The Clock Is Ticking

January 27, 2016

World-s-Doomsday-Clock-Now-Shows-3-Minutes-to-Midnight-470994-3
Over the years I have often been painted as a cold hearted pessimist, when in my own defence I considered myself as something of a realist.

Spotting a possible correlation between the time lines of the 200 years since the Industrial Revolution, a population explosion from one to seven billion and a pattern of climate change brought nothing but derision.
Population

I watched the world divide into two camps, “we need to do something”. “We need to do nothing”. I felt like Butch Cassidy in that movie when he said “ I have vision and the rest of the world wears sun glasses”. That and given the fact that the world is run by committees, I consoled myself with the simple thought that, “as a species we were screwed and because of us so was the vast majority of all animal life on the planet”.

Of course I can’t claim to be smarter than the average, far from it, but I’m smart enough to notice when a cart load of manure is heading for the fan factory. Plus of course it is just possible that I was picking up the vibes of the group of scientists who also think we may well be on a one way journey to extinction.

Starting with Albert Einstein who after the first nuclear weapon was used in war said “Everything has changed, save the way we think.” Unless we change the way we think, humanity remains in serious danger”.

Well here’s a heads up for Ya’all, we have not changed our way of thinking, not one iota, unless, like me, you consider we have changed for the worst. For example most people these days consider a disaster is defined by their inability to get a broadband signal for more than a couple of minutes.

Back in the 1940’s a group came up with the The ‘Doomsday Clock’ as a scientific indicator for how close humanity was to global catastrophe. This was symbolised as a clock face showing the hands as they approached midnight, midnight being of course the end of the world.

In 1947 the hands stood at 7 minutes to midnight. In 1949 when the then USSR exploded their first nuclear device the hands slipped to 3 minutes. The worst it has ever been was in midnight 1953: After much debate, the United States decides to pursue the hydrogen bomb, a weapon far more powerful than any atomic bomb when it stood at a very dangerous 2 mins to midnight.

Since then we have seen our fair share of Good News, Bad News scenarios with the hands of the clock flowing to and fro until in 1991 when with the Cold War officially over and the United States and Russia beginning to make deep cuts to their nuclear arsenals. The world breathed a big sigh of relief and the clock moved back to its all-time best position of 17 mins to midnight.

So what happened since then ? Someone took their eye off the ball that’s fer damn sure….

Did we just get complacent or just stopped thinking we were all going to be blown to hell an go back to… what …where ?
Well I’ve got some bad news for everybody because that Doomsday clock is still ticking and nobody seems to have noticed but it has moved forward again and now stands at 3 minutes to midnight once more.

GASP! HORROR ! How can this have happened ? Why ? Well lets’ see, for starters the well won Super Power agreements of the early 90’s seemed to have grown older without germinating. Nuclear weapons are still high on the shit list with both the USA and Russia embarked upon a modernisation programme. Let’s not forget the un checked climate change problem.

Here is the list, the reason why we are so close to Midnight on the clock, this is not my list but one from the “Atomic Scientists Science and Security Board”.

Leaders must dramatically reduce proposed spending on nuclear-weapons-modernization programs.
• They must reenergize the disarmament process, with a focus on results.
• They must engage with North Korea to reduce nuclear risks.
• They must begin to deal with the problem of commercial nuclear waste, in particular by agreeing on workable international storage sites.
• They must follow up on the Paris accord with actions that sharply reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
• They must create institutions specifically designed to explore and address potentially catastrophic misuse of new technologies.

Call me a cockeyed pessimist or just a hard-nosed realist, whatever, but can anyone actually see anything on that list that is going to achieve worldwide agreement ?

Perhaps those who say “What the Hell” are right, who cares we’ll be dead before it happens. Perhaps I should be one of them after all I have no children or grandchildren to worry about… But surely someone should stick up for every other animal species in the world who don’t have a vote but will suffer the same fate as us.

Earlier on I mentioned the Industrial Revolution, a time when mankind really started to believe he was smarter than nature. Back the theory of evolution was just that a theory. Now with our enhanced medicines, our understanding of genetics and DNA we play God as we strive towards living forever while forgetting all those original laws of evolution and natural selection.

I can only hope enough of our disastrous history will survive so that the life form that follows us can learn and hopefully be a lot wiser than we are. Like all other species that share our planet, learn to live in harmony with nature and not try to be its master.

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You Ain’t Famous

January 3, 2016

Sweat Shirt

Who was it that said to me, ‘Just because you’ve written a couple of books and got your face in the Newspapers don’t let Fame go to your head.’
As if !

If there is one thing I have learnt over the years that is ‘Life’ has a great way of bringing you back to Earth should you be dumb enough to be swept away in all the praise of the adoring public.

Take Book signings as an example, these are for Real celebrities not for mere Wannabees. If you are somebody special, or better still if the public think you’re somebody special then you’re IN!

The gullible will flock to the event and happily part with their ‘hard earned pennies’ just to be close enough to smell the sloshed on perfume or aftershave, depending on whether it is a footballer or one of their WAG girlfriends flogging their latest ‘Kiss and Tell’ cookery book.

For the rest of us it’s pretty much a day trip to somewhere you’ve never heard of where you will sit on a hard chair behind a wobbly table covered in a pile of books trying to appear interesting to the passing punters desperately trying not to make eye contact with you.

However, for those that really need a lesson in humility please do a book signing in your home town.

Like many writers I write under a pseudonym, now that may sound a bit pretentious coming from someone who is comparatively unknown under either name, real or otherwise. However, I do have a good excuse, someone else is already using my real name, and for all I know he may also be writing under an assumed name…. The fact that it’s my name maybe completely lost on the man however that aside he has made a decent name for himself and his scribbling using my name so I chose another one for me.

But I digress from my tale, being as I live in a quaint rural market town it was suggested that I may wish to join in with the local Christmas Arts and Craft Fair and set up a ‘Meet the Author’ table as a way of maybe shifting some books.

It’s the sort of thing that sounds like a good idea at the time and it’s a decision you usually make when you are a bit too relaxed. Like when in the local pub propositioned by someone else who isn’t quite as relaxed as they seem and… well before you know where you are you’ve agreed to be the Star attraction at the local Meet and Greet!

This one was to be on home ground, I had time to plan and organise, A3 poster sized pictures of the book covers, laptop primed to show YouTube video teasers, (giving them something else to look at other than me).

I even put out a bowl of mixed candy to sweeten the little buggers and charm them into a false sense of security, how could they dare take my offering and not buy my book? Quite easily as it happens, they wait for you to go to the toilet or to fetch a fresh brew of coffee and they sneak in and empty the bowl.
So well organised were we that announcements had been made in the local press, there was even a special insert into the town’s local Free magazine. Come and Meet local author Merlin Fraser, the full drum roll and fanfare had been made, I had never been so organised.

As a small aside I think I should add that around the area where I live we have more than our fair share of celebrities (real ones) artists and a few quite famous authors as well. So you can imagine that for many reading in the local rag that local author Merlin Fraser will be at the next event there may well have been a slight glimmer of interest even if it was only to ask “Who?”

Experience has taught me that at these things you tend to need something to break the ice, this is after all England where nobody actually speaks to anyone without being formally introduced over tea.

Therefore one needs a gimmick, an Ice Breaker….. So I am now the proud owner of the pictured Sweatshirt with the logo : “Who The HELL Is Merlin Fraser”? blazoned across the front.

Yeah, OK I know, it sounded a good idea in the pub, alright ! How is it that when you’re in a pub there is always someone who has a friend who just happens to know someone who can fix you up with these things…. Who knows I might even wear it if things get desperate enough !

Come the day full of confidence, and caffeine I take up station by the table and wait, nobody comes anywhere near me. I head to the coffee pot come back and refill the sweetie bowl. I notice every stall holder in the room, except me, is trying to suck a sweet without moving any part of their mouth.

Then through the front door come three ladies, locals so at least if I can’t sell them a book I can at least have a chat with them, after all I know them and they know me.

Only they don’t… They are here to meet Merlin Fraser, famous writer of Murder Mystery stories and these three are a bit peeved to find that he’s not here and I’m sitting in his chair, presumably and pretentiously swigging his coffee out of his personal mug.
“So where is he ?” One dear old lady asks.

“Who ?” I ask.

“Merlin bloody Fraser, who else ?”
“He’s here…. I am he .”

“He who ?” Her friend asked.

“Me Who… I mean… I am He… I am Merlin Fraser.”

“No you’re not …your that bloke that drives the Dial a Ride Bus!”
“W-e-l- l Yes… but I do this as well.”

“Why,” asked the one in the middle, who up to that point had been silent ?

As this juncture I should have quit, offered them a toffee from my dwindling supply and changed the subject to seasonal things, but we writers are made of sterner stuff. “Why do I write books or why do I drive the bus”?

Little old ladies can be cruel, they turned on me as one, with that look, you know the one, the look that can freeze the blood in your veins. The look that without a spoken word says “listen smart ass” ! They also have that way of sighing and shrugging the shoulders in one move, the one they reserve for the feeble minded who are beyond hope. They declined the proffered sweet and moved away.

Not that the next encounter was any better. A total stranger stood silently in front of my table scanning all the A3 sized book synopsis before picking book three off the table and flicking the pages and asking why all three books had the same title but different covers ?

I explained that Inner Space was the banner heading to link a trilogy of three murder mystery stories with a team of central characters. I then made the mistake of asking him if he like murder mysteries… “Not really” was he reply “we only came in so that my wife could use the toilet”.

I’d like to say things improved over the three days of the Fair, but alas… OK I made a few sales and dished out a lot of Free book markers with the web site and links on it under the promise of they will look and buy later…. I wish I had asked for a small refundable deposit, would have helped pay for my pitch,but Alas!

Little Poster

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Who are the sad mindless, faceless Trolls who think bullying on the internet is a clever thing to do ?

What inane pleasure can they possibly get from their vile attacks on people they probably don’t know merely because they can get away with it without ever showing their face ?

Perhaps that’s it, the sheer anonymity of the internet allows the m to bully without the risk of ever coming face to face with their victims. It requires no courage whatsoever while they hide under the illusion that they will never get caught.

Mentally they obviously belong in the same sad group of humanity who hide beneath a hoodie and take pleasure in destroying public property. Those who in the name of fun will happily toss a brick through a shop window kick in glass-sided shelters at bus stops, key parked cars or rip up litter bins and toss them into the path of oncoming cars.

Of course bullying is not new, it was something we had to endure. Every school at every level had them, and the military had more than their fair share. As did many of the work places I remember, usually some useless moron that had a shoe size bigger than their IQ who for some unexplained reason ended up King of the Playground/ Barracks/Factory Canteen.

At least in the old days these bullies were visible, everybody knew who they were and depending on luck or having the right sort of friends most of us either weathered the storm or in a fit of over enthusiastic bravado tried to solve the problem one way or another.

However, cyber bullying is altogether different these morons lack the courage to abuse their victims in the real world, hiding as they do, not only in the vastness of the internet but also in the way that the internet can cover a person’s true identity.

What the internet cannot conceal, and a fact that these faceless ones fail to grasp is that the internet cannot conceal the inner workings and therefore the mentality of these cretins.

In broad general terms these bullies will have many problems of their own, they will certain suffer from low self esteem, feeling ignored or bypassed by the community around them. Hurting others will give them a false sense of power, possibly seeing this as a way to impress a group of like minded people.
Other types of bullies see it as a fun way to show off, demonstrating how clever they are, for some such behaviour might be normal to them especially if they are egged on by similar people they meet or attract on line.

The difference between the physical bully and a cyber bully is just that… Whereas one can literally see the damage they cause to their victim or victims, the other has no idea how much damage they are causing. On the other hand, I might be being too kind and understanding, it is just possible that in their minds eye they do know exactly how much hurt and anxiety they cause and simply don’t care.

For me the old adage “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is perfectly true, I have a T shirt with the words Writ Big, “ WARNING This Turkey Shoots Back !

Trouble is not every one is like me, not everyone can see these sad twisted little people for what they are. Pathetic human rejects that forever will remain on the fringes of humanity where their only pleasure comes from haunting the dark corners of the internet sniping at others from the shadows.

These cowards care little who they hit, they never see the consequences of their actions, so why lose any sleep over it ?

However it is way past time the owners and controllers of the, so called. Social Media took responsibility and started to throw light into these dark corners. There are many, many good and logical reasons why a person may wish to hide their true identity from the vast internet world and not to make personal information too public. Although having said that shouldn’t there be a way where the internet can accurately identify, and therefore hold to account anyone for their on line actions ?

Daily we see and hear hundreds of examples of Twitter and FaceBook attacks on people, where someone has become the victim of a humiliating image or hurtful comment going viral. Some victims of such vile acts have gone on to take their own lives.

True instant access to the internet these days has eliminated the time we had for second thought nowadays anyone who feels slighted in any way just has to share it with the world in a Tweet, often regretting their stupidity a few seconds later !

I hope the cyber bullies out there read this, or if you know one, please feel free to send them a copy or post this where the moron can read it. I’d love to hear from them explaining, if they can, why they do what they do, how it makes them feel and so on. I’d love to know.

I would also like to remind them what Thumper’s father told him, “ If you can’t say somthin’ nice then don’t say nothin’ at all”.

For a group of people that go around preaching Love and Goodwill to all men, especially at this time of year, I find certain groups of religious fanatics don’t appear to have read that part of their scriptures.

Since proclaiming myself a Pagan, and writing about my research into the origins of religion and the birth of organised religions the amount of abuse that is tossed my way is frankly quite staggering.

When I claim not being able to understand why the three main religions have their original belief structure based upon the first five books of the same Bible, and all believe in the same single God why their modern day followers seem to think their God is the one true God and somehow claim exclusive rights !

Plus having the same basic starting point and all apparently accept the ten basic commandments why then do some think it acceptable to kill the followers of the other religions in the name of the same God ?

Also I can no longer understand why the followers of the Jewish faith still have trouble accepting the character Jesus Christ a Messiah, after all they had been praying for one for ages to help liberate them from the oppression of the Egyptians and Romans.   Now they have liberated themselves from those forces, while the Christians patiently wait for the second coming, are the Jews still waiting for the  first ?

Anyway, in response to some of the  Christian Hate mail and comments, please see that I am not alone in my research and reasoning that the true birth of all you think you believe in is a lot older than you were told…. Now ask yourself Who lied to me and more importantly….. WHY ?

Pagan 4


Pagan 3

Anyway however you choose to celebrate at this time of year, and whatever reason you chose can we all agree to be more tolerant of each other and try to…….  Celebrate

As Christmas Approaches…

December 9, 2014

Pagan

The Pagan celebration of Winter Solstice (also known as Yule) is one of the oldest winter celebrations in the world.

Our ancient ancestors were hunter gatherers and spent most of their time outdoors and as such the seasons and weather played a very important part in their lives. So it is not too surprising to learn that our ancestors had a great reverence for, and some even worshipped the sun.

The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons. It was from the word for this wheel, houl, from which we believe the word Yule is derived. At mid-winter the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale.

The pre Christian Romans also held a festival to celebrate the rebirth of the year. Saturnalia ran for seven days from the 17th of December. It was a time when the ordinary rules were turned upside down. Men dressed as women and masters dressed as servants. The festival also involved decorating houses with greenery, lighting candles, holding processions and giving presents.

The Winter Solstice falls on the shortest day of the year, now the 21st December but before the calendar was adjusted this would have been the 25th and was celebrated in Britain long before the arrival of the Romans or Christianity. The Druids (Celtic priests) would cut the mistletoe that grew on the oak tree and give it as a blessing. Giant Oak tree were seen as sacred and the winter fruit of the mistletoe was seen as a potent symbol of life in the darkest of the winter months.

It was also the Druids who began the tradition of the Yule log. The Celts thought that the sun stood still for twelve days in the middle of winter and during this time a log was lit to conquer the darkness, banish evil spirits and bring luck for the coming year.

A casual look around will show that many of these customs are still followed today, now incorporated into the Christian and secular celebrations of Christmas for so long many Christians accept them as being of Christian invention.

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Fire, light and evergreens

Pre-Christian, northern societies used to enliven the dark days of the winter solstice with a celebration of fire, light and jollity, to create relief in the season of nature’s dormancy and to hurry along the renewal of springtime.

Further south in the Mediterranean regions it was believed that the Sun God lived for but one year, born on the 25th December and childlike grew in strength as the year advanced until waning into old age as the winter approached. Like many Gods the Sun God Mithras was born of a virgin and in pre Christian artworks is often depicted carrying a lamb.

Therefore it is not too difficult to see the similarities between the Sun God Mithras and the Biblical descriptions attributed to Jesus, from the Sun God to the Son of God.

No one knows when Jesus was born, again because the calendar has been messed around with several times, a month added here and there, days added and or taken away. Additionally, a fact often ignored by the faithful, is that two thousand years ago no one kept track of births, or deaths of the poor so it became easy for the leaders of organized religion to pretty much say what they wanted, who was going to argue ?

For the record it was around 340AD when Pope Julius the first officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December, after all this period was already a period of celebration why not just hijack it and make it your own ? After all I doubt the people were going to let anyone take away the Winter Solstice party.

Over time the early church tried their damndest to outlaw and banish Pagan practices wherever possible. Where they couldn’t they just took over the established Pagan festivals and claimed them as their own. As a quick aside, anyone ever wondered why the dates of Easter wander around so much ? One set birthday but the supposed day of his death is all over the place ???? ( PS Easter Eggs and the Easter Bunny are Pagan as well ).

The tradition of decorating the home with native evergreens is a truly ancient one, since early pre religious times evergreens have been valued for their ability to retain signs of life in the middle of winter – even in some instances producing berries and flowers.

Early Christians retained the Pagan tradition of displaying evergreen plants in the home in winter to Pagans this symbolized the promise of coming life in the depth of winter, later adapted by Christians to symbolize, everlasting life.

Holly, ivy and evergreen herbs such as bay and rosemary were the most commonly used, all with symbolic meanings that were familiar to our ancestors. Rosemary, for remembrance, and bay, for valour, are still well known. Holly and ivy were a particularly popular combination, the holly traditionally thought to be masculine and ivy feminine, giving stability to the home.

A kissing-bough was often hung from the ceiling. This would consist of a round ball of twigs and greenery, decorated with seasonal fruit, such as apples. This was the precursor to a bunch of mistletoe, under which no lady could refuse a kiss. Mistletoe was sacred to the Druids and was once called ‘All Heal’. It was thought to bring good luck and fertility, and to offer protection from witchcraft.

In the medieval period, the Yule log was ceremoniously carried into the house on Christmas Eve, and put in the fireplace of the main communal room. Often decorated with greenery and ribbon, it was lit with the saved end of the previous year’s log and then burnt continuously for the Twelve Days of Christmas, providing much needed light and warmth.

So please, as you prepare the feast, wrapping up all the presents and placing them beneath a living tree brought into your house especially for the occasion. As you are kissing loved ones under the mistletoe and hanging a holly wreath upon your door you are in fact celebrating the Winter Solstice with us Pagans….
What’s missing ?

At what point the Christians did away with the final orgy that ended the celebration is unclear…. No wonder the Romans didn’t get on with them !

Celebrate

Lest We Forget

November 6, 2014

Banner

Yet again we approach that special day when we remember all those who have made and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice in defence of the Free World the vast majority take so much for granted.

The Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month, the time and date we set aside to honour the fallen with two minutes silence.

This year, 2014, marks the 100th Anniversary of the start of what was to eventually become World War One. The War they dubbed the War to end all Wars, and looking back on the horrors of those years so it should have been.  Yet even as you read this we realise how forlorn a hope that was as one hundred years later mans only achievement seems to be how to kill our fellow humans with more efficiency.

Of course as dark as Man’s past and possible future looks there are always tiny rays of hope, events that try, against all the odds stacked against them, to bring the message of how wasteful of life War can be.

tower from river

As any visitor to our fair land and Capital city will recognise this is the Tower of London, a symbol of our illustrious violent past if ever one was needed, yet this year this very symbol of War has been handed over to message of remembrance that I hope will live for a long time in the hearts of all who see it.

Poppy flow

Since August this year the Tower’s famous moat has slowly been filling up with ceramic poppies, created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins with the setting created by stage designer Tom Piper.  The plan is that by Remembrance Day the moat will be filled with 888,246 poppies, each poppy representing a British military fatality during the First World War.

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Eventually the poppies started to encircle the iconic landmark, creating not only a spectacular display visible from all around the Tower but also a location for personal reflection.  All of the poppies will be sold off and the money raised shared equally amongst six service charities.

I will say no more as these pictures say it so much better than I ever could.

Kate William and Harry

That’s Kate and William strolling with Harry through the poppies.

Scale 3

Tower aerial

The Tower from above before ……

Tower aerial 2

and After……..

One

One of the 888,246 that will fill the moat.

Chelsea Pensioner

Please, if you are as passionate as this as I am about Remembering  I would appreciate  a few Re Blogs.

Notes in a Bottle.

July 28, 2014

milkman 1

There exists amongst us an ever growing group of people who will never know the glorious days before technology took over and blighted our lives. For the rest of us it is possible to look back with a tearful eye and mourn a slower pace and a life much quieter than it is now.

We have always been able to tell the time of day, not necessarily to the exact minute, or in some cases, even the exact hour, but way back then it was not really all that important. You got up when there was enough useful light to see by and you went to bed when it got too dark to do anything useful.

Not until the coming of the Railways was it even necessary to have the standardised time we have today. Until then, the fact that the sun rose and set at different times, depending upon which side of the country you were, never entered anyone’s mind.

Back in those early days of industrialisation and mass production mills, the average worker could not afford a time piece of any sort, especially an alarm clock, so the mill owner would employer “Knocker’s Up,” a man with a long stick and a loud voice who would walk the streets knocking on upstairs windows to rouse the workers.

This, of course, was in the day’s pre steam and the invention of the factory whistle, which could be heard all over the town.

Other services from those days that we took very much for granted there was the Postman delivering mail, sometimes up to three times a day. Or how out the man who delivered the milk to our doorsteps ?

bottles

When I was a child, living in a big city, our street was like a deep valley with huge four storey tenement buildings on both sides of the street. Our milk was delivered on a horse and cart where the horse was so used to the milk round that it would move on a few paces every few minutes, without command. Except on Fridays that is, Friday was collection day which obviously took the man longer per building and every now and again he would find his horse and cart( called a milk float) in the next street.

It was remembering those happy days of yore that reminded me about something else and that was the many notes that were found stuffed into the necks of the empty bottles.

As lovers of the English language, like me, I feel sure you will find some, if not all, of these amusing.
milkmen

Milkman, please close the gate behind you because the birds keep pecking the tops off the milk.

Dear milkman: I’ve just had a baby, please leave another one.

Sorry not to have paid your bill before, but my wife had a baby and I’ve been carrying it around in my pocket for weeks.

Please leave an extra pint of paralysed milk.

No milk today. Please do not leave milk at No. 14 either as he is dead until further notice.
From now on please leave two pints every other day and one pint on the days in between, except Wednesdays and Saturdays when I don’t want any milk.

Please don’t leave any more milk. All they do is drink it.

Milkman, please could I have a loaf but not bread today.

Please cancel milk. I have nothing coming into the house but two sons on the dole.

Sorry about yesterday’s note. I didn’t mean one egg and a dozen pints, but the other way round.

When you leave my milk please knock on my bedroom window and wake me because I want you to give me a hand to turn the mattress.

Please knock. My TV’s broken down and I missed last night’s football match. If you saw it, will you tell me what happened over a cup of tea?

My daughter says she wants a milkshake. Do you do it before you deliver or do I have to shake the bottle?

Please send me details about cheap milk as I am stagnant.

Please send me a form for cheap milk, for I have a baby two months old and did not know about it until a neighbour told me.

Milk is needed for the baby. Father is unable to supply it.

My back door is open. Please put milk in ‘fridge, get money out of cup in drawer and leave change on kitchen table in pence, because we want to play bingo tonight.

Please leave no milk today. When I say today, I mean tomorrow, for I wrote this note yesterday.

Milkman please put the coal on the boiler, let dog out and put newspaper inside the screen door. P.S. Don’t leave any milk.

Cancel one pint after the day after today.

There is no longer a need to place a brick on top of the bottles the cat that was ripping off the tops was run over yesterday.

And Finally: Just in case you still don’t understand why we loved our Milk Roundsman……

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