It’s the Devil in me…

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 

castle_cachtice_by_eugen77-d5de9y0If occasionally history throws up a real eccentric from the primordial gloop it would probably justify itself with the excuse that every now and again it needs to become interesting.   The young student has to be provided with a resource of amiable nutters or genocidal megalomaniacs to amuse, to keep him reading further; otherwise his verdict of ‘boring’ would be reached too soon and he would remain forever ignorant of historical facts essential to his future well-being.  He would not know, for example, that he is of a certain national heritage; if he is of French extraction, or German, or Roman.

And that’s important, isn’t it?

Well, I think it is.

We owe them much, those power-hungry, often delusional characters from history who not only hastened the migration of peoples, but left their mark to intrigue a student and to keep his attention.  In UK we can barely turn around without encountering one of William the Conqueror’s castles, for example.   I have to ask – what would our landscape be like without Ludwig II of Bavaria’s magnificent clifftop Schloss Neuschwanstein, or Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s army of Terra Cotta soldiers?

Or Trump Tower?

Or the Great Wall of Mexico   (you’ll be able to see it from space).

The Scaffold

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

 

couple-294284_640

I’m having Windows 10 problems with image uploads at the moment, so forgive repetition?

“Are you not going to talk to me, then?”

“Yeah, of course – if you want, like.”  Martin had the uncomfortable feeling he was blushing.   The girl with the long sun-kissed legs confronted him as he was stepping out of the elevator cage.  Jack, his mate, followed him, making a sound of appreciation in his ear which, had he been a horned toad and not a bricklayer, might have sounded like a mating call.

“Only you wolf-whistled me yesterday, didn’t you?”

“Did Ah?”  That was different.   Yesterday Martin was two storeys up, looking down from the scaffolding.  This was face to face.   A paragon of all that was beautiful,  standing a couple of feet away.

“So I thought you fancied me.  Was I wrong?”

Her eyes were a dark challenging blue, lips full and wide.  Her hair was black, her teeth even and very, very white.  She was wearing the same red top as yesterday.  The same blue denim shorts.

“No.”  He muttered.  “No, you’re – you’re not wrong.”  He had only dared to whistle because Jack had done it first.

“Well, what we going to do about it then?  It’s all right, you can talk to me you know.  I won’t break.”

#

“So what ‘appened?”  Jack had returned with their fish and chip lunch.  “Hey, I bet you embarrassed yerself, you!”

“No – no I didn’t!”  Martin defended.  “Of course I didn’t!”

“Spent five minutes thinkin’ o’ dead cats, then!   She were tasty, her.”

“Aye.”   His mate was right about the cats.  “She’s real nice, like.  We’re goin’ out Thursday.”

“You lucky bustard!    Why Thursday?”

“As good a day as any, i’n’t it?”

“What’s her name?”

Martin thought for a moment.  “Don’t know.  Never as’t her.”

#

Her name was Cherie.  Introductions had to wait until Thursday, because Cherie did not appear again on the town square below the building site in the following few days, though Martin hoped for a sight of her.  By the morning of the appointed day he was already wondering if he had done the right thing.  Martin was always uneasy in the presence of eligible girls – their disguised interest, the giggling, the sotto voce comments whenever he was near, made him nervous and on edge.   Jack, who could not understand his reticence, teased him.

“I don’t know what you’ve got, lad, but I wish I had it.  You’d not catch me blushin’ and hidin’ in corners, I can tell thee.”

#

Martin wore the shirt his favourite on-line store said would look good on him, the three-quarter trousers that they said would match the shirt.  He drenched himself in the men’s cologne someone gave him for Christmas two years before; and in all fairness he felt quite self-confident when he hit the street.  As he approached the meeting place he had agreed with Cherie, however, his eyes settled upon her shortest dress of darkest red, and that confidence began to evaporate.

For her part, Cherie had to weigh her recollection of the half-naked, dusty male god from the scaffolding against the shop window figure who wafted to greet her on Mathesons’ corner.   As he approached, her practised smile twitched a little and almost faded – her full red lips closed over those white, white teeth.   But still, she persuaded herself, at least he had made an effort, and really, once she had changed sides to stay up wind, he was quite a creditable companion on the street.  Eyes were drawn.  She liked that.  She hugged his arm.

“Go clubbin’ yeah?”

Martin’s confidence graph took a further plunge.  “Ah’m not mooch of a dancer, like!”

“Why man, you’d be fine.”  Cherie produced a small polythene bag from her purse.  “You tried some of these?”

Martin eyed the little white pills within the bag with suspicion.  “What are they, like?”

“They make you dance!”

And dance Martin did.  Wildly.  And if a few toes got trodden and if a face or two got elbowed no-one seemed disposed to make a point of it.  And Cherie?  She was delighted.

It was half-past-two before the pair left the Hot Licks Club.  Martin had somehow endured seven hours of closeness to Cherie’s graceful, swaying body without doing anything that would make his mate Jack ashamed of him.   Around the back door behind the dustbins, his supply of dead cats ran out.

#

“Chuffin’ ‘ell!   You look like the eight-forty-nine from Newcastle ran over yer!”   Jack commented the next morning.  “Good night, was it?”

“It were all right, like.”  Martin blinked at his watch.   “Eight-forty-nine’s not due yet, like.”

“I know, lad.  I know.”  Jack soothed.  “It’s joost an expression, see?”

“Ah.”

“Well, go on then, what were she like?”

“She were all right, like.”  Martin wasn’t at all sure he remembered what Cherie was actually like.  He had a vision in his head of an undulating goddess, but it was fogged.  Those little white pills were responsible.  He had never taken anything of their like before, so he had never been ‘up’.  And never having been ‘up’, he was unprepared for coming ‘down’ – which he was heavily in the process of experiencing.   That morning, after he nearly fell from the scaffolding twice, his foreman put him in charge of stores.

Jack caught up with him at the rear of the site at lunchtime.   “I’m off to get t’ fish and chips, you havin’ the usual?”

“Ah.  Awreet.”  Martin assented unenthusiastically.

“That right you got another date with yon Cherie lass?”

“Aye.  Ah think so.”  This was another of the things he was unable to recall clearly.  “Saturday, I think, like.”

“Well, there’s someone out the front to see yer.”  Jack told him.  “Have fun, lad!”

#

Cherie stood waiting by a forklift with the sun behind her so Martin could not immediately read her expression, though he might have been disappointed by the modesty of her floral summer dress.

“Ah.”  Martin said.

“Hello Martin.”  She said.  She sounded upset.

A tall figure hidden from sight behind the machine stepped into view.  “This is your Martin?”  His accent was thick and heavy with Eastern European inflections.  “You are lucky boy, Martin.  Yes?”

“Ah.”  Martin said.  “Who’re you, like?”

#

Jack and Martin sat eating their fish and chips together.

Jack was chuckling unsympathetically. “Yer’ve put yer foot in it this time!”

“Ah didn’t know she were only sixteen!”  Martin moaned.  “She never said, like, did she?”

“Oh aye!  Like she would!   And he was her brother, this big bloke?”

“Ah.  One of eight.  Eight brothers!”

“Chuffin’ ell!  What sort of people have that many kids?”

“Ah’m aboot to find out.  Her mother and father want to see me tonight!  About my ‘plans’.”

“Plans?  Chuffin’ell.  You never planned owt in yer life, lad!”

“Anyway, this brother of ‘ers, this Dimitri, he says it’s alright for ‘er to see me, like, because sixteen’s quite old to still be single, where they cooms from.   I think they want me to marry ‘er, like!”

Jack’s hell chuffed once more.   “It’s ridiculous, that.  I mean, you didn’t do nothin’ to her, did yer?  I mean, first date and all?”

Martin probed the fog mournfully.  “Ah don’t rightly remember.  Ah think ah might ha’ done.”

#

Over the weeks that followed Jack’s lunches became solitary affairs.   Cherie brought sandwiches and other more exotic treats and sat with Martin in the park while she regaled him with details of the wedding dress she wanted, the celebrations that people of her country enjoyed on such occasions, and his duties as a bridegroom.  Cherie’s brothers acted as chaperones:  their small, packed household reverberated to the beat of raucous folk music ,  while he sat in silence for hours as his hosts prattled happily in their own language.  Only Cherie  spoke to him in English.

#

“Where is she now?”  Jack asked.  It was the first time he and Martin had shared their lunch in quite a while.

“She’s off gettin’ fitted for the dress.”  Martin explained.  “It’s not that I don’t like, ‘er, like…it i’n’t her so much – it’s her fam’ly.  Wor can’t get away from ‘em, like!”

And Jack said:  “Still, lad, it’ll be awreet once tha’s married, won’t it?”

“Ah, well that’s the thing.    ‘Er father wants us to work for ‘im.  Ah’m fam’ly now, ‘e says.  Ah says, ah’m norra plumber.  ‘E says, that’s awreet, ‘e’ll teach us, like.  Boot ah don’t want to be be a bluddy plumber, do ah?   Ah’m ‘appy wi’ the bricks, like!”

“Well, tell ‘im that.”

“Oh ah, you try!  An’ Cherie’s brothers, see?  They works for ‘im awready, an’ he don’t pay them ‘ardly nowt.  Ah’m spendin’ more time wi’ them than ah am wi’ Cherie.   It’s all the heavy hand on the shoulder an’ ‘you be a good lad an’ do what Papa wants’.   And ah’m buyin’ all the drinks, like!”

“Let me think.”  Said Jack.

#

Jack, at forty-one, could have looked upon his young friend’s plight from a mature perspective and concluded that Martin’s fears would resolve themselves, given a little time.  But he was concerned.  Martin’s brow was furrowed, his complexion pale.  He seemed to be sagging beneath the burden of his relationship with a pretty girl who, despite her tender years, Jack rather liked.  A girl who, as he believed, might be good for Martin.

Which was why, on one warm weekday evening, he was to be found stuffed into his best suit, standing a little hesitantly outside a church hall beside a board that announced a meeting of the ‘Jesuit Society’.

“Hello, love!  Are you a newbie?”   She was smartly dressed in blue, with her hair coiffed neatly beneath a dark navy hat.  “I’m Ethel.  Come on in and let me introduce you.”

In the ensuing two hours Jack experienced more religion than had passed his way in a lifetime of resolute agnosticism.  It was, he justified to himself, suffered in a good cause, especially as it offered every opportunity to socialise with Ethel, who was a member of a mysterious ‘Committee’, and a perfect receptor for his plan.  Oh yes, Jack had a plan.

“That’s why I’m ‘ere!”  Jack proclaimed.   “I think it’s terrible, the way these bloody fanatics is pollutin’ our religion (pardon my language, Ethel).   They’re weedlin’ their way in, makin’ all these heretical changes!  They’re ruinin’ our Church!”

“Oh, I agree!”  Ethel said.  “Er…who, exactly, love?”

Who?  I’ll do better than ‘who’. I’ll give thee an example!   There’s someone actually pretendin’ to take instructions in the faith who’ll be getting’ married at the Sacred Heart in six weeks.  He’s a known Scientologist, is ‘im, but he’s marryin’ there before the altar, bold as yer please;  and into a good Catholic family, an’ all!”

“Oh, my good Lord!”  Ethel said.

#

“Ah don’t understand it!”  Martin exclaimed, as he buttered his thirtieth frog of the morning.   “One minute ‘er fam’ly’s all over me, like; next minute they won’t speak to me!  T’wedding’s off!  Father sommat-or-other from the church comes ter see Cherie’s Da’ and tells ‘im ‘e won’t marry us, an’ him and ‘er brothers are at me fer bein’ a Judas, like!  What have ah done?”

Jack grinned.  “Seems like tha’s got theself a bit o’ space, lad.  What does Cherie think about it?”

“She says I should ha’ told ‘er I was a Scy-tologist or sommat, an’ I says I weren’t.  Ah’m Church of England, man!”

“Strange ‘ow things works out.”   Jack nodded, sagely.  He knew that however robustly his friend defended himself there was no possibility Father Kelly would change his mind and consent to conduct the marriage.  Once the Jesuit Society had their teeth in the hem of his cassock it was more than his life was worth.   “Does she still want to marry yer, lad?”

“Oh ah.   She’s dead unhappy.”  Martin flushed and muttered into his chest:   “She says she loves me, like.”

“Yer can still get married then, can’t yer?”

“Ah don’t see how.  ‘Er parents won’t consent any more an’ she’s under age.  Us’d have to wait two year, an’ ‘er brothers are talkin’ about takin’ ‘er back to ‘er home country.  No, it’s all off, far as ah can see.”

#

“Gretna Green?”   Cherie’s face lit up.  “We can really get married there?”

“Ah.”  Martin nodded.  “Jack says sixteen’s awreet up there, ‘cause it’s in Scotland, like.  We can nip off there, on the quiet, like.”

“Oh, Marty, that’s brilliant!”

“We’ll have to be careful, mind.”   Martin looked deeply into his girlfriend’s shining eyes and through them saw, for a moment, another kind of reflection – that of a doorway hanging open.  It offered a path to freedom, and though he was unsure he wanted it, a way of escape.

“Of course, if you didn’t want to do it, like…”   She was giving up her family, her brothers, her home.  She only had to show doubt, and he would sympathise:  he would understand.  After all….

Cherie stopped his train of thought in its tracks.  “Not want to?  Don’t be daft, Martin man, of course I want to!”

“Anyway;”   She patted her stomach.  “There is another little problem.”

 

© Frederick Anderson 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Word in Tune

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

owl 2Alright, I know I haven’t posted!  It’s been far too long.

I could make all sorts of summer excuses, like; ‘it’s too hot, man’, or; ‘there are too many other things I need to do’.   But that wouldn’t be honest.  I live in Durham.  It’s never hot.   It is wet, but I’m a writer – I like to think of it as ‘moist’.

Maybe I am experiencing ‘writers’ block’ for the first time ever.  I wouldn’t know.  What are the symptoms?  In my case it’s a severe dose of  Piecus Incompletus., which is in danger of metastasising into terminal Self-Doubt.   There are slivers of word files spread all over my desktop, un-homed particles of articles I only just starticled.  My current output, like world peace, is unresolved.

Three stories unfinished; comments on Islamic thuggery, Republican bombast and NRA fatalism, all made more than adequately by others and not needing my ‘help’.   Bits and pieces, pieces and bits.  ‘Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing’?

So, I thought, let’s do a writing ‘bit’.    After all, I haven’t done one of those for a while.   The last was concerning description and oenamata – onomata – Ernamotor… word pictures.   It was called Eyes Half Closed and if you missed it you were probably fortunate.

So today it’s the popular song – the way we work with words.   We are writers, the blank page is our instrument, how we fill it testifies to our ability to play.  Just as any reasonably astute child can bash out notes on a piano in recognisable fashion, most people can make a cogent sentence (other than myself, it seems) that will be readable.   But something extra is needed to make the listener want to come closer, the reader to turn the page.   Something raises Paganini above the crowd, something makes a Wordsworth stanza unforgettable.

Words are like notes.  Creating those memorable, pleasurable reading moments begins with stringing them together, knowing the function of each dot and comma, having a reasonable vocabulary, understanding parsing and clauses and allegory and metaphor.  There are bales of tutorials all over the internet that impart these essential rules, as there is plentiful resource instructing you ‘how to write’.

I’m not going to presume to tell anyone else how to write.  I can only pass on models I follow that one day will hopefully make me a better writer, and may, perhaps be useful to you.  Like musical notes, words have a value.   There are demisemiquavers, semi-quavers, quavers,  crochets, semibreves and so on.  It isn’t hard to string them together, although it is a little more effort to make them a tune, while to create a song that will be on everyone’s lips demands familiarity and love of the instrument.   It takes just one misplaced note to destroy a whole melody, and the English language is full of misplaced notes.

There are words I consider criminals in themselves.  Some are born and pass with fashion, like ‘snog’ or ‘basically’; others were always there and you wish they weren’t:  ‘interject’ and ‘nice’ for example.  Use at your peril, or only in dialogue where they fit a character.   Then again there are others, I think, that enhance the language with a poetry of their own:  I personally like ‘schadenfreude’ and ‘blood’ (as a term for a close relative).  The most shameful pirate of all, the robber of the deeper meaning in your work and the destroyer of the natural rhythm and the flow of the message is that b****y word ‘the’.  Arguably each of the ‘the’s in that sentence could be redundant.  Rhythm and flow are vital:  they take the reader to the next sentence, and to the next page.  Yes, we have to use them sparingly (I just did) but they lionise our rhythm and interrupt flow.

I admit it puzzles me why so many would-be writers advocate reading the works of others as a means to improvement.   I rarely read.  Why?   Not because I don’t enjoy reading, I do when I have time, but because to me, all I am likely to learn is how to write like Thackeray, or O’Brien, or Pullman, and I want to write like Anderson!   News for you, blood – the word dies as it leaves the page.   It is reincarnated inside you, the reader, as a piece of a jigsaw you find easy to assemble.  It isn’t a word anymore, it’s part of a song playing inside your mind.

Besides, what was successful for others won’t work for you.   I am a great fan of Honore De’Balzac – his descriptive writing can drive me to a deplorable state of ecstasy, but the way he drives off for his conclusion in his last chapters is badly sliced, at best.   He would not get published, or even un-slushed, today.  I could name other victims of many a double bogey, others still who were defeated prematurely by the rough.  Me, I’m in a pot bunker somewhere, hacking away and getting my eyes filled with sand.

So how do I like to write, and why do I do it?  Too big a target.  But, when I arrive at my keyboard, the character who entered my head maybe an hour, or a day, or a year ago will be there waiting for me, and he (or she) and I will have a conversation. And between us we will talk to the page that is our instrument, and we will hope we reach our audience.  We hope they will believe.  We don’t slavishly adhere to rules (you’ve probably noticed) but we hope we will have created a song they will love to sing, with surprises or revelations about themselves along the way.

That is what writing represents for me.  That is why I turn up here every day.  I do it for myself, and a few others who might wish to read.  Hitherto I have been unconcerned with media and sales, although with the compulsion of age that may change.    It would be nice (ugh!) to think someday someone somewhere will hear my tune, and pause to sing along.

 

 

 

 

Philip

Tags

, , , , , , ,

 

His name is Philip.   So, what do we know about him? 

I know that as of today he’s husband to a Prime Minister.  Theresa May is only the second female Premier that the United Kingdom has thrown up, so his is almost an inaugural role.

I know he’s a couple of years younger than his 59 year old wife, that Benazir Bhutto  introduced the couple to each other at a Conservative Party Disco (I wonder what the dress code could have been for that?) and that he has a banking background, as does his wife.  Surprise?  Well, possibly not.   A friend claims they bonded over a shared love of cricket, which may be true, of course.   After all my own wife and I bonded over our mutual enjoyment of ironing (private joke).

A friend insists they are still very much in love.   As she puts it, ‘When they are together they seem younger’, which begs the question:  how old do they seem when they’re apart?

Mr. and Mrs. May have a home in Sonning- on-Thames; that is, when they are not at 10 Downing Street.  Sonning-on-Thames is an authentic country village in rural Berkshire filled with authentic rustic millionaires, like George and Amal Clooney, Uri Geller and Led Zeppelin veteran Jimmy Page.   It’s almost obligatory to wear a smock, preferably sporting a Gucci label, on the quaint village street, but chewing a straw is considered vulgar.

So what is the life of a ‘First Man’ likely to demand?  Fortunately, just up the road from No. 10 he can get advice from the best possible authority on the subject.   His regal namesake has held down the role for many years, and should be able to give him a tip or two.  There may be advantages in following five paces behind as wife Theresa toadies up to Monsieur Hollande – a chance to share the odd bawdy joke with Jean Claude Juncker as they watch her mud wrestling with Angela Murkel, or the opportunity for a touch of insider trading during eighteen holes with Bank of England Governor Mark Carney.   Maybe he can adopt Prince Philip’s uniquely Greek sense of humour, which has embellished so many encounters with the world’s wide diversity of people and characters.  Perhaps he may be able to offer informed advice upon entertaining at the State level:

“Whatever you do, don’t put Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko next to each other.  Watch the Chinese president.  He brings his own cook but his table manners are terrible.  Keep a close eye on your dog.”

Ah, but realistically the next four years or so of Philip May’s life are likely to be far more mundane.  He has his own banker’s priorities, and will probably not follow Theresa around on her State travels.  Instead he will likely be found most evenings gazing forlornly into his beer and playing gold-tipped darts with the regulars at ‘The Bull’ in Sonning-on-thames,.

“Where’s your Missis tonight, Phil?”

“Oh, she’s Prime Ministering again.   Got some bloke over from Australia to talk about sheep.”

“Interesting chappies, sheep.”

“Very.”

 

 

Shadows Dark, Shadows Deep

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Morguefile Forest 1

 

He was driving home.

He was tired.

Weariness, for the man in the silver car, was like a creeping disease.  It had begun with him not weeks but months since, an insistent fatigue beyond sleep’s cure with roots that grew a little deeper each day; so now it invaded his very bones.  He felt older, much older than his thirty-six years.  Today he had worked late, swaddling that tiredness in a further layer of exhaustion, weighing upon his eyelids and blurring his reason.

This summer had been busy, and Paul Lamborne’s business, after many years of struggle, was on the threshold of success: the catering equipment it supplied was in demand, becoming a brand in its own right; but the helm had grown heavy in his hands.   The business was growing, chasing finance for new premises, faster machinery, more raw materials; yet he had lost his love of the chase, his taste for small victories.

Corynna, his manager, had voiced her concern:   “You’re trying to do too much.  You don’t need to stay, Paul, I have it covered.  Go home.  Rest.  Recharge.”

But he had stayed – he had persisted; held on grimly, joylessly.  They were his orders, his promotional literature, and the completion dates were ones he had set.  He knew Corynna felt stifled, knew she was good enough to take over, yet he could not yield his grip, any more than he could admit every night’s recurring truth.   He dreaded going home.

Home?   Hilltops was never that, not really.  Never more than a very expensive roof that protected a string of complex and irresolvable debt; remortgaged to finance his business, Hilltops was never more than a field of battle upon which the lines were tightly drawn.  Adrienne, his wife, entrenched in her contempt; he the aggressor, never able to press his advantage.

There had been a time when Adrienne had pleased him enough.  There had been love between them, or at least something they could excuse as love, back in heady post-university days; the times when Paul was the beautiful young man and she the sophisticate who was courted by an eager succession of suitors.  Perhaps Paul was the man she had been looking for, then.  Perhaps his gentle energy, his quiet, distant manner satisfied her, for she was never a passionate woman and she had few sexual needs.  Salivating young grads with nervous, uncertain eyes who danced on her strings amused her, but never tempted.  Paul saw her as she was, focussed; and she was drawn to his perspicacity.

Maybe it was a flawed foundation for a marriage, a mutual admiration rather than a friendship, a partnership rather than a love: or maybe, very probably, it was the absence of children after fifteen torrid years of effort, that made their big house seem so empty; that turned infatuation to indifference, and, in these last few months, indifference into hatred.

A shared roof was all Paul had saved from the annals of his relationship; a house with bedrooms that stood silent and an ocean of bills that remained unpaid.   Adrienne who rebuffed the creditors scarcely hid her scorn: because (as he thought) he had failed her, although she would not denounce his failure in any specific way.

If Paul was convinced she was seeking love elsewhere he was wrong.  Yes, there were liaisons, but it was not love she sought – rather, a refuge from the crumbling tower of her own ambitions.  If Paul judged himself to have failed Adrienne, she attributed her failure to herself.  A bad marriage she relived every day; her mistake.

He had parked.  He did not remember parking, stopping the car, at all, still less the careful manoeuvring that had positioned it so neatly in a recess of the hedge next to a five-barred  wooden gate.  Puzzled, he glanced at his watch:  had he slept?  No, the time was as he would expect.

How had he come to be here?

Momentarily confused, he back-tracked his mind over the things he did remember:  locking the factory doors, driving away from the little town as it wrapped itself in the peace of evening.    Ten minutes to the Great Kurton road, then the left turn, the steep hill to Jakey’s Folly and the winding lane beyond.  He was on a route he knew, his house no more than five minutes away.  He should be familiar with every detail, every pothole, every branch of every tree and yet – yet he did not recall this gateway.

Paul climbed from his car. The gate was old, quite weathered; beyond it, where he might have expected to see an open field there was no field at all, but a small wood.  And the wood was so positioned it should be visible from his home, should it not?  The view from Hilltop’s windows was stamped upon his memory, yet this was a feature he had never seen before.

The wood of the gate felt cold and damp to his touch.  The rust reddened latch disengaged with difficulty.  Its hinges creaked.   A narrow track scored in the meadow grass led his feet into the midst of the trees.  Broom, golden bright in the full flush of summer mingled with whitethorn blossom to drench the birch and ash that were the first denizens of the wood.  A few paces further and taller trees, solemn and stately, reached above his head in a filigree of evening shade.  Might he have considered it odd that he had no wish to turn and go back?  Did he glance over his shoulder to see whether the gate still gaped wide behind him?    Had he done so he might have seen.  Although not by his hand, the gate had closed.

Paul walked on – deeper into the woodland hush, and light became more difficult to find.  The trees were closer now, their cover the more dense and stifling.    Through pools of olive darkness the path made greater demands upon his senses; more than once he missed his footing and stumbled upon some unseen grassy tuft or protruding root.  Somewhere in the canopy branches rattled.  Startled, he looked up, half-expecting to see some broken branch or predatory bird descending upon him, but he could see nothing to justify the noise.  As he passed through a pool of dappled sun those branches repeated their ominous message – and this time a shadow flitted.

Then a different noise; that of scrabbling claws on bark.   Just ahead of him, a great and stalwart oak, and thence the sound.  Hidden from him, something – something quite large and heavy – was descending the far side of its trunk.

A javelin of cold fear shot through Paul’s body, pinning him to the spot.  Silence.  The breeze had stopped; the world and all time within it ceased.    He heard his own querulous voice stammer out:    “Who…who’s there?  What do you want?”  And faint though it was, his terror echoed among the trees.

“I am here to lead you.”  So quiet were the words he wondered if he had heard them at all.

A figure – veiled by deep shade – slid around the great tree, gripping the bark so it hung, suspended, some three feet above ground.  Instinctively, Paul feared it.  He could see so very little, merely the outline of a compact, ape-like form that exuded muscular strength, although it was no more than four feet in height.  With practised agility it sprang from the tree and walked, almost glided upon two legs scarcely longer than Paul’s own thighs, into better light; revealing a body covered in fine, chestnut-coloured hair, only the face of which was hairless – snub-nosed, eyes black and gleaming, but human, or nearly so.  Its thin lips pursed themselves as the creature studied Paul openly.   What was it?  Some sort of ape?

The ape – if ape it was – spoke. “Come, you will need me to guide you.”

A hand very like a human hand reached out to Paul, who stared at strong, claw-like nails that tipped near-human fingers.  Man?  He still needed to be convinced.  “You live here?”  He asked.

“Yes.  In the trees.”

The figure had drawn closer now, too close for doubt.  Its words, so softly spoken, confirmed it.  Odd though its appearance was, this creature must be human.

“Annar waits.”  It said.  “Come!”

Rough, stubby fingers closed around Paul’s hand, tugging gently.

“I don’t understand.”  Paul protested.  Who, or what was Annar?  Come to that:  “Who – what – are you?  Where is this place?”

The creature’s black eyes creased in what might have been a smile.  “You will find out if you come with me.”

“If I don’t?”

In answer, those eyes glanced past Paul, as if inviting him to look back.  And so he did, and he saw how the living forest had closed behind him.  The track that would lead him to his car had gone.  Instead, there was undergrowth intertwined; bramble and thorn in an impenetrable wall: a wall of darkness.

“You must follow.  Come.”

What induced him to comply so meekly?  Why didn’t he protest further?  Did the hand that had taken his also take command of his mind?  Though small in stature the creature’s grip was strong, its short stride purposeful and quick.  As it moved the hiss of its breath kept time, a shallow, high sound that found a resonance with the trees.  It knew its way through the woods, too; endless, endless woods.   By this track and that, by gully and stream, Paul was led, and with every stride his confusion grew the more.  The hours were passing.  It would be night soon.

“Where are you taking me?”   He demanded breathlessly, striving to keep up.

As if his words were a signal, the creature stopped.   “Here is the place.  Now we must wait.”   It settled itself upon a tree-root, drawing its big, blunt knees up to its chin, so Paul saw how the longer hairs beneath that chin draped, and how very like a beard they seemed.  Thankful for the rest, he seated himself on a fallen tree-trunk, casting about warily for any sign of danger.  Had it been he who somehow, by some code the creature recognised, selected the place?  There was nothing distinctive about it.  He could see only a continuation of the trail they had been pursuing, as he calculated, for more than two miles.  It would be dark before he could eventually discover the way out.  How, in all the years he had lived at Hilltops, had he failed to discover this woodland, never noticed the gateway that led into it?  And it must be a substantial forest, unless his guide had been leading him in circles.

“Welcome.”  The sudden appearance of the little old man surprised him.  Paul had neither seen nor heard his approach.   Where had he come from?  Had he been sleeping?  Was he, perhaps, dreaming this?

Garbed in skins the nut-brown hue of the woods, this old one’s form was so shrivelled and spare it might have been easy, with Paul’s tired, slightly misted eyes, to avoid seeing him at all.  Human, though, he certainly was.  His shoulders were hunched, stooping his protuberant nose towards the bed of leaves upon which he walked.  The nose had a drip poised at its end.   A yellowed beard waited to collect it.

Released from the mesmerising grip of the creature, Paul felt his anger rising.  This had gone on long enough.  “Oh, what now?  Another woodland tour?  What’s your role – let me see – the philosophical sage?   Am I going to get words of wisdom next?   Or do you just want a handout?  Don’t ask me; I left my money in the car, and  I can’t tell you where that is.  Ask the hairy guy, yeah?  He knows, I don’t.  I’m lost, you see?”

Two grey eyes – disturbingly large, penetrating eyes – met Paul’s critical stare.  “Or rather you are found?”  The old man said in a crackling dry twig of a voice.  “I did not choose this meeting.  Did you?”

A snappy retort formed on Paul’s lips, then seemed to evaporate.  He felt his annoyance ebbing away, as if the creature’s hand had once more taken his.  “Explain?”  He said at last:  “Who are you?  What is all this?”

“I?  I am Annar.   That is to say, the Old One.”  Annar motioned to the creature, still hunched on its tree-root.  “He is Bul, which means tree-sleeper.  It also means ‘many’.  Names are not important here.”  The old man gave an elaborate, if somewhat creaky, bow.  “You are welcome among us.”

Paul shook his head.  “Look, Annar; whatever you’re trying to make me believe, I’m not sold, okay?  I need to get out of here – this wood – now.  Yes?  Can you show me the way?  Is it far?”

“Far?”  The old man looked puzzled.  He looked at Bul, but Bul merely grunted.  “I cannot answer you because I have never sought a way.   There is the green land, of course, and a Great Water where the world stops, but our people rarely go there now.   “Is that what you seek?”

“What I seek is my way out of here.  This ‘green land’ of yours would be a start.”   Paul snapped, dredging up renewed ire from somewhere.  Yet his resolve was wavering.  He wanted to diagnose this pair as being mentally ill, but somehow that wasn’t working.  Their reduced stature, their physical appearance argued against such simple answers.  Could they really be woodland dwellers who had adopted this forest as their home?  That was ridiculous! Tramps, maybe?  “Look, just tell me the way back to the road, okay?   What’s-his-name, Bul, here, doesn’t need to take me. Just point.”

“Road?”  Annar frowned.  “No, no, there is no road.”  He lapsed into silence, so once again Paul experienced one of those timeless moments when the birds ceased their treetop songs, and not even a breeze stirred.  In that space Annar and Bul seemed immovable – lifeless and aged as statues hewn from stone.  Maybe there really was no road.

“Alright,”  Paul spoke slowly, choosing his words with great care.  “Where exactly am I?”

“Where?”  Annar considered the question.  “You are here.  Here is the forest, and the forest is as old as time.  As for roads, there are only the paths you make, when the trees have earned your respect.  I?  I am of the Old People, and for summers beyond memory the forest has been our home, though once, before the wild ones came in boats to drive us away, it is said we tilled the green land.  Those are skills long forgotten.  I would not know them.”

“Look, indulge me, because I don’t understand this.”  Paul coaxed, as gently as he could.  “See, Annar, I have to leave here – I have to get home.  Time is…”  He glanced down at his wrist.  In disbelief he saw that his watch was missing; so, too, the band of reddened flesh where a watch might have been.  It was as if he had never worn one.

“Time?”  The old one smiled at the brown loam before his sandaled feet.  “Time is nothing to you now.  “The green land is far – far beyond your reach.  Here, in the forest, is your home.”

The shock, finally the lightning bolt of the truth. “I’m never going to leave, am I?”

“You cannot.  You have come to us from another place, but you are in need of peace, and now your home is among us you will find what you seek. Do not fear – it is a good place.  You will learn to be happy here.”  The old man said.  Then he turned away, directing his voice into the darkness of the trees.    “Come forward, child.”

At his beckoning a green curtain of undergrowth parted, revealing a tall, graceful figure, disguised by the deep shade.

“This is one who has loved you for many summers.  She also comes to us, and her place is with you.”

Shyly, the figure stepped into the open, allowing a shaft of sunlight to play upon golden hair as her face was exposed.  Paul could not restrain his surprise.  “Corynna?”

And the old man smiled.  “Be as one.”  He said.

 

“His missus is a piece, in no mistake!”   Commented the police sergeant.  “She seemed more annoyed than anything else.”   He shook his head.  “Grief takes some strange forms, don’t it?  Anyway, what brings you back here this morning, Mister Berrisford?  You don’t normally want a second look at these.”

The Claims Assessor cast a critical eye over the wreckage.  A course of events that was obvious enough – too fast into the bend, a slight clip of the bank, a rapid, airborne barrel roll and impact:  bounce once, airborne once more, bounce again.  By the time it plummeted into the hedge the silver car was already beyond recognition, a tangled mess of scrap metal.  No, he had no need to doubt his findings.

“Paul Lamborne, eh?  The Gov’nor, no less.  He’ll have been well covered, I expect?”   The sergeant prompted.  “A bit of a drain on your company’s coffers, eh?  Might you just possibly be seeking a loophole, Chas?”

“We’ve got one.”  Berrisford replied.  “At least from the life insurance aspect.  There’s no body.”   He watched with a fascination he always experienced as a recovery truck raised the wreck, disposing of a last, very slim chance that Paul’s remains were somehow concealed beneath it.  Shards of hedgerow snapped and crackled as the wreck’s departure revealed a perfectly cut gap, allowing him to stare into the empty fields beyond.  “I’d imagine that’d be a neat fit for a gateway, wouldn’t you?  We can’t have a claim if we don’t have a body.  Not after an incident like this.”

“No-one could have survived that.”  The sergeant said, almost reverently.  “He can’t have been thrown clear, neither.  The seat belt’s intact and fastened.”

“Then where is he?  I’d expect some signs of serious trauma; blood, body parts.  There’s none.  Even if he’d managed to ride out the impact, with the state he’d have been in he’d not have gone far.”

“No sign of him.”  The sergeant replied.  “We checked the fields and hedges for near on a mile, and there’s no other cover.  It’s a strange one.”

“Very.”  Berrisford acknowledged.  “As a matter of interest, has everyone been informed?  He was well known locally, wasn’t he?”

“Yes.  Well, his immediate family anyway.  As for his business, though, there’s something else that’s odd.”

“Odd?  How do you mean?”

“Well, I expect there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation, but his manager (nice girl, always liked her) can’t be found anywhere.  She was due to go to work this morning and didn’t.  What’s more, she doesn’t answer her ‘phones.  Mind, it’s too early to make judgements.  I’m sure she’ll turn up.”

“Yes.”  A shivering breeze found the new space in the hedge and prickled Charles Berrisford’s flesh, as if to remind him of the bare landscape beyond.  How he hated the desolation that generations of farming had wrought upon this land!  This would have been forest once, before the works of man laid it low.  If he half-closed his eyes he could still imagine them.

“A cold summer this has been.”  He said.  “You’re right, of course.  I’m sure she will.”

 

© Frederick Anderson 2016.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Frederick Anderson with specific direction to the original content.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regrets

Tags

, , , , ,

The Grobelys and the Wobbletobes

How sweetly they do sing

But my lobes are clothly, dear

So I don’t hear a thing.

The Flabberdoes in chorus do

Proclaim the buds of spring

But my bloobs have cloudy gone

So I can’t see it pring.

 

I wish I were a scroteish lad

An’ I were lube again

Then I’d flounce upon a branch

And durble in the rain

I’d skip and skop and flap and plop

All seasons to proclaim

And in the nurdly summerslime

I’d glubble in a drain.

And would you glubble with me love?

And would you gurgash too?

I so truly wish you would

For I would gurgash you!

 

Eurpoe

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

mermaid wall (2016_04_04 15_16_25 UTC)

The Sirens of Brussels

 

A word from Divvin (that’s an English County next to Zummerzet and just down the road from Darsit, if you’m wonderin’).

Now, my Darlin’s, ‘tis like this.

Other wick we had a vote, see?  ‘Twas like ever’body got to ‘ave a say about how us felt ‘bout the immigrants an’ that, an’ we all turned out and we told ‘em, no uncertain fashion, like, what us thought we ought to do.  Leave that there Eurpoe Onion thing from the Brussels!   Yes!   An’ it turns out we didn’t want nothin’ more to do wi’ no Onions, and ‘ow we wanted to go out by ourselves.  Aye!

Well, turns out we were wrong, see?   ‘Cause all these ‘ere thinkin’ people says we should stay in, an’ ‘ow we faces certain ruin if we don’t.   An’ we says to ‘em, see, it was a Democratic Decishun, but they say that don’t count, ‘cause apparently they won’t get so much money if us makes ‘em leave, and they won’t be able to live in they there nice London apartments no more, or travel around this ‘ere Eurpoe to get better jobs, and stuff like that.   They says we bin lied ter, an’ un-screw-pew-lus people, they led us up the garden path, an’ that.  We jus’ voted ‘cause of the immigration, see?  Aye.

So they goin’ to change wha’ we want to what they want, and that’s o’y fair, ‘cause we’m jus’ ord’nary people, and not great and good like they are.

So, seems to me that all these ‘ere clever people, they on’y peddle that there Democracy to us when they want us to see things their way; and if we don’t, then they got to twist it about until we do.  Lawyers, and Ac’demics, and that, they knows what’s good for us, don’ they?  An’ learned people, they thinks we’re too thick to unnerstand ‘bout Eurpoe.

See, I voted ‘cause I didn’t think that there Onion was goin’ anywhere.  I thought that my country is what serves me a livin’ an’ not none of the Brussels.   They’m got strange money that they keeps printin’ with no vaalue behind un, they keeps poorer countries strugglin’ for a livin’ an’ it’s not long afore we becomes one of those, if we stays in, like.   They keeps takin’ our money and givin’ us less back than what they takes, they makes rules we can’t keep up with, and my sheep dip’s more ‘ficient at keepin’ out the nasties than their immigration pol’cy.  They destroyed our fishin’ ind’stry, they put the cost of livin’ up for all of us an’ they make us tax things we shouldn’t, don’t they?  And we can’t take so many people!    Now, that’s not racist, nor nothin’, but us got a dooty to house and keep the people we already got.  It makes sense, see?  If my neighbour, he don’t put no fence up,  his sheep gets all mixed up wi’ mine an’ they overstocks my land while I feeds ‘em for ‘im for free.  Seems simple sense to me.

But there.  I don’t know nothin’.  I may know the price of livestock an’ ow to run a business, but to you they ac’demics I’m jus’ the peasant who’s ‘pinions you thinks you can ignore – I’ll jus’ tug my forelock as I passes you by and you can try to forget it’s me who does all the work, who keeps your nicely feathered beds stuffed an’ makes your country run.

So, talk your way into believing you are doing the right thing in trying to overturn the will of the people with your contrived arguments and Machiavellian tactics.   Buy your politicians and your expensive lawyers; pay the media to find a case for you to make.  But if you do, and you succeed in contraverting the will of the people you will finally write the obituary of  British democracy, and prove the lie you have been trying to disguise for so many years.

And I, at least, will stand against you, tooth and claw.  And I will never, whatever ‘democratic’ compulsion you thrust upon me, mark a ballot paper again.

For God’s Sake, Why???

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

For anyone who doesn’t already know of it, I would like to introduce this link:   http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

For anyone who would rather not look, I would like to reveal these headline statistics:

The total number of gun-related incidents in 2016 (i.e. last six months)      25, 296

The total number of deaths                                                                                               6,495

The total number of injuries                                                                                            13,392

Deaths of children below the age of twelve                                                                        277

 

I am a foreigner, of course.  I can’t be expected to understand why every American should have the constitutional right to own a firearm, in case his national government attacks him, or whatever.  I don’t particularly want to achieve that depth of understanding, because to me that would mean the pursuit of a disturbingly jaundiced path of reasoning with only one very dark destination.  I have never wanted the right to kill.   The thought that I could kill a child appals me.

I do clearly understand that the NRA represents commercial interests whose trade is in death.  I do see that this organisation sanctions the totally inappropriate sale of automatic weapons to private individuals for no other reason than the added profit a more expensive weapon can produce. 

This, too, I understand.  The perpetrators of these horrendous crimes are almost exclusively male.  There is some barbaric instinct lurking in the hairy back corners of the primeval mind that triggers whenever a young male feels worsted, whether it be merely by someone arrogantly dismissing them, or flashing past them in a faster car, or more profoundly by stirring religious fervour in some way.  The resultant disproportionate fury will always be part of our nature, it cannot ever be entirely eliminated, but how it manifests itself can be controlled.  Knives are bad, but they are merciful when compared to a gun.

Sadly, it seems that the squatting toads of Congress are equally immovable.  The NRA ensures their position.  Therefore, the pressure to make things change must come from below; and, as it seems to me, the pressure has to come from women.   The same selfless determination that gave women the vote back in that heady century of change when all things of today began, now has to be devoted to gun control.

Now you’re going to think I’m mad.  I probably am.

Long, long ago a Greek playwright wrote a comedy called Lysistrata.  Aristophanes’ plot concerned women tired of the constant warfare waged by their men-folk and forced change by locking themselves in the Acropolis and refusing them sex.  

Ridiculous?   Okay.  

Effective?  Well, maybe.

But think how a change in social attitudes has brought about the ostracism of smoking as a social habit?   See how the culture of physical fitness and diet is beginning to attack obesity?  These small cudgels can be wielded so effectively in a media-aware society, and it is always encouraging to see their force used for good.

If women could persuade themselves to actively oppose the possession of arms – if the firearm were consigned to the garage, if it was uncivilized, not to say primitive, to be seen bearing a weapon – if the considerable talents of cartoonists could be unleashed upon the spotty punk with the weapon so much larger than his natural appendage, public perceptions would alter. 

Social pressure, whether ostracism, ridicule, or contempt; or more physical deprivation:  “Until you get rid of that gun you’re cooking your own food”, seems to me not just the best, but the only way to go.    But there, I’m just an outsider.  I don’t understand why it was so necessary to deprive 6500 people of life before they had the chance to live it.

Just think:  a little down the line the USA might have produced the Great President; the saviour of the western world – might have, if some deluded teen hadn’t shot him dead in 2016.

Maybe Aristophanes had a point?

So, What Now?

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, it happened!

Those of us who did not sit up through the night of 23rd June woke in the morning to a country that is new to most of us:  an independent nation no longer huffing obediently at the heels of the ‘burgers’ of Brussels.   The UK has voted to leave the European Union.

And the question that engages me is – what happens now?

I have no doubt that the creature emerging from its chrysalis is a shadow of the voracious caterpillar it once was, in those days before a grocer’s elitist son glued it to an over-tenanted portion of the northern hemisphere known as the Common Market, more than sixty years ago.  Small, damp and rather blousy, it must spend time drying its wings before it can become what?  A glorious and beautiful butterfly, or a trundling, zeppelin of a moth?   Does the Britain that now looks so crippled soar brilliantly into the sun, or sacrifice itself to the naked flame?

What comes next will depend upon who leads.  Prime Minister David Cameron’s rather pathetic attempt today to persuade his nation that he would fall on his sword was tempered by his intention to wait three months before doing it.  He will, in his own words, ‘steady the ship’, thinly disguised rhetoric for ‘I will delay this as much as possible’.  And those of us watching got the uncomfortable feeling he has not given up,  though we may rest assured that, even if he succeeds in his tactic, the Tory Conference in October will have a finely honed blade ready.  So who?

Boris Johnson seems the obvious candidate, Theresa May is also in the running, as is Michael Gove, despite his insistence he seeks no high office.   Exciting enough, but there is an odd further possibility, which I will explore, if only because I like odd possibilities.

There is no doubt the referendum on Britain’s EU membership was the result of discontent within the Conservative Party.  Nonetheless it would not have happened had not Nigel Farage’s UKIP party given it voice.

What occurred on June 23rd was a rare example of true democracy.  For a large proportion of UK population government is an irrelevance, something to amuse the ‘educated’ which costs them money, but about which they can do nothing.  They are unrepresented, principally because the British Labour Party is a grotesque, stuck in a quagmire of trade union megalomania and neo-communist dogma that was rejected by a thinking working class (there – I’ve used that damned word ‘class’) thirty years ago.   The referendum gave everybody a simple, straightforward access to a political process:  ‘yes’ or ‘no’.   It brought The Unrepresented from their houses, many of them for the first time in thirty years.  It gave them an influence otherwise lost to them, and it raised a political map of the United Kingdom which showed starkly how little Unity there really is.

In all of England only London really came out strongly in favour of the EU.   The Superdome, the Bankers’ Bubble stood tall amidst a seething sea of doubt and dissent.  Atom City against the real world.

It is futile to even imagine the Conservative Party, or any leader arising from it, will do more than quantify the risk that carpet of inconvenient intelligence outside the dome represents.  And then dismiss it.   But they’ve been wrong before!   Suppose they decide to reinforce their post-EU mandate by calling a General Election, and suppose Farage’s UKIP steps into the breach the Labour Party have left unguarded?   Could UKIP manage to draw those same Unrepresented from their houses – is it possible UKIP could form a government?

It is intriguing, and I admit very unlikely, but what a proposition a Nigel Farage-led government presents!   A commodities trader turned Prime Minister is a very Trump-like prospect for a future independent UK, and I relish the thought because the pot needs stirring, and I can think of no better man than Farage to hold the spoon.

So there we are.  Newly independent of Brussels, free of EU federalism.  Brushing fantasy (and Farage) aside, I honestly don’t know what the future holds, but I am experiencing the optimism of youth once more, and I love it!

Referendum

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I can’t avoid it.

All talk in UK this week is concerned with a forthcoming referendum vote – a choice to ‘remain’ with the European Union, or ‘leave’.   Still, at this very late stage, there is a thirst for information from those who want the element of chance eliminated entirely from their decision, which suggests there are large numbers who want to vote to leave, bbanker 2ut daren’t.

This nervous indecisiveness is, of course, prime meat for the ‘remain’ campaigners, who wade in with dire warnings of financial Armageddon, forfeit of international influence and a variety of other terrors lurking in the black chasm that awaits a friendless UK, condemned to wandering in outer lands.

Why, they reasonably plead, take that chance?  Why leave the safe harbour of your European friends and brothers for the sake of an experiment;  why follow where the inexperienced shepherd leads?   Is it not safer, more prudent, to remain obediently within the fold, where nations may work together for a brighter future?  The EU will progress, will improve and prosper, with you or without you:  why sacrifice your part in that process?

It’s a challenge I can’t resist.

Let’s question the position if the ‘remain’ argument prevails in the vote.  If UK stays Brussels sees all 28 member nations coming under the umbrella of a federalist alliance which must, eventually, mean one government for all (presumably in Brussels, BTW) and one currency for all.  Otherwise any major step forward will be lost in a quagmire of conflicting interests.  28 separate governments, all with their own electorates to appease, already provide plenty of ready examples of this.

The UK is a major culprit.  The Westminster government has exemptions essential to its national interest in many matters, including that vital component, free movement.   The UK will not surrender the pound sterling, nor will it agree (it says) to the admission of further member nations.  Thus it is, in a sense, already halfway out.   It occupies precisely the ‘offshore island’ position Brussels has threatened it will have if the ‘leave’ vote holds sway.   And that is a position that would be untenable anyway, if the federalist plan comes to fruition.

But there is another pivotal question:  just how stable and secure is the EU?   Terrorist activity is on the rise, government response sluggish.  Growth within the EU is negative, decision-making is ponderous, its government unrepresentative of its people.  Greece, Italy and Portugal are treading close to the edge of liquidity, and the cost of living, especially in Greece and Italy, is prohibitive.  Unemployment, especially amongst the young, is outrageously high.  The immigration issue is seriously destabilising, with no prospect of diminishing in numbers in the immediate future.  To grasp the immigration issue the EU has to renege upon Schengen, to resolve its financial imbalances the Franco-German Alliance has to consent to a very much smaller slice of the cake.  Neither of these are feasible without the collapse of the EU.  So, how ‘safe’ is an offshore island tethered to this leaking hulk?  How long, indeed, will it stay afloat?

By contrast the UK scores highly in its ability to trade.  Unemployment is low, growth is positive, and where diplomacy and guile will secure a new market, or negotiate a lucrative deal, the British will succeed:  this is their history as one of the world’s great maritime trading nations.  Although the playing field may have changed, those innate abilities are never lost.  The UK also harbours one of the world’s great financial centres – liberated from EU constraints, its banking sector faces a profitable future.   So, fiscal chasm there is not: a process of levelling, maybe, a lot of sound and fury, maybe, but ultimately signifying nothing.

In making this case I have not emphasised the UK’s status as the EU’s largest trading partner, a market they will be unwilling to forgo.  Nor am I, despite your thoughts, a ‘Little Englander’.  I don’t harbour dreams of national glory, or seek to relive the days of Empire.  I do remember times before the EU, though, and I have some perspective upon all the UK has lost.   With others of my age (I, too, was young and optimistic once) I enthusiastically declared myself a ‘European’ when the clarion call came, and even absorbed gladly the sudden rise in the cost of living that came with it.   But now?  No.  For too many years I have watched various European interests – mainly French, German and Spanish, and more recently Eastern European – rape UK’s assets for their own advantage; and I have watched as the UK gave way, too many times.

The nation has a chance to begin to reclaim some of its own resources.  Maybe it can regain some of its plundered fishing industry by reasserting its territorial waters:  maybe it can subsidise and remodel its agricultural policy, begin to police its borders properly, deport the foreign criminals it is forced to detain here by EU law.

I am all for breaking down the insularity of nation states, all for the ideal of a united world.  I also see these are ambitions that can only succeed when component nation states refrain from using them as a tool for conquest, and show respect for the needs and views of people, rather than their own financial gain.

With regret I have to say of the European Union;  this has not happened – it will not happen – here.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,629 other followers