Monday, 9 October 2017

Monogamy - is it possible to love someone forever?

       
Lovelocks on bridge at Bakewell, Derbyshire
       When it comes to relationships, there’s one line of thinking that has arguably caused more damage to the human condition than any other....that     monogamy is not only unnatural but, for the most part, impossible.
      And this belief is by no means new. Leo Tolstoy, for example, opined: “To say that you can love one person all your life is just like saying that one candle will continue to burn as long as you live.”
       Or what about this little gem from 19th century Irish poet, Thomas Moore:
Romantic love is an illusion. Most of us discover this truth at the end of a love affair or else when the sweet emotions of love lead us into marriage and then turn down their flames.”
       Even women have expressed similar sentiments: According to Goldie Hawn: “Monogamy is impossible these days for both sexes. I don’t know anyone who’s faithful or wants to be.” 
       The late film actress Katherine Hepburn advised: “If you want to sacrifice the admiration of many men for the criticism of one, go ahead, get married.
      And this quote from Bette Davis takes the biscuit! An affair now and then is good for a marriage. It adds spice, stops it from getting boring… I ought to know.”
       So that’s all right then. Sorry no, it isn’t, and I challenge the assumption that men were programmed to spread their seed while women are merely seeking sound physical specimens with which to procreate. These propositions may be all very well for evolutionists but not for people who feel love and sex should be viewed as something higher. And if you accept the Bible’s account, then you’ll no doubt believe, as I do, that true romance can and should last forever.
       Whether they believe in it or not, most of us are acquainted with Genesis and the first marriage between Adam and Eve, two perfect humans who were joined together by their Creator. What you may not have realised is that their partnership was meant to last a great deal longer than your average Golden Wedding Anniversary. How do we know?
       Well, in Genesis 2:17, God warned the couple not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and bad - for in doing so they did so, they would die. The rest is history. Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, became imperfect and, sure enough, began to grow old and turn to dust.       But, let’s just  suppose they hadn’t disobeyed their Creator. Would they have died? Would they have aged? Would they still be happily married?
       The Bible, of course, encourages the highest form of love, love for God who insists on exclusive devotion. (Exodus 20:1-5). Scripture rarely touches on romantic love but, when it does, it stresses the need for loyalty, exclusivity and, yes, everlasting love. Check out Proverbs 5:18,19 which describes the ‘constant’ love of a man for his wife. And for pure romance, consider these beautiful verses from the Song of Solomon (Canticles) Chapter 8 verses 6 &7:

“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
   as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
   passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
   a raging flame. 
Many waters cannot quench love,
   neither can floods drown it.
If one offered for love
   all the wealth of one’s house,
   it would be utterly scorned.”  (New Revised Standard Version)

Why settle for anything less?

Monogamy in animals

Incidentally, many animals enjoy lifelong relationships with their mates.  Wolves, beavers, eagles and even termites are thought to be monogamous while swans are renowned for their fidelity. But for sheer fidelity, one creature tops them all: The stork.
In Hebrew, this bird’s name is ‘chasi-dhah’, which means ‘loyal one; one of loving kindness’, signifying its enduring faithfulness to its mate and exceptionally long-lasting, tender care for its young. You’ll see it on many greeting cards for new parents, usually carrying a baby in its enormous beak.



Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Do you still believe in Santa Claus?


       Believe it or not, there are millions of people who don’t. Yet one 6-year old at our local primary school was almost lynched recently after telling his classmates there was no such person.  
       In the interests of inclusivity, the same school once tried to rename the seasonal celebrations as ‘Winterval’ only to meet with howls of disapproval from its nominally Christian parents. Despite their own pew-eschewing ways, they proved surprisingly touchy about this issue.
So what is Christmas and why do people feel obliged to re-mortgage their homes to celebrate it? Why do harassed Mums (sorry, but it’s usually Mums) spend hours preparing food that doesn’t get eaten and buying gifts that nobody wants?
       Some people (surprisingly not as many as you might think) point to the birth of Jesus - surely the world’s longest surviving infant, confined as he is to a cradle year after year. There’s just one small problem with that; Jesus wasn’t born on the 25th December, not by a long chalk. Bible scholars have been unable to find the date of his birth in any of the gospels; however, as Jesus was 33½ years old when he died, he must have been born around October/November, which makes sense, considering the shepherds were still living outdoors at the time.

Why December 25th?

       According to The Encyclopedia Americana, this date may have been chosen “to correspond to pagan festivals that took place around the time of the winter solstice, when the days began to lengthen, to celebrate the ‘rebirth of the sun’.” This also corresponds with the Roman Saturnalia (a festival to Saturn, the god of agriculture, and to the renewed power of the sun) and “some Christmas customs are thought to be rooted in this ancient pagan celebration.”
       The New Catholic Encyclopedia gives further information on the December solstice when, “as the sun began to return to northern skies, the pagan devotees of Mithra celebrated the dies natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the invincible sun).”

Three Kings or Magi

       The exact number of these visitors from the east is not known. What is known, however, is that they were astrologers and the ‘star’ didn’t lead them to Jesus as is often supposed, but to King Herod, alerting him to the Messiah’s birth with devastating consequences. Herod immediately ordered the deaths of all males born in Bethlehem during the previous 2 years.

Santa Claus
       Santa has several alter egos. St Nicholas, Father Christmas, Knecht Ruprecht, the Magi, Jultomten (or Julenissen) the elf, and even a witch called La Befana have all been credited with bringing gifts to children. As none of these stories are true, does presenting them as such help children develop an appreciation for truth in later life?
       Christmas trees, mistletoe, Yule logs, puddings and other seasonal accessories all have roots in pagan practices – either to protect against evil spirits or to encourage fertility, growth and general good fortune for the coming year.  Whether you embrace them or dispense with them is, of course, a matter of personal choice.
        But next time that annoying child at school insists there’s no such thing as Santa Claus, please don’t be too hard on him.



 













Monday, 2 October 2017

Origins of Halloween

       First sign of autumn and the shops are full of it. Ghouls, ghosts, zombies and a whole array of devilish guises. 
       Even as I write, parents and grandparents are stocking up on candies to meet the young extortionists who’ll soon be knocking at the door. Pumpkins are carved for lanterns, apples prepared for ducking and treacle toffee is poured into trays.
       Yes, it’s Halloween, a night of mischief and harmless fun for all the family.  Or is it? Where does this feast originate and why is it so prevalent today?
       According to The Encyclopedia Americana, “Elements of the customs connected with Halloween can be traced to a Druid ceremony in pre-Christian times. The Celts had festivals for two major gods – a sun god and a god of the dead (called Samhain), whose festival was held on November 1, the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The festival of the dead was gradually incorporated into the Christian ritual.”
       “Halloween,” says The Encyclopedia of American Folklore, “is integrally related to the prospect of contact with spiritual force, many of which threaten or frighten.” Certainly, many of the customs involved have close links to ancestor worship  and are meant to ward off or appease wicked spirits. The Celts, for instance, wore scary masks in the belief that evil spirits would think the wearers were spirits too - and leave them alone.
       In the 7th century CE, Pope Boniface IV is thought to have adopted ‘Samhain’ as an annual event to honour martyrs, renaming it All Saints Day or All Hallows’ Day. (Hallow is an ancient word for ‘saint’). The evening before this celebration was called All Hallow Even, which later became Halloween, making some Christians throughout the world feel comfortable celebrating it.
       But the real roots of Halloween are far more sinister, dating back to the Flood of Noah’s day.  In his book, The Worship of the Dead, Colonel J Garnier explains: “The mythologies of all the ancient nations are interwoven with the events of the Deluge…..illustrated by the fact of the observance of a great festival of the dead in commemoration of the event, not only by nations more or less in communication with each other, but by others widely separated, both by the ocean and by centuries of time.
       ‘This festival is, moreover, held by all on or about the very day on which, according to the Mosaic account, the deluge took place, viz., the seventeenth day of the second month – the month nearly corresponding with our November.”  In effect, Halloween began by honouring people whom God had destroyed due to their wickedness in Noah’s day. (Gen 6:5-7; 7:11)
       Also destroyed by the Deluge were the Nephilim, sons of disobedient angels who left their heavenly positions and took human bodies for themselves in order to mate with women. These hybrids  were known as ‘fellers’ due to their immense size and violent tendencies, and, along with their materialized sires, could well be the source of many legends of beings with superhuman powers, along with stars of various comics and computer games!
       Halloween is celebrated on 31st October throughout the USA and Canada, and its continued spread across the world delights pagan adherents. Thousands of Wiccans, for example, following the old Celtic rituals, still refer to the event as ‘Samhain’, regarding it as the most sacred night of their calendar.
       Will knowing the origins of Halloween stop millions making mischief on the last day of October? I doubt it. But before you don that ghoulish costume, spare a thought to what you’re actually celebrating.  









Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Hellfire Conspiracy

       Whoever thinks Manchester lacks colour has never been to Market Street on a Friday afternoon! 
       Market Street is the main shopping centre where, competing with the shops, buskers and street traders, assorted street preachers take their stand.
       On this particular Friday, there are not just one, but TWO groups of preachers, both with loudspeakers and a determination for everyone to repent. The first group features a couple of visiting preachers from the States who talk a lot about hellfire but very, very little about  what we actually need to do to avoid it!
       Further along the street two pairs of Jehovah’s Witnesses stand by their literature carts, holding out books, brochures or Watchtower and Awake magazines with serene smiles. They’ve been conducting this form of ministry since October 2013 and most people have got used to seeing them, passing by with barely a glance. Occasionally, there’s a nod or a smile or an eager hand reaching to take the proffered literature.  Even more occasionally, someone may stop for a chat – friendly or otherwise – but communication is rarely, if ever, initiated by the witnesses who stand, quietly and patiently during 4 hour stints.
       Such a lot has changed in Manchester over the years: so many colours, cultures and languages, nationalities from all over the world.  No wonder preachers view the city centre as fertile ground – it certainly offers more potential than most churches these days!  
       However, there’s a tactful way to represent the Lord and a NOT so tactful way. A young Muslim family pass by as one of the preachers starts dismissing the Koran along with the entire Islamic religion.  The husband stops, walks back to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and takes a magazine…..possibly as a ‘statement’.     Whether the evangelists have noticed this small act of ‘defiance’ is debatable, but one of their crew approaches the JWs and attempts to start a debate, only to be ambushed by another man – unconnected with either religion - who wades in against the evangelist! 
       The JWs are now free to distribute more literature without hindrance and further hellfire threats.
       Meanwhile even more fire and brimstone is being breathed by the second group of preachers, attracting quite a crowd. A blonde woman who claims to be a lesbian is yelling fiercely at the main speaker who is just as fiercely yelling back at her, both being roundly condemned by the other; the preacher to the hate crime police, the lesbian to hellfire on Judgement Day. At least she’ll have company, as (according to the speaker) most of us are going there anyway!
Or are we? Will we all be engulfed by perpetual flames? Does hell as portrayed by many denominations actually exist? In order to find the answers, let’s examine the source of such beliefs:
     Cue Ancient Babylon, home of Nimrod and many uncanny practices still in use today. Fortune-telling, omen-spotting, entrail-reading, runes, star-gazing and communing with the dead all have their roots in this magic-obsessed city. Incidentally, Babylon also invented the fiscal system, which, considering recent history, some may regard as the ultimate nightmare!
       Ironically, atheists’ refusal to believe in a separate, invisible soul is backed up by scripture.  Here, death is clearly shown to be a state of total unconsciousness, a dreamless sleep from which, according to several Bible verses (particularly the Lazarus account) people will ‘awake’ to a physical resurrection when paradise is restored on earth.

“There is no dichotomy [division] of body and soul in the O[ld] T[estament]….The term nepeš [ne’phesh], though translated by our word soul, never means soul as distinct from the body or the individual person….The term [psy-khe’] is the N[ew] T[estament] word corresponding with nepeš. It can mean the principle of life, life itself, or the living being.” – New Catholic Enyclopedia

The Mosaic Law did not allow for any form of spiritism whatsoever - in fact it was forbidden on pain of death for the nation of Israel - and it wasn’t until Greece began to stride the world stage that afterlife philosophies began to take root.
       In the fourth century CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine, unable to quell the rise of Christianity by other means and determined to unite his empire, cunningly  infused original gospel teachings with pagan beliefs such as the immortality of the soul, the trinity doctrine,  and – that most terrifying concept of all – eternal hellfire! The Biblical word rendered as ‘hell’ in many versions simply means ‘grave’ or  ‘death’. (Hebrew - sheol; Greek - Hades)

“The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture.” – The Jewish Enyclopedia

       Constantine’s ‘miraculous conversion’ marked the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire from which the rest of Christendom developed, combining Bible accounts with Babylonish rites and practices while keeping generations of adherents in ignorance. The Dark Ages had truly begun and the Bible was unavailable to the majority of people until the 16th century when William Tyndale translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English. His aim - for ‘even a plowboy’ to understand scripture - was not appreciated by the church; hardly surprising as, from the Vatican to house churches, Christendom has done more than any other organisation to promote spiritistic practices. According to one spiritualist I met some years ago, “the church already preaches life after death – all mediums do is prove it!”
       What harm does it do? Well, for one thing, the whole concept of life after death is a cruel deception, especially for people who have lost a loved one. Believing they can communicate through a spiritualist medium can lead to all kinds of fraud and extortion; even if the medium is basically well-meaning, it can still open the floodgates to a very dangerous world. 
       As for the churches, keeping the flocks in fear of everlasting torture has proved very lucrative, with masses for the dead, indulgences, prayers and various fetishes swelling their coffers over centuries. 

“….The nether world…..is pictured as a place full of horrors, and is presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness.” – The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Boston, 1998, Morris Jastrow, Jr)
       
       But the worst sin to my mind is the reproach beliefs such as hellfire and purgatory create towards the Creator. Would a loving Father, even a sinful human one, hold a child against a fire until he screamed in agony? Is being damned to everlasting torture even just for the amount of sinning humans can fit into their three-score years and ten?
       I doubt it. 








  

Saturday, 9 September 2017

VAMPIRES, ZOMBIES AND GHOSTS – FACT OR FICTION?

       With an unprecedented fascination for the occult over the last few years and cinema queues growing for spine-chillers such as the ‘Twilight’ series,  ‘Resident Evil’ and, most recently ‘It’, spiritistic themes are providing juicy pickings for the film industry. Well, box office takings speak for themselves.  
       But is there any basis for believing in the ‘undead’ or the ‘after life’? Are films that feature spiritism in its myriad forms suitable for the young and impressionable? In order to find the answers, we first need to trace the source of such beliefs, to find out whether there is any foundation for them.
       Cue Ancient Babylon, home of Nimrod and many uncanny practices still in use today. Fortune-telling, omen-spotting, entrail-reading, runes, star-gazing and communing with the dead all have their roots in this magic-obsessed city. (Incidentally, Babylon also invented the fiscal system, which, considering recent history, some may regard as the ultimate nightmare!)
       Ironically, atheists’ refusal to believe in a separate, invisible soul is backed up by scripture.  Here, death is clearly shown to be a state of total unconsciousness, a dreamless sleep from which, according to several Bible verses (particularly the Lazarus account) people will ‘awake’ to a physical resurrection when paradise is restored on earth.
       The Mosaic Law did not allow for any form of spiritism whatsoever - in fact it was forbidden on pain of death for the nation of Israel - and it wasn’t until Greece began to stride the world stage that afterlife philosophies began to take root. 
       Unbelievably, considering their supposed Christan roots and reliance on the Bible, churches of every denomination have espoused and continue to promote the false teaching of a separate, immortal soul. This is in fact one of the greatest conspiracy against true teaching that has ever existed - Satan's original lie to Eve in the garden of Eden. (Gen 3:1-5)  
       In the fourth century CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine, unable to quell the rise of Christianity by other means and determined to unite his empire, cunningly  infused original gospel teachings with pagan beliefs such as the immortality of the soul, the trinity doctrine,  and – that most terrifying concept of all – eternal hellfire!+  
       Constantine’s ‘miraculous conversion’ marked the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire from which the rest of Christendom developed, combining Bible accounts with Babylonish rites and practices while keeping generations of adherents in ignorance. The Dark Ages had truly begun; and the Bible was unavailable to the majority of people until the 16th century when William Tyndale translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English. 
       Tyndale's aim - for ‘even a plowboy’ to understand scripture - was not appreciated by the church; hardly surprising as, from the Vatican to house churches, Christendom has done more than any other organisation to promote spiritistic practices. According to one spiritualist I met some years ago, “the church already preaches life after death – all mediums do is prove it!”
       What harm does it do? Well, for one thing, the whole concept of life after death is a cruel deception, especially for people who have lost a loved one. Believing they can communicate through a spiritualist medium can lead to all kinds of fraud and extortion; even if the medium is basically well-meaning, it can still open the floodgates to a very dangerous world.
       One particular form of spiritism – now available as a game! – is the Ouija board, regarded by many as a bit of harmless fun. Others, however, no longer share that view. While at university, John*, a relative of mine, was persuaded to attend several Ouija board séances by a neighbouring couple. At first, the spirit seemed friendly and jovial but over several weeks, it became more sinister, prompting John to avoid these sessions. He was reminded of them sometime later when watching a movie about demon possession: “The first scene showed people playing with a Ouija board,” he explains, “What really scared me was how closely the spirit portrayed in the film mirrored the one conjured up by the couple at my student digs! Afterwards, I couldn’t sleep for weeks thinking how close I’d come to having the same horrific experiences.  There’s no doubt the movie played on my mind and had a very negative, frightening effect.”
       Such negative feelings are common in those who dabble with spiritism, sometimes even resulting in serious mental illness as the unwary are drawn into darker and darker practices. (Apparently, John’s former friends eventually joined a coven).
       Fascinated with fortune-telling, Mary* began visiting a psychic to gain insight into the future. Dissatisfied with her safe but dull husband, she believed the psychic’s prediction that a special man would into her life – prompting her into a divorce, a disastrous love affair and a life of poverty for herself and two children. It was only after a particularly harrowing session to which she’d been invited that she finally came to her senses, realising how deep her obsession with the occult had become.
       Others are not so fortunate, developing paranoia or psychotic symptoms, hearing voices, and suffering night terrors with horrific dreams. In many countries, the occult is particularly rife with of voodoo priests and witches threatening curses or spells in order to bend others to their will. Fear of vengeful spirits has caused many to be forced into drugs, slavery and prostitution.
       So much suffering could be so easily avoided if only people knew the truth. That’s why care should be taken with the kind of entertainment we choose. If it promotes spiritism, it could create a chink for unwelcome and unwholesome forces.

*Not their real names

+The Biblical word rendered as ‘hell’ in many versions simply means ‘grave’ or  ‘death’. (Hebrew - sheol; Greek - Hades)

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Two_Babylons.html?id=OD_ATrB-g2gC&redir_esc=y






   






Friday, 25 August 2017

Woof! Trainspotting dogs and shades of purple

“Of trainspotting dogs and shades of purple”

      A few weeks into the job and, much to Albert’s irritation, I still hadn’t established a routine. Not through any lack of efficiency, I hasten to add; it’s just that, unlike people, dogs that stray, make nuisances of themselves or get stolen or lost, don’t do so to schedule. To most of my charges, 9 to 5 means absolutely nothing, whereas to me it often means being called upon at any time of day or night.
       So, inevitably, there were occasions when I failed to show at Pest Control HQ at 7am precisely, as demanded of my fellow employees.
       “I don’t expect special treatment!” I argued.
       “Tell that to Batty or Worth!” sneered Albert, who seemed in a particularly foul mood.
       Worth agreed. “Wish I could wander in at all hours in the morning……”
       “Aye, an’ clocking off at 3!” said Batty. “Rest of us have to work regular shifts. Unlike some.”
       Pleased to have caused a rift between my colleagues and me, Albert leaned back in his chair with a satisfied snort. “See! Told you they didn’t like it!”
       “That’s all very well,” I began. “But someone who finds a few fleas on their carpet can wait until daylight, whereas dogs running rampant or in some kind of distress need help straightaway. I mean, how would YOU like being called out at 2 o’clock in the morning ‘cos someone’s dog’s been run over or fallen into a slurry pit? Bet you wouldn’t turn out, would you?”
       “I would!” insisted Batty. “If there was a poor little rat in trouble, I’d….I’d….”
       Everyone turned to look at him, surprised by this sudden burst of emotion. Aware that he’d drawn attention to himself and his previously undetected love of rodents, he trailed off mid-sentence.
       “Ted! I never knew you cared!” exclaimed Worth, not unsympathetically.
       “Just ‘cos I exterminate rats for a living doesn’t mean I don’t like them” bristled Batty.
        Albert smirked. “Now I’ve heard everything! What about you, Worth? Fallen for any tasty cockroaches recently?”
       Fortunately, the telephone put an end to his sniggering. Albert answered it with his customary yell.
       “PEST Control! What!? A dog!? Where!?” He reached for his pen and, instead of passing the phone to me, started scribbling down the details. No doubt this gave him a sense of control but, as I could never read his terrible scrawl, was yet another bone of contention. I sighed, knowing another 5 or 10 minutes would be wasted. After finishing the phone call with his customary curtness, he handed me the chad-torn page from his notebook.
       “If I gave this note to a chemist, he’d make it up!” I said, trying to decipher the instructions. All I could make out was the word ‘station’. “Which station?”
       “You know - The one with all the trains?” replied Albert. “Choo-choo-choo!” And he laughed unpleasantly at his own wit.
       “It might have escaped your notice, Mr Scrum, but there are several stations in the area....”
       “Want the co-ordinates?” Albert snapped, “Maybe you’d like an ordnance survey map while you’re at it!!”
       “Just the name of the station, that’s all.” I replied, as politely as I could.
       After finally wresting the information from Albert, I set off for Marchington Station, a few miles out of town. The station master, a cheery man in his fifties pointed to the latticed railway bridge nearby where a terrier cross was gazing longingly down the track, waiting for the London express.
      “He’s there every day, watching trains go by, and he’s never usually a bother. But one of the passengers complained so we had to report it.” As he was speaking, the dog’s ears pricked up and it started shuffling its front paws, yapping with anticipation. The station master grinned. “Ahhh, the 10.55! He can hear it coming from 20 miles away. Just watch!”
       It was another couple of minutes before we too could hear the soft rumbling of a distant engine, by which time the animal was dancing, hardly able to contain itself. At last, I saw the train approach, travelling at great speed.
      “Stand back!” warned the station master. “Express trains come through here at 90mph!” Obediently, I stepped away from the edge of the platform. The terrier, however, had no such fears but was jumping fearlessly from side to side, barking, yelping and wagging his tale frantically. Although his joy was obvious to me, I could see why anyone not used to dogs might be a little concerned at having to walk past him.
      Whoosh! Right on schedule, the 10.55 express flew by, dragging my cap along in its wake. As I ran up the platform to retrieve my errant headwear, the force from the train reached a crescendo, echoed by the dog on the bridge above us, howling as loudly and for as long as his lungs would let him.
      Cap and dog now safely under control, I escorted the runaway to his home a couple of streets away. Good job he was wearing a collar with an address tag, otherwise I’d have had to take him down to the police station instead, something I tried to avoid whenever possible. (The sight of me has already got the duty sergeant’s eyes rolling skywards – all those extra forms!)
       Nobody was in. I sighed. This was a common problem, dogs left to their own devices day after day while owners were at work or school. Fortunately, on this occasion, I’d misjudged the owners. “There he is!” cried a young woman, followed by an older woman who was negotiating a push chair up the drive. Having seen my dog warden van parked outside her house, she looked rather shamefaced. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I don’t mean to let him out, but as soon as I open the door, he streaks past me and doesn’t come home for hours. We seem to spend all our time searching for him.”
      “Well, in future you won’t have far to look,” I said and told her about her pet’s obsession.
      “Fancy that!”  she exclaimed. “My brother Tim’s a train enthusiast. Maybe he could take Rooney with him on excursions.”
       “Good idea,” I said. ”Although you’ll have to get him kitted out first.”
       “Oh? What with?” asked the owner, genuinely intrigued.
       “Well, a proper lead might help,” I suggested. “And something no self-respecting train-spotter should be without….
       ‘A waterproof anorak.”
      From then on, Rooney continued to take his station on the bridge, the railway staff agreed to keep their eye on him and passengers came to welcome his endearing presence. And, occasionally, his owner would accompany him, complete with toddler.
      Meanwhile, back at the van….”PEST Control to Panther Z! Come in Panther Z! Are you receiving me?”
       “Panther Z receiving you. What is it?”
      “There’s a strange dog running rampant round the trading centre at Bagley Wold.”
       “What’s so strange about it?” I inquired.
       “You’ll find out,” said Albert, sounding very mysterious. “A load of rubbish if you ask me.”
       “Thanks Albert. That’s really helpful, I don’t think. Will I need a grasper? Special equipment?”
      “A good pair of sunglasses might come in handy.” But beyond that, Mr Scrum kept firmly shtum.
      “So now he’s moonlighting for MI6!” I muttered to myself. Why did everything have to be so flipping confidential all the time? I continued grumbling under my breath for another two miles or so until a weird looking creature darted straight across my path, forcing me to brake. I swerved violently to avoid hitting the animal which vaguely resembled a dog, then pulled into the kerb to get a better look. The spectre had gone.
       “I’m sure that was a dog!” I thought yet, despite several years with the RSPCA and a love of animals since I was chewing rusks, on this occasion I just couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t even blame the demon drink, having imbibed nothing stronger than Pest Control’s PG Tips all week. Then I glanced into my rear mirror. There it was again, lolloping along the highway, cool as you please, looking for all the world like a sleek Saluki. Only purple. Not just any purple, you understand. Not the kind of purple favoured by the blue-rinse brigade. This was a deeply dazzling, brilliantly luminous purple, as eye-catching as any Technicolor dream coat.
       Now I understood what Albert meant about wearing shades. I remember hearing about certain dog owners who, having nothing better to do, dyed their pets to match their outfits. Although any garment in that particular shade would hardly prove flattering.
       Emerging from the van, leash in hand, I whistled to the dog which broke obligingly into a run and made a bee-line for me.
       “Come on, Chappie!” I called. “Let’s see what’s happened to you then.”
       It didn’t take long to find out EXACTLY what had happened. In one bound, the dog leapt up to lick my face, leaving purple paw-prints all over my uniform. “Eeeuuu!”
       At that moment, a panda car drew up beside me and Charlie Matthews wound down his window, grinning from ear to ear.
       “You’ll have a job getting that off,” he crowed. “Gloss by the look of it!”
      “Thank you Charlie. I HAD noticed.” To add insult to injury, my Saluki friend chose that moment to give his coat a vigorous shake. Now I had purple spots all over me, much to Charlie’s amusement.
       “Well, well, well, if it isn’t Mr Blobby! Aw, if I only had a camera!”
       “What are you doing here, anyway?”
       “Same as you, I expect. Someone reported a strange creature running riot….but it seems you got here first!” And he had the cheek to shake his head in mock disappointment. “Tough call! Still, in this case, it seems the best man won!”
       By now we’d been joined by the manager of the local paint factory.
       “You caught him, then?” he said. He went on to explain how the Saluki had strayed into the factory and somehow fallen into a large vat of paint. “We tried to fish him out but he was too nimble for us. Still he’s in good hands now, I see.”
       “Could you do us a favour and hold him for me while I make room in my van.“ I asked.
       “What, me?” was the reply. “Not likely. I’d get covered in paint!”
       “What about you, PC Matth….?”
       But Charlie was already accelerating away.

Read the first chapter here: 
http://jacybrean.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/adventures-of-dog-warden.html


Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Can world governments ever succeed?

         The current stand-off between the US and North Korea provides yet another example of man’s failure to achieve true peace and security. It also demonstrates the sheer powerlessness of any human government to come to any agreement over anything whatsoever.
             It’s the same old story. One that has reverberated through every generation – World domination. Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Mussolini – you’d need more than ten fingers and toes to name them all. And today, no doubt there are several would-be dictators waiting in the wings.
       But where did it all start, this determination by certain individuals to rule over everybody else? And while we're about it, why do we need human governments at all? A case in point: Thanks to a hung parliament a few years ago, Belgium had no government for several months, yet nobody seemed to notice. (In fact, while the politicians were trying to sort things out, the economy actually improved!)
       Belgium apart, has there ever been a period when humans could live freely, independently, tilling their own patch of paradise and feeding their families with no interference from anyone else? After all, wasn’t that the original plan when Adam was a lad?
       The oldest, most widespread form of human government is monarchy, (the Greek word mon’os meaning ‘alone,’ and ar-khe’ meaning ‘rule’) whereby a single individual is imbued with supreme authority as permanent head of state. If this is absolute, he or she becomes a majority of one whose word is law. As a governmental system, monarchies have been favourable viewed as a unifying force. One eminent teacher of medieval history, John H Mundy, explains,    “Because it transcended particular parties, the institution of monarchy was suited for large areas with diverse and conflicting regional interests.”* In those days, kings invariably conquered such areas by military means – so much so that, as another historian reflects, war was “commonly regarded as the first criterion of successful kingship.”
       This being the case, military genius Alexander the Great was an ideal candidate and the first of the Hellenistic kings to be viewed as a god, setting a precedent for the deification of kings and queens throughout the ages, and such perceived divinity persists to this day in one form or another. Conceited yes - yet, ironically, the very fact so many sovereigns have insisted on being viewed as gods, particularly during the Roman Empire, is a tacit admission that they really don’t have the RIGHT to rule their fellow humans.
       They certainly don't have the ability. The world has now seen every conceivable type of government – capitalism, communism, republicanism, democracy, theocracy and straightforward tyranny – none of which has succeeded in providing the peace, security and justice the human family craves. One notable exception was Solomon’s reign, which kept Israel peaceful and prosperous until the king’s latter years when he succumbed to some of the pagan practices of his 1,000 wives!
       Sadly, throughout history it’s been the strong and the greedy who have commandeered the land; annexing pastures, woods and rivers, and forced ‘common’ folk, or serfs, to look to man-made governments for their means of life as well as paying taxes for the privilege.
       Will it always be this way? Only time will tell.


*“The High Middle Ages 1150-1309” by John H Mundy