Monday, 24 November 2014

Autumn Tears


Peaceful. Colourful. Serene. Melancholy

Spending a fair amount of time out in the (partial) wilderness of lakes around Hampshire has made me realise my love for Autumn increases with each passing year.

The earthy smells of freshly sprinkled rain, whose tender drops bounce off my chilled hands and onto discarded leaves, like some lost but cherished memories, scattered forever into the mud.

It's strange how good and bad memories both bring sadness. Sadness for the eternal trauma bad memories inflict on us, and sadness for the good memories we can't re-live and reclaim.

The gentle chill, easily made bearable and comfortable with appropriate clothing, gives the opportunity to observe first hand how nature, in it's cyclical, infinite and well-rehearsed routine, prepares to batten down the hatches for winter.

The hurried feeding of ducks, swans and all kind of fauna, as they prepare for a frugal winter and the scarcity of natural  food, reminds me of shoppers preparing for Christmas.

It is also a time of year when I miss most the loved ones who have gone, forever, from my life.

I don't know why autumn has such a melancholy effect on me, but it does. I guess it is because I feel the aging process of the year, reaching its finality, as a reflection of the relentless march forward of my own life, towards my eventual and personal demise.

And a song is on repeat-play in my head. A beautiful song by Justin Hayward, whose words are etched permanently in my mind.

The summer sun is fading as the year grows old...

Through autumn's gown we used to kick our way. You always loved this time of year
Those fallen leaves lie undisturbed now...because you're not here.

A gentle rain falls softly on my weary eyes, as if to hide a lonely tear...


Friday, 14 November 2014

Autumn Leaves... somber, yet excited in anticipation for Christmas.

The lights, the shopping, the smells, the days off work, the music and socialising makes it my favourite holiday period. The further I move away from all things religious, the more I dread the possible eventual demise of this most precious pagan winter festival.

Jingle bells, Santa Claus caricatures plastered everywhere, mould wine and many other treats to look forward to. 

I love Christmas.

As for the virgin  birth, well...imagine nowadays young Mary coming home and telling her parents she's pregnant but...hasn't had sex!

She wouldn't be visited by three wise men either, but more likely the Social Services. And if she were unlucky enough to have been born into a religious fundamentalist culture in the Middle East (as she was according to myth) she'd get stoned without needing a visit from her pusher..

Had this whole sorry saga actually happened, can you imagine the rumours that would have swept through sleepy Nazareth! The evil whispers and nasty gossip!

"Hey Joseph, I hear your young spouse hath a bun in the oven madeth not with your ingredients"

And "what if the child is born black? What with Mary and thou being 100% Aryan and all..."

But I guess back then Joseph would have consulted with one of the many prophets doing the rounds in the Middle East at the time (and there were dozens) who would have probably encouraged the storage of hair samples of all three of them, in the then modern invention of clay jugs, for future DNA paternity tests.

I feel sorry for Joseph, and not just because we share the same name but because he didn't even get to sample the pleasures of having sex with Mary, yet had to help change nappies, night feeds and all the laborious duties of parenthood.

Today, a similar situation would raise a few eyebrows, yet so many believe that back in the unforgiving and ultra-strict dark ages that's exactly what happened! And Mary escaped unscathed.

Back then society must have been one of two things;

1) Extremely tolerant (no chance)

2) Incredibly gullible (no doubt)

Just like some backward societies across vast swaths of the the present-day world.

At least back in the biblical times people had no access to the Internet and illiteracy was the norm. 

What excuses are there today?

None that spring to mind.


Friday, 5 September 2014

Dialogue Of The Man In The Mirror

"Why the long face, the lost little boy look?"

"Just pensive and retrospective, that's all"

"Unlike you 'Mr Life-is-Wonderful'!"

"Yes I know, but..."

"But what?"

"Recently and out of the blue I came across a short video-clip of her on social media and it has left me...thinking, wondering,, slightly off kilter"

"Ah ah, still delving in the past then, are you?"

"In a way. You see, memories came flooding back watching her. I felt the dull ache of emotion and longing in my chest."

"Understandable but unhealthy if you ask me"

"Yeah. I know. Somehow the passing of time isn't helping me"

"Does she know how you feel? Do you want her to know how you feel?"

"I guess not. The last thing I want is to cause her any discomfort"

"Then you must keep it to yourself. Don't tell her. And don't blog about it"

"Yeah but you know I blog about all that is relevant in my life. And what if she feels the same? That would be a terrible missed opportunity, surely!"

"Well tell her then, but I doubt she'll even listen"

"You see, the way she spoke seemed so...familiar. Familiar not as in routine and mundane but more as in utterly endearing. And from a photo I also noticed a distant look in her eyes. A look tinged with a hint of sadness and uncertainty"

"Maybe that's you wishful-thinking. What are you doing looking at photos of her anyway?"

" Never mind why. Could be wishful thinking. But I wanted to run to her, hug her and reassure her. To touch her and love her as I had done before. To share her pleasure and her pain and wipe away her tears"

"You're in deep shit Mr Positive"

"And not for the first time either. I know I was at times the cause of some of her uncertainty. For that I am eternally sorry. Sorry also for being distracted and blinded by the dazzling flame of adventure and excitement.The adventure of a new beginning that soon turned into the demise of something special. Something that shouldn't have ceased to exist. There was no real reason then, which is the more baffling"

"Leave yesterday in the past. If you live in your emotional past you'll miss out in the present and jeopardise your future"

"I know. It's not a case of regretting anything either. More a case of still loving someone I should no longer love"

"Then stop loving her. I very much doubt she still loves you anyway. Stop wasting your time with the past"

"I've heard that piece of advice before and always thought it to be somewhat shallow and  inadequate. Feelings can't be controlled, manipulated or doctored on a whim. Not by me"

"You and your 'unrequited love' nonsense surfacing again...and again. Same old, same old"

" I want her to know how I feel. I don't want her to think I have ulterior motives brought on by the present spell of self-induced solitude"

"But you know she'll think that's the case, don't you?"

"Yes, but the reason lies deeper than you think.  I've had ample time to re-evaluate my past actions. Time to reflect upon my journey and all the right and wrong turns I took. Time to take stock and accept responsibility. Time alone to ponder "

"You've always been one to bleed wilfully and joyfully. A sucker for punishment, if you ask me"

"Indeed dear friend, indeed. To bleed one needs only to be alive"

"Best let bygones be bygones. All that was yesterday"

"Yes, yesterday. The same yesterday that inflicted wounds that won't heal"


Sunday, 3 August 2014

Tomorrow's People

Tomorrow's people will not tolerate injustice and prejudice. Nor will they condone violence.

Tomorrow's people are today's children: the privileged generation who have at their disposal all the tools required to build a dignified and fruitful future for themselves.

Today's parents, more than ever before, are better equipped to provide their children with the  adequate guidance, care and resources necessary to ensure their children's effortless rite of passage into tomorrow.

Today's children have access to almost all of human knowledge, past and present, at the touch of a button, or more precisely, a touch on a smart phone's screen.

Today's children need never go to sleep with unanswered questions repeat-playing in their minds; as I had to. No more "ask your dad when he gets home" or "not sure son, ask mum".

I remember the frustration and sense of helplessness when I couldn't get an instant answer to what I considered an important question.

Sometime later mum bought me an encyclopaedia, followed by the biggest dictionary I had ever seen and an Atlas bulky enough to make my young arms ache after five minutes of bedtime reading.  Mum also paid for my weekly editions of Insight and a number of other scientific magazines.

If only my mum could have told me then to "google" it she would have saved herself time and money.

But that was yesteryear.

For my thirteenth birthday mum bought me a Brother Typewriter. The best present ever.

I typed my poems, song lyrics, extracts from books and magazines and just about every thing else that entered my mind. Within weeks I had to ask mum to buy a replacement ribbon; red and black and very messy to instal.

How I loved that typewriter! A love affair that lasted until three years later when I first set eyes on a word processor.

How I miss mum.

Today's children have it very different. No real effort required to learn and feed their curiosity. Instant answers. Short-lived fads and crazes that disappear overnight and with the dawn of something new.

No three year love affair with a typewriter, or an encyclopaedia.

No, I wouldn't swap it.

I am privileged to have belonged to yesterday's young generation. Just as I am privileged to be here today, to bear witness to the incredible advances in technology and lend a helping hand to tomorrow's people.


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

It's a Long Long Way From Tipp To Here

McCarthy's Pub, Fethard, Co Tipperary, Ireland
Catherine, sublime loveliness in the background 
Will she be here tonight?

'Out of town, may not get back in time'

Disappointment descends upon me, and like a cold winter's fog, rendering it impossible to continue scanning the joint, in the vain hope of seeing her if she managed to return on time.

To no avail.

But all the signs were there! Could I have misinterpreted?


The body language, smiles, closeness, were all too real.

Maybe, in the cold light of day, I wasn't quite what she's looking for.

Lately, something appears to be shackling me to solitude. A solitude I neither need nor want.
This 'something' is succeeding in stifling my dreams, extinguishing the flames that burn in every cell of my body; the self-same body that continues to function as it always has and harbours the self-same needs.

This 'something' is cruelly dismissing my desires as I would dismiss any of life's minor obstacles. It is also discarding my needs like they are some surplus, obsolete and irrelevant folly from a time gone by.

As I prepare to board flight 906, the crushing weight of anti-climax adds to the heavy burden of a stuffed-full suitcase. I stumble towards the gate, inhaling powerfully through my nose, in order to take with me the scent of this wonderful land, and, subconsciously trying to fill the empty void growing in the pit of my stomach.

So long bro and sis-in-law, I love you dearly.

So long Ireland, I will return soon; for I love your emerald landscapes, your friendly, inclusive culture, your genuine curiosity for all strangers who cross your path. So long to your fine rural food and world-beating beer. So long to your exquisite accent, the more endearing when spoken by your sparkling, adorable women.

So long Catherine x


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

The Perfect Requiem

I read this article and  immediately wanted to share it with you. It touched me, profoundly.
The kind of eulogy I'd love from my loved ones.

'You want a physicist to speak at your funeral. You want the physicist to talk to your grieving family about the conservation of energy, so they will understand that your energy has not died. You want the physicist to remind your sobbing mother about the first law of thermodynamics; that no energy is created in the universe and none is destroyed. You want your mother to know that all your energy, ever vibration, every BTU of heat, every wave of every particle that was her beloved child remains with her in this world. You want the physicist to tell your weeping father that amid the energies of the cosmos, you gave as good as you got.
And at one point, you'd hope that the physicist would step down from the pulpit and walk to your brokenhearted spouse there in the pew and tell her that all the photons that ever bounced off your face, all the particles whose paths were interrupted by your smile, by the touch of your hair, hundreds of trillions of particles, have raced off you like children, their ways forever changed by you. And as your widow rocks in the arms of a loving family, may the physicist let her know that all the photons that bounced from you were gathered in the particle detectors that are her eyes, that those photons created within her constellations of electromagnetically charged neurons whose energy will go on forever.
And the physicist will remind the congregation of how much of all our energy is given off as heat. There may be a few fanning themselves with their programs as he says it. And he will tell them that the warmth that flowed through you in life is still here, still part of all that we are, even as we who mourn continue in the heat of our own lives.
And you'll want the physicist to explain to those who loved you that they need not have faith; indeed, they should not have faith. Let them know that they can measure, that scientists have measured precisely the conservation of energy and found it accurate, verifiable and consistent across space and time. You can hope your family will examine the evidence and satisfy themselves that the science is sound and that they'll be comforted to know your energy is still around. According to the law of the conservation of energy, not a bit of you is gone. You're just...less orderly. Amen.'
This is a transcript of a speech given by writer and performer Aaron Freeman on NPR News "All Things Considered".


I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Honour Killing: A Most Vile Oxymoron

Social Media is one of the two greatest gifts the Internet has given us.  The other is access to limitless information. It is almost impossible to imagine a world without the Internet.

Thanks to the pioneering work of Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau,  the founders of the World Wide Web, we know carry around smartphones with access to almost all of human knowledge.

Social Media sites are responsible for giving a voice to people around the globe, even those who live in closed societies. And with a voice comes debate, analysis and hopefully, enlightenment.

The more people on the Net, the more likely they will leave religion and discard antiquated cultural pursuits.

The more knowledge available for free, the more superstition and injustice will be eradicated. At least that's what I hope.

The greatest disappointment to me is that the Internet is still limited to only half of the world's population. Just as well the benevolent honchos at Google are intent on changing that fact and are planning to provide a truly global service.

The sooner, the better.

With information-sharing technology comes the daily flood of tragedies and wrong-doings by so-called human beings, to our attention. One particular injustice is "Honour Killing"

Above pictures depict India's crying shame. I must stress this disturbing subject is not unique to India and is reported from many other countries. To those of a delicate disposition I ask not to search Google on this topic, as the content is so abhorrent it is likely to traumatize even the hardiest of men.

These vile acts, often but not always perpetrated against young women, leave me in despair. I simply can't fathom what drives people to such action: to pay for perceived honour with the blood of their own family.

What honour is there among those callous and ignorant barbarians, that makes them kill?

What honour is there among cold-blooded sadistic criminals who have no sympathy or empathy toward their own flesh and blood?

What possible and justifiable honour can there be among those who carry out such vile acts? If they have 'honour' then that word has been hijacked by sick-minded and deluded people.

According to statistics these assassinations are on the increase, or at least as I suspect and hope, an increase in reporting the cases.

The saddest aspect of honour killings is the apparent lack of interest in the part of the authorities of such countries to combat this sickness.

Will the Internet bring education to the remote corners of the world where most of these executions take place? And will it help educate those who commit this most foul of murders?

I certainly hope so.

I can't wait, and neither can all the hapless future victims of this heinous and inhuman 'human value'.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Fragmented World: And I'm Not Referring To Plate Tectonics

Mass immigration from poorer countries to Europe continues to make daily headlines and to bolster membership of the far-right parties of our continent.

It saddens me to think that those poor migrants risk their lives, day in day out, just to reach our shores and the promise of a better life.

From trying to hitch rides in or even under heavy-goods vehicles on the Ceuta-Spain ferry crossing, to attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea in makeshift dinghies, the human tide of despair continues to pound the coast of Southern Europe.

"I have no choice" replied a sub-Saharan young man when asked why he risked his life to get to  Europe.

Another man said  " If I fail tonight I'll try again and again. I'd rather die trying than go back home and wait for death"

It would be good if the whole world took action to help the central African countries that are in disarray, plagued by war, famine and poverty. I know corruption in those states makes it almost impossible to get aid to the needy, but ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away. The West can only stem the tide of  African migration by helping those same countries to prosper and to offer their populations a way out of abject poverty.

A way to help would be to offer more lucrative incentives to European and multi-national companies to set up businesses and production in Africa, as China has started doing recently, albeit for ulterior motives, but that's another story.

Another way would be to provide more direct aid for education and health.  Healthy and educated  populations are much less likely to be enslaved by harmful religion and much more likely to embrace democracy and  justice.

Poverty really is the root of all evil.

And the only winners are the far-right parties whose inadequate and unsympathetic answer is to build more walls,  more segregation and more inequality.  Same old rhetoric.

Extremists of all persuasions, especially those on the far-right, have a knack of never learning from history. For if they did, they'd see the futility of their ideology.

I'd like to ask a neo-Nazi what is the appeal of worshiping someone such as Hitler. A leader who ruled by fear, murdered with impunity and became one of history's biggest losers. He not only lost a war, a country and his wife, but even managed to lose his own life!

Almost the same question I often ask God followers.


Saturday, 24 May 2014

When She's Your Juliette But You're Not Her Romeo

Solitude is therapeutic.

I have had the benefit of solitude's mind-healing remedy over the last three years.

It was a state of mind I had never experienced before. For one reason or another, all my adult life had, until recently, been shared with an intimate partner. Memories I cherish, still vivid in the recesses of my mind, kept alive by increasingly frequent trips to nostalgia-inducing past events.

Oftentimes the seclusion and detachment reaffirms my belief that personal freedom is indeed my most precious commodity, and of incalculable value. But sometimes, especially when the "party" is over and we all go our separate ways, I am overwhelmed by a sense of emptiness and isolation.

It is during those thankfully-infrequent spells that I find my mind wandering through vast expanses of wasteland, where the deafening cacophony of silence sends me crashing into solitary confinement.

Such as last night.

Hours in the presence of beauty, when fun and laughter overflowed and my admiration for a love I can not have, increased tenfold.

The sublimely adorable person I have secretly fallen in love with over the last year, continues to evade me in a way I know to be inevitable, but Yet, I stubbornly refuse to banish from my thoughts.

I can touch her fragrant and gentle hand, but not her heart.

The reality of her not being available, brought me crashing down to earth, again, flailing in protest at life's harsh injustice.

I will have to redirect my attentions, to find someone who is as free as I am and wants to be found, as I do.

Until then, the anguish of unrequited love will continue to cause havoc in my otherwise peaceful existence.

How I would love to steer my passion with reason, as I do all other aspects of life!  To desist from pointless and fruitless pursuits.

Where in the dark recesses of ones mind, does the indulgence of procuring and persevering with destructive self-chosen pain stem from?

Is mental masochism a by-product of empathy and social evolution?

If, as I suspect, it is, what possible benefit can an emotional parasite be to us, mere fragile hosts and willing carriers of such burdens?

Intimate love is, after all, nothing more than friendship with the added bonus of meeting man's undying physiological need to send forth his DNA!

Or is it?

And who am I kidding?

Intimate love may just be much more important to me than that, and sadly, much more than the mere basic mechanics such a union brings.

When I think of her, which is usually once a day but never stops, I know it is much more than a matter of life and death.

Much much more.


Friday, 18 April 2014

Defending The Indefensible

I follow with great interest fellow blogger and ex-Muslim, Narwa, author of  "between a veil and a dark place" and, since her blog doesn't accept comments, I feel the need to reply to her latest post "The racism of the white wolf who cried Islamophobia".

Narwa is a brave young woman with the necessary literary atributes to write about her early life experiences in the Lebanon, in an honest and poignant way, and hence my interest.

A brave woman indeed, considering the inevitable backlash and retribution the evil mullahs dish out to all who dare turn against Islam. Needless to say, it wouldn't be advisable for Narwa to ever set foot again in her home land or any other country shackled to Islam. It wouldn't be safe.

What I find ironic but somehow disconcertingly understandable, is that Narwa still feels the need to defend Islam against Islamophobia.

In my view, everyone should condemn all injustice, and there are no greater injustices than those endorsed by religions.

I was born into the Christian culture but feel no need whatsoever to protect it. I am vehemently opposed to all world religions.

Narwa displays that all too common misconception of  "only I or those who belong can criticise  what's ours". If anyone other than an ex Muslim criticises Islam, Narwa labels it Islamophobia.


Islamophobia is growing, as are the numbers of people around the world leaving their religions and denouncing archaic indoctrination. And that can only be perceived as good news for humanity.

We all know what is fuelling Islamophobia. We all know it is the acts of aggression of some Muslim fundamentalists who are alienating their people from the rest of the world.

We all know that not all Muslims are terrorists but almost all terrorists are Muslim.

We all know that cultures who endorse and live in "An eye for an eye" culture, are relics of the dark ages of humanity and such ways should have long been consigned to the dustbin of history.

As Gandhi once said and I quote; "An eye for an eye makes the world go blind"

We all know what is fuelling Islamophobia and it's not the "racist white wolf" who is merely taking advantage of the present anti-Islam wave to justify its prejudice.

Islamophobia is growing daily due to the increasing abundance of news through the internet's social media depicting Islam as being synonymous with; Misogyny, Intolerance, Aggression, Homophobia, Female Genital Mutilation, Child Marriage, Child Abuse, Slavery and, the most dangerous of all, Sharia Law.

Narwa, it is absurd for you to consider Richard Dawkins as a racist white wolf. He has as much right to speak against the indefensible as you have.

Narwa, I urge you to continue the fight against theism - but don't waste time fighting the minor imperfections of your true allies.

And, lastly, don't let your innate anger "alienate" you from the debate.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Empathy is 'Blurring The Line Between Self And Other'

After a hard day's work and a rush through the friday night traffic I got home around 7pm. By 8:30 I was on my way to Basingstoke for a weekend of socialising with friends and stopped at a Shell station for fuel. When attempting to pay I inserted my debit card in the reader and it was promptly declined. I insisted there were ample funds in the account and suggested the teller tried inserting the card a second time. Declined again.

I asked directions to the nearest cash point and was told of a location 10 minutes walk away. Walk because I was told in no uncertain terms to leave the car at the station.

To say I was annoyed is an understatement. The inconvenience and delay I faced when I was sure it was the station's card reader at fault made it that much more irritating.

As I went to the car to get my jacket a young chap ran out of the shop and called me over. He offered to pay my bill and told me I could transfer the money later.

"But it's a fair amount of money, £42" I replied.

He said "that's Ok, no trouble" .

As we walked back into the shop I gave him my iphone to enter his phone number. We exchanged numbers and he paid my bill. I offered to transfer the money there and then but he said he was running late and on his way to meet his girfriend in Farnham.

James, a person I had never met before was trusting me to the point of incredulity. Despite my insistence he gave me a few minutes to transfer the money he again reitterated how late he was and that I could do that later.

We went our separate ways and I felt humbled and at peace with the world. The selfless act of a total stranger had turned an annoying incident into a pleasent one.

Later that evening, after telling my friends about James' act of kindness, I texted him, thanking him again for his kindness and asked for his bank details.

To my surprise James didn't reply until next morning. This is what he wrote:

"Morning Joe, not a problem at all, doesn't hurt to be human, just hope you got to where you needed to be. (account details) Have a lovely weekend buddy..."

I transferred the money and sent him a message of gratitude, to which he replied:

"thank you Joe, really appreciate that mate, couldn't just leave you stranded. Hope you have a good weekend mate, take care"

I had a wonderful weekend, thanks to James generosity. The prospect of walking through dark alleys in a strange neighbourhood at night in West London to an unknown cashpoint wasn't my idea of a good night out.

James, a stranger who offered to pay my bill so as not leave me stranded, has reinforced my belief in humanity.  Kindness really is all around us.

Thank you James, once again, for being kind, generous, and most importantly, for demonstrating the special human quality I admire the most.



Saturday, 15 February 2014

Facta, Non Verba

This week, social media has been buzzing with the age-old controversial matter of some public figures who have decided to "come out".

Actress Ellen Page's inspirational and emotional speech is doing the rounds on Facebook...

and Michael Sam, to name but a few...

...of the many celebrities who, despite living in modern and civilized societies, still feel the need to announce their sexual preferences in public. It's as if these people have something criminal to confess. They haven't.

This troubles me. A great deal.

Why should anyone, celebrity or not, feel the need to inform the public of their intimate preferences? Is it any one's business?

Why should so many organizations and pressure groups protect and promote the rights of so many minority groups at the expense of other just-as-worthy causes?

Surely, the better option is for all rights groups to merge and work together for the common good.

Strength in numbers.

After all, human rights issues should not be fragmented, diluted, dispersed and separated form each other. We should join forces with all rights groups and create one, multifaceted global movement to promote Human Rights. Unconditional human rights.

We already have the International Court Of Human Rights in Geneva. An organization that would undoubtedly welcome the "coming together" instead of the "coming out" of all human rights pressure groups.

Better still, all Human and Animal Rights.

The rights of gay and lesbian people are no more important than starving children's rights. Or the absent rights of millions of women and children displaced by wars caused by avaricious and megalomaniac men.

How about the rights, or lack of, of so many young girls in cultures that award them less rights than livestock?

Should anyone be so single-minded as to fight against inequality of one kind and not the other? Isn't that promoting a shattered society? Care for some but not for the masses?

If I were a celebrity would I need to announce my preferences in public? Would I need to pronounce my undying preference for women? Especially beautiful ones? Petite and feminine? Hell, no. It would bore the pants off most people if I did so.

But since they're all at it, I may as well come out and show you a photo of my unerring preference...

Tania, a friend from Madeira, graciously exhibits all of my preferences

The danger I foresee with this "coming out" modern phenomena is the marginalization and trivialization of other serious human conditions.

Let's all get together for the rights of all creatures who inhabit our wonderful and diverse planet.

And as the title suggests, Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I'd appreciate your views on this subject - please leave a comment.



Sunday, 26 January 2014

1461 Days Ago...

Four years ago today, lil' bro', you left. Forever.

Life has never been the same.

The sense of utter loss and injustice has not abated nor passed.

I still think of you most days.  And listening to music has become a source of both pain and joy.

Pain because I associate so many songs with you.You loved music. You'd often tell me to check out certain new songs or certain new acts.  I did and was never disappointed.

You loved a lot of different music.  And the music you loved is still being played, almost daily, like a cruel reminder to reinforce the loss I feel.

You loved a lot of people too, Paulo. And countless people loved you.

Life will never be the same without you

The cruel irony of it is that you have, unintentionally, caused me so much pain.  Yet you gave me nothing but boundless joy and unconditional love while here.

I remember when you were one year old and fell ill, victim to some nasty intestinal fever that very nearly cost you your life. I was five then and remember the awful panic when the doctor was called to the house in the middle of the night. But you pulled through.

I wrote this poem when you died. It is important to me. So important in fact that I read it more often than is good for me.

But it brings me closer to you.

The space you filled among us remains empty
The air you breathed is laid to waste
The joy you gave us, no longer flows
The laughter you brought has fallen silent
The love you spread now fills the void in our hearts

The grave you fill now has your selfless attention
And the spring blossom awaits your gift
For the flowers will reflect your essence
With their resplendent colour and fragrant scent

And we will admire the flowers like we admired you
And in our minds and those of our children
Your eternal flame will glow bright and warm
To light up our hours of darkness
and bring comfort to our winters of discontent


See you in my dreams, sweet brother of mine


Saturday, 4 January 2014

Misdirected Anger

Q: Who is the most powerful person in the world?

(I can almost hear the frantic tapping of keyboards attempting to reply to my ambiguous question.)

Is it  Barack Obama - USA?  Vladimir Putin - Russia?   Angela Merkel - Fourth Reich?   Christine Lagarde - IMF?  Ban Ki-Moon - UN?...

Influential, they most certainly are, but all powerful? No no.

I'll come back to that but first let me explain why I've asked the question.

Last week I was in a pub in Ireland, involved in an interesting political debate with friends regarding certain leaders in EU countries who appear to be short-changing their voters. The imposition of austerity measures by some governments to get the economy on an even keel are causing unjust hardship to the most vulnerable in society; the elderly the poor and the sick. The real truth is that all of society suffers.

We were referring in particular to Portugal's leader, Pedro Passos Coelho;

Pedro Passos Coelho 

I went on to argue the case for Pedro who, despite having the right intentions and boundless integrity, is so politically impotent that he should be exonerated of all blame regarding the state of the Portuguese economy.

Pedro's impotence stems from the fact that he has to first accept the collective decisions of his cabinet ministers, then accept the directives from the European Union - Brussels -  to whom his country is eternally contracted (shackled) to, and Brussels in turn follows the path that they, along with the International Monetary Fund, have set in motion.

In democratic systems no single leader has total power. Be it good or bad, that is what the voters have chosen. Democracy.

Democracy is not perfect, it just happens to be the best and fairest political system ever devised.

Our debate ended when Claudia made this interesting observation;

"If Pedro is impotent how come he's fucking so many people?"

Fair point.

In answer to the original question of this post, the first non democratic leader that came to mind who'd probably fit the bill of most powerful, was Xi Jinping - the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, President of the People's Republic of China and...wait for it...Chairman

of the Central Military Commission of China.

But even Xi Jinping, despite his mighty powerful position, has to bow to a certain amount of pressure and consensus from the six Politburo Committee Chairmen that form his cabinet.

So, the title surely has to go the megalomaniac leader who wastes his country's very limited resources  on his lavish life-style and in building a nuclear arsenal - while half the population goes undernourished. The world's number one despot, who answers to no one but is capable of starting a world war, is...Kim Jong-un


The inappropriate anger we direct at leaders such as Obama, Cameron, Passos Coelho, Merkel and many others for their inability to carry out promises spewed out in attempts to get elected, should be put in perspective.

To all those who misdirect their anger at their leaders I say

'Like it or Lump it.'

The only alternative is to follow the example of the German people who, in 1933, democratically elected Hitler, the dictator who in turn became the biggest loser in history.

Is that an alternative worth considering? Or should we learn the lessons from history and avoid repeating the same mistakes?