Death and Taxes

Two things are seemingly certain in life – death and taxes. Both can be cheated to a limited extent but inevitably they take their toll, the former ending life and the latter depriving people of a proportion of their wealth and earnings. Continue reading

Mark Anthony Lied

Good men and women die every day. Their loved ones mourn and remember them but for those who are famous there is a rapid lament and they are forgotten. Mark Anthony claimed that the evil that men do lives after them and the good is oft interred with their bones. Mark Anthony lied. Continue reading

Heroes and Villains

I heard of a man who died fighting for the Kurdish Militia in Syria. His death was portrayed as heroic, but death in battle is never heroic, merely messy and squalid. I heard of a man, said to have been quiet and bullied when young who specialises now in executing by beheading people whose only purpose in being executed is to shock and terrify those watching.
For some the man is a villain, but for others a hero.
Women make the choice; The “with it or on it” (ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς) taunt of the Spartan womenfolk to their men before they went to war meaning come back carrying their shields, or dead being carried on their shields. The women, usually mothers, gave the choice to their children of dying like a hero or living like a villain.

Eventually every fighter will die or come home or find a place that becomes their home and the places that are home will be full of heroes and villains who will be the same people viewed with different eyes.
The old song comes to mind
“Once at night the cotillion squared the fight
And she was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually brought her down
But she’s still dancing in the night
Unafraid of what a dude will do in a town full of heroes and villains”.

Time and the Good Earth

Another day comes and will pass, with the turning of te earth. In the east, where we see the morning sun on the horizon, days arrive earlier han they come in the west, which shows us the sun vanishing on the horizon.  Continue reading

Death is No Respecter of the Virtuous

When we die how long shall we be mourned and how long shall we be remembered? Perhaps it does not matter. After all, our chances of living were very emote – more remote than winning the grandest lottery and perhaps that is what we did in any event when the single sperm that was once us out of 600 million companions found by strength or chance its home to create our life. Continue reading

A Pilgrimage

Yesterday was a day for a pilgrimage. My journey was very short but its purpose was sweetly bitter. Old men die in winter, the old man’s friend and in winter I visit the cemetery to think about one old man who died, who was once young, vibrant and knew so much of life and one younger woman who knew death first, and knew it well.

The advice to rage was badly given; those who are dying should not rage; rage is for those who watch. Some words have a beauty which forgives the quality of what they mean.

The cemetery is always cold when I visit. The perfumes of death are sad. In honouring the dead we honour our lives, stretched still, fading and piteous as the headstones.

The Music That She Left Behind

Death is never far from us. It is more likely than not that someone you will meet today will have had a friend or relation who recently died. Sometimes death comes unexpectedly, as it did to the girl who begged someone to dance with her, in the nineteen seventies and wrote a sad song about it.  Continue reading

The Gentle Rain

Until now the summer in London has been hot and fine but today there is a cold rain in August which will be followed by a cold wind in August. The weather of London is not the worst problem in the world, but of course the things that affect us most immediately are the things that grab our attention. It is caused by the remnants of a Floridian hurricane; natuer shaped little by the hand of man.

If I lived in Gaza I would fear bombs, not wind, and if I lived in Iraq I would fear death not just by bombs but also by bullets and beheading. These events are shaped by the ambition and greed of humanity.

The rain is gentle, even the heaviest rain.  Humanity is unforgiving, ruthless and harsh.

Life is Sweet, While it Lasts

A hundred years ago today a great war started. It led, inevitably to a second great war. Millions of souls were perished and acts of terror were committed by both sides. Today solemn events are being held to commemorate the dead, their sacrifices and those events inevitably add a touch of honour and glory to those who killed and were killed by others.  Continue reading


We have all been distracted. Distraction is a wonderful thing; it soothes our minds away from the things that we should care about and points our thinking in the direction of what we want, not what we need. It is a tart, rather than a mistress, gratifying for a while and then no more. Continue reading