor,’ Zwanglos said peering through her eyeglass ’Leastways whatever passes for one,’
Respectful to him, eye for detail and spirited. Her common of city speech, barely reverential to the official dictates and naturally her gender barred progress to Custodian. A loss. She would remain his assistant, A Tildelte. They were greeted by a clutch of villagers and the local Translator of The Lord God, a small man who seemed to be bearing the problem with but mild irritation.
‘Good Revered,’ he said as Vernünftig dismounted ‘Has anyone briefed you about the curious events emanating from that cave?’ he gestured with thumb over shoulder in the direction Zwanglos was still addressing with an eyeglass.
‘My Brother in Calling,’ Vernünftig began, and the Translator nodded at the implied sarcasm ‘Was sparse in his report,’
‘Makes a change,’ Zwanglos volunteered ‘Ol’ Geschwollen usually won’t use ten when a hundred will declare his importance,’
‘To be precise,’ continued the Translator ‘He went up the hill, with Holy Book and Staff declaring loudly for the presence to be gone. There was an even louder ‘Be Gone You’, stuff was thrown out and down he came, rolling most of the way. His book and staff are still up there. White as swans he was. He’s recovering, somewhere, safe,’
‘Can I get up the hill an’ retrieve ‘em Guv’nor?’
‘Yes Tildelte. But you cannot keep them,’
‘Spiffle,’ was the only audible word. He could guess the rest of the litany. While she was off, Vernünftig continued to converse with the Translator.
‘So then. How did this all start?’ he might as well have been discussing unexpected early blooming of spring flowers, his preferred approach.
‘A traveller came through. At first we thought he was a bit lost and offered shelter. But the pest snuck out at night up the hill. The first we knew was a sudden bright light from the cave a loud cry of ‘Be Gone thief,’. By moonlight we saw him scampering off westwards never to return. It was never much of a cave more like a dent, one for shepherd to huddle in when it rained. When all that happened. Well I notified Custodian Geschwollen,’ a grimace ended the account.
‘His expertise,’ Vernünftig said, with little solemnity ‘Is more in ensuring adherence to the minutiae of religious decorum,’ he observed his Tildelte’s progress, she had the staff and the holy book ‘I fear he underestimated the problem,’
She had stopped some three quarters of the way, crouched behind a rock then directing her attention to the cave called out.
‘Wotcha! Got time for a chat?’
The illumination was bright even in daylight, the reply ‘Begone’ a boom which unsettled the escort and their mounts, Zwanglos ducked as a shower of small objects erupted from the cave.
‘Please yerself,’ she retorted and pausing to scoop up some of the missiles made an orderly retreat.
‘It’s very deep cave Guv’nor,’ she said on return and began to comb small items out her hair.
Vernünftig, with the eyeglass studied the cave entrance, his practiced eye noting the slightest of hint of two outlines, between which was a greyness. He concluded the larger of the two outlines was the usual which the folk saw, its lighter shade indicating shallowness; therefore the deeper dark was an entrance within an entrance which had recently arisen and he did not doubt leading to some Ethereally bound location.
‘Acorns,’ said Zwanglos, offering him a handful for examination.
‘They are blue,’
‘Noteworthy that. All back to the Age of Conceits. Many experiments going on then. Some reckon as to why The Ethereal Arrived; because of footling about with cheap machines. Dunno why blue acorns though, no records about nowadays. Another thing,’ in her other hand were slender metal objects curled down at each end, since she was getting more animated Vernünftig let Zwanglos continue unabated ‘Now these. Legendary. Staples,’
‘Staples? That’s a new word on me,’
‘Definitely Age of Conceits stuff. You load them into a device. Push paper or parchment into it, thump it, and they fix all the papers together. The LifeGuard probably got one,’ she shrugged.
‘How do we know about them?’
I found out footling about in that old archive of archives, when we was investigating them heretics of Fraud’
‘Oh yes. Very tiresome,’
‘Not so bad,’
‘For you. We need to reflect and approach matters in the dawning,’
Before sunrise the pair made a cautious approach, Zwanglos with her prize, the staff, Vernünftig never felt the need for one, he indulged her. At the rock Vernünftig halted and called out in a stern, calm commanding tone.
‘Sir. A word with you please,’
There was a pause before the expected demand for him to leave.
‘No Sir. I cannot do that. You are causing upset to the local folk by your sudden, albeit understandable actions. I am obliged therefore to request your discourse,’
There was a silence, Vernünftig felt whoever they were they were thinking over matters. Always a tense interlude.
Then the voice boomed ‘No’
At the first inclination he was diving to cover, counterpointed by Zwanglos standing up staff pointed at the cave entrance.
Objects of varying sizes appeared, just as she yelled ‘Nah ya dont’ and blue flared from the staff, meeting the objects which halted and fell to the ground at the cave’s entrance.
Vernünftig viewed his Tildelte with mild paternalistic censure.
‘You are not supposed to be able to do that Tildelte. Yet, while whoever is shocked scuttle up there and get as many of those objects as you can,’
‘Takin’ me staff,’ she said with heavy dignity.
By the time she was back unscathed, and laying out her booty Vernünftig had made some evaluations, he viewed the variety.
‘What are these?’
‘Treasure Guv’nor. Safety pins. Erasers. Pencils. Sharpeners for Pencils. Plugs – lucky he didn’t have a basin. All sorts of small stuffs,’
‘Thank you Tildelte,’
He strode forth calling out.
‘Sir. Please cease. We have come only to discourse. Know you that you are in another time?’
There was another silence.
Then the voice came out questioning.
‘Another time? How say you? On what assurance have I?’
‘Well come forth?’ and to Zwanglos
‘And you Tildelte put that staff away. It will make the fellow nervous,’
A smallish man came out of the gloom, he was dressed in functional clothes of greys, before his eyes rested glass framed in metal. He peered out.
‘Oh my goodness. What happened to the city?’ he looked up ‘The skies are uncommonly clear. I hear not the sounds of war. All is actually calm. I thought they had come to steal and destroy? Thieves in the night,’
Vernünftig altered his pose, a slouch, hands into pockets, ironic grin.
‘My dear sir. We have much to discuss and educate each other on. We must talk, here and now. We will not be interrupted,’
There was a muted grumbling behind him.
‘Gladsome day Guv’nor. It starting rain and we’re gonna have to sit in the open while Master Mystery has the comfort of a cave,’
‘Be stalwart Tildelte. Our service often requires our discomfiture,’
She had a feeling he was making her squat in the rain for unauthorised use of a Custodial Staff. She pulled up her hood.
‘You have the evidence of your own eyes, ears and nose,’ Vernünftig reasoned ‘Time and circumstances have taken away those surroundings you knew. Were you not aware of the passage of time? Master?’
‘Thaddeus Greylane,’ it seemed as if the fellow was unsure how he felt about the name ‘I am an archivist. Not of wonderous things but the small items which mean much to ordinary folk. It is not a profession with great reputation. Yet, when The Ethereal arrived and under the weight of its implications came the subsequent failure of innovations which had been deemed necessary, then perceptions changed. It seemed as if everyone with any motivation of preservation was trying to store items and information,’ and this point he shrugged ‘And it all came my way. Small objects, books, memory containers, poured, into my offices. There was no help either. So many people were involved in survival, machinery and fighting. The influx was such that I fear my offices sunk somewhat, in a gentle way, which I assumed to be through causes Ethereal, until eventually I was blessed only with artificial illumination. What else could I do, but carry on my work, it was either that or go quite mad,’
‘I see you point,’ Vernünftig said in all sincerity, a not uncommon outcome when in pursuit of or the maintenance of knowledge. ‘Were you aware of detailed events?’
‘I could not say for sure. All measure of days passed by. I had some idea that frightful matters were taking place and unearthly creatures were abroad, but no one or nothing threatened me. I continued and itemised some fifty -seven thousand, four hundred and thirty two major items, each with their sub-categories, averaging fifty-two and then there was the issue of classifications,’
Vernünftig conducted some mental maths.
‘Your archive must be vast,’
‘When one relies on clerical records, yes,’
The man’s whole demeanour had quite relaxed, Vernünftig thus pressed on.
‘Thus came the day when you were aware of someone?’
‘Indeed, a furtive, vulgar air intruded. I was alarmed, all my hard work being pilfered. Not being a person versed in weaponry, I threw disposable things, and tried to sound in authority,’ he peered around Vernünftig ‘I fear your assistants caused similar alarm, although this one less bombast and more protective,’
Zwanglos managed a feminine smile and brief wave.
‘She is young, enthusiastic and loyal. I fear my predecessor lacked diplomacy,’
The fellow had obviously been thinking over matter.
‘So much change, in surroundings, dress, accents. How much time has passed?’
‘The Ethereal,’ Vernünftig began as it seemed common ground ‘Was and still is a vast field for study. You may have travelled through and not passed centuries,’
Zwanglos had squelched up.
‘Ethereal takes a bit of getting used to,’ she said ‘That said. Since you could throw lots of pins and things around I reckons you got Ethereal in you, therefore could be quick on the uptake,’
Vernünftig clapped a hand on her shoulder, she sagged.
‘Splendid idea Tildelte. You will stay here and exchange information with Master Greylane. You are ideally suited .It might take a year or so, but will be good and worthy work,’
He began to pace down the hill.
‘Where you going Guv’nor?’ she demanded.
‘I am going to find that wretch who started this, learn what he knew and what was his purpose,’
Greylane addressed his puzzled attention to her.
She had to admit such rummaging did sound compelling also bringing the fellow up to date. And she kept the staff.
‘Firstly. Can I come out of the rain?’ she asked, adding ‘Why blue acorns?’
(I thought it would be nice to start with a relaxing sort of picture).
Anyway, bearing in mind the sort of stuff you encounter in the public domain, whatever the source, the following have occurred to me.
Truth is the preserve of natural events, such as letting go of a stone and its falls on your foot, or standing in the rain and getting wet. Everything else we do or believe is up to interpretation, evaluation or hindsight.
I do try and avoid too much viewing of social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram. The output thereupon leads me to wonder if the Government described in Nineteen Eighty Four was simply too intense, over thinking the problems and just needed to tone it down a notch or two. Now that mindset cannot be healthy, either.
Usually an extreme right winger has only to open their mouth and you know you are in the company of an idiot. Whereas their opposite number on the left will spend an hour or so talking, or producing ten pages before you reach the same conclusion. (Note to self: Caution….Mr Hugh Bris might be around).
If someone does claim something is a False Flag operation there is a very high probability you are listening to or reading something from someone who has come across something they violently do not like but have not the patience or constructive mindset to form a sensible, and intelligent argument. Or simply cannot because there is no evidence to support their claim.
If you have worked in Government Service long enough, the twin ideas of highly organised operations to enact a Conspiracy and efficiently cover it up is such a laughable notion. It is more likely that said government will float the idea of a Conspiracy to cover up and distract the public from some immense screw up.
History suggests the salutary lesson that those who start wars do not often get to finish them on their terms.
Thanks to Climate Change Deniers you can’t even use the old fall back of discussing the weather as a neutral topic of conversation.
Avoid on-line reviews that have the heading ‘Meh’. It indicates the person has a short attention span and never bothered to pay attention to the themes of the work.
I might be wrong, but probably am not, but it would appear that the word ‘Woke’ was once only used by folk who wanted to appear sharp and up with the times, but is now appears only to be used by folk who don’t like social progress or equality.
We all have our triggers and tipping points where we slip from calls for justice into demands for retribution. Beware they don’t settle into a habit.
There are actually Facts, it’s just that they get swamped in social media commentary.
As long as it has a willing audience Evil is very adept at appearing reasonable, plain, common sense.
Great people who achieve Great Things still do not deserve a free pass on every aspect of their lives. Do not deify them. But do not allow others to try and remove the achievements by concentrating on those failures.
Within ourselves in those deep secret places we would rather not visit, there lurk our irrational types of prejudices. Admit they are there, but do not pay them court. Keep their doors locked and barred to stifle their whisperings.
Never take Democracy for granted. Not only can it be taken from you by the snap of the fingers, but also by slow, steady, seemingly acceptable degrees. The latter being the most effective. On the other hand lurks one of the great questions on Democracy. How much you are prepared to sacrifice to ensure you do not lose it all to the ever restless forces of Intolerance?
You can justify anything, as long as you ignore Justice.
We can all come up with apparently wise and incisive comments. We can all Talk The Talk. The question is (note to self). Can we Walk The Walk?
The LifeGuard had completed another task. This one by those of Leopard Company, where questions of morals and ethics never arose. Other LifeGuard left them be to their own small rituals. Like their sergeants and those damn pocket book ledgers. God knew what they wrote in them after every mission. At least you hoped it was God. And it was just red ink.
Rituals are always based on accounts, which usually have at least a sliver of fact in the depths of the Origin.
It was said of Rachmoregin the first emperor of The Oakhostian he risked all, not for himself but for the causes of Unity and Stability of the turbulent lands. Expediency was the gold in his war chest. Many of all ranks were drawn by his constant energies.
Now in his most private of apartments, the morning spring sun doing nothing to raise his mood. Trepidation born of anguished regret heavy upon his shoulders.
In a corner shadowed from the light, a slight man dressed in modest garb sat studying the document. In a court complementary to Rachmoregin. Master Vermittler, Clerke Senior of Provisions, could be taken as a mere functionary doing the will of others. In fact Vermittler, was known for his quietly spoken response to many a challenge of gaining resources ‘Yes. I will attend to this,’
Respected for his renowned ability to navigate through the complex turbulent world of trade and supplies was this Master of Contracts and Obligations. Negotiator and Deliverer.
Rachmoregin recognised a man for a role, whatever position they currently held. Which was, despite his gnawing anxiety why he sat, patiently. Vermittler shared with him an eye for detail. It must be so, the Emperor reasoned for the man never failed to provide. And his fortitude was rewarded as Vermittler rolled up the document looking up with due and plain respect.
‘I understand how at the time this was judged Expedient My Emperor,’ he said shorn of reproach ‘Your adherence to it however will be ruinous. Default is not an option. Renegotiation is necessary,’
‘With these?’ Rachmoregin said gesturing into an apparently emptiness. He rarely sounded aghast.
Vermittler rose and stepped out of the shadows, only the eyes on his pale angular features indicated anything, widened with a thoughtful intensity, fixed upon somewhere beyond the confines of that room. When Vermittler spoke The Emperor felt the words’ meanings were being brought from those distances.
‘Contracts My Emperor are ever transitory things. Even the most secure forged to stand firm in a Court of Law is subject to whims. A turn of Nature laying waste a nation, or a war upending the society, even something as minor as a change of governance and the whole is swept away, sending the once illustrious wealthy, barefoot and in rags to seek scraps. Contracts are unavoidable, but those who build them should ever be aware the need to adapt. All is change My Emperor,’ he considered the rolled up document.
‘Yes, I will attend to this,’
Aldebray The Mage chaffed, while accepting such was hopeless. The Contract he had signed with this Vermittler, who would supply the rare substances Aldebray required, was quite specific about being willing to offer assistance. He had not expected this though. And yet the Court of Mages would find for the trader, reasoning would not do to upset the means of supplies.
‘Each action will literally cost me three years of my life,’ Aldebray protested.
‘Look upon it as a small payment, a possible investment for your peace of mind,’
‘How can Contact with These bring peace of mind?’
‘In Negotiations you may be a minor beneficiary,’
From anyone else but Vermittler that would certainly be bombastic insanity. This fellow though, there was a distance about him, which seemed to be outside of anything other than the base practicalities of trade.
Aldebray set to work, with words, symbols and artefacts; reaching out beyond The World Physical, to The realms of The Lords of The Lands, demonic Zerstorung, creatures feasting on strife and suffering.
The landscape was cloying night, illuminated by roiling flames, sounds of battle. Ranks of hunched soldiers, faces distorted into myriad feral shapes, eyes burning offset by slackened jaws marching off into the maw of conflict, herded by larger bestial creatures wielding barbed whips a’fire.
Some yelled obscene threats at Vermittler. He did not pay heed, all emptiness.
Standing ahead a figure, cowled and burdened with meaningless decorations, a staff of bones held in a clawed hand, features mostly covered, save for a mouth curled in hate.
‘What brings you fool?’ hissed the voice, so filled with loathing it rose above the other clamours.
Vermittler said nothing, he merely produced the Contract, a bitter laugh chittered forth from the being.
‘You come to bargain?’ it mocked.
‘Negotiate,’ came the reply, sure and steady ‘For mutual benefit. Your Master has failed to appreciate this binding is ruinous to them to. They ask for quantity not quality. A poor investment in the future,’
The figure recoiled at his detached judgment, turned its back, muttering in growls, spits and shrieks. Vermittler assumed it was speaking to its masters. Vermittler felt he might have more independence, of a sort, anyhow.
There came the expected rejection, full of anger, hate and distain. Vermittler did not respond with words, only pondering what came as judgement from the Zerstroung lord and what was originating from this representative. He doubted if the demonic creatures would know either, after all there was a mutual incomprehension in what were but two races.
Whether lord or servant gave the command Vermittler was not sure, but three muscle warped things rushed at him, intent on harm.
They passed through him causing no more distress that a sudden fetid summer wind out town’s open drains. They blundered to a confused halt; the creature servant shrieked, whether in frustration or in its Lord displeasure Vermittler could not say.
‘Tell your master this. I have not travelled here in the physical. I was allotted this spectral ability by but a simple human mage. Humanity is adapting to the Ethereal elements and events which brought you to their home world, working with The Ethereal or taking advantage of opportunities arising. The gathering of the souls of all the dead from Rachmoregin’s wars in exchange for vigour supplied to him is wearing thin. The harvest is poorer by the season. These ranks will not suit your lord’s wars and Rachmoregin is fading, others will take his place, using innate cunning and intelligence; they will not need this contract. This will not happen soon, but soon enough. Then in Rachmoregin’s demise this contract will be revealed, and there will be resolve to turn against it, in some part by religion, but in other part by Human’s knack for weaponry. In time there will be machines and devices which will lay waste these lands, a fearful reckoning,’
The servant screamed denial, shook the staff at Vermittler, energies flew at him, his only reaction was to blink, then reply.
‘Tell your masters I wish to re-negotiate. I cannot guarantee them survival, but I can extend their tenure on this world long enough for them to explore other means,’
There followed more screaming, howling and general noise, all of which Vermittler took to be threats. As he did not respond to these there were more physical attempts, all of which flew past or through him. He reflected that he would truly have to ensure Aldebray was recompensed for the reduction in the mage’s life expectancy.
Once the expected storms of outrage had passed, there came what passed for negotiation, involving more unpleasant sounds, and he noted more distress on the behalf of the servant. Vermittler continued to press his case. Instead of these wretched unfortunates swept from the battlefield he would arrange for better quality, those who lived for and off war, the ones who relished others’ sufferings, for they too were not immune to Death’s gaze. There was the obvious objection that they were here already. He countered that they were hiding in the ranks of the others, but with this arrangement they would be open to the more special treatment and melded to suit purpose. For it was obvious wars with other demonic lords were of great importance, and an opportunity to have quality folk whose being exists for the urge to kill should not be passed over.
He pressed on. Did not waver. Continued with the theme that Humanity was enduring and could never truly be subsumed by these methods, if at all. Eventually his casual persistence won the day.
‘How will you do this?’ hissed the servant.
‘To begin with, you will come with me. You will sift through those who die upon the battlefield and send only the truly worthy here,’
‘Worthy’ was the important word to sell to the lord here. All creatures had vanity.
And he sensed the change in the servant’s stance. He had the fellow, with that one swift move. Now they would an additional factor in the tying up.
There was more noise, but when he glanced down the wording of the Contract had changed.
‘Our business here is concluded,’ he said ‘You come with me,’
‘But the new dead for my Lord?’ there was near plaintiveness.
‘Tell him I will attend to this,’
As Vermittler expected his way back was not barred and his new servant followed him.
‘Was I away long?’ he asked Aldebray on return.
‘I have waited two days and one night. Who is this?’ the mage asked gestured to the hunched figure, now in rags.
‘Yes. Who are you?’ Vermittler asked ‘I quite overlooked that matter,’
A human face ravaged by torment peered out, the voice now a cracked broken thing.
‘I have forgotten,’ it said, miserably
‘Hmm. I shall name you Sorrow,’
‘As you wish,’ the fellow said with head bowed.
‘I declare Vermittler,’ tartly said the mage ‘You are showing celestial aspirations. Are you about to re-name me?’
Vermittler looked upon him with some pity.
‘I don’t think it necessary. Examine again the codicil of our contract. I am now your sole employer,’
Aldebray for the next three days and nights tried to go his own way. He could only follow The Merchant.
With scroll Vermittler knelt before Emperor Rachmoregin.
‘I can confirm this contract is now revised and binding My Emperor,’
Rachmoregin read the contents and sighed as he concluded.
‘I felt a weight lift from my being Master Vermittler, yet I must ask can we be sure these creatures will adhere?’
‘You must forgive me this one judgement My Emperor. The original business was badly constructed. These we call demonic folk have little true understanding of the complexities they ensnare themselves into when dealing with Humans,’ he made a casual gesture ‘This intelligence I have garnered from various of those wise and cautious in this field. Daemonics are trapped by this revision,’
‘Can we make good our side?’
‘I have two in my employ who are versed in the subtleties of how to implant the process,’
From once Emperor Rachmoregin discerned a slight humorous twitch of the mouth.
‘It will by folk lore and tradition. Those used to killing ensuring the more deserving cases of the fate are transported,’
Rachmoregin looked puzzled.
‘Will this run consistently?’
‘There are exigencies My Emperor best not discussed,’
In a time centuries hence, in a place remote.
‘I have collected this days ashes Sage Aldebray,’
‘Thank you Friend Sorrow,’ he looked at the gathered greying pile ‘Somehow the work never grows dull. A fortunate state in our Immortality,’
‘Aye,’ over the years Sorrow had become less ravaged, straighter.
As was often, they looked as one towards the room, wherein sat their Master Vermittler. Solitary. Remote.
As he had explained to them. He had accepted the payment of his soul as cost for being one knowing Merchant for Unknowing Humanity’s varied enterprises. Ever balancing costs against benefits. No place for a soul.
(No the picture doesn’t have much to do with the subject. I just like it, and didn’t feel in the mood for ironic or satirical images.)
In some of the more financially fortunate quarters for a couple of weeks now folk have been investing in cards, fluffy toys and other sentimental items to give to their beloveds, and some may have been more individualistic. Maybe folk short of disposable capital have spent some time putting together their own hand-made tokens of love, which will be even more precious. And the communications’ networks will be displaying a fair number of personal messages, in the cute secret codes lovers share.
It would be easy to cast a sardonic eye upon this traditional celebration. But it’s been done. Over and over. Now the gift and card industries lower level employees can sigh with relief that another holiday keeps them solvent, so let’s not be too scathing about the ‘bucks’ invested in their produce. If it’s legal our spending keeps someone in a job. (Happy Socialist-Take on Valentine’s Day).
Although it appears the whole business in the USA and UK is declining as folk are tending not to celebrate it as much as they used to. Maybe they should go back to chalking hearts on trees or walls. Maybe folk should concentrate on making the relationship last. Popular fiction, which is a reasonable barometer of public attitudes suggests it’s accepted that relationships have a sell-‘bye’ date. Of course that ‘was ever thus’ but these days it seems a relationship requires the ‘full package’ except the sustainability. Being realistic it is best to be free of misery or at least unhappiness, but there again is that always a joint declaration? I think not. It seems all of a bit of a mixed blessing. All those torn up Valentine Cards and thrown out gifts which meant so much at some stage. And now I’m getting mawkish and giving an impression of being judgemental……OK onto safer ground…..History.
Valentine himself was a third century Christian clergyman in Rome and ministered to Christians persecuted under the then current regimes. Valentinius, to give him his proper name, was naturally always in trouble with the authorities. The final straw being when he was arrayed before Emperor Cladius Gothicus (268-270) who took a liking to Valentinius until the latter tried to convert him resulting in martyrdom by tradition; 14th Feb 269 resulting in his accession to sainthood. His devotion to fellow Christians somehow got tangled up with the 12th-13th century Chivalric custom of Courtly Love, which was basically a knight making a big public display of having a massive crush on a lady of rank, but ‘no touchee’, only going off on a quest in her name or hanging about the place inflicting his attempts at poetry or song on the poor girl. Returning to Valentine himself one legend is that “to remind these men of their vows and God’s love, Saint Valentine is said to have cut hearts from parchment, and presented it to them”. These two associations eventually morphing into the hearts on Valentine’s Day. And also an element of willingness to sacrifice for another.
Now there’s a thought. Maybe a change. Instead of a general statement of ‘Gee I love you, lots’. How about a declaration ‘No matter how bad it gets I am going to try my damndest to see this through with you and not give up on trying,’ OK, maybe it’s lacking in the sentimental, but nearly 50 years with the same girl and having had our share of Life’s Bricks thrown our way, there’s a certain reality to it.
By the way, as a fellah working on into his 70s. Looking at you guys. Standards have been slipping lately. If you think caring for and treating with respect a girl is ‘woke’ then to be honest you are a bit of a jerk…..a big one. And that’s the polite family friendly way of putting it.
If you and yours are celebrating this day, I hope you have a good one and ask you to have many, many more.
And in conclusion:
All together now….
Read and take heart
Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
Blessed are you
the light lives,
the brightness blazes ;
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith,
in stubborn hope,
in love that illumines
every broken thing ..
~ Jan Richardson ~
Artist Credit : Пенка Стоянова
Text and image source: Serendipity Corner https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=pfbid02vdQGS367eH363jn8trsFkHzAvq4Z9aFj9WDHrS5cJqCoSH3M5w96LtYJTgeB3GX4l&id=100064712285182&mibextid=Nif5oz
He awoke like wading through jam. There was that rhythm of a brightly delivered knock on his quarters door.
‘Compositor. If you please,’ and there was the high cheery voice.
After the customary reflex swear word Sylan opened one eye.
‘Yeah. On my way ’ the gruff bark was acceptable in the situation.
As the door slid open a slender face, bright yet with some concern looked up at him, at the caller’s side a large dog stood tongue out, tail wagging. Sylan scowled at both.
‘Lady Ensign Croí Eadrom,’ he said being as civil as possible.
‘This is my dog. Reluctance,’ she said in mock sincerity ‘Thus you can see I am disturbing your precious rest with great Reluctance,’
Sylan pinched the bridge of his nose. Irrespective of her superior lineage, exasperation begged he should empty the nearby jug of water over her. Thankfully her whimsicality stilled the urge.
‘We have an issue?’ a fatalistic question. This was the problem with serving on a scout corvette, no room for two shifts of Compositors.
She grimaced remaining wide-eyed, again comic
‘A cluster of titchy Depressions. A light year out and closing. Popping in and out. C’mon,’ she said to both Compositor and dog and they followed, Sylan not sharing the carefree easy canine gait. How and from where? In the meantime he had to consider those fist size version of black holes, darting out of the Four Dimensions seeming not to be adhering to The Speed of Light. Corvettes could dance away from them, the larger the ship, the greater the time and space needed to steer away from them; hence corvettes, a wide gossamer, scouting ahead, seeking these, the latest unexpected and broadcasting the warnings.
When it came to the welfare of the World Craft, five hundred myles long and an irregular width at maximum of a hundred myles, warnings had to be multiplied to scales of years of time to react. Initially all on the shoulders of a few. He supposed that was how it worked. He only dealt in figures, not ramifications.
The Ensign as usual chattered away about how she loved the corvette, the stars, the mysteries of The Universe. She made the whole vista of danger seem, so natural, to be met and respected.
Lorgaire Thall captain of the Corvette Gealbhan was again reading It Doesn’t Work Like That. A somewhat bold treatise on The Ethereal by controversial theorist Maighdean Ardea. Nonetheless he oft referred to it for perspective. Unknown and Unexpected being the trade of The Avant Squadrons. The constant challenge of matching the Four Dimensions with depths of The Ethereal.
‘I maintain this is more evidence of White Hole possibility Captain,’ said his navigator handing him the summary ‘This clutch of Depressions did indeed just appear. Flung out as it were,’
‘The Ethereal was enough of a trial upon The World, Navigator. Out here in the Cosmos these seeming spontaneities would have us believe travel between stars near impossible,’
‘As we journey we learn Captain,’
‘Indeed we do Navigator. At one Inspiring and Humbling,’
‘Once long ago, around and on The World we The Ard Tiarnai thought ourselves knowledgeable above all. The High King did warn us,’
Captain, Navigator and Lieutenant of the Watch all turned. Compositor Sylan, typical of his race could not match their physical elegance, yet his eyes bright and manner alert indicated the dexterity so common amongst The Fiontraíoch folk. Woe unto any of the Ard Tiarnai who thought the Fiontraíoch to be lesser folk.
‘I regret having to disturb your rest time. Master Compositor,’ Captain Thall said.
‘The Cosmos is no respecter of our comfort,’ Sylan replied ‘We should be grateful we got this far,’
‘I respect the gloom of your long-term forecasts Compositor,’
‘It would be nice to be wrong on that score, but I suppose Captain, the more persistent we are the more we reduce the possibility. How may I assist you with these Depressions?’
The Navigator laid out the chart and the information dutifully printed from the Assessor machines, and he appraised Sylan of his own estimations. Naturally Sylan listen attentively. Not his place to interrupt a Navigator.
‘May I sit Captain?’
‘Of course Master Compositor,’
Seated he surveyed the evidence, then with all due respect asked the Navigator to repeat his own estimations. The three officers accepted this; novice ensigns were ever lectured not to ever question a Compositor. Sylan set down his thick pad of paper and with an ancient pen began to write. As he did he spoke. His gruff basic accent falling away as his tones turned to a slow steady litany.
‘It bears repeating sirs, if the opportunity arises, you should visit the hub of the Engines of World Craft. Of course Compositors and our like have to witness this majesty. The many chambers, five miles underground set in catacombs so grand in dimensions that if empty a squadron of battleships of the fleets could dock in each. Therein are the devices. The towering grey obelisks inscribed with external wiring like long forgotten runes. Their companions, the shimmering black towers, plain, implanting in an observer the feeling they are watching them with hidden eyes. All connected by intricate patterns of piping veins for miles of secret wirings, and leading far beyond to deeper places wherein lie the vast dangerous machines. Heavy and looking deceptively ponderous as they churn, or slowly spin or grind away supplying the World Craft with its atmosphere, tides, weathers, days, nights, shielding from the uncaringly hostile universe, and by magnificent ingenuity its movement at speed belying the bulk,’
Two pages were by then inscribed with figures, small neat script starting in the horizontal, then veering at occasions into vertical, and back again to level until the script became patterns within patterns.
Sylan stopped and slumped a little over his work, from one alcove on the deck appeared the Lady Ensign Croí Eadrom a raven on her shoulder up in a light steps she moved to Sylan and upon reaching him set her hands gently upon his shoulders, in response he absently patted hers. She and her bird looked to her Captain. Before she could speak, he said, with a sigh.
‘Yes I know Ensign. You come with Grave Concerns,’
At mention of its name the bird inclined its head. The Captain treasured these irreverences of hers.
‘As you wish you may take Compositor Sylan back to his quarters where he may be allowed to resume his rest. Thank you Compositor,’
Mute and now smiling Sylan rose and once more patting the ensign’s hands left the deck. He knew he had been at work, but right now, even though recently formed, the memories were evasive, he would shepherd them in after he rested. The bird hoped onto his shoulder. Her menagerie. Ever the mystery.
On the deck the Navigator examined the figures.
‘Captain. I will need to verify by examination through my two auditors and Assessor machines, but it would seem we need swift evasion of the squadron, alert the sub-fleet on station to act as necessary and to pass this back to fleet command with a strong recommendation they report onto World Craft Naval for them to alert Council and High King that the World Craft should take prompt oblique course from current,’
‘That is indeed a heavy work load Navigator. You must attend without delay,’
Permission given The Navigator left.
‘Lieutenant of the Watch,’ Lorgaire Thall said ‘As we cannot burn up any time waiting, I will be in my quarters drafting the introduction to my final despatch, a task which will take some time. Corvette Gealbhan is now within your charge. Ensure those Depressions are observed for the slightest deviation in path or alteration in speed. Therein will be the only reasons for you to interrupt me,’
Lieutenant of the Watch gave out the necessary orders to all crew on observation duties. In addition to make sure nothing was missed he allocated extra crew to the task. All matters attended to he took his stance, gazing outwards, not action of any use of course; yet you could not help but be drawn to the immensity, a craft had to have its share of viewing ports. No amount of devices could make up for the urge to physically see.
Being alone he allowed himself the luxury of a sigh. There would be no rest for the next five, even ten watches. Any information which suggested The World Craft would have to make even the slightest change in direction would end up being a converted to a political decision. Not just propulsion or direction, but environmental adjustments would be made, even shifts in populations to compensate. How many of the thirty millions he wondered. And there would be those subsequent affects on the productions of support, the shepherding of floral and fauna.
Decisions to be taken upon the entire Dynamics which would start with the information from one speck of a craft. Although the responsibility now weighed upon all of the crew, he was glad to he out here and not back upon the World Craft locked into the entirety of the administrations levels likely to be tasked with coping of any changes.
A door opened, there were soft skipping footfalls.
‘Ensign Croí Eadrom’ he said, without turning ‘Is our Compositor settled?’
‘He rests,’ she said drawing alongside, no bird nor dog in sight, in a most unconventional action she whistled soft ‘How is it possible someone can produce so many figures, so precisely, so quickly, ahead of any machines?’
‘I am sure I do not know. In any case it is not good manners, nor productive to question the nature of any race, nor why within each race some excel at one discipline or another. There is no room for such,’
‘That’s true. Just curious,’ she quipped joining in his gazing ‘We all have our tasks,’ another soft whistle ‘Makes you think though, dun it?’ he winced at he mangling of language ‘I mean. Here we are, all in a flurry over titchy things,’
‘Depressions can carve through a planet’s surface if they strike. The damage to something as delicate as a World Craft is ghastly to imagine. Solid objects we can handle,’ he gestured to the depths, the unseen ‘Those Depressions are unstoppable. All necessary actions must be taken soon,’
‘Yer,’ she continued ignoring the requirements of acceptable speech ‘We’re not so grand are we? We have to keep on our toes,’ one hand drifted into a pocket of her jacket and she brought out a small brown and white rabbit, which she proceeded to cuddle and stroke. ‘Always keep alert I say,’
The Lieutenant had been waiting this, she always did this at some stage, but he’d caught her out, surely.
‘That’s a rabbit,’ he pointed out with solemnity. ‘I would suggest there is not even any lerts,’
‘Rabbits,’ she replied with a dignity so heavy as to be comic ‘Are always alert. Hence her name,’
‘Alert?’ he replied sensing defeat.
‘Quite so,’ she said, and with the rabbit settled on one shoulder popped upon a large pocket, the heads of two mice mouse appeared. ‘These are the Concern Sisters,’ she explained ‘I need discuss with the observation crew their morale, I will explain I have small concerns,’
He shared the rest of the crew puzzlement on how she managed to inspire cheerfulness, or level out tensions with such humour. No one of course discussed just why she was here. It was unspoken. To do so might upset the entire system; each unto their own, on this journey vast to them, but a speck to the Universe.
One slender thread in the pattern of Survival. From here on a corvette to Council of The High King on the World Craft. It was how The Dynamics worked.
Sometimes. For better or for Worse. For no specific reason, you just have to try and put down into words on something which will not let you rest. You know you may be risking censure, incredulity, dismissiveness, even mockery. You don’t care though. Whatever it is that drives you to write will not let you rest until the jumble of thoughts are put out there into some attempt at coherence. You don’t even expect to put A Case that will win any sort of approval. You just have to write. Irrespective.
Back about…..several months ago I was going to write one of my ‘Why I Am A Christian’ posts. I was going to take the tack on the universe is filled with wonder and quote all sorts of stats, then tie those up with philosophical lite musings on existence, statements on tolerance and wrap it all up with a conclusion that this how I see it. There were drafts, re-writes and ‘what were you thinking bout when you wrote that!’ interludes (several). As Christmas approached determination beckoned to Get This Done.
And then Events intruded, or maybe challenged, or perhaps just came along in some kind of synchronicity with a Cosmic intention to drive out any complacency or even flippancy masking as ironic humour, because dear reader….that….was…not…going…to…work! Not now. As if it ever should in this world. Nothing like Christmas run-up to bring the arguments / challenges for and against all into sharp relief. I’ll explain.
Local (ie UK) news in December:
Channel Isle- Jersey 8 retired folk killed in an explosion at their small, sedate apartment block.
West Midlands – 4 small boys died when the ice on a frozen lake gave way
Manchester – Woman knocked down and killed when struck by a police car perusing a stolen vehicle.
Christmas Eve – One killed, three injured in a shooting at a pub in Wallesey (Near Liverpool)- A national news event in the UK.
At the night. One killed when their car struck by a vehicle pursued by police- London area. Two died when their car went into the sea at a harbour, near Swansea.
Those are the ones I can recall in the news. I may have missed others. That does not count the accidents, sudden deaths and serious illness diagnosis (I can count three in my personal circle). OK, maybe it is possible to be compassionate and fatalistic and philosophical in one’s own comfy bubble. But four young lads on ice? How does anyone justify that in the Cosmic Scheme? Dare you use The Folly That Are Humanity’s Errors excuse in that case??? And do not try and tell me that such heart-breaking events are all part of God’s Plan. I am simply not buying into such a Detached or at the other side Complacent view. Not for the sake of the children, their families, friends, neighbours, rescue service crews and so on. Or in those other cases.
I can circumnavigate the issues on Wars, Catastrophic Accidents, Damage to Humanity through Natural Events, even diseases. I can fill pages laying the blame at the door of Humanity itself for most things on the basis that this was a world gifted to us and we have the free-will and it is we who are screwing up. You call that Inflexible?. Dear reader I can, on an internally stormy day bring us all into the cycle of blame, citing politics, economics, social trends to name but a few no problem. Don’t blame God. Don’t say it proves there is no God. Don’t try and shift the blame. Don’t try and wriggle out with the ‘There Is No Free Will’ get out clause. I can chew them all up. And point the finger back at We The People.
But kids falling through ice, when playing? Folk mown down by speeding cars? Exploding residencies? How do those random, tragic, spirit breaking events fit in? My dear wife who was brought up in all sincerity with the notion of a Guardian Angel is now very scathing on the topic. As I said earlier The All Part of God’s Plan gets no room with me, and pity help anyone who tries to even suggest to me such events are judgements; if that were the case there should be a whole lot of folk spontaneously dropping down dead right now.
So, NO. NO I can’t explain, I can’t justify. Probably some might try and suggest, it’s all to do with degrees of scale. Dozens, Hundreds die and it’s just ‘news’. If it’s smaller numbers and children, it hurts. Some will analyse the various Human responses. That’s fair enough on the Human Secular Scale and folk will accept that. However if I try and quote, say Luke 12 6-7….
6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
Then am I not risking getting a very hollow laugh in response? Indeed there are many theological and honest faith-based answers there. The trouble is, how do you use them when innocent folk die? How do you convince folk that your faith is based on something? And dare you say them to the grieving, in their raw unimaginable anguish?
At this stage in such a post it would be traditional for me either to. (A) Offer up a confession that my faith has evaporated and I can no longer belief (B) Slog on with some convoluted explanation which might relate to folk of faith but no one else (C) Go Cosmic. Link Life with the Rest of the Universe and degrees of scale and lose everyone irrespective of beliefs after the fourth sentence when the readers give out in one big collective….. UH?
OK. So none of the above will have a universal, ‘popular’ appeal. Thus I have to be starkly honest about this issue of God, Faith and Tragedy.
I…Do not…Know. I have no answer for you.
I have my Faith.
You know how that works? You have your ‘Something’, be that Theistic, Atheistic, Spiritual, Political, Social, Cosmological or a mix of all. You have your ‘Family’ be that by Blood, Societal or Friendship (wide labels). You have your…‘Something’. You know there are flaws, you know some of it / them drive you crazy, test your limits and yet you are still drawn back there…. Just because.
So that’s what I have.
Without sentiment though. I’m sure I could quote a biblical quote to cover that, but right now I’m not the one to use such, on ‘paper’. You have to be careful of the Written Word, it does not always convey meaning too well. No, I’m just one person with a set of beliefs I hold to, ones which don’t make me better than someone with another set. I hold to my beliefs.
I just question some of the teachings my fellow believers bring to the debates.
And I have no theistic answers why in the proverbial Scheme of Things little boys playing on one winter’s day drowned in an icy waters.
Maybe there are none.
That’s the problem with Faith. It’s not a comfort blanket.
Your turn. You fill in the blank as you see it.
Music has been a part of my life for a number of years. Thus follows observations learnt during that journey.
The music which is discovered in your youth leaves many lasting impressions. Amongst these can arise the abiding notion that the music you discovered then is the only one of true value and that anything after is pale, manufactured and over-hyped. It is difficult to shift this belief. I look back to the 1960s with great fondness. A time remembered as rich in memories of innovations, vibrancy and colour. The charts seemed alive with gems. LPs & EPs opened up new worlds of excitement. When you are young and usually short of experience this feeling is common. You want to be seen different and ‘wise’ to the ‘new world’. Later years will shave away that optimism, but Music lives on in your head, heart and soul. The opening chords hit you, and you are ‘Back There’. Not that there were not some money-grabbing atrocities, puerile knock-offs, snobbish indulgences or ones that now cause a ‘What was I thinking of,’ wince. Of course, be honest, that is how ‘You’ or I think of them. (I have a whole collection of incendiary opinions from the 1960s & 70s I keep locked up in a bunker in the back of my mind; I don’t mind infuriating the public at large I just don’t want to upset some good friends who might hold those songs dear.)
A brief journey into You Tube comments sections will find the same observations for every decade (or half-decade) since, along with that lamentation about the offering of subsequent eras. And we’re all guilty at some stage of indulging in this. This dyspepsia can often be put down to the mood one is in at the time. Over-blown nostalgia. Simple grumpiness. Or you heard something current which you dislike but can’t get the thing out of your head.
Therefore although the words and the melodies of the celebrations, laments or dismay differ, the theme carries on. Music eternally reaches down into our deepest parts and brings forth emotions, across the whole spectrum even into the seemingly irrational devotion or dislike of the song. Music knows no boundaries, it defies all your other norms. Take these examples: The ‘right’ song and the most sober person is suddenly in their mind ‘there’ in the mosh pit, even living it out with a few good friends in private. They are conducting the orchestra in a soaring classic work. Playing a country ‘air’ guitar and lamenting lost love. And all the myriad styles (pick up your hair brush or air guitar and let rip no one is looking) .
Yes there are terrible songs, to you and me anyway, there are styles which grate you, and me. There are purveyors and artists we do not care for. There are songs we thought we still loved, but memories are mischievous pixies and when we actually listen to them again, we realise we only have the memories of how the music sounded ‘then’.
Know this though and know it well. There are no bad eras. We, of whichever generation do not have the right to judge what is coming out of another era. There are aspects and trends we can voice comments, even concerns about, as long as we don’t bring White Privileged Tailored Religion, or My Excuse To Be Vile Because of My… to the debate. We do not have to be part of everything, we should not try. Our individual complex composite characters* will not fit into everything, anyhow and anyway. We can say but one thing using whatever vernacular fits us. With reference to my 1960s youth I chose.
‘Sorry man. This an’t my scene man. And that’s the bag I’m in. You keep on keeping on though,’
*individual complex composite characters – ICCCs- Remember you read it here first……No copyright applies……
In case you weren’t aware ‘Indy Writers’ are folk who eschew for various reasons the conventional route to getting into print by submitting their work to agents or publishers. ‘Tis a long hard road often with scant, if any reward. Yet they do this for various reasons, and operate or strive by various maxims. Here are some of mine. I should warn you I have found regular doses of Sardonic Humour help me through the scant periods, which do seem to be rather unjustly long.
I am playing the long game. My grandchildren’s children will clean up when my work is discovered.
‘They’ don’t know what they are missing.
Arrogance in a writer is like seasoning. A smidge enhances the work and motivation. Too much makes everything unpalatable.
The first draft is supposed to be terrible, if you think it’s not, you’re not doing it properly.
When it doubt, just put words down and sort them all out afterwards.
Awww Geez Louise you guys. It’s different already. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of literary history when this work of mine breaks on through..
Well. We’ll see in 200 years time WHO is held up as an shining example of early 21st century use of the artful and incisive working of sub-text and adventuresome extrapolation when employing the Fantasy Genre as a mirror to the complexities of Human societies while celebrating the heroics of the independent folk of varying stations and maintaining an optimism that evil will fall before determination. Uh? WE’LL See!
I have not failed. I simply keep encountering folk who don’t understand what this book is about (You then say ‘Thank you Mr Thomas Edison for allowing me to plagiarise your original statement)
It’s not my fault Amazon’s search engine is faulty and doesn’t direct folk to my Kindle work.
Maybe, just maybe my last marketing drive wuz a bit off-the-wall.
Folk have very many books To Be Read. Be patient .
And if all else fails…..
Hah! If that’s what I gotta write to get successful. Well PFFBBBBBBT! To the lot of them…….PFFFBBBBBBBBBBBBBT!!!!
(However you don’t want to get to that stage. No seriously. Just keep on keeping on working the nuancing and talking with other writers, but don’t read ‘How To….’ books they just lead to excessive PFFFFBBBBBBBBTs, and that’s not good. And if you do make it, just give a small mention to this post…Huh guys?….Just a tiny mention….A word mebbe?…Huh?)
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