Friday 29 December 2023

Bloody Christmas

Christmas is finally over, to everyone's great relief and surprise. The celebration, which began in mid-October, finally petered out on the 27th of December. The consolation is hauntingly palpable. Could it be that in all this insane consumerism, we are tragically losing the true meaning of Christmas? Mayhap in all the jingle, tinsel and cheap aftershave, we are missing the quintessence and true message of this ancient fest. Are our livers and waistlines so swollen that we can no longer see the garish socks, worn with gaiety and wanton abandon? Socks so festooned with comic images of Santa that it befuddles our dazed senses and prevents sound judgment. I suspect, as a society, we have lost our way and no longer see 'Christmas'. It has become festooned with cheap flashing lights, gaudy rose-tinted images of sleighs, and cheap aftershave. We no longer connect with the true spirit of Christmas. Everything is viewed through beer-frothed goggles. Could it be that we need to recapture/recapitulate and reinvent the Christmas of yesteryear? Are we so jaded and lost, as a society, that we can no longer restore the sublime Christmases of our youth? However, I am hopeful and imbued with cheap liquor and aftershave. I see a future which is wondrous, meaningful and replete with all manner of things which connect and re-establish the heartwarming, blood-curdling, bone-numbing Christmases we all once knew. This is not the fevered dream or fancy of a madman but the musings of a man with a certificate that verifies and endorses his heart-felt sanity.  This writ is wrote by a MD and psychiatrist of note and notoriety. His musings deserve serious deliberation and contemplation. If you are in the frame of mind to dispute, then be availed of just cause, or keep your silence, unbidden. I digress.

Of course, it is not inconceivable that I'm espousing complete and utter fanny batter and bollocks, as usual. Arse.ArseArseArse......

Thursday 28 December 2023


All Seeing Eye?

Most of this post was written whilst on holiday in the Philippines but completed and edited today, 26th December 2023. Therefore, please excuse the scattered anachronisms.

Is there such a thing, item, form (the Platonic idealisation), incorporeal or otherwise, as Providence? A man of a sensible, rational nature would gladly and clearly proffer the negative. And yet, gentle reader consider my plight and judge accordingly.

As I write, I'm ensconced in a garret in the centre of Manilla in the Philippines. The air conditioner raves hot, and yet I'm cool; no contradiction at all.

I'm a man of moderate short sight, in the right eye. My left eye is beyond prescription and stares with a befuddled and fixed disparity- thus is my visual/usual lot. It bothers me not at all, and my eye, whilst of no practical use, serves as a bejewelled blue ornament of exquisite beauty. Like a beautiful woman of no intellect, it looks divine but is bereft of any practical purpose.  And so, I digress.

Yesterday, I awoke, as is my usual custom, at 8.00am. Normally, my orbs burst asunder and contemplate the world anew. However, on this occasion, both eyelids resisted their true nature and remained fixed, leaden and encrusted. After a little gentle persuasion with warm water, I managed to rend the lids asunder from their pus-laden habitus and thus became acquainted with the issue at hand. For reasons unknown and unforeseen, it appears that I had become the unfortunate recipient, nay victim, of a bilateral bacterial eye infection, mundanely renowned throughout the land as conjunctivitis. Nothing particularly remarkable about this ocular finding, you might say. Tis commonplace and even banal. But here comes the rub. I normally wear a contact lens in my right eye to correct for myopia. As previously mentioned, my left eye remains unsullied by optical intervention. Regardless, a man afflicted with this unfortunate bacterial condition should take wise counsel and not place a contact lens upon an infected eye. At this time, I did not own a pair of prescription glasses and relied on contact lenses as the sole means to correct my vision.

The day prior to my eye disease, I chanced upon an optician proffering/offering a very good deal concerning wearable eyewear (there is no other), and on a whim, I decided to purchase a pair of glasses. Not only were the glasses relatively cheap, but the whole process, from frame selection through to eye test and manufacture, was within 24 hours. On the day of my infection, I was scheduled to pick up my new eyewear.  If I hadn't made the purchase, and due to my subsequent infection, for the next several weeks, I would not have been able to wear contact lenses. Consequently, I would have been doomed to roam the land reviewing the world through a myopic miasma.   

Now Consider This

At the time of purchasing the glasses, I had no idea I would go on to develop an eye infection. The last time I purchased eyewear was over 35 years ago, and these glasses have long become dissimilated unto the cosmos due to the inevitable march/quest of increasing entropy. 

The convergence of the two events, from a statistical perspective, borders on the miraculous.

Could it be that there are other entities or phenomena at work here? Mayhap a guardian Angel sits upon my shoulder, guiding my every move and whim. Or perhaps I should lay off the gin.

Friday 15 December 2023

Commentaries Part I


 All the Philippines is divided into many parts

We have just returned from a 3-week trip to the Philippines, so take this into consideration whilst reading the following. 

And so, this is the start of my commentaries concerning my sojourn in the Philippines. This trip was arranged by my son and his fiancé in celebration of their wedding. It has been decided by powers outside my scope that limited family and friends would come forth to take part in this most wonderful turn of events. Ultimately, my wife and I will spend a total of three weeks in this fascinating country with its many facets, contrasts and contradictions.

We arrived, from New Zealand, after a brief stopover in Australia, finally alighting at Ninoy Aquino Airport Manila on the 24th of November. The journey, as expected, was horrific, but bearable. Surprisingly, the exit from the terminal was swift and without overt bureaucratic and security intervention. The taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was unpleasant as the traffic was unceasingly grim and hectic. Eventually, we arrived at our modest accommodation, exhausted, but grateful for a hot shower and an early night.

Manila is a large city comprising 15 million 'souls'.  We are based in the heart of the city, in a predictably wealthy central hub, aptly named Bonifacio Global City (BGC)

First impressions: Manila, at least, has a thriving middle class, and the centre is dripping with wealth. But that should be of no surprise, and it appears no different from most modern cities that claim to be part of the civilised world. Our stay was but for two nights before being whisked off to the lavish wedding venue. During that time, we were able to savour the local cuisine, which to my palate, was uninspiring- but what do you expect from an uncultured 'boy' from the black country. 

I confess I was particularly surprised by the extent and visibility of security- at least within BGC. Every shop within the many malls was staffed by security guards, a good proportion sporting holstered pistols. It was a most perplexing conundrum considering how safe the environment felt (oxymoron). Banks warranted special treatment with guards equipped with sawn-off shotguns. Intriguingly, I saw no visible evidence of the police force- maybe I should give them a phone- or maybe not.  

More to come.        

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Flaxen's Spontaneous Doggerel Moment

And so, I leave upon the morrow for the Philippines for a three-week sojourn. My son has decided in his wisdom to marry his longtime girlfriend at the tender age of 35. And has chosen this tropical land for his nuptials. I have been commanded to attend and will dutifully comply. My speech may not please the bride.

I will post, as is my wont, whilst away, unless internet access is shit.  

 Whilst in my shed, today, I had the compelling urge to compose the following doggerel. May the gods forgive me.

I met a woman whose arse was green, 

She begged earnestly if I would plant a seed.

Her choice of pasture was barren, I decreed,

No doubt a better venue would suit her need.

A better farrow lay close, indeed,

My choice of allotment, little did she heed,

And she shouted, "plough my lot, fertility is not my need."

Gazing upon the green and verdant bush,

The choice of venue was undeniably lush.

But only a fool would plough that tush,

And wisely, I declined the deed,

And went about my day, without disease.

Or leaves, beetles and perhaps aphids etc. 


Sunday 12 November 2023



Dramatic Reconstruction of the Climatic Event Sans Reptile

Unnerving news from the quaintly unattractive town of Tipton. Today, it can be revealed that Tipton has been sequestering a dangerous enemy within its truculent appendage. An evil, malingering Japanese sniper has been nestling in the town's capacious bosom and suckling at its expansive teat. It is conjectured that Private Honda Suzuki entered Tipton sometime in 1944 in a midget submarine, which is just as well as he was very small. After navigating the waterways of the West Midlands, he alighted in Tipton's sewer system via the Dudley to Birmingham canal. Once insinuated in the fetid underground tunnels, he quickly gravitated/navigated to the noisome manhole leading directly to Tipton's main thoroughfare. Upon arriving, he set up his sniper position with verve and aplomb and not without a modicum of panache.

His mission was simply defined: To lie in wait, and when the opportunity presented, he would lift the man-hole with his cunningly inscrutable, sloping forehead. Thereupon, he would rest his buck teeth on the metal lip of the hole, thus gaining purchase, traction and stability. Henceforth, he would place his thick, pebbled glasses atop his retrousse, button nose. Due to his diminutive stature, it was necessary for him to perch precariously on a hat box which, when not in use, was secreted within a fold up his small but perfectly formed arse (Arse)- on the second shelf next to the udon noodles. Suitably imbued, he would reach for his Arisaka sniper rifle and take pot shots, not to be confused with pot noodles, at the passing citizenry. Luckily for the Tiponites, Kendo Origami, like all Japanese snipers, was a very poor shot and consequently, no one became discombobulated or inconvenienced. During his 70 years of occupation within the stygian septic conduit, Yamaha Katana managed to remain undetected by the indigenous folk who never took heed that below their feet lurked a loyal soldier of his Imperial Majesty and odious Chief Nip, Hirohito.

The sniper subsisted on a diet comprising/composing entirely of chicken 'fried' nuggets (sans chicken), which alighted in the sewer after cascading from a cunningly fashioned hole in Mr Khan's deep fat fryer. As you will recall, Mr. Khan, of 'Mr. Khan's Halal Greasy Food Emporium' had a takeaway poised lasciviously above Tipton's main drain. Apparently, the arrangement was symbiotic and, hence, reciprocal.

Nothing to see here

However, unbeknownst to our intrepid sniper, there lurked a deadly nemesis. For many years past, Tipton residents had been flushing down their toilet's exotic critters, including alligators.  One fateful day, Mitsubishi Sushi came face to face with a 4-foot alligator. After a brief struggle, our intrepid Lilliputian Nipper was devoured whole. All that remained of Nissan Geisha was his pebble-lensed glasses neatly folded in their resplendent spectacle case.

Those who witnessed the event, including Mr Erstwhile Nintendo, expressed their opinion accordingly:
" The final result is reminiscent of a Geisha's work at its finest. Geisha would often distract their clients with subtle origamic (not a real word) work of exquisite form, in order to delay the inevitable and unrequited, finality."  Wise words Mr. Nintendo.

Later that day, the alligator was hanged by neck until life was relinquished for harbouring a war criminal. There are some who thought there was a Nip in the air, but as it was June, it was considered, unlikely. Arse.      

Depiction of the intrepid event, in bronze

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Meet Bob


Battle of Agincourt as Portrayed in Bister

Summer is but a month away in the southern hemisphere unless you are a Flat Earther. Frankly, I'm not really sure what these folk believe as they do seem to have diverse independent theories and opinions on the subject. There is a lady hereabouts in Nuzzieland, not far from the ice wall, who has the strident belief that humans are capable of photosynthesis- I blame the edumication system! Anyway, I'm straying away from the topic at hand.

Every year in my part of the world, at the height of summer, there is held a fayre of mind-boggling proportions. The town where it is held becomes swamped by numerous stores, various. Folk from all over this fair land flock to the town to set up stalls and sell their wares. Up to 500 stalls grace the land, selling food, crafts, clothes, and a host of sundry items. Up to 25,000 people gather to attend and spend. My son and I come along and set up our goods for review and sale. Together, we run a small internet-driven company selling traditional bows and assorted archery-themed accessories, and this is the only annual event we attend to showcase our goods. This year, we are adding an item that is not for sale. Its presence is there to attract attention and comment. In this way, we can engage potential customers and regale them with historical nick-nacks concerning archery and war. Thus, titillating their innate curiosity and thirst for knowledge. And who knows, we may increase sales in this very difficult commercial environment.

Let me introduce: Bob 

As you can see, he is not well, and it might have something to do with the iron arrowhead sticking out of his cranium. Of course, this is not a real skeletal bonce. Tis amazing what you can buy on the internet these days. This skull has been cunningly crafted from resin, probably using a 3D printer. Actually, I'm impressed with the anatomical accuracy. It just requires a modicum of applied patina to represent and accentuate the fiction I would like to portray. The skull will have pride of place in the centre of the stall, and next to the artefact, there will be a piece of A4 paper describing the item's provenance according to my bewildering and, at times, bizarre imagination. Here goes.......

Behold Bob, and Weep!

Bob, or more likely, Robeirre, was a French combatant at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, on St Crispin's Day. On this day, a seminal battle was fought between the English and French, a critical battle in the ongoing 100-year war between these nations. 

At the battle of Agincourt, the flower of the French nobility, displayed in armoured array, was cut to pieces by the unrelenting and accurate archery devastatingly delivered by the English and Welsh longbowmen.

Bob was likely part of the 'men at arms' that comprised the majority of the French host of 20,000 men.

 As an aside, the French armour available to the knights of this period was a majestic feat of engineering. Due to previous escapades involving the English longbowmen, the armour had evolved. Steel plates were face-hardened and cunningly fashioned to deflect arrows. The 'Great Helm' of earlier times had been transformed into the popular depiction of the 'Knight's Helm'. An elongated visor articulated with a sloped conical 'bowl' gave maximal protection, although it did come with the hindrance of restricted vision and hearing. Many a French eschewed the protection it afforded by raising the visor to the delight of the English bowmen. 

Clearly, Bob was not of the knightly class. If he had been so, his well-crafted helm would have been more than adequate to deflect the missile that ended his life. More likely, he would have sported an iron sale that would have provided scant protection from a plummeting English arrow as graphically portrayed here. Perhaps the arrow was not fatal in itself, as it barely pierced his skull. Indeed, it is likely that the wound merely induced an insensible state, and poor Bob was rendered helpless to the follow-up coup de grace delivered by axe, sword, halberd or mace (perhaps all four at once- we will never know).       

Bob's skull was unearthed during an archaeological dig at the site of the battle conducted and presided over by Prof. Horatio Van der Pump in the mid-1970s. All that remained of Bob's skeletal form was has his skull and, of course, the head of the offending arrow.

Our business, Saxon Archery, purchased 'Bob' in an auction of artefacts conducted last year. We received the skull in its present state. It is to be noted that the skull has been patiently/patently cleaned of attached detritus, and the insults of the ages have been removed with due care, leaving behind a delicate and subtle patina with sepia hues.

It is to be noted that the small size of the skull indicates that the owner was rather young in age and no more than 18 years old.

I think that will do, otherwise, passing folk will determine that my composition is too much to read and will swiftly browse elsewhere. Have any of my imaginative readers any additional suggestions to render my ploy more effective in reeling in potential customers/suckers?     

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Scam or not a Scam

And, don't take pills from strange men

I recently purchased a pistol crossbow online from a major New Zealand company. I received the usual courtesy email and was assigned an order number. The next day, I received a second email purporting to be from the company asking for a copy of my photo ID. On a second look, I noticed that my name in the second email had used my middle name as my surname, and the order number did not match the original. All this raised my 'spider senses', and I honestly thought I was dealing with a scam. I decided to phone the company's nearest store, which happened to be in Wellington. I voiced my concern to the disembodied voice. They said they would pass it on to their 'Software Team', and he would call back after I forwarded the second email to them. I waited for 24 hours, and after no response, I sent a reminder email. I received an email that the 'team' was diligently probing my issue (please note: this did not relate to any 'issue' emanating from any orifice of mine). I politely waited a further 24 hours and thereafter decided to phone a different store based in Auckland. I connected with a delightful young man, who, during the conversation, checked the order numbers I had received. It turns out that it was all legit, and indeed, it is company policy to ask for ID as proof of age when dealing with items such as crossbows. I have bought a crossbow previously online, admittedly from a different company, and this was the first time I had been asked to send a photo ID.

I'm not a naturally trusting soul, and in addition to the telephone checks, I also passed the URLs through a verification tool available online. These tools are free and easy to use. As with all things, it is wise to exercise due diligence when we navigate this difficult path called life. 

I was asked for feedback concerning my purchase experience. It was acknowledged that there was room for improvement, and my apposite comments will be passed on to the 'men in suits' or, more likely, placed in the filing receptacle labelled bin. 

Anyway, I have decided to share my email exchange for edification and training purposes. Names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

Random Gun Shop

Ref: 123XYZ 

Hi Flaxen Horatio,

Thank you for your purchase!

Due to the nature of your purchase, we are required by law to see proof you are over 18 years old.

Two ways you can provide the required information:
  • Reply to this email with an attached copy of your photo ID
  • Email with an attached copy of your photo ID
Note: You may be asked for ID by the courier driver on delivery
to 'The Team'
As requested, and required, please find attached a copy of my photo ID. As you will note, I possess a rare 
handsomeness rarely discerned or appreciated. The request for a photo ID raised concerns; initially,
I thought I was dealing with a Scam Email. My concerns are as follows: I've purchased crossbows online before
and have never been asked to provide a photo ID. My full name is Flaxen Horatio Saxon; however, in the second 
email, I was referred to as 'Flaxen Horatio'. In addition, the order number (W2978) differed from the original order
number (28576). Perhaps you could clarify in your purchase confirmation email that a photo ID would be required
and that you operate with a dual order number system- just a thought from a concerned customer. I have to say
that your employee, Alfred, was extremely helpful and provided impeccable assistance during our phone conversation.
Alfred was polite and professional while dealing with my bizarre and niche sense of humour; he should be highly 
commended. Mayhap a promotion is imminent. He seems the sort of man that I would like to introduce
to my beautiful daughter. If only I could remove her from the clutches of the idiot she is associating with now.
By the way, she is an English, blue-eyed blonde. A wonderful exposition of the 'English Rose'. Anyway,
on receipt of my ID, I would be eternally grateful if you could expedite my order forthwith; please excuse 
the redundant tautology.
Flaxen Saxon

Web Sales at Gun Shop Akimbo

Wed, Oct 25, 4:55 PM (5 days ago)
to me

Hi Flaxen, thank you for your feedback, thoughts, and, I must say, a wonderfully written text!

I will pass this on to the team and get this posted (and definitely will let Alfred know! 😉

Have a great evening.


Kind regards,
Telescope Mugumbp
Website Manager

The moral of the story: Don't eat soup with chopsticks      

Friday 20 October 2023

Swing to the Right

Vote Sausage!

And so, the folk of New Zealand have exercised their franchise in droves/dribbles, and the incumbent Labour Party has been ousted from its Prole position and no longer determines the fate of the Kiwi proletariat.  After 6 years of a lean to the left, the stage is set for a lurch to the right. National has taken its rightful place in the governmental position as deemed Right, unto God. And thus, the majority party will lead this proud nation to victory or oblivion according to the fickle fates that really dictate our pitiful existence ......

Labour's shameful tactics to seduce, nay entice, the young have been exposed for the pitiful pandering that they are. Giving away lots of free stuff to the young in exchange for their vote has seriously backfired. In the main, this is due to extreme apathy engrained within the very soul of the nation's youth, together with a deep-abiding inability to do anything but look inanely at a phone screen. Of course, National has been accused of using similar tactics to attract the Boomer vote. With an ageing population, all parties should take note: to ignore the grey folk is a route taken at their peril. The landslide for the Nats is a consequence of the Boomers getting on their mobility scooters and going full pelt/tilt unto the 'Voting Showers' (surely some mistake). 

So how did National pull off this lurid, fetid feat? First, they made sure their policies were available in large font. Second, they made great use of repetition. Addled brains struggle with mono-concepts- reiteration is the way to success! Labour tried to lure and seduce the young with free dental care. To be honest, that is quite a lure considering the cost of modern dentistry these days. But that was not enough to get them off their fat arses (Arse) and shuffle off to vote. National connected to the Boomer crowd by offering free automatic prostate drainage/massage devices together with a lifetime supply of chilblain unguent and ear trumpets. Hurrah, for hearing devices- who said dat?

Take Note: No one bothers to pander to the Middle Class - they no longer exist.

Personally, I eschew all mainstream parties and always vote for the National Bolshevists. The only party that guarantees the annexation of the Sudetenland and the reintroduction of bromine in the tap water. Furthermore, if elected, it will be mandatory for all males to undergo phrenology evaluation using calibrated calipers (tautology, mayhap?). For those who care, the results of my evaluation: apparently, I'm class: A021C8. Makes you think dun it?



Monday 16 October 2023

Pan's People

Hello Mom and Dad?

The title will only mean something to British folk of a certain age, and mostly men. Moving on. Actually, and on a serious note, I want to discuss the hypothesis of Panspermia. This hypothesis concerns the origin of life on Earth and proposes that perhaps our planet was 'seeded' by life from elsewhere in the universe. In its simplest form, imagine a wandering piece of rock out in the void of space. Imagine that the lump contains some form of simple life or proto-life. Somehow these life forms survive and remain viable in the inimical conditions of deep space- is it that farfetched?  We know, for instance, that many species of bacteria are able to form spores. Bacterial spores are extremely hardy and able to survive in the harshest of terrestrial environments awaiting reanimation thousands of years hence- or even longer. Experiments on the International Space Station have demonstrated that Tardigrades, a segmented micro-animal, can survive the cold and intense radiation of space, without a space suit.

I have never liked the Panspermia hypothesis due to the 'Cop-out Factor'. Panspermia avoids the difficult problem of how life actually came about from inanimate matter. Life just occurs elsewhere and then arrives on our planet to take hold and prosper. But maybe I have been a little hasty in my disdain for the hypothesis, and maybe it deserves a little more personal respect now I have thought about the problem more deeply.  

At least the hypothesis tackles the most difficult problem there is in modern biology: How did life occur on Earth in such a short time frame? The latest fossil evidence suggests that some form of life existed within just a few hundred million years after the earth cooled down sufficiently to support life. It is known that the Earth coalesced 4.5 billion years ago and that by 4.3 billion years, the planet had cooled to a condition where life could form and evolve. The oldest known fossils have been found in Australian rocks just 600 million years later. Life would have existed before then, perhaps many millions of years prior. And this is troublesome. How could life occur in just a short geological time span considering the complexity of the problem? Let us not underestimate the issue of complexity involved. For proto-life to occur, we require two complex chemical systems to form and interact in complex ways. I have discussed this elsewhere in more detail; go seek. I will not reiterate here. The fact that these highly complex processes could and did happen within the time frame available is nearly miraculous. And as my regular readership will have gathered, I have no truck with miracles. There has to be a rational explanation.        

There are several variants of the Panspermia hypothesis. The variant that intrigues me the most promotes the possibility that life began to coalesce early in the universe at large. The age of the universe has been estimated, using extrapolation, to be in the order of 13.8 billion years. However, recent evidence from the James Webb telescope suggests that the universe may be much older. Let us wait and see what follows. The data is raw and recent and therefore requires further examination and analysis. Regardless, it is important to acknowledge that the universe is a lot older than the Earth. Immediately after the 'Big Bang', the universe was extremely hot and raw. However, just a billion years later, the cosmos reached a balmy/barmy -253.15 C. It is reasonable to surmise that during the interlude between the Big Bang and 1 billion years, there would be a time when temperatures on random pieces of matter would be conducive to the development of life. A solvent would also be required to sustain the reactions. We immediately think of water, but there are other solvents that could serve the process, at least initially. Methane liquifies at a much lower temperature than water (-182 to -161C), thus providing a suitable sustaining environment in a frigid uncaring universe. There are other possible candidates, such as ethane. I'm perhaps erring on the flippant side, but the concept is solid, unlike the solvent. The point to be made, is that there would be innumerable 'domains' (mayhap infinite?) available for this illimitable cosmic experiment. The time available for this to occur is open to speculation, but at least 12 billion years would be accessible. This highly speculative model allows a vast theatre of time and space for the formation of life to occur. Under such conditions, life could come forth from multiple points, over multiple eons.  

Imagine a simple, basic life form transformed into a hardy spore buried deep within the rocky envelope of an asteroid. It wanders the cosmos for an indeterminable time until it meets the gravitational field of our home. It roars through the primitive atmosphere to arrive blackened and seared and finally quenched within a vast ocean. There the spore awakens and develops anew in a foreign environment/experiment. It would take but one 'seed' to set the process of reproduction and natural selection to progress. The rest is just the history of life on Earth.

The advantage of this particular flavour of Panspermia is that the factor of time and space is not limited to a small sphere of rock containing dihydrogen oxide put together a mere 4.5 billion years ago. The whole universe becomes the infinite, moist, progenitor vat enshrined within the web of spacetime.

Anyway, back to the title. Pans People: the wet dream of British adolescents circa 1971. Take it away, girls. There is no doubt that the choreography was shit, but we didn't care, probably because we had too much testosterone coursing through our veins and didn't know the meaning of choreography. Arse.   


Saturday 30 September 2023

Scaphism or Death by Boats

Scaphism- Greek for boat

The ancients were very adept at concocting particularly unwholesome means of dispatch for their malcontents and criminals. Crucifixion, a form of torture associated with the Romans, was actually devised elsewhere. Centuries before the Roman Empire, the Persians and Carthaginians were perfecting this method of extreme torture. Indeed, crucifixion was a very efficient way of extracting pain for an extended period of time. First off, the nails were not placed through the hand but through the wrists next to the radial nerve. During the act, the crucified individual had to continually raise his body, placing pressure on the wrists and nerves, causing searing pain. Levitation/elevation was a necessary recourse in order to relieve the constraining pressure upon the chest due to the slumped posture hinting at asphyxiation. However, once the body was raised and the victim caught a breath, the pain due to the nail impingement upon the radial nerve would cause collapse. Thereafter, the dreadful cycle would continue anew. Merciful death would intervene once the prisoner became exhausted, as suffocation would ensue. For a fit young man, the agony could last several days. The Carthaginians were well-versed and adept at this form of torture and would often crucify their own generals if they lost a battle.

Terrible as crucifixion was, there existed a form of punishment allegedly practiced by the ancient Persians that made crucifixion seem like a bad day in Tipton.

I suspect you had to be a very naughty boy indeed to suffer the horror that is scaphism. First, you would be secured to a small boat. The prisoner was then force-fed milk and honey, and then honey would be lathered liberally upon the wretches' naked body. 

A second boat would be secured over the first with openings allowing for the exposure of the head, feet, and arms. The boat would then be pushed out into a lake to bake under the hot Iranian sun. The diet of milk and honey would quickly induce diarrhoea, and the prisoner would be left to wallow in their own filth. The local flies and other insects would be attracted to the floating morass and feast upon the sweet/sweat fetid goodness, and thereafter lay eggs akimbo, possibly with aplomb. Soon maggots would issue forth to feast upon the prisoner's marinated flesh. It is impossible to imagine a worse horror than being slowly eaten alive by a host of god's goodly creatures. 

What follows is an account of scaphism as performed on a gentleman named Mithridates for the slaying of the king's (Artaxerxes II) brother Cyrus the Younger (c400 BC).

'[The king] decreed that Mithridates should be put to death in boats; which execution is after the following manner: Taking two boats framed exactly to fit and answer each other, they lie down in one of them the malefactor that suffers, upon his back; then, covering it with the other, and so setting them together that the head, hands, and feet of him are left outside, and the rest of his body lies shut up within, they offer him food, and if he refuse to eat it, they force him to do it by pricking his eyes; then, after he has eaten, they drench him with a mixture of milk and honey, pouring it not only into his mouth, but all over his face. They then keep his face continually turned towards the sun; and it becomes completely covered up and hidden by the multitude of flies that settle on it. And as within the boats he does what those that eat and drink must needs do, creeping things and vermin spring out of the corruption and rottenness of the excrement, and these entering into the bowels of him, his body is consumed. When the man is manifestly dead, the uppermost boat being taken off, they find his flesh devoured, and swarms of such noisome creatures preying upon and, as it were, growing to his inwards. In this way Mithridates, after suffering for seventeen days, at last expired.'

— PlutarchLife of Artaxerxes[

Just a point of interest before continuing with the theme: Plutarch was clearly a conventionally educated man of his time and no doubt Aristotelian in his thinking. This should be of no surprise. Aristotle had a profound and baleful influence on intellectual thought for nearly 2,000 years. Few would criticise this great man until the coming of the 'Scientific Enlightenment'. Interestingly, almost all that he taught was in error, except for his work on the syllogism. Thus, Aristotle informed those who could read, at least, that flies did not beget flies. Flies spontaneously became manifest from corruption. Surely Aristotle was not an experimental scientist. Tis such a shame that a man of such a great and manifest intellect should have neglected the enormous power of simple induction.

Did the barbarous Persians actually perform this horrendous form of execution, or was it the conjuring of an overactive imagination of the Greek biographer? Sadly, we will never know for sure, as Plutarch's account is the only independent source we have for the practice. Plutarch was writing 450 years after the reign of Artaxerxes, and it is likely that he was relying on a now lost source called 'Persika' written by another Greek, aptly named, Ktesias, in the 5th century BC. Ktesias was not a credible historian. In fact, from his writings, it can be discerned that Ktesias was as mad as a 'bucket of frogs in vinegar'. He had the misfortune of being endowed with the art of 'over elaboration'. Thus, apparently, from the same pen, we hear of lands where folk have dog's heads. Others have the sad affliction of being bereft of bonce and eyes that are strategically positioned upon the torso.......

Serious historians are the happiest when they have access to multiple independent sources describing a supposed historical event. That said, just because someone has the gift of writing absolute bollocks doesn't mean that they always write absolute bollocks. Sometimes, perhaps, true verity drips from their pen like a drippy thing. Nuff said.

A Denizen of Tipton No Less

Thursday 28 September 2023

Quid Est Veritas?

Enough of the esoteric bollocks of philosophical thought, science, mathematics, and total unadulterated/unmitigated ferret's plop. Let us return to history and ponder one of history's most enigmatic characters.

"Pontius Pilate is not the governor of Judea he is a very naughty boy"

Beware, what follows is a bit 'rambly' (not a real word)

Jesus' Trial

Poor Pilate was just a humble administrator of Rome enduring his job in a far-flung portion of the Empire. He had the unenviable task of ruling the intractable and fractious Jewish population. One day, during his tenure, the High Priest and his minions brought forth a poor, itinerant/illiterate Rabbi from Galilee. They said he had caused a minor disturbance in the temple courtyard and for his naughtiness, he was deserved of death. Pontius was a fair man and after interrogating the prisoner he could find no fault that would warrant a sentence of death. And so, he sent the man to be questioned by the nominal/puppet Jewish ruler of Galilee, Agrippa. Again, no infraction of the law could be found that decreed the death penalty. Thus, he was returned to Pilate unmolested. And Pilate cried out: "I find no fault in this man". But the priests did mutter darkly of insurrection if he was released and hinted that great Tiberius Caesar himself would be displeased. Pilate got the message and although deep down he was a good man he had the prisoner before him flogged and beaten. For Pilate was a weak, vacillating man and wanted to appease the roiling mob (ecce homo). The piteous sight of a man so handled by his soldiery shocked Pilate but the Priests were implacable in their hate and the mob became frenzied and screamed: ''Nail him to a piece of wood". Poor Pilate could do no more and did as the Jews demanded.     

Basically, the above narrative is one we glean from the New Testament. Is that how the scene went down? First off, the gospels are not historical narratives in any modern sense. The motives of the various gospel writers were essentially theological. Primarily this diverse set of books is a testament to faith and any 'factual history' embodied/embedded is happenchance. We know this because the gospel narratives are disparate and contradictory and also, how could the apostles have known the proceedings emanating from Pilate's chambers or Agrippa's palace? It is not as if they were allowed to enter these hallowed enclaves and take dictation. Furthermore, the gospel accounts are not firsthand. The earliest gospel, Mark, was composed about 40 years after Jesus' death. John's Gospel, the last to be written, was put to word as late as 90-100 AD. Initially, the gospels were part of oral tradition passed on to believers throughout the vast Roman Empire. The apostles were illiterate peasants and could not have composed the narrative in the elegant Greek we find in the gospels. The gospel writers were not of the poorest strata of the Empire. They were well-educated and likely native Greek speakers and ignorant of the Aramaic language spoken by Jesus and his band of brothers.

Let us return to Pilate and his jesting remark: "What is truth?" Luckily, we have other contemporaries who wrote about this period and the man. We have a brief mention in the works of Tacitus and a more extensive narrative by two Jewish writers, Philo of Alexandria and most notably, Josephus. Josephus was a very interesting character indeed. I'll come back to him in a thrice, but first a little about Pontius Pilate, after all, he is the main/man character of the plot.

Pilate was of Equestrian rank (knight) and at the time of his appointment, by Tiberius, as Prefect of Judea in 26 AD, he was already a seasoned administrator and military man. His position was a junior one and he was subservient to the governor of Syria.  He ruled in Judea for 10 years, however, due to mounting complaints from the populace, he was recalled to Rome by Tiberius, for investigation. During his 10-year tenure, he proved to be insensitive to Jewish religious sensibilities resulting in unrest, rioting, and on at least one occasion a substantial loss of life. However, the Jewish population, and specifically the Jewish leaders (High Priest and Sanhedrin), had an ace up their sleeve. They were not totally helpless when confronted by a harsh ruler. They had the right to appeal to Tiberius himself.  Ultimately, the threat of redress was a means to prevent extreme depredation by a particularly rapacious governor. 

Josephus relates several stories concerning Pilates' insensitive and vicious nature. It seems that Pilate was not particularly receptive to Jewish religious norms. In fact, he deliberately and knowingly provoked the Jews, directly challenging their strict and exquisite obeyance to the rigid laws of the one true god, Yahweh.  

Tiberius died during Pilate's journey home and before he reached Rome the lovable rogue, Caligula had ascended the 'throne'. This is where Pilate disappears from the annals of history, although this did not stop Christians of later centuries from concocting fictitious accounts of his life after returning to Rome. I think it is probable that Caligula treated Pilate with leniency. During the early stages of his reign, the new Imperator was magnanimous and forgiving, bestowing benevolence with abundance and rampant abandon; this would change during the latter half of his divine rule- not the rampant abandon bit, though.      

Josephus was an aristocratic Jew who took part (a general, no less) in the ill-advised and doomed Jewish rebellion against Roman rule (66-70AD). Initially, the revolt achieved great success, and Romans throughout Judea were slaughtered. At that time, very few Roman troops were garrisoned in Judea, probably no more than 3,000, and in the event of serious trouble, the Romans relied on the two legions stationed in nearby Syria. I don't really want to go into detail concerning the 'Jewish War' although I will say this: the Roman response was swift and brutal. The war ended after the successful siege of Jerusalem, although the stronghold of Masada continued to hold out, for a little while afterward. During the war, Josephus was captured and was destined for a painful end. However, luckily fate intervened and he managed to ingratiate himself with the Roman general, Vespasian, soon to be Emperor. 

We also have the account of Pilate by the Jewish philosopher, Philo of Alexandria. His description of Pilate is illuminating: "A man of inflexible, stubborn, and cruel disposition". This brief summation of Pilate's character seems very much at odds with the man described in the bible So, what are we to make of these discordant accounts? The gospel accounts containing the Pilate 'scenes' were composed after the Jewish revolt, perhaps with the exception of Mark. The gospel writers had an agenda. They were keen not to include material that in any way could be construed as 'Anti-Roman'. For obvious reasons, Jewish-Roman relationships following the war were a tad strained. Therefore, Christians were keen to distance themselves from Jews in general and to foster an air of acceptance of just Roman rule. From what we can discern from Pilate's character it is likely that he gave scant regard to saving Jesus' life and signed the death warrant without a second thought. In other words, the gospel accounts are fictitious screes of propaganda wantonly placing the blame for Jesus' death strictly on the Jews. A narrative that would have severe consequences for the diaspora culminating in the horror perpetuated by the Nazi regime in the 20th century.    

Pilates' position was unenviable and precarious. His remit from Tiberius was to maintain order and to ensure the efficient collection of tax revenue. Unlike most Roman provinces, Judea remained volatile after subjugation. A fine and delicate hand was required: don't upset the locals whilst maintaining the majesty and prestige of Rome and the Emperor- and don't forget the taxes. In addition, it was in Pilates' vested interest to maintain a viable working partnership with the high priest and the Sanhedrin. Ultimately Jews and Romans were fundamentally and mutually incomprehensible. Their cultures were so inherently divergent and incompatible that large-scale conflict was inevitable. Thus, Pilates' prefecture was doomed before he set foot in Judea. 


Thursday 21 September 2023

Death but not as we know it?

Into the Light? 

Just a little commentary concerning 'Near Death Experiences (NDEs).' This is a fascinating and controversial topic for consideration. For those not familiar with the phenomenon, here is an outline: This phenomenon relates to the situation where a patient experiences cardiac death but is consequently resuscitated. The patient upon regaining their senses is able to render a vivid recollection of experiences occurring during the unconscious interval.  At this stage, it is necessary to qualify or redefine/redeem what has been stated in the previous sentences. Thus, the patient is obviously not dead. These cases describe an event where the patient's heart has stopped beating however, generally through medical intervention, the heart is reactivated, and the patient is saved from certain and ultimate brain death. Clinical death is said to occur when the brain dies, this occurs about eight minutes post cardiac arrest and is a consequence of oxygen deprivation. Once this occurs there has been no documented revival, regardless of what you may read in the Bible. NDEs, when they occur, generally have a vivid, profound quality about them and there appears a remarkable degree of consistency in certain aspects of the experience that transcends culture and religious affiliation. Thus, a common feature involves a bright white light, often associated with a tunnel. In addition, those afflicted oft describe the appearance of a significant religious character relevant to their religious background. Thus, a Christian may encounter Jesus, while a Hindu may have a predilection for Shiva. They may also experience the manifestation of deceased loved ones and/or a reiteration of their life in vivid but truncated form. Sometimes, patients describe an out-of-body experience. 

All this is compelling stuff and for some patient's life-changing. Committed atheists have turned to Christianity after an encounter with the living Christ and so on. So, what is actually going on? Are dying patients actually peeking behind the veil separating life and death? Are they actually obtaining a glimpse of the afterlife, or is something else going on?

First off, I must state the obvious. In all these instances we are dealing with a brain deprived of oxygen. And before we start looking for supernatural explanations for this phenomenon, it is well worth seeking a naturalistic explanation, devoid of hocus pocus and wand waving. As in all cases where the solution is not obvious, let us apply the rule of parsimony (Occam's razor), and let us not posit beyond what is necessary. Tis often the case that the simplest solution is the most plausible without a need for a gaudy display and descent into silliness. An abundance, nay a plethora of explanations, is not the rational man's friend. So, having stated the problem, let us delve into this most perplexing conundrum without descending into irrational bollocks.

A Bit of Science (with emphasis on the bit)

It is important to note that personal testament is essentially poor evidence and is certainly non-scientific. Anecdotal reports are not verifiable data and therefore should be dealt with scant regard. A study into the phenomenon of NDEs consisting of 197 cardiac arrest patients found that only 9% of patients had an experience that could be classified as an NDE. Interestingly, Dr. Olaf Blanke of the University Hospital of Geneva (remember him?) was able to reproduce the classical NDE experience in experimental subjects by inserting probes into their cortex. In addition, it has been noted that fighter pilots whilst undergoing training in G force-inducing centrifuges, may on occasion be subject to an NDE- this is due to hypoxia impinging upon the brain under these extreme conditions.   

So, in conclusion, currently, we have no evidence that withstands scientific scrutiny of NDEs somehow providing a preview of the 'afterlife'. Proponents who are convinced that NDEs are a foreboding, furtive glance unto the infinite will continue believing so. However, we have no data, to date, that is supportive of their conclusion. Some folk will believe regardless, because they want to even in the absence of supportive data. From my perspective, I find no evidence to support any form of life's continuance once we are pronounced brain dead. Therefore, take pleasure in our brief sojourn on this bittersweet journey that is 'life'. Enjoy, quaff deep, read well, and make love. Converse with the wise and eschew the fool. All else is but commentary, clutter, and noise. Arse.


Thursday 7 September 2023

O Shit There's Two Of Them!

Sadly, They Both Escaped from Toyland

Time for a bit of titillation for the senses and time off from my usual bollocks. First off, I must apologise to my non-UK readers, as this post will make no sense at all. Anyway, I was browsing the omniscient/omnipresent app, YouTube when I espied a video that captivated my interest. I'm sure my readers are well aware of this video platform. Like most stuff on the netty, the content of YouTube is not worth a view. That said there are nuggets of gold if you are prepared to dig. The video to which I'm referring is not a golden feast/fest for the optic organs. Nevertheless, it did capture my jaded attention.

The subject of the video concerned the life of two British 'comedians', Mike and Bernie Winters. The brothers were born in 1926 and 1930 respectively to working-class Jewish parents, in London. From an early age, they became interested in the 'Performing Arse' (surely sum mistake?). Sadly, they decided to form a comedy duo and during the 1950s they managed to obtain exposure on the new-fangled tele thingy. Alas, they became a feature on the tele throughout the 1960s and well up into the 70s. At that stage, the brothers had a falling out, and the less 'funny' one of the pair fucked off to the US leaving behind the goofy one. Said goofy one then managed to 'star' in a tele show costarring with a large dog. This televisual debacle lasted but two years.

The video droned on for eight minutes and was narrated by a gentleman with a mid-Western American accent. The video praised the duo for their long and (un?) funny career and interspersed within the video there were relevant photos and video clips. The narrator gushed about how the pair was iconic and beloved by the British audience. This is not how I remember the double act - they were even less funny than others of their ilk. Remember, 'Little and Large' and 'Cannon and Ball'?    

Unfortunately, I grew up in an age when these two unfunny prats minced upon the screen and after viewing this misleading video, I felt an urgent need to comment. Here goes: 'Absolutely awful. Useless pair of old hacks. Hackneyed unfunny routines. How they managed to become mainstream is an enigma wrapped in a puzzle. A drain on legitimate humor everywhere'.  

I decided to check other comments placed on this very video. Here are a few snippets:

'There was a joke doing the rounds, years ago.... Which were the two worst winters of the past 50 years?' Ans....Mike and Bernie....they were about as funny as toothache.'

'You cannot have the word comedy associated with these two. Out of 10 for comedy, they would be the only duo to get a minus score. They were awful.' 

'I remember Mike & Bernie Winters. The lobotomy didn't help erase the memories.'

'I never understood how they got on TV there was nothing funny going on - ever.'

'As funny as cholera!' 

And so, it goes on in a similar vein. As said it was inexplicable to why they were such a success. And then it came to me in a flash. They were good mates of Lew Grade. Nuff said..........

After this touch of whimsy, I promise to put forth material with a little more substance and dare I say it, gravitas. Watch this space (cadet?). Arse.


Wednesday 30 August 2023

Lacey Doolittle Does a Bit of Investigating

"Something should be done"

There is a series on UK tele where a rather pretty redhead lass does a bit of investigating about a variety of gnarly topics. Our flame-headed temptress, er I mean journalist, lopes across the world looking for stories of injustice that cast a dim shimmering light upon society and human nature. First off, I confess I don't watch the 'show'. Little Racey wears way too much clothing to entice a sad old fart with a mild 'Red Head' complex. However, Mrs. Flaxen is an avid fan. On occasion she regales me with the latest topic under scrutiny while I try to look interested and, at the same time, make a valiant attempt to shuffle orf to my beloved barn containing a well-stocked beer fridge. Anyway, one conversation struck a chord with my penchant for the moribund state of humanity, and in this instance, I actually listened to Mrs. Saxon's generally inane babblings. Apparently, Pasty had crossed to the US to 'investigate' a particularly unpleasant circumstance of innocent folk getting caught up in the crossfire between rival gangs. I forget the name of the city under investigation; however, you can tick off from the following list according to your personal want: Detroit; Chicago; Philidelphia; Oakland; Los Angeles; etc., etc..... The problem: Gang members going about their usual nefarious activities often bump into rival gang members. Instead of exchanging friendly 'how de dos' they instead shoot at each other with no regard for accuracy. So bad is the marksmanship that they have a tendency to shoot casual passerby folk going about their own ignoble business. 

Vapid, then goes on to interview families affected by this gang-fueled phenomenon as well as community leaders, various. The upshot: Everyone interviewed agrees that something needs to be done. Intrepid Tracey looks at the camera and says: "Something needs to be done to stop these senseless shootings''. Then the director shouts that's a rap and the whole production team, including Dacey, bugger off to an out-of-suburb 'Arsefucks' for large frapparunis all around.

On pertinent reflection, it seems to me that there are a number of simple solutions to this mindless violence. Here are Flaxen Saxon's well-considered solutions to this most profound problem.

Number 1.

At the heart of the problem lies the woeful lack of shooting acumen of the protagonists involved. The lack of marksmanship cannot be ascribed to congenital defects. The gangsters are invariably 'swart folk' and it is well known, at least for those that can see, that our brown/black brethren are endowed with impeccable vision. In contrast, Japanese snipers are inherently myopic. Even with thick pebble glasses Japanese snipers are painfully inadequate for the task at hand.  After stating these indelible facts, the solution is obviously manifest. I humbly suggest that the various protagonists receive training in the gentle art of marksmanship officially sanctioned and paid for by the requisite local government agency. Within short order, hordes of violent coloured folk will have attained full proficiency in the use of small arms. From now on, and henceforth, during an exchange of gunplay, the greater accuracy afforded by the aforementioned impeccable, nay dedicated, training will pay dividends, and the gangster-to-innocent bystander 'kill' quotient will fall to socially acceptable levels. Arse bucket, akimbo!

Number 2.

In this scenario, 'salted' ammunition will be willfully and with forethought leaked upon the black market. This ammunition will look like normal handgun ammunition, and in appearance be indistinguishable. However, on discharge, the bullets will explode thus denying the shooter of several of his digits. It is hoped, that over time, said 'shooters' will desist from their villainous activities. 

Number 3.

Admittedly, this proposed solution is highly controversial. I envisage that the municipal authorities reverse the policy of defunding law enforcement and increase spending to secure a surfeit of officers. Thus endowed, the local police department will have sufficient staff and powers to enforce law and order. Local miscreants, if found engaging in antisocial behaviour will be shot, out of hand and the survivors will be swept from the streets and incarcerated for a goodly time.

What do my readers think?