He was a Christmas miracle
I'll ask you to believe
Brought to earth by Santa one
Ancient Christmas eve
He was a Christmas miracle
An urchin from the streets
A better man I doubt you can
Have ever hoped to meet
He was a Christmas miracle
Three quarters bah humbug
But at the stroke of midnight we'd
Open presents up
He was a Christmas miracle
I think he understood
That the moment matters more than
Accounts of bad and good
He IS a Christmas miracle
From beyond the grave
Like a drop of Sunlight, my
Dear old father Ray
A selection of works by and of Ray Smith
First off here's transciptions of hand-written works that were left behind with us. Incomplete works that most of the world will miss out on - but luckilly you can now read them:
By Ray Smith (1940-2001)
The Decent Fella
Man, it’s arrived; hurrah for evolution!
It’s wound its torturous way through countless billions of copulations; to arrive at us.
“Oh good!” you say, blushing slightly with self-importance. You’re impressed by largish numbers; and they don’t come any more largish than unspecified billions; even when they refer to copulations.
But then, copulation is a safe word; a scientific word; a clinical, hygienic, ascetic word.
If we should translate the process into more emotional terms; into everyday language which more readily lends itself to the imagination, you might be led to a rather different conclusion. If we make reference, for instance, to a lewd lizard, the analogy may still retain sufficient irrelevancy to provoke a secret smile. But a lustful Labrador! That’s something else again; evoking mental visions of the family pet running amok and having it off, with total disregard for convention, against the sofa leg, and priapic pussies. God save us from ever possessing a priapic pussy! Worse still, a plain, old-fashioned, carnal cat. Cats are well known to be not kindly disposed to sofa legs and the last thing we want is a greedy-eyed drivelling Tomkins on the prowl, with baby in the house.
No, we certainly can’t do with maniacal mammalian things roaming about on the loose, waiting to catch us at an unguarded moment; to vent their wantonness on our furniture and off-spring. Such thoughts are likely to induce a re-think about the glory of man’s coming; we might be forgiven even for deciding that the whole thing’s been a gigantic fuck-up!
We must at all costs, keep them copulating; while preventing them from masturbating or fornicating or any of those things.
Not only does this simple device save us from more senseless worry. More than that; it is an important
technicality that man has contrived, to propagate an illusory chasm between himself and the animal world. A subtlety that hints at a special jump in the evolutionary chain, suggesting divine assistance, a respectable second best to divine creation; the theory of the six-day week being lost forever among the working classes in post Darwinian times. Thus animals copulate or mate; a dull, mechanical practice. Only man has the good sense to indulge in rape, ravishment, violation, stupration, indecent assault and, in moments love-making.
So let’s agree here and now to make no mention of grunting cockroaches, groaning billy-goats or mongrel bitches whose breaths come in short, sharp gasps.
You might find it hard to believe, but the fact is that it hasn’t always been that way. There was a time, way back, when man first found himself sitting, naked, among the grass, when he wasn’t nearly so convinced about his sublimity. Indeed, there were undoubtedly situations in which he was quite prepared to accept the converse. Like when he got involved in the occasional tussle with a Sabre-Toothed Tiger; on such occasions, his shortcomings seldom went unnoticed and the overall effect could well have been depressing. But man was saved from despondency; rescued from wretchedness. By one of the earliest and greatest innovations of all time. God.
Once God was thought of, it was obvious to everyone that he’d invented man. Certainly, no-one else they could think of could have invented man.
And man’s invention of God was a stupendous thing. He at once began to feel better in himself; he learned to sing and to dance. And if God invented man, why then, he must have created the entire universe for man’s convenience. Clearly, man was the primate; the prima donna; the star of the show. Second only to God; who probably didn’t exist anyway.
Of course, we of the modern age know better. With centuries of scientific investigation to call on, we have virtual proof of the evolutionary process. We know that
The coming of man was heralded by the shrinking of the primeval forests; that man the carnivore emerged only when the fruits of his life were carried out of reach.
We know, too, that the entire universe is a miraculous complexity of perpetual motion; of switching, twisting clusters of galaxies; intent on some incomprehensible, ever-faster, lunatic dance to nowhere; or somewhere.
And what do we do with all our knowledge? We wrap it in a safe, technical vocabulary; from whence it may not intrude overmuch upon our aspirations. And then! We give praise to God for it’s acquisition. But take car. A cursory glance may leave one with the erroneous impression that there exists a blatant contradiction between man’s scientific and ecclesiastical aspirations. This is by no means so.
Man progresses in order to survive; he progresses because he must. And for no other reason.
He consciously progresses as quickly as possible; and sub-consciously he progresses as slowly as possible, clinging stubbornly to tried and trusted ideas of morality, and social form.
Both ambitions are essential: The first to ensure development to ensure that supply keeps pace with man’s need; in short, to ensure survival. The second, the direction of that development. I.e. as close as possible to what has gone before, one careful step at a time. It is the too hasty, or belated, step that invariably precedes man’s self-inflicted catastrophes.
In this latter affectance, God has been a friend indeed, depicting man’s past in light and glory; flooding his presence with nostalgia. Thus has it always been; since the beginning of time. Meaning, of course, our own beginnings! That’s when it was all happening.
In the beginning, being the day preceding the advent of man, there was light; or so we are told. Certainly, in a metaphysical sense, it would seem prudent to accept the a foregoing with more than a pinch of salt. For when man first rubbed his eyes and had a look
around at the world, he couldn’t even think. When the prehistoric forests that had shrouded the earth raced back across the land, leaving open country in its wake; when gargantuan evolutionary coition at least managed to achieve a climax; when man first found himself sitting naked among the grass; he couldn’t even think.
If he could have thought, he would have thought ‘What is this place where at I’m at?’; or other such old-fashioned thoughts of a similar nature. Or perhaps, ‘Why is it that I do be-find myself here?’
And all the new little men scattered throughout the plains, sitting naked in the grass, rubbing their eyes, would have thought thoughts much akin to the a foregoing; if only they could have thoughts.
Better still, if they could have spoken! Why, they would have chattered incessantly to each other in terms not entirely dissimilar to the above-mentioned thoughts.
Alas, they couldn’t speak either. In fact, all they were really any use for was grunting; which they did.
They searched about for the nutrients of their forefathers, from whom they were as yet not far removed, and found them not. They looked for cashew nuts, muscats gold and shiny apples dangling in the sun; and grunted their dismay.
Then they saw their nakedness and were not pleased. They longed for trees to hide themselves and found them gone; and the going was lamented with grunts.
It was an alien world in which they found themselves. Grunting being the only familiar aspect of their lives. They grunted much; every opportunity; in fact, it might be said, with gay abandon.
And the land resounded with their noise. They herded together and whaled in unison so that the sound would crash across the grass in great crescendos; and the wind would snatch the sound and hurl it against the surrounding hills, so that its
resonance filled all the known world. And then the men were pleased.
Thus marked they, the emergence of the super-race.
Crouching naked among the grass, they howled and herded, crudely giving comfort to one another.
But their cries were really cries for aid; for without a guiding light, their flame would soon have dwindled to a flicker.
Fortunately, they were not entirely alone on the plains.
Close by, or at any rate not far off, an old cow meandered slowly through the local by-ways, chewing contentedly at the long sweet grass. At well-spaced intervals, when her glutton was momentarily sated, she would cast a stoical glance toward all the grunting, eye-rubbing and herding together that was going on in the vicinity.
Nor were the men totally unaware of the old-cows presence.
They were perturbed by her apparent reluctance to grunt and herd together; disturbed by her non-conformity.
They couldn’t understand her behaviour. But then, they had no way of knowing that she’d been around a lot longer than they had; and had long since adopted a philosophy of ‘live and let live’.
They had no way of knowing, either, that she had her own friends in other neighbourhoods; they didn’t even know there were other neighbourhoods!
They could see her hair covered hide, and began to wonder; the darkest recesses of their minds beginning to grind into action. They began to wonder whether she was in some way superior, and they felt insecure in spite of their herding together.
Their insecurity brought them fear; and fear bred
hostility. They became sullen, drawing into themselves, and quieter.
The old-cow, meantimes, was not oblivious to the changing mood! Her chewing became noticeably hurried and her glances more frequent; not now impassive, but anxious; filled with expectancy.
The men could feel the pressure building up and wondered what to do. The cow just wished they’d never come or, at least, would go away.
And so they might. Their fear might well have got too much and caused them all to flee; but for the intervention of a remarkable occurrence; a traumatic experience; their first. They felt hungry!
Of course, their hunger may not seem very remarkable to you. You probably feel peckish five or six times a day without the slightest astonishment; but for them it was an overwhelming sensation. They’d never felt hungry before and it came as a great surprise.
The only one who was more surprised than they, was the old cow. Much to her consternation, they rose in a body, slew her and ate her!
The occasion marked the first leap forward in the consciousness of man, forcing him to reason. It was no easy matter for him to slay the beast, for how was he to perform the task; strangle it? Hardly. His puny physique was surely not capable of such accomplishments.
Clearly, what was required was intellect; and man was not found wanting.
He had already learned to wonder; up to that point his entire history was the history of wondering. Besides pondering the presence of the cow, at the velocity of raindrops, and was staggered by gravitation if he stumbled. Although those terms would be unfamiliar to him, the forces were not; and their lay the beginnings of his foolishness. For when a piece of
rock broke loose and tumbled down the hillside to his feet, he knew what it was. He took it in his hands and felt it’s roughness with his fingers; then he felt its sharpness and the weight; and with suddenness he knew it was a tool.
And when the old-cow presented herself, desiring him to kill her, he knew it to be a job for the tool. It was the only tool he had; in all the known world, throughout the valley, it was the only instrument that could satisfy his needs.
In that simple act lies all the ingredients of conscious thought; the ability to reason and to analyse, to aspire and strategise.
Instinct can instigate attack but the utilisation of tools, however simple, depicts an aptitude for planning, an awareness of moments other than the present, and the development of the sole justification of our much-vaunted supremacy over other animals; conscious thought.
But we are much too clever for ourselves. The trouble with truth is that it has a disturbing tendency to propagate; to proliferate itself. It threatens us with understanding. Left to its own devices, there’s no telling where it might lead; who knows, progress itself might run awry!
So we have learned to obscure this singular, fundamental truth beneath a torrent of trivia; we eradicate truth with knowledge. Men with letters after their names confound us daily with minute differences ‘twixt man and beast. Seats of learning are dedicated to the literary vivisection of our distant relatives for the everlasting glorification of ourselves. Mostly by anti-thesis. We rejoice that bats are blind because it proves that men can see. And if pigs are stupid because they eat their food from deep troughs, why then, we must be as clever as we’ve always suspected; for its plain for us all to see that we eat from shallow troughs and, if further proof be needed,
our troughs are called plates and not troughs at all!
It is necessary so to blind ourselves to truth. Simple knowledge is essential to our development; but knowledge can only be acquired in the light of experience; a slow, cumbersome business. Truth is something else. Truth leads to the deepest understanding and opens the sluice-gates to the river of abstract thought. Abstract thought is by no means harnessed to experience; under its influence we would leap ahead at a breath taking pace. The truth of this, as with all things, lies in the past. There have been brief moments in our history when truth has played a major role; when abstract thought was held in high esteem. In such moments were produced our most revered sages; men like Buddha, Confucius and Lao Yse; The Ionian philosophers; Pythagoras, who concluded that the earth was a sphere, by means of pure deduction, and that of Miletus, who theorised that the entire universe was composed of a basic substance; an incredible fact that remained unsurpassed until the advent of nuclear physics some 2500 years later! And the Chaldean priests who mapped the stars and calculated the length of a year with virtually the same degree of accuracy as modern astronomy; and that 60 centuries ago!
The list is unending.
“So why end it?” you say. “Why not encourage the trend; this search for truth? Let us stride ahead into a bright new future when all things will be understood; and all life will be good!”
And we say to you “Because, my friend, new ideas mean change and change is invariably accompanied by conflict; great neo-ideas travel in the company of great changes and great conflicts. Therefore, if we are not to destroy ourselves, we must conspire always to escape from truth.”
It is beyond our capabilities to cope, for long, with the
inherent stresses of basic, unimpeded thought. Even the stages of what might be called ‘natural historical progress’ the mere act of experiencing are too simple for us to comprehend; they must be made to be elaborate, larger-than-life complexities capable of justifying our bewilderment. Birth and death, learning and forgetting; the arrival of something new and the departure of something old. All that, which is what experience is all about. All must be wrapt in an aura of mysticism; expressed in ritual that at once obscures the truth and explains the fact.
These tendencies are by no means confined to we of the modern age; they were just as rampant among ‘we’ of yesterday or ‘we’ of the Middle Ages.
And our ancient brethren who ate the old cow so many years ago were no less susceptible to the same concepts. It wasn’t enough for them to eat the old cow, belch and slap their gut with satisfaction. That was too simple. They had to invent a deeper meaning that they couldn’t understand; a meaning of which non-understanding was a perfectly reasonable and understandable thing.
The experience was at once too little, and yet too much, for them. They knew, then, that they must eat flesh but, when the old cow was eaten, they knew not where the flesh was to come from.
A minor foray into the realm of abstract thought would have revealed much. Logic would have told them that, if they must eat flesh, there must be flesh to eat; they would have understood that what goes up must come down and that beyond the peaks of the surrounding hills were down gradients which formed into other valleys, at least some of which would have been visited by cows.
It would have seemed, then, that all they had to do was go clambering over hills until they happened upon another cow. Fine so far as it goes; but at that point would have arisen the conflict. For a start, which
direction should they take? Some would say north, others east. And what if they should come upon an unvisited valley; or, worse, a whole series of unvisited valleys!
Such difference can only be settled in argument; violence, even, and death.
No. To hell with thinking for thinking’s sake. By far the best thing, then as now, was to do only what became necessary; what was forced on them.
Since there was no urgency pressing them to immediate action, the best plan was to simply hang about until the spear of desperation returned; the driving force that had first prompted them to devour the old cow.
They hadn’t risen up at once to slay the creature; they’d looked at first, both at the cow and at each other, and their looks were filled with awe. Then the bravest of them had shuffled forward a few inches, to spy on the animal from behind bushes and other convenient camouflage. But none of them were very brave; they might well have shuffled and spied for all eternity, had not their hunger been around, ready to goad them into something resembling decisive action.
Once the act had been committed, though, its future repetition held no dread; the only fear being fear of the unknown; and they knew little. Their reliance would soon again become apparent; with each tiny, stumbling advance that was yet to be thrust upon them; clothing themselves only when frozen by climatic changes; clinging to the land they knew until it ceased to produce sufficient for their needs. In what they knew, lay the warmth of security.
Experience was resisted in advance because it threatened that security; and the extent of the resistance was determined by the inherent seriousness of the threat.
Of course, as each obstacle was surmounted the terms of their security were adjusted to comply with the new facts. This adaptability was due to their security
being founded not on experience, nor on truth, but on mere knowledge. And their knowledge was of their own making.
That is not to say that their knowledge could be wildly incredible; nor that they could base their lives on a series of blatant contradictions of either truth or experience. But their combined truth and experience were not in the least comprehensive; the gaps could be filled with what they chose. Furthermore, they had at their disposal the subtlety of mysticism.
The utilisation of these refinements enabled them to be totally bigoted and narrow-minded at all times, assured of the everlasting nature of their current mode of existence; in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
And they wasted no time in deploying their resources. Right from the start, from the eating of their first cow, they began to weave the veil that would protect them from impermanency. They began to make special sounding grunts when referring to food. Their guttural, off-putting “Ughs”’s melting into the more ubiquitous “Coo! Coo!”
Aeons afterwards, when the uncovering of history was a fashionable thing, these simple events gave rise to the assertion, by a fortunately uneminent scientist, that the Scots were the first men on earth. However, his obscurity was blessedly assured by one Paddy O’Shawnessy Esq.; who demonstrated in a louder, if no more authoritive, voice that the term ‘Coo’ clearly exposed their complete ignorance and therefore the world’s first inhabitants were surely none other than the Irish.
This shaky theory was widely hailed by Paddy’s countrymen as proof of a just Irish claim to English soil; being as how they were probably there before the Anglos and Saxons and all the other bloody foreigners who had crammed into the place since!
Mention is made of these utterances in the sincere hope that they may find favour among those readers who
have not the slightest inkling what we’re on about. As the preceding paragraphs have absolutely no relevancy to anything, it is hoped they may confuse that section into believing all things to be clear.
More to the point, are the special sounds of our forefathers; sounds which served to express the significance they felt to be deserving of the experience of eating meat. These were their first words.
In time, other occurrences arose which appeared to be worthy of note; and they too were marked with special sounds. Soon, a whole vocabulary was constructed.
But more than that, alongside the development of verbal communication came the development of thought.
No longer were men locked in solitary confinement inside their heads. A free flow of ideas was established; enabling each individual to delve the philosophical ponderings of all.
Then came the questions.
“Why is it that we do be-find ourselves here?” Or, “What is this place where at we’re at?”
And now, with experience to call on, came the answers.
The questions from all were the same, but the answers were different.
For man is the sum total of all his experience and though the facts for all were the same, the effects varied according to the point from whence they were observed.
Thus, those who had been near and saw only the cow, said “The cow has brought us here. Plainly the cow is God. This is his meadow, where he wishes us to dwell so that we may eat him each time he comes here from nowhere; which is over the hill.”
Then the doubters spoke. “But how can he come again when he is eaten and is gone; all save his skin which lies at our feet?”
“Ha! Fools of little thought!” they were rebuked. “can not
Gods do these kind of things? Can they not come and be eaten and come again, as often as they wish?”
“But why should he want us to eat him?”
“So that we will learn to love him! Do we not already love him?” And guts were slapped with satisfaction and all agreed that it made sense.
“And now,” they said, “we must show our love. We must learn to sing and dance. We must make beautiful drawings of God in every place we can so his likeness can never be destroyed and,” picking the hide off the ground, “we must wear his skin at special times to show that we long for his return.”
And they began to wear the skin at special times. And, when they weren’t wearing it, they would place it atop a high pole; where it would be out of reach of all the dangers they didn’t know and where it could be seen by all; perhaps even by God, over the hill in nowhere.
And they began to scratch likenesses everywhere; on rocks and in soft earth; and to practice ever-sweeter sounds.
But there was a second shade of opinion; from those who had been far off; those who had seen that the cow had come over the hill, into the meadow; and had seen the meadow and the hill as well as the cow.
“No,” they said. “The cow is not God but merely one of God’s flock. God cannot be seen for he lives far away over the hill, in nowhere. For if he wished to be seen, why then would he build the hill?”
At that, they were thrown into disarray.
“But fear not,” they were consoled, “for God has sent us the cow so that we may learn to love him and, so long as we love him, he will send us a cow almost every day.”
And all licked their lips in anticipation and agreed that it made sense.
So, in all their scratchings and making of likenesses, they left one stone unmarked for the God they couldn’t see. And they placed it in a special spot, near the high pole on which reposed the empty hide; and they learned to sing and dance around them both. And they were happy, for their craving was not for understanding, but merely for knowledge; for knowing that it was so and not why it was.
Of course, these polemics are entirely hypothetical; mere generalisations of the prevalent attitudes of the times. On a petty level, there were as many viewpoints as individuals; but, by and large, the briad outlines of their thinking did not exceed the limits of their stated; i.e. did not exceed the limits, of their experiences.
Their experience explained all they knew and what they didn’t know they accredited to God, so that they knew that too; at least to the extent that it was the work of God, not requiring further explanation.
Thus, they created a permanency about their way of life; a secure mode of existence in which nothing would change and all things were known. They would sit about in the valley for ever and ever, always striving for new and better ways to please their God; and each day He would send them a cow or appear as a cow to show that he was pleased, and so that they would please Him more. It was a simple, never-ending circle which it stood to reason, could not be broken. All things outside the circle were the work of God and were, naturally, incomprehensible; though, occasionally, they could find a hidden message just the same.
On these beliefs, their lives were based. Their knowledge was complete and formed a mighty bulwark against the threat of change, lest it should ever come. They were
conservative almost to a man; little, fierce, naked, eye-rubbing, bewildered, fearful, pre-historic conservatives.
Mind you; it must be said that they were not entirely opposed to change, but only that change which might pose a threat to the security of their permanent way of life.
They were not at all opposed to improvements on their tools. There were occasions when their daily cow actually escaped, and those were bad times; so when one of their number suggested fixing handles to their tools, enabling, the same stone to be struck with time and time again, he was declared a good guy; and the suggestion was declared a good idea. In fact, a law was passed to the effect that all improvements in tools would be declared good ideas.
Once progress had received official blessing, the results were astounding. D’you know, you’re not going to believe this; but in less than a few millennia both the use of fire and the bow and arrow had emerged!
Mind you, all this was just as well. Their numbers had increased disproportionately to thei daily cow, so no prey could be allowed to escape; and better use had to be made of their assets; with heat they learned to cook; to cure their meat and store it; to remove every particle from the bone.
Encouraged by the effects of legislation, they proceeded to pass laws left, right and centre; to govern every action; laws to honour the good and discipline the bad. The good were skilful dancers, improvers of tools or courageous hunters adept at striking a fatal blow. The bad crushed sacred roots at non-specified times; they got drunk and frightened off the day’s prey with unwarranted verbal abuse; they crept up the forbidden hill in darkness and peered into nowhere and spied on God; and they were reputed to chew things
which were not meat!
And when it happened, in a day, that more than one cow crossed the hill; or perhaps none, it was impossible for them to accept that a God requiring love might mete out punishment or reward for too much or too little of that commodity. When that happened they would each remember the very good things they had done the day before; or the very bad things that others had done. So even the unpredictable workings of God were encompassed indirectly by the law.
Then, as the changing climate cooled the earth, making them very cold, it became their opinion that God desired them, now, to wear the accumulated hides that sat atop many poles. So they took down the hides and wore them and there were ample for everyone. And they were so pleased that they passed a law declaring it a bad thing, to go unclothed. They were so pleased, too, that they climbed back up the poles and scratched likenesses of God on all but one; and they called the poles Totems because it was a word that sounded like no other word they’d ever used.
Thus they avoided, for many aeons, a confrontation with the mighty change of which minor changes were all a part.
Who knows, they might have successfully averted the issue until they’d starved into extinction, in God’s meadow; had it not been for their dissenters. For, as with every society since, they were not without their lunatics, hooligans, radicals and trouble-makers.
There were irresponsible adventurers who had already crept over the forbidden hill. As yet, they hadn’t seen God; but they had seen higher hills, greener meadows and vast herds of old cows. They aspired to leadership;
they dreamed of taking ‘their’ people over the hill on great hunts and great treks. They were large, valiant, ferocious fellows who were openly feared and secretly hated.
Then there were the weak and the feeble; they were held in contempt. They were not skilful hunters nor were they adept at striking a fatal blow. Worse, the humiliation sapped their confidence and caused them to be clumsy dancers. They seldom got their fair share of meat and were said to chew on things which were not meat. They were openly hated and secretly feared. Furthermore, on days when no cows appeared they were in grave danger of being stoned to death.
Mind you, there were no stonings to death when times were good. Then, the weak and the feeble were regarded with great tolerance; with affection almost. There were even enough left over to sate their hunger. On the other hand No-one felt threatened; nor did they feel the need to adopt a defensive stand. Even the adventurers’ urgings to greater things were considered the height of foolishness; not that anyone openly said as much, but they were gossiped about behind their backs.
It was undoubtedly hardships that sparked off the conflicts in their society; the non-arrival of the daily cow, especially; bringing into question their basic beliefs; effecting the permanency of their world. Then were the weak and the feeble called on to fulfil their role as scapegoats. There was a great rising-up of public opinion against them. Frequently, they were banished to the south-western corner of the valley; where undergrowth abounded, entangling itself in its own profuseness; and [????] the grass so that, surely, no cow would ever venture there.
At the slaying of the first cow, it had been the weak and the feeble who had stood well back; who had seen the hill and the meadow as well as the co. It was they who had advocated belief in an unseen
God. And at the events of their banishments to the sou-western corner of the valley, the general populace might well have desired to take the unmarked stone from its special spot and to hurl it from their encampment in a sou-westerly direction, in the company of abusive rhetoric; to the effect that the damned weaklings should emulate their God and refrain from being seen again.
They may have desired, too, to do likewise with the unmarked pole; but they were restrained from embarking on such a course by a most curious phenomenon; The adoption by the strong of the concept of an unseen God.
Inevitably, a mass movement away from the weak was the same thing as a mass movement toward the strong; toward the courageous; the skilled hunters adept at striking a fatal blow. And therein lay the seeds of destruction for their permanent way of life; for those strong, courageous, skilful hunters and the spirited adventurers, who dreamed of leading their people out of the valley, were one and the same.
At the slaying of the first cow, it had been they who were close and had seen only the cow; they who’d advanced the idea of the cow-God, the foundation on which was constructed the permanency. But later, on climbing the forbidden hill to find immense herds of cows, they were forced to rethink their attitude; for no hunters can do with thousands of gods roaming about all over the place. Besides, if their people were to be persuaded to forsake the valley, the cow must be deprived of godship; for, so long as he remained a god, it would be argued that nothing could be achieved by pursuing him.
Their dilemma, then, was to depose the cow without discrediting themselves. And they were rescued from ambivalence by the unseen God.
Since they hadn’t opposed the idea at its inception, it
was the most natural of things that, when times were good and magnanimity towards the weaklings was at its zenith, they should let it be known that they regarded the notion of an unseen god with some favour. And when fortunes changed; and the banishments recurred; they were heard, openly, to confess their profound belief in the existence of an unseen god. Not the weak, intangible unseen god of the feeble; but a mighty warrior-god who lived in the clouds, from whence he could observe the progress of his protégés. He wasn’t even an entirely unseen god; it was said to be his habit to reveal himself, in fleeting glimpses between clouds, to the most devout of his followers.
Thus far did their utterance entirely serve the aspirations of the majority; facilitating eviction of the weak and the feeble, while retaining the insurance of the unseen god.
Mind you, the cow-god remained the chief god, the god of the majority; for he was the god of their way of life. The struggle for a new god was the struggle for a new way of life. And the preference for the unseen god of the strong; the warrior-god who desired them to hunt his cows; was merely a reflection of their clinging as closely as possible to what had gone before.
Of course, all these ideas were merely symptoms; symptoms of conflict. And conflict itself, a symtom of impending change. Conflict is born out of hardship; change, out of impossibility.
The point of no return could not be long delayed. Every pressure in society was building up towards it; the increase in population; the falling off in ideas to assist the economic utilisation of resources; and the decrease in the resources available. For the local cows could not clothe themselves to meet the change in climate; their answer was migration. In addition, stupid as they were, they could hardly fail to notice that journeys by their kind, in the direction of the valley, were of a peculiar, once-in-a-lifetime variety.
Meanwhile the good times no longer produced an abundance to compensate for the lean times; the hunger of the men increased; and with it, their needs. The daily cow was awaited with anxiousness; and the occasions of its non-appearance gave rise to greater hardships than before; and ever greater conflicts.
But the cow-god maintained its dominance. The old life-style still prevailed, right up to the moment of the final catastrophe; when, for many days, no cow appeared.
At once, the weaklings were stoned to death or banished to the sou-western corner of the valley; the strong were heard to urge a following, out of the land. While the elders, the most revered of their numbers, advised restraint; salvation, they claimed, would come tomorrow.
The masses were restless. They shuffled from one bare foot to the other; they stared at their toes with vacant eyes; and they thought.
When they’d done thinking, the weakest that remained among them were banished and the strongest took up the cry of the strong.
Each new day brought new banishments; and new voices raised in urging. Until there had taken place an almost complete polarisation of society to the two extremes; only the elders remaining in the centre.
Almost imperceptibly, the old system passed away, giving way to the new.
The strong were now the masses. They packed their tools; wrapped them in hides, to sling across their backs; a few were carried in their hands. Their tools were their past; their past, their knowledge. Their history was to be taken with them; to form the basic material from which would be forged their future. And with a single, fearless step they began a journey that would last 10,000 years.
All that was left were their cast-offs; their weak and feeble, left to die.
But the feeble had no intention of dying. From their past banishments they had reaped the new knowledge that was now to stand them in good stead. The rumours about them having eaten things which were not meat had not
been entirely unfounded. Long before the breakdown of society, they had already devoured countless Golden apples and muscats, not to mention cashew nuts; when their fellows had condemned them to starvation, they had secretly bloated themselves on forbidden fruit.
Soon, they had noticed that the passing of each morsel was marked by a deserted spot on the undergrowth; and they were hounded by fears. What, when all the fruit was gone? What would become of them; when their sanctuary became an entangled maze of deserted emptiness?
Their anxiety was unwarranted.
To their astonishment, each and every deserted spot was replenished! In due course, of course; but replenished none-the-less; with the same certainty as the re-appearance of the cow-god. Nay, with more certainty. They’d always been nagged by suspicions about the re-incarnation of a solitary cow. But about their fruit there could be no doubt. It reappeared in precisely the same deserted spots, on exactly the same shoots; and, surely, it could not have come from elsewhere, so must be the same fruit returned!
Empirical observation showed them that their nourishment would flourish more successfully under certain conditions. They learned to clear the land and, before the going of the strong, had already raised a crop of potatoes!
They found great happiness in the belief that all things returned; and yet great sadness too. For, as they watched the exodus of their comrades, they were filled with apprehension lest they, too, should return. They longed for their non-return; hoped for it sincerely. And prayed for it, even. For they too had their god.
Theirs was not the warrior-god of the strong; nor was he the apples they ate; nor the muscats; nor cashew-nuts. Rather, it was all these things; it was the ability to return; the capacity to re-create; the mystery of reproduction. Indeed, their God was not a god at all, but a Goddess; and Her name was fertility.
She lived everywhere and imbued all things with Her presence. She was a joyful, copulating whore of enormous proportions and fecundity. She welcomed fornication and spewed childbirth down on humans; so that they multiplied with rapidity.
But the increase in numbers held no terror for them; for all they ate would be re-born and could therefore never be exhausted. They would till the soil throughout the valley’s length and survive all eternity; under the auspices of fertility.
All good things flowed from Her. She urinated rain and the sun was merely the sparkle of her fluorinated teeth.
They would please, and praise Her till the end of time. And in return She would drench them frequently with piss; and laugh between times.
Having decided that our understanding is, in fact, to be a journey and not, say, a secret conspiracy, nor a new religion, we immediately find we have a whole wealth of experience on which to call for guidance an ample history of past journeys to assist our researches.
We should find comfort in that.
Secretly conspiring would be more difficult. By and large, secret conspiracies have remained secret; evidenced only by an obscure history of a few scattered, ill-informed reports. And, what’s more, I wouldn’t be able to write a word in case someone should read it!
A new religion, on the other hand, would be easier. We could agree on anything we chose and, providing only that our determinations were adequately confusing, confound all opposition, not by proof but by preposterous claims safeguarded, like Berkley’s Theory, against disproof.
But then, since we’re already committed to the more arduous task of compiling a convincing…..nay, an irrefutable…..itinerary, we can neither cease to write nor submerge the pages beneath an avalanche of gibberish.
Rather, our aim will be to record the experience of the events we’ll encounter, with as high a degree of lucidity as possible; avoiding obscurity and mysticism like the plague.
This aim may be greatly facilitated by developing an appreciation of the undramatic; the realisation that large things are merely large collections of small things and sensational events the sum total of many un-sensational events. By according, if you like, due credit to the grains of mountain-peaks and the ripples of whirlpools.
Generally, our history is observed to be the history of mountain-peaks; one bump and the universe is formed, another marks the beginning of life and yet another, the emergence of man.
The distant view seems clearly and sharply drawn. But it is this very quirk which, alone, must bear the blame for our inability to perceive the future.
Even without the law of Karma, we can plainly see that the mountain-peaks form an inescapable pattern; leading irrevocably to the currently presiding conditions. It would seem to logic, then, that we ought to be capable of constructing the pattern in advance; of merely continuing already well-formed lines. And yet we are invariably confounded!
The reason is that we can see no point from which to set our bearings. There are no mountain-peaks on the foreseeable horizon.
We can see changes, certainly, but none of any great significance; not of the mountain-peak variety.
Thus we are led to contribute to the popular conclusion that uncontrollable historical progress has given way to the more moderate, technological progress. We’ve arrived; or so it’s said. Stability has been attained, perfection all but achieved.
From now onwards, it is claimed changes will be of degree only; evidenced by the gradualness of current progression.
Further reinforcement is lent to this view by the fact that all the apparently awe-inspiring events of the past have been directed solely towards the accomplishment of what now exists. “Why then,” it is reasoned, “we must at last have something of worth!”
The error of this line of thought is already exposed. The symptoms are mistaken for the cause.
Unlike the all-embracing Karma, we tend to overlook the valleys which lie between the mountain-peaks. The ripples of the past are largely ignored and history is judged by the whirlpools which result
from the ripples.
And just as we fail to observe the tiny progressive steps which led to the traumatic changes of the past, which have in turn culminated in our present way of life; as we fail to recognise the tiny progressive steps of the moment for what they are.
Even in those areas where closer investigation is undertaken, the struggle for distinctness is maintained.
We strive to attain a position from whence further advance can be shown to be impossible; a position which could be demonstrably hailed as the point of origin.
Like mathematicians intent on a sequence of multiplications by ½, until zero is reached; until the origin of numbers is reached; we may claim to be ever approaching our goal - but the ultimate result is exasperation and mounting complexity.
And out of the complexity, sciences flourish. Whole areas of speculation are fenced off and designated to the realm of physics or botany or whatever.
Needless to say, the tendency is to construct similar boundaries around the problem of our own beginnings.
There is a point in history beyond which it can definitely be said that man walked the earth. There is another point which quite clearly predates the
advent of our kind. But between the two lies a vast tract of history about which there can be no sureness.
Into this chasm are lowered a number of scholars who proceed to converge on a central point; as much by mutual consent as anything else. They conspire to present a united front to the world; their confusion masquerades as intellectual argument; their difficulties are bemoaned as though they’re understood.
But, because of their self imposed limitations, what they can never understand; or, at any rate, what they can never admit; is that the object of their search does not exist; that man does not have an origin of his own.
Instead, it transpires that the outset of his journey is merely “not readilly definable”. The occasion is mared by a lack of information; the subject shrouded by an impreciseness. Hidden, you might say, by nothing; which is not quite the same thing as being unhidden!
Mind you, their struggles are not entirely without fruit. Indeed, it is proclaimed that man did not, after all, spring fully grown into the world; he emerged with the utmost gradualness, almost piece by piece.
But the evidence is misconstrued. The event of the first whole man is merely “not easily pinpointed”.
And so the search goes on. They pore through the bones of our ancient ancestors, and their ancestors; not quite sure which is which. But they have a tail to pin on and their determination to find a donkey is not less than impressive.
Ultimately, eternal controversy is their lot. As in all fields of enquiry, the crux of the matter rests on past events; not whether these occurred but, on account of their profusion, which are to be selected and which rejected.
Thus, one anthropologist, wishing to emphasise the rapidity of our development, might exclaim that we’ve been around for a mere hundred centuries while another, with a different aim in view, could remark with equal conviction that man has already survived for more than a million years!
Both can be shown to be right, by an appropriate choice of fact.
It all hinges on what is selected and what rejected. Nothing is settled conclusively and for all time.
That is not to say that all scientific enquiry is a fruitless waste of time. On the contrary, it’s probable that no inquiry is futile.
But the range of human endeavour should not
be construed as evidence that the net result is outward-looking. Divided as it is, and enclosed within traditional boundaries, it is, on the whole, inward-looking, each branch revolving around ever-diminishing centres; each pursuing ever-finer demarcations. They seek differences where differences do not certainly exist.
Of necessity, our approach must take a rather wider form. We can not attempt any demarcations, for none truly exist. Even at the dawn of life itself, differences are not distinct; as we shall see, the gap between living and non-living matter is more in the nature of a crack than a chasm.
We must see our history, not as a series of peaks and whirlpools, but as an all-engulfing flood of events sweeping relentlessly across a vast, indeterminable plane.
We can not hope to include all previous events but neither must we purposely exclude any. We must take those we find and follow where they lead. We must start at the beginning. Not at man’s beginning, for he has no beginning of his own; nor even at the beginning of his life; but at the beginning of all we know.
I mean right back at the start, even before
The much-vaunted, primitive cloud from which the galaxies were formed; earlier than the earliest speculation. Back at the time when there was nothing. Except energy.
Perhaps “beginning” is an unfortunate term, having certain undesirable
Due to our historical position, we interpret our experience of events in terms of progress; in terms of increasing stature, intensity or complexity.
That is hardly surprising. All our functions seem to conform to the same basic patterns. We begin as infants and grow to adulthood; we plant a seed and give generation to a larger vegetable; or we assemble complex machinery from component parts. We see events neither individually nor as a whole, but in “series” or “packets”.
This leads to two important conclusions; that all things begin in relative simplicity and proceed to relative complexity; but more than that, that all items sharing a common grouping have common beginnings. Thus, all people begin as babies, all vegetation begins as seeds and all machinery is composed of “parts”.
Such is a convenient view of our environment, being conducive to the fulfilment of our role. But it may be worth noting, in passing, that it is by by no means the only view possible. It could be claimed, for instance, that machinery is basically steel, rather than parts, which would make the product the same thing as the basic substance.
Nevertheless, in seeking an explanation of the material universe we’ve had to rely on our traditional concepts for guidance, and these have led us to search for a fundamental building block; a common denominator to which can be reduced the entire material group comprising all that we perceive.
By good fortune, it seems, mother nature has seen fit to comply with our imposed order. At least, so far.
I’ve added the cautionary “so far” because the story has by no means been brought to a conclusion.
We’ve discovered fundamental building blocks, certainly; several times, in fact. And that’s the trouble. On each occasion, the struggle to achieve a better understanding of our discoveries has thrown up still more fundamental particles, until the situation has become complex once more.
As you might expect, though, the befuddling complexity is, yet again, the consequence of trying to maintain distinctness.
In the world of sub-atomic particles, the futility of this practice becomes markedly clear. For the scores of particles known to exist are really the same thing; each can become the other, or can disappear altogether and be replaced by something else. And, to make matters worse, the “something else” isn’t really something else at all, but more of the same thing!
Can you imagine how we’d fare if similar laws governed the activity of the material entities of our “real” world? What if you chose a prize seed, from which to grow a prize cabbage; only to find that, the instant you picked it up, it changed into a nut and bolt; or, worse still, a baby?
Avoidance of the whole problem is an idea with some appeal but, then, such a course would be a form of exclusions; in breach of our terms of reference.
No. We are comforted by the task of delving
into the lunacy of natural construction; into the world of atoms and sub-atomic particles, which are close to the basic building blocks; and we shall just have to make from it whatever sense we can.
Mind you, we should strive to avoid despondency. The situation was simple once and may be again.
Pre-Einsteinian physics was in the happy state of having reduced everything to tiny “lumps” of matter, or atoms, which were not further reducible.
These lumps shared several characteristics, perhaps chiefly mass and electrical charge….specifically, zero….so that it is not surprising that they were thought to be identical.
In the minds of men, these tiny lumps exerted forces of attraction on each other which caused them to stick together. But after Newton the attractive forces became “long-range” and were countered by “short-range” repulsive forces so that they no longer stuck together but revolved around each other in a kind of “grab your partners ‘n’ swing ‘em round” barn dance.
Still everything was comfortably complete. The theories of the day seemed to present a satisfactory culmination to close on three-thousand years of philosophical dreaming, for the idea of fundamental particles had already been around for some time; since the speculation of one Democritus, in the fifth century B.C., on the basic nature of matter.
Democritus postulated that if matter was repeatedly divided, into smaller and smaller
pieces, a stage would be reached where further division would be impossible. At that stage, the properties of the matter would change in such a way that one would be left with the basic, formative substance, which would be common to all the elements. In other words, if all of the world’s variety of materials were to be taken through the same process the ultimate substances would be identical particles.
These indestructible particles he named atoms, which is Greek for ‘indivisible’.
The feats of Democritus are perhaps the most celebrated triumphs of abstract thinking and are by no means detracted from by the fact that our atoms have been demonstrated to be divisible after all.
Not only are atoms divisible, but if all the elements are reduced to their atomic states the resulting substances are not identical at all. Indeed, they have not undergone radical change.
Clearly, our atoms were christened in ignorance and are not the same particles as those described by Democritus.
But the division of atoms has uncovered a host of smaller entities which more nearly approximate fundamental building blocks. These are our sub-atomic particles.
The study of sub-atomic particles is, perhaps, the most exiting of our sciences. It is certainly the youngest, its entire history being contained within the present century.
Although the electron was discovered in 1897, its role and character were little understood.
It was some sixteen years later before it was shown to be a negatively charged particle
which forms the outer shell, or shells, of the atom.
This discovery led, in turn, to further significant developments. For one thing, since the electron carries a negative charge and the atom itself is electrically neutral, no special genius was required to deduce that the atom must carry within itself one positive charge to counter each of the electrons of its shell. Furthermore, as the electron revolves, it seemed sensible to assume that there was something for it to revolve around.
This “something” proved to be the positively charged proton, which forms the nucleus, or centre, of the atom.
Thus, our picture of the atom may well have been compete once more; except for certain discrepancies in the weights of various atoms. Which led to the emergence of the neutron; a neutrally charged particle, otherwise very similar to the proton.
Still, our concepts of the atom remained manageably naïve. Instead of singular lumps of matter, we had “proton lumps” encircled by equal numbers of “electron lumps”, with appropriate quantities of “neutron lumps” thrown in to account for the varying weights of particular atom-types.
These three particles were arranged in suitable proportions to facilitate the existence of all the ninety-two known elements.
This analysis has proved to be correct, in so far as it goes. But then further considerations arose to complicate the issue.
Consider, for a moment, the question of mass.
The large elementary particles, the proton and
neutron, have a
The first thing to strike you about this measurement, may well be the conspicuous absence of “largeness”…..and yet, it exceeds the size of the electron by nearly two-thousand times!
Let’s turn our attention, now, to the atom, which extends to about 10-8 centimetres. This minute area is no less than one million times the space occupied by the “large” elementary particles! Even the larger nuclei, with their full compliments of proton and neutrons, represent a mere one hundred-thousandth part of the atom’s total mass.
Clearly, no amount of juggling can make the combined masses of protons, neutrons and electrons add up to the mass of the atom. So where does the extra mass come form? To what should we look for the solution to this apparent paradox?
Our confusion arises from an erroneous assumption. We suppose that, if an atom consists of electrons and nuclei, then the electron and nuclei are the atom. They are not. We have already seen that if we divide the atom into its constituent parts it undergoes fundamental change; its attributes disappear. The atom is not what electrons and nuclei are; rather, it is what electrons and nuclei do.
So, just what do electrons and nuclei do?
Well, at first glance, nuclei don’t seem to do much. For all intents and purposes, they’re at rest. They just sit there, in the centre, wherever that is, quietly exuding their given number of positive charges.
Among electrons, on the other hand, we find a much more satisfactory state of affairs. They’re real doers; incredibly busy little fellows, whizzing round and round, making, perhaps, many thousands of revolutions a second. They rotate rather than orbit; that is, their paths are more in the nature of a length of string being wound into a ball, than the Earth’s course around the Sun; They can take almost any path they choose, within the limits of the atom’s mass.
But the electron does more than just track a roughly spherical course in space; it sets up a shield, or force-field, around the nucleus, so that if atoms were observable, we would see “solid” blobs rather than nuclei enclosed by circling “dots”. This is an amazing fact, for the area of the atomic sphere is enormous by comparison to the tiny electron.
But, then, perhaps we should hesitate to award all of the credit to the electron; for, after all, a free electron in space is not capable of anything like similar achievements. Its full potential is only realised in reactions with the nucleus; or perhaps it’s the reactions of the nucleus with the electron. Or, better still, the atomic sphere is the manifestation of inter-actions between the nucleus and electron.
To summarise, in the conciseness of decimal notation, the material of the atom is approximately 99.999% inter-actions; the remainder of its mass being accounted for by its constituent particles.
Now it may be that you have a natural aversion to this concept of the atom; perhaps you harbour a distinct distrust of anything as intangible as inter-actions and would
much prefer to put you faith in the “solid-blob” type particles.
But their is no cause for anxiety. The electron-shield has all the right credentials. It has “weight”, in that it participates in long-range gravitational inter-actions with other atomic spheres, and it has short-range repulsive forces, which means that the shield is not easily penetrated; in other words, it has “size”.
Gravity is a common enough experience; it is what keeps us “glued” to the Earth. But it may be worth emphasising that it is not a one-way process, is not merely the Earth’s attraction forces acting on our bodies. Gravity is, itself, an inter-action…..between the atoms of our bodies and the atoms of the Earth.
The short-range repulsive forces are of equally common experience, although not so widely appreciated. If we jump from a height, we understand that gravity causes us to plummet downwards, but the fact that we stop at the surface is usually attributed to the “solid” nature of the terrain; our ideas of solidity being utterly divorced from the facts. But, save for the repulsive nature of the electron shield, there is nothing to prevent us merging with the elements like so much sugar in a tea-cup.
And, for those of you who would prefer to rely on the more-solid type particles, consider that, if the atomic shields were somehow annulled there would be a great deal more space than non-space. In fact, your chances of colliding with anything would be less than one in a hundred-thousand!
Besides, not only do we not merge with the earth, but we are prevented, even, from touching it, by the minutest of distances; perhaps something like a
millionth of a centimetre.
In fact, nothing ever touches anything; except for inter-acting force-fields, we are truly isolated in space. So if ever you should be witness to any collision of note, whether between automobiles or, say, a rock-crusher and contents, or whatever, you might care to bear these thoughts in mind and to ask yourself: “How safe can we get!”
Then, again, perhaps you’d rather not. Perhaps you’d just as soon hide the whole business behind your tried and trusted ignorance. Well, if that’s your attitude, you’ll get every assistance from the atom. The electron-shell has one other quirk; the best of the lot; the punch-line in fact; and it’s this. It reflects light!
Now we can’t see nuclei, nor the electron, nor even the atomic shield, but we can see light. And, being reflected uniformly, the atom appears to be as solid as we’ve always suspected. Every bit as solid, in fact, as it’s “more solid” constituent particles.
Oh, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. What if it’s true? Yet another article of faith will be shattered.
But could it be? If the intrinsic solidity of the atom is almost entirely “mere” inter-actions; what of our fundamental particles, the very foundations of all we know? Is it possible that they, too, are nothing other than interactions?
If our fundamental building-blocks have the capacity to generate powerful forces over the relatively vast area of the atomic sphere; are they not capable of generating even more powerful forces over the areas of their own masses?
Is the electron, for instance, not capable of generating an almost impenetrable force, a truly "solid" blob, over an area
of something less than 10-14 centimetres?
Not only does the electron have that capacity, but that is precisely what it does. Or, more correctly, that is precisely what it is.
What we call an electron is a force-field which is set-up by interactions between electron-positron pairs and photons. These participating particles are referred to as “bare” particles, to differentiate with the “real” thing; or as “virtual” particles, on account of their brief existences which may be in the region of 10-29 seconds.
In all these inter-actions, which are continual throughout the electron’s lifespan, the total negative charges exceed the total positive charges by one. But it would be erroneous to imagine that the electron takes a part in its own inter-actions. That would be as false as any suggestion that atoms inter-act with nuclei or atoms inter-act with electrons.
At the atomic level, only nuclei and electrons inter-act. Their inter-actions is what the action is.
In a similar way, the inter-actions of “bare” particles; “bare” electrons, “bare” positrons and “virtual” photons; is what an electron is. The term “electron” refers, not to a single entity, but to a whole history of inter-actions.
Among the larger particles, the situation is, if anything, more complex. A photon may exist for fleeting moments as a neutron and positive pion, an anti-meutron and proton or as a proton, anti-proton and positive pion, and in many other forms. Each of these are “bare” or “virtual” particles and the proton itself is all of them; or, rather, their inter-actions.
The processes for the proton and neutron are similar, except that an advantage is invariably held by the positive or neutral charges, respectively.
We have now, I hope, a fairly clear picture of the forces at work within the atom, and of the nature of matter. But, as yet, we’ve failed to uncover anything remotely like an indivisible building-block. Indeed, all we’re left with is some intangible “inter-actions” which are, by their very nature, compound, and therefore divisible; although division of an inter-action is more likely to be an analytical exercise than a physical fact. So, we may legitimately ask, just what is an inter-action?
It transpires an inter-action is an exchange of energy between fields. The flow of energy is not analogous to the flow of a mountain stream, but is exchanged in “packets” of “quanta”; all of which have precisely the same value; rather like the hail of bullets from a machine-gun. The action is jerky rather than smooth; and all the smoothness we observe in our macroscopic world is merely the result of the super-imposition of many jerky actions.
Furthermore, an inter-action is not the mere swapping of one bundle of energy for another. An inter-action marks the annihilation of one particle or particles and the creation of others. Therefore, we do not conceive, for instance, of the simple exchange of photons between electrons, in the form stated. We must try to think, instead, of two high-energy electrons; at the moment of energy release, the original electrons are annihilated and two low-energy electrons, plus two photons, are created. The photons then collide with the low-energy electrons; the electron-photon pairs are annihilated and two high-energy electrons created.
This may seem to be mere juggling with words, but, in fact, it serves a far more useful purpose. For one thing, it helps to get the events into perspective. Our elementary particles are no longer lasting blobs of matter. To refer to an electron, proton or neutron is to make reference to a whole history of annihilations and creations; a history of inter-actions between fields of energy; to events at points in space-time. And what could be less divisible than events at points in space-time?
These are, surely, our fundamental building-blocks. Events are what happens and what happens is what is.
Our elementary particles are the things of the world. Inter-actions are the events of the world. But our “things” are inter-actions; there is no difference between the event and the result, for the event is the result. There can be no demarcation between what happens and what is. In short, what happens is what is.
But what happens, and what is, is inter-actions between fields of energy. The events of the world, and therefore the material of the world, are merely manifestations of these fields. But there are regions of space where inter-actions do not normally occur, which are consequently devoid of matter; “empty” space. This does not mean that no energy exists there, only that fields do not participate in inter-actions. The occasional creation and annihilation of isolated particles, in such regions, is proof that energy does reside there. Which poses the odd concept that, not only are all things energy, not only are all events energy, but energy is also nothing.
So now we are, perhaps, in a position to visualise the “beginning”. It must have been a point in space-time which preceded the advent of matter, and therefore the occurrence
of events. A time, in fact, when there was nothing.
For reasons which we are yet to uncover, this condition could, itself, exist for only a single point in space-time.
Thus far we have said nothing startling, all of our deliberations having followed fairly conventional lines. We have merely re-uncovered already known and accepted fact.
There now arises, though, a bone of contention, a point of divergence with the line of common science; upon the emergence of the primeval cloud; the gaseous substance from which the material universe was formed.
Mind you, given the differing premises; they postulating complexity and demarcation, we simplicity and sameness; conflict was always inevitable. Nevertheless, it is not a confrontation to be approached without some trepidation. Accepted values are never easy to refute.
On the other hand, I am confident that the fault can be shown to be theirs. Indeed, that it is, yet again, a consequence of the struggle to maintain distinctness. That it follows from the erection of boundaries around our many sciences, which are, in reality, nothing more than different facets of a single study; the science of the universe.
It should be fully understood, however, that divergence with conformity relates only to the evolution of the embyonic cloud. About its role there can be no argument. Not only are we in agreement with science on this point, but science is in agreement with itself; having not less than three supposedly viable theories which manage to share the idea of a primeval hydrogen gas.
Then again, in fairness, it must be said that all three theories are really variations on a single theme, each turning upon two fundamental ideas; namely, the “doppler effect” and the undetermined cosmical constant contained within Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. It is upon the possible values of the latter that differences hinge. But an understanding of the “doppler effect” is a necessary prerequisite to an appreciation of these differences.
The “doppler effect” is merely a mystical term for a commonplace
phenomenon. Everyone who has heard a train-whistle blow has experienced its occurrence. As the vehicle approaches the note sounds shrill and high-pitched but at the point when approach becomes recession; that is at the moment of passing; a distinct change in sonority takes place. The shift in scale is a consequence of the origin of the sound being in motion in relation to the observer. The passengers aboard the train perceive no difference.
A similar situation prevails with the emission of light.
Light can exist in a variety of wavelengths, or colours, ranging from infra-red to ultra-violet, and a measurable change in total wavelength can be attributed to the state of relative motion between observer and point of origin. When the distance between the two is decreasing, the move in spectra is toward the blue. When the gap is increasing; in such circumstances as the observer would regard the observed as being in recession; the shift is toward the red. This is the essence of the much celebrated ‘red shift’.
Now, this singular revelation may not, by itself, be very striking. But during the 1920’s a series of observations were carried out which greatly enhanced the prestige of the idea, culminating, as they did, in the proof that the spectra of all the galactic clusters show a red shift. Furthermore, the more distant the cluster the greater is the degree of shift.
The suggestion is that, not only are all the galactic clusters receding from us, but that they do so at an ever accelerating rate.
The obvious inference, the idea of an expanding universe, was grasped upon and has since had the most far reaching and diversionary effects on astronomical thinking.
Once this particular interpretation was applied to the red-shift, once it was accepted that the universe is expanding, the galaxies hurtling apart at appreciable fractions of the speed of light; it was reasonably deduced that at any time in the past they were closer together than they are now. And the further back we go, the closer together they must have been.
Logically, if we go back far enough, a point ought to be reached when all the material of the universe was compressed in a solid blob of incredible density.
It is claimed, therefore, that at some point in the past, usually calculated to be 10,000 million years distant, there existed a solid blob to end all solid blobs. For unspecified reasons, this awesome lump is supposed to have undergone catastrophic disintegration which caused it to expand.
Such is the nature of the theories under review. A simple explosion, naively commemorated as the ‘Big Bang’!
At the outset, the hypothesis was unconvincing as well as simple but, of course, science soon changed all that.
Einstein’s cosmical constant was brought into play presenting us with a formidable array of the most curious ‘world models’ and, with that single stroke of inverted genius, what had been simple and unconvincing became, at once, complex and unconvincing.
Because the cosmical constant is undetermined, a virtually limitless array of ‘world models’ was immediately put on top.
Significantly, a small and much maligned voice entirely opposed the application of the ‘constant’, but this was largely ignored. Such argument as was waged concerned not whether the ‘constant’ could be legitimately employed but, rather, the precise value to be attributed to it.
Obviously, the number of possible values are endless but they cannot avoid falling within three main categories; that is, they must be either zero, positive or negative.
If a zero value is attributed to the constant, the expansion of the present day universe is due entirely to the remaining impetus of the initial explosion.
No explanation is included to account for the increase of an expansive force which one would normally expect to subside.
However, if we can manage to turn a blind eye to this glaring discrepancy, we find that this particular universe has an end, which is just as it should be. It has a beginning and everyone knows beginnings and ends, like love and marriage, go together.
It transpires that tis particular end threatens to occur when all the other galaxies have expanded beyond our observational horizon. Shades of Berkley! There they go again, disappearing the moment we cease to perceive them!
If we postulate, instead, a positive value for the ‘constant’, we give rise to a much more feasible situation. In this case, the impetus of the initial explosion does decrease, as we’d expect it to.
Then, we have the emergence of a new force; a long-range repulsive force which acts contrary to gravity. It is this cosmical repulsive force which provides the drive for expansion and, furthermore, the intensity of the force increases as the distance between participating bodies increases.
After such a promising beginning we might be led to expect a conclusive end but, unfortunately, like its zero-rated counterpart, it just slides out of sight without a whimper.
In the final version of the theory, for which we hypothesise a negative value for the cosmical constant, the absurdities achieve almost comical proportions.
Once again we commence with an incredible blob which explodes, and so on. But no longer do the galaxies expand beyond observation. Oh no. They expand, certainly, but…..and this is the punch-line…..only up to a point. When this particular universe has expanded sufficiently it begins to contract; and goes on contracting until it becomes a solid blob once more.
Unlike its rivals, it has neither beginning nor end. It just goes on billowing in and out; waxing and waning, no less. But it does have a solid blob; and for all three theories that is the crux of the matter, being the most transparent of their fallacies.
These solid blobs are altogether too convenient.
If the theories were supposed to explain only the apparent expansion of the cosmos they might serve some useful purpose. But they purport to explain the origin of the galaxies, and to that end they get us precisely nowhere. After all, to claim that all the solid blobs of the material universe originated from a single solid blob is an explanation of the type that says grass is green because it’s green!
The temptation to satarise is trong but, at the same time, it must be
It is an explanation which strikes a death-blow at further debate.
It is an elucidation which invites satire. For, when one has said that grass is green because it’s green, what else remains?
At the same time, it must be acknowledged that the idea does have a kind of perverted appeal. It would be very agreeable to confine the processes of universal evolution within a lucid and elementary thesis…..but for the intrusion of other, conflicting considerations.
The main source of computation springs from the accepted proof that the present-day, material universe is composed of considerably more than 99% hydrogen; in spite of the fact that virtually all universal activity, through countless eons, has been directed expressly toward the conversion of hydrogen into heavier elements.
To the uninitiated it may appear to be inconceivable that all the billions of planets in existence could account for less than 1% of the total available matter. And yet it is an irrefutable fact.
Should we choose to go back in time, whatever might be surmised about the proximity of the galactic clusters, we could certainly expect to arrive at a universe composed of as entirely hydrogen as it’s possible to imagine.
This axiom places our “solid blob” enthusiasts in a rather untenable position because it means that the blob was, either composed of, or became, entirely hydrogen.
Numerous objections could be raised against the composition of the blob being hydrogen but suffice it, for now, to state, simply, that a contracted hydrogen cloud of high density is nothing other than a sun. The proof of this claim will be seen before long.
And, as a sun, the blob would presumably convert 7% of its substance into heavier elements prior to disintegration; far more than can be accommodated by the facts.
Of course, it may have disintegrated before converting any of its substance into heavier elements but, in that event, it
could not have been a very dense ‘solid blob’ because although contraction and conversion are not exactly the same thing, they are inextricably inter-related.
If we avoid these particular problems by assuming the structure of the blob to be of substances other than hydrogen we are faced with a more pressing need to theorise a unique process, a process contrary to all our experiences, whereby heavier elements can be converted back into hydrogen.
You might be forgiven for thinking we’ve reached the final stumbling-block; the insurmountable obstacle. But to our ‘solid blob’ adherents, already well established members of the ‘grass is green because it’s green’ brigade, it’s a problem of small significance.
Believe it or not, we are asked to believe that the ‘Big Bang’ was of a nature totally beyond our comprehension……..except that we know it converted everything in its path into hydrogen!!
This is the nub of the matter, the theory depending heavilly for its credibility upon what we do not know, rather than what we do know. The ultimate decadence, it seems to me; the final slide into the mire of mysticism and manipulation. All is confusion.
No attempt is made to account for the miracle. There is no accompanying appeal to logic. It is simply asserted to be a natural consequence of an expanding universe.
And so it is. If the universe is expanding.
There is no intention, here, to challenge the validity of the red-shift. That is not possible. But there is a viable alternative interpretation.
Einstein himself, surely the most enlightened physicist of all time, suggested that the red-shift could be the consequence of the curvature of space-time.
Because it is subject to gravitational influences light does not travel through space in straight lines, it follows a tortuous path of ups and downs as it is pulled, first one way and then another, by the effect of innumerable
clusters of galaxies. It is hardly feasible to map these ‘hills’ in space-time with precision and, generally, an idealised model is substituted in which the ‘hills’ are smoothed out as a regular curve. Thus the ‘curvature’ of space-time.
The concept of space-time is a matter of some importance and it is imperative to understand that it is not possible to travel in space without also travelling in time. By the same token, as we look out into space we also look backward into history. The more distant of our observations concern events which occurred thousands of millions of years in the past.
This consideration adds a new dimension to the red-shift. In addition to it being derived largely from the navigation of the hills of space, it may also be due to the loss of velocity of light over such vast epochs of time.
The points to be grasped are that the red-shift is an indisputable fact requiring explanation and, to this end, we have two alternatives, each of which are, at least superficially, equally feasible.
Already, the application of one of our alternatives has been shown to lead to ambiguity and confusion.
It remains, now, only to follow the second possibility to its conclusion and observe where it leads.
For this purpose, we can dispense with the solid blob. Indeed, we must dispense with it, because the universe is no longer expanding. Therefore, at no time in the past were the galaxies any closer than they are now.
Einstein’s cosmical constant, too, must be discarded. In this universe it has no validity; a possibility which was always on the cards in any case.
In effect, our latest universe has its beginning at a point in space-time which closely resembles the point at which we left the last chapter; a point when there was nothing.
By ‘nothing’, of course, we mean nothing tangible, nothing detectable.
It is only when this nothingness manifests itself in inter-actions that it transpires to be energy.
We might call this non-inter-acting energy ‘pure’, to differentiate with the massive energy of the elementary particle.
But its inclusion within a single title should not be construed as evidence of harmony. Our ‘pure’ energy must necessarily consist of contradicting forces, forces of attraction and repulsion; for evolution can only arise out of conflict. It is easy to see that, where no differences exist, nothing different can occur. The whole science of Chemistry is based on this concept; for instance, one can hardly hope to achieve a reaction from the mixing of water with more water.
The point is fundamental to all evolution and can hardly be over-stressed.
So our original ‘nothingness’ consisted of a turbulent conflict of forces which manifested themselves as, among other things, positive and negative electrical inter-actions; as electrons and protons.
This was the initial formulation of our material universe.
The process did not occur at one central point and expand outwards. At any given instant, it may well have been more in evidence in some localities than others but there was no suggestion of anything like a ‘solid blob’ type concentration. By and large, the activity was evenly dispersed throughout the universe.
These initial inter-actions, the original creation of matter, took place, over a brief span of time.
It is well established that all the material of the cosmos was formed at one point in time, generally held to have been about ten thousand-million years ago….give or take a few thousand-million years.
Not all force-fields were ‘used-up’ in this materialisation process. The ceaseless creation and annihilation of virtual particles in those present-day regions of ‘empty’ space is evidence that our current areas of ‘nothingness’ still abound with ‘pure’ energy, although, apparently, with insufficient profuseness to ensure the stabilisation of matter.
This would suggest that force-fields are not in limitless supply.
It may also be deduced that they are prone to a ‘critical number’ just as Uranium has a critical weight.
Below 220lbs Uranium is relatively stable. Above that weight, its guaranteed to vapourise everything in the vicinity.
In a similar way, it would seem that force-fields participate in material inter-actions whenever they exceed their critical number; or abundance or profuseness or however one calculates force-fields.
Conversely, when the remaining, unused, force-fields total less than the critical number, the accumulation of matter ceases.
The creation of virtual particles in ‘empty’ space represents a temporary concentration of force-fields at those points.
Since the creation of matter was more or less instantaneous, and not gradual, there must have been at that point a rapid injection of ‘free’ force-fields into the universe.
Just what precipitated these events is a mystery we must aspire to uncover in due-course.
For the moment, the most we can hope for is some substantiation of our speculation.
A slim hope indeed, some might think.
But, remember, we can look out into space. And, when we do, we observe events which are distant in time as well as space.
When we observe distant phenomena, what we actually see is light which has been emitted by those entities and travelled through space, and consequently through time, to reach our eyes. When we look at our sun, we do not see it as it is now; at this precise moment; we see an image which was transmitted to us four minutes ago.
Similarly, our view of Andromeda, our nearest galactic neighbour, is destined always to be four years out of date. For all we know, that particular galaxy may have disintegrated recently; and we’ll remain ignorant of the catastrophe for years to come!
The point is that the further ‘out’ we look, the further back we see.
Until fairly recent times, this knowledge would not have got
us very far. But with the advent of the radio telescope, emerged the fascinating possibility of observing the Origin itself!
The deepest scientific probings to date have revealed the mysterious and astounding quasi-stellar radio sources, or Quasars.
Not the least surprising facet of these strange objects is their great distance.
Previously, the most distant observations concerned the radio galaxy of Bootes, which is approximately 4,500 million light years away.
There was nothing startling about the distance of Bootes nor in the fact that it was the most distant observable galaxy.
If we assume that the primeval gas emerged some 10,000 million years ago and that many aeons were required for the gas to evolve into galactic-like concentrations capable of emitting strong and distinct radio waves, it follows that the latter situation may not have existed before 5,000 million years ago.
Therefore, signals transmitted from clusters more distant in space than Bootes would not yet have had time enough to reach us and consequently, are yet to be observed.
It follows, also, that the energy emitted by quasars does not herald the creation of galaxies. Rather, since their distances are said to be in the region of 7,000 to 15,000 million light years, it seems at least feasible that, in quasars we perceive the beginning of the universe; that is, the original creation of matter.
Certainly, the time-scale is about right. And the chasm between the most distant galaxy and the quasars could well represent the epoch of the primeval cloud.
But most significant of all is the huge amount of energy poured into space by quasars, exceeding by 100 times the most efficient process of energy production known on Earth.
One explanation which has been given credence is that processes of enormous implosion are at work for which we have no counterpart.
Consider, for a moment that an explosion occurs by the rapid conversion of matter into energy. A chemical
reaction is instigated which causes a change in the atomic or molecular structure of the explosive substance. The ensuing breakdown of the physical bonds of the material requires energy and this is provided by a part of the matter itself. A discrepancy then arises between the total weight of matter before and after detonation. This difference is known as the ‘packing factor’, from which the extent of an explosion can be calculated.
An explosion, then, is the conversion of matter to energy; and the extent of the explosion is directly attributable to the percentage of matter thus converted.
As an implosion is the opposite of an explosion it can reasonably be deduced that an implosion with no counterpart on Earth would be caused by the rapid conversion of energy to matter. Furthermore, there would undoubtedly be a relation between the extent of the implosion and the percentage of matter thus derived.
In the case of the original matter, this percentage would be 100.
All this supports our theory and refutes the others.
In quasars we observe the beginning of the universe.
If a single solid blob is hypothesised, only one explosion should be observable; whereas there are, in fact, many.
And even those are not explosions at all, but implosions.
They are the rapid conversion of pure energy into matter.
They are localised concentrations of particle inter-actions of free force-fields.
Now we have surely regressed as far as possible. At last we have reached the point of embarkation and it is time for us to participate in the advance of historical evolution, to perceive the spectra of the cosmos arising out of nothing.
But, even among the original nothingness, we are not alone. Even then we are accompanied. By Karma.
Already we have seen that free force-fields, the most fundamental building blocks of all, are of such a nature that they must inter-act. They have no choice in the matter. They cannot choose not to inter-act. Once their character has been cast, it becomes certain that they will inter-act in a particular way.
This is Karma in action. From this point on, it will exert an inexorable influence upon the course of historical evolution. In fact, Karma and historical evolution are the same thing. They are the sum total of all the milliard, inextricably inter-related events which compose the universe.
And the course of these events is absolutely invulnerable to deflection.
As Einstein, in his wisdom, once remarked, “God does not play dice with the universe.”
There is never more than one way to go.
To we mortals, it may often appear that we are faced with a choice. But the outcome of our predicament is invariably pre-ordained by the subtle influences of all our past experiences.
The illusion of choice is difficult to dispel. It is never easy to assume an objective standpoint.
The inter-actions of force-fields give rise to the creation of elementary particles.
To we mortals, this is a concept which is not readily embraced. We are enslaved by the idea of option. It appears that our personal histories are rife with alternatives, although in truth, the outcome of our predicaments are invariably pre-ordained by the subtle influences of all our past experiences. The illusion of choice is difficult to dispel.
Indeed, we prefer to maintain, rather than shatter, our illusions. We pursue escapism, rather than escape.
When faced by the certitude of force-field interaction we may applaud the multifarious results of those interactions. We may claim that, while interaction is predictable, its precise nature is not.
This truth rests solely on our ignorance of the facts and not upon any kind of choice. If we could understand, in advance, the nature of the participating forces, then we could confidently predict the creation of particular elementary particles.
No doubt, the above claim is open to the charge of speculation. But we must try to proceed by dependence on what we do know; rather than what we do not know, and, certainly, our understanding of other events would seem to lend substance to our suppositions.
Among the elementary particle-interactions, for instance, we find a wide variety of possible associations, ranging from the humble Hydrogen atom to U239 and beyond. And yet, at the formation of the primeval cloud, the matter of the universe was composed entirely of Hydrogen; almost proof enough that the electron and proton are by no means free to play the game how they please, despite the possibilities.
Just why this is so os not hard to appreciate.
If we hypothesise a point in time soon after the beginning, when terrifying energy-implosions, far beyond our wildest nightmares, reverberated throughout the immensity of space; when the whole cosmos was a raging inferno of heat and light, a seething ocean of free electrons and protons; in spite of the apparent potential, the most basic information is all that is required to expose the true limitations of the situation.
We already possess all the knowledge we require for this exercise. We know that electrons and protons are characterised by opposite electrical charges; which imbues them with a compelling attraction for each other while providing an equally irresistible repulsion for their kind.
The consequences of such circumstances are childishly self-evident. There would be an obvious tendency
for the creation of electron-proton pairs. Indeed, since the association of greater numbers of particles would require the special factors necessary for proton-proton pion exchange, the creation of electron-proton pairs becomes more of a certainty than a tendency. In truth, there is no other way to go.
The electron-proton partners would be bound together by their mutual interactions which, in turn, would correspond to the birth of the almost self-contained, neutrally-charged sphere of the Hydrogen atom; and to the emergence of a vast primeval cloud of simple Hydrogen gas.
Although the Hydrogen atoms were electrically neutral, they did exude forces of a similar, though different, variety; the short-range repulsive forces of the impenetrable electron shield and the long-range attractive forces which we call gravity. The former served to assist the survival of the individual; the latter, the survival of the specie.
Thus did the original atomic structures follow the dual law which is fundamental to all matter, whether living or not.
That it took the road to survival, albeit, the only course open to it, is obvious enough but, in doing so, it moved inevitably towards evolution. And therein lies a paradox; because the product of evolution is not the same thing as the basic substance. It follows, then, as we shall clearly see, that what appears to be the road to salvation is, in fact, the path to certain doom.
For the time being, though, the continued existence of the individual atoms was assured, by the defences of their electron shields, while the specie as a whole drew closer together under the influence of gravitational attraction.
It is not intended to suggest that the substance of the primeval cloud drew, as a whole, towards some central point or other. It is important to remember that gravity is a mutual interaction. If a central point does, or did, exist, which seems unlikely, the inner-most parts of the cloud would be drawn outwards as much as the inner most parts would
be drawn inwards.
At the same time, no statement is, in itself, absolute. There was nothing like a fine balance of forces which would give rise to a stalemate; resulting in the entire matter of the cloud being static.
Rather, localised concentrations of matter arose which became major sources of attraction; capturing nearby solitary atoms and even whole weaker groups. The process was in a constant state of flux; the influence of individual concentrations, adjusting to every capture. A deal of toing and froing was involved, tending toward the emergence of greater and greater collections of gas…..but only up to a point.
Eventually an equilibrium was reached.
A state was arrived at in which no single cloud concentration was capable of capturing any other.
That is not to say that all these fragmentations were in any way uniform but merely, or perhaps incredibly, that, for any given cloud, the total gravitational influences from any direction were exactly balanced by the total gravitational influences from the diametrically opposite direction.
As the range of gravitational influence is infinite, the full significance of this latter assertation can hardly be appreciated.
But whatever may be the imponderables, several consequences clearly follow. For one thing, the inter-change of matter between concentrations would virtually cease and all the energy which had been deployed in its eddying would need to find a different outlet.
In the event, it manifested itself in angular-momentum; endowing the cloud concentrations with individuality thus contributing a fundamental addiction to their character.
No longer could it suffice to think of them as fragments of the original, diffuse cloud of gas. Now they were more dense, probably hotter, and they
were stamped with uniqueness by their degree of spin, or angular momentum. They had evolved in fact. From fragmentations of a larger body they had become quite separate entities. What they had developed in to were embryo galaxies.
The galactic clouds undoubtedly displayed their own peculiar features but these were not entirely divorced from the original cosmological structure. Notably, their constituent gas was not any more uniformly distributed than the primeval Hydrogen. It’s probable that contraction continued to occur and there would be a tendency toward increasing density approaching their centres. But which resulted, once again, in the emergence of focal points of concentrated matter.
These latter concentrations were, of course, on an infinitely smaller scale than the galactic clouds, which bore them; but they were also vastly more dense.
CHAPTER 1. DANNY
If anyone had met him at that moment, for the first time, they would have instantly thought that he was mad. But to declare that Danny was mad would have been an over-simplification. The truth was that no one could ever know, for certain, what he was; but even that wasn't certain, and attempts to apply logic to the situation had sent many a good philosopher tottering over the brink of insanity. He was a veritable maze of contradictions. He was a lewd, lank, likable philanthropist who couldn't stand people; a shrewd, cunning, calculating imbecile who lived on his wits. He had high moral standards that had successfully prevented him from coveting his neighbours' asses... and oxen. He would never steal from a friend who was skint, nor tell a lie when the truth would do just as well. He was an unimpressive near-giant, with a stoop that almost gave him the appearance of an impressive near-midget. He took the utmost care with his attire, and always looked impressively scruffy.
Danny was certainly many things, but he was not certainly mad.
He was, above all, an extraordinarily maligned, misunderstood and complex individual who worshipped simplicity. He worshipped simplicity more than he worshipped God, and more than he worshipped all the other things he worshipped more than God. His mind was an infinite array of neat little boxes, where he stored all the useless pieces of knowledge that were thrust upon him from time to time. Everything was neat and uncomplicated; except people. People were the bane of his life; The cause of all his anxieties and frustrations.
Danny reckoned there were three kinds of people in the world; the good, the bad, and the ones he didn't know. Not at all like things. It was quite unnecessary to have a box for things he didn't know, because as soon as he learned that their was something he didn't know, he knew it. Still, even with just three people-boxes live would have been very simple; if only they'd stay where he put them, instead of dashing about, from one to the other, like a crowd of idiots.
The fact was that he was the only consistently good person that he knew; He hardly ever did anything he didn't like, and when he did, it was only with the greatest reluctance, so that he was completely blame-free. His friends, however, persistently introduced him to 'new' people, which made life very difficult indeed.
He took every precaution to avoid being introduced to people; He lay in bed very late, because he hardly ever met anyone in bed, and when he did get up he would stomp about for hours in a furious temper, so that no one would speak to him. The evenings were the worst. From six o'clock onwards, there was an endless stream of strange 'mates', all conspiring to shake his hand; there were Alec's mates, Mary's mates, Lizzy's mates and Mom's mates; Their home seemed to serve as a relay station between the village and the boozer. There was no escape but to go boozing every night by himself... at half past five. Of course he couldn't go to the same place all the time, in case he'd get to know someone, with the consequence that he was continually forced to drink every imaginable brew. The only good thing about it was that it put him in the mood for a long sleep, and the only bad thing about it was that he could never remember if he hadn't been introduced to someone.
+ + + +
She caught him at just the right moment.
He'd stopped being in a furious temper and was on his way out to get in the mood for a long sleep.
"It's yours," she said; just like that, as though she was telling him the time or something. She'd obviously enjoyed telling him, if only for the look of dumb realization as he dumbly realized the meaning of Lizzy's statement..."It's yours".
Danny was dumbfounded. He stopped dead in his tracks and screamed; He often screamed when he was dumbfounded, which was often. Suddenly, it seemed, the only good people he knew in the whole world was himself and Mary. He looked over to her for support, she caught his eye and began to speak;
"You bastard!" she screeched.
Danny's bewilderment was great.
"But I love yah!" he impressed upon her.
"You bastard!" The words hissed out from behind clenched teeth, and her eyes were hard with accusation.
"It's not mine." He whined.
Mary was normally, a calm, frank, open, honest creature of kindly disposition. Danny wasn't taking too well to her new found candour. He decided to try coercion;
"Are you gonna marry me, or what ?" He demanded.
"Are you gonna get a job ?"
Danny hated her.
"You bastard!" He screeched.
"Whad'da you think Mom ?"
The little woman pouted her lips in self assurance, as she always did, and proclaimed that 'They were both to blame', as though it were an irrefutable, self-evident truth.
"...I reckon he ought to marry Lizzy." She concluded.
Danny was beside himself with rage; He wanted to streak across the room and wrench the vile, wicked tongue from its crevice, so that it could never again utter its benign, patronizing platitudes; He wanted to stab her through the heart with a long knife, grab her by the ankles and
bash her head against the wall until it was a revolting, pulpy mess......instead, he began to cry.
"I don't want to marry her," he wailed, "she's a prune. She's 'ard an' boney an' skinny an' wizened an' dried up. I'd rather marry Mary. She's a plum."
"An' you're a bleeding nut-case!"
"It's still not mine"
"Then why'd she say it is ?"
"Because it's his."
This was escalation on a grand scale. Danny's finger swung like a grime-infested divining rod, to accuse Alec, who, until now, had been cowering obscurely in the corner by the sink.
"It's not mine!" He said quickly.
Danny couldn't remember anything that nobody wanted as much as they didn't want this.
"Yu've nivver seen me givin' 'er luv-bites in the front room, 'ave ya ? Yu've nivver seen me touchin' 'er up when there's nobuddy else in, 'ave ya!" Danny demanded confidently.
Alec sulked further into his chair at Danny's accusation, his thick jowls set stubbornly, belly pouring over his waistband, like half-set lard, but at this outburst he sprang jubilantly to his feet.
"That proves it was you," He yelled excitedly, "Nobody could be that careful, less they 'ad somethin' to hide!"
"Yeah, it's only right that the father should marry 'er."
"Huh," Danny protested, "That would make its father its granddad an' its mother its sister! Dont'cha think things 're complicated enough ?"
He trembled imperceptibly at his question, suddenly remembering all the countless millions of people he hadn't been introduced to yet.
And Lizzy began to cry.
"Anyway," He went on, "why the 'ell should I marry 'er instead o' Mary ?"
"'Cause she's up the stick!"
Mary began to cry.
There would have been a deathly silence just then, if there hadn't been a knock at the front door. It was that mate of Mary's who brought secret notes for them all to read, from the bloke across the road with the wart on his nose who kept trying to pinch Danny's bird. Danny made a mental note to punch him on the wart the next time he wasn't introduced to him, before burying his chin in his chest and running into the street like a mad man.
+ + + +
Danny shouldn't have said it.
It was the first time in ages that he'd been out of a furious temper for any length of time and he'd put an arm around her and squeezed her affectionately.
"Don't you start crying at he ceremony, Mom." he'd said kindly, "You're better off'n most people. When they lose a daughter they just gain one son. You're gaining three."
He was about to add that it may be two sons and one daughter, or one son and two daughters, but Mom was crying.
All in all it was a pretty lousy day for Danny; everything went wrong. He didn't get up in a furious temper and was introduced to hundreds of people, then his brother didn't turn up and his bride did.
For weeks he'd been telling everyone his brother was coming. Every time he saw someone he knew he said "My brother's comin'." But the wedding was here and his brother wasn't and now Alec was the best man.
"'Ave you got the ring ?" Danny asked, as they took their seats in the front pew.
Alec's face was pulled down into a ferocious scowl,
which he'd worn for so long that it had attained the dubious rank of normality.
"You should have married Lizzie," He growled.
"I've gotta marry Mary," Danny countered firmly.
"Yeah...yer a'ways full of excuses."
"What d'you want me to do, mary 'em both ?"
"See?...That proves it was you, suggestin' somethin' like that!"
Danny lapsed into a capitulating silence, while the organist played the same tune through, several times.
"Hey Alec," He whispered at length, "D'you think she ain't comin'?"
An expression of utter bliss swiftly took control of Alec's face.
"If she doesn't, you can marry Lizzie!" he enthused.
"Oh Christ! Can't you find sumbuddy else for Lizzie?"
Alec sat up, attentively.
"Do you know anyone ?" He asked earnestly.
"What about that bloke with the wart on his broken nose, who doesn't write notes to Mary ?"
"Hey ! I nivver thought o' him!...Yer one o' the best, Danny. If they pin it on me I'll get three years for incest."
And in his happiness, he began to cry.
All at once, she was there. Radiant and beautiful, she stepped daintily through the archway of the open door, clutching deep red roses to her bossom; where her large round breasts miraculously protruded beyond their off-spring; which seemed dangerously close to springing off at any moment.
But, even so, in a long white gown that showed little more than her eager young face, she moved towards him with the grace of a fairy queen.
As he beheld the scene, his eyes misted over and he knew that he’d cherish the memories every day of his life…as her every step gave flight to his last moments of freedom
+ + + +
Danny screamed !
Everybody except his brother was there; guzzling his beer and scoffing his food. They were all mad. Danny had decided long ago that it wasn't really a village; it was an open lunatic asylum, just like they have open prisons, only this was an open asylum. They only thought it was a village because they were mad. They spilled out of the little house, into the street, and into the house next door.
The only good thing about it was that nobody took any notice of him and he hardly knew any of them. Even when he made his speech and said how much he was looking forward to not meeting them, they didn't bat an eyelid. They were too busy swapping wives, or stealing wives, or borrowing wives; every last one of them hunted frantically for someone who had a better wife than he had, or didn't have. Two or three fellows asked Danny if they could borrow his bed for a while, but it was alright because he didn't know them. And when Mom yelled something about not losing a son but gaining three daughters, nobody gave a damn.
Even Lizzie was at the reception.
"You shoulda married me." She growled.
"Yeah," Alec, who had got drunk and run across to the bloke with the wart on his broken nose who didn't write secret notes to Mary and proposed and was turned down flat, said, "You shoulda married 'er."
Danny screamed !
"If yer so sure it was me that 'ad ya when the electric got cut off, you try taking me to court. Yeah," he said, pleased with his eloquence, "You jus' try takin' me to court !"
+ + + +
It was the first time that Danny had been to court.
It was a nice place. Nobody looked at anybody else,
and when they did they looked away again quickly as though they'd never been introduced.
They must have been very busy, because they were all writing and whispering and scurrying about without a word. The only person who spoke was Lizzie's solicitor, and he didn't say anything. He'd been grilling Danny for hours, and was only on his third question.
"D-d-d-d-did you e-ever have in-in-in-in-.."
"Intercourse ?" Danny ventured.
The solicitor nodded.
"Oh, yeah! All the time!"
The magistrate shot him a stern glance and didn't look away again quickly as though they'd never been introduced. Danny straightened his gangling frame and tried hard to look sorry, which wasn't hard because, except for an inane, banana-like grin, Danny always looked sorry.
The stutter continued.
"Lizzie ?" Danny offered.
The solicitor nodded.
"Well, not unless intercoursin' is like introducin'"
"What do I mean ?" Danny was getting quite good at this.
The solicitor nodded.
"Well, you see, after I came in after bein' out gittin in the mood fer a long sleep I can nivver remember if I aint been introduced to anybuddy so, though I nivver thought of it before, I suppose it's possible that I don't remember not intercoursin' then either. But I don't think that's possible."
The magistrate wheeled on him.
"Is it your intention to make a mockery of these proceedings ?" He snapped.
"Oh no sir." Danny grinned, showing his gums as well as his teeth, "I a'ways grin when I 'aven't jus' got up in a furious temper. I can't 'elp it, 'cause if I couldn't do it I would."
He began to wish the magistrate wouldn't look at him like that; he didn't like standing up straight; he'd much rather slouch lazily, with his shoulder blades suspended loosely on his spine, like a coat-hanger. An impromptu discussion followed, between the solicitors, the magistrate and the little pot-bellied geezer with the greedy eyes, who Danny knew was queer because he'd overheard someone say he was 'one of the magistrates perks. He knew they didn't want him to hear because they were whispering so he stuffed his fingers in his ears, and tried not to listen.
The solicitor scribbled on a piece of paper and handed it to the pot-bellied perk, who began to speak;
"Were you, on the sixth day of October last, alone in your home with Lizzie while your wife and inlaws were watching television with some friends ?"
Danny took his fingers out of his ears.
"I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't hear that."
With infinite patience the pot-bellied perk re-read the question...
"No. Because I wasn't married then. If I was married then I couldn't 'ave married Mary an if she 'adn't turned up at the church I couldn't 'ave married Lizzie."
"Aha ! And why should you want to marry Lizzie ?"
"I didn't want to marry Lizzie."
"Then why bring it up ?"
"I didn't. You did, you said..."
"Never mind, never mind!" the pot-bellied perk almost shrieked, a fierce hatred emanating from behind his round, steel-framed spectacles, as he fought a losing battle to retain his dignity. He rephrased the question to read 'Mary, Alec and Mom' instead of 'your wife and inlaws.
"Why not ?
"Because so far as I remember, the only times I've ever been alone is when I've been by myself, but that's only as far as I remember. I might 'ave been with someone else when I've been getting in the mood fer a long sleep an' can't remember. I certainly can't remember not being alone wi' other people then."
The pot-bellied perk, who couldn't remember where he was suddenly began to smoke.
"Alright." He began again, with great effort and deliberation. "Were you at home with Lizzie, on the sixth day of October last, while Mary, Alec and Mom were watching television with some friends ?"
"And what did you do ?" He heaved a sigh of relief and stubbed his fag out.
"We watched telly."
"Which programme ?"
"I don't know. I didn't watch it."
"Then what did you do ?" He pleaded, worries crowding him again.
"I went to bed."
"Aha! And what did Lizzie do ?"
"She watched telly wi' the rest o' them."
"The rest of who ?" He asked fearfully.
"Mary, Alec, Mom and their friends."
The little queer must have been dumbfounded,
for he began to scream, and went on screaming until two huge ushers came rushing in and 'ushed' him; then the magistrate adjourned the case to await a psychiatric report on his clerk.
Danny was glad. He was sick to death of the lot of them. The only good thing about it was that it wouldn't be published in the papers.
+ + + +
By the time he go home, everybody knew about it.
Fellows came from all over the village to touch him, and talk to him. For weeks afterwards they were waiting for him in every doorway,by every lamp-post and behind every bush.
"Hello Danny," They'd say, "How can I put my sister-in-law up the stick ?"
The only good thing about was that they never introduced themselves; they were after just one thing and they didn't intend to waste time with Danny; not when they had wives who had sisters who were waiting around to be put up the stick by their brothers-in-law.
At first he ignored them, then he tried to pretend he was mad. But as soon as he began to behave like them, they got worse; They even began to talk to him when he was in a furious temper.When every honourable avenue of appeasement was exhausted, he began to tell them the truth.
Every time they said, "Hello Danny. How can I put my sister-in-law up the stick", He said "Just wait until yer sister-in-laws step-father puts her up the stick an' blames it on you 'cause 'e'll git three years fer incest an' tries to git yuh to marry 'er instead o' yer wife."
But each of them thought it was a lie that he'd told only to them and that he'd told everyone else the truth.
As a logical product of this reasoning, they began to direct their attentions towards their best pals and life long friends; eventually becoming so incensed by frustration that their efforts to extricate the secret, second-hand, reached the point of frenzy. Fist-fights became so common place that only the ever-increasing ferocity remained a point of general interest; one rebellious youth went so far as to poke out his first-cousin's eyesight with an exhausted ball-point pen. But even that was by no means the ultimate; Pitched battles were waged in the streets and it was not unknown for whole families to be mown down in their homes by machine-gun fire.
As news of the atrocities spread, an urgent call went out to The International Committee For Solving Crisis From The Bahamas; from The International Committee For Solving Crisis From The Bahamas.
Unable to resist the summons of such an august body, the same august body promptly swung into action; organising a world wide collection of funds, with which to retire to the Bahamas and solve the crisis.
The following weeks brought a series of historical meetings at which the whole tragedy was minutely examined. Inexorably, it transpired that the village judiciary had been rendered ineffective by a total absence of official complaint; since complaints were invariably made by their best pals and life-long friends, who had long ago ceased to speak to them.
With conclusions of such magnitude to its credit, the conference felt fully justified in falling into utter disarray. But from the depths of disorder came a glimmer of insanity; saving them from fist-fights and the mowing down of machine-guns. A hurriedly introduced emergency motion which was carried overwhelmingly, on a show of hands, called the honourable members to recess for the summer.
+ + + +
The local 'fuzz' had been harassed. Ever since the inception of the committee's conference they'd been hounded by newspaper men; with placards that read 'Any official complaints yet ?' The pressman had, at first, asked the question politely; but they'd quickly become friends with the police and stopped talking to them.
The police were forced to approach their duties by the most devious routes; skulking along back alleys or clambering over garden fences in a desperate attempt to avoid the ominous, placard-bearing silhouettes. Being devout believers in the old maxim 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind', save in their own unhappy circumstances, they would have framed Danny and had him put away; if only there'd been enough of them on speaking terms to form a conspiracy. As it was they decided on unilateral action; and warned Danny to give up boozing and stay in bed.
In a normal village that would have been the end of the matter; but not in an open lunatic asylum.
Articulated lorries, laden with gifts, began to arrive at his home; There were crates of beer, food-hampers and even flowers, all with greeting cards that read: 'Here's wishing you a fucking good time. Tell me how to put my sister-in-law up the stick.'
When he had no more room to store the stuff, he began to divert the parcels to the under-developed regions of the earth; whose inhabitants became so obese, lazy and drunk that their governments declared Danny their public enemy number one, and death sentences were passed on him in sixty-five different countries.
In the end, they were forced to consider emigration as a solution.
Mary favoured Australia because they had plenty of sun for her to look up to and plenty of Aborigines for her to look down on; and trap door spiders to give her a good fright when she wasn't looking up or down, or having it off the other way round - and getting put down the stick !
But Danny preferred Canada, because they had plenty of snow to freeze him to the marrow, and plenty of timber to fall on him, and because - while he was getting frozen and fallen on - he could be as far as possible away from every last country in which he'd had a death sentence passed!
Finally they plumped for the distance reaches of the village, because that was as far as their money would take them.
There had recently been several attempted break-ins at their home and, in spite of a hastily erected, electrified fence with notices that said:
"Hands Off: You can't touch this and your sister-in-law too",
Danny awoke one morning to meet somebody in his bed at last!
He'd never seen her before. She lay there, naked, beside him, her sensual lips puckered enticingly, her tempting young torso throbbing excitedly against him! She was his for the taking; his, on which to vent his wanton lust until fatigue overcame him; through endless days and nights. What a prize!
And all he had to do was to tell her how her brother-in-law could put her up the stick!
"Hello," she purred, "My name's Agnes, what's yours ?"
He grabbed Mary and the baby, whom he hadn't even named yet, and took off, running from the house like a madman.
speaking to him, or not speaking to him. If he was too small he could climb the statue of liberty in old New York, where everybody as three jobs and earned four times as much in them as he didn't in his; he could smoke and watch the guardians of society clubbing the populace to death, while he saved another ten billion cigarette coupons for a free trip to England...if he hadn't died of lung cancer, or heart attack, or old age, before getting to America in the first place. Danny shuddered, he'd rather live in a red blob!
"Would you like to live in a red blob ?" he asked.
Mary stopped looking at the country side pass by, which wasn't really passing by anyhow, and looked aghast instead.
Now that she'd come to think of it, she couldn't think of anything she'd rather live in less than a red blob. A red blob could be anything provided it was red; it could be an aborted foetus, a blob of tomato juice, or even a castrated testicle. She wouldn't mind if it was a blob of tomato juice, she was rather partial to tomato juice, but she wasn't the least partial to aborted foetus' or castrated testicles. As she had no way of knowing in advance she said a very definite "no".
"Jus' wunderin' what you thought about cigarette coupons... What'll we call the baby?"
"I don't know"
"Well, he needs a name cause 'e's a luvly baby... I was a luvly baby -"
"I was! I used to lie in my pram at the front door and kick my legs in the sun, an everybody who passed by used to say 'Ooh what a lovely baby', and I'd make cute gurgly noises so that somebody would stick big lump o' rubber in my mouth an' make more gurgly noises back."
Mary laughed again and said, "Nobody remembers that far back !"
"I ain't that old !" He retorted. "Anyway, I do. I've got an incredible memory, I even remember before I was born!"
"I do, I do! I used to fold my little arms an curl my knees up an do summersaults all day until I got dizzy, jus' for somethin' to do. Boy was I glad to get outta there!"Now how could I remember that if I couldn't remember ? Then, as soon as I got out I wanted to get back in, but there was so many faces peerin' at me an' I didn't remember which one I belonged to. I kept hopin' that my mother would come and introduce herself an' say 'Hello Danny, i'm your mother' but she never did, and it was months before I realised that she'd run off with my father, who was married to her sister, an' left me alone to make cute gurgly noises until someone stuck a lump o' rubber in my mouth... That's the trouble with the world, hardly anybody loves me."
"I love you Danny, and baby loves you too."
"Ha! That's what I said! D'you realise there's more than nine 'undred an' ninety nine million who don't love me ?"
"But they don't even know you!"
"What's that got to do with it ? They don't love me, do they ? An' we don't even know for sure if he loves me. Maybe he thinks I'm gonna run off wi' you an' leave 'im to make cute gurgly noises 'til somebody sticks a lump o' rubber in his mouth. Maybe 'e's planning to murder me already, as soon as 'e's big enough! Maybe I should run off now while I've still got a chance, before 'e gets too big an' I get too old!" He began to stare about wildly.
"Danny!" Mary rebuked him.
"Well, at least I'd better put him straight... Hey, baby", he said earnestly, "I'm your daddy an' I'll promise not to run off wi' your mom if you'll swear not to murder me when I get too old an' you get too big... Oh, an' I promise to give you a name too, as soon as I can think o' one."
He began to frown and she knew that he was brooding.
"Never mind," she comforted, "all those people who looked
after you musta loved you."
"No! They didn't! They just stuck a lump o' rubber in my mouth when they got sick to death o' my cute gurgly noises. If they loved me they wouldn't have stuck me up chimneys to clean them!"
"They did!They took me to this big chimmney an' they said 'git up their an' clean it! I began to cry an' said 'I don't wanna be stuffed up dark dismal holes to clean them', an' they smiled sweetly an' said 'But Danny, we've all got to do our bit. You're old enough now. Some do the work and others take the responsibility. Fair's fair.' So I said 'Why can't I take the responsibility ?' They stopped smiling sweetly an' snapped at me 'you're not old enough yet!' They said, 'How'd you like to go down a dark dismal hole to dig coal, or into a dark dismal hole to be worked by a machine, or...' That's when I ran off to the village an' never seen them again, which probably wasn't fair!"
"But Danny, everybody's got to work."
"Well ? I work."
"Huh! Fishin' in the river for scrap ain't exactly work... you've got to do a job, so we'll be well off."
"Oh, I can do that alright. I've done loads o' jobs!"
"Have you ?"
"Yeah! I done the butcher's, the grocer's the bookies'..."
"Danny! Not those sorts of jobs. That'll get us nowhere..."
"I was just about to say that... in London I'm gonna do banks!"
"Danny!" She was near to tears. "I don't mean that. You should get a proper job so we can have everything we want."
"I don't know anybody who works who've got anything they want!"
"Please, Danny," she said, tiredly, "promise you'll not do anything stupid."
"I promise!" He said happily; and she was immediately sorry she hadn't been more explicit.
"Do you swear to find a job as soon as we get off the train ?"
"I swear!" he said quickly; and she was even more unhappy.
Mary was even more unhappy when Danny kept his word!
As soon as they left the train he ran off and left her; alone with thousands of other people, who took no notice of her or each other; in a fantastic world of city commuters, with sad anxious faces that blurred into a terrible sameness as they huttied past her to the saftey of their homes, where they could worry in peace; in a world of briskly clicking, well soled shoes, of hissing enginges and honking, little freight trucks, that united intermittently to form an alarming crescendo.
‘Wait in the buffet’, he had told her; and it was queer how the thought of tea comforted her; it was so reassuringly English; a slender thread that tied her to fifty million other patriots. It never struck her that it was more Indian or Chinese, even alien; such thoughts were far too sophisticated for Mary.
She was a simple girl who knew that, next to dogs, ‘bobbies’ were man’s best friend; that the CBI was composed of kindly, benevolent old chaps who not only defined fair work and play, but also paid it after they got it!
The height of her ambitions was a secure roof and regular meals. That was why she’d married Danny. He was handsome and happy, carefree and courageous. He had all the attributes of a good husband, in short, he was sexy!
She was a beautiful girl who knew it; she had thick, firm calves, round, fleshy hips, graceful hair and short skirts that attracted men to her. She knew that every one of the brolly-bearing, bowler-hatters who passed by where looking and longing to screw her right there; at any moment any one of them might pounce upon her and ravage her on the platform, on railway property, while all the others looked on for their trains and took no notice, until they tripped over their lurching bodies in multitudinous waves,
suffocating and crushing them until they’d been done to death!
The thought frightened her; she made a run for the café; stumbled, and was immediately crushed and suffocated by an avalanche of brief-cases, brollies and blank faces. But she wasn’t done to death; she wasn’t even raped once.
She got up, feeling very sorry for herself while baby squealed with delight at his strange new playmates and his strange new playmates squealed with rage at him and took no notice of Mary or each other.
Danny was already in the buffet by the time she got there. He was sat at a table by himself, grinning at the unsmiling old biddy behind the counter when she looked at him quickly with disapproving eyes to see if he was stealing sugar-lumps, and stealing sugar-lumps when she wasn’t.
When he saw her, his smile took on such gigantic proportions that the rest of his face shrunk into insignificance.
“I’ve got a job…” he said
Mary was dumbfounded. If she’d been Danny she might well have disturbed her fellow-snackers with a piercing scream but, not being Danny, she simply collapsed into a convenient chair; her eyes-glazed; the ghost of a smile twitching the corners of her ample moistened lips; as she drifted off on a happy cloud, where hosts of angels joyously sand ‘The Red Flag’.
Danny was jabbering excitedly, encouraged by her reaction, his words failing to penetrate her ecstasy…….until she detected a hint of intelligence in his eyes. She sat upright abruptly!
“What’s the job?” she asked, suspiciously.
She began to rock about with hysterical laughter and managed to fall off the chair.
“You bloody fool, Danny” she said from the floor, “that’s a woman’s job”
“’Course it is. You start at eight o’clock tomorrow!”
He was perplexed and offended by the sudden reversal of her attitudes.
“Well, you said we’ve all got to work:” he said. “At a proper job. Anyway, it’s only for a week, an’ I got a room as well.”
“Did you?” she said happily and went dashing back across Danny’s head, into the box for people he liked again.
“In the Stork Hotel”, he said, “It’s got a big door an’ a window wi’ curtains an’ three walls covered in flowered wall-paper because it’s cheap an’…..”
She stopped listening and started getting ecstatic once more, only this time the angels were nursing babies and delivering babies and singing Land of Hope and Glory in an illuminous, celestial hotel where only angels with babies should reside.
“Oh darling,” she said, friendly, blissful tears advancing slowly across her red, apple cheeks, “It’ll be wonderful to sing baby to sleep in his own little cot, won’t it?”
“No….there’s no singing allowed!”
“Oh….well at least he’ll have his own little cot.”
“I don’t want him to sleep in it.”
“But Danny, if he sleeps with us we’ll keep bouncing him out of bed, like we did at Mom’s”
“He’ll have ta sleep in the ‘case then.”
“A cot is more comfortable than a case.”
“Cases are safer.”
“Cots are better for sleeping in than cases.”
“Not when there ain’t no cot!”
“Don’t they cater for babies?”
“It’s a honeymoon hotel!”
“Did you tell them we’ve got a baby?”
“They didn’t ask!”
“Danny, how are we gonna hide a baby for years?”
“We only need to hide him for a week.”
“Why? Are they takin’ babies after next week?”
“No, the place is bein’ demolished.”
And here's a selection of works from his off-spring, over and above the above poem:
By His Children
These two photos were given to me by my eldest brother (David) around the time we burried Dad - or at least in the immediate aftermath; I can't exactly remember.
I think they are pretty much the very first and the very last of the images we ever had of him. David took the latter (shown here on the left) as a portrait shot, I think he had this published in Black & White magazine. And I think the shot on the right is Dad holding David as a baby. I do remember the first camera in the family was a Polaroid Land Swinger, a christmas present for David (surely?) one year; but I doubt any shots from it have survived.
These prints are a little battered after spending almost 20 years in my wallet...
From Rob via Patti
In 2010 our Christmas present from my younger-older brother (Rob) and his wife (Patti) was a book on the family history, most extensively researched by Patti I think. It took me a few years to actually sit down and read it - I have always considered the past to be an enemy; but now that I am all grown-up I have read it and found it to be quite fascinating. It isn't on general release so this little snapshot is all that you get.
April wrote the following poem on the theme of 'Fathers' and this has been published in the To Dads With Love anthology, which you can buy!
I really like this poem from April, but it is all the more striking for me that - without knowledge of each other's work at the time - we have chosen such similar structures; as though the two poems were somehow of one voice!
Smiling Eyes and Cigarette Smoke
Smiling eyes and cigarette smoke.
My hand in his rough work hardened glove.
Long strides and quick steps just to keep up.
Love, the one word he always gave.
Smiling eyes and cigarette smoke.
Hard times for a working man.
No work, no food he does all he is able.
Love pours from him to me and the clan.
Smiling eyes and Cigarette smoke.
A second career and university begin.
Essays and assignments not easy for him.
Love for his family keep him focused on the win.
Smiling eyes and cigarette smoke.
Debates with academics about ordinary humankind.
Chats in the kitchen keep us up to date with it all.
Love in his eyes forever in my mind.
Smiling eyes and cigarette smoke.
Beating heart fails and it cannot mend.
Swift and terrible he loses his life.
Love his legacy that will never end.
Yeah okay, so this page is all about dad so I'm using my full and given name here - note the lack of an 'h'...
There is no doubt that my Dad's influence pervades much of my work - most especially the writing. Christmas Miracle is clearly of and for him - written after some long years when time tempers pain by its aneasthetic effect on memory.
Here's three more poems that speak directly to my parents. The first I wrote pretty much on the day of Dad's death, reciting it at the wake and popping the hand-written version into the grave along with the casket, so that the ground may be filled with something other than mortal decay. The second a more measured epitaph. And the third? A sweet little rememberance of Mother...