Wednesday 17 April 2024

Gracchi Brothers

The Brothers Grim

It is time to delve again into Roman history's murky depths. In this post, I'll examine the lives of two highly intriguing Roman brothers from the later Republican period, a time of great political turmoil and unrelenting struggle between the wealthy and the poor. 

Rome of the late republic had gained much wealth through acquisition and conquest. In 146 BC, Carthage (remember Hannibal?), Rome's greatest Mediterranean rival, was destroyed. The Greek city of Corinth was razed to the ground in the same year. The acquisition of such enormous amounts of gelt within a relatively short period was bound to have profound societal consequences. This was especially so as most of the wealth fell into the hands of the already wealthy elite patricians. However, the smug patricians languishing on their lavish estates were soon to experience a political backlash as the poor and landless were not without powerful representation in the Roman Senate. Enter the heroes of the story, stage left.

Tiberius (b. 163 BC) and Gaius Gracchus ( b. 154 BC) were born into privilege during the critical years of the late Roman Republic and would become pivotal figures at this turbulent time in Roman history. Both became champions of the poor and disenfranchised as they attempted to engage the powerful elite. Alas, both brothers lost their lives in their attempt to reorganise the political system. The senatorial patricians were not quite ready yet to devolve their power and, especially, wealth to the common folk. 

The elder of the brothers, Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, served with distinction in the military before entering politics. Military service was an essential prerequisite for entry into a career in the tempestuous world of Roman politics. 

A Digression is Required

The Roman army of the late Roman Republic was a middle-class militia of small landowners. A destitute Roman could not be enrolled as a soldier at this time, but this would change by necessity. The system worked well when most wars were conducted close to home, and the soldiery was disbanded after the campaigning season to return to plough the land they owned. However, Rome's wars were entering into a phase of unrelenting aggression in lands far away from Itlay. No longer were Rome's wars local and confined to a single season. War was incessant, unrelenting, and now conducted outside Italian soil. Who would plough the field and tend to the crops and harvest?

Back to Tiberius        

Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, the elder of the two brothers, rose to prominence in the latter half of the second century BC. As a politician, Tiberius became increasingly aware of the dire conditions faced by Rome's rural poor. The problem stemmed from the rapid proliferation of large farms called latifundia. The Roman citizenry could no longer support small farms, resulting in the land being bought at a low price and amalgamated into large farms worked by slaves. As mentioned, the citizenry could no longer till the field as they fought in a foreign field far from home and for many a season. When they returned to the farm, the fields were barren and untilled. This societal disruption resulted in a growing population of poor and landless folk who naturally gravitated to Rome. The rise of the 'Latifundia' was due to a series of complex factors not described here. Nevertheless, the result was that a tiny minority of very wealthy people came to own large swathes of land both in southern Italy and abroad and consequently became wealthier. As Crassus once stated: ''You can't be considered wealthy unless you can afford to raise an army''.  

In 133 BC, Tiberius was elected as a 'Tribune of the People' for that year. This ancient political position was designed to protect the ordinary folk (plebians) from the rapacious abuse of the noble class, patricians. At this time, tribunes numbered ten and carried sweeping political power for the year they were elected. Not only were tribunes sacrosanct, but they had the power to veto the proposals of the head magistrates of the Roman Senate (consuls). As tribune, Tiberius proposed a land reform bill (Lex Sempronia Agraria). This law proposed the break-up and redistribution of public land owned by wealthy landowners for the use of poor citizens. This bill was received poorly by the senatorial class as if carried, it would no doubt reduce their own wealth and power. The influential members of the Senate were uncompromising in their opposition. In response, Tiberius rallied vociferous support from Rome's urban poor. Both sides began attracting supporters, which inevitably led to a violent confrontation in the streets of Rome. During the fight, Tiberius was slain together with hundreds of his supporters. Thus ended Tiberius' gallant attempt at significant land reform. His body was thrown into the Tiber to sleep with the fishes. 

In hindsight, Tiberius's attempt at land redistribution was way too ambitious for the Rome of the time. The wealthy elite were not going to hand over land without a struggle. They were well aware that the law was likely to pass, and therefore, in time-honoured tradition, they used violence to squash the issue. But this was not to be the end. Despite the risk, Tiberius' younger brother, Gaius, decided to carry on his brother's noble work. Like his brother before him, he was elected as 'Tribune of the People' (123 BC). Gaius was a skilled orator and agitator, and during his tenure, he proposed similar reforms but expanded their scope. Not only did he propose extensive land reform, but he also wanted to supply subsidised grain to the poor and grant Roman citizenship to Rome's allies. He also wanted to introduce a political counterpoise to the senatorial elite; he sought to introduce measures to bolster the power of the extensive equestrian class. The backlash from the patricians was, again, inevitable. In 121 BC, Gaius was seeking reelection as tribune, and during the count, Gaius and his supporters were killed by an angry mob of senators. Although some sources avow that he anticipated his murder and committed suicide by falling on his sword. There were no more Gracchi brothers to carry on the legal legacy, and, therefore, the ambitious reforms were not enacted. As an aside, it is to be noted that both brothers were killed after their period as tribunes. The arrogant patricians were not stupid enough to kill the brothers during their tenure. The law was very strict about the killing of an actively standing tribune.    

The legacies of Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus are complex and multifaceted. On one hand, they are celebrated as champions of the common people, whose efforts laid the groundwork for later reforms in Roman society. Their advocacy for land reform and social justice resonated with generations of reformers and revolutionaries throughout history. On the other hand, their methods were controversial, and their actions ultimately led to political instability and violence.

The brother's saga was a culmination of centuries of conflict between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' of Roman society. This time, however, the stakes had never been higher. The surge of wealth due to conquest and the extensive destitution it indirectly caused did not bode well for societal cohesion. As usual, the wealthy senators were happy with things as they were and were not open to change. The Gracchi tried, by legal routes, to alleviate the suffering of the poor. The patricians were well aware that if the laws were passed, they would suffer financially. And so they funded and initiated violence to prevent the bills from being passed. Whilst this strategy was highly effective in the short term, it could never provide the basis for a solid long-term political system. The following 90 years would see profound changes in the political landscape of Rome. Rome would enter into the era of the 'Strong Men'. Men of military and political merit would dominate Rome in successive waves, beginning with Marius and culminating in Caesar's perpetual dictatorship in February 44 BC. One month later, he was dead. Civil war would follow as men fought to rule. This ended in 27 BC as the victor, Octavian, later Augustus, took hold of the rein/reign of political power. Emperors would rule Rome until the end. Although the Romans would never admit it, the hated rule of kingship had been reinstated. 


Friday 29 March 2024

King Flaxen 'The Addled'

Breaking news from the spa town of Tipton (incorporating Dudley West and Smethwick North). Today, it can be revealed that the tomb of the 'Mad Saxon' 10th-century king of Tipton (incorporating Halesowen and Brierley Hill) has been unearthed on the site of an ancient midden pit. King Flaxen (for it is none other), also known as 'Flaxen the Addled', ruled his mighty kingdom by a combination of sage administration, sound fiscal policy and extreme violence.



King Flaxen in Repose. Note the Clarity


His tomb lies today within the Tipton Metropolitan rubbish dump, adjacent to Mr Patel's kebab shop and home for tasty stray animals.

Dr Treehouse Mugumbo, renowned archaeologist and ferret tamer at Tipton University of Difficult Sums, takes up the narrative with characteristic fervour and verve: "This is a remarkable historical find of significant historical import and is likely to rewrite the history books, within the context of its historical in situ milieu as we know it. Arse"

King Flaxen was found in repose, be-straddled by his trusty double-headed Danish War axe, 'Twat Cruncher' and his mighty sword, 'Arse, Big Fat Arse Biter' (Arse). In addition, his body was bestrewn and interlarded with 100,000 Tipton groats, valued in today's money as equivalent to 5 billion Zimbabwe dollars, or about 50 pence. Also, upon his personage was a perfect working example of a 10th-century mobile phone. Apparently, though, his plan for free data had lapsed.

King Flaxen's remains are in astoundingly good condition. This is probably due to his fondness for imbibing the local alcoholic drink, mead, which embalmed his robust and beautifully formed frame. DNA has been extracted from his well-preserved scrotal sac, and genetic testing has unequivocally determined that the incumbent mayor of Tipton (incorporating Halesowen and Brierley Hill), Mr. Enoch Vowel, is a direct descendant of the mad Saxon king. On hearing the news, Mr. Vowel had this to say: "It comes as no surprise; I've always had this pervading feeling of being special; indeed, I went to a special school. I will be a wise and magnanimous ruler but will brook no dissent or criticism whatsoever. From now on, you will refer to me as King Enoch 'The Ferret' and scrape and bow in my presence under the pain of death administered by 'Twat Cruncher', Monday to Thursday (inclusive), and 'Arse, Big Fat Arse Biter' arse, Friday to Sunday. By right of birth, I now own the environs of Tipton (incorporating Halesowen, Brierley Hill and Dudley North) and all its chattels and bondsmen. I am a living earthly representation of the god Woden". 

Later that day, Mr. Vowel was shuffled orf to the local Insane Asylum without fuss or due ceremony.       

In a civic ceremony, sans Vowel, King Flaxen's remains were unceremoniously flung onto the Tipton Metropolitan dump site. They will remain here for an eternity unless consumed by stray dogs or rendered down for glue by a wandering band of Romanian/Albanian/(insert gypo of your choice here).

Stray dogs and gypos are said to be circling the periphery, as I write..........

Thursday 28 March 2024

Wot No News?

Wot No Aliens?

In February of last year, the US and Canadian military conspired and shot down three objects impinging upon their airspace. And good for them, say I. Planes flying at 40,000 feet don't want to needlessly impinge on 'Ford Tipex' sized objects flying at unspecified speeds at the uncanny precise 40,000 feet. Furthermore, the potential 'impedees' (not a real word) were described as 'car-sized', cylindrical, or octagonal and 'flying' at 40,000 feet (unnecessary redundancy). Also, there was the implication that the aerial object was devoid of any visible means of propulsion and appeared 'unmanned'. This occurred around the same time the US shot down a possible Chinese spy balloon. So, what the fuck is going on? Well, the answer is absolutely nowt, according to any media outlet. If an inquisitive mind is so determined to use Gogle to enquire for further elucidation, then intrepid reporters are rewarded by bugger all. Not even a grain of ferret poo. 

Now the beautifully formed and flaxen-haired one is not a great believer in the usual well-trodden conspiracy theories that gain currency amongst the usual fuck wits and aluminium-hatted bedecked fools that fill, unbidden, our streams of consciousness with shit. Please let them have their say, and move on, say I. I am a great believer in free speech, but it needs to be acknowledged that some folk are brain-dead and irredeemable cunts, and as such, should be ignored. These folk sap our very vitals and intellectual marrow and consequently do not deserve our precious time (what is time?).  

So, what is going on?

These objects are not the usual aircraft to which we are accustomed. They have no wings, propellors or visible exhaust from jet propulsion. This leads the 'swivel-eyed' brigade to conclude they must be of alien origin. Personally, I'm not a fan of this sort of reasoning. Firstly, I don't believe we have any solid evidence to support the 'Little Green Men' hypothesis. Indeed, we have no conclusive evidence for any form of life, sentient or otherwise, outside our Earthly home. However, this may change within a short span of time. Scientists are actively searching for biosignatures from exoplanets in far-flung solar systems. They are typically looking for chemicals that are exclusively produced by living organisms. It is not expected to reveal complex sentient life. Perhaps simple bacterial forms may be identified by these studies. That said, there is a parallel programme actively looking for tech signatures that would be indicative of advanced life forms- exciting stuff indeed! I'm starting to digress. Back to it. Furthermore, if these objects were actually alien-designed, they wouldn't be so easily destroyed by our puny fighter aircraft. You would expect an alien civilisation able to build spaceships that can traverse the vast void of the universe to equip their craft with sophisticated defense mechanisms. But no, all three UAPs were shot down and destroyed quite easily. 

When attempting to make sense of these types of phenomena, I invoke the good precepts of 'William of Occam' and apply the rule of parsimony. I am of the opinion that these aloft vehicles are good old-fashioned dirigibles. In other words, cunningly crafted vessels filled with helium, or less likely hydrogen. I suspect amateur pranksters taking a break from making their usual crop circles. As for the lack of further information, maybe there is nothing to say. All craft were shot down over the northern wastes of the US and Canada. If I'm correct, there would be little debris to find after the balloons were destroyed by missiles. The remoteness of the regions involved and winter weather would hamper/hinder any attempts at recovery of the meagre remains. Thus, there is nothing more to say. I still find it odd that there seems to be absolutely zero follow-up information from official sources. And even more strange, there is no commentary at all from the world's curious citizenry.

I would be delighted to hear from my devoted followers concerning this most vexed matter. Opinions, thoughts, speculation, or just random bollocks would be most appreciated.            


Sunday 24 March 2024

Hooke Vs Newton

This is the first post of the Month. In truth, I have been preoccupied with my wife's health issues, although I have been working on several essays and assorted detritus that require the veneer of editing before I allow them to take root upon my blogging platform. I'm hoping that these works will reach fruition within the next couple of days, unless they don't.


The Two Protagonists- Spot the Spakka

The 17th century was truly a time of scientific wonderment and where the polymath reigned supreme. The rise of men of profound intellect who had the audacity and drive to dabble and excel in numerous subjects of scientific, philosophical and mathematical interest. The intellectual 'Greats' of the time were true scientific pioneers. These men eschewed the cloying restrictions of Christian scholasticism, which had choked intellectual progress for over a millennium. The shackles were rent asunder, and scientific progress burst forth, unrestrained by ecclesiastic nonsense. No longer could a man of intellectual acuity lose his reputation or life for revealing nature's wonders, wonders that were arbitrarily deemed contrary to stolid Catholic dogma. And throughout this scientific wonderment strode Newton. A man whose intellect embraced all, a man of no limits, a man who is remembered by all. But what about Robert Hooke, Newton's slightly older contemporary? More about Hooke in a while.

For Context....

There is little doubt that Newton's achievements were prodigious. Indeed, it is worth mentioning these scientific achievements to gain a perspective of the man's true genius. Newton's breathtaking work in the realm of physics includes formulating the laws of motion. Although others had made important contributions in this regard, it was Newton who finally formalised the theories in a rigorous mathematical form. In his book 'Optics', Newton revealed his revelations concerning light and, due to his work involving reflection, developed a theory that light was made of tiny particles he called corpuscles. He also invented the reflecting telescope containing a concave mirror. Up to then, all telescopes were made with lenses and refracted light to achieve magnification- chromatic aberration akimbo! Not only did he 'invent' calculus (don't tell Leibnitz), but he also founded and contributed to other areas in mathematics, too many to list here. Of course, Newton is widely known for his formulation of 'Universal Gravity, ' a concept that would hold sway until Einstein came forth with 'Relativity'. By the way, Gravity is Latin for Weight. There is no doubt that Newton's book, 'Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy' is considered one of the most influential science tomes ever written.

Now, a word about Robert Hooke.

Although Robert Hooke was an undoubted polymath and genius, he is less well remembered today. Perhaps Newton's Greatness overshadowed all.    

Robert Hooke was born in 1635 on the Isle of Wight. He showed early mastery in a variety of subjects and, in 1653, secured a place at Oxford University, where he received his Master of Arts degree in 1662. He was a sickly child and man and not comely to the eye. His back was bent (scoliosis), and he was graced with a large head with bulging eyes. This is very reminiscent of Marty Feldman's portrayal of Igor (pronounced Eyegor) in the wonderful film, 'Young Frankenstein', made in 1974 and directed by Mel Brookes—go see. 

Here is a brief exposition of Hooke's achievements. He was the first to describe the law of elasticity using springs as his experimental medium (Hooke's Law). This had great practical applications as it paved the way for the production of a compact circular spring, an important step in the production of a portable timepiece. You can't take a pendulum clock on board a ship and accurate timekeeping was essential in determining longitude at sea. Hooke improved the primitive microscopes of the age and made important discoveries in biology, which he published in the beautifully self-illustrated book, 'Micrographia'.  It was he who discovered and coined the name 'Cell'.  Although Hooke was involved in elucidating the fundamentals of the 'Laws of Gravity', Newton pipped him at the post when it came to the primacy of the theory. Newton was able to provide a more rigorous and mathematical rendition of the phenomenon. On observing light refraction, Hooke determined that light must be propagated by a wave in contradiction to Newton's particle theory. Hooke's experiments involving air laid the groundwork for others to make seminal discoveries in this field and beyond. But Hooke was not only a scientist in the physical and biological sciences; he was also an architect, geologist and astronomer of note.    

Not only was the 17th century a time of 'Great Minds' twas also a time of great egos. I've discussed the controversy between Newton and Leibnitz concerning the 'discovery' of calculus elsewhere in this blog. Newton, in particular, it seems was a prickly, introspective and disputatious genius and locked intellects with others, including Hooke. Hooke was not a nice man if his diary is to be believed. It is said that he possessed an abrasive and unpleasant demeanour. The two men did not get along. Hooke felt that he did not receive the degree of recognition he deserved for his contribution to the theory of gravity. These prominent men could not avoid each other in the closed social circles that men of their class associated. Their mutual animosity was not only founded upon impersonal scientific matters it also extended to differences in personality and temperament.        

When discussing 17th-century science, Isaac Newton will always take precedence in any list of scientists who contributed to science's advances, achievements, and breakthroughs. Newton was a superlative genius in a century of profound geniuses (or is it genii?). That said, the addition of Hooke within this canon is not arbitrary; if Newton was king, then Hooke was undoubtedly the first in line to the throne. Although I'm sure that Hooke would have bristled at the thought that his intellect was surpassed by another.

We are apt to forget the singular and profound importance of the 17th century as a modernising influence on the men of intellectual quality who subsequently changed the world. Most of our modern science is based on and follows upon 17th discoveries. Perhaps of more importance is the change in the temper/timbre/tempo of mind that occurred. Nothing in the past could compare, and it remains with us today as a thoroughly modern scientific mindset. What a legacy! The importance of this intellectual revolution is worth stressing, especially because of its rapidity in societal terms: in the year of our Lord, 1600, the mindset of educated men was medieval; in 1700, the mindset was thoroughly modern. The England of 1600 witnessed witchcraft trials; this would have been unthinkable 99 years later. In addition, humankind had been humbled. No longer was our insular little bubble the centre of the universe. Everything had to be reevaluated in terms of our utter insignificance. Nuff said.

Wednesday 28 February 2024

HMS Plop Plop

HMS Plop Plop Rules the Canal's Undercurrent
 

We truly live in wonderous times! Today marks the ceremonial launch of His Mayoral Ship, Plop, Plop.

Today, on the Tipton to Dudley canal, incorporating Netherton North and Smethwick, the Mayor of Tipton, the Honorable Mr. Enoch Vowel, will be inaugurating and presiding over the launch of the formidable, newly commissioned warship HMS Plop, Plop. This mighty ship will propel Tipton into the premier league and thrust sea power beyond the borders of Tipton and associated environs. The imposing Plop Plop measuring 24 x 16 x 10 cubits will no doubt sail the West Mercian canal system as an impressive ambassador and showcase of Tipton's Imperial Power. A true Behemoth of impending doom. Apart from up-to-date technology (has a digital tele), Plop Plop, will be able to deliver a comprehensive and simultaneous broadside equivalent to 34-foot pounds, or 25 Newtons of raw unmitigated power! The enemies of Tipton will shake with tumultuous awe.

Behold the Leviathan of the West Midland canal system! Note well, the thrusting power that is rightly projected beyond Tipton's exalted borders.  

 Affixed to the prow is a figurehead- a proud effigy of Tipton's esteemed mascot and totem animal, 'Shagger the Ferret' (go Shagger!).

For this most auspicious occasion, the Poet Laureate, IPhone Ten Mugumbo, penned a timeless masterpiece to be specifically enunciated with impeccable diction by the Hon. Vowel.  Read and weep.   

O Plop Plop, you are beyond compare,

A vessel unmatched in dread and wonderment.

May you navigate the wide canals of the land with veritable aplomb.

Your mighty frame dominates the waterways like a mighty dominaty

(not a real word) thing,

And brings forth glory unto majestic Tipton, akimbo!

Update:

Today, the Honourable Vowel was ably assisted by the local itinerant, 'Filthy Eric'. After prising Eric from his usual supine and decumbent/recumbent position at the local hostelry, 'The Feltching Ferret', he was forcefully prodded (electrically assisted) unto the milling throng. Eric provided local colour and life to the proceedings due to his rubicund visage and writhing indigenous fauna. After muttering 'Arse' several times, Eric consecrated the proceedings by chucking a bottle of 'Brown Ale' at the port side of HMS Plop Plop, followed sequentially by a plate bedecked with a generous porcine portion of 'faggots and peas'. 

Whereupon, after receiving such fare, HMS Plop Plop sank, unceremoniously, to the bottom of the cut without prejudice.  

And there it remains a sentinel bulwark to Tipton's divine glory.

A submarine of static proclivities, forever watchful, guarding the approaches from foreign powers, should they decide to invade Tipton by canal. 

Later that day, Filthy Eric was found a bobbing, face down, in the canal. His position marks the spot of the last known sighting of the regal Plop Plop. Eric will forever* act as a beacon, flopping according to flow and microorganisms, at the very location of HMS Plop Plop.  

* Nota Bene: This represents a figure of speech. No doubt, Filthy Eric's body will, within a few days, experience gaseous bloat (hydrogen sulphide, putrescene & cadaverine) due to decomposition ably assisted by enteric bacteria. Once the body experiences further decay, the noisome fetid odour/ordure will become a salient feature of the ongoing process. However, it must be noted that Eric's hygiene was none too fastidious during life, hence the appellation, 'Filthy'. Eventually, skin slippage will ensue, together with ligament decay, resulting in the dislocation of skeletal remains. These bony disarticulations will sink and lie atop Plop, Plop, or adjacent therein, dependent upon ebb and flow.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

God's Grand Plan?

Good luck with that, say I

As my mother was a Jehovah's Witness, I know their doctrine, dogma and practices reasonably well.  Last week, a gaggle (what is the collective noun for JWs: ans, a 'cult') of JWs inevitably turned up at my door, unbidden, eager to save me from the horrors of impending, nay imminent Armageddon (oxymoron?). 

I remember the incident as if it was last week. The lead Witness took heed that I was clad in my night robe/attire and asked if I was ill (twas 11.00am). I retorted: no, not at all, I'm just a lazy bugger.  Anyway, they promulgated their usual spiel, and I countered with my usual rhetoric. After a bit of back and forth, they departed, no doubt content and smug in their encounter with a lost soul/sole- I had forgotten to wear my slippers. Thus, they went hither in search of the ill-educated and gullible in order to fill their quota to the brim. Of course, on the Christian religious spectra, JWs represent the extreme fundamentalist end. They take the bible as literal truth, at least their version, and believe in the historical existence of 'Adam and Eve' and 'Noah's Ark' etc. I can't wait to encounter members of the 'Governing body' all bedecked in shimmering armour, sword in hand, astride a shining white steed. The vision of these fat old men garbed accordingly, laying forth and smiting the unrighteous, will be a sight to behold. For those unfamiliar with JW lore, this is what is going to happen at Armageddon. And Armageddon is coming real soon...

A day after my JW encounter, I was sauntering, nay promenading, in my town's High St, quietly biding my own business and time, whereupon a leaflet was thrust into my great and manly hand by a rogue 'Street Preacher'- the manic variety, no doubt. Normally, I'm required to bite my tongue in such a circumstance and render a polite and mute nod (is there any other variety?). But Mrs. S was engaged elsewhere, and thus, I was free to air my unpopular views, akimbo, and without fetter/filter. I likened the experience to a caged bird forever trapped, but on this occasion, the owner had left the door to the cage ajar....... Thus, I was free to unfurl my intellectual feathers and left to vent as was my wont (arse). The earnest young fella distributing the religious tract accosted and impinged upon my very soul (I don't have one) and demanded that I first answer an aggressively proffered question. I confess I'm a sucker for such an approach and therefore asked him to relay his profundity without delay. And so, to the question at hand: "What will I say to God when I die and am brought forth unto him?". I quipped: "Why was he/she/them/it so fond of beetles?". Obviously, my interlocutor was not a close reader of Darwin's work. After I explained the source of my answer, he flashed a smile and stated that his particular brand of Christianity was in full accord with the mechanism of Evolution. Evolution was God's methodology, nay gift for species formation. It was my turn to ask a question. "Why did your Lord God come up with a method so wasteful and cruel? Surely, an omnipotent all-loving deity could have fashioned a mechanism that wasn't reliant on such wanton misery". Unfortunately, this question remained unanswered. 

Do not be fooled by my flippant tone or demeanour, for there is an important point to be made here. 

Sadly, evolution by natural selection is inherently cruel and profligate. In nature, for every successful organism that survives to reproductive age, there is a host of brethren that lie trodden beneath. You don't have to be a biologist to note that life in the wild, for all species, is a rather precarious business. Disease, predation, competition for resources and the vagaries of climate all take their toll. As for evolutionary success, the only metric that matters relates to how many offspring you beget and their relative 'fitness' to survive in a given environment. Organisms are mere receptacles for the genes they carry. And what matters is how successful those receptacles are at ensuring their contained genes become passed to other like receptacles. How prosaically stated, Flaxen.  

God's mysterious hand in nature, as it unfolds, brings forth an unremitting, relentless horror show of rend and death. Couldn't God, in his majesty, who is able to control everything with a mere wave of his staff (poetic license), put forth a mechanism less sanguine than 'Natural Selection'. Perhaps he designated the task to one of his lesser co-deities. Christians are quick to place blame for the palpable evil in our world on the fallen Evil One. He is known by many names. But today, I will call him El Diabolo. However, before we apportion blame to the Devil, let us not forget that he is God's creature and ultimately under His control. So therefore, the final responsibility for evil, as evident in 'Natural Selection', must rest with God.         

I must write a piece about the much-maligned entity, sometimes called Satan.    

Wednesday 7 February 2024

O No, it's Whitiwhangi Day, Again!

Put it away- it's Rude

Yesterday was Waitangi Day in New Zealand. A day of supposed celebration marking the signing of a historic treaty between the Māori and the British. Every year, Māori representatives plus government officials, including our Prime Minster, gather at a small town 'up north' to commemorate this momentous event of concord between the two nations. Predictably, the event has become a focus for the expression of discontent for a variety of Māori pressure groups. No matter how these 'protests' are packaged, the aim is always the same, regardless of the merit of the scheme/scam promulgated: screw more money or concessions from the government.   

Anyway, several years ago, I decided to write a rather scurrilous and irreverent post about the whole affair. I have reprised this post previously, but I've decided to parade out my nonsense to those who may not have been around to appreciate my previous scribblings on the topic. So here we go again.  

Although written as a jocular interlude, the original piece does make some salient and serious points. For those who would like to catch my opinion on 'Māori Affairs', you can read it here: Waitangi Day reprise. 

Happy Whitiwhangi day! For you, dozy benighted Pomms, Whitiwhangi Day (6th February) is New Zealand’s National Day. It celebrates the signing of a solemn treaty between the ‘British Colonial Governor of Her Majesty’s Government’ and the Māori in 1840. As a slight digression, I would like to introduce the less educated amongst you to the noble Māori race. Ethnologists are of the opinion that the first Māori arrived in New Zealand as Asylum Seekers sometime in the Middle Ages. They found a bountiful land colonised by a peaceful and equally noble race called the Morori. Mutual respect was only marred by the fact that the Māori had an irrepressible appetite for human flesh. As it was against their culture and religious custom to eat their own, they decided to eat the indigenous people. In very short order, they had porked their way through this fair people and moved on to eat all the large birds, mammals and frogs. Today, the only indigenous creature left in New Zealand is a highly camouflaged, fast moving and slightly tasteless marsupial, known in the Māori language as ‘DonttastlikeKFC,ehbro.’

To return to our Solemn National Day. It is reputed that the Governor of 1840, Sir Effingham-Peffingham, was suffering from syphilitic ague prior to and up to the signing of the treaty. Some say he deviated from the standard British Colonial Policy of the time. Usually, British Army drill was to send the local chocos off to an early grave and at double time, too. Of course, when faced with the local duskies waving fruit and sharpened sticks, the best response was always to ‘fire a volley’ and finish off the wounded and less fleet of foot with the bayonet.

Unfortunately for the Empire, Sir E was suffering from delirium tremens on the day of the signing. For his entertainment, the local Māori Warriors performed their formidable war dance, ‘The Haka.’ The stout warriors, all painted and covered in feathers, reminded the Governor, in his delirium, of the Nelson Rep chorus line. After all, the Governor was notoriously short-sighted and thick.

The treaty was duly signed by the Governor and the Tribal Leaders. Luckily the Māori could not read or write English. The clause they failed to notice (stupid Māori) was the bit about allowing White Folk, known in Māori as Pakeha, to shoot any Māori on sight on Whitiwhangi day, as long as it was before noon. Good man, that Governor.

As usual, I celebrated ‘Whitiwhangi Eve’ with four bottles of medicinal red wine (as is the custom) and awoke the next morning feeling like a Frenchman’s crotch. After retching up over the dog, I noticed that it was 11.50am. I panicked somewhat as I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to legally shoot someone. So, without further ado and without getting dressed, I reached for my father’s trusty 303 Lee Enfield rifle. The same weapon he had used to shoot unarmed German prisoners at the battle of El Alamein. Shortly after this incident, my father’s contribution to the war effort was permanently curtailed due to wounds inflicted during a brisk encounter with the renowned and much-feared SS SeamStress division. These Valkyries could sow SS runic insignia, in silver thread, on your epaulette in under 20 minutes and double stitch at that; fucking amazing! During the battle, my father received a puncture wound to the arse from a rusty bodkin. The infection rapidly spread to his cock, and as a consequence, he spent 6 months in a Venereal Disease hospital in Blighty. The word around the campfire at the time was that my father had caught the infection after an intoxicated and ill-judged liaison with a wild, desert she-goat. Absolute nonsense. It is well known that you can catch this sort of thing from toilet seats and dirty sewing baskets.

With shaking hands, I slammed a fresh magazine into the Lee Enfield and rushed out onto the porch. Luckily for me, I saw a Māori in the adjacent field, not 100 paces away. I raised the musket to my shoulder, took careful aim and slowly squeezed the trigger. I was exhilarated to see my quarry spiral to the ground. I rushed inside for my trusty scalping knife and bounded over to the fallen Māori to gather my well-deserved trophy. Imagine my disgust when I realised that I hadn’t shot a Māori after all but had bagged my Dutch neighbour, Mr. Neils Van der Pump. In mitigation, I have to say that his Indonesian wife had been standing close by, and she does look a little bit Māori. I did consider shooting her as well and could hardly miss from two paces. But I suppose I’m a sentimental old fool, and it didn’t seem quite right to shoot her under the circumstances, as her husband had suddenly taken quite poorly. I did offer to apply a tourniquet to the wound on his neck, but neither of them seemed too keen on the idea. So, I left her to administer first aid and retreated back to my bed to sleep off the previous night’s excess. I had hardly fallen asleep when I was rudely awakened by the local plod. Thereafter all is a blur. I remained in custody for several months prior to trial. Poor Mrs. Saxon had to work 20 hours daily to keep the farm afloat. She did contact my flaxen-haired cunt of a son to ask for help. But he was too busy finding ‘spiritual enlightenment’ in a commune in PerthWestern Australia. Spiritual enlightenment, my arse! From what I can see, he spends his days banging small-breasted Asian ladies, sometimes two at a time (nice work if you can get it) and judging from the photos, some of the ‘ladies’ aren’t real women at all.

I finally had my day in court. I must admit I raised a spirited defense. However, things looked bleak after the prosecution’s final summing up: “Your Honour, I submit that Mr. Saxon is a demented, chronic alcoholic with a tenuous grasp on reality. It is recorded, your Honour, that after a particularly heavy and prolonged drinking bout, he thought he had turned into a canister of ‘Shake N Vac’ (Alpine Dew) and was found by his wife rolling naked on the carpet shouting: ‘I am fragrant, suck me off with the vacuum. I rest my case, your Honour.” But bugger me if I didn’t have a stroke of luck. Poor Mr. Van der Pump had lost the power of speech after my ill-fated shot had destroyed his larynx. This same lucky bullet had also divided nerves in his spinal cord, and consequently, he was paralysed from the nose down. The upshot, of course, was that he was unable to provide a verbal or written deposition; in other words, he was a piss-poor witness. The case against me rested on the sole testament of his Indonesian wife. This poor cow couldn’t speak a word of English, and her Court-appointed interpreter had just been deported as an illegal alien. The outcome was not in question, and I was promptly and deservedly found innocent of all charges and freed.

I confess that after this encounter with the law, I am truly a wiser but not a sober man. Although, I have to say I can’t wait for Mr. Van der Pump’s children to grow up so I can shoot them on Whitiwhangi Day, before noon. After all, they do look a little like Māori……..              
   






Tuesday 6 February 2024

Rantus Maximus

Not on My Doorstep: No Room in the Inn  

I've been watching videos showing the unrelenting horror unfolding at the Mexican-US border. I watch as SUVs drop off dozens of migrants at the border fence. Clearly, this section of the fence is unguarded by US officials, allowing the illegals to pass through an obviously prepared hole. 

Hordes flood over the border every month. Eighty % are young men. The majority of those entering are not oppressed by some evil regime; they are economic migrants seeking a better life. Many find passage to so-called 'Sanctuary Cities' such as New York. They turn up by bus, truck or train. And here they cry sanctuary. New York is obligated, by law, to provide succour to all who arrive. And they arrive in their thousands. But New York is facing a problem. They have run out of space and resources. The hotels/hostels/shelters are full. New York has been forced to operate a 'revolving door' policy. Single men are expelled after one month and families after two. Then they must stand in line with a multitude of others to reapply. These folks are pushed out into the bitter cold that is the New York winter. This is not what they expected. Where is the milk and honey? And weren't the streets supposed to be paved in gold? In an attempt to stem the flow, the mayor has decreed that buses carrying migrants will not be allowed to enter the city.  However, this initiative has proved fruitless as migrants simply swap their bus passes for train tickets. 

The video focuses on a young woman from Venezuela. She is 19 and heavily pregnant. She wails about the arduous journey that has nearly caused her to have a miscarriage. Are we to feel sympathy? We have to ask, where is the wisdom? She has willingly and knowingly exposed her unborn child to the rigours of a long, perilous journey. Personally, I have no compassion for her plight.

The mayor has implored NY citizens to open their own homes to these hapless migrants. Strangely enough, the good mayor has not offered up accommodation in his own palatial residence, 'Gracie Mansion', which comes as a perk of the job. Apparently, he also owns a further two apartments thereabouts. If anyone has the space for these folk, surely it is he. Most New Yorkers struggle to pay the rent on their modest apartments, but not the mayor.  Gracie Mansion is an imposing and majestic home fit for a king or even a mayor. It comes blessed with five bedrooms and 'state' rooms akimbo. Surely, he could cram in at least twenty families, judging by the size of the place. Predictably, the mayor is not opening his doors to the tired and needy but expects his constituents to take in young, restless males who likely speak no English- sounds like a plan/scam.

It seems poor black neighbourhoods are taking the brunt of New York's utopian left-wing, liberal policies. Tempers are becoming frayed as poor citizens queue up for free meals provided by local charity organisations. They turn up to find the line choked with illegals and, sadly, deserving, tax-paying citizens at the back of the queue receive nowt. Even the liberal latte class are starting to chatter, murmur and organise as they find their schools inundated with kids who don't speak god's own language, English. They are also unhappy to find urine and faeces deposited on their normally pristine doorsteps. And, yea, 'Gypo folk' (Steady Flaxen!) are knocking on doors expecting largesse.

Of course, the problem is being mirrored across cities throughout the land. Inexplicably, it's a particularly imposing problem in Democrat-held burgs. I admit I'm not a great fan of the 'Orange One'. He comes across as an egotistic, uninformed moron. That said, I do believe his border wall initiative was a sound solution. It would not come cheap, but how much local and federal dollars are being spent and will continue to be spent dealing with this ongoing crisis? In the end, the money comes from the tax base. New York City is not a cheap place to live. Rents are ridiculously high, and they continue to rise. Unless you belong to the financial elite, you are truly 'Donald Ducked' (Tipton rhyming slang).  It is estimated that you need to earn in the region of $75,000 to $100,000 per year in order to live comfortably in this wondrous city. How ordinary folk earning a minimum wage of $15/hour, which equates to $31,200 per year, get by is beyond comprehension. This assumes that you are employed 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. However, a host of workers in this pay bracket are employed less than 40 hours. A smart move by employers to ensure that workers do not hit 35 hours a week as part-time workers are denied access to mandatory benefits. I'm not going to descend into this particularly slippery rabbit hole concerning minimum wage, etc. Perhaps another time when I've made an effort to educate myself on the myriad of issues involved (maybe not). At this stage, I'm going to plead ignorance. That said, you don't have to be a financial whizz to note that folks on low income are more likely to bugger off to pastures new, leaving those who won't or can't leave to bear the city's tax burden. And don't expect the super-rich to pay their fair share of tax obligation. There is a wealth (pun intended) of loopholes that ensure millionaires/billionaire do not endure their rightful liability- good luck to them, say I. Again, I do not have to be smart to note that the influx of illegals will have revenue issues for the city, and taxes will inevitably increase. Thus, the already financially beleaguered citizens will have to dig deep into their overextended pockets. You can only shear the sheep so much. Overdo it, and they start to bleed.                

This is not just a US issue. The West as a whole is undergoing the same infiltration due to waves of migrants crashing and concussing upon their respective shores. There seems no end to it. What we are seeing is the culmination of the West's liberal, progressive policies that began to be implemented following the end of the Second World War. These so-called progressive policies have been exploited and abused. As stated previously, the majority of migrants flocking to the West are young, unskilled men seeking a utopia that does not exist. We are seeing a degree of pushback, especially in Europe. The Danes and the Poles have lost patience. The Danes, in particular, are waking up to the fact that thousands of Muslims are unwilling to assimilate, thus storing up societal issues for a problematic future! 

Too late, I hear you shout, too fucking late.   


Wednesday 31 January 2024

Galaphobia (Definitely Not Galeophobia)


Shit! Wrong Phobia 

Phobias are common. In the US alone, 13% of the population can be identified as exhibiting an irrational fear of specific objects or situations. The most common phobias include fear of heights (Acrophobia), fear of spiders (Arachnophobia), fear of enclosed spaces (Claustrophobia), and thus the list goes on. But today's post will not concern the mundane.  

In a past post, I dealt with the irrational fear of clowns, also known as Coulrophobia. My personal fear is being enclosed within small spaces. This is fairly commonplace, and I will comment no further. Today, I'm going to focus on a less commonly known phobia of which I have personal experience.

I'll start off with a strange phobia that impacted my own life many years ago. Way back when I was but a callow/shallow youth about 19 years of age, I had a girlfriend who will remain nameless. She was a willowy brunette with flashing green eyes. Now I wouldn't describe her as beautiful. To be honest, in a certain light, she was decidedly homely, and yet she exuded a charm and charisma that I found irresistible (mayhap she was Cleopatra in a past incarnation). She was endowed with a wonderfully quirky personality and exhibited a single bizarre oddity. My girlfriend had an aversion to milk. Interestingly enough, this particular phobia has a name but is extremely rare and goes by the name of, Galaphobia. Her phobia only extended to the liquid manifestation of the product. By the gods, why couldn't I fall in love with a girl with an irrational aversion to spiders!  Derivatives such as cheese and butter held no fears for her. However, the sight of milk, for instance, in a bowl would induce sheer terror, and she would run out of the kitchen shaking in fear. Of course, many folk thought the behaviour an affectation to be ascribed and due (unnecessary tautology) to the 'folly of youth'. But those who knew her intimately knew this not to be the case. The fear and terror were no doubt genuine and very real to her. As her boyfriend, I was interested in helping her cope with this condition and uncover the root cause. However, she could not attribute the fear to any particular incident in her early life. No medical help was sought as she was deeply ashamed of her affliction. As you can imagine, the condition was a difficult one to manage due to the universality of this opaque, nutrient-rich and life-giving elixir (steady Flax, you are starting to wax lyrical). For a time, we shared a single-roomed flat. A dingy affair (the flat was fine), but we made it our humble abode. Of course, milk was not an intrinsic element of our minuscule fridge, and during our time together, I drank my coffee black. Nonetheless, she had a particular fondness for cheese in all its guises and varieties. 

Although young, we often discussed what the future held for us and whether our love would blossom into long-term commitment. To be frank, we were too young to be considering impending nuptials. During our conversations, it appeared my lover was contemplating the burden of having children in the distant future. At the time, she was 18. This struck me as problematic as, during the process, she would have to cope with the anatomical reality of mammary glands overflowing with natural milky goodness. Considering her extreme reaction to the substance, it seemed to me that having children might not be a great plan. Anyway, our love proved tenuous, and she left me for another. I often wonder what happened to her and whether she managed to overcome her fear and achieve the wondrous and exalted state of motherhood.

Of interest, do any of my diminishing readership have a rare and interesting phobia that they would like to share with the rest of the folk who still frequent this blog?               

 


Friday 26 January 2024

Octavian and the Wise Corvidae


         'Quoth the Raven Nevermore'

Continuing with the theme of ancient history I would like to relate an anecdote concerning Caesars' successor. Of course, I'm referring to the enigmatic Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, more commonly known to history as Augustus. After Caesar developed a bout of terminal exsanguination in the Senate, and after following a series of adventures, wars and trouble with Marcus Antonius and an exotic foreign bint, culminating in the battle of Actium (31 BC), Octavian took control of the free world.  Context: Octavian, Caesar's great-nephew, was nominated as the late Dictator's heir in his will. After learning of his great uncle's demise, he swiftly returned from Apollonia (in present-day Albania) to Rome to exploit his good fortune. And the rest, of course, is history........

The following story is a mere interlude in this man's life and character. There is no doubt I will return, at a later date, to look, in more depth, into the life of this most fascinating and influential character. But today, I will relate a simple yarn. Take it as you will.

Not long after the battle of Actium, Octavian was being borne by litter through the cluttered streets of Rome when he was approached by a man holding a Raven. Now, Ravens belong to the Corvidae family and are noted for their exceeding intelligence. Anyway, this diligent and wise owner had trained the bird to recite: "Hail Caesar, the victorious commander". Octavian was so taken and charmed by the avian utterance that he gave the owner a sum of 20,000 sesterces for the bird: a considerable sum. However, it seems that the owner of the garrulous bird had a partner, and apparently, he owned a Raven that, on cue, would utter: "Hail Anthony, the victorious commander". Unfortunately, for the second fellow, the bird trainer with the gelt refused to share his good fortune, whereupon the injured party let it be known that he owned a Raven whose utterance favoured Mark Anthony (no, not the singer). Octavian, instead of being angered by this deception, and instead of punishing the men, simply ordered the first man to share his good fortune with his erstwhile friend.

What does this story tell us concerning the emerging August? Could it show his remarkable restraint and generosity even after being fooled by clever rascals? Further, does it also illustrate Octavian's well-turned sense of humour? Well, when the 'purse' of the Empire is also your own private money, his magnanimity appears less impressive- mere pocket change, after all, for a man who owns a third of the known world. As for his sense of humour, it is well-attested. From other ancient sources, the first Emperor was a man of ready wit and no doubt imbued with a sophisticated art for repartee and badinage.       

The story has some of the hallmarks of fiction. A story too good to be true, perhaps? The story, as related, is derived from the works of an early 5th AD-century Roman named Macrobius in a tome called 'Saturnalia'. The work is presented in seven volumes, and our story appears in the second volume in a section concerned with Augustus' bon mots. Unfortunately, I have been unable to track down Macrobius' sources for this fascinating tale. Certainly, the two great writers of antiquity and of this period, Suetonius (born circa 69 AD) and Plutarch (born circa 46 AD), do not appear as citations. Therefore, it is difficult for me to comment as to regard the veracity of the story. Possibly one of my diligent readers, well versed in ancient history, will be able to throw some light on this most perplexing conundrum. Until then, I shall comment no more.            

Tuesday 16 January 2024

Caesar and the Pirates (Jim Lad)


'In this Caesar, I See Many a Marius'

O Julius Caesar: how can anyone give justice to this man in mere words. Also, as you may know, he was not just a man but a god. Tis plainly and clearly attested in Suetonius, read and weep:

 The deification of Caesar as recounted by Suetonius: 

“He died in the fifty-sixth year of his age, and was numbered among the gods, not only by a formal decree, but also in the conviction of the common people. For at the first of the games, which his heir Augustus gave in honour of his apotheosis, a comet shone for seven successive days, rising about the eleventh hour,​ and was believed to be the soul of Caesar, who had been taken to heaven; and this is why a star is set upon the crown of his head in his statue.”

Seems legit, and a poor boy from Tipton will not argue otherwise. After all, every man (patricians, only need to apply) in ancient Greece and Rome could become divine as willed by the reigning senate. Unless you were Caligula.  He did not bother to consult the counsels, Incitatus excepted. I'm veering off track.

Today's offering concerns an incident in young Caesar's (Gaius Julius Caesar) life when he was captured by Cilician pirates. The Aegean and Mediterranean seas were rife with pirates unfettered during this time. Indeed, the problem was an aged one, and Homer alludes to their presence in the Iliad. Rome seemed reluctant to use its vast resources to check these freebooters, perhaps because the pirates provided a host of cheap slaves destined for the Roman market. By 67 BC, the problem of piracy however, had become a nuisance of epic proportions. Not only were the pirates attacking vessels on the high seas but they had grown so numerous, wealthy and bold that they had the temerity to besiege and occupy a number of coastal cities. Thus, the Senate decreed that the power of piracy should be broken once and for all. The man of the moment was Pompeius Magnus (Pompey the Great), and he was granted unprecedented powers to deal with the problem. With his large fleet, Pompey swept the pirates from the seas within three months. It is said that 10,000 pirates were slain and 20,000 captured. True to his name, he magnanimously spared these men and settled them amongst towns along the Asian coast.

Back to the story in hand

In 75 BC, Caesar decided to further his rhetorical education by travelling to Rhodes. During the Sea journey, his vessel was seized by pirates. At the time of Caesars' capture in 75 BC the pirate problem was rampant, as usual. Generally, the pirates seized the vessels' goods and enslaved all on board. However, Caesar, as a Patrician, proved to be an exception. In such cases, a hefty ransom would be demanded. Once the ransom was received, the wealthy captive would be released. The pirates initially asked for 20 talents, not an inconsiderable sum. On hearing this, Caesar laughed and haughtily stated that a man of his station was worth 50 talents. The pirates readily/greedily agreed. Members of Caesar's entourage set off to various places in Asia to raise the money. Caesar was left with a friend and two attendants who joined him in captivity in the pirate's lair. During his stay, Caesar acted as if he was in the ascendant. The pirates were asked to be quiet when Caesar wanted to rest. He would regale his captives with his own Elegiac and lambic poetry, and when their praise was scant, he would berate them and call them illiterate barbarians. Indeed, 'Pirate School' hardly taught such dainty fancies and was firmly concerned with such topics as epaulette cleaning and maintenance following all day parrot presence, how to screw on your wooden leg and how to vocalise, arrrrrrrr(se).    

Caesars' demeanour was generally imperious (how appropriate) and overbearing. He would join in the piratical games and would jokingly threaten the pirates with crucifixion when released. After 38 days, the money was raised, and true to their piratical code of honour, Caesar and his companions were released. Caesar quickly raised a fleet, at Miletus and left for the pirate den. He captured most of them and all their spoils, including his ransom. He imprisoned the pirates at Pergamon and hurried off to see the governor of Asia, Marcus Junius, in order to seek permission to punish the pirates. However, crafty old Junius stated that he needed more time to review the case. Caesar was not a patient man, and after several rebuttals, he decided to act with celerity, a characteristic that would come to define him in his later years. He hurried back to Pergamon, and as promised, he ordered the pirates to be crucified. Apparently, Caesar had a sentimental streak as each pirate had his throat cut prior to crucifixion- thus, they were spared the prolonged agonies of the cross.     

The above is an interpretation of the episode as related by Plutarch in his work, 'Lives'.

I'd like to finish off by saying a little about what the episode tells us about the man himself. Caesar is a difficult subject for many reasons, and I will quickly mention one of the problems here; there are others. Also, I will not be embarking on any form of deep character analysis, whatever that might mean. I will be writing about Caesar again- he is such a fascinating character; how can I resist. A character that changed the course of Western civilisation and, indeed, still influences our lives to this day.

Caesar wrote voluminously, and through quirks of history, we are privileged to possess many of his works. Apparently, Caesar chose to write a simple, lucid and compact style of Latin. His works are unadorned by literary pretense and affectation.

A problem we have when addressing Plutarch's' narrative of the 'Piratical Episode' is that it is based on Caesar's own account. Few of us like to put forth our 'missteps' or mistakes, especially in writing. In the account of the episode, we view Caesar as the ideal conception, or at least to Roman sensibilities, of a man in the mold of the 'Perfect Roman Man', at least of a certain type. It is an idealisation that is impossible to fulfil in reality, but regardless, here is Caesar in all his perfect majesty: a man of wit, humour, full of aristocratic verve/reserve and disdain. Where can we find such a man today? The answer is that he does not exist and, in fact, never has. Nevertheless, there are certain speculative conclusions that can be suggested.

There is no doubt that we are dealing with a highly intelligent and educated man of his time. I've already mentioned Caesar's ability for rapid decisions and action. His celebrated 'celerity' bordered on rashness, as evidenced in future events. By the way, he shared this trait with his hero, 'Alexander the Great'. A man he certainly identified with and emulated. In this instance, he went against the governor of Asia. Caesar, at this time, could not afford to accrue enemies. He already had enough in Rome. It shows a breathtaking degree of arrogance and an overweening confidence in his own ability. And finally, it hints at things to come and points to the insane degree of ambition that drove this remarkable and 'Great Man'.  

Old Shakespeare had a way with words:

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus; and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs, and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves."

Cassius (Act 1, Scene 2)

Thursday 4 January 2024

A Small Interlude

Belated Happy New Year to all who enter here.
You know who you are.

 

My Hero


I started this post about three months ago, but for a reason that remains inexplicable, I left it hanging, orphaned in temporal limbo. Today, I became reacquainted with my past musings and, on a whim, decided to complete this post.   

Today, I was out and about in town enjoying a sunny New Zealand spring day. Indeed, the temperature is predicted to hit 19 deg. The forthcoming summer is expected to be dry and hot. Generally, the winters in this part of New Zealand are wet, very wet. Thus, the land gets a good soaking that is conducive for the growing of stuff and especially for grape trees (don't ask). Martinborough, which resides in the Wairarapa district, is renowned, due to a fortuitous combination of factors, for the production of a range of fine wines. I'm starting to regress.

As said, I was out and about, but I was not alone; on this occasion, I was supported and abetted on this excursion by the lovely Mrs. Saxon. Normally I eschew the pleasure of shopping with 'da missus' for reasons that many married men will find only too familiar. Mrs. Saxon's style of shopping is distinctive and eminently frustrating; thus, she picks stuff up and regards it with a penetrating beam of diligence before putting it down. And so, the cycle repeats interminably. A shopping 'outing', which would normally last an hour, for normal folk, lasts all day. Please feel my pain. However, on this particular day, I had a get-out clause. Later in the day, I was scheduled to take my mother for a medical appointment at the nearby hospital. Thus, my time of intensive shopping was severely restricted- mayhap there is a god after all, and he is male.

Being of a magnanimous nature and feeling benevolent at the prospect of a severely curtailed shopping extravaganza, I decided that I would take my wife for cake and coffee. As I approached the establishment of 'Comestible Heaven/Haven', I espied a severe injunction upon said establishment's wall, inscribed in thick felt tip pen. It stated boldly: 'DO NOT FEED THE FEATHERED BRETHREN'.  And whilst I pondered the unusual prose, a small fantail alighted upon my broad, manly shoulders; thereafter, the cheeky critter (for it is none other) flitted and sat defiantly just within the café environs. The fantail regarded the Flaxen-haired one with baleful yellow eyes and cocked his/her head to the side before delivering a goodly shit. On expending his/her/them wad, the bird got to the business of garnering lost crumbs and crusts. It wasn't long before the staff noticed the freeloader and began the tiring and fruitless task of removing da bird. To be honest, from my perspective, they were on the losing side. Every attempt to shoo the bird from the establishment was met with utter disdain from our feathered friend as it hopped from floor to rafter and back again. The usurper was not inconvenienced at all and continued to feed throughout. Of course, the gaping open door the staff hoped the bird would bugger off through merely acted as a 'Beacon/ Bacon of Hope' (there was a piece of bacon on the floor). What a great example of animal adaptation, and I could not resist rewarding the cheeky interloper with a chunk of cake, much to the chagrin of the wait staff. 

The Moral of the Story:

Leave unto the fantails what belongs to the fantails. And do not shop with Mrs. Saxon.