Hello Raccoonistas. I have been away for a while. Some things have diverted me. But I could not let this weekend pass without a voice. 70 years since the end of the Second World War. I want to ponder that for a moment. In a way I was brought up with it very much in mind. My father in this present incarnation – still going strong at 92 – fought from Normandy to Germany, where eventually he was blown up, with the people around him killed, one sliced in two. His survival was a matter of luck, of how the shrapnel spread and where he was standing at the time. He never talks about it, but it was firmly inculcated in my mind, by what process I am not sure. Maybe it was comics like “The Victor” or the “Commando” books which did it. They were still standard stuff when I was growing up in the 70’s.
PTSD was not invented in those days, so my father, like many others came home to be told – thanks, job done. Cheerio, here is a cheap suit. And he just had to get on with it, which he did. But the echoes still remain. I kind of inherited it. He killed a young man his own age at point-blank range (outside a farmhouse in Normandy, actually) and still feels the guilt for the death, even though it was kill or be killed. He went through the man’s pockets afterwards. That was not glory hunting, it was orders – there could have been a map or a scrap of information. He found a set of rosary beads and photo of the man’s wife. My father is a strict Catholic. I am told my father told my mother – I felt I had killed myself. That guilt has echoed, indirectly, into my life. It just does. All that blood, effort, poverty, sacrifice. If I had a thousand pages, I could not do justice to it. In a war to defeat ideologies of supremacy, anti-science, cruelty, violence and vicious cruelty, the free nations of the world joined to face forces of extreme darkness. Thank God.
And what now, 70 years after? It is not long, in historical terms. Now, I don’t get political very often here. I am not sure of my “rightness” and I am not clever enough. But today I will. The word “betrayal” is a dangerous word – it has been used too often by people trying to exploit differences and promote hate. But, just for once I am going to get political. There are those who openly espouse the imposition of Sharia Law in this country. They say the Black Flag of Islam will fly over No. 10 Downing Street, and maybe it will, unless people get their act together. The world faces a Death Cult and the government deplete our armed forces. It seems powerless to control our borders from migrants, many of whom are probably decent people, but many of whom are probably not. The BBC toes the liberal line and refers endlessly to the “so called” Islamic State. Meanwhile, young men who have fought for this country in Afghanistan or Iraq sleep under bridges. This is a betrayal of those people who suffered, bled and died, is wicked. I truly despise The Establishment.
No way, Jose
Meanwhile, as a sort of football fan, I have been up in arms this week. Jose Mourinho, the “Special One”, has been in fine form of late, dismissing his club doctor and physio from the bench because they ran on the pitch and treated a player after the player fell over and seemed hurt and the ref invited them on. Like many, I am very keen on injured Chelsea players. I do like to see a Chelsea player fall over and roll about. This is not an anti-Chelsea thing, or a weird grudge. That is because the Chelsea club doctor who comes running on when one of the multi millionaire mercenaries falls over and breaks a nail or scrapes his knee is one Doctor Eva Carneiro. Doctor Carneiro is a very highly qualified medic and has played a big role in keeping Chelsea’s squad fit, and bringing home the silverware. However, Doctor Carneiro is also rather…well this is embarrassing… and not very “PC”….she is also…well, ahem…rather “hot”. Sorry for the everyday sexism, but as the saying goes, or used to go, she’s fit as a butcher’s dog, frankly.
The subtext to all the coverage surrounding Chelsea and Jose’s suspension of Doctor Carneiro this week is that it was all motivated by sexism. I think the sub text is that the interest is motivated by something much more unfashionable – chivalry. People (like me) don’t like to see a woman, and yes, particularly a very attractive woman, being hung out to dry for doing her job because the manager doesn’t want to take responsibility for what he or his Russian paymaster might regard as a poor result. I have often thought of Mourinho as an engaging character with charm, clever and talented at what he does. But there is a dark side to The Special One, a Special Petulance. You probably need a ruthless side to get to the top on a tough business: see Ferguson A on that one. But Jose has crossed the line on this one. Dr Eva was doing her job, as far as I can see. Indeed, I can imagine it must be quite hard being (a) female and (b) so easy on the eye in such an immature, loutish, male dominated sport. And no, I wouldn’t give a whatsit if Dr Eva didn’t make me go all “gooey” every time she runs on to tend a metatarsal. But what’s wrong with a little good old-fashioned chivalry?
And speaking of going “gooey”, I have the most massive crush on someone. It’s a girl. I mean, she’s a girl. Well I mean. Oh hang on, it’s hopeless. I can’t write. See – that’s what it’s doing to me. She is blond, tall, charming, bright as a button and utterly beautiful. And the worst of it is, she is very kind and happy to talk with me. I bought a book yesterday (Anthony Beevor, “Ardennes 1944” – masterful and compelling) and she was asking what I had bought and talking about her love of thrillers. However, the problem is I appear to lose the power of coherent speech and thought in her vicinity. I either end up mumbling, so she can’t hear what I say, or saying something so inane and nondescript that it makes me cringe afterwards. It’s embarrassing. So in my mind it goes something like: “I want to tell you something. You are so beautiful it breaks my heart just to look at you” and what comes out is: “Oh hi, nice to be you…sorry, see you. I’m just off to buy a new hole-puncher. Bye.” It’s quite sweet, in its own way. Ah, well. I don’t know what I’m going to do about it. For now, just comfort eat dark chocolate digestives and worry about my waistline.
Pennies from heaven
Finally, things have been a bit tight on the financial front lately, and I was a bit down about it. Anyway, I came across a video on YouTube which caused me to try an experiment. Just imagine that you can find pennies, the speaker suggested, and imagine that when you find the penny you feel great, terrific. Then go about your business as usual; and when you do find a penny, privately celebrate as if you had won the lottery. Out of interest, I decided to give this a go. I spent a little while imagining finding a penny, and imagining feeling great and celebrating. And then off to the gym I toddled. Later that morning I came to pick up my phone from the ledge where I had left it. Next to it, was there a penny? No, there was not. There was a shiny 5 pence piece. It was odd, because I had not seen anything there when I put my phone down. I decided to quietly celebrate on the basis that I had been provided by someone, or something, with five times what I had asked for.
I have persisted in this strange experiment. And I keep finding loose change. For example, I went to the automated checkout in Tesco – and there was a pile of change lying waiting for me in the bowl thing. I was having coffee in town yesterday, and when I went to the rest room there was loose change all over the floor. My conscious mind keeps saying “well that’s just a coincidence” and “it’s just because you’re looking”” and so forth. But another part of my mind says: no, it’s not just that, and persist. It is explicable in the sense that the mind has been attuned to find what I instructed it to find. Even if that is the only explanation it is intriguing. On another level, it suggests that the relationship between our minds and the universe is more mysterious than we have been taught to believe, and that our expectations shape our reality. This, then, is the nature of faith. If this can happen with pennies, must it stop there? I shall continue this experiment.
By the way, if there any typos above – sorry. (A) I’m love struck and gaga, and (b) I am rushing about today!
Gildas the Monk