Snipers On My Roof?

Just a couple weeks ago we all saw the POTUS being released from hospital and returned by helicopter to the White House. He’s supposed to have had Covid-19 symptoms. D’you think it was the virus? A lotta folks do, they feel really sorry for him and so proud that he is still battling on to get re-elected in a week’s time, even while suffering from a deadly infection. He is, without doubt, their absolute bestie. 

I’m pretty open minded about it all. Sure, he could have had symptoms, I’ve had symptoms, my friends have had symptoms, the folks in the next street have had symptoms. We all did what any sensible person would do. We stayed home and kept away from other folks. Even if we’d wanted to make a fuss and find out for sure, it would have been difficult. Tests are hard to come by. The general advice from the Covid-19 helpline is to self-isolate for fourteen days; by then it should be pretty obvious if you’re okay or not okay. So that’s how it works, in the UK and, I guess, other places, too.

But wouldn’t it be great if you had a few potential symptoms and you could get taken to the hospital or clinic, chauffeur driven, and given an amazing cocktail of drugs, so effective that within days, you were back to full health, without even a fever or a little hoarseness of voice? That would be something.

And then, imagine that you could be collected from the hospital by helicopter and taken straight back home to your folks, and that there would even be snipers on your rooftop, just in case some dangerous person decided to take a pot-shot at you. And, of course, that this would all be live-streamed on television, so the whole world could see how brave, important and self-sacrificing you were. That would be unbelievable. 

But, suppose for a minute, just maybe you didn’t have the virus after all. And that all that hospital fuss and helicopter hullaballoo and assigning snipers and huge publicity and live stream television would have been pointless. Except that maybe the publicity would have got everyone rooting for you. 

But once it turned out you weren’t really sick, wouldn’t somebody be chasing you to pay back all the money wasted on something that wasn’t even for real? Just saying… 

 

It’s the only World we’ve got

Terrible things have happened before – take the Great War, that was pretty terrible. The Spanish Flu that came after, the Bubonic Plague back in the Middle Ages. World War 2, the Holocaust, more recent. Thing is, human history of our blue planet is a litany of terrible things happening.

So how come we got though all this terribleness more or less intact? The human race is still here, still destroying itself and the planet. But alive and, seemingly, thriving. Seems like even when we have real dumb-ass types in charge, humanity finds a way of stepping back from the brink. 

Trump is gonna lose, I’ll bet my own money on it. And, though the US is in a real shit-storm right now, decent people will take over and work hard to repair the divisions he has wrought. It will take time, of course it will, and no doubt many people will still lose their lives, either from Trumps’s denial of the pandemic or the precariousness of being a person of colour in a nation where that seems to be like a red flag to so many, even some law-enforcers. Maybe especially some law-enforcers.

And in the UK, the next election will see the defeat of the Tories, hopefully for many years. It will, I’m depending on it. The bean counters will be ousted. Humanity will prevail and quasi-dictatorship will give way to actual democracy once more. When that happens, it will present an opportunity for the UK to demonstrate to the US the many benefits of socialism. Right now US citizens are brainwashed into thinking socialism represents a repressive state. But what could be more repressive than free market capitalism? Basically the slogan for this kind of political belief is, ‘Bugger You, Jack, I’m All Right’. We need to return to the teachings of Beveridge and Buddhism. The current global ‘dollar worship’ isn’t working for people, wildlife or the natural world.

So when you see the sun low in the sky, know that it will rise again, if we help to keep it rising. We need to follow all those old fashioned sayings of cutting our carbon, loving our neighbours, caring for and loving our planet and not destroying it with waste and nuclear weapons. Don’t think that someone else will do this stuff, for there is no one here but us. 

For sure, we are feeling low right now, we have been buffeted by gust after gust of lies, disorder, broken promises. But we must not turn away and wait for someone to come rescue us. We have to take a long clear look at our world, decide how we can help to maintain it, reject the current mendacious forces keeping us in fear, and stand up to the Terrible. Together, with love in our hearts for each other and our world, is the only way we can win through.   

Some Characters – Tolstoy versus Turgenev

I’be been reading a book by Richard Cohen, entitled How to Write like Tolstoy. Now, I don’t especially want to write like anybody, I want to write like me and set my own example for others to follow. But when I noticed that the book was endorsed by twice Booker Prize winner Hilary Mantel, I thought there might be something in it. If you have read Wolf Hall, you’ll get my drift.

The book follows the usual How To rules with chapters on beginnings, characters, point of view, etc.. The chapter on characters I found particularly enlightening and amusing. It seems that there was a rivalry between two masters of literature – Tolstoy and Turgenev – about the creation of characters. Turgenev allegedly didn’t speak to Tolstoy for several years because he thought Tolstoy was better than him at creating characters.

How brilliant is that? Here are these two incredible writers, creators of Anna Karenina (Tolstoy) and Fathers and Sons (Turgenev), who were so competitive and jealous that they behaved like schoolboys over who excelled in character creation. Tolstoy (allegedly) showed off and Turgenev (allegedly) couldn’t stand his contemporary’s superior ability at characterisation.

Cohen refers to a story, it may be apocryphal, about the two men playing together on a seesaw, forcing each other to soar higher and higher, until… well, he doesn’t actually finish the story. But the point is clear. How childish, how relatable, how much this story will be understood by every fiction writer. How totally human.

Fiction writing is all about character. Create an unforgettable character, you’ve cracked it. Think Madame Bovary, Humbert Humbert and Lolita, Dr Zhivago, or, departing the Russian Masters for a moment, Scarlett O’Hara, James Bond, Indiana Jones, Gollum. These are characters who will live in your imagination as strongly as members of your own family.

Have a look at How to Write Like Tolstoy: there are some little gems you might find useful in your own writing.

The New New

Uh-oh! WordPress has been upgrading and improving again. As I haven’t posted anything for about eighteen months, I’m up the creek, paddle less. Nothing else for it but to jump right in, so here we go…

So, should I create a public profile? Do I want to share my words of wisdom and a photograph of my fizzog with my followers? What have they done to deserve that shock! Why would I want to be visible?

Well, many moons ago, when the earth was young and flat, I decided to become a writer and write stuff. Anyone can dream, can’t they? And a wise old Yoda told me that I would need a blog, to publicise my words and show the world how it’s done. Or not, as the case may be.

So you’ve seen some words: now what about that photo?