Poets' Corner

HERE FOR HOLIDAY MONDAY is my own little dead poets' society ~ reading their own work. If you don't like the words, you might like some of the visuals. Not everything I looked for I could find a decent version of. So I'm sorry about the "modern art" sound effects over Thomas Sterns Eliot.

Starting with the best:
T S Eliot: Little Gidding

with the immortal line:

ash on an old man's sleeve
is all the ash burnt roses leave ...




WILFRED OWEN: DULCE ET DECORUM EST
Jeremy Paxman is like a rude, British, male version of Barbara Walters. This is why he sees fit to have his own say first:



Sylvia Plath: Lady Lazarus
I didn't expect American-born, highly neurotic Plath to sound so authoritative... or so English. Not all poets are expert at reading their own work.
Sylvia Plath lived for many years (and died) married to Ted Hughes (poet laureate 1984-1998) in the UK.
She is boasting here about surviving her own suicide attempts.
She died with her head in the oven in 1963
This verse was published posthumously:



OK this isn't read by the poet but it's good.
INSOMNIAC

No drugs for dinner

I'M HUNGRY...


Not for that...
I've food on the brains.



These Fox's Viennese chocolate melts...



...were very nice dunked in tea the other morning.


Flapper usually isn't far from his cherry tree or the neighbours' luxury TV aerial 10 houses down. When he sees me he takes off... Flapper by name, Flapper by nature...


Chinese chicken curry is calling my name!
But at £6.20 with egg fry rice it's too expensive, and it's too late in the day for a combination box...


So I'm going Southern Fried instead!


Flapper is back!


FEATHERY FRIDAY ON SATURDAY...

It started with a faint coo at 05:18 hours, when I thought I was dreaming. But he's definitely back. Yes! Flapper's back up the cherry-tree and has been advertising his presence with loud coo-cooing all morning!

Whatever he's been up to (and he really did disappear yesterday) I have no idea of knowing. But he's cooing away so much I'm sure he's trying to tell me...

Forget German... French... Double-Dutch. Perhaps I should be learning to speak Pigeon!

History of Heroin....


I HAVE BEEN conducting research into the tale of opium and heroin production and use... what a convoluted tale it is! The following post is simply a digest of what I found out... I hope someone manages to follow it to the end!

One pattern I heard about and we can all see repeated time and time over: when America goes into drug source-countries, rather than seeing these drugs destroyed ~ what happens, but a gigantic INCREASE in the amount of narcotics sheipped west.

But not just west. Wherever these drugs touch ground, addiction follows. Cocaine addiction is rife in South America. Heroin (plus opium) addiction is now endemic on all six continents, though in descending order, the largest markets are now Asia, Europe and North America...

The oldest evidence of opium poppy cultivation goes back to Mesopotamia in about 3500BC. For centuries an opium trade flourished in Babylonia, Assyria and ancient Egypt. In later centuries trade spread throughout the Mediterranean ~ Greece, Rome and far beyond.

The first recorded narcotic prohibition dates to the Dark Ages, the era of the crusades when anything Eastern, opium included, was branded Unholy. European references to opium disappeared for two hundred years.

By the age of the Enlightenment poppy was back. Shakespeare references opium in Othello, when the noxious character Iago declares

Not poppy nor mandragora
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep.


(III.iii.329–336).

The Romantic poets were famously into opium. Colerage claimed to have jotted down Kubla Khan

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea...


Analysis of the text reveals he was poetically running out of steam as the verse runs on (lines are getting shorter and shorter) but he blames an acquaintance hammering at the door on the premature end of his reverie.

Keats claimed his Ode to a Nightingale was opium-inspired:

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk...


Alex Hayter's Opium and the Romantic Imagination explores the relationship between the drug and literature in depth. Hayter frequently references Thomas de Quincy's Confessions of an English Opium Eater, a tome that tells far more about De Quincy than it ever reveals about opium. Apart from this, Hayter's solidly researched tome is a core text for anyone interested in the topic.

By the Victorian era, opium use was rife throughout the West. Many patent medicines (no ingredients on the bottles!) ~ including those for teething babies ~ contained opium amongst many other things. The Opium Eater became a popular figure of revilement at the time. Opium generally wasn't "eaten" but consumed as laundanum drops. Laudanum was a tincture of opium in brandy or sherry.

In 1810 morphine was first isolated from opium. (Opium is typically 10% morphine.)
In 1843 the hypodermic needle and syringe came along ~ the junkie's "works"
In 1874 diamorphine was first created by heating morphine for some hours in acetic anhydride, (interestingly, this mirrors the production process for aspirin, which had been invented some years earlier)
In 1893 Bayer Pharmeceuticals in Germany began production of diamorphine. They trademarked their product Heroin. Like laudanum and morphine it was sold openly in chemists' shops throughout the world.

Because morphine was refined "essence" of opium, and because diamorphine was further refined from morphine (1g of morphine converts to 1g diamorphine, but diamorphine is at least twice as potent) ~ proponents of these products naively believed each one offered a cure for addiction to the one before!

The British Government became involved in the opium trade in the early 1800s, growing vast amounts of the drug in North-Westerly India and shipping it to China, upon which they had imperial ambitions. Hundreds of thousands of the South Chinese quickly became opium addicts. The Chinese empire was not best pleased. A full-scale opium war kicked off. The Brits won and took Hong Kong in triumph.

Hong Kong would later form an important trading post for China White heroin from the infamous Golden Triangle in Thailand-Burma-Laos more than a century later.

Chinese immigrants, addicted due to the actions of the British, flooded to the United States, bringing their addiction with them. This, among other factors, was a starting point for the heroin addiction now widespread in the west.

By the early 20th century heroin and cocaine addiction were rife throughout the west. America was the first country to take action in 1905, 1906 and 1914, eventually banning all narcotics sales in 1923.

From then there was a very small, underground market in illicit heroin in the United States. In Britain, meanwhile, heroin was illegal but, like morphine, available on prescription to anyone with clinical need (severe pain). It could also be prescribed by any doctor to treat heroin addiction, as it was (to a tiny number, perhaps 200) for many years. Heroin still is prescribed to a tiny number (around 400) heroin addicts in the UK, but doctors require a special licence to do so.

World War II effectively blocked supply routes for opium and heroin to the west.

After the war European gangs set up a network whereby Turkish opium was shipped to the South of France where it was turned into high grade heroin by expert chemists. From there some travelled north. Paris became a centre for illegal narcotics. But most was shipped across the Atlantic, where it hit the streets of New York. New York City was the first western town to develop a serious heroin problem.

With the advent of 1960s' drug experimentation, heroin became fashionable for those bored of cocaine, LSD, speed and the rest. In London, a couple of notorious "junkie doctors" took advantage of the liberal British law to prescribe enormous doses of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine to anyone who had money to pay them. According to Tony Sanchez in Up and Down with the Rolling Stones much of the heroin availble to London-based experimentors at the time was in the form of 10mg "jacks", which resembled saccharine pills. These were easily obtained either via "junkie doctors" or via groups who specialized in robbing the woefully under-secured pharmacies of the time.

Cocaine, incidentally, was often diverted from legitimate dentists' supplies. Being a controlled drug any use of cocaine had to be written up in the book. Novacaine and the alternatives were not controlled, so nobody compared drugs ordered with those seemingly used. Bent dentists simply expressed a clinical preference for treating ALL their patients with cocaine, but actually gave them Novacaine or something else. The cocaine was sold on at extraordinary profit ~ it cost several hundred pounds per gram in today's money. Hence its cachet as the "rock star's drug".

With the tightening up of heroin prescription in the late 60s and early 70s, illicit Chinese heroin made its first appearance on London's streets, specifically Gerard Street in Soho, which was centre of the action. My friend Lucky always said she was involved in heroin supply at this time. She was the right age and did indeed have a mysterious, faded Chinese tattoo on her right hand. She said the heroin of the time was called Elephant, Rice or Three Crowns. The brands denoted varying grades of drug. It was imported via Liverpool and cost something like £100 or £150 an ounce, which sounds cheap but translates to more than £1500 in today's money ~ more than double what today's dealers pay.

Chinese heroin dominated the tiny British market until the end of the 1970s. Meanwhile in New York the French Connection fed the East Coast's growing habit.

Opium had been grown in Mexico since the 1800s. In the 1950s local drug gangs, whose main trade was in cannabis, began experiemnting with heroin production. Unable to obtain the proper chemicals they improvised their own production process, coming up with the notorious Mexican Black Tar, a low-grade mixture of diamorphine, and 3- and 6- monoacetylmorphine. Tar heroin has a low purity at manufacture (in the 80s, when tar heroin first made an impact, purity was less than 30%, it is now 40-50% diamorphine, though levels of 3MAM and 6MAM can be extremely high. This type of "heroin" still has the latexy consistency of opium and unlike ordinary heroin, a hard block, tar is often soft and putty-like. It is extremely bad for the veins and can cause terrible problems when skin-popped. Anyway, this stuff took off in Los Angeles and the Western United States in the 1980s. It is still the dominant form of heroin there today.

By the early 1970s, a 120-kilo seizure and raids on Marseilles-based laboratories, the French Connexion came tumbling down. America's war in Vietnam fuelled a new trade in "China white", to which by the war's end an estimated 15% of GIs were addicted. They returned home, bringing their taste for narcotics with them. As has happened so many times, American invasion and involvement in an area rapidly produced a burgeoning drug business. Throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s the Golden Triangle region of Burma, Laos and Thailand led the way in heroin and opium production.

Meanwhile, revolution and overthrow was happening in Iran ~ which just so happened to be a another major source and transit country for heroin (in the so-called Golden Crescent of Turkey-Iran-Afghanistan-Pakistan). Wealthy Iranian nationals fled to the west, taking with them (so it is claimed) their wealth in the form of heroin bricks.

The 1973 Afghan Revolution, where the King was deposed, marked another new chapter in the story of heroin. Opium, previously unheard of as a cash crop, began to be grown in vast amounts all over the country.

In the mid to late 1970s a new base form of heroin, known as "brown sugar" and "number three" ~ as opposed to the high-grade China white, which is heroin hydrochloride, also known as "number four" began to make appearances across Europe. It was distributed by Turkish gangs, who were far better organized than the Chinese and used land routes, rather than individual couriers (who can only carry a few kilos) ~ to deliver multi hundred kilo shipments to western Europe.

Heroin is produced in four basic stages.
Stage 1: raw opium is processed, removing surplus plant matter, reducing the mass to 80%
Stage 2: more easily-smuggled morphine base at 50% purity reduces weight and mass to 20%
Morphine base can, if desired, be refined into morphine sulphate ~ the drug used in hospitals across the world
Stage 3: morphine base is converted to heroin base ~ aka #3 heroin, which can be very easily smoked from tinfoil, making a more versatile and attractive product for those who do not wish to inject
Stage 4: injection-quality heroin hydrochloride ~ aka #4

Brown heroin first hit Germany (with its huge Turkish immigrant population) in increasing amounts from the mid-1970s. Overdose deaths quickly multiplied. Though lower grade than Golden Triangle "China white", the Golden Crescent heroin was often stronger at street level (ie less adulterated). It was also cheaper. A new habit started up, starting in continental Europe, but spreading to Britain by the early 80s "golden brown" was the mystical intoxicant of the Stranglers' chart hit. 1980s "brown" was the first true heroin epidemic in Britain. Inner cities and housing estates were flooded with a constant supply. Purity remained constant at an average 40%.

In the 1990s, the Colombian Cali cartel, seeing that America was awash with cocaine and crack, began producing their own #4 heroin. By undercutting the Chinese considerably on price, they soon forced China White out of the market. New York Street heroin, which had sunk to less than 10% purity in the 80s, now soared past 60% and higher. Colombian heroin is now the dominant type in the Eastern United States. Purity, of course fell as Colombian market share strengthened. Latest figures put retail purity at just under 40%.

Political upheaval and extended drought saw Burma, once the world's largest opium producer, lose this dubious honour by the early 2000s. War in Afghanistan saw poppy cultivation there boom. In 2007 world production of heroin exceeded that of cocaine for the first time. Afghanistan was producing 96% of this heroin, against Burma's 3% and 1% each for Mexico and Colombia.

Central and South American heroin supplies an estimated 95% of the American market ~ ie 2% of the world's total. With the heroin problem there as bad as it is, some pause for thought is required: where is that other 98% going?

Contrary to popular assumption, most heroin isn't used in "the West" at all, but at home in Asia. Addiction rates are astronomical in Pakistan, Iran, India, China and the "Stans" along the former Soviet Union's southern border: Uzbekistan, Kyrgistan, Tajikistan and so on.

As new supply routes target Africa as a transit point, addiction in that continent has boomed in the past decade.

Australia, famously in "heroin drought" for much of the early 2000s, once again has a constant supply of China White heroin from Burma and bordering states.

In 2003 a North Korean liner, the Pong Su, ran aground on Southern Australia's trecherous coast. But not before 125kg or more of China White were offloaded. China White heroin bearing Burma's famous Double UOGlobe stamp... yet chemical analysis determined the high grade heroin not to be Burmese at all...

And so we come to the newest chapter in World Heroin ~ North Korea, has quietly and constantly been producing an estimated 6 metric tonnes of high grade heroin annually (as well as 15 tonnes or more of methamphetamine). Perhaps because these drugs go to Taiwan, Japan and other places, but never the vociferous United States ~ North Korea's involvement in world narcotics distribution has someohow gone barely remarked-upon... Though the climate is said not to be ideally suited to poppy cultivation, farmers have the state on their side to assist, and to refine the opium professionally in factories that otherwise make legitimate products.

There is no end to the story of heroin because it goes on and on. Here, wherever you are and in the poppy fields, where farmers, already in debt to opium dealers, say they cannot afford to farm anything else.

If the our governments wanted to stamp out opium production they would have ensured the poppy disappeared long ago from Afghanistan. Instead it has flourished. And it will continue to flourish wherever the winds of instability blow next. And the finished product ~ white, brown or a dirty tar will wend its way to a town near you, where someone like me will pick it up... and the whole nasty cycle of this history continues to roll on ...


MUSICAL INTERLUDE:
THE STRANGLERS: GOLDEN BROWN



AFGHANISTAN: ADDICTION
Note (about 2 mins into this) the cleaned-up addict keeps a loft of cooing pigeons who go for a flutter in Kabul's evening air ~ just like Flapper, who loves my local cherry tree!



To see this film: Fateful Harvest Afghanistan's Opium And Heroin Trade in its entirety (about half an hour) click here.

Where's Flapper?


FLAPPER, my personal Pie-Pigeon, who hangs out round the cherry tree on the corner, was nowhere to be seen this morning. I hope he's OK and not been made into a pie by somebody else. Maybe he has decided to do a spot of homing and flapped off somewhere wood pigeons like to congregate on their days off. Bankholiday Monday's coming up. Maybe Flapper is ensconced up some Parisian tree, in a five-star nest with some exotic bird... preening each other's plumage; ordering the choicest seeds on nest-service and feeding them bill-to-bill... all the while cooing sweet nothings...

5am Heroine.


IT IS 05:48 HOURS as I start writing, though I have been musing on what I might say since long back. Outside, on my Turkish Chocolate Biscuit Trip, Flapper, my Giant Tubby Pie Pigeon (who I now know for sure is a wood pigeon, as opposed to the feral town bird, which is a species of rock dove ~ rock doves have iridescent scarves thrown over their shoulders; wood pigeons are clad in matte pastel tones and, as I said before, wear a tiny white cravat. Unlike the plucky rock dove, who we've all seen eating from the hands of French tourists he doesn't even know, I know Flapper, my Pie Dove will never become hand tame. Temperamentally they are the roborovskis of the pigeon world. Untrusting and flighty. Talking of roborovskis, I remember spotting my late three furry pingpong balls asleep in their toothpaste box nest at the time, all looking cute in a row. Unlike other hamsters, who curl into a ball sideways, like a dog or a cat might, robos nearly always sleep on their feet. So that if they are startled they can ping without delay! Anyway I saw the furry swines sleeping peacefully and thought I might surprise them with a tasty nibble for their rodent monoteeth (apparently they only have ONE tooth, top and bottom) so in I poked a "lady's finger" ~ that is a piece of okra or gumbo. O man ~ the commotion! Three tiny balls of fur pinged out the other end of that tube in a furry explosion. You'd think I'd pushed a needle-toothed baby crocodile in after them, snapping at their tubby bums. If they could have done, they'd have waved their hands in the air in horror and cheered, three little drama queens that they were. The reason I've not got any new hammies (apart from that roborovski hamsters are so very hard to find when you want them) is that I'm so terrified of them escaping again. The door to the hallway has a half-inch gap under it. To a little robbie this is as High as the Fourth Road Bridge. In my old house they would go missing for two and three days at a time. Only when I had given up hope of ever seeing each escapee alive again would I suddenly, usually far after midnight, see a furry hallucination silently whizzing across the floor. The ONLY way I ever successfully caught them was by 1. coaxing them into a box or something I could then pick up and deposit back into the robo-tank or 2. throwing a teeshirt or something over them. Even then, if I got my aim spot-on, the tiny terror would be half-over the edge, bulgy-eyed and frozen with fear. Of course, in a situation like that they think a predator has them. Another unique behaviour of robo-hamsters as opposed to "normal" ones was frequent playing dead at times of high stress. Which did look funny sometimes. So from a constantly moving, pinging jamboree of furriness, suddenly the hamster-tank turned into a Madame Tussauds of frozen furry astonishment. Hamsters are exceptionally good at looking surprised.

Now enough about furries. Except to say I actually saw a Norwich terrier yesterday! For the first time in my life. The tiny doggie trotted past me, then away. It was almost like being in the presence of The Queen...

Well it is now a good seventeen hours later. Should I have taken that hit, dripping with syrupy-golden poppy-juice? All it did was make me sleep. And sleep again... My feelings towards this drug ~ heroin ~ and my addiction are split and mixed.

On the one hand I hear my own voice, blithely prattling out the name of the hardest drug known to man. HEROIN. Without saviour of a final softening respectable letter e it's a dirty word, evoking misery, gloom, grunge and despair. Wasted days, wasted years, wasted lives.

And yet Heroin, as trademarked by the German pharmaceuticals firm Bayer in 1898, means strong and brave and heroisch and noble. The fine white lady. My saviour.

My reasons for taking heroin ~ and I mean, for ever wanting to try it, for keeping on trying it. For being attracted to it in the first place. The reasons I was drawn to its narcotic black hole that radiates the glamour of transgression ~ these are all so complicated, I only recently realized I have told myself a Received Version of my own Truth. A convenient Edited Highlights Version, snipped free of inconvenient contradictions and inconsistencies.

It's not so much that Truth Hurts; my truth is very, very complicated.

Heroin saved me. Or I certainly thought it had, for a long time. When I was on heroin I at last had confidence and joy and the love of a relationship with the drug and a human soul-mate.

Years of inadequacy and misery. Years of being someone who never quite fit anywhere, never fitted with himself ~ these dissolved like drops of bright rain streaming down my window. Nothing in the past ever seemed to matter any more. As a druggie high on drugs I was actually able to live in the moment. Past and future were confined to the trash. Little did I realize my life was heading for the garbage can, too.

The most striking difference between me On Heroin and me Before Heroin was, that on heroin I no longer daydreamed at all. The drug was enough of a living daydream. Heroin enlivens and dulls at the same time. It cured all my pain ~ mental, physical ~ everything, for a while. Having endured years of what doctors called Chronic Fatigue and Depression I now felt free.

The last psychiatrist I saw said I was... still AM self-medicating.

He implied that, unlike many other users who use to escape boredom or many other things I wasn't using to escape. I was using as someone incomplete, who with heroin suddenly felt whole. These are my words for his expressions. I think he was right.

From the beginning my interest never was in getting "out of it", being wiped out, unconscious. Heroin gave me an accelerated, brighter better version of me, full of confidence that felt real. Not a jittery turbo-charge like cocaine's counterfeit security. The heroin-state felt totally and utterly real to me. And of course I only wished I could be like that all the time.

In the beginning I WAS like that all the time.

I have been musing deeper and deeper on ... what am I doing? Where shall I go? How did I ever get like this? And how will I ever get out? Do I want to get out?

One thing I've come to accept: methadone treatment is NOT working for me. It is not making me feel OK. Physically (mostly) perhaps, but not mentally. On methadone the depression is so intense sometimes it is unbearable. Methadone is supposed to give addicts a shot at normality. theoretically a well-functioning addict could even hold down a job on methadone. I have never, EVER willingly done ANYTHING on methadone. I sit and sit. i look around at the mess that desperately needs fixing and have no energy for any of it. Nothing changes. Nothing gets done. Since methadone, nothing has improved, except that I have stopped going out making money to pay for gear. But my non-life has slipped into a black hole. Anything I need to do: a dentist appointment, a trip to see my mum, a trip into town ~ I have tried doing these things on methadone, they are heavy, burdensome chores. No matter how much I might "want" to get them done. I very much want to see my Mum, but the process of getting there entails extreme stress. I have tried living on methadone and it just does not work for me.

Now I am realizing there ARE other treatments out there, ones that work. Yet they always seem to be for someone else.

I think I told the story of when someone gave me a bottle of morphine syrup which I drank instead of methadone. I was amazed at how good I felt. I felt absolutely OK and fine. The life-defying dolour of methadone was gone. I am now researching whether my addiction could not be treated perhaps with direct heroin or morphine therapy. The heroin would be injectable or smokeable, morphine would probably come in long-release pills. The deeper I dig, the more disappointed I am, that therapy I know would at least give me a chance has so far been denied me.

I have been on various methadone scripts for over TEN years, I have gone to two detox units but couldn't handle even medication-assisted detox. I have tried Subutex. I have gone cold turkey. The ONLY improvements over ten years have been: 1. I no longer go out "grafting" ~ begging money to get my hit and 2. I now pay bills on time and get in weekly shopping. Not every single penny goes on drugs as it used to. But every spare one still DOES and that's the point.

I used to think and it has been levelled at me, both expressly and in many snidey ways, that I was somehow weak for not being able to go through with, for example a detox where every care was taken to make clients as comfortable as possible. You'll hear the whining junkies in there state "we're all in the same boat"...

But I look back and realize we were NOT all in the same boat. I was the ONLY person awake ALL NIGHT at that place. Nobody else lost half their days a gibbering emotional wreck in the 1-2-1 counselling room. No we weren't in the same boat, not at all. Nobody else I know seems literally to have gone crazy doing cold turkey detox. I was horrified years later to see I had met diagnostic criteria for "mixed bipolar episode" when I tried to come off heroin. Only when I heard repeated stories of people lying in bed for a week, sick, did I realize my experience was totally different. Far from lying down, I couldn't keep still for more than 2 seconds. In both detoxes I got extra meds, which is about as commonplace as a Norwich terrier with wings. I could go on and on. I'm not saying my problems are insurmountable. I'm just saying I feel that STILL ~ after all this time, they have not been properly addressed.

If I felt I could deal with this situation myself, trust me I would just go away and sick it out. but all that is likely to do, in all honesty is put me in a mental hospital if not a morgue. Because I will kill myself. If life is hopeless on drugs, imagine how bleak it feels with no drugs at all?

I can't believe I ever got so dependent. I hate it.

I feel desperate and angry. With myself. With the "system" I've got wrapped up in. With methadone, which I absolutely loathe ~ no question about that. I wish I could actually envision life clean, like those smiling characters who adorn American websites offering high-priced clinic facilities. But I honestly do not see it.

I could talk on and on but I'll only talk round more circles. I have just had enough. But WHAT NOW?



MORE INFORMATION ON SLOW-RELEASE ORAL MORPHINE PILLS: READ TERRY WRIGHT'S AUSTRALIAN HEROIN DIARIES: MORPHINE VS METHADONE UPDATE


WAT THAM KRABOK MONASTERY
Famous Thai vomiting and bitter herbs detox among monks...




NEW FULL-LENGTH DOCUMENTARY at my Random Video Blog: Afghanistan's Fateful Harvest... CLICK TO SEE.

The Soldier


THIS, one of the best-loved of all World War I poems, is often contrasted mockingly with Wilfred Owen's darker work (see yesterday and day before) ~ it certainly was at my school.
But I still like it:


If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.


RUPERT BROOKE
1887-1915



DON MCLEAN: THE GRAVE

Whoever put this video together did a spectacular job...

egyptian mummies

egyptian mummies presence

egyptian mummies replica

egyptian mummies similitude

egyptian mummies re-creation

egyptian mummies image

egyptian mummies portrayal

egyptian mummies attitude

egyptian mummies presence

egyptian mummies face

egyptian mummies duplicate

egyptian mummies expression

egyptian mummies

egyptian mummies presence

egyptian mummies replica

egyptian mummies similitude

egyptian mummies re-creation

egyptian mummies image

egyptian mummies portrayal

egyptian mummies attitude

egyptian mummies presence

egyptian mummies face

egyptian mummies duplicate

egyptian mummies expression

Cool Down With Perrier

NOW HERE'S A BLAST FROM THE PAST... or ought that to be a splish-splosh-SPLASSHHH!! PERRIER WATER! Today has been roasting hot.
When it's hot in Britain everybody roasts because nothing in this country is designed for anything other than a mediocre range of temperature from about 3 degrees C to about 20. Any day outside that range feels unbearable. Unbearably hot or wutheringly cold ~ because there is no insulation against cold and worst of all no ventilation to dissipate heat.
Buses are sweat-boxes with barely-opening windows.
The Underground is unbearable. It feels well over 100 degrees F down there.
The chemists shop was boiling. I have the slightest mildest hint of a cold and like just about any sickness (apart from drug withdrawal) it is making me sleep. And sleep. And sleep and sleep and sleep all day. So I wake up cold, put my coat on.
First thing I notice on the high street is how everybody else is wearing school PE kit. (That was The Face magazine's estimation of 1980s British summer fashion ~ lurve it!) And I'm in my junkie's long coat with lots of pockets.
I get to the chemist without sweating. Bring the methadone home. In my old area, which was far more junkie-ridden I would never walk down the street with methadone bottle in hand, even shrouded in pharmacy bag, because everyone who would know knew what was in that bag and I was once violently accosted by a crazed woman (who I knew) DEMANDING that I GIVE.
Thing was, (I wasn't just saying telling her this; it was true) it was not my chemist, not my dose.
I had just undergone the third degree to prove yes I WAS supposed to be collecting this prescription, gone through all this stress just to help out a sick friend. (Heroin addicts very rarely get ill, but when they do it lingers on and on...)
And methadone clinics don't really seem to be oriented around the fact that their "clients" might not be in optimum health, which can make organizing methadone collection when you're too sick to go in an absolute nightmare. Anyway this silly hag harangues me and in the end I just walked off.
She threatened all sorts of stuff and I told her to do her worst.
This particular crazywitch is an Irish traveller and she's always threatening her brothers on people. What she does not realize is, I know her mother from times of old. Her Mum used to give me 50p every time she saw me in my begging years. I was told she liked me because I was so unlike her scummy daughter...
Anyway!
All day I have been craving... Water! Fizzy water!! I could have bought fizzed up tap water at 10p for 2 litres from Morrisons (packaging says something like "value sparkling water": no mention of minerals or springs which means it's just tap water, filtered and CO2'd! Consumer tellyprogs like to make out this would be a "con". To me it's a lesson not to make assumptions!
Anyhow, in the end I purchased 75 "centilitres" as they like to call them ~ a centilitre being 10mls of Perrier. Good old yummy perrier volcanic water that if it weren't treated would taste of rotten eggs ~ so we all heard in the benzene PR disaster of yesteryear... "fortified with gas from the spring"... there's something yummy in that gas, for Perrier tastes nothing like any other water I know... Plus it's a real blast back to the 1970s and 80s, when, in Britain at least, Perrier was the only mineral water widely available and the idea of actually paying for bottled water, when our own taps ran freely with eaux potables was sheer anathema to the frugal Brits... Anyway. Further to yesterday's FUTILITY, here is Wilfred Owen's most famous work. The title Dulce et Decorum est refers to a Latin phrase of the time: "it is a sweet and noble thing to die for one's country"...


Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


Wilfred Owen 1893-1918


Greatest war poet of his generation. Died aged 25... what a loss...



Reminds me of the old song: Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile...