I’m not proofreading/formatting this, so it is probably a right old mess in places.
It would be very frustrating to debate with people that have differing opinions to myself on perpetually expanding ‘social media’ internet universes such as twitter. That sentence is probably a bit of a mouthful. Ugly on the eyes of people who are well versed in the art of written English. It matters not, at least to me it doesn’t, at this fleeting moment in time. I seldom attempt to debate on twitter. I try to encourage people who believe they are debating to realise that they are doing nothing of the sort, by sharing various articles which also reference other essays, books, films and that are often almost full to the brim of very difficult, if not impossible, to answer questions.
I do not know when the undeniable attempt of articulating my flawed story ideas will begin in earnest, though I do believe that I’ve gone past the point of no return. Or ,to try and paint a better picture, I have been travelling on roads, across vast deserts, over and under peaks and meadows, and through wild woods and spinneys. Fished some of the most clean and tranquil lakes, steamed in large liners over one of the harshest seas. Finally, I’ve stumbled upon a town, and a group of villages and a small island that I hope some people who have ever known where they call home like the back of their hand, people over the age of 30, might at least vaguely recognise.
The opening chapter may paint a picture that some Christians might consider to be heavenly. But gradually something akin to the ‘the fall’ may or may not take place. As we travel around to neighbouring counties, and maybe even some foreign lands, it will hopefully be all but obvious that the scenes I intend to describe are not of this earth. Certainly not heaven and not quite hell. A story whose first chapter might not see the artificial light of night for an Irish mile of a year just yet.
But so many of the essential ingredients are there in the mind I’m doing my darnedest to use well. It might be a science fiction story, and might represent metaphysical ideas that if I were to express in anything other than dream form, to my nearest and dearest, would possibly get me sent to the local chemical funny farm.
I made a less than valiant attempt to read Micah Clarke only a handful of months shy of three years ago, in mid spring of 2017 during the early weeks of recovery from my little psychiatric adventure. I found it hard to read, because I kept having to refer to dictionaries, had to look up names and historical events which I only ever at best had very trivial knowledge of.
Things have changed considerably since then. There are many factors to this, much of which are private matters of home.
Reading is so important.
I’ve tended to shy away from newspapers for a year or so now. I take interest in what a small number of columnists write, which often leads me to various nooks and crannies of the worldwide web, and quite regularly leads to more vivid pictures in my mind when I delve into the pages of books that, which in most cases up to this point are sadly long forgotten by most people it seems. In general I get found, as opposed to lost, in all sorts of wild, tame, awesome and forgettable words written down from the time of Abraham to not long after 1999.
I’m a few chapters in to Micah Clarke since I started reading it on my nightly/pre-dawn breaks at work. I’m very familiar with the sentences, and whilst my basic knowledge of the relevant historical events and practices are only sketchy at best. I’ve been able to read most paragraphs so far without the need of many question marks in the margins.
The opening chapters of the book made me think about the opening words of ‘The Abolition of Britain’ by Peter Hitchens. I could make an attempt to explain why, but I’ll leave that for another time. Trying to articulate that would take too effort, I’ve only got a few more hours of my day of rest to enjoy before I go let my afternoon nap take me into the last minute preparations of the nightly working week ahead. The best I can offer at this point is that I suspect the authors’ intentions are expressed with love to future generations of family and neighbours.
Here are a handful of paragraphs of a chapter 8 of the Micah Clarke, followed by some paragraphs of the 8th chapter of Abolition of Britain.
From ‘Of our Start for the Wars’
by Arthur Conan Doyle
All along the ridge of Portsdown Hill we had the lights of Portsmouth and of the harbour ships twinkling beneath us on the left, while on the right the Forest of Bere was ablaze with the signal fires which proclaimed the landing of the invader. One great beacon throbbed upon the summit of Butser, while beyond that, as far as eye could reach, twinkling sparks of light showed how the tidings were being carried north into Berkshire and eastward into Sussex. Of these fires, some were composed of faggots piled into heaps, and others of tar barrels set upon poles. We passed one of these last just opposite to Portchester, and the watchers around it, hearing the tramp of our horses and the clank of our arms, set up a loud huzza, thinking doubtless that we were King’s officers bound for the West.
Master Decimus Saxon had flung to the winds the precise demeanour which he had assumed in the presence of my father, and rattled away with many a jest and scrap of rhyme or song as we galloped through the darkness.
‘Gadzooks!’ said he frankly, ‘it is good to be able to speak freely without being expected to tag every sentence with a hallelujah or an amen.’
‘You were ever the leader in those pious exercises,’ I remarked drily.
‘Aye, indeed. You have nicked it there! If a thing must be done, then take a lead in it, whatever it may be. A plaguy good precept, which has stood me in excellent stead before now. I cannot bear in mind whether I told you how I was at one time taken prisoner by the Turks and conveyed to Stamboul. There were a hundred of us or more, but the others either perished under the bastinado, or are to this day chained to an oar in the Imperial Ottoman galleys, where they are like to remain until they die under the lash, or until some Venetian or Genoese bullet finds its way into their wretched carcasses. I alone came off with my freedom.’
‘And pray, how did you make your escape?’ I asked.
‘By the use of the wit wherewith Providence hath endowed me,’ he answered complacently; ‘for, seeing that their accursed religion is the blind side of these infidels, I did set myself to work upon it. To this end I observed the fashion in which our guard performed their morning and evening exercises, and having transformed my doublet into a praying cloth, I did imitate them, save only that I prayed at greater length and with more fervour.’
‘What!’ I cried in horror. ‘You did pretend to be a Mussulman?’
‘Nay, there was no pretence. I became a Mussulman. That, however, betwixt ourselves, as it might not stand me in very good stead with some Reverend Aminadab Fount-of-Grace in the rebel camp, who is no admirer of Mahmoud.’
I was so astounded at the impudence of this confession, coming from the mouth of one who had been leading the exercises of a pious Christian family, that I was fairly bereft of speech. Decimus Saxon whistled a few bars of a sprightly tune, and then continued—
‘My perseverance in these exercises soon led to my being singled out from among the other prisoners, until I so prevailed upon my gaolers that the doors were opened for me, and I was allowed out on condition of presenting myself at the prison gates once a day. What use, think ye, did I make of my freedom?’
‘Nay, you are capable of anything,’ said I.
‘I set off forthwith to their chief mosque—that of St. Sophia. When the doors opened and the muezzin called, I was ever the first to hurry into devotions and the last to leave them. Did I see a Mussulman strike his head upon the pavement, I would strike mine twice. Did I see him bend and bow, I was ready to prostrate myself. In this way ere long the piety of the converted Giaour became the talk of the city, and I was provided with a hut in which to make my sacred meditations. Here I might have done well, and indeed I had well-nigh made up my mind to set up as a prophet and write an extra chapter to the Koran, when some foolish trifle made the faithful suspicious of my honesty. It was but some nonsense of a wench being found in my hut by some who came to consult me upon a point of faith, but it was enough to set their heathen tongues wagging; so I thought it wisest to give them the slip in a Levantine coaster and leave the Koran uncompleted. It is perhaps as well, for it would be a sore trial to have to give up Christian women and pork, for their garlic-breathing houris and accursed kybobs of sheep’s flesh.’
We had passed through Fareham and Botley during this conversation, and were now making our way down the Bishopstoke road. The soil changes about here from chalk to sand, so that our horses’ hoofs did but make a dull subdued rattle, which was no bar to our talk—or rather to my companion’s, for I did little more than listen. In truth, my mind was so full of anticipations of what was before us, and of thoughts of the home behind, that I was in no humour for sprightly chatter. The sky was somewhat clouded, but the moon glinted out between the rifts, showing us the long road which wound away in front of us. On either side were scattered houses with gardens sloping down toward the road. The heavy, sickly scent of strawberries was in the air.
From ‘A Real Bastard’
by Peter Hitchens
The age of social services has arrived
From the workhouse to the workplace, a history of the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and her Child, later the
National Council for One-Parent Families.
If you have to be cruel to be kind, then you must accept the unpleasant results of your cruelty, including your own self-reproach, or the expression has no meaning. The unsettling and disturbing story of Britain’s unmarried mothers is the story of a society which decided that it preferred to be kind to its own conscience, and so unleashed a new cruelty upon millions of children and their mothers. The older cruelty, which took the ugly form of workhouses, shame and stigma was hard to bear because it required active harshness from the state and from individuals. The new cruelty, which leaves hundreds of thousands of children without a proper family, is imposed through many acts of generosity by the state and a taxpayers, and through the broad-minded tolerance of individuals and opinion-formers. It is therefore easier to bear in a society which had nationalized its conscience. The effects are absorbed passively, and cannot be blamed on any personal callousness by officials or politicians, though they condemn growing legions of women to lives of noisy desperation.
As with so many aspects of our cultural revolution, it is futile simply to compare what exists now with what used to be. We are incomparably richer than our parents, and if we had held on to our moral standards we would not necessarily have held on to workhouses and similar cruelties. In fact, the history of this country’s treatment of unmarried mothers until the early 1960s suggests that we could have reached sensible compromise between stern duty and individual kindness. But in that strange decade, we abruptly changed direction form reform to revolution.
I might not have copied out the paragraphs from Peter Hitchens’s book very well, as the Angel of Napness is tugging quite forcefully on the eyelids of my out-of-synch body clock.
I imagine that at least one main character from the book will be a cock-sure twenty-three year old, cannabis smoking boy in 1999 who loses his mind for a little while longer than he is used to, and I would try to describe the weeks leading up to a lengthy year stay in a remote farm for the mentally disturbed, privately run by a gaggle of Christians who can never agree with each other on most matters of the day or of the past in private, but are united in giving the disturbed boys and girls the compassion, education and inspiration they need to recover from their demons without drugs, bar the occasional mild headache pill, a weak shandy or low alcohol wine on very special occasions, an asylum away from the prying eyes and ears of the state and the media the state covertly controls.
Two of the books that the young man would have read just before becoming seemingly insane to those around him, would be books not unlike ‘The Abolition of Britain’ and ‘Micah Clarke’. There are other books too, but at the moment these two are my main focus of attention. Josephine Teys books are to become prominent on the Shelf. ‘The Abolition of Man’ is a book I am eager to read. There are many more.. but do not want to reveal too much.
Nearly four years ago, the last book I read leading up to becoming cuckoo was ‘The Cameron Delusion’, and I hope that my real experiences are enough to inspire the dark but hopeful fantasy I believe I’m capable of writing some time in the coming months and years.
I could go on, but it would be rude to resist Grandfather Naptime any longer..
Finally for now:
With Hell So Near
Those Poor Bastards