Anton's Ideas

Anton Wills-Eve on world news & random ideas

Category: Uncategorized

Narcissus and Echo

<a href=””>Narcissism</a&gt;




His words were mellifluous,

Sweet coated in honey.

His kisses treasured by her

At a stream where they lay.


His image, reflected, echoed

His own love of Echo.

Yet this love was false.

How so? She would not say.


Jealous Juno struck her dumb

For concealing these revelations,

And fairest Echo to stone

Was turned that sorry day.


Thus be never like Narcissus,

Egocentric and just adoring

Only your own image, for

It will drown you one day.




My Noble Relative Rises

<a href=””>Narcissism</a&gt;

I recently took up a fun challenge from Jane, the brilliant authoress of that wonderful blog site ‘Making it write’. I said I could take any 25 novels at random from my vast collection of books and, using their first 25 sentences only, that is one 1st sentence, one 2nd one 3rd etc and arrange them in such a way as to write an intelligent and coherent post. I literally picked the books blindfold (My wife is my witness). Well here goes. The names of the authors whose sentences I have pinched is appended at the end. But I leave it to my readers to say what comes from which, and whether it is the first, tenth or 25th sentence in a work by that author. You will also have to work out which books they are from. I could not resist taking sentences from two of my own novels, so there are only 24 authors. I shall supply the book titles in a couple of days and then you have to guess who wrote what (naming any book by each of them would be a feat). I hope you enjoy the 25 sentences which follow. The only liberty I have taken is with very few occasional alterations in the punctuation, otherwise the only words that appear below are as they appear in their original novels.


My Noble Relative Rises.

John was entertaining his somewhat senile and ennobled father-in-law for a week’s visit, and on this day decided to lie in bed late while his wife attended to all morning necessities, breakfast etc. The peer is an incessant and boring reminiscer. John snuggles down and leaves his wife to suffer: Read on:

 “Damn this blade!”

                  “Where does it hurt? I see, well that’s fine, isn’t it?”

                  “H’mph!” grunted his guest, “something in being a bachelor.

                 “Only the British hosts, in despondent shades of grey, observed the monotone of socialist austerity. No trumpeters!” said his Lordship in a tone of melancholy and slightly peevish disappointment.” As a matter of fact, his income from all sources was exactly seven hundred and fifty pounds a year, and none of this was spent on charity.  In this way a double purpose would be achieved. “Where could a motor-car be obtained?  It will have to be paid for,” they said. As for the civil station itself, it provokes no emotion. “That the said proposal has received the sanction and approval of this Association”. 

              “He has no resistance”, he said.

             “What have you done to earn praise from me?  I have two sisters, both older than myself. In a sense they were the vanguard of the pacifist movement in Britain. I could say that before everybody if I was going to die tomorrow.”  And he has learned that there are always eyes.  He shivered and blew upon his hands. “But at times I did overstep the line.”

            The table was in chaotic disorder. “You haven’t taken any ham father?” His friends thought he was mad when he described to them the great chats he had with her when he had any problems. But it was an arresting face, pointed of chin, square of jaw. Besides she had to be at the bank at eight. 


The authors whose works have supplied these sentences are:

 Emile Zola (my translation), Dornford Yates, A.A.Milne, E.M.Forster, John Le Carré, Mervyn Peake, Georgette Heyer, P.G.Wodehouse, W.J.Burley, R.F.Delderfield, Ian Hay, Victor L.Whitechurch, Billie Houston, Cyril Hare, Charles Dickens, Anton Wills-Eve, Herbert Jenkins, J.R.R.Tolkien, Nicholas Blake, Philip MacDonald, C.H.B.Kitchin, A.G.Macdonell, Margaret Mitchell and George Bellairs.

Bon soir les petits. A demain.


<a href=””>Infect</a&gt;


To kill a man stone dead some shoot

A bullet straight into the cranial root.

Or, if tales of slower death are heard,

Poisons might well have been preferred.

But those tiny, flying creatures such as I,

Will always a hyperdermic method try.

Carrying in me, an unnoticed, tiny mite

Fevers, which no remedies can put right.

For I’m a member of that evil, crawling sect

Who their mortal enemies with death infect.



<a href=””>Cur</a&gt;



Beauty was in the eye of the beholder as he beheld her across Piccadilly Circus with a dumb and gasping awe. Now Cupid, being at that moment in a whimsical mood, drew his bow at this adventure and also pierced Beauty’s heart, making her equally struck with a heart beating passion as she glanced sideways to be sure he was looking at her. I can assure you not even Romeo or Juliet felt a passion such as this.

But, as with the Italian lovers, our hero and heroine suffered from parental problems. His was that, to his knowledge, he had none. He had had a hard and orphaned upbringing in the lowest class of society, and only his philosophically resilient attitude to his lot had allowed him to mature as he had. Nevertheless, he was extremely handsome in her beautiful, come-hither, aristocratic, melting and totally amorous eyes.

Yet she too had a Cross to bear. The darling of her family, she alone was worth every penny of £750,000, but still life was extremely cruel to her. What use were refined manners, unimpeachable ancestry and a beautiful coiffure when one was never allowed to spend an unattended second with a member of the opposite sex? Strong indeed was the family hold on her when any undesirable beaux were present. So, as he crossed Piccadilly Circus, a sad but adoring look was cast at him by his innamorata. Sad, for as she blushed at him she was bundled into a Rolls Royce and hastily driven away leaving him in no doubt as to the futility of his quest.

And, as he strolled into the middle of the Circus, the little canine cur sighed saying silently to himself. “And sod you too mate!” as he lifted his left hind leg and urinated on the base of Eros’ column.



<a href=””>Elaborate</a&gt;



No, please Kate,

Battles show men’s hate.

Far more than just the date;

Treaties, policies and then create

Some pictures of the heads of state.

Were they early for meetings, or badly late?

Did one king rule kindly but the other dictate?

Build a picture of the land, the river in spate

Where archers died, arrows in the pate.

Or drowned in a torrent by the gate

Where the weeping ladies wait

For bitter fighting to abate.

And learn a lover’s fate.

It’s history Kate!




<a href=””>Bestow</a&gt;



It was icy cold with thick falling snow,

Forcing the ambulance to go so slow.

We feared, as we saw the frozen ground,

The birth would be neither safe nor sound.


Yet somehow a mother, despite her pain,

Managed her little unborn baby to retain

Long enough to see him born, so that she

Could nurse her son in our own nursery.


When home again, and full of joy,

We wondered what to call our boy.

She: “Francis, my late father’s name”,

So I, for love of her, chose the same.


Oh dear, he’s ‘Frankie’ to his friends now,

‘Francis’ is only used in any family row.

So, if naming a child, be sure you know

The ‘short form’ most people will bestow!



<a href=””>Above</a&gt;


Above me the clouds floated in cream and grey, shielding me from the sun and sky. Or so thought I. But there were such pictures in my my mind, and a sound in my ears, that allayed any fears that the world was closing in on me. Quite the opposite as you shall see. On the soft grass of my garden lawn my body lay. It was a lovely sultry day and, through my headphones, I could play a piano concerto that outshone in beauty any grey-painted summer’s day.  And, through my head and ear I could picture Lucia and her soft loving smile. What had I done to deserve such a combination, if only for a while? Permit me to tell you.

You notice I said that I wondered why I deserved my peaceful, tranquil reverie. Yet deep down I knew that any joy I might enjoy was due solely to the way another person loved me. Bright smiling, dark haired, laughing eyes had captured me and taken me upon  a journey through the gates of any heaven that earth could boast. Of all the pleasure I had known  Lucia was the most, and in her way the gentlest, comforter of every indisposition I had suffered. When pain or depression threatened it was she who buffered me. Lucia in all, was that protecting wall that kept me happy, sane and able to live with myself.

Have you ever placed yourself upon that creaking shelf which is the last resort of any sort for those who have lived as they knew that they ought not? I have, and as I sadly approached the edge of that last hiding place, not even I could face the victims of my egotistical life, in which I twice lost a wife, two children and a friend. In every case the end was death resulting from doing what I advised or asked. My  first wife in Vietnam died in a mortar attack with our baby daughter, while strolling in a park I told them was quite safe. My Korean wife and my second daughter died three years later, driving their car too near a volcanic crater. As in my previous nuptial separation I said the road was fine. How on earth could I devine  the trembling of a mountainside would coincide with their journey? And Jim, too, took my instructions to cover a fire fight in a war, but never saw his mission’s end as the helicopter in which he was flying failed to negotiate a bend in the tall trees. He, and three others, died in the ensuing crash.

Thus, at the age of thirty four, once more I felt the lash of loss when enjoying being the all-knowing boss, I pointed friends and beloved people to their coffins, to be blessed under some foreign steeple. I was tearing my heart out in regret in a small church in a Tuscan town when Lucia first perceived my frown. Seeing my tears she quietly knelt down in the pew in front of me, praying quite still until I finally arose to leave my grief in God’s house and hands. She followed me to the door and then, before entering blinding summer light, she quietly asked, “Are you alright?”

Perhaps the hardest emotion with which to deal is being struck down by love of another person only minutes after dwelling on the lives and loss of others to whom you had been amorously attached. The love in Lucia’s eyes was not so much a surprise as gift I felt I could not accept. By loving twice I had already lost, to my shame and the cost of any self esteem, five people who meant everything to me. And now a sixth stood before me. How could I expect her to adore me when I told her my life’s story? Without saying a word she took my hand and accompanied me to my nearby villa. We were married within a month and shared each other’s happy memories and sorrows. Oh yes! She too had suffered, had watched both her parents die slowly from agonising illness. But, lying here on the green grass in the stillness of our villa’s lawn, I took off my headphones as she lay down beside me. Then she told me, “Caro mio, I believe a child will soon be born to you and me.  Imagine how happy we shall be?”

Touching my fingers, she pointed to the sun, shining at last through a break in the shroud of cloud. And so I knew it to be true; every love comes from above.







<a href=””>Imagination</a&gt;




Imagine being told you only have a week or two to live.

That’s happened to me three times in five years now.

Yet it’s never scared me, made me wonder a lot, yes;

But never caused tearful eyes, or any frowning brow.


Family and friends have been distraught, dejected,

And think my outward courage so admirably brave.

But then, they haven’t got my spiritual imagination,

They cannot understand why I don’t fear the grave.


If you think about it, I am really being  rather selfish,

Imagine believing soon you are going to know at last

What Heaven, and the God you love, are actually like.

Imagination is no longer needed, for human life is past.


But you still wonder, though, if in your time on earth

You were as caring and loving as you could have been.

You imagine God judging you, a weak, willing sinner,

While mercifully loving you, he accepts all he’s seen.


Keeping his word he balances the scales he promised

Would decide if your good deeds outweighed the bad.

For if they do, he’ll keep his word, making you atone,

For sins, your imagination knows have made you sad.


But a loving God never sends repentant souls to hell and

Only purgatory makes them wait a while to be with him.

Can you imagine having seen the most loving being of all,

Then being without him? There cannot be a state  more grim.


But the virtue of hope is now the one each soul’s imagination

Clings to. Regretting, in sorrow, any wrong they’ve ever done.

Knowing they fully deserve their short, unbearable separation

Until they earn eternity in the arms of their most beloved one.


Now, my imagination dwells on this answer to the mystery

Of life, and why we’ll not understand it until we are dead.

But by praying, believing and living as charitably as I can,

I love God more, awaiting Heaven with him as I go to bed.










<a href=””>Present</a&gt;


The operation, for the present, was the best hope I had,

Unless I wished, presently, to make my family very sad.

I told my dear wife and kids that as a present to them all

I’d be present when it was over and nought would befall


Me, nor angels be presenters of their last trump loud

Presenting me to Judgement before God’s holy crowd

For in His presence evil deeds would by them be heard,

With my presentiments of sinning, of my lies every word.


Yet my mind, saw no eternal visions of Heaven or of hell

I felt a present on a Christmas tree, wishing you all well.

Presently the anaesthetic left, assuring ear nose and eye

was back in the present tense,but it was not as tense as I.





<a href=””>Mnemonic</a&gt;




When age and memory start to fail,

Mnemonics are often used to hail

The return to their required places

Of old, forgotten words and faces.


So, if it’s my young grandson’s wedding,

I have to think of curtains and bedding.

Or, as my great grand daughter’s now two,

A double helping of gooey cake should do.


And for Choi Eum, my half-Korean daughter,

Just appointed a headmistress, I thought a

School photo of me, on parchment, would

Remind her I tried to teach her all I could.


For my dear wife, on our golden wedding day,

A special memory is being brought into play.

As I’m getting her a picture of us when young,

Before either could speak the other’s tongue.


Her face always reminds me of our life of love,

She know that I’ll always place her way above

Any  person who’s helped me when very ill or sick,

Just picturing her smile is my favourite mnemonic.



<a href=””>Insist</a&gt;


I’m having another biopsy later this week.

The surgeon tells me he just needs a peek

In my bladder, you should hear him insist.

He fears my cancer has spread to the cyst

That a scan has revealed, ok he said “shown”.

In my urethra a malignant tumour has grown.


It was my turn to insist, replying to his gloom,

“But already I have three cancers and no more room

For your surgery, chemo, injections and drips.

You know my spine’s a mess and think of my hips!”

But doctors know best and he’s afraid that I’ll die,

If I don’t let him stick a tube in me so he can eye


My urinary tract. And then it’ll be his turn to insist

That my name is placed on his next operating list.

All these investigations, will hopefully make sure

I will still be alive, though my quality of life poor.

In three days’ time I must decide,  ‘should I undergo

Surgery, to save or kill me, but which they don’t know.’


So I‘ve made my decision, and on this I really do INSIST,

I trust by my family and friends, I hope, I’ll be missed.

But my faith in God’s eternal love, so strong all my days,

Will insure my last words to Him will be prayers of praise.

And on ‘judgement day’, before Him, the joy I shall see,

When I die, will lead to purgatory and then Heaven for me.


Hair to the Crown


<a href=””>Permit</a&gt;

Hair To The Crown

“Your coiffeur stylist awaits your pleasure, M’am. Let us repair to the dressing room.”

“D’accord, Marie. On y va toute de suite.” Then majesty saunters somewhat regally into her boudoir. They have just hired for her the latest scissors and comb sensation from Vienna, Herr Cutt.

Marie takes charge as Herr Cutt has no French and Majesty refuses to debase herself by speaking German. But all have a basic understanding of English. “Majesty, the stylist would like to show you what he can do with your golden curls, falling so ravishingly onto your shoulders”, the handmaid declaims, and steps back as Her Cutt spends some time arranging a waterfall effect.

“Mon Dieu! You make me seem to look like a whore? Non! Changez it”. The cutter kneels to start again.

“Ich have eine idea for your ‘ead, Oh, queen. (This was pre-guillotine times) He toils again. But in vain. Marie is getting distraught.

“It is now five times you have messed up my royal lady’s hair, what sort of a fool are you? Just one last attempt, and if you fail you will be sent away without a franc.”

So Herr Cutt takes one last breath as he addresses the tresses and says, remembering a phrase he learned from the master hairdresser of Mayfair who taught him all he knows, “Oh, Gawd, Ducky, I suppose we’ll ‘ave to perm it!”








Don’t Ask Me

<a href=””>Inkling</a

Don’t Ask Me

“Did you know that inkling is an anagram of linking?” John asked.

“Well, I do now. But prior to you telling me I hadn’t an inkling,” William smiled back.  “By the way, do you know what an inkling is?”

For a second John wasn’t sure then said the obvious, “it’s a suspicion or very vague idea isn’t it? You know, as in the sense you’ve just used it. You sounded none too sure of the meaning of the word, you almost made it mean ‘clueless’. What do you think it is?” William stroked his chin,

“Well according to the Oxford English Dictionary it also has a very important element of secrecy about it. According to it’s philological origins it is simply said to be  archaic, in the sense that it has never really been clearly defined. But the secrecy bit appears in some literary observations that claim it is something which can only be whispered in a low, soft voice. Some definitions even claim it is indeed what you called it, a ‘clue’. This would naturally be something two conspirators would only whisper, or even infer, to each other. Fascinating, isn’t it?”

John frowned. Yes, I wonder why I brought the question up. I can’t remember. ….Oh, yes. I said it was an anagram of linking. But you know maybe that’s nearer the truth than we thought. I mean, perhaps it was a very quietly murmured word linking two ideas in such a way as to give the unspoken key to a pre-agreed verbal code. This could get interesting, William, if you took it one step further and asked ‘how long has it been in use in English?’ It is so very obviously not Norman or Mediaeval Latin, that the origin is almost certainly Norse or Celtic. Look you’re a historian have you ever seen any eighth or ninth century manuscripts that include the word, or one very like it?”

William shook his head. “No most of the stuff carefully transcribed in that time period was in Latin, so an inkling is something that would have had to be spoken, heard or recorded. Shame, isn’t it. I fear, John, that in our ignorance we are just going to have to settle for accepting a mystery.”

Which is an awful shame because the answer to their dilemma was staring them in the face. An inkling is simply anything which one has not got, or cannot even have. Well they did not have the answer to their question did they? They really didn’t have an inkling, whatever it is.

But they did have something importantly related to the question, to wit $50,000 a year for walking round the ancient quadrangle of their Oxford college daily discussing reams and reams of equally unadulterated rubbish.



<a href=””>Mild</a&gt;


It’s Christmas Eve evening, but no snow’s falling.

It’s Christmas Eve with weather so mild,

That once,  tomorow morning, I’m certain,

Was  born a babe, indeed the holiest child.

And to celebrate His birthday my prayers

Will be for everybody on earth that I love.

And my hopes, that every person who is suffering

Will be cured through his descent from above.



<a href=””>Bliss</a&gt;



How many of you can guess who this is? Very few I suspect, but his connection to BLISS and my life is quite a story. For a start I will put you out of your misery by telling you that BLISS is the main national neo-natal charity in the United Kingdom. It raises millions of pounds every year to help maternity units deal with very premature or seriously ill new born babies, while supporting the parents of such children in every way possible. And the connection?


L'immagine può contenere: 1 persona

Well this photograph was taken two years ago when my then 25 year old youngest child, Benedict, was given the national fund-raiser of the year award by the charity. Here he is seen addressing some 750 distinguished health professionals on the role of the charity at the annual AGM after receiving his award. But listen to this.

The young chap you see berating all and sundry about how much more they could do for this cause had a very good reason to feel so strongly about the subject. He was born on the 17th of October 1990 exactly 23 weeks and four days after his conception. Under British law he could just have been left to die, but thanks to truly caring and humane doctors and nurses he wasn’t. He now holds two records. He is the most premature baby born in Merseyside in the last century to have reached the level of academic and public achievement he has, and is happily married. He holds a lst class hons degree in physiology, a Masters degree with merit in the archaeology of death and memory and is currently in the middle of his PhD course in digital humanities. He is on three regional National Health Service committees, including being the youngest member of the panel which assesses proposed medical research programmes to decide whether they merit public funding. But how do we know the exact date of his conception so precisely? Well my wife and I had not long recovered from influenza and we made love for the first time in seven weeks shortly before she became pregnant. The only way we could be mistaken would be if he had been even more premature. The actual birth was an incredible drama in itself.

Three days before the birth my wife had an abscess on her appendix and she was rushed into hospital but they delayed the caesarean section for a day to give Ben one slim hope of life by filling his tiny unborn lungs with an experimental drug so he could breathe outside the womb. I was told that neither of them would survive. But the combination of medical determination and expertise, total nursing commitment to saving a virtually ‘certain to die’ baby, and the prayers said over both of them by the priest who baptised him as the umbilical cord was being cut, combined to perform a medical miracle. My wife and son spent many weeks in hospital but both returned home eventually with no lasting ill-effects of their experience save that we could not have any more children. And the chap you see at the start of my story enjoys his spare time helping look after the  needs of premature children like the baby boy he is playing with here. Indeed he has even written a short book on the development of neo-natal care  in the last 150 years.

L'immagine può contenere: 1 persona

It is thanks to BLISS and all it does that thousands of babies and their parents now have the chance of watching their children grow into the people they always hoped for. I, for one, can never thank all those people who helped us, and are helped by BLISS, for giving my wife and I a measure of ‘bliss’ that we never dreamed we would be blessed with.





<a href=””>Silent</a&gt;

Hi all,

I had another cerebral stroke eight days ago and am only just able to type one handed again, so I’m re-posting an old blog for today’s one word challenge. Don’t worry, Christmas is coming and I will be ok again soon.


(summer 2016)

Hello again. I am struggling at the moment to come to terms with the farce that has become US politics, Britain’s insanity in contemplating leaving Europe, North Korea’s nuclear mania and the Islamic world’s resurgence wherever post cold war countries have let it. And I do not just mean former communist countries, but all the powers that opposed them in the cold war. Well for all the people concerned I think I’ll update an essay of more than two years ago as it seems even more apposite now than it did before the so called Arab Spring. Too many have just sprung sideways as they flee war, terror and persecution. Just a few things to think about for my readers, as thinking is not my strong point at the moment.


We are now well into 2016 and marking the centenary year of the full horror of the first world war. It must have been very worrying a century ago today to be looking forward to another year in which most people in the Western world feared the conflict between Germany and Britain, if not more countries, would continue for much longer than expected. Here we had been living safe in the belief that the power of the British Empire would soon crush any military threat from Kaiser Bill. We were invincible in those days, or so we believed, and could see no further into the future in 1914 than a week or so ahead, because the world was not going to change and we ran it. What lessons have we learned since then?


To start with, we forgot that our power and wealth were based on the money we had accrued from our great days of industrial invention which spanned the century from 1770 to 1870. From then on, approximately, we were living off the wealth which our lead in the means and the source of everything we needed to maintain our place as top nation were dependent. This included owning our colonies and sitting back and enjoying the fruits of our forefathers’ labours there. The Germans, on the other hand, had spent the whole of the previous 100 years from Waterloo in 1815 to the start of 1914 in gaining supremacy in continental Europe, where only the French could keep up with them, and again only because of their colonial possessions. The Franco-Prussian war of 1870 to 1871 should have told us to stamp on the German threat then. But as most of our rulers had German relations we had neither the interest nor the inclination to do this. When the United states produced the first working aeroplane at the turn of the century the whole world should have seen that the New World was about to become the new Top Nation. But, those who did just sat back again, and lived comfortably off what they had. It was obvious to a blind man that the balance of power was shifting, but those who could have made sure this balance was carefully monitored, and controlled for the good of everyone, did nothing. And then there was another element that effectively changed the world in the last half of the nineteenth century.


Industrial wealth, and colonial exploitation of sources of wealth, were only made possible by the use of very poorly paid workers or slave labourers. Two works which changed the world’s approach to the poor appeared in the 1850’s and 1890’s. The first, Das Kapital, by Karl Marx, advocated a complete change in the world order and the levelling of all social orders under what came to be known as Communism. But this was a doctrine opposed to the personal possession of money, or almost any kind of property, and thus also was against any religious teachings which allowed people to hold what they had. The great encyclical of Pope Leo XIII in 1891, Rerurm Novarum, (concerning the new order of things) laid down, for the whole world, the first sensible rules governing the rights of workers and their duties to their employers. But most importantly it stressed the duties of those employers to treat their workers humanely and pay them a negotiated living wage. This idea that a trade union need not be anti-capitalist, but on the contrary a tool for making capitalism work better for the good of all, ultimately became the central idea of all political parties which used the word liberal in their names. But it took a war which killed millions of working men, but very few rich employers, to awaken the average citizens of all countries to the plight of workers globally.


Unfortunately, it also stigmatised the people who owned and controlled the means of workers’ earning their living, and the ignoring of the significance of this fact by too many governments for too long led to the second world war. This was basically revenge against the Germans for their fascist attempt to regain self respect, through blindly and cruelly following a madman. The shambles that was Europe after this led, in turn, to forty five years of dreadful Communist oppression in Asia and Eastern Europe from 1945 to 1990. If a Tory government had been returned to power in Britain in 1945, instead of a Labour Party with a huge chip on its shoulder and no concept whatever of world affairs, it is most probable that Communism would never have been allowed to survive in Eastern Europe, and possibly even China. We have come to understand our mistakes then, but do we understand today’s world?


A very different world map confronts us to that of 1914. Oil rich Islam controls the majority of the world’s wealth, and for the same reason as we and the United States did 100 years ago. The ethos behind its method of ruling the countries it controls does not allow for the inhabitants to have a say in what is, or is not, right concerning how the ordinary citizens conduct their own lives. We did this in Asia, Africa and the West Indies especially, but today we do it nowhere. Islam has another 623 years to go to catch up with our concept of democratic government; we can only hope that it will not take this long for it to change its ways. If it does not I greatly fear that the third world war will be between Muslims and the rest of the Industrial countries. Let’s hope Trump is never in a position of power to confront that situation because he would nuke the world out of existence.


But personally, I suffer from terminal optimism and do not believe that the average Muslim would let this happen. What I can see in the short term, however, is that the economic wealth which the world creates collectively is insufficient to allow all its inhabitants to live in the type of luxury currently enjoyed by many in the West. We all have to be patient, be content to settle for a lot less than we would ideally like, and above all be kind and helpful to each other with the ‘haves’ unselfishly giving all they can manage to support the ‘have nots’. Even if I will not be around to see whether I am right or not, I still fervently hope I can eternally pray for it.


Dear me, God has kept me going for more than another year and it is now December 2017. But all the worst scenarios have come about. Trump has brought the world opinion of the United States to its lowest ebb since Paul Revere managed to stay on his horse. We are just waiting to see whether he launches his first nuclear attack in the Middle East or North Korea. His strike will of course be pre-emptive in case the US gets hit by such a device itself. He might not be re-elected in 2020 if New York city has disappeared along with some ten million US lives.  What a delight if he had to take refuge in Mexico.

Then look at the people in the part of Asia Trump wants to nuke. I have as many blood relatives in South Korea and Vietnam as I have in the United States, some dozen in each. The thought of nuclear carnage killing any of them makes me feel physically sick. Trump really must be removed as soon as possible whether constitutionally or not. In North Korea Kim will be harder to dislodge unless foreign agents manage to assassinate him, but that is very unlikely and anyway I don’t hold with killing others just because they are mentally ill.

Then, in Europe and the UK, we have the Brexit farce. Over here we are watching our currency being devalued, our cost of living rising, our health service crumbling and our government not having the courage to admit that nobody understood the referendum last year, apologise to the EU and call the whole thing off before it bankrupts us as a nation.  If that happens, and Trump is still in power, he won’t raise a finger to bail us out and our national security will become a joke. I hope I will have cause to write something more cheerful about all this soon. 



<a href=””>Theory</a&gt;




I once developed a theory

In a doctorial dissertation.

The words, though esoteric,

Needing no extra explanation


For my academic examiners

Would never publicly admit

Their ignorance of all I wrote,

Not understanding a word of it.


The secret of gaining distinction

In rarified realms of academe,

Is never stating what you think

Merely making your theory seem


As though it is, in all probability,

Superior to all earlier thought,

Your professors had ever had

As they lectured and they taught.


My theory, such a simple one,

Confounded dons high and low

For I spoke it in a foreign tongue

None admitted they didn’t know.


All I argued was that the limit

Of all human scientific enquiry,

Could never be mastered totally

The future being part of entirety.


But I declaimed my dissertation

In Virgil’s rhyming, metric Latin

Which at Oxford is assumed to be

Easy for gowns, ermine and satin.


So, the moral of this, my verse?

Well, at least it is meant to be.

For a ‘first’, make pompous judges

Accept, in ignorance, your theory.



a href=””>Bite</a&gt;

You can see the bite

“Daddy! Daddy! You can see the new bite on our computer. I think the dog must have done it.”

I had a good look and it was just as I thought. Yes, there was an odd scrape mark on the side of the laptop but no way could a Labrador puppy have done it. He’s only three months old and has not yet got teeth or claws that could do that to a thick metal surface. I was inspecting it more closely when four year old Augustine – actually his seven year old sister Persephone is already threatening to sue us as the nicknames at school are getting worse – asked me whether computers could feel pain.

“No, of course not. Why, Gussie, what made you think they could?” He looked relieved,

“Well the manual says it’s got trillions and I couldn’t believe it could write in that much pain.” I made a mental note to remind my wife that teaching young children to read very well was only worth it if they understood what they were reading. My son looked glad as he said,

“It’s lucky I asked you before telling Ostramonious he was a bad little dog.”

I took only a few seconds to decide that ‘Persie’ and ‘Gussie’ could choose their new brother and sister’s names. My wife is expecting twins very soon and we know it’s one of each.

All that was six weeks ago and the twin babies are lovely. Persephone adores her sister Ermyntrude and Augustine is very proud of his brother Hyacinth. They want to get them a puppy of their own. They’ve decided on a sheep dog which they would like to name Vercingetorix.

My wife sighed as she looked at me today and said, “You know it’s nearly thirty years since we met at infants’ school, aged five, and we were always being put together to do everything because we were called John and Jane!”

AWE Read the rest of this entry »


<a href=””>Clutch</a&gt;


Oh heavens, you won’t believe this. I wasn’t drunk or anything, but today I bought my wife a really lovely Teddy Bear. You see I’d taken my youngest son and his wife, and my wife out to dinner a few days ago to celebrate something or other, her new promotion to a leading nursing role in our main Cancer Hospital I think, and on the way out of the restaurant we passed a charity shop. It sold donated items to support a chidlren’s  hospice at the hospital.

Well, when we got home my wife said, “Ton”, she always calls me that, “did you see that sweet Teddy Bear in the charity shop window? Well she’d make a super friend for that enormous cuddly bear you bought at the Scouts auction a couple of weeks ago. I’ve sewn his bad eye back on properly, and he was telling me how grateful he was as he could now see the other stuffed toys clearly, and was very sad because amongst the 79 animals there was no female bear.”

Now if you love your wife much as I love mine, the first chance you get you go in and buy the bear she wanted and tell her it’s a little girl bear, and a super friend for ‘Gladly’. Did someone say “Who the hell’s Gladly?”  Look its complicated, but the bear I bought at the auction was given that name after one of the worst jokes I’ve ever been told by a nun. My youngest son’s godmother is a nun and she told me once she’d had a Teddy as a small child and said she had to call him Gladly. Wait ’til you hear why.

“My mother asked me,” my nun friend said, “Why I’d called him Gladly and I replied, ‘after the bear in the hymn.You know the one with the lines,

“Dear Lord if it would ease your pain, Gladly my Cross I’d bear.” Well you see my Teddy is cross-eyed!” As you will have guessed so was the one I bought at auction, actually my wife was so sorry for it and with no one else bidding, I had to buy it didn’t I?

Anyway, this evening we took our little girl bear upstairs to the playroom, the kids are all married and left home but even though there  are only two of us we still keep the playroom properly for housing the toys. We called her Clare, after part of the children’s hospice name. My wife placed her on the sofa next to a very correctly sighted ‘Gladly’ and introduced them. You could tell it was love at first sight. And when we popped in to say goodnight to all the toys, you know before going downstairs for the evening’s telly, we could see that Gladly was clutching Clare to his  chest both of them in a state of total bliss.

By the way, I’m 75 and my wife, Pammie, is 70!




<a href=””>Gremlins</a&gt;

Oh No! You Idiot.

I once did the most stupid thing thanks to a very unusual Gremlin. You see I have a great way of keeping up my polyglot appetite for inexpressibles abroad. As some of you know I am totally bi-lingual in four languages – hang on that’s wrong. If I speak four that’s not bi-lingual it’s quatro-lingual, or is it? Avaunt all such irrelevances – and can write and get by in five more. But how do you think I keep up with them when my health stops me travelling much now? Listen.

If you know all the instructions on your computer, ie which keys do what, or which spaces mean ‘fill here with this type of information’ etc, you soon realise that you know instinctively what commands mean in other languages because they are in the same place as they would be in English. An example is that list of commands you get when cutting and pasting articles or just single words. I know where the command ‘paste’ is situated on my instructions list, so when I want to paste something in Italian I just hit the word ‘incolla’, because it’s situated where paste usually is. Note the use of ‘usually’ it’s the point of this post. Also note my computer is set up in Italian, like my Facebook page.

It also helps if you’re a sports fan, and if you follow a favourite pastime with a foreign commentary. You can see what’s happening on the TV so you know what the commentator is saying – as good as anyway. But there are times when these methods of expanding your vocabulary don’t always work.  For instance, I can read Korean well enough to scan a newspaper, especially photo captions, as I had a Korean girlfriend in Seoul who taught me their pictographic alphabet. It was a revelation. It’s based entirely on the 26 letters of the English alphabet and, around 1560AD, the king of the country devised a way of using a symbol to represent each of our letters. Clever man, but he did a rather obtuse thing. If he had a six letter word, say ‘friend’ he didn’t write the six Korean icons out in a line as we do. No, he put them in a box to make them look like a pretty picture. Hence friend translates as 친구 (the little man’s arms are actually two separate symbols incorporated in the whole). You should see some of the letters I wrote to Choi after my trip to Korea with President Thieu of Vietnam in the summer of 1969. She said she hadn’t had such a good laugh in years.

But I married a Vietnamese girl, Anh, her tragedy is told elsewhere in these ramblings, and she taught me the similarity between Vietnamese, as written in Western script, and French. Vietnamese simply has about ten more accents. But she was amazed at my almost perfect pronunciation of her language. I was no genius, I merely had a mother brought up in Glasgow whose native speech was incredibly similar to Vietnamese in its guttural accentuation of every second or third word.

But what has all this to do with gremlins? Yes, I remember, I was showing off about how one can appear to know words in another tongue by cheating on guessing their finger positioning. The worst gremlin that ever attacked me was when I was covering the world ski-ing championships in Chamonix in the French Alps in 1962. My Sorbonne university life included such short absences to earn a small fortune covering sports events for my father, Paris bureau chief of the largest US news agency at that time.

After the men’s special slalom we all sped for the press HQ, no instant communications in those days, everything had to be written and handed to a teleprinter operator as fast as possible. But as we entered the Press room there was a power failure. No communications via electronic cables for at least fifteen minutes, we were told, as the generator had to be started up and we were  all left in the pitch dark. But was I going to wait and not be first with the results? No way. I sat at the nearest typewriter, picked up what typing paper I could feel on the desk, and wrote the first four pages of my epic account of the day’s events, certain I had beaten everyone.

As the lights came on, I whipped up my four pages and was first in the queue to file my copy. Then I looked at it. It was some five hundred words of rubbish. Yes, in the dark I had sat at a typewriter with a Polish keyboard! At least my colleagues were so amused they helped me out when they stopped laughing.