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

Una vera donna

Una vera donna
 Piena di gentilezza,
 Begli occhi pieni d'amore
 Una figura di bellezza
La testa alta
 La pena nascosta,
 Sorride come il sole
           Velando una lacrima          

Una vera donna
 Col cuore tenero,
 Ogni tocco delle mani
 È dolce e morbido

È tanto generosa
   Lo sguardo - una promessa,
 Veglia sempre sugli altri
       Prima che su se stessa    
            Una vera donna            
  Davvero molto amata,
    E sempre giovane  
  Poiché qui immortalata

 Pour C
       Poem and image © Mirino. With many thanks to Rob. November, 2013

Nocturnal musing

Sometimes one imagines the world like an enormous, old fashioned time-bomb. The sort of naive image created with the available rudimentary means when silent, b/w films were made. But at that time things seemed far less complicated. The enormous discoveries and progress in all fields of science and technology, including the successful realisation of man's oldest dream and greatest aspiration: to be able to fly, inspired the world and gave it hope and confidence. The world was moving forward, with enormous strides, and all the various cultures of its populations were then naturally effected by this progress in a positive way.

But as history reveals, human nature never changes. It only adapts. Often we are totally out of clink with the sophisticated science and technology we are capable of creating and developing. This was tragically evident during the Great War. But even the lesson of the Great War was glossed over. The victors wanted the losers to pay an impossible debt, and the first territorial divisions and confiscations were decreed (Le Traité de Versailles, followed by the French mandate of Syria and Liban). Consequently the 'war to end all wars' ironically prepared the most perfect conditions to enable and encourage the birth of a far more evil monster only twenty years later.

Since then, since the second victory over tyranny, the powerful forces of justice took it on themselves once more to divide up the world according to what was then considered appropriate (the Conferences of Tehran, Potsdam and finally Yalta). Again, the division was determined by the horrendous consequences of WW2 and on whose side one was during the conflict.

Thus like the Olypian Gods, the victorious powers cast the seeds of destiny just as casually. Since then the world is once more having to contend with the consequences.

The last throes of Soviet communism finally renouncing to try to maintain its foothold in Afghanistan, together with the blind American reaction to the afgan fatigue and disunity exploited by Pakistan, helped to give birth to yet another monster. The most evil of all because it exploits the God it pretends to worship, to impose its will and gain power. The most abominable crimes have thus been committed and continue to be committed in God's name. And they are all the more atrocious when they are fuelled by hate and vengeance stemming from the consequences of war, division and social injustice. This monster who rears up its ugly head to exhale it's fetid poison and fire on all who dare try to oppose it, doesn't limit itself to any nation. There is no particular national pride, no particular frontier to defend. Ironically and incoherently this monster aspires to rule the whole world and impose its medieval values in the process.

The irony and incoherence is that in order to do so, it has to rely on modern technology developed by the civilisation that it is rabidly bent on destroying. It has to use advanced systems of communication and electronics in order to destroy innocent lives.

As the monster doesn't identify itself with any particular nation, it attracts acolytes from all nations of the world who, like the monster itself, are frustrated, confused, disillusioned, unstable and therefore ideal, brain-washable subjects. It seems that there is no shortage of such recruits, and this has been the case now for more than twenty years.

Such is the basic situation. The consequences of relatively recent history, although it be an over simplified summary.

There have been other monsters, of course. According to individual interests they have been tolerated, at least until the tragic and determining date of the 11th September, 2001, and up until more recently in Libya.
In the case of Bashar al Assad, who has shown no mercy in disdainfully crushing his people and their aspirations for two years now, even to the extent of finally using chemical weapons against them, we are now witnessing the incredible scene of his being warmly congratulated, even by American authorities and members of the UN Security Council, for his co-operation in allowing experts the right to confiscate and destroy his illegal stock of chemical weapons!
As Syria wants the weapons to be destroyed elsewhere, there is an understandable problem regarding transporting them via neighbouring countries such as Albania. There is also the problem of making them inaccessible to extremist groups.

However, to return to Europe.
The Italians sometimes believe that the French are right to actively reject government proposals. They might appreciate that recent manifestations against the 'ecotaxe' is an expression of exasperation. The French government has gone too far in trying to solve the deficit problem by over taxation on a short term basis. Hopefully we might even be witnessing the beginning of the end of French socialism. Indeed it seems that F. Hollande, his government and his brand of socialism are condemned, simply because the enormous mountain in front of them is insurmountable, and the French President is completely coincé by his red and green-red allies.

The fact that France is perhaps the only European country that still fully tolerates communism, most likely stems from its history. Naturally the French Revolution, La Commune, the arrival, somewhat belatedly, of the communists in joining the heroic body of resistant fighters during the German occupation of WW2, and thus Général de Gaulle's obligation to include a representation of the communists in his post war government, would legitimise the French brand of communism. But obviously the communist party, the socialist party and all the other French political parties, lamentably add to the division of French society.

There was a time in Europe when communism seemed to have a just and ideal reason of being. Perhaps the Italian communists who fought heroically against Franco in Spain, would have agreed. But Italian history is quite different from French history, even though some history has been shared, thanks to Napoleon, for example. Italy however, learnt humility as did Germany from the consequences of WW2. They learnt from the effects of communism just as well as they learnt from the effects of fascism. The French, thanks to the allies, the resistance and the imposing posture of Charles de Gaulle, came through it all somewhat less morally scathed. In spite of the embarrassing and painful obligation to collaborate, the ego finally suffered less and the banner of the Republic still flies nobly, even if one stoically continues to ignore its ignoble bloodstains and dismiss the ignoble facts that led to the birth of mythic Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.

The stones of history have thus paved the way to the present situation. The French are still influenced or conditioned by the generous but paradoxical and incoherent ideals of the French Revolution. Even today some still continue to believe in what nature herself dismisses : equality, but only when it suits them.

To try to please the people, les sans culottes, the French President declared that 'he hates the rich'. Although it has since been revealed that amongst his ministerial entourage there are several multimillionaires, he has never retracted this transparent, populist statement.

The socialist scene one therefore tries to project in France is the classic one that dates from the times when Marie-Antoinette is alleged to have thrown some bread (or brioche) out of a window of the Tuileries as a modest gesture to contribute towards lessening the suffering of the supposedly starving Parisians.
But as the French monarchy has been decapitated, the elected Presidents of France, are virtual, monarchial substitutes.

In the case of François Hollande, who even according to his ex-concubine and mother of his children, 'has never done anything in the last thirty years', such an unexpected event of his actually being elected President of France, seems to have had an over-inflated effect on him. So much so that 'Moi Président', has made certain engagements based on election promises that were ill-advised.

But apart from the endless internal affairs and inconsistencies, what seems to me to be more determining as well as dangerous, is the arrogance with which he has conducted certain external affairs.
There is, for example, considerable incoherence in quitting Afghanistan where the French were fighting international Islamic extremists alongside of NATO forces, to fight international Islamic extremists in Mali without the support of NATO forces.

He was right, even if he had no choice, to eventually heed the Malian call for help, but he was wrong to make irresponsible and naive declarations about the intervention. From them one might suppose that Monsieur Hollande had the intention of purging the whole world of international terrorism. He was naive to believe that a strong, brief incursion in Mali would solve the problem. As suggested before, it could be that he has inadvertently contributed towards establishing another epicentre of terrorism in Northern Africa. Another Pandora's Box. And with regards to the latest tragic consequence, the assassination of two French reporters in Mali, he was wrong to first express his 'indignation', rather than his sincere condolences towards the families and all concerned. This, not only because giving priority to his indignation was incorrect, but also because the 'Moi Président' is showing himself to be personally 'vexed' by a callous and cowardly terrorist act.

Obviously this is exactly the result that the terrorists set out to achieve, to punish the French President for his commitment in Mali. Now that al-Qaida has received the confirmation from F. Hollande himself that the movement is succeeding in making such a personal impact on him, he has virtually sent the terrorists a formal, public invitation to continue.

If this is a reasonable conclusion, the French President would not be improving the security situation for the relatively few French troops in Kidal, Mali. In fact he wouldn't be improving the security situation for any French subject in that part of the world, or anywhere else for that matter.

All this might well be considered long-winded. Parts of it might seem too simplistic or trite. Should this be so, put it all down to nocturnal musing, because that's exactly what it is.  

Text and lower composite (thanks to various sources including NASA) © Mirino. Top nocturnal satellite image of Europe and Africa by NASA, with thanks. November, 2013

Thomas Campion

Thomas Campion (1567-1620) began his professional life by studying law at Grey's Inn, but eventually practiced as a physician having received his medical degree from the University of Caen, Normandy, France.
He was a composer, poet and a writer of masques. Masques probably originated in Italy. They consisted of light, allegorical entertainment of music and dancing performed for the court by professional actors and musicians. Often courtiers and sometimes even monarchs themselves participated.

Campion wrote his first poems in Latin. As he so appreciated the quantitative versification of classical Latin, he introduced this into his English poems and songs.
He defended quantitative verse as against accentuated rhymed English verse in his Observations In the Art of English Poesy.

As he was both poet and composer, his best works are considered to be his lyric poems. It's probable that he was a fine musician for all his songs are finely fluid. He wrote over a hundred songs for lute accompaniment.
Song books and masques, however, didn't remain long in vogue, which is also why his works were virtually dismissed as obsolete after his death. Puritanism and Commonwealth concerns would also have accelerated the process.
We know that the Elizabethan Golden Age was a fabulously creative era, a cultural explosion reflecting also a general joie de vivre. Thomas Campion's occasional ribald allusions indicate that he was probably a bon vivant, and they are invariably blest with an intelligent appreciation for all the joys of life, fully determined, naturally, by women.

One of Campions poems has already been parodied in Viewfinder. Indeed some of his works seem to beg for this. But of course Thomas Campion deserves greater respect for his particular contribution to English literature, especially as a lyric poet.

The following, again with apologies to Thomas Campion, is a parody based on his poem-song : I Care Not for These Ladies c.1601. The music score is here.

I care not for these ladies that need such gentleness:
Give me any wanton maid who's easy to possess.
A tousled red haired damsel would indeed suffice.
If nature art disdaineth, then beauty is skin deep,
And when profoundly occupied there's little time for sleep.

If I love such maidens who give me cheese on toast
But had I to buy from courtesans, then never should I boast.
For most aesthetics, soft voluptuous forms are nice.
Give me any wanton lass who never will refuse,
But there are divers comforts that can forsooth amuse.

The ladies must have silken sheets, soft slippers for their feet.
Give me a cloggèd peasant fair, a field of golden wheat,
And a merry, babbling brook, all devoid of price.
When thus we are in each others arms, she cries, "I must away!"
But if I offer her ten quid she's more likely to stay.

Text and parody © Mirino. Sources include The Norton Anthology English Literature, V. 1. Paintings by Orazio Gentileschi 1562-1639. (Top- The Lute Player c. 1610).                                                                                                  November, 2013

The Guardian

His dragged footsteps echoed in the small Gothic church of St. Abel. The lame man had been there for quite some time. One might have thought that he was employed there, or even that he lived there.

Whenever the church was empty, the clergy absent for any length of time, the man would watch over everything. Without any parochial authority, he therefore took it on himself to act as guardian of the church.

On one side of the nave was displayed a scene depicting a religious event. It was of wax figures in fourteenth century costume, all seated at a table. The colour of the figures and their costumes had faded giving the scene a ghostly appearance. By this setting a thick, off-white, cotton curtain draped heavily. It seemed to be additionally weighed down with centuries of dust and cobweb. It was attached to a metal rail secured to the triforium below a clerestory stained-glass window. A rich tasseled cord held it loosely to a wrought-iron hook on one side of an arcade leading to a small chapel.

One night the guardian sat in the shadows of the chancel, his eyes glancing affectionately at the obscure objects and paintings which seemed to become alive in the flicker of candle-light. He was also listening intently. He feared that evil spirits encouraged by the waining powers of the church were intruding to try impose their malevolence.

He limped from the chancel to the nave where there was less light. There, sure enough, he was able to discern the presence of several wraiths-fiends.
Fearing that he would be overpowered by them, he hastily made his way to a wall where he knew he could climb via plaster mouldings round a tracery window up to the triforium. As he was doing so one of the foul creatures clasped him by the ankle of his lame leg. By kicking at it as hard as he could with his other leg, he succeeded in freeing himself. At least temporarily he was thus able to climb out of reach of the heinous creatures.

But even from where he had managed to climb to, above and all about him, he knew there was still a satanic threat. According to his mission he was duty bound to protect the church. The presence of evil was very harmful indeed. It must not be tolerated.

In spite of the danger, he climbed down to face these devil's disciples. Yet he was soon overcome by them. He saved himself by leaping onto the table of the wax figures, then hauling himself up again to the triforium by way of the ancient curtain. The worn fabric shred to a powder in places as he climbed.
The night passed uncomfortably, but the danger seemed to fade as if erased by the dawn light.

When the parish priest returned to the church that morning, he was aghast by the damage and disorder that the man had been too exhausted to try to amend.
The priest discovered the trespasser fast asleep lying on a pew, his head supported by a worn, red velvet hassock. He angrily shook the man's shoulder to wake him up, curtly informing him that he had no right to be there. But instead of evicting him, he insisted on marching him to the confession box in order that he furnish some sort of explanation. The priest however, was already quite sure that there could never be any reasonable justification for such sacrilege.

The man being perfectly honest, naturally told the priest the whole truth. Consequently the priest was convinced that the weird intruder was mad, and possibly possessed by the devil.

It was therefore with grave authority that the priest implored the man to renounce Satan. Of course, he would need to be exorcised by a qualified exorcist, the priest calmly affirmed. And providing all goes well, that he is fully liberated from the devil's power and possession, and that his total cure is clearly established, only then will he be able to seek permission to re-enter a house of God.

The man patiently pointed out that his being there, and at this particular time, was absolutely necessary to defend the church against the intrusion of powerful forces of evil. Only God knows the truth of this. The man was as fully aware of this, as the priest was fully persuaded of his own ecclesiastical importance.

The priest frowned with impatience and disgust. There are no limits to sinful pretentiousness and vanity when one is weak-minded and possessed by evil, he reasoned.
As if he could read the thoughts of the priest, the man got up and limped towards the tower steps. The priest called after him then thought it best to let him go. He feared that the odd individual was unpredictable, and capable of doing something even more diabolical.

As there was naturally no question of allowing a maniac to remain in the church, the police were called to arrest him, but finally, despite their thorough searching, no trace of the curious fellow could be found anywhere. It was as though he had disappeared.

That same night the lame man perceived the presence of evil once more. He now knew why the church had become vulnerable to these evil assaults.
From a transcendent zone, he slowly descended the stone steps of the bell tower to face the unwelcome assailants.

There is no doubt that he defended the enemies of the church far beyond the limits of any human capacity. No one could ever possibly be considered more heroic, but then he felt that there was really no other choice. Not only did he succeed in completely purging the church of all evil, he discouraged all further satanic attempts to undermine and vilify St. Abel's.
The effect however, was that the church interior looked as though the devil himself had been on the wildest of nocturnal rampages.

The noise had resounded so much during the night that the police were called to intervene, but by the time they arrived the damage was done.
A warrant of arrest was issued to capture the man judged as dangerously insane. The parish clergy solemnly pronounced him as being processed by the devil.

It was all for nothing however, for unaccountably the lame man was never seen again.

The pub locals liked making fun of old Guthrie, his beer drinking bouts and his hallucinations; flying pigs and such like. Guthrie was the local pig farmer. He was never taken very seriously. But Guthrie never regretted his unique privilege, nor did he ever regret trying to describe it. For him there was no question of it ever being a hallucination.

Just as the sun rose through the dawn mists the day after the ultimate confrontation in the church of St Abel, old Guthrie saw a strange figure flying from the bell tower of the church. Silently it flew ascending majestically into the soft, morning haze then the pale mauve ribbons of sunlit clouds. Smaller and smaller it became until it finally disappeared altogether in the turquoise heavens.


This story is based on a dream. It was one of a sequence of strange dreams that I had at a certain period of time already alluded to here.
In the dream however, the 'Guardian' simply ends up interned in an asylum. The dream therefore might be considered nearer to reality than the above conscious, more romantic readaptation of it.

Text and image © Mirino (PW). November, 2013