Thursday, 16 November 2017

Gandhi or Trump?

Truth is a pathless land, as Jiddu Krishnamurti famously said. The path to the truth is not so easy to find even when you listen hard, observing all relevant detail. The truth, or perhaps its opposite, can, however, shed an objective revealing light on matters. This light, having been lit by the subject itself, can cast as many shadows, as many shapes and shades which in themselves pinpoint obfuscation or indeed lies by which the truth stands exhibited.

Donald Trump claims his net worth is over $10 billion. Forbes suggests it is $3 billion. Unquestionably a lot of money either way. Donald Trump has had six companies go bankrupt. Donald Trump first registered as a Republican in 1987. He then changed his mind when standing as an Independent in 1999. In 2001 he registered as a Democrat. In 2009 Donald Trump returned to the Republican Party only to state in 2011 “I do not wish to enrol in a party.”

Donald Trump has often spoken about walls. "One hundred percent. They [Mexico] don't know it yet, but they're going to pay for it. And they're great people and great leaders but they're going to pay for the wall. On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, power, beautiful southern border wall." He then said "I want a strong border. I do want a wall. Walls do work, you just have to speak to the folks in Israel. Walls work if they're properly constructed. I know how to build, believe me, I know how to build." He then said, "The president of Mexico, or the ex-president, or whatever, whoever, who cares, he said, we will not even consider paying for the wall." He then said "Let me list to you some of the things that we've done in just a short period of time. Again, each of these actions is a promise I made to the American people. We've withdrawn from the job-killing disaster known as Trans-Pacific Partnership." He also said " Mexico is not going to build it [a wall], we're going to build it. And it's going to be a serious wall. It's not going to be a toy wall like we have right now where cars and trucks drive over it loaded up with drugs and they sell the drugs in our country and then they go back and, you know, we get the drugs, they get the cash, okay, and that's not going to happen."

Now, you either believe in television, telephones, satellite dishes, computers, mobile phones, stereo players, videos, hearing aids, the control of diabetes, winning the battle against cancer, space labs, rockets to the moon, submarines, aeroplanes, hovercraft, heart surgery, WiFi, the cure for smallpox, in other words, science as it is science has gifted us all these things and many more and even though science is merely a tool by which we understand ourselves and our place within the eternal, it still is a powerful friend when we need it . You cannot cherry pick. You either trust science, when it tells you a hurricane, is about to hit your homeland or you don't. Donald Trump has this to say about climate change - "We need global warming." "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make manufacturing non-competitive."

Donald Trump has also said, "When someone hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can." I cannot help but wonder if Donald Trump has all the prerequisite skills required for the role of President. He has a great many errors yet, in balance, has made some genuinely positive acts. Two that spring to mind are the aforementioned dumping of the TPP. As undemocratic an idea as any I can think of designed only to cement the USA's global hegemony. The second is the way in which he has made a peace with Russia. Some would say he has other reasons rather than this obvious one. That may be so. I'd still rather the two mightiest military nations in the world be on good terms rather than the reverse. Yet does Donald Trump strike me a leader who sets good examples, who is strong within himself? Strong enough to lead the world to a peaceful accord?

Gandhi was flawed. He made mistakes. Yet history remembers him as a great leader. The doomsday clock has recently been set at two and a half minutes to midnight. The first time since the 80's. The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon. Who would you want as a leader at this time Gandi or Trump?

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Monday, 13 November 2017

'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' - David Mitchell

When his potential father in law suggests to Dutch clerk, Jacob de Zoet, that to have his daughters hand in marriage he must first journey to Japan the young man jumps at the chance. The father feels that Jacob needs to gain his own fortune if he is to wed his beloved daughter. The only other stipulation is he, and his true love must be parted for five years. 

8720194The year is 1799. Europeans have been trading with the oriental islands for two centuries. The Japanese have long tolerated the unclean, uncivilised westerners and have come to find them mildly amusing. There are still certain cultural differences between these two nations where courtesans are not whores yet still women are subservient, even more than they are in Europe.The code of the samurai still holds sway and then Jacob meets the scarred daughter of a powerful samurai, Aibagawa Orito, and his perspective takes a quantum shift.

A wonderfully inventive story that manages to mix in its cocktail of delights romance, political intrigue, thriller and odd splashes of humour.

David Mitchell's star is the ascent following the 'Cloud Atlas' novel and subsequent film and rightly so. He deserves all the accolades afforded him. His imagination is quite incredible and his prose masterful. I especially like some of the sentence structure which manages to draw influence from master poet Matsuo Kinsaku (Basho). These minimal one-liners evoke a Japan that had that strange, otherworldly beauty so alien and at odds with the West. "The night-soil man's buckets, swinging on his pole, stain the air" is a fine example of what I mean.

Within all David Mitchell's work is a connecting thread. His previous fictions and his wonderful semi-biography 'Black Swan Green' contain phrases, characters or events that tie into the overlying arc. It is almost as though the author is weaving his own universal fabric. I find this intriguing bearing in mind that each novel sits within different genres. I like the fact David Mitchell seems to be defying convenient labelling focusing instead on writing fiction of the highest quality. 

This is a novel that really should be read. And read again.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

'The War Poems- Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon was so much more than the work he is best remembered for even though that work, this collection of near genius poetry, is the sort most aspiring poets would love to claim as theirs. 

The Great War, the war to end all wars, was one of the most singularly stupid wars my country ever fought. It was a war that destroyed an empire so perhaps that is a positive but it also laid waste to a nation's prosperity but worse than that a generation of men: English, Welsh, Scott's, Irish, French, German, Australian and gods know how many millions more. It was an Imperial war; a family row begun in exalted Royal circles; a despicable, wanton stupid act that brought England to its knees. But the sad truth is, for all this poetic perfection, it has had little impact on the governments and generations that followed.

This poetry though has lasted with the fact wars are still fought often for reasons other than self-defence. The words which are written here, the sentiments committed, remain as true today as they did one hundred years ago.


October's bellowing anger breaks and cleaves
The Bronzed battalions of the stricken wood
In whose lament I hear a voice that grieves
For battle's fruitless harvest, and the feud
Of outraged men. Their lives are like the leaves
Scattered in flocks of ruin, tossed and blown
Along the westering furnace flaring red.
O martyred youth and manhood overthrown,
The burden of your wrongs is on my head. 

War is on the increase. A desensitised war glossed over so as to be fit for public consumption so not to alarm the electorate. We live now in a world where war is an everyday occurrence. Perpetual war being raged against civilians, not armies. Cities are being obliterated, genocide committed yet the news bulletins are being censored so that the truth of these hideous crimes are whitewashed. 

If ever Siegfried Sassoon's poetry was relevant it is now in 2017 even though much of it was composed in 1917.

Let this day, every remembrance day be forever remembered. War is the ugliest, vilest of humankind's creations. Let us condemn all wars by remembering those that died in this.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry - Book Five - Epilogue

Character Complaint to Author

Dear Mister Duffy,

Following your kind invitation to join The Fekenham series of stories as myself, I am uncertain as to what future part lays ahead for me. I am and always have been Grom Tick. That is a Dwarf with a forename, much like any other member of society, but also a surname. Mine happens to be Tick. I notice with disappointment your failure to remember this in your recent narrative and persistently refer to me as Gromtic. What I find galling is that you created me. Not wishing to elevate you to  Godhead but would the almighty so easily forget the name of someone he has invented? How would Jesus have responded if God forgot his only son's name and called him Joe? Please rectify this error forthwith. Even sooner would be appreciated.

Also, on another note, when I put my signature to contract it was having been promised a major part in your fictional tales. Thus far I have been cast in what can only be described in my first appearance as a cameo role, one I found belittling. Having me carried upstairs in a pillowcase by, no matter how pleasant a fellow he is, Vicar Linkthorpe to escape from a burning building is not an entrance befitting a serious character. Having my head repeatedly knocked against the stairwell was not only damaging to my mental faculties but downright demeaning.

When the call came to appear in this latest escapade my hopes sprang forth as hope always does being, so I am told, eternal. On my first appearance, Ralph Ramhard makes jokes at my expense playing on my lack of height. I bear no ill will to Ralph who was merely speaking the lines you had written. Secondly, I again appear in what is virtually another cameo role during the chapter entitled ‘Running with A Large Bladder.’ Then, to add insult to injury when I finally get to have some lines worthy of my talents I am manhandled by said Linkthorpe before being shat upon by a pig.

Frankly, Mister Duffy, I am appalled at your treatment of myself. I only seem to appear for the sake of slapstick humour which makes fun of my size.

I will have to consider my future with this project and give serious thought to returning to the circus.

Yours faithfully,

Grom Tick D.O.T.F.O (Dwarf Of The First Order)
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

Monday, 6 November 2017

A Missive from Bertie Brexit

I wonder, has anyone bothered to tell the breeze to stop blowing its chill winds over the land I live in? Surely someone should? I mean, there are moves I have heard to stop humankind from migrating where they will so why not the wind? It blows so cold, so fierce and without a by-your-leave. Disgraceful really when one considers it.

Also, whilst I am on the subject, what about the ocean that keeps licking our shores, these once Imperial sands of GREAT Britain. I do hope the appropriate authorities have inoculated the seven seas as I wouldn't want a stray dog or cat, let alone something cold and wet licking the land my feet walk on. Whose to say what dreadful contagions it might spread?

And the rain, you know, that stuff that falls free from heaven in order for us to monopolize, clean it up  a bit before one empire or another sells it on to the market place, the free market as it were. I understand nothing comes free especially not a lunch and even more so not the H2O that washes down upon our collective heads. Why doesn't someone organize it so rain only falls during the night. I mean, once we are all tucked up in bed would be far more convenient for us all, wouldn't it? Having had one shower first thing is quite sufficent thank you very much.

Then there is the air. Does it shimmy past border control without having first passed through customs? God above only knows what vile diseases it carries. Every winter I catch THE FLU, man flu I think is its correct name, which I am certain I wouldn't if someone in the right  office, border control perhaps, did their job efficiently. Think of the money saved on flu jabs and cough mixtures, on lozenges and pain killers that battle with these awful bugs. All because the air flows where it will. Why doesn't some bright spark bottle it? Then only those who could afford to buy it would have the pleasure of breathing. I truly believe this would reduce the world's population by billions. Bloody good job too what with all those black and brown races along with faces of no particular hue but foreign all the same, coming over here, stealing jobs and the hands of the fairer sex with carte blanche.

As for birds following the migratory paths they have followed for millennia well, there are such things as flame throwers you know!
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.