Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Inner Journey






"Purifying the mind is not easy. It takes a lot of time and hard work...You need tremendous willpower and determination right from the start, accepting that there will be many obstacles, and resolving that despite them all you will continue until you have attained your goal."

The Dalai Lama
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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Fascism, American Libertarianism and Donald Trump


All too often people accuse those in politics they dislike as being fascist. This was the case with Margaret Thatcher who fell foul of the left and whose supporters are fond of hurling that vacuous term at the former Prime Minster. She was not fascist. Neoconservative certainly but not fascist. 

Since the American Presidential Election with President-elect, Donald Trump's, unbelievable win the same term is being aimed at him. So is Mister Trump Fascist? Are his policies framed within the Fascist manifesto?

Firstly what is fascism?

This from Wikipedia ...

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete, and they regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties. Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society. Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature, and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation. Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.

One common definition of the term focuses on three concepts: the fascist negations of anti- liberalism, anti-communism but also anti-conservatism; nationalist authoritarian goals of creating a regulated economic structure to transform social relations within a modern, self-determined culture; and a political aesthetic of romantic symbolism, mass mobilization, a positive view of violence, and promotion of masculinity, youth and charismatic leadership. According to many scholars, fascism—especially once in power—has historically attacked communism, conservatism, and parliamentary liberalism, attracting support primarily from the far right.

This from Merriam-Webster Dictionary...

The English words fascism and fascist are borrowings from Italian fascismo and fascista,derivatives of fascio (plural fasci), “bundle, fasces, group.” Fascista was first used in 1914 to refer to members of a fascio, or political group. In 1919, fascista was applied to the black-shirted members of Benito Mussolini’s organization, the Fasci di combattimento (“combat groups”), who seized power in Italy in 1922. Playing on the word fascista, Mussolini’s party adopted the fasces, a bundle of rods with an ax among them, as a symbol of the Italian people united and obedient to the single authority of the state. The English word fascist was first used for members of Mussolini’s fascisti, but it has since been generalized to those of similar beliefs.

This from George Orwell...

Of all the unanswered questions of our time, perhaps the most important is: ‘What is Fascism?’
One of the social survey organizations in America recently asked this question of a hundred different people, and got answers ranging from ‘pure democracy’ to ‘pure diabolism’. In this country if you ask the average thinking person to define Fascism, he usually answers by pointing to the German and Italian régimes. But this is very unsatisfactory, because even the major Fascist states differ from one another a good deal in structure and ideology.
It is not easy, for instance, to fit Germany and Japan into the same framework, and it is even harder with some of the small states which are describable as Fascist. It is usually assumed, for instance, that Fascism is inherently warlike, that it thrives in an atmosphere of war hysteria and can only solve its economic problems by means of war preparation or foreign conquests. But clearly this is not true of, say, Portugal or the various South American dictatorships. Or again, antisemitism is supposed to be one of the distinguishing marks of Fascism; but some Fascist movements are not antisemitic. Learned controversies, reverberating for years on end in American magazines, have not even been able to determine whether or not Fascism is a form of capitalism. But still, when we apply the term ‘Fascism’ to Germany or Japan or Mussolini's Italy, we know broadly what we mean. It is in internal politics that this word has lost the last vestige of meaning. For if you examine the press you will find that there is almost no set of people — certainly no political party or organized body of any kind — which has not been denounced as Fascist during the past ten years. Here I am not speaking of the verbal use of the term ‘Fascist’. I am speaking of what I have seen in print. I have seen the words ‘Fascist in sympathy’, or ‘of Fascist tendency’, or just plain ‘Fascist’, applied in all seriousness to the following bodies of people:
Conservatives: All Conservatives, appeasers or anti-appeasers, are held to be subjectively pro-Fascist. British rule in India and the Colonies is held to be indistinguishable from Nazism. Organizations of what one might call a patriotic and traditional type are labelled crypto-Fascist or ‘Fascist-minded’. Examples are the Boy Scouts, the Metropolitan Police, M.I.5, the British Legion. Key phrase: ‘The public schools are breeding-grounds of Fascism’.
Socialists: Defenders of old-style capitalism (example, Sir Ernest Benn) maintain that Socialism and Fascism are the same thing. Some Catholic journalists maintain that Socialists have been the principal collaborators in the Nazi-occupied countries. The same accusation is made from a different angle by the Communist party during its ultra-Left phases. In the period 1930-35 the Daily Worker habitually referred to the Labour Party as the Labour Fascists. This is echoed by other Left extremists such as Anarchists. Some Indian Nationalists consider the British trade unions to be Fascist organizations.
Communists: A considerable school of thought (examples, Rauschning, Peter Drucker, James Burnham, F. A. Voigt) refuses to recognize a difference between the Nazi and Soviet régimes, and holds that all Fascists and Communists are aiming at approximately the same thing and are even to some extent the same people. Leaders in The Times (pre-war) have referred to the U.S.S.R. as a ‘Fascist country’. Again from a different angle this is echoed by Anarchists and Trotskyists.
Trotskyists: Communists charge the Trotskyists proper, i.e. Trotsky's own organization, with being a crypto-Fascist organization in Nazi pay. This was widely believed on the Left during the Popular Front period. In their ultra-Right phases the Communists tend to apply the same accusation to all factions to the Left of themselves, e.g. Common Wealthor the I.L.P.
Catholics: Outside its own ranks, the Catholic Church is almost universally regarded as pro-Fascist, both objectively and subjectively;
War resisters: Pacifists and others who are anti-war are frequently accused not only of making things easier for the Axis, but of becoming tinged with pro-Fascist feeling.
Supporters of the war: War resisters usually base their case on the claim that British imperialism is worse than Nazism, and tend to apply the term ‘Fascist’ to anyone who wishes for a military victory. The supporters of the People's Convention came near to claiming that willingness to resist a Nazi invasion was a sign of Fascist sympathies. The Home Guard was denounced as a Fascist organization as soon as it appeared. In addition, the whole of the Left tends to equate militarism with Fascism. Politically conscious private soldiers nearly always refer to their officers as ‘Fascist-minded’ or ‘natural Fascists’. Battle-schools, spit and polish, saluting of officers are all considered conducive to Fascism. Before the war, joining the Territorials was regarded as a sign of Fascist tendencies. Conscription and a professional army are both denounced as Fascist phenomena.
Nationalists: Nationalism is universally regarded as inherently Fascist, but this is held only to apply to such national movements as the speaker happens to disapprove of. Arab nationalism, Polish nationalism, Finnish nationalism, the Indian Congress Party, the Muslim League, Zionism, and the I.R.A. are all described as Fascist but not by the same people.
* * *
It will be seen that, as used, the word ‘Fascism’ is almost entirely meaningless. In conversation, of course, it is used even more wildly than in print. I have heard it applied to farmers, shopkeepers, Social Credit, corporal punishment, fox-hunting, bull-fighting, the 1922 Committee, the 1941 Committee, Kipling, Gandhi, Chiang Kai-Shek, homosexuality, Priestley's broadcasts, Youth Hostels, astrology, women, dogs and I do not know what else.
Yet underneath all this mess there does lie a kind of buried meaning. To begin with, it is clear that there are very great differences, some of them easy to point out and not easy to explain away, between the régimes called Fascist and those called democratic. Secondly, if ‘Fascist’ means ‘in sympathy with Hitler’, some of the accusations I have listed above are obviously very much more justified than others. Thirdly, even the people who recklessly fling the word ‘Fascist’ in every direction attach at any rate an emotional significance to it. By ‘Fascism’ they mean, roughly speaking, something cruel, unscrupulous, arrogant, obscurantist, anti-liberal and anti-working-class. Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers, almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.
But Fascism is also a political and economic system. Why, then, cannot we have a clear and generally accepted definition of it? Alas! we shall not get one — not yet, anyway. To say why would take too long, but basically it is because it is impossible to define Fascism satisfactorily without making admissions which neither the Fascists themselves, nor the Conservatives, nor Socialists of any colour, are willing to make. All one can do for the moment is to use the word with a certain amount of circumspection and not, as is usually done, degrade it to the level of a swearword.


I find Orwell's analyses spot on. Defining Fascism is hard, so difficult in fact we tend to accuse anyone of the right of being Fascist. Still, with the little evidence we have, we have sufficient to compare it to NeoLibertarianism.

What is NeoLibertarianism.?

Well, for a start it isn't the original Libertarianism which was close to being Anarchist. A better term for the original would be Anarcho-Syndicalism. No, the two, historical European Libertarians and American Libertarians, share some views yet remain significantly different. NeoLibertarianism is an American invention, created in around 1971. This again from Wikipedia...

Libertarianism in the USA is a movement promoting individual liberty and minimized government.  Although the word libertarian continues to be widely used to refer to socialists internationally, its meaning in the United States has deviated from its political origins. The Libertarian Party asserts the following to be core beliefs of libertarianism:
Libertarians support maximum liberty in both personal and economic matters. They advocate a much smaller government; one that is limited to protecting individuals from coercion and violence. Libertarians tend to embrace individual responsibility, oppose government bureaucracy and taxes, promote private charity, tolerate diverse lifestyles, support the free market, and defend civil liberties.
Through 20 polls on this topic spanning 13 years, Gallup found that voters who are libertarian on the political spectrum ranged from 17–23% of the US electorate. This includes members of the Republican Party (especially Libertarian Republicans), The Democratic Party, Libertarian Party, and Independents.

This from The Libertarian Party (America)...

Libertarians believe that all people have the right to freely offer goods and services on the market and that free market approaches are the most effective at improving people's lives.
Crony capitalism, however, benefits the wealthy, powerful, and special interests who know how to influence policy makers.
Libertarians default towards freedom in all things, including economics. When people are allowed to run their businesses the way they see fit, without inappropriate government interference and meddling, those businesses are able to innovate and create tremendous value for consumers and more jobs for employees.
Libertarians believe that the only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. Unfortunately, the vast majority of regulations on the books do not do that. These regulations are heavy burdens on businesses and people who are just trying to make a living, and often prevent new businesses from starting, prevent existing businesses from hiring new employees, and even force businesses to close. This violates the rights of people to engage in peaceful and honest trade. Additionally, it actively hurts people by stifling human energy, innovation, and well-being.
Libertarians believe that taxes have the same effect as over-reaching regulations and are a confiscation of the property of other people. Libertarians advocate reducing and eliminating taxes whenever possible to free people and businesses to do what they do best so that everyone can have a chance to succeed.
In summary, Libertarians advocate removing unproductive regulation, reducing and eliminating taxes, and getting government out of the way of innovation and job creation.
It is patently obvious from comparing the two,  that is Fascism and American Libertarianism, are very different. Close in many respects but still different. Fascism is a brute fist in a metal gauntlet whereas American Libertarianism is a dictatorship by far more subtle means. It controls the media, the markets, the banks, employment, and the workers. It is in fact, a machine that perpetuates a system whereby  the rich get richer whilst the poor help them fill their master's purses -  slaves to the wage. Fascism dictates its authoritative ends whilst American Libertarianism manipulates the masses. American Libertarianism is merely extreme Neo-Liberalism. Fascists would never condone let alone tolerate a free market yet American Libertarian's worship at its altar.

Donald Trump has been a Democrat, an Independent, and currently is a Republican. He is also President-elect of the United States of America. If the political road he has traveled were a highway then it would have to be both long and wide, big enough in fact to support a dozen or so U-turns and wide enough for him to steer from the left to the right and somewhere in the middle. His populist politics have captured the hearts and minds of those long fed up with what they see as a political elite seeking only to enrich themselves at the expense of those they serve. He has made of himself a magnet, one that attracts Republican's, American Libertarians, White Supremacists and even the Ku Klux Klan. Worse, Neo-Fascists have taken him to their hearts and are Heiling him like badly coiffured Adolf Hitler. But he is no fascist. He is more American Libertarian. Yet what difference does that make now his spoon has stirred such hatred and division? 

Remember, Frankenstein wasn't the monster, Frankenstein was the creator of the monster.
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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

The Willful Walks of Russell C.J Duffy - Book 2 - The Whispering of Grass (Chapter 3)

*A Fisherman's Tale - St. Peter's Church*  -  *A Long and Winding Road* - *Tao and Zen*


The walk from Canewdon to Paglesham is a short one. It is just over two miles from one village to the other.  As I walk I pass those flat farmlands and fields I spoke of previously so the weather does what Britain, like New Zeland, is famous for - forever changing. When I woke a mist lay over the woodlands near where I live exemplifying John Keats immortal lines about autumn - "Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness" - those mists have gone now burnt away by a warm sun, warmer than it has a right to be for this time of year. I take my jacket off and fold it over my arm. 

The road is peppered here and there with old houses, most of them small holdings or larger farms. Opposite 'The Shepherd and Dog,' as the road forks presenting me with two choices, either to keep going straight taking me back home or go left to Paglesham; I take the left going past the farm that elbows its presence onto the road. Just beyond it is what looks like an old Tudor House. I say looks like as I am unsure if it is what it appears or possibly a Victorian replica. Looking at the roof I suspect the latter which upsets me slightly. Why? I guess I had always thought it was genuine, a thing of history, but in truth it's history is shallow and fabricated. Having said that, it is still (if it is indeed Victorian) old, merely not as old as I first thought. Whatever the reality of its past it remains an interesting place.




As I walk so the clouds descend bringing with them a mizzle that soaks my hair. I pull my jacket back on then tug the hood down over my head. As I do so the rains, blessed as they are, begin to fall casting the landscape into a grey palour. This change simply prroves what I said earlier, Britain's weather is the song 'Four Seasons In One Day.' The fields beside me roll on and on. A road in the near distance snakes through this marshy land carrying the occasional vehicle. Traffic is, fortunately, small yet still, when cars approach, due to the lack of pavement, I am forced to bury myself into the hedges to enable them to pass whilst ensuring my own safety. Most drivers are courteous making a wide curve around me. Others drive past at speed caring little for me or anyone out walking.





I walk on down this road so many have traveled along recognising that a road is also journey; a road is a path yet a road is also a symbol for so much more. Another is a stream or river. The allegory is obvious; a road, path, stream, river or journey represents the passage of life. I remember a song from George Harrison that appears on his last album, 'Brainwashed,' the song is entitled 'Pisces Fish' and a line from it echo's in my thoughts.

"I'm a Pices fish and the river runs through my soul." I don't believe in anything let alone having a soul but nonetheless understand perfectly what the former Beatle was saying. Tao teaches us this...


"Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice."

Tao Te Ching verse 78

St. Nicholas Church, Canewdon has it witches and its ghosts. Pagelsham has them too. A retired bus driver who drove the number 10b to Churchend said, "On more than one occasion as I drove down the road after the fork to Paglesham Church End the bus would play up, all the lights would go out and the engine would stall, in front of me I would see a woman crossing the road and disappearing into the hedgerow." Spooky stuff. Such projections fascinate me. How one mechanical failure can lead to something supernatural yet always without sufficient evidence. Ghosts are great in stories but I cannot see how an energy, for  that, is all a ghost could be, can appear in the world we live in. 

Another fork in the road greets me like a magician's trick. I again have to make a choice. Go on or go left? Again I go left. I'd be a mug not to as the sign tells me this way leads to Churchend. Tao again...


"All streams flow to the sea
because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power."

Tao Te Ching verse 66






The sky above me, the road before me, around me the countryside - grass and trees, plants of many kinds. Crows haunt the branches, seagulls hover on high. Heaven and Earth, one continuum but no division and yet it is division that plagues humankind. Class division, race division, gender division, political division, wealth division, religious division. It is division that curses us yet we seem unable to heal that which divides us. 

Religion is the cause of much division, spefifically Monotheism.  This puzzles me for surely the three major monotheist faiths all beleive in the same God? That being so would the one they worship want this divison?  The Abrahamic faiths share so much, especially Judaism and Islam for theirs are faiths that embraces Socialism more than Christianity. Islam owes a great deal to the Qurayshis dislike of the way Mecca, in the seventh century, had grown so capatalist. Muhammad ibn Abudallah, praise his name, wanted to see greater equity among the rich and the poor. Islam was, and still is, a religion of equality. Yet still these sibling faiths squabble. There have been Crusades and now there is fundamentalism. Both were wrong. Now is the time to heal those weeping wounds, to unite all faiths so they unite, as the Dalai Lama suggests, into a 'kinship of faiths.'

Once we start taking sides we instantly create division and once this wheel is in motion then those on different sides engage in sanguine acts of violence. I reject the concept of class even though I work for my living therefore must be a member of the working class. Who isn't these days? An elite few perhaps but even they, by and large unless born into fantastic wealth, have to work to live? But what is class but a projection of desire aligned to wealth yet not to compassion or love. We are all one and the same.

Thought has created division for by thought alone there are those who suggest their thinking is right, is the only way. This is nonsense. Truth is a pathless land with many roads leading to the same destination. Only a fool would suggest their way was the only way.

When I first started my walks, way back in 2009, I had no idea where my path lay. I had no idea where I was treading. The point of those walks was as much to visit the county of my birth as it was, not that I fully realised it then, to seek some sort of spiritual answer to the life road I was on. George Harrison's song, "Any Road," which I included in the text of those first walks, says all that needs to be said - "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there." Now I know my road, my personal path. I know all that I must do to overcome the obstacles I will face. More importantly, I know the one method by which to release the eternal within me. Meditation.

When people speak of meditation they tend to think of reflection, contemplation or deliberation or reverie, it is, of course, all those things. You should do all the above daily if you really want to understand not only yourself but life about you. Others would suggest meditation is the cultivation of the presence of God. That depends on what is meant by God. God the deity? or God the eternal? The unknowable force that exists, as does nature, is nature, isTao, without magic or mysticism? If it is the former then stick to prayer but I for one do not pray. If it is the latter then count me in. 




As I approach St. Peter's a gentleman out walking his dog greets me. It is a stereotypical foreigner's view of what typifies a Brit's favourite topic of conversation - the weather. "Awful day isn't it?" he grumbles. "I keep reminding myself we haven't had enough rain this year just to cheer myself up." I reply. "Too much bloody rain if you ask me!" He responds. Some people eh?

He walks away dog trotting behind. He is the Eeyore to my Tigger. Passing on down the lane he leaves me free to observe the church I have walked to observe. Even from outside you can feel its vintage, feel its history. It is a pretty picture.





St. Peter's has undergone a great deal of renovation in recent years. Understandably, a church that was built in the eleventh century, having withstood the ravages of centuries, is bound to need repair. Whoever it was that worked so hard on this fabulous house of worship they should be justifiably proud of their endeavours.

The wall that hugs the land the church stands on is a leaning, crumbling defiance of natural law. Quite how it remains upright is beyond me. The bricks that make the wall are like a squad of aged soldiers unable now to wage war but stalwart in their duty to protect the graveyard and St.Peter's from those who would  do it harm.



Slightly younger than its  brother in Ashingdon, St. Peter's was built some nine hundred years ago. It is thought to have been a church site long before medieval times though with another building here before it. It is small yet larger than that of St. Andrews.  I enter it now and instantly feel two things. The first is a sense of being within a place far older than anyone I know living or dead. This strikes me  as odd as my paternal Grandfather would have been ten when Jack the Ripper committed his heinous deeds. The other is a deep sense of not being alone. I know this is my mind projecting sensations into it but nonetheless the longevity of this place creates myths of the many who would have worshiped here before. It is both foreboding and fantastic. The thought of Catholic priests from centuries ago is mindboggling. We Brit's hold our history in high regard often presenting it as 'on-up-manship' to our American cousins but,imagine if you will how an Indian or Chinese must feel when they enter a Hindu or Buddhist temple dating back not one thousand years but two!




I turn away from St.Peter's and retrace my steps. Along the way I pass another house built long ago. Now I am heading toward Stambridge and St. Mary's and All Saints.
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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - Book 4 and a bit - Hand In Glove (Chapter 8)

8

Something was niggling Adam Lazarus, something locked deep within his head that he simply couldn’t get at. The ‘Hand in Glove’ case was now the top of his priorities even though it shouldn’t be. It was, oddly for such a case, consuming his working day. He sipped at another mug of coffee then again went over the facts as he had them. He ran through the names of those that lived around the Birchtickle pond: Hertlasp, Nosebag, Tickpant, Grimstain, the Trimeots, the Goslings and the two boys. There were no others, no other suspects. He had checked the remaining residents who lived in or around the tiny hamlet. There were only two and they were both very elderly. Both were female and both were in their nineties: Petunia Crinkle and Edith Highfield. He dismissed both as being far too old but more importantly as having no discernible motive.
His headache wasn’t helping matters. He hadn’t had such a bad one since the ‘Waterboy’ serial killings some four years ago, it had been then when he had first had an anxiety attack. He swallowed two tablets then turned over another sheet of paper.
At the top of the leaf was typed the name Hertlasp. He considered the man, his mannerisms and the irritatingly regimented precise way he kept his home. Hertlasp had secrets but then again so did everyone. The question was this: did those secrets have anything to do with the severed hand? The answer eluded Lazarus but his gut instinct said very possibly.
He turned over another sheet which had similar information typed on its front page, the age of person, their address, any other pertinent detail and of course the individuals name: Agatha Nosebag. The woman also had her share of secrets but more than that she was a thoroughly unpleasant person. Was she capable of murder, of dismembering the corpse? He thought not. A liar, a snoop, a busy body and probably much, much more but not, he thought, someone capable of killing another human being. Of course he was racing ahead of himself. He had no hard evidence that the hand came from a murder victim. He was convinced it had but he still needed proof.
The next sheet had Jean Grimstain’s name upon it. Murder? Highly unlikely. She had secrets though, that much was evident. Both he and Hilary had seen and overheard the row she had with Martin Tickpant. What had that been about? Tickpant had said he had once owned the land Jean lived on but then again, as Lazarus had discovered, Tickpant had owned all the land around the pond. The fact was the pond had once, twenty years ago, been his. He had sold the land off along with the tied cottages that had once housed the estate’s farm workers. What was it apart from a property feud that linked Jean Grimstain and Martin Tickpant?
He turned over the fourth sheet of paper: Tim Trimeot; a man who liked having his bottom plundered with a sink plunger. The man was a joke but was he a killer?
The next sheet revealed the name of Tim’s wife, Tracey. He smiled then laid the sheet down on top of the others. He was chasing smoke. This must be the twentieth time had looked at the notes he had typed. No matter how many times he perused them they still did not reveal anything he hadn’t already seen. He needed that one clue, the link that would fit the entire puzzle neatly together. He picked up his coffee then drained it,
Vesper Highlot appeared at his shoulder.
“Boss.”
“Yes?”
“The suicide, the bloke who jumped from the Wessex Tower.”
“What about him?”
“I had Hilary Leatherbarrow take a look at him but apart from a mysterious tattoo, she found nothing. Just another depressed man, I guess. I am going to close the file.”
“What was the tattoo?”
“A bulldog in a bowler standing in front of the English flag.”
Lazarus looked up.
“Do you have a photo of the tattoo?”
“Leatherbarrow does. Do you want another coffee?”
Lazarus scraped his chair back then stood up.
“Would you mind?”
“I was going to have one myself.”
Lazarus turned and looked out of the window, pressing his hand against the glass. Penny Farthing looked at him then carried on working when he returned her gaze. As he did, his telephone rang.
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Hilary Leatherbarrow had re-examined Kevin Migham’s corpse. Apart from the lesions she had already identified and the tattoo, she found nothing new. She then took another look at the body of Cooper Kloot. He too had the self-same tattoo but it was what she found imbedded in his scalp, hidden by his hair: traces of metallic paint. It was paint from a car which meant it could possibly be traced.
The more Hilary studied the facts, the evidence before her, the more convinced she became that the two bodies were somehow linked. The tattoos could be coincidental, she knew that, but both men had been murdered. The cuts and abrasions on Migham’s body had been inflicted violently. They had probably killed him. Throwing the corpse off the top of the Wessex Tower had been an elaborate way to hide that fact. (The “fact” is not grammatically clear.) Kloot too had been assassinated of that she was certain. Proving it might be more of a challenge.
She phoned Penny Farthing.
“Hello, Penny. I was hoping you might be able to help me?”
“Sure, what do you need?”
“You were right about the Wessex Tower suicide; it wasn’t.”
A long silence followed and Hilary could hear the clatter of people in the background and their voices as they spoke to each other.
“Wasn’t what?” asked Penny.
“Suicide. The man was dead before he hit the ground.”
A deep sigh drifted down the phone line.
“It really doesn’t matter Doctor, my boss has closed the case.”
“Adam Lazarus?”
“No, Sergeant Highlot. She said it was a waste of time and money. The man took his own life.”
“Nonsense, and besides, he isn’t the only one. Another man with the same tattoo as Kevin Migham’s was run over. I have his body here. I think it is suspicious.”
Hilary could hear the resigned tone of Detective Farthing’s voice as she replied.
“With respect Doctor Leatherbarrow, my boss says it’s closed so what else can I do. Just forget it. She’s probably right anyway.”
The receiver Hilary was holding went dead as the police woman put the phone down. Undeterred, Hilary dialed another number.
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“Hello?”
“Adam, its Hilary, how are you?”
As Adam answered the phone call, so Vesper Highlot returned with his coffee. He indicated she should put the mug onto his desk.
“Hilary! Good to hear from you again. How are you, how can I help?”
“I was wondering if you could come over to see a couple of unusual deaths I have been examining for Winchester police. One’s a suicide and the other a hit and run.”
Lazarus took a sip of his coffee as he waved Sergeant Highlot to sit down.
“Not the Wessex Tower jumper?”
“That’s one of them. The other is equally odd but what really is too coincidental for words is that both men bear the same tattoo. Would you please come over?”
Lazarus took another sip of coffee as he sat down at his desk. Highlot was staring at him as if a little peeved.
“That case has been closed, I’m afraid. Kevin Migham took his own life.”
As he spoke to Hilary so Vesper Highlot was mouthing words at him.
“Why is she sticking her nose in?”
Lazarus waved a hand at his number two. Hilary responded to his last statement.
“Kevin Migham categorically did not take his own life. He was badly beaten then thrown from the top of the Tower. He was dead before he hit the ground.”
Lazarus placed the mug down on his desk in front of him.
“Can you prove that?”
“Yes.”
“Okay. I’ll be over as soon as I can.”
:
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They stood next to each other looking down at the cold body of Kevin Migham. Lazarus had seen sights like this many times and was accustomed to it: dead bodies, even those after an autopsy, no longer fazed him. Detective Penny Farthing though was still coming to terms with the whole process. It wasn’t the dead that bothered her but the thought of what had been done to them. A “Y” shaped incision ran down the deceased’s torso showing precisely where Hilary Leatherbarrow had opened the dead man up.
Adam Lazarus looked at his detective constable. She seemed disconcerted but holding her own. He looked away and focused again on the corpse.
“You get used to it,” was all he said.
Hilary moved in front of the Winchester C.I.D police officers. She paid particular attention to Penny whose ashen face showed a stoicism the doctor admired.
“The marks you see on the body have two possible causes. The first set appears to have been made by a blunt instrument beaten against the victim’s body prior to death. The second are the marks made from the body upon impact with the floor.
“There was little blood to be found at the scene of impact. However, there were signs of blood that had sprayed from the body as it fell across the outer walls of the building. Normally, bodies found at the bottom of tall buildings following a fall show little sign of blood even though they have suffered evident trauma. What makes this case interesting is that there was blood, most of it from the torso but also some from the thighs but only on the walss and widows outside.. In short, I would have expected to find a corpse displaying signs of damage from the fall but without so much blood being sprayed during descent.
“I believe the victim was beaten to death before then being pushed or thrown from the top of Wessex Tower. There is little evidence of any blows to the head other than those you would expect to find after such a fall which indicates that whoever did this had a sound working knowledge of the human anatomy. Basically he was skilled in beating someone to death leaving few signs of abuse, or at least of being able to disguise the beating so it would be hard to spot. There are, as you can see, multiple contusions all over the victim’s body but it is hard to prove if they happened before or on impact after the fall. I would suggest that these contusions, here and here, were made some minutes before the time of death, at least ten at a guess.
“Whoever did this to Kevin Migham was skilled in applying the right blows to the parts of the body that showed the least easily identifiable damage. It is very hard to tell after a suicide whether or not the broken bones and bruises were caused during or before the fall. However, having said that, the fact that blood had spiralled out from the neck wound during the fall indicates the heart may still have been beating. I am confident that this man was beaten, possibly to death but certainly made unconscious, before being pushed from the building.”
Adam Lazarus ran his hand through his hair in the way Hilary had seen him do before. He appeared to be deep in thought. He looked at Hilary and thanked her before turning to Penny Farthing.
“You were assigned this case along with Sergeant Highlot. Were you aware of this development?”
“Yes, sir but…”
“And was DS Highlot also aware?”
“She sort of dismissed it, sir. I don’t think she thought it significant.”
Lazarus grunted.
“No one thought to run it past me?”
“I thought she had, sir.”
A solid, almost tangible force seemed to emanate from the police inspector, an anger that boiled within him but which he controlled with some effort. He turned again to Hilary.
“You indicate there was something more, something that linked Migham’s death to that of a hit-and-run victim.”
Hilary nodded. She indicated as she lifted the arm of Kevin Migham to expose the tattoo
“I didn’t see this at first and even when I had I didn’t see any significance in it until I examined the hit-and-run victim.”
Hilary laid the deceased’s arm back against the body then walked around to where Cooper Kloot’s body laid. Again she lifted the arm of the dead man revealing the same tattoo as on Migham.
“I have never seen such an image before so it had no resonance with me. What does strike me as odd though is having two men killed, both by suspicious circumstances and both bearing the same tattoo under their arms. As I said, the image of the bulldog with the flag means nothing to me but there is a definite connection here.”
Lazarus nodded in agreement. Farthing looked from her boss to the doctor.
“Did you take any photos of the tattoos?”
“Yes, I did. Do you recognize them then?”
“Yes. They are the symbol used by a secret organization.”
“You mean the Brethren. I was telling Doctor Leatherbarrow about them,” interjected Penny Farthing.
“Yes, I am not referring to the the daft gang who have been such outrage in Fekenham. They are nothing but a bunch of idiots who share the same warped views. This bunch, the people who wear these tattoos, are dangerous,” replied Lazarus.
Hilary had started to wheel the bodies back into cold storage. Having completed her examinations she would now have the cadavers removed to the morgue where they would be prepared for the funeral. Lazarus looked at her. She felt his gaze and returned it with a smile.
“How are you getting on with that other case?” she asked.
“The severed hand?”
“That’s the one.”
Lazarus considered her question, ruminating on what his priorities were.
“I need to instruct my team regarding this latest evidence you have uncovered and get them to reinvestigate. Once that is done I intend to revisit Birchtickle. You are welcome to come. I’d be glad of the company.”
The thought obviously had appeal to the forensic scientist for she allowed a large grin to light her face.
“When?”
Lazarus smiled back, a broad, warm smile that made his eyes sparkle.
“Tomorrow at ten.”
“I’ll meet you there,” said Hilary.
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The drive back was filled with an uncomfortable silence. Penny Farthing sat beside her boss, feeling his mood had changed and fearing the rollicking he would undoubtedly give to both D.S. Highlot and herself. She felt this to be a little unfair as she had tried to dissuade Vesper but her superior officer had dismissed her fears, telling her not to waste valuable time and effort as both equated to money the force could ill afford to spend. The argument seemed sound for after all they hadn’t known about the tattoos. It was their discovery that had really added a new imperative to the closed case. The obvious questions to ask was did the deceased men know each other? Had someone killed them both? Was it some form of rival organisation that had killed them and why had Lazarus been so bloody mysterious? Whatever the truth, and they were a long way from discovering that, the manner in which such vitally important detail had been summarily dismissed was worthy of discussion. Penny did not so much see much discussion ahead but rather a heated diatribe from her boss.
The feared dressing down was as bad as she feared. In fact it was worse. Lazarus flew at both Highlot and Farthing then rounded on two other junior members of his team. He accused them of a lack of professionalism, of not being methodical enough, of not utilising fully the splendid resource of a forensic expert. He issued a series of instructions that he expected to be followed to the letter: an investigation into both men; who they were; where they came from; what they had done for a living. Lazarus also enjoined the team to look for any association between the two, either through work or during leisure time. He said he needed to know if the men had been friends or colleagues but, more pertinently, to see if there was any evidence linking them to any high-ranking officials in Winchester. If there was then they needed to find out who such people were and where they could be found. Lazarus concluded by suggesting they should leave no stone unturned but suggested that the Brethren were nothing more than a local joke and were not to be considered of regional concern. Be careful, he advised but be vigilant and be sure to dig up all that could be uncovered. The team, primed and pre-warned, now prepared for the following day.
From the sanctuary of his office, Obadiah Pearight observed all. As the senior officer he was reluctant to intrude but nonetheless he could see how stress was beginning to affect Adam Lazarus. Pearight did not want another episode to afflict one of his most promising officers as it had before. For now he was content to let matter ride.




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Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.