Daughter

Slowly the sun goes down

Splashing dying embers

In her mane

Of untamed hair

With regret he pulls down the shades

To keep the scented summer

Fragrant with life

Outside

A subdued light

Tinged with tiny pools of dark

Invades

Her domain

Sleep softens her features further

He – the faithful sentinel watching over

his delicate flower –

Can’t help but fret

His chest feels tight

Aware the world

Will reach out with eager fingers

She will know hurt

He will contemplate murder

But for now the princess,

Just turned seven

Dreams still intact, untouched

Rests peacefully

He kisses her sweet cheek

Pulls back the covers

One last look, lingering, tender

For now she’s safe

Her innocence preserved

*Photograph found on Pinterest, try as I might I couldn’t find anyone to credit for it*

P.S. for whatever reason, WordPress is not letting me reply to older comments so I apologise to anyone who’s left thoughts on previous posts – I didn’t mean to ignore you, honest!

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Thursday Thoughts

Nobody wishes to be cannon fodder,

nobody wants to constantly bleed for others

Even the most selfless sometimes need to be handled with care

If they falter, fail, if they break, them with the patience of a saint,

there is nothing left. No hope. No faith.

And so Sisyphus rolls his boulder.

*I’m still here, though I haven’t got much to share, or maybe I have too much. While I ponder this further, some pics from last night — 2am selfie madness.*

Unrepentant

Somebody who follows me on Twitter – no idea why since they object to pretty much everything I say on there – asked me yesterday why I was always angry. Well, I’m not ALWAYS but it’s inevitable I should sometimes be in the current climate since, you know, I don’t go through life like a mindless robot.

No apologies for that.

I’m definitely too old for the number of Brainy t-shirts I own, but: I identify – I can be as annoying as he is but I’m unrepentant about using my brain.

The Importance of Reading Books

Please go and like the original post, thank you.

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

Life doesn’t happen in chapters — at least, not regular ones. Nor do movies. Homer didn’t write in chapters. I can see what their purpose is in children’s books (“I’ll read to the end of the chapter, and then you must go to sleep”) but I’m blessed if I know what function they serve in books for adults. — Sir Terry Pratchet

I’m aware that this title appears to be advertising the bookshop of Berkshire’s leading commuter town, but it’s been drawn to my attention by no one that I’ve been so busy blogging about writing books that I’ve not looked at how to read the blasted things. Every reader knows how to buy  books – see a previous blog : https://lifeassistanceagency.com/2018/12/28/how-to-buy-books/ –  but reading them is an art form itself.  In a modern world of boxsets, bagels and Brexit it’s a wonder anyone is reading, yet the literary…

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Modern Journalism for a Modern Society

 

A story in three photos –

In the issue of 12-17 April, the New Statesman published an article by George Eaton, joint deputy editor, on the Conservative philosopher Roger Scruton.

On April 10th, George Eaton tweeted what he called “a series of outrageous remarks” by Roger Scruton. The four tweets by George Eaton certainly had an immediate effect on social media – racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia: Roger Scruton was guilty of it all according to Eaton.

Only the supposed quotes from Roger Scruton seemed to be wholly out of context and appeared to have been manipulated. Did anybody try to find out whether Roger Scruton had actually said any of the things he was accused of saying? No. This is not how things work anymore.

There was a twitter storm and it raged for a while.

The Labour Party and several leading Conservative figures immediately demanded that ministers remove Scruton from his unpaid position as chairman of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful commission.

A mere four hours after the article appeared, James Brokenshire, the housing secretary, dismissed Scruton. Without talking to him, without asking for his side of the story. James Brokenshire sacked Roger Scruton based on a series of inflammatory tweets, and nothing else.

Eaton posted on his personal Instagram account a picture of himself drinking champagne, clearly as way of celebration.

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If anybody was in any doubt that Roger Scruton had been the victim of a hit-job, this was proof, of sorts.

(George Eaton later deleted and apologised for the Instagram post.)

Luckily there are still people with honour and integrity in the journalism world. Douglas Murray (I adore him), a friend of Roger Scruton took up the fight to clear the philosopher’s name. He repeatedly called for the full transcript of the interview to be published, a call that was not answered. Meanwhile, George Eaton had suddenly gone very quiet on social media.

 

Eventually, Douglas Murray somehow got his hands on the transcript of the interview which revealed Roger Scruton had been smeared in the most appalling fashion. He had been deliberately misrepresented, his reputation tarnished by…a journalist… who works for a major magazine. Is it any wonder people don’t trust the mainstream media anymore?

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I can’t even begin to explain how angry this whole debacle made me. As a person who values truth, integrity – as a qualified journalist myself who was told every single day without fail when I was training that: “accuracy is everything” – I was disgusted by it all. I still am, actually.

I was ecstatic when Douglas Murray published his article clearing Roger Scruton. So much so I indulged in being petty and replicated the ‘George Eaton gloating champagne pic’ for Twitter – twice – with the caption: “The feeling when Douglas Murray exposes the duplicity of George Eaton in an excellent piece that should hopefully deter other ‘journalists’ from distorting, lying and trying to destroy the reputation of anyone, let alone one of our finest minds.”

Petty? Yes, but I couldn’t resist. incidentally, that second pic is the first drunk pic of me to ever make it on the internet (Facebook doesn’t count)

 

I had booked tickets to go and see Roger Scruton and Douglas Murray talk in London before George Eaton published his ‘article.’ I had been looking forward to it but the event took on a special importance after the scandal. The evening wasn’t just about listening to two highly interesting people anymore, it was about showing support for a man with a very fine mind who had been needlessly demonised.

And it was a delightful evening – I was (without exaggeration) glowing when I left. Roger Scruton came on and was given a standing ovation. The love and respect for the philosopher in the room was almost tangible. He touched on the whole scandalous story of course, without bitterness – he was actually wonderfully magnanimous considering he hasn’t received a proper apology from anyone who was so quick to condemn him based on nothing more substantial than a few tweets. 

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I have to ask: what kind of a society have we become when journalists deliberately entrap others, when journalists are happy to lie, to smear, to demonise…and to gloat about the result of such despicable actions. When people in governments make decisions to sack someone without knowing the full story, without even bothering to speak to the person they employ, a person who has an outstanding reputation as a philosopher and writer.

I am so angry about the left’s methods which have gathered momentum in the last couple of years. No debate, but lies instead. No discussion but name-calling.

If they can do this to a respected philosopher, what chance do the rest of us have?

After a prolonged absence, George Eaton is back – he has apparently been demoted but the real scandal is the fact he wasn’t actually sacked. He is a disgrace to journalism and clearly an appalling human being. Journalists have always been guilty of bias, they’ve always been known to flirt with misrepresentation and even lies…but we’ve achieved a whole new level of deception that is just unacceptable.

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We are living in dark times, anybody who cares about truth and freedom of speech should be very worried – we have a duty to fight back against this tidal wave of sheer hysteria, self-righteousness and authoritarianism that has infected everything. 

Game of Thrones: all style and no substance

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Game of Thrones…

WHY?

Why do this to us? We invested so much into the show and have been treated with utter contempt in return.

Let’s start with Daenerys. So many people are spitting mad she is now “the insane queen”.

I’m sorry, but she was always destined to become exactly that. The only problem I have with her burning everything to the ground is that this season was incredibly rushed and we don’t see the progression of her state of mind clearly enough. But it was always on the cards. Dany has consistently shown pride and arrogance, an utter belief in her “right” to rule. She never showed any mercy in the past when she thought people didn’t accept her birth right. She ultimately suffers from that god-awful self-righteousness that affects so many people who see themselves as “good” – they make the best tyrants because they believe that anything is justified when it comes to ridding the world from “bad” people. God knows I’ve seen enough of this in real life in the last 2 years, I’ve been abused and bullied by so many who preach “love, not hate” simply because I disagree with them. That’s not kindness, it’s a horrifying sense of their own moral superiority which drives them. But I digress, revenons à nos moutons.

Jon Snow or Aegon Targaryen…it makes no difference: he knows nothing. I have grown so annoyed with him in the last few episodes. Leaving aside the fact there’s NO chemistry between him and Dany and their relationship has been unbelievable from the start and no more than a convenient plot point, what the hell was he doing indulging a woman who clearly cares more about the throne than their relationship? Also, does it not strike anyone as odd that incest has not been mentioned at all, not at any point since Jon discovered who he really was? Not once. Dany immediately begged him not to tell anyone, he refused at which point she turned frostier than all the combined ice queens throughout history…but he or she never said: oh, hey, we’re family and we’re…you know…having sex…maybe we should think about that…FOR AT LEAST A COUPLE OF SECONDS! But no, clearly incest is fine in this case even though the whole realm was in bits over Cersei and Jaime…okay.

So Jon watched with a stupid expression on his face when Dany started to let loose in the city and her ‘army’ suddenly turned into bloodthirsty savages. The breaker of chains was now a burner of children and Jon was nonplussed, as if he really, REALLY didn’t see that coming.

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I have championed Jon for years, but this last season has led me to think that maybe he doesn’t deserve the throne anymore than that crazy arrogant bitch does. That’s an exaggeration actually, but he better redeem himself by killing her in the last episode – I won’t be satisfied with anything less.

As for Tyrion. He’s meant to be a smart man, he’s been one of my favourite characters because of it…and yet, he betrays Varys and chooses the wrong side …then we have to endure the camera lingering on his shocked and horrified face…what I was doing when that happened was shouting (quietly, it was almost 3am and other reasonable people in my house were sleeping) “what are you looking so shocked about? Is it because you realise you misplaced your brain?? You stupid fuck!”

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The fact he also thought Cersei would “give up” if she thought the city was lost made no sense whatsoever. Does he NOT know his sister by now??

Varys…he deserved better, he really did. Again, if they hadn’t rushed this season we would have seen him think long and hard about whether Dany was fit to rule or not…he might have agonised over it…it would have taken time because, well, these things do and it’s Varys ffs, he isn’t the type to be impatient or make decisions in haste…and yet from one episode to the next he decided the woman he had gone through so much to support wasn’t actually right for the role he had envisioned for her and he went straight to Jon with this…absolutely ridiculously stupid.

Are we REALLY meant to believe Varys would immediately betray Dany and that Tyrion would also immediately betray Varys?? Give us some credit, it flies in the face of everything we know about the characters.

The dragons…last week we lost one in about 20 seconds as a ballista seemed super accurate and destructive. Three shots managed to bring down a powerful moving target…JUST LIKE THAT.

Never mind the fact Dany and her advisers should have been prepared for some kind of attack as they were nearing King’s Landing, NEVER MIND THAT, nobody thinks anymore because the writers wanted to be done with Game of Thrones once and for all…so last week we lost a dragon quickly and effortlessly, there was no strategy in place, no scouts had been sent ahead like they’ve been since the dawn of time in those kind of, you know, WAR situations. Fast forward to last night and a ballista is ALL OF A SUDDEN totally ineffective – like it should have been last week – and the last remaining dragon now has a super duper instinct and is dodging everything aimed at it with NO problem whatsoever. Hmmm, ok.

Cersei…waiting with a faint smile on her face, confident af and I have to tell you, I was SURE she had some kind of brilliant plan in place. She must have had, right? She’s displayed such cunning in the past, she’s smart, there’s no way she’d just wait for a dragon to come swooping down burning everything to the ground…right?

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WRONG. Turns out there was NO plan, none whatsoever. The wildfire that had been put to such good use in the past may as well not have existed. Oh, it appeared, but as an afterthought, because the dragon ignited it as it was rampaging through the city. Could I have rolled my eyes any harder?? 

I was asked to believe that this brilliant if flawed woman had lost her capacity for thinking too. No, no and no. Come the fuck on.

So I watched as the confident smile turned into a worried frown… then into a face betraying fear…then eventually into tears. Lena Headey is SUCH a brilliant actress, she can convey more with her face than most people with pages of dialogue…she deserved SO much better than this.

Jaime…that fight with Euron (how the fuck did he survive btw, another stupid thing in a long line of them) was contrived and utterly ridiculous…he somehow found his way to Cersei at the end of it…and he died with the woman he loved in his arms. How touching. But wait…THAT Jaime who knighted Brienne and had sex with her? That Jaime who stayed behind in Winterfell until he SUDDENLY decided he had to go and be with the love of his life after all?? Yeah, that one, because the writers yet again wanted to end all this as quickly as possible and destroyed all the character building that had gone on for entire seasons.

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My favourite bit last night was the scene between Tyrion and Jaime btw, it reminded me of a time when GoT actually made sense and could be emotional and didn’t try hard to steamroll my favourite characters.

CleganeBowl was great too but once again it was part of an episode that packed far too much in. It kind of diminished something that had been coming for a LONG time.

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I’m not sure what they were doing with Arya, I think that after she – kind of quickly and easily gave up on her revenge plans – served mainly as a witness to the horrors visited upon King’s Landing’s inhabitants…all the people Dany is supposed to care about, the poor, the powerless, the REAL people.

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I most probably left lots of stuff out, but to conclude: last night’s episode LOOKED great: the dragon unleashing hell, the carnage, the blood, the buildings collapsing, the people screaming, the burning bodies, the ash, the dust…visually, I can’t really fault it. But that’s all it was, style and no substance. Which might satisfy some people but most of us care a great deal more about content.

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I am so, SO disappointed by this last season. I spent the time during the breaks and after the episode messaging with people who all, without any exception, felt as pissed off as I did. We felt CHEATED.

I read this on Twitter and it echoed my own thoughts so much, I’m ending this rant with it:

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For anybody who wants a more measured review, you can check out Tom’s blog: Game of Thrones: The Final Season (NO spoilers)

How to live with Writer’s Block.

By Tom, about writer’s block – please go and like the original, thank you 🙂

Idle blogs of an idle fellow

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all”
Charles Bukowski

What awful timing, or perhaps it’s related. My new novel UnfinishedBusiness is published and I’m struck down by what feels like something I don’t want to name, no, not a STD, but writer’s block. Despite a launch party last night that included four Spanish women without  word of english to their name arriving to buy a signed copy of the novel for one of their brothers, I’m looking at Unfinished Business with the sense it was a fluke; never to be repeated.

I can’t recall if I’ve written about writer’s block before, I must’ve blocked it out, which is exactly the sort of crap joke that suggests it’s time to step away from the keyboard and do something else. Anything. Just stop writing. Mind you writers aren’t capable of much else, unless it’s the…

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Midnight Remorse ~ Remord de Minuit

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I get off my throne 

Take off my clothes

I keep my crown

My silver bangles

Get down on the floor

Crawl

A slow

Deliberate animal

I lick my lips, shake my hair

I can see your hands tremble 

Such are our desires

An urge, intense and primal

To play predator and prey 

At times you are my slave

Others I am yours 

We revel

In filth and shame 

Games of pleasure and pain

Now

You stand over me 

Still statue carved in stone

Silent with burning eyes

 

You are already mine – 

 

But my submission 

Its meaning 

My legendary pride 

Discarded

For you, thrown aside

A queen purposefully brought low 

 

makes you even more so

 

Placing the final piece in the puzzle

So complicated and yet so simple

The contract that binds 

Is the one left unsigned

Your hand on my throat 

My fingers in your mouth 

The sharp intake of breath

I expect 

When you’re on the edge

When I know you’re close

Tomorrow

And the days after

I will bleed into your thoughts

Seep in little by little 

Until

The need 

To taste me again 

Takes over 

Colours

With crimson red over monochrome 

Controls

You – body, mind and soul because

 

Mine is the name you can’t say

I am the secret you can’t share

What should have been sunset-lit

But instead

I am your midnight remorse

Je suis ton remord de minuit 

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Once

We escaped gloomy cages

Breathed new air outside the musty pages

Of the books we’d sheltered in

For so long

We were bewitching birds brought back for a single song

Dried butterflies,

Wings untied,

Briefly swelling with life

Drunk on sun & scented promises

The sweet sound of stolen kisses

For a little while, we were allowed

To fly once more – high, above the clouds

It didn’t last

It never does

Alas everything must die

Go back to ashes and dust

But,

I’ll always remember

How once we emerged

From the cocoon of past winters

Notre-Dame

I watched Notre-Dame burn yesterday, I cried and I had to turn away from it – I couldn’t bear it. I read this by the always excellent Douglas Murray, it encapsulates everything I feel and think – he is much more eloquent that I could ever be. This is Douglas for The Spectator: link to the original article is here: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/notre-dames-loss-is-too-much-to-bear/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

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Civilisation only ever hangs by a thread. Today one of those threads seems to have frayed, perhaps snapped. It is impossible to watch the footage coming out of Paris. Like videos of pornographic violence, all that can be done is to groan and turn away. It is not possible to watch the spire of Notre Dame collapse. It is not possible to watch the great cathedral consumed by fire.

Evelyn Waugh once said that in the event of a fire in his house, if he was able only to save his children or his library, he would save his library because books were irreplaceable. Only at a moment such as this is it possible to concede the slightest truth in that remark. Almost anything could be borne rather than the loss of this building.

There will be recriminations, of course. There will be disputes about budgets, and overtime and safety standards and much more. It is worth reading this piece from two years ago about the funding problems that existed around the cathedral’s restoration. But if Notre Dame can burn then all this is as nothing, because it tells us something too deep to bear. As I said a couple of years ago in a book, in some way the future of civilisation in Europe will be decided on what our attitude is towards the great churches and other cultural buildings of our heritage standing in our midst. Do we contend with them, hate them, ignore them, engage with them or continue to revere them? Do we preserve them?

Though politicians may imagine that ages are judged on the minutiae of government policy, they are not. They are judged on what they leave behind: most of all on how they treat what the past has handed into their care. Even if today’s disaster was simply the most freakish of accidents, ours would still be the era that lost Notre Dame.

We would have to tell future generations what it was like, this treasure that we lost. At the start of this decade I was living part of each week in Paris, commuting back and forth to a little flat on the edge of Le Marais. Each time I headed out to the earliest Eurostar on a Monday morning I would see the great cathedral first as I turned into the street. One winter morning heavy snow was falling and as I headed to the station I stopped dead, alone in the street with the cathedral and just drinking in the sight of a building I had seen a hundred times before. When I got into London a friend could see I was just beaming still, radiating far too much joy for such a time of the week. He asked how I was and I remember simply saying, ‘This morning I saw Notre Dame in the snow’. It was like that.