Scottish myths 33

Beira, the Winter Queen

Beira was the all powerful Highland Queen of Winter. So powerful was she that it's said she was the mother of all the divinities of Scotland. But even so, she would always be thwarted by rebellious spring and the power of the King of summer, Angus of the White Steed, and his beautiful Queen Bride, who were certainly more appreciated than Biera ever was.

During the winter months Biera wasn't a pretty sight. She was a huge, one-eyed old hag. Her skin was deathly blue and her teeth were like old, rusty cogs. She was always intent on making winter in Scotland last for as long as possible, yet she was also responsible for making the many lochs, mountains and valleys, in an extemporaneous way.

She lived for thousands of years. In fact it seems strange that one refers to her in the past, for surely such a powerful old woman able to rejuvenate herself annually, would still be striding across the misty Scottish mountains even today.

If then she was once upon a time immortal, this would be due to her drinking the magic waters of the deep Well of Youth, a source found in the mobile, Green Island that mysteriously drifted about off the west coast of Scotland.
As summer was the only season on this magic, paradisiacal island, where there were orchards of apples, apricots, peach trees, Victoria plums, herbs, rhubarb and perhaps even a vin yard, as well as a vegetable plot where Irish potatoes would also have grown, one might think that the old hag was a paradoxical impostor. This because she used the pleasant magic of summer to obtain the power of youth to annually cast her cruel winters of mean frosts, snow and icy winds on the poor Highlanders for as long as she could.

Only Beira knew where to find the Green Island. Ancient mariners tried to find it, but always in vain. Those who almost succeeded were deprived of the privilege by Beira herself, who would cough up a thick shroud of phlegmy mist to hide the island. Then leering wickedly she would paddle it elsewhere with her huge hands, so enormous was she.

It has also been said that Beira had to drink the magic water as it rose up from its source on the first day of spring at dawn. If however a bird or a dog drank the water before her, she would collapse and crumble into a horrid heap of noxious dust. As there were no dogs on the island, the risk was reduced, but there were Puffins, Cormorants, Oyster-catchers and sooty Terns, none of which were particularly interested, especially the terns who had more pleasant things to do, even in flight.

So Beira was always able to regain her youth from drinking the magic water. On her return to the Highlands she would sleep in a mountain cave near Ben Nevis until the start of summer, then she would wake up once more as a young, beautiful, but exceptionally gigantic girl.

Time, however, takes its toll, especially in Beira's case. For her each month had the aging effect of about fifteen years. By winter time she had regained once more the appearance of the ugly old hag that she really was; the dreaded, one-eyed, grey clothed Queen Beira of the winter season.

Biera used a great sledge hammer to sculpt the mountains. She was no meticulous, sensitive artist, but there is nevertheless a great deal of rugged charm in the random results. She formed the lochs and the bens, more often than not by chance, but this she would never have admitted. Thus lochs such as Loch Awe were born.

Biera had several maids who greatly feared her. She also had a few sons, although only the ancient Scottish divinities would know who their giant father was. But it would follow that if he had been totally enchanted by the beautiful rejuvenated Biera, he would have been understandably repulsed by the frigid, one-eyed, Winter Queen result.

The giant sons were ill-bred. They often argued stupidly and always ended up by throwing great slabs of mountain and boulders at each other. These can still be seen today covered with moss and deeply embedded in the hill-sides of Inverness as well as in other regions of Scotland further west.

Biera spent a great deal of time on Ben Nevis. In fact her cold, cushionless throne was hewed within the mountain itself. From the ben's snow covered peak, she was able, even with only one eye, to see far and wide to ensure that all was as she had ordained.
In the shire of Inverness there was a certain well which Biera always insisted should be covered at night. This was the duty of Nessa, one of the Winter Queen's maids.
One evening, arriving too late to cover the well, Nessa discovered great surges of water gushing forth from it. Fearing the consequences, and totally nescient of basic hydraulic science or plumbing procedures, she ran away. And all this Biera clearly saw.

The Winter Queen angrily accused Nessa of neglecting her duty, and she cast a hydorous spell upon the poor maid:  'Now you will run for ever', she decreed. Upon which Nessa became the mountain source, the loch, and the sea-bound river. And thus Loch Ness was born.

As Biera built the mountains of Scotland, she often carried with her an enormous creel filled with great rocks, huge boulders and shaley earth. As she awkwardly leapt across the lofty, misty crags, she would often trip over spilling the contents of her creel to form hills, valleys, lochs and islands. These have since been referred to as 'spillings from the creel of big old Biera'.

This was also how Little Wyvis was formed. Biera, engrossed in building Ben Wyvis, grew tired and stumbled thereby shedding what was left in her creel to produce the Wee Wyvis.

There are other tales of Biera, for it's said that she was followed by all forms of wild life who never feared her. In early winter she would milk the hinds on the mountain tops. The froth blown from the pales would freeze all about her, and later when torrents cascaded down the mountain sides, the Highlanders would say 'Big old Beira has milked her hinds'.

In Irish and Scottish mythology the Cailleach, also know as Cailleach Bheur, is another name for the divine winter hag of Scotland. Biera fights the spring and wields a magic staff that freezes the ground. She would wash her huge shawl Féileash mòr in the whirl-pool of Coire Bhreacain. This would take three days and it heralded the cruel tempests of winter. Even without soap-powder or bleach, the washing of the shawl caused it to become pure white, and then it would cover the Highlands as snow. 

Yet the great and fearful Beira, as she grows older and weaker, no longer has enough power to ward off the spring. But she always manages to reserve just enough strength to return to the Green Island, to regain her lost youth by drinking the magic water once more to be able to renew the seasonal cycle.

The wild, rugged and special magical beauty of Scotland can only be due to Beira and her clumsy, aggressive sons. Such is the paradox of Winter Queens, Gods or Nature, although by their own laws they could never regard their efforts as accidental.
  Scottish myths 34 
Scottish myths 32

Retelling and top image © Mirino. Source- Wonder Tales from Scottish Myths and Legends, with many thanks. Second image- Ben Nevis summit by David Crocker, with grateful thanks, also to Wikipedia Commons.                         December, 2013

The Christmas Fox

Sneaking in the farm-yards
Tramping in the snow,
The sly fox O'Farly
Knows just where to go

For festive occasions
In cunning disguise
The best of the season
Are bagged by surprise.

Joyous celebrations
Fare to take away,
Yule-tide comforts
To share on Christmas day


Se faufilant dans les basse-cours
Glissant à travers la neige,
Le renard O'Farly
Connaît tous les pièges.

Pour les fêtes à l'occasion
En tenu convenable
Les meilleures de la saison
Sont toujours saisissables.

Célébrations joyeuses,
Chère à emporter,
Un régal de Noël
Parfois même à partager.


Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this, as well as to everyone who doesn't. For the New Year, let's be philosophical. It can wait until it's cue. Man, after all, devised chronology, essential to the discipline of history. And many of us like to think that it's not the years that matter in any case.

O'Farly, the Christmas fox, could be the last of the 'animal series'. They also belong to their own time, but it would be nice to believe, also in their case, that it's not years that matter. 

 Doggerel and image © Mirino (PW). December, 2013


The deaf sometimes get disorientated. It has something to do with balance and vertigo. For example they can wake up in the middle of the night for a natural reason, and in the darkness they can't find the door. They grope around in the bedroom trying to recognise things by feel in the hope of getting their bearings, but all in vain. When the dear person you've wakened with all the noise you've made by blundering about, finally puts a light on, you're surprised to find that you are in front of the cupboard, with your back to the door you were intent on finding, and that the image of your reflection on the cupboard's full size door mirror reveals your abysmal, hopeless and ridiculous state.

It thus stands to reason that 'getting lost experiences' for such people, amount to nightmares. Deaf dreamers are the worst sufferers. They are the ones who can't find their cars in the multi-storied, multi-galleried car-parks. Believing they know where the right metro is, they are capable of walking miles in the wrong direction in New York City. Or, after managing to return by metro, confident they know how to get back to the apartment where they are the privileged guests, they get wretchedly lost and are obliged to walk the long blocks of Harlem on a tiresome 'gradual elimination of all possibilities' basis.

It was when, many years ago, I was despairingly lost in the then newly laid-out suburbs of Amsterdam that I had a serious car accident. I had just imported my immaculate, black, vintage 1953 Standard Eight from England. It was about three thirty in the morning after a modest drinking spree with friends, and apparently a vehicle came at projectile speed from the right and wrote off my poor car and very nearly poor me in the ruthless process. To add insult to injury, when after several weeks the ziekenhuis finally discharged me, I had to go to court where, all in Dutch, I was judged, found guilty and heavily fined for not having given the maniac priority, even though I must have been crawling along at a snail's pace, trying to figure out where in hell I was.

Such a brutal, unexpected experience would tend to increase the nightmarish horror of getting lost. Consequently, when I have nightmares they more often that not plunge me into a variety of hopeless and miserable situations of utter disorientation.

To relate the most recent one as an example. It began in a very large, old house that in fact I know very well. So well that over several years of another chapter of my life, I did a great deal of work there contributing with love and dedication to keep the house from falling to wrack and ruin. I imagine that I also left a good deal of myself there in the process.

However, in my dream the house was in a terrible state. There were torrents of ghastly clods of bubbling yellowy grey muck or clay pouring down a front stair-case that in reality never existed. I half-heartedly tried to disengage where the turdish mire was accumulating at the foot of these lofty stairs, but this was ineffective because the house was slowly sinking backwards like the Titanic. The repulsive liquid mud or whatever, wasn't flowing away anywhere at all, it was constantly rising.

The owner of the house and former consort had her back to me as she too stood in the quagmire. She was in front of a large, old white sink situated half in the open and half inside, busy doing something as though she was oblivious to what was happening or not particularly bothered about it. I made a black-humoured remark which she quite rightly ignored, and then I left.

I had a strange little dog on a lead with me. It irritated me. It was a bit like a red squirrel, small, thin and scraggy. The sort of timid, brainless animal that inspires no affection. It must have been 'ours' however, because in spite of my lack of fondness for it, there was unfortunately no question of abandoning it. But from then on I was lost. It could have been Amsterdam. At one time I found myself in endless galleries of carpeted clothes stores gazing ahead, walking fast, desperately trying to find the way out. Eventually I even succeeded. The exit was an old, dilapidated, metal spiral staircase leading down. It had once been painted a horrible faded yellow, like that of an old ship (the Titanic)?. There were now other people who seemed to be almost as lost and as doomed as I was.

We were all going down the spiral stairway looking for a way out, with me dragging along the poor squirrel dog, whipping it round the spiral of the stairs as if it were an embarrassing ugly rag doll on a string. I was very worried because my companion and I had been invited by friends for lunch and it was already very late. I knew she would have wanted to contact me, but I didn't even have my mobile phone with me. Suddenly we came to a part of the spiral stairs where it had rusted away and  disintegrated. Below was the dark, infinite abyss of nothingness, so we had to go back up again. At a certain turn where there was a glimmer of daylight, one could see what looked like an exterior car park. There was a covered ladder and bicycle blocking a space above, one of the many oblong sea-vessel type of openings with rounded corners of the staircase. The opening was big enough to squeeze through to get to the car park. A woman pushed the obstacle away to free the space, and I assume we all got out.

That's when I awoke. I suppose I remember the dream, because the problem wasn't solved. Although awake, and very thankful for no longer finding myself in that hopeless, infernal situation, essentially, as far as the dream is concerned, I must still be lost. So it appears that some sort of underlying problem remains to be solved. This, even though there are irremediable problems that deaf dreamers always have to contend with.

Perhaps one wouldn't need to be an expert to analyse some aspects of this dream. There are clues. For example assuming that- 'I also left a good deal of myself there in the process'. In view of the sinking of the old house, a good deal of me would thus be sinking with it. Also irrevocably lost.
One might include the factor of being deracinated, also irremediable. And could there not be some onomatopoeic correlation between the evocation of the Titanic and tinnitus? The whispering galleries, or jumbo jet galleries of the mind. Interminable, relentless, brain-sound that haunts you whether you are asleep, awake, or perhaps even dead! And the dog: a tiresome, embarrassing but unavoidable duty. A lightweight ball and chain.

But then again it could all be a load of mentally regurgitated rubbish caused by the previous evening's gluttony, in which case I would already be proving myself to be disloyal in trying to give priority to quality, etc.
Whatever, one can always hide behind 'artistic licence'. In this case, fully liberated once more, I can go to sleep tonight with a smile before getting hopelessly lost in yet another dream.

Text and image (watercolour, modified) © Mirino, December, 2013


C'est rare de voir une telle luminosité des couleurs des feuilles en plein décembre, mais c'est un beau cadeau, comme les chanterelles cette année. Tant que le gel ne les empêche pas de venir tout d'un coup et si abondantes. Elles chantent leur gloire pour le bonheur et le régal des connaisseurs, ainsi donnant aux sauces ce gout exquis si spécial.

Mais ces feuilles de chênes de montagne deviendront un or bien plus terne dans seulement quelques jours.
L'esprit de la Nature est plus large et généreux que celui de l'homme. Ici on respire. On se sent plus libre. Ici on se moque des bêtises des prétentieux.

Ici tout est dans sa juste place et dans sa propre perspective. Ce que l'on voit n'est jamais une illusion, même si cette réalité toujours en constante évolution est en partie relativement éphémère. Et c'est justement cela qui nous fait comprendre ce que c'est la vie.

Par rapport avec ces anciennes montagnes, les détails voilés par ce bleu sublime d'ombre et de lumière réfléchie, la vie d'un homme n'est pas grand chose. Et en regardant l'étendue du ciel superbe, sans être obligé d'aller au delà, on est aussi rappelé de notre modicité.

Cette appréciation, n'est elle pas l'essence, les racines de toutes les religions?
Par rapport avec les merveilles infinies de l'univers, que vaut finalement l'homme? Que vaut sa piètre vanité? N'est elle pas beaucoup plus fade et démérité que la couleur d'une simple feuille de chêne? Et pourtant cette vanité injustifiée est bien moins éphémère.

Encore quelques petites pensées évoquées par une journée splendide dans les montagnes. Des convictions déjà exprimées, convictions qui remontent encore elles aussi avec l'altitude pour rassurer et calmer l'esprit parfois un peu confus et désemparé.

La Nature, qui doit forcément comprendre la nature humaine, ne reconnait pas le hasard. Il y a donc une raison pour tout.
Patience. La vie est tellement belle. C'est aussi une conviction, et ces images devraient aussi pouvoir l'attester.

Text and photos © Mirino (PW). December, 2013



Christophe was coming
But the Moose is rather stout,
He's got stuck in a snowdrift
And it seems he can't get out.

If you've got a shovel
 You could help him to get loose.
A little bit of kindness
Makes a happy Chris-Moose.

Christophe arrivait
Mais l'élan s'est engraissé,
Il est coincé dans une congère
Et ne peut pas se libérer.

Vous pourriez lui rendre service
Si vous veniez avec une pelle.
Un peu de gentillesse
 Donne un élan à Noël.


The plight of the Moose and his need to be freed could, with a squeeze, be assimilated with countless situations.
We could even evoke, yet again, dear old Nelson Mandela. If he were able to witness the grandiose and moving ceremony organised in his honour, he would have found it hard to believe that he was so loved and respected by so many various cultures and virtuous ideologues of the world, (even though the Dalai Lama, a good friend of Mandela's, apparently wasn't invited).
Yet one could also compare the desire to be seen, if not heard there, to a sort of South-African 'Festival of Cannes' open to scissionists, dictators and would be defenders of faith and democracy. The invited apparently included extremists, if not listed terrorists, and everyone joyfully played the part of being good friends together, temporarily and especially for this august occasion in December.

There has been so much fervour and show that poor Mandela seems to have been a bit left out, trapped in his own deathly 'snow drift'. Priority is accorded to powerful (in principle) Heads of State like Obama.
But if we were honest we would admit that instead of burying the hero's convictions, reason of being and everything he fought for, with the hero himself, the best way of celebrating and honouring Nelson Mandela would be to honour and respect everything he fought for all his life including the twenty seven years spent in prison. This is certainly not the case in today's South Africa. Perhaps the frozen soul of Mandela would be dug out and gloriously freed to warm, sunlit heavens if this were indeed the case.

Even in France freedom and democracy seem to be 'snowed in'. Recently I heard that a young man (a Catholic also outraged by the mariage pour tous) who had anti-Hollande stickers on his car was arrested in Paris. The police confiscated his car. They even burnt an anti-socialist bandrole they found in his vehicle, and he was placed en guard à vue (retained for a certain period of time before being released pending his 'legal judgement'). Isn't this yet another indication that 'Liberty, Fraternity and Equality' only frugally apply to servile French socialists? Would it not signify that in order to try to survive, French socialism has to resort to quasi totalitarian methods?

I once made an allusion to messages in bottles, adding that it's possible to see from the stat reports where the bottled messages posted on Internet actually float to, who finds and uncorks the bottles, and how many are curious enough read the messages. If the overall number already accumulated worldwide is fairly important and the amount is constantly increasing, naturally this is satisfying in itself. On the other hand site ratings seem incoherent and thus meaningless. According too much importance to them encourages a sort of futile, rat-race.

The reason of being of Viewfinder was never to be drawn into any form of popularity contest. Originally the idea was to try to incite reactions, to hopefully find, exchange and share points of view (hence the name, obviously) on an international basis. Yet it's also true that one ends up by setting one's own standards, by trying to produce a desired amount of various efforts- if not rubbish- each month. This in itself can become a self inflicted rat-race, because one is not always inspired or capable of creating the most satisfying results at one's own beck and call, to obtain the monthly quantity of posts one might want to try to come up with. 

Thus in order to dig myself out of the 'snow drift' of my own making, I shall do my best to give more priority to quality instead of quantity. If this means that Viewfinder risks, God forbid, to lose it's few followers, or might, on the contrary, God be praised, gain one or two more, then so be it. If it means that Viewfinder will plummet into the dark and dismal abyss of no return according to the incoherent nonsense that site credit raters come up with, then so shall it also be.

Whatever, thank you dear readers for your fidelity and your patience.
Text and illustration © Mirino. December, 2013


Je pense souvent à lui. Comme ce matin (mercredi) en montant au village avec un temps splendide, reflété magnifiquement par l'or des feuilles des chênes contre le bleu électrique des montagnes. D'ailleurs on dirait qu'il y a un décalage saisonnier d'un mois. Difficile à croire qu'on est en décembre avec un temps et des couleurs automnales pareilles. Une saison donc bénie de chanterelles, beaucoup de chanterelles. Cadeaux assez rares et généreux de la nature, comme une compensation pour la mesquinerie et l'étroitesse des idéologues fatigants de notre époque bizarre!

Marcel, par contre, était le paradigme de la générosité, et apolitique. C'est vrai qu'une fois il nous a confié qu'il était 'communiste'. C'était peut-être enraciné dans la famille, mais c'était celui de la vieille école, quand le communisme représentait un idéal, une cause véritable contre une tyrannie alors réelle et impitoyable. Mais jamais Marcel ne parlait de politique. Seulement lorsque la politique divisait irrévocablement le village. Là il en parlait avec triste résignation de la bêtise de ceux responsables.
Donc parfois il parlait des gens, et un coup d'oeil de sa part lui aurait suffi pour les evaluer et même connaitre.

Marcel était maçon. Dans le village on le considérait artiste, et c'est bien vrai. Regarder Marcel tailler la pierre et construire un mur était une joie. Il le faisait dans la vieille manière, en coupant des jeunes pins droits pour fabriquer un échafaudage tout donc en bois.
Marcel a commencé à travailler à 14 ans. Il pouvait toujours tailler la pierre et bâtir même à 86 ans. Il aurait rigolé à l'idée de travailler 35 heures par semaine. Lui, lorsqu'il commençait quelque chose, il continuait aussi longtemps que ça lui plaisait, parce que pour lui tailler la pierre, construire même une maison, était une manière de vivre voire un plaisir, et jamais un devoir pénible.

Ses mains étaient les mains d'un artiste. En les regardant on avait du mal à croire qu'il travaillait la pierre depuis l'âge de quatorze ans. Aucun défaut, aucune cicatrice, comme si la pierre et lui partageaient un ancien et précieux secret.

Il m'avait aidé à restaurer une grande cave voûtée. D'abord il m'avait montré comment le faire, puis petit à petit il faisait presque tout, naturellement. Et jamais il ne voulait accepter quoi que ce soit pour tout ce qu'il faisait.
Une autre fois en parlant quasi à moi-même lorsqu'il était avec moi et qu'on buvait ensemble un petit Scotch, j'ai pensé qu'une arche traversant les escaliers de la maison pour lier une terrasse à une rocaille, ne serait pas une mauvais idée. Il le pensait lui aussi, et le lendemain il commençait le travail comme si de rien n'était !
Encore une fois j'ai été épaté de voir sa façon de fabriquer une charpente voûtée pour supporter les pierres, puis il n'avait jamais besoin de faire des calculs ou des plans. Marcel tenant toute l'information nécessaire dans sa tête. Ainsi il savait même avant de commencer ce qui était possible de faire, et comment on allait le faire.

Marcel chassait aussi mais je pense que plus tard il préférait chasser plutôt les champignons.
Il connaissait les meilleurs et où les trouver. Les fois où on était allés avec lui sont inoubliables. D'ailleurs la dernière fois où on est allé avec lui, c'est justement lui qui l'avait dit; que cela a été une journée inoubliable.

Il avait construit sa propre maison même avec sa femme de l'époque. Toute en pierre taillée. Quand je vois sa maison et je sais qu'il n'est plus là, ça me fait quelque chose, car Marcel me semblait quasi immortel.

Sa sœur m'en avait parlé, en juillet de cette année. Il a été hospitalisé en urgence, mais je ne savais pas encore alors qu'il n'y avait pas grand chose à faire. Cancer. On l'a installé dans une sorte d'hôpital de repos près du village en bas. Je connaissais bien cet endroit à cause d'autres circonstances.

Je suis allé le voir, mais j'ai eu du mal à le reconnaître tant qu'il avait maigri. Je lui ai apporté beaucoup de raisins rose italiens, et même une bouteille de vin. Il ne pouvait pas manger mais il adorait ces raisins. Il les mangeait, ou plutôt il les écrasait dans sa bouche les buvait l'un après l'autre avec délice. Je ne sais pas s'il m'avait reconnu. On m'a dit que oui. Mais il a fallu que j'aille le voir. Il mourut quelques jours plus tard.
Il me manque. Ceci c'est pour lui.

Text and portraits © Mirino (PW). December, 2013

Dominical dogme

Pour s'occuper, les socialistes français trouvent toujours de quoi faire, mais au lieu de faire ce qu'il faut faire, ils font par nature l'inverse de ce qu'il faut faire.
Adam Smith disait que l'on peut toujours faire confiance au peuple pour gérer leurs affaires financières astucieusement. Par contre comme l'Etat est toujours bien moins astucieux dans ce domaine, il devrait au moins accorder au peuple la liberté de continuer à s'occuper de ses propres affaires sans aucune imposition futile et contreproductive de la part de l'Etat.
('C'est l'impertinence et la présomption les plus élevées chez les rois et les ministres, de prétendre pouvoir veiller sur l'économie du peuple, et de freiner leurs propres dépenses. Ils sont les plus grands dépensiers de la société.
Qu'ils veillent bien sur leurs propres dépenses, et ils peuvent tranquillement faire confiance au peuple avec les leurs. Si leurs propres extravagances ne ruinent pas l'Etat, celles de leurs sujets ne le feront jamais.')
Adam Smith.  The Wealth of Nations, Book II'

Mais les socialiste français prétendent savoir bien mieux de qui que ce soit, et certainement d'un économiste philosophe écossais du 18° siècle. Car ces illuminés français se réfèrent fixement, non pas à la logique de la liberté commençant obligatoirement par la liberté financière du peuple, mais par les fausses idéologies nées de la Révolution Français. C'est à dire que la liberté (comme celle de l'égalité et de la fraternité) sont des mythes idéologiques inventés, déterminés et donc contrôlés et mesurés frugalement et exclusivement par l'Etat, et jamais par le peuple considéré non qualifié pour de telles responsabilités lourdes et déterminantes. Et de plus, cette égale, fraternelle liberté semble être réservée exclusivement aux membres du club parisien.

La dernière préoccupation absurde, introduite aussi grâce aux soucis de la CGT, est de concocter une loi pour empêcher le travail dominical.
Comme les socialistes ainsi que les syndicats ont peur de perdre le contrôle, ils font semblant de se soucier du bien être des français. Ils pensent donc que ces derniers doivent pouvoir se reposer le dimanche. Naturellement ce souci n'a strictement rien à voir avec les considérations religieuses non plus, loin de là. Et le fait que le peuple est quand même assez grand et assez responsable pour prendre ses décisions tout seul selon ses propres intérêts sans que l'Etat s'en mêle, semble être complètement hors de porter de l'appréciation d'un tel gouvernement.

Mais comme la France a un problème grave de chômage, comme elle a déjà assez de mal à se tirer du dernier bourbier de la crise, et de retrouver de quoi pour redevenir compétitive, et comme il y a de plus en plus de faillites depuis l'élection de F. Hollande, il va sans dire qu'imposer une telle loi pour en ajouter aux restreintes serait le comble de la stupidité.

La France en a assez du pantomime des bien pensants, les galas pathétiques parisiens organisés par les soi-disant célébrités de gauche contre le racisme, par exemple, un autre mythe produit pour détourner l'attention des naïfs et des pauvres esprits des vrais problèmes graves dont la France souffre. Un mythe pour hausser la popularité au niveau dégonflé de Star Acad' d'un mauvais choix de ministre de la Justice, et une petite soirée que certains artistes tristement dépassés espèrent de façon irréaliste représentera une occasion pour leur redonner un aspect moins fané.

Assez fréquemment F. Hollande et Monsieur Ayrault, son fidèle premier ministre, inventent des formules comme 'Pacte de l'Avenir', par exemple. D'ailleurs on voit souvent le Président donne ses discours au-dessus d'une tribune sur laquelle on peut lire de telles formules ponctuée avec les dates comme 2030, et même l'an 2050 a été mentionné une fois. C'est donc manifeste que non seulement F. Hollande présume sans aucun doute qu'il sera constamment réélu, mais il semble présumer en outre qui est aussi immortel. C'est vrai qu'il nous rappelle de Mr. Chance (Peter Sellers) dans le film 'Being There'. Donc F. Hollande ainsi que ses acolytes prétendent détenir la clé d'or pour pouvoir ouvrir la porte du jardin utopique de l'avenir. En somme le Président français est donc un homme divin. Si 'c'est son intention' de marcher sur l'eau, il est même capable de croire qu'il peut le faire.

Mais retournons à l'idée, une de plus très mal inspirée, d'interdiction de travailler le dimanche.
En pondant de telles lois les socialistes assument qu'ils savent bien mieux que les français ce qui est bon pour eux, et ce qui est bon pour les français ne peut qu'être bon pour la France. Ceci malgré le fait que depuis l'élection de F. Hollande la paquebot France n'a pas cessé de prendre l'eau.

Récemment j'ai posté une petite parodie en tant que commentaire pour un journal français sur le sujet pour essayer de souligner l'absurdité de cette idée. Comme j'ai omis certains détails, voici le texte complet. Un tel scénario évoque Terry Gilliam's excellent film, 'Brazil' (1985). En effet les nouvelles inventions et improvisions incessantes du gouvernement français semble basculer entre le ridicule loufoque et le cauchemar.

'J'ai la solution. D'ailleurs l'Etat pourrait m'employer en tant que conseilleur (mais pas le dimanche bien entendu) sur de tels sujets pour racler encore de l'argent aux français.
Le travail du dimanche doit donc être catégoriquement et carrément interdit. Il y aura une exception seulement, une force spéciale d'inspecteurs armée si nécessaire et habillée en uniformes camouflés selon les paysages des régions de leur responsabilité. Cette force spéciale sera chargée de faire en sorte que personne ne travaille le dimanche, ou ils auront le pouvoir d'arrêter ceux qui vont à l'encontre de cette nouvelle loi de citizen républicain.

Si on défie cette loi de manière commerciale, l'amende sera fixée au montant des gains obtenus en travaillant le dimanche. On ne pourrait pas mettre les coupables en garde à vue car les gendarmeries seront fermées le dimanche. Les casernes des pompiers aussi d'ailleurs.
Il y aura une amende de base moins punitive pour ceux qui font du jardinage, ou tondent la pelouse, ou lavent la voiture. L'amende pour bricoler sera quand même plus élevée.
Faire la cuisine sera toléré à condition de ne pas être vu. Il vaut mieux donc que le dimanche on jeûne. Pour éviter d'être piégé on devrait rester au lit avec un bon livre, mais avec les rideaux fermés car lire c'est un travail de vision donc punitif selon les règles de base. L'utilisation des ordinateurs et iPads, etc., sera hors de question car les serveurs ne fonctionneront plus le dimanche. Bien entendu les journaux et les magazines du dimanche ne seront plus disponibles et il n'y aura plus de signaux satellites pour les télévisions. Elles aussi ont le droit quand même de se reposer.
Voyager sera impossible le dimanche car les cheminots, les pilotes d'avions, les contrôleurs d'aéroports, les équipes des ferries et de paquebots se reposeront eux aussi le dimanche. L'espace aérien français sera totalement fermé. Il n'y aura pas de transport public. Pas de taxis évidemment. Les restaurants, théâtres, et cinémas seront fermés.
L'armée elle aussi sera au repos. Hors de question de manier les armes le démarche.
Pour les religieux, (bien que leur foi ou leur superstitions périmées soient toujours quasi tolérées par l'Etat républicain français, ce dernier est totalement convaincu que le besoin primordial du peuple est de limiter leur croyance et leur foi au Père Etat) les églises seront fermées le dimanche, car le personnel ecclésiastique n'aura plus le droit de travailler ce jour là non plus.
La France entière sera donc en sublime repos, à tel point qu'on dirait qu'elle est raide morte'.

Text and graphics (with apologies to all concerned) © Mirino, December, 2013

Pepys, 1669

Up until the end of May, 1669, Samuel Pepys remains faithful to his diary, if not to his wife. Indeed it is the amusing, endearing drama enacted by Pepys and his wife, that we (and thankfully Pepys) also refer to in this particular reference to him and his most famous diary.

Very concerned by his overstrained, failing eyesight, he decides, unfortunately for posterity, not to continue his 'personal' diary writing. His eyesight finally improves however, and he produces four additional diaries. They deal more with official and legal affairs, including his defence against his being charged with high-treason at the time of the Popish Plot. The final diary is more a travel log covering his trip to Tangiers and his business of evacuating a colony there.

Again, all notes respect Pepys's way of writing and any incidental errors.

12 January, 1669.
This evening I observed my wife mighty dull; and I myself was not mighty fond, because of some hard words she did give me at noon, out of jealousy at my being abroad this morning; when, God knows, it was upon the business of the office unexpectedly; but I to bed, not thinking but she would come after me; but waking by and by out of a slumber, which I usually fall into presently after my coming into bed, I found she did not prepare to come to bed, but got fresh candles and more wood for the fire, it being mighty cold too. At this being troubled, I after a while prayed her to come to bed, all my people being gone to bed, she fell out into a fury, that I was a rogue and false to her; but yet I could perceive that she was to seek what to say; only, she invented, I believe, a business that I was seen in a hackney coach with the glasses up with Deb, but could not tell the time, nor was sure I was he. I did, as I might truly, deny it, and was mightily troubled; but all would not serve. At last, about 1 a-clock, she came to my side of the bed and drow my curtaine open, and with the tongs, red hot at the ends, made as if she did design to pinch me with them; at which in dismay I rose up, and with a few words she laid them down and did by little and little, very sillily, let the discourse fall; and about 2, but with much seeming difficulty, came to bed and there lay well all night, and long in bed talking together with much pleasure; it being, I know, nothing but her doubt of my going out yesterday without telling her of my going which did vex her, poor wretch, last night: and I cannot blame her jealousy, though it doth vex me to the heart.

7 February. Lords Day.
My wife mightily peevish in the morning about my lying unquietly a-nights, and she will have it that it is a late practice, from my evil thoughts in my dreams; and I do often find that in my dreams she doth lay her hand upon my cockerel to observe what she can. And mightily she is troubled about it, but all blew over.

10 February.
To Whitehall, where I stayed till the Duke of York came from hunting, which he did by and by; and when dressed, did come out to dinner, and there I waited; and he did tell me that tomorrow was to be the great day that the business of the Navy would be discoursed of before the King and his Caball; and that he must stand on his guard. Here he dined, and did mightily magnify his sawce which he did then eat with everything, and said it was the best universal sauce in the world - it being taught him by the Spanish Imbassador - made of parsely and a dry toast, beat in a mortar together with vinegar, salt, and a little pepper. He eats it with flesh or fowl or fish. And then he did now mightily commend some new sort of wine lately found out, called Navarr wine; which I tasted, and is I think good wine; but I did like better the notion of the sawce and by and by did taste it, and liked it mightily.

11 March.
Up and to see Sir W. Coventry to the Tower,
(Sir William Coventry, commissioner of the Treasury, and good friend of Pepys, was disgraced and sent to the Tower for allegedly having challenged the Duke of Buckinham to a duel. Coventry ended up growing peaches in Oxfordshire)
where I walked and talked with him an hour alone, from one good thing to another; who tells me that he hears that the commission is gone down to the king with a blank to fill for his place in the Treasury; and he believes it will be filled with one of our Treasurers of the Navy, but which he knows not, but he believes it will be Osborne. We walked down the Stone Walk, which is called, it seems, 'My Lord of Northumberland's Walk', being paved by some of that title that was prisoner there; and at the end of it there is a piece of iron upon the wall with his armes upon it, and holes to put in a peg for every turn that they make upon that walk. So away to the office, where busy all the morning, and so to dinner; and so very busy all the afternoon at my office late, and then home, tired to supper, with content with my wife; and so to bed - she pleasing me, though I dare not own it, that she hath hired a chambermaid; but she, after many commendations, told me that she had one great fault, and that was that she was very handsome; at which I made nothing, but let her go on; but many times tonight she took occasion to discourse of her handsomeness and the danger she was in by taking her, and that she did doubt yet whether it would be fit for her to take her. But I did assure her of my resolutions to having nothing to do with her maids, but in myself I was glad to have the content to have a handsome one to look on.

12 March.
Up, and abroad with my own coach to Auditor Beales house; and thence with W. Hewer to his office and there with great content spent all morning, looking over the Navy accounts of several years and the several patents of the Treasurers, which was more then I did hope to have found there. About noon I ended there, to my great content; and giving the clerks there 20s for their trouble, and having sent for W. How to me to discourse with him about the Patent Office records, wherein I remembered his brother to be concerned, I took him in my coach with W. Hewer and myself toward Westminster, and there he carried me to Nott's, the famous bookbinder that bound for my Lord Chancellor's libary. And here I did take occasion for curiosity to bespeak a book to be bound, only that I might have one of his binding; Thence back to Gray's Inn; and at the next door, at a cook's-shop of How's acquaintance, we bespoke dinner, it being now 2 a-clock; and in the meantime he carried us into Gray's Inn to his chamber, where I never was before; and it is very pretty, and little and neat, as he was always. And so after a little stay and looking over a book or two there we carried a piece of my Lord Cooke with us, and to our dinner, where after dinner he read at my desire a chapter in my Lord Cooke about perjury, wherein I did learn a good deal touching oaths. And so away to the Patent Office in Chancery Lane, and here I did set a clerk to look out for some things for me in their books, while W. Hewers and I to the Crowne Office, where we met with several good things that I most wanted and did take short notes of their dockets; and so back to the Patent Office and did the like there, and by candlelight ended; and so home, where thinking to meet my wife with content, after my pains all this day, I find her in her closet, alone in the dark, in a hot fit of railing against me, upon some news she hath this day heard of Deb's living very fine, and with black spots, and speaking ill words of her mistress; but God knows, I know nothing of her nor what she doth nor what becomes of her; though God knows, my devil that is within me doth wish that I could. Yet God I hope will prevent me therein - for I dare not trust myself with it, If I should know it. But what with my high words, and slighting it then serious, I did at last bring her to a very good and kind terms, poor heart; and I was heartily glad of it, for I do see there is no man can be happier than myself, if I will, with her. But in her fit she did tell me what vexed me all the night, that this had put her upon putting off her handsome maid and hiring another that was full of smallpox - which did mightily vex me, though I said nothing, and doth still. So down to supper, and she to read to me, and then with all possible kindness to bed.

13 April.
By hackney coach to the Spittle and heard a piece of a dull sermon to my Lord Mayor and Alderman and then saw them all take horse and ride away, which I have not seen together many a day; their wifes also went in their coaches - and endeed the sight was mighty pleasing. I away home; and there sent for W. Hewer and he and I by water to Whitehall. But here, being with him in the courtyard, as God would have it, I spied Deb, which made my heart and head to work; and I presently could not refrain, but sent W. Hewer away to look for Mr Wren (W. Hewer, I perceive, did see her, but whether he did see me see her I know not, or suspect my sending him away I know not) but my heart could not hinder me. And I run after her and two women and a man, more ordinary people, and she in her old clothes; and after hunting a little, find them in the lobby of the Chapel below stairs; and there I observed she endeavoured to avoid me, but I did speak to her and she to me, and did get her para docere me ou she demeures now. And did charge her para say nothing of me that I had vu elle - which she did promise; and so, with my heart full of surprize and disorder, I away; and meeting with Sir H. Cholmley, walked into the park with him and back again, looking to see if I could spy her again in the park, but I could not. And so back to Whitehall, and then back to the park with Mr May, but could see her no more; and so with W. Hewer, who I doubt by my countenance might see some disorder in me, we home by water. But, God forgive me, I hardly know how to put on confidence enough to speak as innocent, having had this passage today with Deb, though only, God knows, by accident. But my great pain is lest God Almighty shall suffer me to find this girl, whom endeed I love, and with bad amour; but I will pray to God to give me grace to forebear it.
So home to supper, where very sparing in my discourse, nor giving occason of any enquiry where I have been today, or what I have done; and so, without any trouble tonight more then my fear, we to bed.

15 April.
Going down Holborn Hill by the Conduit, I did see Deb on foot going up the hill; I saw her, and she me, but she made no stop, but seemed unwilling to speak to me; so I away on, but then stopped and light after her, and overtook her at the end of Hosier Lane in Smithfield; and without standing in the street, desired her to fallow me, and I led her into a little blind alehouse within the walls; and there she and I alone fell to talk and besar la and tocar su mamelles; but she mighty coy, and I hope modest; but however, though with great force, did hazer elle con su hand para tocar mi thing, but ella was in great pain para be brought para it. I did give her a paper 20s,  we did agree para meet again in the Hall at Westminster on Monday next; and so, giving me great hopes by her carriage that she continues modest and honest, we did then part, she going home and I to Mrs Turner's; but when I came back to the place where I left my coach, it was gone, I having stayed too long, which did trouble me to abuse a poor fellow so; but taking another coach, I did direct him to find out the fellow and send him to me.

16 April.
Was in great pain about yesterday still, lest my wife should have sent her porter to enquire anything; though for my heart, I cannot see it possible how anything could be discovered of it; but yet, such is fear, as to render me full of doubt and disquiet. At night, to supper and to bed.


Later this month we shall take a peep at events leading up to Christmas, 1668, and how Samuel and his wife celebrated their Noel.

Intro and transposition © Mirino. Selections of notes from The Illustrated Pepys selected and edited by Robert Latham. With thanks.    December, 2013 

Dream gift

 Here's a dream,
A rainbow,
A sunbeam
 Of golden light

To be seen
 Upon your screen
And bring you
Its delight

Wealth bestowed
 And nothing owed,
 No mean fraud
 Or false measure

Just a dream,
A rare moment,
A precious gleam,
A treasure.


If dreams could be bought,
What would you buy?
Would you fill your cart with care?
Would you wisely choose
Or rashly lose
By buying a nightmare?

If dreams could be bought
What would you buy?
A cure to heal all woes?
Would you heed your heart
Or fill your cart
With anything that goes?

If dreams could be bought,
What would you buy
 If there were countless dreams to sell?
For a modest price
There's Paradise.
For the highest price there's hell.


Doggerel, photograph and illustration © Mirino (PW). With thanks to Thomas Lovell Beddoes. November, 2013


'A lie gets half way round the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on'.
'The truth is inconvertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.' (Winston Churchill).

Yet timeless truth appears to be a luxury today. The image of conviviality shared between Europe's uninspired choice of representative of Foreign Affairs and her homologue Mohammad Javad Zarif, speaks for itself. It suggests that brains, or at least memories, are sadly deficient.

In consideration of the recent public declaration of the ayatollah Khamenei, one would have thought it only right to scrap the Geneva negotiations altogether, or at least demand Iran to make a formal apology towards Israel as a condition to permit the negotiations to proceed.

Unfortunately there are no Churchills in today's world to insist upon such normal conditions. Blind goodwill and conviviality seem to reign instead. They seem to be used by those who badly represent us, to try to turn the page in the hope of giving priority to more serious economic affairs, crisis oblige.

The ayatollah's public declarations 'Les ennemies, notamment par la bouche sale et malveillante du chien enragé de la region, le régime sioniste...' (The enemies, mainly represented by the dirty mouthed rabid dog of the region, the Zionist regime..') were not made casually or by chance. No Iranian public statement is ever made casually or by chance.

Iran has already decided to go ahead with its nuclear program, come what may from the Geneva negotiations. This unacceptable insult was made simply to test the reaction of 'the powers that be'. Logic would determine that if Europe and the USA swallow this, then they will swallow anything. In other words, if the negotiations go ahead, in spite of the despicable insults deliberately aimed towards a respected democracy, then it stands to reason that Iran will gain what it wants and needs to become the principle power of the Gulf region.

The ayatollah completes his diatribe by adding 'Les fondements du régime sioniste ont été affaiblis très fortement et il est voué à la disparition'. (The foundations of the Zionist regime have been weakened and it is condemned to disappear).

But Israel certainly won't disappear. One only needs to refer to history to appreciate that. Ancient and modern history. A State that is able to defend itself alone against five Arab nations militarily supported by four others (the War of Israeli independence, 1948) will never 'disappear'.
Only tyrannic regimes that have no respect for democracy are condemned to disappear. History, ancient and modern, also clearly corroborates that.

'If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile-driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time - a tremendous whack'. 
'An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last'.
Churchill again, of course. But even without such as he, the truth will eventually prevail, in spite of any ephemeral naivety and indecision.

Text and illustration (from the Hare and the Tortoise, Hutchinson) © Mirino. November, 2013

Scottish myths 32

 The candle

Near the Kinnaird Burn, not far north-east of Pitlochry, there was once a house known as 'The Old White House'. It was supposed to have been built on an ancient burial ground and was thought to be haunted. The people who lived there, a family of the Gordons', were made very much aware of this, and not only because they had great difficulty in persuading their servants to remain with them for any great lengths of time.

In spite of its being alluded to as white, the grey stone walls, the unkempt, sad garden, the dismal hall, dark passages and stairs could only complement the haunted reputation of the house. Even during the summer months the house retained its bleak and sinister atmosphere.
How anyone could abide living in such a place was a wonder in itself.

My family knew the Gordons well, and we were often invited to The Old White House, despite our own forebodings about the place. When we did go, we never stayed longer than politeness permitted.

However on one occasion in winter, we were invited there again. For some reason which now escapes me, it was impossible to refuse. Our mother was quite ill at the time and we firmly persuaded her to remain at home in bed.

Whilst we were at The White House, me (Graham) and my two sisters, it began to snow, and continued so much so that the roads became blocked. We were therefore obliged to stay much longer than we would have wished.

It was on the evening before we were finally able to leave, after supper, as Elsa and I ascended the staircase on our way to our respective bedrooms, Alice, one of the rare, loyal maids of the house, ran down towards us. She was pale with terror.

"Please come to my room, something is very wrong, or else I'm going mad"! she exclaimed.
"What's wrong"? was all we could ask.
"It's the candle in my room, I can't put it out".

This seemed so absurd that it made me laugh. I was quite sure that I could solve the problem, but when we arrived at her bedroom door, we couldn't open it, even though it certainly wasn't locked.
With my sister, we pushed as hard as we could but it made no difference.
Then suddenly it flew open for a few seconds, enough for us to see the strange light of the candle, then it slammed shut again.

I sensed that it would be useless to try once more to open the door, realising with horror that something was indeed paranormal. We all looked at each other probably sharing the same thought. Suddenly the door flew open again and I felt irresistibly drawn into the room. The door then promptly slammed shut once more, seemingly of its own accord.

The atmosphere in the room terrified me so much that I was senseless to the noise of the banging on the door and the entreaties of Alice and Elsa who naturally wanted to know what was happening.
Like a doomed moth I was drawn to the candle. It appeared to harbour some sort of spirit. I blew at it hard, then I wet my fingers to attempt to pinch it out, burning them in the process. I then tried to cover the flame with the candle stick's conical copper snuffer, but it grew so hot that once more I burnt my fingers severely. All this I did in a curious daze of obedience, as if some sort of spiritual force goaded me to challenge its power.

Then suddenly the candle stick rose up and came towards me, as if it were held by a ghost. I was mesmerised as well as horrified, but the terror was quashed by the hypnotic effect the wavering light of the flame had on me. Slowly I backed away against a wall. The candle came nearer and nearer until everything became a terrible blood red, yet I felt no warmth. The coldness was increased by the touch of an ethereal hand on my arm. And that is really all that I can remember.

I awoke in a bed greeted by the anxious faces of Elsa joined by my elder sister Louisa. Alice was there too, just behind them. They told me that the door had opened normally and that they had found me lying unconscious. The candle was by my side, still burning, but in a perfectly natural way. Alice had shyly blown at it, and it simply went out, leaving a feeble wisp of smoke.
Old Craig Gordon had managed to get me to my room. Apparently he was unperturbed by it all.

I had no desire to tell my sisters anything, even though they kept insisting. I had a premonition and was certain that it had been conveyed by the dreadful experience of yesterday evening.
We left for home as soon as we possible could that same day.

That evening there was the most glorious sunset enhanced by the what was left of the snow. The vivid red mirrored the crescendo of my ordeal absolutely, convincing me even more of the premonition.
For when we got home we discovered that our mother's illness had deteriorated to a hopeless degree. The doctor had been called from Pitlochry and had done everything he possibly could whilst we had been away and beyond reach.
I was certain, and curiously reassured, that we had been urgently summoned for a sad but inevitable event, heralded and blest by the last rays of a heavenly sunset.

Scottish myths 33
Scottish myths 31

Retelling and image © Mirino, (from The Inextinguishable Candle of the Old White House, Pitlochry. The project Gutenberg of Scottish Ghost stories, by Elliott O' Donnell). 
With thanks.                                             November, 2013


Have you ever seen the reaction of a spider when it's aware that it has caught a fly on its web? It doesn't react immediately. It waits until the web's vibration and tension assure it that the fly is well and truly stuck, then it approaches its prey to roll it up in its sticky thread before it drugs it and pierces it with its needle to empty it of its vital fluids.

There are many different spiders on the Web. Some are worse than others. There are the naive spiders who try to expand their webs by selling bad reproductions of artists' and photographers' works without authorisation. They even credit the authors for their works, no doubt believing that it will increase the selling potential of the works pirated, and give the pirates a semblance of legitimacy to continue to rip off the authors.

When one comes across such cases, and points out that they are infringing on one's copyright, and that the artist or photographer could insist that they surrender all proceeds of sales of the pirated works to the author, they always seem amazed and even as if hard done by.

For we are living in a world, thanks to the huge multinationals of the Web, where 'sharing' is falsely claimed to be socially if not politically correct. A Web Utopia where everything is free.

But even the huge multinationals, who generously supply free means for the creative to express themselves on Internet, shouldn't assume the right to reproduce authors' works in any way, without first obtaining their permission to do so. It's true that they add that such works 'could be subject to copyright', but when such works are subject to copyright, they should never be reproduced without authorisation by anyone in the first place. And the site supplier who wrongly assumes the right to reproduce such works elsewhere, should take the initial trouble of checking whether such works are copyright protected, in order to either refrain from reproducing the works themselves, or at least clarify categorically and responsibly that the works are copyright protected. By doing so they would also be discouraging international illegal infringement, instead of contributing to promote the false idea of an international right to 'share', which naturally generates illegal pirating.

If artists and photographers dedicated their time in trying to track down pirates who are commercially benefitting by infringing on the formers' copyright, they would probably have no time left to do anything else. One therefore stumbles upon such cases quite by chance.

The worst spiders however on not the pirates. They are the spiders who get fat from catching naive 'greenflies'.
They wait until one gets stuck by making a tiny initial engagement. For example let's mention a Danish based company called PointShop. You might receive an email from them offering you the possibility of obtaining an electric screwdriver for only one euro. As no other information or condition is apparent which would induce you to have second thoughts about it, your first reaction therefore is, why not? For the one euro they require your credit card information. Naively you might go along with this too, also perhaps out of curiosity.

You will never receive the electric screwdriver, but they will deduct another euro from your account the same month. You will be informed that you have a certain amount of unasked for 'points'. Two more weeks later they'll take the liberty of taking 45 euros from your account. Naturally you complain. PointShop reply that your 'free trial period' is over... First news of a 'trial period'.
In order to justify themselves they supply four links of their terms and conditions. All the links lead nowhere, which naturally makes things even worse.

When you try to cancel your subscription, there's another surprise waiting for you. You are informed that you cannot cancel before becoming a 'VIP'! So you have to go through the process of becoming a 'VIP' to try to unstick yourself from this infernal cobweb. However, even when you have received the notification from the PointShop site itself that your account is cancelled, the nightmare draws on because they continue to pretend that you are still a happy member. You still receive their junk mail as if nothing has happened!

You are left with no other alternative than to block your credit card, which means going through the tiresome process of reporting the case to the police, getting a form from them, printing out forms from your bank to make a formal complaint, and then having to patiently wait for a replacement credit card.

There must be millions of such cases of web fraud, but I mention this one in particular because I am certain that there are many 'greenfles' who fall victim to the sticky web of PointShop. And if this helps to warn others of the danger that such companies can represent, then alluding to it would be worthwhile.

If, on the other hand, there are people who disagree, who have entered the portal of this Utopian dream of point shopping, and have become blissfully happy due to the many sublime and unimaginable advantages gained, then by all means respond to correct me for the gross injustice I am now doing to PointShop.
But if there are others who agree with me, those who have flown into the same ghastly web, or into other similar sticky traps, then please add your comment, which would reinforce the warning that everyone should steer very clear of the infernal webs of these most despicable spiders.

Avez vous jamais vu la réaction d'une araignée lorsqu'elle est consciente qu'il y a une mouche sur sa toile? Elle ne réagit pas tout de suite. Elle attend jusqu'à ce que la vibration et la tension de la toile l'assure que la mouche est bien prise, puis elle approche de sa proie pour l'enrouler dans son fil gluant avant de la droguer et la percer avec son aiguille pour la vider de son fluide vital.

Il y a plusieurs genres d'araignées sur le web. Certains sont pires que d'autres. Il y a les araignées naïves qui essaient d'élargir leurs toiles (webs) en vendant sans autorisation de mauvaises reproductions des œuvres d'artistes et de photographes. Ils accréditent même les auteurs pour leur travail, sans doute croyant ainsi que cette démarche augmenterait le potentiel commercial et donnerait une apparence de légitimité pour continuer à arnaquer les auteurs.

Quand on découvre de tels cas, et qu'on leur fait savoir qu'ils sont en train d'empiéter sur ses droits, et que l'artiste ou le photographe empiété pourrait insister qu'ils lui cèdent tout ce qu'ils ont gagné en vendant les reproductions de son travail, ils ont toujours l'air étonné, et comme si on les traite d'une manière injuste.

Car on vit dans un monde, grâce aux grandes multinationales du Web, où 'sharing' ou partager, est prétendu à tort, être socialement sinon politiquement correct. Une Utopie du Web où quasi tout est gratuit.

Mais même les grandes multinationales, celles qui généreusement fournirent les moyens gratuits pour que les créatifs puissent s'exprimer sur Internet, ne devraient pas assumer le droit de reproduire les œuvres des auteurs, sans d'abord obtenir leur permission pour le faire. C'est vrai qu'elles ajoutent que de telles images 'pourraient être sujets de protection des droits d'auteur', mais quand de telles œuvres sont ainsi sujets de cette protection, elles ne devraient jamais être reproduites sans autorisation par qui que ce soit en premier lieu. Et les fournisseurs du site qui assument à tort le droit de reproduire ailleurs de telles œuvres, devraient au moins prendre la peine de vérifier si ces œuvres sont protégées, ou pour s'empêcher eux-mêmes de les reproduire, ou, à défaut de cela, pour souligner de manière catégorique que les images en question sont bien protégées à cet égard. Ainsi de tels fournisseurs des sites contribueraient de façon responsable à décourager le piratage illégal international, au lieu de contribuer à promouvoir l'idée fausse du droit de partager (sharing) qui naturellement engendre le piratage illégal de telles œuvres.  

Si les artistes et les photographes consacraient leur temps à traquer les pirates du web qui bénéficient commercialement de la vente des reproductions de travail de ces premiers, c'est probable qu'ils n'auraient plus le temps de faire quoi que ce soit d'autre. On les découvre donc par hasard.

Les araignées les pires cependant, ne sont pas les pirates. Ce sont les araignées qui grossissent grâce à une proie abondante et naïve.
Elles attendent jusqu'à ce qu'on se trouve par inadvertance collé à leur toile ayant fait un engagement initial. Par exemple on pourrait citer le nom d'une compagnie danoise qui s'appelle PointShop. Vous pourriez recevoir un émail de leur part vous proposant la possibilité d'obtenir un tournevis électrique pour seulement un euro. Comme il n'y a aucune autre information ou condition apparente pour que vous vous méfiiez, votre première réaction est 'pourquoi pas'?
Pour un euro ils requierent votre information de carte de crédit. Naïvement vous pensez que vous n'avez rien à perdre, et peut-être vous êtes également curieux.

Vous ne recevrez jamais le tournevis électrique, mais ils déduiront un autre euro de votre compte le même mois. Vous serez informé que vous possédez une quantité de points que vous n'avez jamais demandé. Deux semaines plus tard ils prendront la liberté de déduire 45 euro de plus de votre compte. Naturellement vous vous plaignez contre eux. La réponse de PointShop est que votre période d'essai est terminée... Première nouvelle d'une 'période d'essai'.
Pour se justifier encore ils vous donnent quatre links de leurs termes et conditions. Il n'y en a aucun qui aboutit quelque part, ce qui rend les choses encore pire. 

Quand vous essayez d'annuler votre abonnement il y a une autre surprise qui vous attend. Vous êtes informé que vous ne pouvez pas l'annuler avant de devenir un 'VIP' ! Donc il faut faire le nécessaire pour devenir un 'VIP' pour essayer de vous décoller de cette toile d'araignée infernale. Cependant, même si vous avez la chance de recevoir la notification du site de PointShop que votre abonnement est annulé, le cauchemar n'est pas terminé car ils peuvent même continuer à prétendre que vous êtes toujours un abonné heureux. Vous continuez à recevoir leur junk mail comme si de rien n'était!

Vous êtes alors obligé de bloquer votre carte de crédit, ce qui veut dire d'informer la gendarmerie pour obtenir une formule, et d'imprimer d'autres formules de la banque pour établir une plainte formelle, puis d'attendre patiemment pour recevoir une nouvelle carte de crédit de remplacement.

Il doit y avoir des millions de cas de fraudes sur le Web, mais je fais allusion à ceci particulièrement parce que je suis persuadé qu'actuellement il y a beaucoup de moucherons qui tombent victime de la toile gluante de PointShop. Et si ceci aide à avertir d'autres du danger que de telles compagnies représentent, alors cette allusion vaudra bien la peine d'être faite.

Si sur l'autre côté, il y a des gens qui ne sont pas d'accord, qui sont entrés par le portal de ce rêve utopique de PointShop, et sont devenus tellement heureux grâce aux nombreux avantages sublimes et inouïes, alors je vous en prie de répondre pour me corriger pour l'injustice grossière que je suis en train d'infliger à PointShop.
Mais s'il y en a d'autres qui sont d'accord avec moi, qui se sont par mégarde collés sur ce web atroce, ou se sont trouvés coincés dans des pièges semblables, je vous prie de raconter votre expérience comme commentaire. Ceci renforcerait l'avertissement aux autres de prendre le large de ces toiles, de bien éviter les webs infernaux de ces araignées les plus ignobles.



Avete mai visto la reazione di un ragno quando esso sa che c'è una mosca sulla ragnatela? Non reagisce immediatamente. Aspetta fino a che la vibrazione e la tensione della ragnatela lo garantisce che la mosca è ben presa, quindi si avvicina alla sua preda per avvolgerla nel suo filo viscoso prima di drogarla e perforarla con il suo ago per svuotarla dei suoi liquidi vitali.

Ci sono molti ragni diversi sul Web. Alcuni sono più cattivi di altri. Ci sono i ragni ingenui che provano ad espandere le loro ragnatele vendendo senza alcuna autorizzazione cattive riproduzioni delle opere degli artisti e dei fotografi.  Accreditano anche gli autori per il loro lavoro, forse credendo che questo passo aumenti il potenziale commerciale e dia un aspetto di legittimità alla truffa perpetrata continuamente ai danni degli autori.

Quando uno si imbatte in casi del genere e fa notare a questa gente che stanno violando il suo copyright e che l'artista o il fotografo in questione potrebbe esigere che i pirati cedano all'autore tutto ciò che hanno guadagnato vendendo le riproduzioni del suo lavoro, quelli hanno sempre l'aria stupida e perfino come se fossero trattati in modo ingiusto.

Poiché si vive in un mondo, grazie alle grandi multinazionali del web, dove 'sharing' o condividere, è una pratica che è erroneamente proclamata esser socialmente se non politicamente corretta. Un'Utopia del web dove quasi tutto è gratuito.

Ma neppure le grandi multinazionali, che forniscono generosamente i mezzi gratuiti affinché i creativi si esprimano sul Internet, dovrebbero presupporre il diritto di riprodurre le opere degli autori in alcun modo, senza in primo luogo ottenere la loro autorizzazione. È vero che essi aggiungono che tali immagini 'potrebbero essere soggette di protezione dei diritti di autore', ma quando tali opere sono così soggette di tutela di diritto d'autore, non dovrebbero mai essere riprodotte da chiunque, compresi essi, senza autorizzazione.

Ed il fornitore del sito che si arroga a torto il diritto di riprodurre altrove tali opere, dovrebbe almeno verificare se quest'opere sono protette, o per impedirsi di riprodurrle, o in mancanza di questo, almeno di sottolinearlo in modo chiaro e categorico. Così tali fornitori dei siti contribuirebbero in modo più responsabile a scoraggiare la pirateria illegale internazionale, anziché contribuire a promuovere l'idea falsa del diritto di condividere (sharing) che naturalmente genera la violazione di tali opere.

Se mai gli artisti ed i fotografi dedicassero il loro tempo a cercare i pirati del web che beneficiano commercialmente della vendita delle riproduzioni del proprio lavoro, è probabile che non avrebbero più il tempo per fare nient'altro. Pertanto di solito ci si imbatte in questo tipo di eventi per puro caso.

I ragni i peggiori, tuttavia, non sono i pirati. Sono i ragni che si ingrassano grazie ad una preda abbondante ed ingenua.
Aspettano fino a che ci si attacca dopo che la preda avesse fatto un impegno iniziale. Per esempio si potrebbe citare il nome di una società danese che si chiama PointShop. Potreste ricevere una e-mail di pubblicità da parte loro che vi propone la possibilità di ottenere un cacciavite elettrico per soltanto un euro. Non c'è nessun'altra informazione o condizione evidente per indurrvi a cambiare parere, la vostra prima reazione è 'perché no?'
Per un euro richiedono comunque informazioni sulla vostra carta di credito. Ingenuamente pensate di non aver nulla da perdere, e forse siete anche curiosi.

Non ricevete mai il cacciavite elettrico, ma essi deducono un altro euro del vostro conto lo stesso mese. Siete informati che possedete una quantità di punti che non avete mai chiesto. Due settimane più tardi essi prendono senza vergogna altri 45 euro dal vostro conto. Protestate naturalmente. Come risposta da parte di PointShop, siete informati che il vostro 'periodo gratuito di prova' è terminato. Prime notizie di un periodo di prova.
Ad ulteriore giustificazione vi danno quattro links dei loro 'termini e condizioni.'
Nessuno dei link sforniti, però, conduce da qualche parte, il che rende le cose ancora peggiore.

Quando provate ad annullare la vostra sottoscrizione, c'è un'altra sorpresa che vi aspetta. Siete informati che non potete annullare prima di diventare un 'VIP'! Dunque occorre fare il necessario per diventare un 'VIP' per provare a scollarvi da questa ragnatela pestifera.
Tuttavia, anche se avete la fortuna di ricevere la conferma dal sito PointShop che la vostra sottoscrizione è annullata, l'incubo non è ancora terminato poiché possono anche continuare a sostenere che siete sempre degli abbonati felici. Continuate a ricevere i loro junk mail come se nulla fosse!

Non avete allora altra scelta che bloccare la vostra carta di credito, il che significa sottoporsi al defatigante procedimento di informare la polizia, di ottenere un modulo da quest'ultima, di stampare altri moduli della banca per un reclamo formale, e infine aspettare con pazienza ricevere una carta di credito sostitutiva...

Ci devono essere milioni di tali frodi nel Web, ma cito questo in particolare perché sono sicuro che molti moscerini cadono vittima della ragnatela vischiosa di PointShop. E se questo contribuisce ad avvertire altri del pericolo che tali società possono rappresentare, allora può valere la pena di mensione questo caso.

Se d'altra parte, c'è gente che non è d'accordo, quelli che sono entrati attraverso il portale di questo sogno utopistico di PointShop, e sono diventati tanto felici grazie ai molti vantaggi sublimi ed inauditi, allora vi prego di rispondere per correggermi per la grave ingiustizia che sto infliggendo adesso a PointShop.
Ma se ci sono altri che sono d'accordo con me, che sono stati catturati da quella orrenda ragnatela, o sono caduti in trappole altrettanto vischiose, allora vi prego di aggiungere i vostri commenti, che rinforzerebbero l'avvertimento ad altri per evitare tali web infernali ad opera di questi ragni ignobilissimi.

Text and image (the Money Spider from Alphonso's Dream) © Mirino. Ringraziamenti a Rob. November, 2013