Pink elephant




 If you want to succeed
There're no secrets,
In fact there's no magic
At all

There's little you need
And no regrets,
If by going too quick
You might fall

You just pick yourself up
With a big smile,
And get back on your bike
Again

For you never give up
When you've got style,
Like a sun-beam
After the rain

If it's less what you do
That's important,
And more how you do it
                                                 That counts                                                  

Then by just being you
Pink elephant,
You're a great hit
 By all accounts.
 
For T
__

Doggerel and image © Mirino. May, 2013

The Poppy



On the road side grew a poppy. It grew all by itself, slender and graceful with it's delicate, bright red petals.
Between golden corn-fields and the poppy were a ditch and a hedgerow. Many other poppies grew in the cornfield, but the poppy by the road side never knew this. It never knew anything at all.

The poppy could only wave to the people who travelled along the road. And although it fluttered like a fragile little flag, and bowed graciously, hardly anyone noticed it.

During the early summer season more and more people passed along the road. They travelled in vehicles of various sizes and colours, some noisier than others. By then the poppy had already become covered with dusty grime.
All about it litter was carelessly strewn. There was a litter-bin, but it was overfilled, and surrounded with plastic bags, bits of egg shell, orange peel and scraps of newspaper. There were plastic bottles, beer-cans, banana skins, cigarette butts, broken glass, bits of tyre and oily rags. It was very unpleasant for the poppy.

When things got even worse, the poor flower was unable to hold its head up. It drooped dejectedly as though it had lost all hope in the sun, the earth and life itself.
It seemed inevitable that the lonely poppy was doomed, and there, sadly, we must leave it.

In the cornfield on the other side of the hedgerow, everything appeared to be so much brighter for the large colony of poppies that grew there so healthily. They flashed their rich, red glow between the countless, tall, green and golden stems. They blissfully beamed and bobbed their heads as though they were all very pleased with themselves.

The owner of the cornfield was as thrifty as most farmers have to be. In his field he was determined to grow as much corn as he possibly could. In order to do this he had to get rid of everything frustaneous, even though he had no idea what the word meant. The large stones, the old tree roots, the weeds and even the poppies had to go. It all happened so quickly. The whole colony was taken totally unawares, which is not surprising, but nevertheless just as well.

On the other side of the hedgerow important people had decided that the road should be widened. For this the ditch would be filled and the bank would be levelled. It would all be steam-rolled flat, covered with gravel, thickly coated with tar, then embellished on the side near the hedgerow with an endless, perfectly parallel, yellow stripe.
The people came with heavy machines and started by filling the ditch, then they tore away the banks of earth and everything with it. The poor little poppy, squeezed amongst mountainous clods of soil, weeds and rubbish, was reduced to a squashed, red speck somewhere deep down within the gigantic, grim and grumbling lorry load.

The lorry eventually rumbled away, and one might think that it would be a merciful end for the poppy. The lorry arrived at an isolated place where it dumped its load on a mound that gradually sloped down into a large quarry.

Summer showers sprayed and smoothed the earth warmed by the sun.
Then one fine day, as if by magic, high on the bank of the slope, the poppy reappeared. Not only had it survived, it grew more elegant and beautiful than ever before.

As if by similar enchantment, other poppies emerged too. Soon the whole slope was a blaze of shimmering scarlet. They were all comfortably installed in their own private poppy bed. And when the sun smiled down they raised their delicate heads up to the most eminent poppy that grew so serenely above them.

They were never disturbed, not for a long long while, but they were often admired by people like you and me.  

 *  
    Originally written . 1985 .  Revised . 2013
 
Text and vignette © Mirino (PW) May, 2013

Mariage 3



Les 'sages' donc ont voté la loi. C'était à prévoir vu la majorité des socialistes au Sénat.
Aujourd'hui même, samedi 18 mai, la loi donnant droit aux homosexuels de se marier sera promulguée. Mais il n'y a personne dans les rues faisant la cabriole.

Harlem Désir exprime sa 'fierté' en tant que socialiste. F. Hollande a fait une allusion au 'courage' d'avoir 'réformé la société'...

Mais c'est là où ils révèlent leur jeu. Car un seul homme, ou même un gouvernement, n'a ni la capacité, ni le pouvoir et ni le droit de 'réformer' la société. Et lorsqu'un gouvernement impose une loi qui regarde directement la société, sans aucune considération à l'égard de la volonté de la dite société, un tel gouvernement joue dangereusement avec le feu.

Cette loi importe pour les socialistes plus que l'on imagine, car elle représente une pierre idéologique. Si la compétitivité (qui en somme est fondée sur la loi naturelle de la survie des plus forts) échappe complètement à la logique socialiste, conditionnée plutôt par l'égalitarisme, la volonté voire la possibilité de 'reformer' la société est pour eux une compensation très importante, sinon une considération primordiale.

Le socialiste français raisonne en chiffres. Actuellement il semble avoir une préférence pour le numéro six, pour quelque raison féerique.
Qu'importe si la France sombre dans les bas fonds de la misère économique tant que la majorité de la société française reste socialiste. Voilà le raisonnement rose.

Evidemment c'est un raisonnement faux. Aussi faux que l'idée qu'ils peuvent 'réformer' la société.
Curieusement la famille, qui pour les grands penseurs comme Honoré de Balzac 'sera toujours la base des sociétés,' a toujours représenté une menace pour le socialisme, car en tant que telle, surtout dans sa forme idéale, elle est hors de sa portée.
Même Vincent Peillon, ministre de l'Education Nationale exprimait une volonté 'd'arracher les enfants de l'influence de la famille'. Selon lui l'individuel ne peut pas se développer, sinon exister, sans l'Etat. Pour lui, même la Révolution Française n'est pas encore morte...

C'est plausible que la majorité de ces homosexuels qui font semblant d'être béatement comblé(e)s de joie par la bénédiction généreuse de l'Etat, soit assez fine et intelligente pour se rendre bien compte qu'elle est en train d'être exploitée.
Les socialistes n'ont jamais manifesté un tel intérêt à leur égard avant de prendre le pouvoir. Pourquoi? Parce que justement il n'y avait aucun intérêt à leur égard à ce moment-là.

Idéologiquement les socialistes aspirent à substituer petit à petit la famille avec l'Etat.
C'est un autre paradoxe amusant que malgré une opposition très importante- à ne jamais sous-estimer d'ailleurs- F. Hollande a investi tant d'effort à accorder le droit de se marier aux homosexuels, tout en évitant toujours, de se marier lui-même. Peut-être si F. Hollande était homosexuel, il serait plus incliné à célébrer légalement le mariage avec celui qui lui convenait le mieux. Mais comme il ne l'est pas, il n'a manifestement aucune envie d'officialiser sa relation avec sa concubine selon les principes classiques du mariage aussi vieux que la civilisation, sans trop considérer le protocole et le manque de respect envers le public en ce qui concerne le statut de la soi-disant 'Première Dame'. Tout comme il ne semble pas avoir eu aucun désir d'officialiser et de sécuriser correctement son union de famille auparavant avec Ségolène Royal.

N'est-ce pas aussi une forme de manifestation personnelle, un tel rejet du principe, de la valeur et de l'idéal de la famille?

En somme, comme cette loi légalisant les mariages gays est établie essentiellement pour satisfaire un besoin idéologique, il se peut que plus de mal que de bien en sera le produit. Lorsqu'on va contre la volonté d'une large partie de la société, sans l'accorder aucun droit ou possibilité de choix, tout comme lorsqu'on va contre la nature elle-même, il y a toujours une réaction naturelle relativement égale à l'ampleur de l'imposition d'une telle dérive. Et forcément c'est aussi dans l'ordre des choses, que l'on soit d'accord ou non.

La société n'aime aucunement que les politiciens se mêlent de ses affaires directement en prétendant pouvoir la 'réformer'.
Elle se réforme toute seule, ou plus exactement elle détermine sa propre évolution tout naturellement avec le temps, sans aucune aide ou imposition des illuminés qui devraient limiter leurs intérêts, efforts et préoccupations aux problèmes bien plus pressants car bien plus critiques. Problèmes pour lesquels ils ont été élus justement pour résoudre.

Car c'est aussi une question de temps. Si trop lourdement chargé et surtaxé le paquebot France coulait par conséquence, combien de mariage gays pourrait-on officialiser et célébrer gaiement sur le pont dans le temps disponible? On verra bien.. 
__

 Admettant que le socialisme français est plutôt une idéologie 'sans frontières', et qu'elle incarne la nécessité obligatoire de faire en sorte par tous les moyens qu'elle se perpétue, l'étape de légaliser les mariage entre les homosexuels aussi pour leur permettre d'adopter les enfants, fait partie du procès. C'est donc probable, malgré le déni de F. Hollande, que la PMA sera aussi légalisée. Logiquement 'le produit' augmentera les rangs socialistes pour la postérité.

Bientôt il y aura une loi établie donnant droit au vote aux étrangers, et non pas uniquement aux européens, bien entendu. C'est une autre étape importante partie du procès. 
On parle aussi, ou on chuchote
plutôt, de la possibilité de légaliser la polygamie, prétextant que les français sont censées respecter les mœurs des autres cultures résidant en France.
Même les enfants nés ailleurs donc, tant que leurs parents sont officiellement résidents français, joueront des avantages offerts par la sécurité sociale française déjà dangereusement surtaxée et endettée.

Lorsque de telles impositions sociales, entament sur la culture, les valeurs, l'économie et la sécurité d'une nation, et par extension de l'Europe entière
, le peuple n'a pas le droit de les laisser passer. Mais actuellement l'opposition ne semble pas être trop consciente de ce qui est essentiellement en jeu. Elle attend comme si elle est déjà convaincue qu'elle aura de nouveau le pouvoir en 2017, mais c'est maintenant qu'il faut agir. Il ne faut pas laisser passer de telles lois qui vont contribuer sûrement au déclin irrévocable de la France.       
__
 

Text and artwork © Mirino (PW). Illustration from Alphonso's Dream, (un poem by Anthony Roberts).                                         May, 2013

Henry VIII . part IV



Among the many who disapproved of Anne Boleyn were the malicious who would remark on the rudimentary sixth finger of her left hand as a sign of a witch. But she was adroit in concealing this beneath her sleeve folds and with her normal fingers.
An Italian's description of her at the age of twenty six went as follows : 'Mistress Anne is not one of the handsomest women in the world; she is of middling stature, swarthy complexion, long neck, wide mouth, bosom not much raised and, in fact, has nothing but the English King's appetite, and her eyes, which are black and beautiful'.

Anne was extremely demanding, and often astonished the king by her brusk and arrogant manner of addressing him. Certainly Catherine could never have been accused of such haughty insolence.
To compensate for the secret marriage, Anne was granted a lavish coronation in keeping with her former wishes. The voyage in a royal barge to the Tower for the coronation ceremony which took place in May, 1533, the pageantry, water carnival, fireworks and procession through the streets of London, would for Anne, have represented her personal triumph. This was what she had been so patiently waiting for.

In September that same year, Anne Bolyne gave birth to Princess Elizabeth in Greenwich.
Having broken with Rome in order to remarry and thus realise his primordial objective to father a son and heir to the throne, Henry could not hide his disappointment. He was as cold with Anne as he was with his new daughter.

Sir Thomas More, with his international reputation, was the best choice to replace Wolsey as Lord Chancellor.
In spite of his disillusionment over the birth of Elizabeth, Henry remained adamant regarding the social and religious support of his decision ratified by Parliament. An oath to the Succession was drawn up to this effect. Most of the king's courtiers and eminent subjects took the oath late in March, 1534.

Although the integrity of humanist Thomas More could never permit him to repudiate papal authority, he hoped and suggested that the oath could be reworded in such a way that would allow him to commit himself to it. Henry, in his frustration, badly needed the support of those he respected most, but neither Sir Thomas More nor the Bishop Fisher of Rochester, whose allegiance would have, in Henry's eyes, fully justified and sanctified his decision, could agree under the stipulated conditions.

That the Succession had been ratified by Parliament made no difference for Henry. It was the principle, a moral question. Perhaps deep down he had doubts about his own decision, and needed, above all, the benediction of the much admired Thomas More, to enable him to allay them.  

Important personalities such as John Houghton, Prior of the London Charterhouse, and the worthy scholar, Richard Reynolds of Syon Monastery, were executed on the 4th May, 1535 for treason over the Act of Succession. Bishop John Fisher, who had always supported Catherine, was also sentenced to death for treason. In his view 'Henry, King of England, was not and could never be Supreme Head of the Church of England.'  For his execution he insisted on wearing his best clothes. For him, as he put it to his unenthusiastic servant, 'Do'st thou not mark that this is our wedding day, and that it behoveth us therefore to use more cleanliness for the solemnity of the marriage?'


In addition to Catherine, Anne Boleyn's main enemies had always included Sir Thomas More. More's own wife wondered why, for the sake of 'a piece of paper', he let himself be shut up in the Tower. Even his preferred daughter (Meg Roper) had taken the oath.
During Thomas More's trial, a certain Richard Rich misconstrued his words in order to lamely come up with an injurious remark against the king. More's reaction was to suggest that the court should 'pay no attention to a man who was a great doer and of no commendable fame'.
More received a message from the king. He was required to limit his words to those of a farewell. Ever loyal to the end, even to a totally unjust death sentence, Thomas More obeyed.
Despite all his faults, Henry knew that England had lost a great man of fine integrity, and that the world would take his solid defence of principle to be the most important repudiation of the King's religious, if not royal authority.

During the same month of January, 1536, when Catherine died, Henry suffered from a serious riding accident. It was first thought that his life was in danger. When Anne was informed of the accident by Norfolk, her uncle, the shock- according to her- provoked the miscarriage of a baby boy.

As Henry was already overwrought by the demands of his wife, and his accident which caused him a leg injury and lameness that he had to contend with for the rest of his life, Anne's miscarriage and her general unpopularity, made him believe he had been 'seduced by witchcraft'.
Even as early as the year 1534, Henry had been confiding with Cromwell and Cranmer over the matter, seeking advice on how best he could get rid of Anne, and avoid the return of Catherine.

Incredibly the Boleyn family, aware of Henry's marital deception, and concerned about losing the considerable fortune that Anne had brought them, introduced to court an attractive cousin of Anne's, Madge Shelton. Henry lost no time in taking her for his mistress. Anne was furious and even more vindictive. She was cruel towards Princess Mary whom she treated as a 'cursed bastard', even suggesting that she be poisoned.

Neglected by Henry, she began to look elsewhere, no doubt also with the aim to seek vengeance. There was a considerable courtly flutter of male interest, and Anne still hoped for the son who would change everything. She began another pregnancy in 1536.

At about the same time Henry visited Wolf Hall in Wiltshire where he met the fair, 25 year old daughter of the house, Jane Seymour. Her father, Wiltshire Knight, Sir John Seymour, had served under the king in France, in 1513. He was also present at the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Her mother was a Wentworth descendant of Edward III.
All the king's troubles, and even Madge, were there and then forgotten, for Henry VIII had fallen in love once more.
__

Henry VIII . part V 
Henry VIII . part III

Text © Mirino. Sources include- 'Henry VIII and his Court' by Neville Williams, 'The lives of the Kings & Queens of England' edited by Antonia Fraser. With many thanks. Top portrait of Henry VIII and preliminary portrait drawing of Thomas More by Holbein the Younger.  With thanks also to Wikimedia Commons.        May, 2013

Letters



Je m'appelle Sara, je suis âgée de quinze ans. Mes parents sont divorcés depuis mes six ans. J'ai un frère de deux ans de plus que moi. Je suis née a Nice. Je suis en troisième. Ma source d'inspiration? Ma vie, mes vécus ainsi que mes livres. Comment je m'imagine quand j'aurais 30 ans? Journaliste, voilà ce que j'aimerais faire dans ma vie. Mon vrai but ultime est d'être journaliste et écrivain.
Ecrire est une passion. Ecrire est vital pour moi. Libérée, être heureuse, voici les synonymes d'écrire ou ce qu'il représente pour moi. J'écris sur Facebook, j'ai une petite page, (qui a 1,280 mentions à peine) et j'en suis fière. Quand j'écris je suis sereine, heureuse. Je suis moi-même. Mes thèmes sont sombres, tristes mais bien réels. On ne sent pas dans ces textes l'eau de rose, mais une odeur de réalité qui peut parfois choquer. Voilà mon style..

'Michael,

Cela va faire trois mois que tu es parti, trois mois que tu m'as laissée seule avec elle. Ces crises sont de plus en plus violentes, la maladie a pris le dessus. Te souviens-tu quand on était enfant et qu'on disait que quand on grandirait ça s'arrangerait? Eh bien nous nous sommes trompés. Les larmes sont présentes Michael, la folie est en elle.

Je ne sais plus quoi faire. Elle m'a volé mon enfance, mais là elle me vole mon adolescence. Je comprends que tu sois parti, mais as-tu pensé à moi un seul instant? Je ne supporte plus de la voir ainsi, elle souffre réellement, elle accuse la terre entière. Elle n'a plus personne maintenant. Seulement moi et les souvenirs de son ancienne vie.

Michael j'ai peur. Peur car je ne sais pas comment je vais réagir une fois de plus quand je recevrai encore un SMS pour me dire qu'elle veut mourir. Aujourd'hui elle se porte bien, c'est une journée de gagner pourrais-je dire. Mais j'en ai marre de faire semblant Michael. Je sais que je dois être forte mais c'est tellement dur de voir maman ainsi. Le matin elle rit, le soir elle me balance des verres dessus. Alors je m'enferme dans ma chambre, et j'attends. J'attends quoi? Je ne sais pas, sans doute que ça se finisse. J'attends le moment où je ne pleurerais plus, mais il n'arrivera jamais. C'est seulement une illusion. Mon petit espoir. Tu sais ce qu'il s'est passé la dernière fois? Elle m'a viré de la maison. Pour quelle raison? Aucune, seulement qu'elle était fatiguée.

Michael je ne peux plus vivre ici mais je ne peux l'abandonner. Elle n'a toujours pas de traitement, elle refuse d'aller voir un médecin. Elle se croit normale mais nous savons bien qu'elle ne l'est pas. Michael sauve-moi de cet enfer continuel, sauve-moi de cette vie qui me tue chaque jour de plus en plus car un jour je vais craquer. Michael je ne veux pas être comme elle car... Car maman est atteinte de bipolarité et ça la tue comme ça me tue.

Amandine.'                                                               
*

Le Silence

Le silence fait peur, le silence est hors du temps. Sans la parole, l'humain ne vaut pas mieux qu' une bête. Le silence nous ramène jusqu'à nos origines. Jusqu'à la création de notre monde. Jusqu'à l'inconscience de ce monde-ci. Avant que tout soit éphémère.

Le silence peut être une marque de faiblesse ou de force. Il peut être bien ou mal interprété. Il peut nous être fatal, il peut créer de la tristesse, de la douleur. Le silence réduit un monde en cendres.

Le silence est redouté par presque tout le monde. La peur de ne plus pouvoir s’exprimer, la peur de ne plus être entendu. La peur qu'on nous oublie. Le silence marque tout ce qu'on ne peut pas aboutir, il marque notre impuissance à gérer notre monde ainsi que nos vies.

Il nous fait retourner à l'origine des choses. Là ou tout a commencé. Il nous donne la vérité, il nous révèle notre impuissance. Il nous ramène à l'état sauvage, un état primitif où nous ne sommes plus rien. Il nous montre qu'il peut être plus fort que tout. Il est peut être invisible mais il est bien présent. Il est toujours à nos côtés, et il peut se manifester à un moment de doute, un moment ou nous sommes faibles.

Le silence est d'une certaine manière l'allié de la mort. Il marque le temps où nous ne sommes plus de ce monde. Le moment où l’impuissance à pris le dessus. Le silence est un tout comme un rien. Il sauve des vies comme il en détruit. Il fait valoir nos faiblesses tout comme nos forces. Il peut être autant bénéfique que maléfique. Nous sommes impuissants face au silence.
__

Lorsqu'on voit les enfants grandir, tout comme la floraison de sa propre fille; et même si on n'est pas leur vrai grand-père, malgré soi, on devient quand même leur grand-père adopté, et c'est tout à fait naturel et bien comme ça.
Aussi naturellement on prend d'autant d'intérêt à les voir grandir et se développer, sans jamais voir le temps passer.

Il y a Pierre, l'observateur sensible, et l'artiste, avec lequel j'ai bien de choses en commun. Il y a Greg et Laura, si naturels, prévenants et plein d'amour sans réserves ou d'arrière pensées. Il y a la petite Alexandra, déjà très mure et intelligente pour son tout jeune âge. Grand comme Greg il y a aussi Antoine, avec ses mains élancées d'un pianiste ou d'un chirurgien, gracieux et soucieux.
Puis il y a Sara.

Elle a écrit sa propre introduction. Aucun besoin d'en ajouter. Malgré ce bel jeune âge fleurissant, elle écrit fort bien.

Pour cette raison j'ai l'honneur de publier deux petits exemples de ses premiers écrits, car je suis persuadé que dès aujourd'hui elle mérite d'être lue et appréciée, et sans doute bien davantage avec le temps, ce temps que l'on ne voit jamais passer.
Et je la remercie et l'embrasse bien fort.
__

Text © Sara (edited). Photo and epilogue © Mirino, May, 2013

Scottish myths 27


The haunted Moor of Rannoch

An eerie moor of peat bogs and dark lochs. Its very name evokes kelpies and lost souls who wander about shrouded in mist; but it's said that Rannoch moor was also used as a hide-out base by Robert the Bruce and William Wallace during their battles against the Brits.

'Kelpies' are mythic Celtic water-horses. Perhaps the name originates from the Gaelic 'Cailpeach'. The legendary creature is reputed to be a powerful horse with a black, white or sometimes even a green hide similar to seal skin. Kelpies are allegedly sticky, deathly cold and always dripping wet. They are said to be able to create illusions and transform themselves into beautiful women in order to trap gullible, love-sick men. Perhaps the deceived, doomed men then become the lost souls who wander about, shrouded in mist.

Other versions describe them as pitiless, child serial-killers. Such a kelpie would first entice a child to mount on its back. Once mounted the doomed child would no longer be able to dismount being stuck fast to the kelpie. The horse would then gallop to its loch and disappear into the dark depths, drowning then devouring the child. It would gobble everything up except the child's heart and liver. This might have something to do with the kelpie's digestive system.

But legends about kelpies are not all necessarily cruel, gruesome and tragic. For example there is the story of The water-horse bridle of Nether Lochaber. It was originally told by a certain Doctor Stewart. The following is a slightly more embellished version.

A drover who lived in Nether Lochaber had spent the whole day at a market in Pitlochry. Although it was already nightfall, he decided to return home by way of Rannoch Moor. The drover was well aware of the moor's haunted and ghoulish reputation, but as the moon rose full and bright, he was in good spirits, and never believed half of the ghostly stories in any case, he bravely plodded on until he came to Lochanna Cuile. There he sat down upon a mossy knoll and ate what was left of a cheese sandwich he still had.

Whilst he ate he heard the cry of a nightjar. He looked up and there sure enough the bird swooped low just above him. As the drover followed its flight, he saw something flash in the heather, as though the nightjar had caused it.

The drover got up, his eyes still fixed to where he saw the flash, and advanced towards it. There he discovered an elaborate horse's bridle. As the moon was by then veiled by rising mist and low cloud, the drover simply put the bridle in his bag, and briskly continued his way home. Once there he had a wee toddy before going to bed.

The following morning when he examined the bridle, he couldn't believe his eyes. The bit, rings and buckles were wrought in solid silver and embellished with fabulous elaborate intricacy. The reins and halter were made with beautiful soft leather with a strange patterned texture of fine, muted colours. But what astonished him most of all was that the bit was often far too hot to touch.

The same day he talked to his neighbours about the bridle. One of them suggested that he seek the advice of a wise old woman who knew all about this sort of thing. She lived alone in a little, grey, slate-roofed house by a small loch on the other side of the glen.

Curiously she seemed to have been expecting the drover's visit. As soon as she saw the bridle, she simply nodded. It was a water-horse's bridle. Perhaps even a king kelpie's.
She explained that the heat produced by the bit, was a timeless, magical phenomenon. The heat was indefinitely retained from the actual moment when the silver was first cast. The leather was that of a water serpent, a creature known to haunt the deep lochs also favoured by kelpies.

The old woman finally looked up at the drover's face, studied him pensively then smiled. 'You must find a rowan branch with a wee crook, then hang this bridle from it. It will bless you, and your dwelling, and surely it will make you prosper in all that you set out to do.'

And this is what the drover did.
Sure enough he was blest, and sure enough he prospered in all that he set out to do. Thus so he lived out a long and happy life.

The drover never had any children, but he did have a grandnephew by the name of Calum. Now Calum had never known his great-uncle, nor did he know anything about the water-horse bridle.

One day a mysterious messenger on horse back arrived where Calum lived. He had brought a small parcel. He told Calum that it was from his great-uncle who had recently died. In the parcel pinned to something very warm wrapped in thick cloth, he found a letter. It was a short message explaining what he should do with his great-uncle's gift. 'You must find a rowan branch with a wee crook, then hang this bridle from it. It will bless you, and your dwelling, and surely it will make you prosper in all you set out to do'.

And throughout his life this is what Calum did. And this is what his children, their children, their grand children, their great grand children and their great, great grand children did too. And they all lived out their long lives very happily indeed.
__

Scottish myths 28
Scottish myths 26

Version of the 'Water-horse bridle of Nether Lochaber' © Mirino (from various sources). The fine, pre-dawn photograph of Rannoch Moor was taken by Billie Curry, with many thanks. If the author disapproves, naturally it will be removed. May, 2013

Years


A joyous springtime sonnet for fond lovers of life


It's not the years that matter
When you are young at heart,
Providing that the latter
Isn't falling apart

And time has no influence
If you pay it no heed,
As long as your mental sense
Is not running to seed

           You are as young as you feel            
                          If feelings still remain,                           
And women still appeal
Without causing too much pain

There are scenes that so delight
And wondrous views to share,
Assuming your eye-sight
Is not the worse for wear

 And there are sweet sounds to hear
                                         If you're fairly receptive,                                          
With still at least one ear
That isn't too defective

There are fine things to relish,
                 Good food and vintage wine,                 
If digestion isn't hellish
With the liver in decline
 
Then there's always tomorrow, 
                                         A new day of delight,                                         
Devoid of all sorrow,
Unless you die in the night.
__

Doggerel and image © Mirino. May, 2013

Henry VIII . part III



Anne Boleyn, the youngest daughter of Sir Thomas Boleyn and Lady Elizabeth Howard, was educated in France in the household care, or what has been described as an exclusive finishing school, of Queen Claude.
It's possible that Henry VIII first saw the Boleyn sisters during the events of the Field of the Cloth of Gold. Anne would have been thirteen years old at that time.

Despite her almond shaped eyes and her jet black hair, she hadn't the feminine charm and know-how of a Bessie Blount. Yet gradually it was apparent that Henry was becoming curiously enchanted by her. 
She was vivacious, she carried herself well, and she knew how to dress in the best French fashions of the day. So much so that in comparison, Catherine of Aragon looked plain and dull.

As soon as Cardinal Wolsey was aware of the king's interest in Anne Boleyn, he asked the Earl of Northumberland to advise his son, Sir Henry Percy, then a serious suitor to Anne, to abandon all his affective pursuits forthwith.

Sensual letters written by Henry to Anne in 1527 have survived the rigours of time.
By these Anne is assured of his patient devotion. No doubt his growing passion was simply due to Anne's refusing to be his mistress. This in turn produced the effect of Henry posing as the chivalrous knight guarantying their mutual virtue : 'I would you were in mine arms or I in yours, for I think it is a long time since we kissed'... 


Anne Boleyn knew what she wanted, and seemed to be able to manage Henry with her little finger, perhaps even her rudimentary sixth finger, on her left hand. Marriage was obligatory. Wolsey soon found himself in the throes of negotiating to try to obtain a papal grant for divorce. In fact Henry was already confident enough to tell Anne in February, 1528, 'shortly you and I shall have our desired end'.
But then neither Henry nor Wolsey anticipated the difficulties that lay ahead in trying to attain this goal. The five years of problems however, increased Henry's frustration and ardour all the more.

The sack of Rome in 1527 carried out by mutinous imperial troops of Charles V of Spain, may have caused him some embarrassment, but it gave him an obvious advantage over all the other Holy Roman Emperor contenders, including Henry's Chancellor. Pope Clement VII thus conceded much of his authority by proclaiming Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor. He was crowned in Bologna by the Pope in 1530.  As Charles V was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon, he would never approve of her being callously cast aside. In spite of Wolsey's considerable efforts, nothing of any consequence was obtained. There was a commission issued by Pope Clement VII to Cardinals Campeggio and Wolsey to take the question to court in London, to allow the hearings of views of all parties concerned, but without the power of ruling any judgement.

The queen refused to acknowledge the legitimacy of even this limited arrangement. She made a moving appeal to Henry: 'This twenty years I have been your true wife (...) And when ye had me at the first I take God to be my judge, I was a true maid without taint of man'. And whether this be true or not, I put it to your conscience'.
Her appeal continued, during which time Henry said nothing. She then simply curtseyed and left the Hall.

Finally the question was returned to Rome, which meant that Wolsey had failed.
Henry then heeded the advice of Thomas Cromwell. No other choice remained but to renounce papal allegiance.
Wolsey was allowed to keep his archbishopric. He was in fact to be enthroned in York Minster in November, 1539. The evening before this however, he was arrested for treason, but he didn't live long enough to face the charge. 'Curiously' he died during his voyage south to be tried.
With Wolsey conveniently out of the way, the coast was clear to reform Parliament under the intelligent manoeuvring and guidance of Cromwell. Thus Henry also became 'Pope' of his realm. His title was established as 'Supreme Head of the Church of England'.

Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn were married secretly in January of 1533. Archbishop Cranmer had judged null and void the king's marriage to Catherine. At Whitsun Anne was crowned Queen in Westminster Abbey, her first pregnancy discretely hidden under her splendid gown,
She flaunted her position in such a way that she soon became unpopular. There was also great public sympathy for Catherine of Aragon.

The former queen was reduced to her previous title of Princess of Wales. She had to make do with a small household and insufficient means at Ampthill and Kimbolton manors. Heart broken, she lived out the brief remainder of her life, resolutely faithful to her Catholic religion.
When she died in January, three years following the King's marriage to Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII thought it fitting to celebrate the event by dressing from head to foot in bright yellow.
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  Henry VIII . part IV
Henry VIII . part II

Text © Mirino. Sources include- 'Henry VIII and his Court' by Neville Williams, 'The lives of the Kings & Queens of England' edited by Antonia Fraser. With many thanks. Top portrait of Henry VIII either by or after Holbein the Younger. Portrait of Anne Boleyn circa 1534. (Artist unknown). With thanks also to Wikimedia Commons.   May, 2013