The Dark Man

I recently posted this to a writing site on facebook. It was deleted. So I made some changes, deleted the one bad word and substituted it with ****. It was deleted again.

Being a sometime ‘literary’ writer I like to work on the edges of darkness, and comment on society. There are many books much darker and much worse than this, and they are sold commonly in bookstores and online. They are what I would call the ‘serious’ novels. The ones you may not fully understand at the time, that might be a bit uncomfortable to read, but that does not mean that a site dedicated to writers and writing should delete a post arbitrarily.

I’m posting the piece I posted on my writers site page here in the hope that I can get some comment on it. It is allegory, and will of course reveal a political/social meaning.

I don’t care if my serious books don’t sell. There is very little room in the market these days for serious work. Huxley, Orwell, etc don’t sell. They are books that people SAY they have read, (1984, The Doors To Perception, etc) but really they read only the synopsis, or worse, watch the movie. BUT new serious books simply do not sell anymore. Because adult colouring books, recipe books, and children’s books along with romance and erotica for women take up much of the market.

Anyway, here’s the WIP (work in progress for those who don’t know the acronym.) Please comment. Good or bad, you won’t be deleted. Unless of course you are just selling something!

 

The Dark Man. (A dark novel)

This man, he’s wearing a black homburg hat. His coat, a black greatcoat, heavy, resists the bitter wind and responds only to the movement of his feet. His feet. He is wearing patent leather shoes in spite of the gnarly weather. The howling wind, and sluicing rain affect him not at all.
The hat hides his face, though he walks without head bent into the slicing, ice rain.
He is the Dark Man. The man of my nightmares. Even in plain sight, he gathers shadows around him.
He crosses the street against the lights. The world moves in slow motion. There is no blaring of horns. The traffic appears to be unaware of his presence and he crosses without incident. There is a girl, waiting at the crossing for the green man. As he passes he gives the appearance of waving slightly. She looks up from the driving rain and he shoots her in the face. There is no loud retort. The gun is silenced. The man in the homburg and heavy greatcoat continues on his way in no hurry. The girl has fallen to the ground and a torrent of blood runs into the gutter. The street is awash with people, all walking heads bent. No one hears the slight crinkly pop. No one sees the man in the homburg and the greatcoat except me.
I am standing in the doorway of a closed cafe waiting to bump into a stranger and skim their credit cards. The man in the homburg and the heavy greatcoat and patent leather shoes is not my business. I am afraid of him. She is dead. Completely. There is no point in my sprinting across the road to render assistance. The Dark Man has gone before the girl screams. She is with her young man. He holds an umbrella over her, bowing to an old age of chivalry. I imagine his face turning white. He is dressed well, in a Burberry coat, she, in a long, but lightweight black Ann Demeulemeester hooded raincoat. She screams and screams and screams. I wish I were on their side of the street. I smell money on them even at this distance and fumble with my pocket skimmer wondering whether I should take the chance. The chance is not worth it and I merge further into the doorway. The man is now raising a cell to his cheek. I would have expected ear buds. He talks frantically. He wants to wave and gesticulate, but he gallantly holds the umbrella over his love, perhaps afraid that she might wash away in the deluge never to be penetrated again by his ardour.
Then the street is awash with lights, blue and red, flashing and strobing so that I must look away lest I engage in an epileptic fit.
A businessman in a felt Dress Hat hurries on my side of the street. I step out and bump into his chest, holding my small skimmer like a cellphone against his inside breast pocket. I assume he is right handed. “Did you see that?” His voice is excited and afraid. “Yes.” I say, smoothing him down, calming him. Checking his pockets. “There is nothing to be done. Be calm. You might yet have a heart attack. Be calm.”
The businessman smiles briefly, a smile as watery as the weather. “Yes. Yes. Of course. Thank you.” We speak only briefly, but he quiets sufficiently to thank me again and then shuffles off, perhaps to his office to ponder the incident. Perhaps to his wife to engage her in the detail and huddle together naked in fear of a world gone insane.

2.
Beauchamp is waiting at home. She corrects people when they say Bow Champ. “Beecham” She says. She is readying for work. She has just spent money on a curved duty belt, designed for the female anatomy. It does not dig into the hips. She checks her sidearm and her ASP. They need to be quickly accessible. Then she checks her cuffs. We share an apartment but not a bed. Sometimes I think of raping her, but the way she looks at me it would not be rape. It would not excite. We remain chaste. I do not bring women home. Beauchamp suspects that I am gay and I do not disavow. She absently checks her glock for the second time. I have learned that it can load both 9mm and .40 calibre. She wears a light cotton blouse with a pocket over each breast. She asks me to fasten the flap over each pocket. The little black buttons are small and I spend a little value time fumbling each one. Her nipples are like teats, long and rubbery. My fingernails scratch each one lightly while I tend to her dress. Each small intake of breath generates a lightning rod directly to her cunt. Her eyes take on an almost imperceptible squint. She thinks I don’t see, or perhaps care. But I see everything. After all, was it not I alone who observed that casual murder by the man with the homburg and greatcoat? Who shot the girl in the face. A sliver of fear suggests this may be true.
“Fix me?” Beauchamp sits backwards on a simple kitchen chair. Her legs splayed. Her arms along the topmost spindle. Her chin on her arms. She lives two lives. That of the soft, tactile, scented maiden. That of the tight, wound up, disciplined, strict administrator of the law no matter her personal opinions. I am the vice. Ah! You think I mean vice! “Come on! Fix me! I’m going to be late again!” The fixing begins. Taking heavy full-bodied red hair, separating out hanks. Slowly. The feel of hair is silk on silk. A synapse ignites a wish to feel it on exposed, but yet hidden skin.
The hanks are plaited over-tight. Extreme. Beauchamp squints, but she wants it to be like this. When finished she will coil it against her skull. Hands now upon her shoulders. She is tight. Coiled up. Then gone. Behatted and wearing dark glasses.

3
The computer is shared. Beauchamp locks up a few folders but her porn history is effortless to access. TOR takes precedence. USB connects the skimmer and for a while at least, there is cash in the wallet. Beauchamp’s porn is of the romantic preference. Simple and naïve. Women may instigate. She is however, a cheat. A thief. She has downloaded copyright material. Copyright exists in the work. Porn too. When/if I decide to rape her, the camera will record and upload.
Beauchamp is good at what she does. She takes her training seriously. Each weekend we go together to the range to use handguns. She has a broad knowledge of such things. She can make her own ammunition. There are two assault rifles in a combination safe under her bedroom carpet. Lumicyano and a camera opens the safe. Her fingerprints are easily read. There are sex toys too, but of the simple, non-extreme kind. One of them entices me. A latex vibrating butterfly with a wireless remote control. Intriguing.
There should be something about the murder on the television. Channel surfing finally finds an item on Fox. The place, the time is right. Only one man comes forward for the camera. It is the man I skimmed. “The SUV came around that corner.” Pointing. “Had these big wing mirrors. Like the ones you use if you’re hauling a caravan. “Slammed her right in the face! Man! It was horrible.” He pauses as if deciding if he should continue. He does. “I was so busy watching that I bumped into someone . I said did you see that, and they said yes.” His description was naturally way off. My hair is red, not blonde. My long hair was under my woollen hat. It was blue, not black. My hat that is. I am confused because not only can he not give an account as to my looks there is no hatted man. I am not surprised with his description of my person. I however, saw no SUV at all. I saw what I saw. I saw a man in a homburg and greatcoat. His gun was a 9mm Beretta 92FS. There is little recoil. Even at distance handguns are familiar. Beauchamp is a remarkable teacher and a remarkable shot.
When Beauchamp works nights, I watch a little TV, often falling asleep in my chair. The channels are repeating the same old garbage. Rambo 111, Lethal Weapon, Back to the Future 2. Stallone, Willis, Mel Gibson, and Michael J Fox. They have become bores.
I settle on Lethal Weapon. It is better than the others and the shopping channels. The news channels make no mention of the man in the hat. Perhaps I was mistaken in the drowning rain. Even though it was daylight, the sky was crowded with low black clouds. A dark day, a dark man, and I in a dark mood. Of course. The evil thoughts about Beauchamp disperse. Overproof rum aids the disconnect. She is a sweet girl who still believes in the innate goodness of humanity. When the sun shines we walk together in the parks and the city. She is without parents, but has a sister in Boston. Her sister is married to an accounts manager in advertising. They have two children and a dog called spot. They are without imagination. The dog is a Dalmatian. The children, named Britney and John. I presume Spears and Lennon as their inspiration.
Soon sleep intervenes and the rattling, pounding gunshots through the big sound system fade into nothing at all. Dreams offer surcease from dark thoughts.
4

It is convenient that Beauchamp works the night shift. She cleans the gutters. Establishes rapport with the club crowd. Removes the detritus. “Laws are made,” she says, “for decent folk.” A balance in credit, or a large loan from a credited bank supports a request for identification. Resisted at first by a certain crowd. Batons and shields prevail and there IS acceptance in the main. The few who continue to protest are shot. Then there are no protesters. The rest? They hide in dark places and steal or starve. There are no soup kitchens to feed the homeless. Bringing them out into the open to thieve does the trick. The night is dangerous. The television channels favour action movies at night. They cover the sound of shots, body vans. Wailing sirens and human vocal chords. Vagrant babies have their necks quickly snapped. They rarely cry.
It is early days still. They say that as time passes the night will be reclaimed for consumption.
Cards now are issued only by The Bank. A delightful bonus for we who extract our livelihoods from unprotected chips. Entire lives embedded into a piece of plastic. Medical records, tax file numbers. The beauty of having all one’s eggs in one basket. An undisclosed STD can be of great financial value. It is a perilous craft. The most heinous of crimes partnered only by rape, murder, and homelessness.
At 6am Beauchamp will return, her skin a little more white than is healthy, perhaps with a few spatters of blood, though her training teaches how to avoid blood spatter. There are always accidents and mishaps.
There is an opportunity for complete silence. The apartment is according to federal regulations and is soundproof. The bed is memory foam. Have you ever
been in relaxed repose and listened into total silence? There are voices far, far away. They chitter and shout. Muddled and indistinct they are warning you. Of something.
5.
The President has executed his Senior Advisor. The post is not coveted. She was ‘not pretty enough’, he said to a cowed reporter. He smiled at her. She was from Fox. I have woken to a Breaking News banner and it is 5.30am. Perhaps the sun will shine. The reporter is wondering if not being pretty enough is reason to earn death. The President is Emperor. Only her face asks the question. Probably hopes the President fails to notice. But he is unaware, as he is unaware of all but his power. His lack of awareness extends to his evil.

Advertisements

HOLLAND AMERICA CRASS

HOLLAND AMERICA CRASS AGAIN!

On Tuesday 11th April The Daily Navigator stated on the front cover “Happy Passover”. That evening they had a Passover Dinner. The Cantor did his thing. Our Jewish friends were all very complimentary about it.
After dinner that evening I sat outside and listened to their chat. There were cigars and laughter all around. The cuisine was apparently excellent.
Today, Friday 14th April, Good Friday, the cover of The Daily Navigator was little more than simply crass. “Friday April 14th 2017. Good Friday. AT SEA. Tonights dress. Gala attire”
Gala attire? This is the day our Christ was crucified. There was no mention in the Daily Navigator for those of the passengers who were Roman Catholic. They have mass EVERY Sunday. There was no other mention of any other service for our Catholic friends.
Nor was there any mention of any kind of service for our interdenominational friends. (Which includes ourselves.)
This, in spite of the statement in the WELCOME brochure that “An Interdenominational service is conducted each Sunday and on appropriate religious holidays.”
What did we get? We got “Tonights Dress, Gala Attire”.
There was mention of some kind of ‘Bible Study’ at 2.30pm. Not a single mention of any kind of service to commemorate the crucifixion of Our Lord.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m personally a Buddhist, but there are many many quite aged people on this ship who are not. They deserve better.
I took it upon myself to go to the front desk to issue a complaint on behalf of the many on this ship who commemorate Good Friday in contemplation and prayer. Could the company not have suggested instead of “Gala Dress” which is entirely offensive, “Formal Dress”. Crass is company policy on this shipping line.
I have to say that the young Filipino gentleman on the front desk, as I made my complaint made no attempt to hide his own shock and singular offense at this utterly crass attitude. He was a young Catholic, and fully understood my quiet ire at the company.
The Zaandam had a Rabbi/Cantor on board. A Volunteer and unpaid. There is a Chaplain. (Volunteers.) What is the problem? Can’t they even begin to understand that many many of the older people on board this ship commemorate the crucifixion or Our Lord?
It will be interesting to see what happens on Easter Sunday, when He was resurrected!
I will keep you posted.

This afternoon we sat and watched the lines of traditional C of E and ‘other’ traditionalists trying to find something to eat. There were some rather floppy fish fillets that looked entirely unappetizing. There were few takers. Most settled for an egg and lettuce sandwich and a bowl of fruit salad.
And so…. Bible studies at 2.30 in the Wajang Theatre on deck 4. Our Chaplains, Nathan and Cindy were nice people. Dedicated, but evangelical. Not the traditionalists we had hoped for. We stayed around and listened to a very interesting talk from Nathan, followed by prayers. It wasn’t what we needed, and there was a sense of emptiness even after talking for a good twenty minutes with Nathan. Cindy helped. Oh! Look! They were nice people. Very nice people, and completely dedicated. But tradition was not a part of their way. They were very Texan. Very American. Very evangelical.
We made our point. They apologized, but honestly there was really nothing they could do. Holland America has cut their staff numbers. There is no longer a traditional Chaplain on board to hold services.  Holland America has cut more than these simple services. The crew have been cut to the bone, and there is no longer any cohesion. Cindy and Nathan too, were shocked to hear that the C of E, Methodist, and Calathumpians were trotting from one side of the servery to the other in a constant line dance, looking for some worthy sustenance.
The problem now with Holland America is that crew are deserting a ‘sinking ship,’ pun intended, and going to the better quality cruise lines like Crystal etc. (Thirty six days on the Zaandam became Hell itself after day fourteen.)  It makes sense to them. They don’t have to work so hard because they are short-handed. (Some work a full seven days, though this would not be admitted officially.) The ships are smaller and this makes for smaller gratuities. Many of the other lines do not charge gratuities extra, but include them in the price of the cruise. Holland America charge for beverages, alcohol (expensive) and don’t forget the twelve dollars a day per person gratuities. (You can opt out and pay the people you want to later.) They charge a service charge for your wine in the restaurant. But that’s another blog!
On the whole, Good Friday was a dreadful disappointment. We looked forward to a few rousing choruses of “Immortal Invisible God Only Wise” and “He Who Would Valiant Be.” Finishing with a swaying “For Those In Peril On The Sea.” That, after a quiet sermon from Mark 23. (Look it up! Stop asking me to give you chapter and verse!)
Oh well, let’s just see what Easter Sunday brings.

Good Friday April 14th 2017 Graham Whittaker.

Categories: an eclection

HOLLAND AMERICA TAKES THE PISCO

HOLLAND AMERICA: TAKING THE PISCO?

I’ll keep this short I promise. It’s not often that I advertise any company more than once (or twice maybe) in my blog. BUT. (Oh! Here we go again with another BUT…)
Here’s the rub. We are currently in Peru. Yesterday, before cruising overnight to Lima, we had a day at another port. The Daily Navigator, the information paper about what is going on and where we are going, was delivered the day before and it said we were going to a place called PISCO.
Come the morning, the first shuttle bus arrived, and the second, and the third, and the fourth, fifth and sixth. People were heading ashore from as early as 8am. We tend to be late wanderers. Being independent travellers we tend to wait until the markets and cafes are open, so it was about about 10.30am when we sauntered into the Ocean Lounge to get our shuttle tickets.
We sat waiting patiently and quietly until an American lady came to the counter and asked why we were being told we were heading for El Chaco, a twenty five minute drive away over stunning desert scenery. Then a second person, an Australian said “Look, you advertise that we are going to Pisco, and we are going to somewhere else. What’s the score?”
Fascinated, we watched the interchange and the increasing ire of the passengers, who mostly believed that they would be ferried by bus to Pisco. “Oh..” Said one of the girls, with a blithe wave of her arm. “We are going to El Chaco. If you want to go to Pisco, you will have to take a taxi from El Chaco. It’s about another thirty five minutes. It costs about twenty five dollars.” (US.)
OK, hey, that’s not right! I stood for the American and the Australian. “You advertise Pisco. You’ve said nothing to all those people who have already gone ashore, and now you say, when you are questioned about it that you are not going to Pisco. Not on!”
Things got a bit restless. Passengers began to drop their shuttle tickets on the counter in anger and decide not to go ashore.
Eventually a small mutiny was beginning, and the word quickly got around that no, we were not going to go to Pisco, but only to El Chaco. To be told that we would have to negotiate a taxi ride to Pisco was salt in the wound.
Some people (me included) were not going to let this little piece of misrepresentation go away easily.
Down came Ryan the location guide who tried to placate the muttering crowd, and doing a bad job of it. Our number, 27 was going to be another 40 minutes or so and the American lady with number 20 offered up her ticket and refused to go ashore. She had her heart set on Pisco, and already her day was ruined.
Ryan, glib as usual tried cover up. Holland America do a lot of covering up apparently. “Our shuttle schedule was changed this morning without us being informed.” He said. I laughed a little sarcastically. This cruise is booked many months ahead. The shuttle should have been locked in. But no, they made it even worse. Over the PA system dear little Mario the cruise director, his over happy Canadian DJ voice booming decided to make things worse. “ There is a need to provide some clarification.” He prattled. “Our shuttle bus will only be going to El Chaco today. This is because of Palm Sunday being a very busy day….” (It was Saturday, not Sunday.)
Oh dear, things went from bad to worse. There was much grumbling and many folk walked away from their expected run ashore. It seemed a bit late to be telling people now that the destination was being changed. Several hundred people had already been ferried ashore with nothing said! It took a multi-national mini mutiny to get any information from Holland America, and when they were questioned about the printed material being quite different from the destination, they were not very good at thinking on their feet.
Why do people lie and obfuscate? I don’t know the answer. Let me know in your comments. All Holland America staff needed to do was to say that there had been an error in the printing of the Daily Navigator and that the destination would in fact be a lovely little place called El Chaco. Simples!

El Chaco main street

People would have easily accepted that. The fact that they had hoped to just get away with it is a typical Holland America ruse. They did it on the MS Zuiderdam, and they did it on the MS Zaandam. It’s in their DNA to obfuscate and mislead and expect to get away with it.
OK. Let’s leave that. It’s over and done. The bus ride into El Chaco was over the most beautiful and desolate landscape, the desert changing hue, the massive dunes and ridges. Lots of adventurous cyclists riding the bumpy road.
The thing about deserts is that many folk would think that there is nothing there. Wrong! Not only is it hurtingly beautiful, but there is an abundance of life.El Chaco candleabra2 But so little time for us. We had to be back on board before 5pm, and it would have been nice to get into the desert and take some photographs. It was positively stunning.
As we came into the town it was a delightful surprise. Full of backpackers and visitors, the many cafes and bars were overflowing along the sea shore, and the fishing fleet a blaze of colour.El Chaco1 Pelicans,El Chaco solo Pelican Inca terns and masses of birdlife buzzing the silky seals. Boys and girls swimming. And every place connected to wifi!
El Chaco is reminiscent of an old style gold town. Higgldy Piggeldy buildings made from adobe bricks and sticks and rushes. Stalls full of fantastic fossils and rocks and crystals brought in from the desert. For anyone interested in collecting such things, there is a magnificent variety of geological and biological fossils and stone. Giant sharks teeth millions of years old, turquoise, iron pyritees, quartz of all colours and shapes. Big pieces of beautiful pink quartz, all this taken from that magnificent arid desert.
Anyone who has not yet discovered El Chaco should put this on their ‘to do’ list. Already thousands of backpackers and casual tourists have discovered this amazing little town, that seems to have grown and spread from the seashore into the arid land.El Chaco backpacker2
It was one of the jewels we will never forget. Thanks to the lady who gave us her number 20 and got us on an early bus!
Eating is cheap, and the local Cristal beer comes in a big bottle. It’s a deceptively strong beer and two bottles will be enough to give any casual drinker the wobbles.
We wandered the markets, took pictures, and simply marvelled at the gorgeous ‘Hippiness’ of the place. The only difference between the hippies of my day and the new-age backpacking hippies is the fact that they are connected! Everywhere has wifi! And it’s cheap! Very cheap. We sat for an hour or two in a strange and ramshackle but busy little eatery on the shore. Two bottles of beer, a large plate of mixed seafood, and a sparkling mineral water later, we got change from twenty USD. A number of people, like us, wandered around El Chaco and sampled the famous Pisco Sour, a drink famous in the area. They ended up walking as if they were still on a rocking vessel!
Put El Chaco on your list before it gets too commercial. (Like Lima!)
And a little message to Holland America. We came on this cruise for the destinations. They have been well worth the problems caused by the shipping line. Under-crewed, obfuscating and misleading, but you can’t fault the destinations on this South American cruise. If only they would serve hot food, keep an eye out for the huge amount of chipped crocery, and just stop telling porkies to the passengers! People are basically very understanding of things. They don’t need to be treated like mushrooms… and if you don’t know the reference it is about being kept in the dark and fed bullshit!
El Chaco may not have been the expected destination, but if the company had been honest early in the morning and corrected their stuff up, there would be a lot more happy campers and a lot less mumbling and grumbling about being shafted!
Oh and just one more thing. If you are thinking of coming on a cruise with Holland America be prepared to suffer the indignity of being ‘sold to’ every minute of every day you spend on board. NO opportunity to sell you something at inflated prices, from art work to shore excursions is missed. It’s really annoying to pay twenty six dollars for a ten dollar bottle of wine and then a three dollar service charge on top. But (there is that big BUT again) that’s another blog.

10/04/2017

Categories: an eclection

WHO OWNS THE HOLLAND AMERICA CRUISE LINE?

WHO OWNS THE HOLLAND AMERICA CRUISE LINE?

So you had a bad experience on a cruise? Never again, you say, will you book a cruise on that cruise line. Well, it’s not as easy as you might imagine to NOT put the money into the pockets of the people that upset you the first time.

Let’s have a look at ownership of the various brands, and build a ‘family tree’.

In a world where the watchword is ‘competition’ you would expect just that. Sadly, as in most things competition is little more than smoke and mirrors. Not just in cruise ships, but in most multi-billion dollar enterprises. Airlines have shares or full ownership of other airlines. Genuine competition is a rare bird indeed. Mining, banking, retail, insurance, entertainment, you name it, companies are so intertwined and part or wholly owned by a single entity that no matter what you do to try to extricate yourself from any one, you may find that your second, third or subsequent choice is simply another company owned and operated by some corporate monster.

It’s really no different with Holland America. So, for your edification here is a list of the cruise lines now owned by the great conglomerate.

https://www.quora.com/What-cruise-lines-does-Carnival-own

It’s a fascinating industry with conglomerates owning a number of cruise lines and subsidiary companies shooting off in all directions. (I can see a loophole here for some enormous tax dodges!) Anyway, that’s not my business. They can do what they like so long as they don’t bilk the customers. In my opinion Holland America are doing entirely the wrong thing insomuch as they

  1. Have institutionalised the menu’s across their fleet, so even if you are paying twice as much to travel on the Prinsendam as you would on the Zaandam, you still get the same old stodge not fit for a one star hospital!

  2. They work on the standard of “sell, sell, sell” with shore excursions costing an arm and two legs against what you could arrange for yourself when you go ashore.

  3. While they claim that (say) between the Prinsendam and the Zaandam, there is a difference in crew ratio. (Crew on the Prinsendam is they say almost one to one), the cost for a 28 day cruise we enquired about was being sold to us on board for $16,000 per person by the cruise consultant on board the Zaandam, the same cruise had been offered to another passenger by being sent a flyer, for half that amount!

  4. The crew on the Zaandam, and, we are told, on other Holland America cruise ships have been cut brutally. It’s all just too much!

  5. Forget any kind of half way decent entertainment! There are talks given by volunteers who are given some perks for being there. The “Chaplain” on the Zaandam was a lovely couple who were sent by their evangelical ministry (volunteers again!) Cindy and Nathan. Neither had any real idea of traditional religion or traditional services.

  6. On our particular cruise around South America it slowly dawned upon many of the passengers that we seemed to be always berthed in CONTAINER PORTS and bussed quite long distances into small towns. Cruise ship ports were available, but oh no! NOT another container port and a long trip to the nearest town! Cost cutting again. All in all this was a most unsatisfactory research trip around South America. By the time we all reached Vancouver the mutterings among the passengers were getting louder, but with no one to listen we grumbled and groaned amongt ourselves.

Glad to be off the Zaandam, and not planning on using ANY Holland America, OR Carnival Cruise ships again for at least a very long time! Most passengers spoken to agreed.

Here is another website to give you a guide for your next cruise.

http://www.beyondships2.com/faq—who-owns-the-various-cruise-lines.html Don’t be fooled by price when you make do your research. Look for a cruise which includes gratuities or at least most of the things you might expect in a long cruise. Otherwise you will find a hefty bill at the end of the trip!

Categories: an eclection

WHY BRITAIN SHOULD NOT BE IN THE EU

It’s a controversial headline, but hold on. When Winston Churchill called for a United States of Europe I think his vision was of a division of countries into “states” with a governor and a state legislator. Of course De Gaulle knew it, and he knew why. He constantly said “no no no!”   http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/04/de-gaulle-knew-it-britain-does-not-belong-in-the-eu/

To create the kind of Europe Churchill wanted would require empathetic ideologies. This cannot be and will not be for a long time.

Why?

From earliest times England was an empire building nation. Castles were built surrounding Wales, and England fought constantly to defeat the Scots.

In the time of Elizabeth 1 we began our seafaring buccaneering. We fought for gold and possessions with Spain, Portugal. We pirated and overran countries to create an empire all the way up to the days of Queen Victoria. Our monarchy is of German descent, and changed from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor in 1917 because of anti-German sentiment in the British Empire during World War I.

France too was a natural enemy. They still believe that they are superior to the English, and the English feel that they are the superior ones. It is just a natural deep-seated suspicion of each other.

We colonized India, and the West Indies, we controlled and owned many outposts of colonialism. Australia, New Zealand, Ceylon, {Sri Lanka} When we left India we gave the Indian people British passports, and brought on a massive influx of Indian and Pakistani people. They thrived, and the English deeply resented that. It is in their inbuilt racism, and even the least racist English person has the deep-seated suspicion of ‘foreigners’.

In 1973 Britain finally joined the “Common Market”. There were then nine countries.

Let me go back a little. The United States had little love for Britain before WW2. They were in fact big friends with Germany and funded Adolf Hitler with the reparation money to be paid to the nations they had ruined in the first war. https://www.sott.net/article/298259-The-Americans-who-funded-Hitler-Nazis-German-economic-miracle-and-World-War-II

Hitler built armaments and established a dictatorial state. Italy too had Mussolini and his fascist party. The United States turned a blind eye. Only Churchill saw the intention and during the ’20’s began to build the British fleet, and supply the air force with fighter planes. Britain was alone and Churchill knew this. Britain was almost spent by the time the US came in to help, and that only because of the Japanese and Pearl Harbour.

After the war Churchill wanted a United States of Europe. But his vision was not what the EU is today. Britons feel quite miffed that France and Germany are leaders in the EU. We do not share the same ideologies. Now, the original nine countries have become 28 and the idea of a United States of Europe is obsolete. It was a triumph over the French who had consistently blocked membership. http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/january/1/newsid_2459000/2459167.stm

There are too many political ideologies for the EU to work as it is. I think many Brits feel that.

Britain is, and has always been little more than a small sceptered isle. It has only a fraction of the power it once held, and the people feel that. They want to be in control, and it’s in the genes. There is no changing it. The English are English, and everyone else in England is not really English even if they are! It’s just the way it is. Multiculturalism is a fine ideal, and it is admirable that as time has passed the racism has been modified and I really believe that most British folk believe that they are not racist. But they still have suspicions about Germany. The last war is still hard wired into their brains. The destruction was terrible, and there is still a lack of forgiveness. Why should the Germans be so rich? Why give the Germans control in they EU? They lost the war. It should be us.

Those feelings are not on the surface. They are deep seated and even to many not obvious. But they are there.

In the years since Britain joined the EU, those nine countries expanded to 28. Britain was paying a lot of money and there were a whole bunch of failing countries economies. Brits were getting a lot of poor immigrants from EU countries. {That is matter for dispute but it was the feeling of the British. Their jobs were being taken by cheap Polish labour etc.]

In the end it become more than political ideology. It is suspicion, jealousy, natural hatred. These countries are countries that Britain had so many issues with over so many centuries.

England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales can’t even agree and they share the same small piece of the planet. Britain is a small group of countries bound by a union when attacked, but unable to work together when there is peace.

The idea of a “Common Market” was good. To trade together, to travel together, and to make a united Europe. But this is not what the EU is today. It is an over regulated money wasting mish mash of political ideologies. In France the extreme right is replacing the socialist left. Politics is king. That is not what Churchill’s vision was of a United States of Europe. Only when one ideology of peace is extant will there be a chance for a genuine EU.  Britain should never have joined under the conditions that it did. It was desperate politics and it failed.

Categories: an eclection

EXPERIMENTAL WRITING: IS IT STILL A VALID GENRE?

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment
I haven’t written a ‘serious’ novel for years. Now, nearing 70 I thought I would explore the darkness enveloping society. It’s very experimental and the sentence structure is ‘choppy’ deliberately. There is also a hidden detail to the narrator. Is anyone else experimenting? This is all I am going to post, but would love some comments on how it ‘feels’ to you. Perhaps just another cathartic piece to put into the “trunk?”
1.
This man, he’s wearing a black homburg hat. His coat, a black greatcoat, heavy, resists the bitter wind and responds only to the movement of his feet. His feet. He is wearing patent leather shoes in spite of the gnarly weather. The howling wind, and sluicing rain affect him not at all.
The hat hides his face, though he walks without head bent into the slicing, ice rain.
He is the Dark Man. The man of my nightmares. Even in plain sight, he gathers shadows around him.
He crosses the street against the lights. The world moves in slow motion. There is no blaring of horns. The traffic appears to be unaware of his presence and he crosses without incident. There is a girl, waiting at the crossing for the green man. As he passes he gives the appearance of waving slightly. She looks up from the driving rain and he shoots her in the face. There is no loud retort. The gun is silenced. The man in the homburg and heavy greatcoat continues on his way in no hurry. The girl has fallen to the ground and a torrent of blood runs into the gutter. The street is awash with people, all walking heads bent. No one hears the slight crinkly pop. No one sees the man in the homburg and the greatcoat except me. I am standing in the doorway of a closed cafe waiting to bump into a stranger and skim their credit cards. The man in the homburg and the heavy greatcoat and patent leather shoes is not my business. I am afraid of him. She is dead. Completely. There is no point in my sprinting across the road to render assistance. The Dark Man has gone before the girl screams. She is with her young man. He holds an umbrella over her, bowing to an old age of chivalry. I imagine his face turning white. He is dressed well, in a Burberry coat, she, in a long, but lightweight black
Ann Demeulemeester hooded raincoat. She screams and screams and screams. I wish I were on their side of the street. I smell money on them even at this distance and fumble with my pocket skimmer wondering whether I should take the chance. The chance is not worth it and I merge further into the doorway. The man is now raising a cell to his cheek. I would have expected earbuds. He talks frantically. He wants to wave and gesticulate, but he gallantly holds the umbrella over his love, perhaps afraid that she might wash away in the deluge never to be penetrated again by his ardour.
Then the street is awash with lights, blue and red, flashing and strobing so that I must look away lest I engage in an epileptic fit.
A businessman in a felt Dress Hat hurries on my side of the street. I step out and bump into his chest, holding my small skimmer like a cellphone against his inside breast pocket. I assume he is right handed. “Did you see that?” His voice is excited and afraid. “Yes.” I say, smoothing him down, calming him. Checking his pockets. “There is nothing to be done. Be calm. You might yet have a heart attack. Be calm.”
The businessman smiles briefly, a smile as watery as the weather. “Yes. Yes. Of course. Thank you.” We speak only briefly, but he quiets sufficiently to thank me again and then shuffles off, perhaps to his office to ponder the incident. Perhaps to his wife to engage her in the detail and huddle together naked in fear of a world gone insane.
 
2.
Beauchamp is waiting at home. She corrects people when they say Bow Champ. “Beecham” She says. She is readying for work. She has just spent money on a curved duty belt, designed for the female anatomy. It does not dig into the hips. She checks her sidearm and her ASP. They need to be quickly accessible. Then she checks her cuffs. We share an apartment but not a bed. Sometimes I think of raping her, but the way she looks at me it would not be rape. It would not excite. We remain chaste. I do not bring women home. Beauchamp suspects that I am gay and I do not disavow. She absently checks her glock for the second time. I have learned that it can load both 9mm and .40 calibre. She wears a light cotton blouse with a pocket over each breast. She asks me to fasten the flap over each pocket. The little black buttons are small and I spend a little value time fumbling each one. Her nipples are like teats, long and rubbery. My fingernails scratch each one lightly while I tend to her dress. Each small intake of breath generates a lightning rod directly (censored.) Her eyes take on an almost imperceptible squint. She thinks I don’t see, or perhaps care. But I see everything. After all, was it not I alone who observed that casual murder by the man with the homburg and greatcoat? Who shot the girl in the face. A sliver of fear suggests this may be true.
“Fix me?” Beauchamp sits backwards on a simple kitchen chair. Her legs splayed. Her arms along the topmost spindle. Her chin on her arms. She lives two lives. That of the soft, tactile, scented maiden. That of the tight, wound up, disciplined, strict administrator of the law no matter her personal opinions. I am the vice. Ah! You think I mean vice! “Come on! Fix me! I’m going to be late again!” The fixing begins. Taking heavy full-bodied red hair, separating out hanks. Slowly. The feel of hair is silk on silk. A synapse ignites a wish to feel it on exposed, but yet hidden skin.
The hanks are plaited overtight. Extreme. Beauchamp squints, but she wants it to be like this. When finished she will coil it against her skull. Hands now upon her shoulders. She is tight. Coiled up. Then gone. Behatted and wearing dark glasses.
 
3
The computer is shared. Beauchamp locks up a few folders but her porn history is effortless to access. TOR takes precedence. USB connects the skimmer and for a while at least, there is cash in the wallet. Beauchamp’s porn is of the romantic preference. Simple and naïve. Women may instigate. She is however, a cheat. A thief. She has downloaded copyright material. Copyright exists in the work. Porn too. When/if I decide to rape her, the camera will record and upload.
Beauchamp is good at what she does. She takes her training seriously. Each weekend we go together to the range to use handguns. She has a broad knowledge of such things. She can make her own ammunition. There are two assault rifles in a combination safe under her bedroom carpet. Lumicyano and a camera opens the safe. Her fingerprints are easily read. There are sex toys too, but of the simple, non-extreme kind. One of them entices me. A latex vibrating butterfly with a wireless remote control. Intriguing.
There should be something about the murder on the television. Channel surfing finally finds an item on Fox. The place, the time is right. Only one man comes forward for the camera. It is the man I skimmed. “The SUV came around that corner.” Pointing. “Had these big wing mirrors. Like the ones you use if you’re hauling a caravan. “Slammed her right in the face! Man! It was horrible.” He pauses as if deciding if he should continue. He does. “I was so busy watching that I bumped into someone . I said did you see that, and they said yes.” His description was naturally way off. My hair is red, not blonde. My long hair was under my woollen hat. It was blue, not black. My hat that is. I am confused because not only can he not give an account as to my looks there is no hatted man. I am not surprised with his description of my person. I however, saw no SUV at all. I saw what I saw. I saw a man in a homburg and greatcoat. His gun was a 9mm Beretta 92FS. There is little recoil. Even at distance handguns are familiar. Beauchamp is a remarkable teacher and a remarkable shot.
When Beauchamp works nights, I watch a little TV, often falling asleep in my chair. The channels are repeating the same old garbage. Rambo 111, Lethal Weapon, Back to the Future 2. Stallone, Willis, Mel Gibson, and Michael J Fox. They have become bores.
I settle on Lethal Weapon. It is better than the others, and the shopping channels. The news channels make no mention of the man in the hat. Perhaps I was mistaken in the drowning rain. Even though it was daylight, the sky was crowded with low black clouds. A dark day, a dark man, and I in a dark mood. Of course. The evil thoughts about Beauchamp disperse. Overproof rum aids the disconnect. She is a sweet girl who still believes in the innate goodness of humanity. When the sun shines we walk together in the parks and the city. She is without parents, but has a sister in Boston. Her sister is married to an accounts manager in advertising. They have two childen and a dog called spot. They are without imagination. The dog is a Dalmation. The children, named Britney and John. I presume Spears and Lennon as their inspiration.
Soon sleep intervenes and the rattling, pounding gunshots through the big sound system fade into nothing at all. Dreams offer surcease from dark thoughts.
4
Categories: an eclection

WHEN I WAS A CHILD…

February 25, 2017 Leave a comment

When I was a child my parents, and their parents had suffered through a Great Depression and two world wars. My father was in the airforce. He flew every kind of aircraft from spitfires and hurricanes to old tiger moths. We grew up in the remnants of bombed buildings. We roamed the beach finding unexploded bombs and bullets. We helped the infirm and the war weary, old before their time. My mother counselled us to embrace peace and tolerance. But sometimes we must fight. Even at the risk of our freedoms.

Today the world is at a tipping point. The United States of America is unwittingly embracing fascism, and we must fight for the freedom of expression. The US President has now banned the major news agencies from covering his press conferences! If a press conference cannot be reported on by major news agencies, then we leave the commentary to those who are of one opinion only. That of the President. This is no longer democracy. It is dictatorship. It is the rebirth of fascism.

In the new rules on temporary entry to the United States it will be required (optional at the moment) to give your social media status so that your data can be mined to find out if you have any anti-US attributes. I do not. I have anti US President attributes. Trump has become the fascist that we were always warned about.

My mother taught us tolerance, and warned us that we must create a world of harmony. It is hard, in these days to be cowed by the rhetoric of the President of the United States when he speaks about stealing the oil from other nations, about forcibly deporting ‘undocumented immigrants.’ Today I am speaking out. I WILL fight against the actions of a dictator regardless of their nationality, (including my own.).

In the sixties there was a revolution of sorts, and it has been forgotten or not known by many that there was a great uprising against war. This video of Jimi Hendrix and his “Star Spangled Banner,” is an amazing piece of commentary. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MKvnQYFhGCc

Here is the full speech of Donald Trump’s rambling, incoherent CPAC speech.  http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/24/14726584/transcript-donald-trump-cpac-speech

Are these the words of a mad man? Or a man with a vision? If it is the words of a man with a vision, then his vision is of insanity and disaster.

This week the US government enacted a law which can take away all the property and possessions of any person who acts in protest. Even a peaceful protest. If you so much as carry a banner or, as they did in the sixties, put a flower down the barrel of a National Guardsman’s gun, you can lose everything you possess. Confiscated by a supposedly democratic government.

Millions now lose their health care (Obamacare). America is sadly a laughing stock. Sadly because it is anything but something to laugh about. The most dangerous man of the 21st Century is in the most powerful position on the planet. And he is raiding the coffers. Just watch the market rise! It’s good for the stock market. But remember the thirties, and what followed. I grew up in the remnants of that war. It is time for the courageous young to stand up, speak up, and defend every right we fought to give you!

Categories: an eclection