The last time I was back in Scotland, I was asked, ‘Would you ever live here again?’ I gave a non-committal answer to avoid offence, but inside myself, I believed I knew; no, I would not.
In truth, I had not then and still have no plans to live in Scotland again. I love the country and the people, but I am both a Scot and a European; the day life in rural France gets too humdrum, it won’t be to Scotland that I turn.
A long time ago, when I lived in Arbroath in Scotland, my role before opening up the old Fleming Partners office was to do the school run. Our kids went to a small village school just outside the town itself and there was no bus.
On these runs I always tried to entertain the boys by talking about whatever came into my mind (and would not take more than 10 minutes.) So one day I explained why humans can see in colour and many animals can’t. This is because, I said, there are two types of vision receptor cells, rods and cones. Cones see colour and rods see brightness—monochrome, in other words. (I do know it’s a bit more complex than that, but these were primary kids.) Humans have both rods and cones, and many animals, like dogs, only have rods. So we see colour and they don’t.
This went fine and was met with all the usual approval that could be mustered from a 5-year old and an 8-year old.
Sniff! She died. She’s been with me these last five years, and she’d been around a good few years before we met. She was like a female character out of a Springsteen lyric, kinda worn and raggedy, but she stuck with me through thick and thin. I don’t know how many films or repeats of TV series I’ve watched with her, or how many words I wrote with her, but I do know the paint was gone from most of her keys at the end…I did explain it was my old laptop that died, didn’t I? Continue reading RIP My Lovely→
45% of Americans—well, people in the United States of America, which is, as far as they seem to be concerned, all of America—are retards. Not only is this truth shocking, it is dangerous and threatens all of us.
That 45% of Americans are so gravely afflicted has already caused pause for many commentators, including other Americans. The scientist and media personality, Bill Nye, for example, lamented it publicly, and not for the first time, in a YouTube video posted yesterday.
My neighbour was given this with a load of other bits and bobs. She thought it was a toy, but closer examination made me disagree. For a start, it was quite clearly a gun of some order, but it didn’t have any kind of handle. There wasn’t a conventional trigger either.
It might have been a toy cannon, but it didn’t have a carriage. Yet opening it up revealed that it was chambered to take a real twelve-bore shotgun cartridge. Plus it’s made of very heavy cast iron. It’s just not like a child’s toy at all.
Well, there it is; for the last fourteen months I was very much involved with someone, and now I’m not. It’s interesting to examine the feelings one has at times like this. Of course I grieve for the loss of love—and it was love, mutually—but at the same time I am aware that I am once again a free agent, faced, again, with the same choices. So how will I choose?
Merry Xmas, Christmas, Yule, Saturnalia, Holidays…it doesn’t really matter what it’s called, because the meaning is the same: this is the time of renewal, when we slough off the old year and the wearisome encrustations that have built up and look forward to the new. It is the time when our sun, Sol, which has been slipping lower and lower in the sky, at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, stops, and begins to rise again, bringing with it the promise of warmth.
French Onion Soup! my hilarious new book about life in France, is still available for free e-book download from this site, but time is running out. The offer is due to close on the 25th and thereafter the e-book will be available exclusively through the Amazon Kindle Store.
The downloads for the e-books are below; click and the files should begin to download automatically, depending on your browser.
(This offer is now closed.)
The print book is available worldwide through Amazon. The ISBN is 978-0-9565-007-3-1.
Today marks the first day in one of our greatest annual cultural events: the winter solstice. From now until the 25th, the sun will appear to hesitate before it once again begins to climb into the sky. That of course, is the reason so many solar deities have their birthday on the 25th—Mithras, Dionysus and Christ being but three.
But what you may not know is that while these three ‘dying and rising’ gods, every one of them an agricultural deity, are clearly men, the very first was not; she was a woman.
The earliest version I have found is in the Sumerian tale of the goddess Sul or Sud. This is not a Sumerian name and it’s unclear where she came from, but that doesn’t matter. As befits a goddess, Sul was staggeringly beautiful and at the peak of her fertility; she knew it was time for her to choose a partner.
Well they do this every solstice, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Personally I find the excessive emphasis on consumption, and the unstated presumption that one will go into debt to buy presents one doesn’t want or need to make other people conned into the same bollocks feel a bit better, a pile of crap. For want of a better word.