The Goddess in The Philippines

goddess
Pic: Rod Fleming

The Goddess is a big deal in the Philippines and goddesses are out in strength there this week. The occasion is the closing rounds of the Universities Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) women’s volleyball tournament, held at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. Teams with names like De La Salle Lady Spikers and Ateneo de Manila Lady Eagles, the Tigresses, the Lady Warriors and the Lady Bulldogs battle it out in front of huge, enthusiastic and thoroughly partisan crowds. And these girls aren’t kidding; this is serious stuff.

 The audience is mainly young – but everywhere in the Phils is mainly young. That’s only to be expected in a country where the population has increased by a factor of ten in fifty years. And there are as many men here as women. Filipinos are as passionate about volleyball as Scots are about football.

 This is hard sport, and women are seen as true warriors. Continue reading “The Goddess in The Philippines”

Archaic Humans Discovered in Scotland

Homo-heidelbergensis
Homo heidelbergensis – could these still be alive and well in Scotland?

Scientists all over the world are turning their attention to Scotland in the wake of a shock discovery that ‘archaic’ humans may be alive and well and living there.

The discovery came when one of them was filmed saying that they ‘were not evolved to make political decisions’.

Professor of Anthropology Farquhar Mc Farquharson of the University of Aberdeen explained: ‘All modern humans – Homo sapiens – have evolved highly sophisticated social behaviour including the ability to arrive at complex decisions within a formal political framework. The discovery of a population that lacks this ability, apparently living alongside more developed hominids, is very exciting.’ Continue reading “Archaic Humans Discovered in Scotland”

Hosting Migration Complete

Just to let you know that after a tricky week, the main rodfleming.com blog has now been migrated to a new host. Actual downtime was minimal, but there are still many little things to fix. Hopefully load times should be much faster.

After quite a few years with GoDaddy I had to draw a line under it. The hosting server had become ridiculously slow – indeed last week died altogether for several days – and instead of just fixing it, and giving me what I had paid for, they wanted me to buy a new ‘plan’ which they assured me would make everything all right – but with no guarantee and I would have been locked into another year at least with them. No thanks. That’s not what I call customer service.

I’ll do a more in-depth post soon, but for the moment, I would have to advise that no-one with a WordPress-based blog or site should even consider hosting with GoDaddy. There are far better options out there.

Tryst on Februar Fowerteen – A Scots Allegory

a-tryst-tree
Pic: Rod Fleming

A fell cauld wind wis sauchin ower the muir as the bonny wumman gart her wey tae tryst her jo. For the necht wis Februar the fowerteen, an aabody kens at’s the necht for luve.

She wis winsome eneuch, tho the first blush o youth, it maun be said, was left ahent her a lang while syne. A body mecht hae speirit at himsel how comes a lass o sic natral attractions hidnae been wad this mony a lang year.

At last she reached the spot ablow an auld aik whaur she an her jo hiv met this necht mony mair years nor either of them wad care tae hink on. Her jo wis aaready there, a puckle fashit, ye mecht hink, wi the wye he wis stridin up an doon, his een flashin faniver he luikit up.

“Ah, here you are, at last,” he intoned, as the lass presented hersel. Continue reading “Tryst on Februar Fowerteen – A Scots Allegory”

The Vampire Rises : Roads to Referendum 3

thatcher-at-torness
Pic: Rod Fleming

Eight years after Scotland voted ‘Yes’ to Devolution, but had seen this victory snatched away by Westminster, things were very different.

The most hated Prime Minister in recent history – possibly all history as far as the Scots are concerned – Margaret Thatcher, had focussed minds on the fight against her all over the UK. Scottish Labour rode high on this wave of anti-Tory sentiment, and lost no time in asserting that it was the only way to be sure to get rid of the Tories. A vote, they claimed, for any other party, was a ‘vote for the Tories’.

But it was a gamble. Thatcher’s popularity in England had increased radically since she first had been elected. In England, though far less in Scotland, her resolve in fighting and defeating the Argentinean invasion of the Falkland Isles, had played well for her. She called an election in 1983 and found her majority increased.

In 1987, Thatcher called another General Election. Continue reading “The Vampire Rises : Roads to Referendum 3”

The Empty Palace: Roads to Referendum 2

old-royal-high-schooloDuring the 1980s, Scotland’s political scene was polarised by a cathartic and visceral detestation of the UK Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This, for perhaps the last time, caused a genuinely British response, in that many Scottish opponents of Conservatism, badly discouraged by the calculating and dishonest way which the Home Rule that Scots had voted for had been snatched away by a self-interested Westminster, fell back to old loyalties, and threw their weight behind the familiar Labour Party, in an effort to rid themselves of the hated Tories. Continue reading “The Empty Palace: Roads to Referendum 2”

French Onion Soup! in the News

rodcourier.wee
Those avid readers who live in Scotland will be able to see yours truly’s geggy mutt plastered all over the pages of The Courier newspaper today. Support those who support me, I say, so get out and buy a copy! You can download the full page image HERE.

It’s publicising my hilarious collection of memoirs on life in France called French Onion Soup!, which you can download FOR FREE from Amazon today and tomorrow, as part of the promotion.

Please, please, though, if you like it, please leave a review on Amazon.

Happy Imbolc!

Goddess
Pic: Rod Fleming

Imbolc, (pr EEmulk), is an ancient fire festival that marks the end of the dead part of the year. Originally it was celebrated at the midpoint between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, and in other traditions on the night of the first full moon after that.

At the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, in Ireland, the inner chamber is aligned with the rising sun at the midpoint between solstice and equinox, and so marks the dates of Imbolc and Samhain. Many other megalithic monuments in Northern Europe also have this characteristic, showing how important these dates were. They delineated the dead period of the year,  which began at Samhain, when nothing grows and the shades of the dead and other supernatural beings walk freely in the world. Imbolc is the day the Goddess returns, not yet in her full glory and majesty, here a girl full of promise, one of the three forms of a triple-goddess. Continue reading “Happy Imbolc!”

Muslims we Must Support: Maajid Nawaz

maajid-nawaz
Maajid Nawaz

Last week, Maajid Nawaz, a United Kingdom Liberal Democratic Party parliamentary candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn, became the centre of an attack from the Islamic fundamentalist right wing because he stood up for free speech. This is not, in itself, unusual; fundamentalists of any religious persuasion detest free speech. Nor is the chorus of death threats raised against Nawaz in any way uncommon from Islamic fanatics. However this case is important because it illustrates a divide which we must not only recognise but decide on which side we stand.

Nawaz’ crime? After taking part in a BBC debate in which two students were seen wearing ‘Jesus and Mo’ tee-shirts, Nawaz tweeted the image, saying, “As a Muslim, I did not feel threatened by it. My God is greater than that”.

For most people, that would not seem anything other than a reasonable point of view. Continue reading “Muslims we Must Support: Maajid Nawaz”

The Roads to Referendum: 1

scotland-referendum
A campaigner in the 1979 Scottish Devolution Referendum

This year’s Scottish Independence Referendum is  one of the most important political events in the lives of most living Scots. It outweighs in importance, for Scotland, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union. It outweighs the powerhouse rise to prominence of a rejuvenated China or an India that is on its way to being not just a regional, but a global, superpower. It is even more important, though perhaps less so, than the accession of the UK to what was then the EEC and is now the European Union. In this series of articles I am going to outline the history of the Referendum, as I saw it evolve.

The coming Referendum is the single most significant event to occur in Scotland since the end of World War Two. That event brought about the end of the Imperial era, in which European states used their military strength to dominate the planet. With Europe in ruins, and the United Kingdom pauperised, the control systems that had held empires in place collapsed. The British Empire, which Scotland had been a part of, was consigned to history. Continue reading “The Roads to Referendum: 1”