281. Shit or bust

 

OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 42

 

 

The stakes they play for in politics are paper and money. The chips they play with are your life.

Molly Ivins

 

 

Dawn described the sun’s descent in a pink western sky, over a deserted world at the foot of a remote hill. “There was nothing much there – a church and a railway bridge. Steve turned off the radio. Everything was open, no fences; no sound but the birds and crickets. What I remember most is the greenery surrounding that church, St Margaret’s church. It was like nature pumped all its sap into that one spot. Not just trees and shrubs but cowslips, brambles, nettles: everything fit to burst. We strolled round the graveyard and the church, which must have been built back near Norman times.”

She paused, aware her past had superimposed itself over a Basildon retail park. “Listen we were young, OK? There was nobody around, it was getting dark, and Steve started whispering what he was going to do to me. I loved all that.”

Three faces etched with concentration. “So, look Yesh, there’s no polite way of putting this.” She stared boldly at her companions. “Sid, Mahatma, no offence meant but Steve gave me a seeing to I’ll never forget. We went at each other like savages, doors open to let in the breeze.”

As she told of Steve “staying hard” through three ejaculations, Gandhi recalled early marriage years, and the unremittent nature of sexual desire, which a part of him wanted desperately to overcome, even as a teenager. “Were you worried about being seen?” he asked, sunlight bouncing from his bifocals.

“Steve reckoned we’d hear any cars coming, or see the lights. I was more worried about a local farmer strolling past, but we got so far in I stopped caring.”

“Three lovings,” said Jesus, whistling softly. “Lordy, lordy.”

“He had weeks of it stored up,” said Dawn, sipping her water. “His parents made us self-conscious about doing it in the house. But the really odd thing, as I lay on the back seat enjoying those ‘lovings’, was the stuff going through my head.”

Buddha thought of Ian Dury’s lyrics to ‘Billericay Dickie’, envisaging the quiet Essex lane, and possible testimony from ‘Joyce and Vicky’. It was a wholesome story, a positive offset to human suffering. Jesus, for his part, mulled that desire disappears only when experience has accumulated.

Dawn shifted to get more comfortable. “I was howling with pleasure, crying to the night, yet I remember something else. It was like I could hear fields whispering all the way down to the Thames, as the creeks got wider and the mud got thicker. Part of me felt there were Viking longboats creeping quietly down the river. Or other invaders from further back. And two words kept repeating inside my head.”

Gandhi took a guess. “Universal joy.”

“No. Primeval ooze. I never used words like that. What’s ‘primeval ooze’ when it’s at home?”

Jesus asked another question. “With Steve and yourself, do your body shapes differ?”

“Well course they bloody differ! He’s a bloke, and I’m not!”

“Prurience aside, gender aside, relate those shapes.”

“He’s long and thin, I’m shorter, curvier.” She watched Jesus envision it, and quietly acknowledge something. “And there was something else, which was so weird.” She had their full attention. “No trains went past. We were next to the Fenchurch Street line. We rocked that car getting on for two hours, on and off, but not a single train crossed that bridge.”

Jesus showed no surprise. “When a man and a woman truly combine, in the presence of the spirit of God, they move beyond time,” he said. Dawn found a bin for their wrappers before they set off. They passed a series of lay-bys, and another garden centre, digesting her story.

Jesus recalled Mary Magdalene’s teachings. Beyond the duality of hills and valleys, beyond the two of sex, lay an entrance. To the one of the Kingdom. The great secret, given to his disciples, was to join male and female energy within oneself. The feeling of orgasm was then as an inner energy that peaked and left a light that grew brighter. Unless a human attained that inner unity – free, perfect and independent – misery and joy forever battled one another.

To his left, Dawn was pointing to giant capital letters set back on a hill. BASILDON. An Essex version of the well-known HOLLYWOOD sign. Descending to the Fortune of War roundabout, she enquired why Jesus had asked about Pound Lane. “You asked of our plan in London – and I saw parallels,” came the reply.

She thought briefly. “I get it Yesh,” she smiled. “We had a good feeling, and we followed it, nothing mapped out.”

“And beauty was the result. The beauty of the union, and the impossible loveliness of your first child, Genevieve.”

Well of course he knew, he was Jesus. No drivers looked up, though, while filling their cars at an Esso garage adjoining the road. It hit Dawn that every gallon pumped lined the pockets of banks and traders. The sky had clouded. She said: “I find myself expecting big, grand stuff to happen today, on your second coming. Have to remind myself that everything begins small.”

They passed the turn for Dunton, the research centre for Ford Motor Company. Dawn’s legs and back ached. At the Wax n Shine Brentwood valeting centre, they rested on a grassy knoll, where her pained calves and sacroiliac received Gandhi’s skills. He said their journey was nearly half complete, working her lower leg muscles with bony fingers. Buddha’s hands sorted her shoulders. Jesus massaged her scalp. Every touch revived her.

Dawn kept asking questions. “Are they pulling up the ladders in London?” she enquired, breaking out into laughter at three uncomprehending faces. “It’s something Steve says. Imagine an ark for humans, people scrambling up the sides to escape the rising tides. At some stage the skipper knows enough’s enough, and they pull up the ladders. The people below left defenceless and stranded. Is that what London’s become, with its mental property prices and its silly bonuses? An ark for the rich, floating out of reach for ordinary people?”

It was unknowable. Sid mentioned instead that a Brentwood Buddhist branch had opened a community centre in one of Essex’s highest places. “Sea levels will rise. The centre is seen as a safe haven in that eventuality.” She stood up, leading them west, wishing for straighter answers. Buddha observed Timmermans Nursery float by on their left, reinforcing his idea that Essex dwellers must love their gardens.

“Here’s another question,” said Dawn, tying her fleece around her waist, as the sun re-emerged. “How come we’ve been kidded that certain people can ‘own’ water? How come it’s not available, everywhere, maybe in return for a very small fee each month? Instead, taps run, toilets flush, shareholders make money, and poor people struggle to pay or go further into debt. That’s a ladder being pulled up. If I’d ever got hold of that Maggie Thatcher I’d have torn a strip off her. She started all this privatisation crap.”

Each word pierced Maggie’s soul as she listened in. Dawn thought aloud again. “About 19 out of every 20 people you meet have been conditioned, over decades, to accept these things as ‘normal’ or ‘just the way things are’. People were bribed and programmed to swallow privatisation. Now you see them slowly accepting that they have next to no freedom or privacy; that their homes can be drilled under without permission; that machines will take their jobs; and it’s OK for the rich to get richer. Nobody can make me go along with any of that.”

Dawn asked whether any of them had seen a film called ‘Never Let Me Go’, about a group of clones created for their body parts. “Their role was…what’s that word? Yeah, to acquiesce, to acquiesce in their own exploitation.”

 

***

 

On their right loomed the A127’s ‘Halfway House’, a formerly well-known pub landmark. It had devolved into an anonymous-looking travel lodge. Seeing more signs for Brentwood, Gandhi announced that some historians believed this was where England’s ‘peasants revolt’ began in 1381, linked to non-payment of the Poll Tax.

Dawn talked about her life. “I wasn’t interested in school. Never wanted to be anything anyone suggested: secretary, teacher, shop assistant, or whatever. I preferred being me. But I loved kids, and worked as an assistant in pre-school nurseries. Sold ice cream after that. Had my own van, earned enough in the summers to get through the winters. Dad always backed me, mum wasn’t so keen, reckoned I should try and ‘get on’. There were always plenty of blokes chasing me, but none had any imagination. Then I met Steve, who told me straight off he wanted to be a professional gambler. ‘Rather a free man than a well-paid slave’, he used to say. He was as nutty as a fruitcake. Didn’t fit in anywhere. I loved that in him, and his kindness. We’ve brought up the kids together, juggling jobs. My last one was in a call centre, before the windscreens called.”

Two green, red and white Eddie Stobart lorries rattled past together, like motorised twins. “Here’s my answer to it all,” said Dawn. She began reciting well-known verse.

 

“Rise like lions after slumber, in unfathomable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew, that in sleep have fallen on you
Ye are many, they are few.”

 

Gandhi joined in the last couple of lines, written in 1819 by Percy Shelley, after the British army attacked English workers during a peaceful demonstration for the reform of Parliament. “That’s the only poem I know. Come on Mahatma,” said Dawn, “you rescued India from the British ruling class. What can we do?”

“Above all, sweep away the completely rigged financial system,” said Gandhi. “Sovereigns would then print their own money, as much as is needed for everything. No more stinting, shivering or starving. No more housebound disabled people in Basildon or anywhere else.”

“More big-sounding ideas”. She wiped her brow. “What did Southchurch Park teach you?”

“The jury is still out – external forces disrupted the experiment,” said the little Indian.

They were traversing the road’s most rural section. Dawn passed her water bottle around, relating Steve’s idea that every human on the planet should receive an unconditional basic income. “If everyone feels financially secure, then human creativity speeds up, and further transforms the planet, he reckons.” She let out a sneeze. Sid whipped out a paper handkerchief.

“Thanks very much darling.”

Buddha had listened keenly. “Steve’s system would edge this planet into a higher dimension, maybe even the fifth realm,” he said. He returned to his unspoken observations, witnessing that another often-overlooked plant, the bugle, was almost ready to flower in the hedgerows. Its pale green, purplish leaves were pretty, paving the way for a purplish-blue flower that would emerge at the end of April, providing good nectar for humanity’s six legged friends.

They neared a farm, big barns looming. Dawn said many of their friends had half-killed themselves to rise through the City’s ranks. “People we know now own barns like these as second or even third homes.”

“While many have no homes,” said Gandhi.

“It’s more difficult now to talk to some of them,” said Dawn. “They seem to look at everything they see, even essential services, as fodder for bloody investors and shareholders. No consideration for those at the bottom. Like I say, the ladders are being pulled up.”

Buddha estimated she had led 7,235 past lives, learning most essential lessons. They had reached the M25. As with several previous interchanges, they had to walk up to a roundabout. Jesus beheld the traffic streaming below. Dawn was astute, he saw, in seeking a simple, comprehensible solution to Britain’s woes.

A sign announced they were in Havering. Dawn had walked over 18 miles, without preparation, in about five and a half hours. The group stopped. Comforting hands soothed her again. Jesus looked at the veiled sun, announced it was not yet noon. Unable to resist another McVities Gold Bar, she reached in her pouch, starting to frown, then smile, before exploding into a belly laugh. “You rascal Yesh, you bloody rascal,” she roared. She freed the pouch from her waist and tipped it out, tears of joy welling. She counted out two squeegees, sixteen Gold Bars and a full water bottle. The high five with Jesus stayed long in her memory.

Munching, she asked Yesh what he thought of the church. “Might as well ask while I’ve got you. Does it do any good?”

“Organise a religion and the spirit dies,” he replied, gazing up at a flight of swallows migrating northwards. “Dawn, understand that any religion should be directed only to remembering the void inside of you. When you attain that clarity, self-knowledge flows from your clear mind. When you transform, the world starts changing.”

He told her about the Gospel of Thomas, discovered in 1945 among a collection of books called the Nag Hammadi Library, a name taken from a nearby town in Upper Egypt. He told her the teachings in this gospel went against all vested interests, and invalidated many given truths. “These were my best teachings. Find the interpretation of those words within, and you shall not taste of death.”

He told her of the Fifth Saying: “If you pray, you will be condemned. And if you give alms, you will do evil to your spirits.” They moved off again. Signs pointed to Upminster and Cranham.

“So, you’re saying going to church is misguided?” She was puzzled.

“I am not against prayer, fasting and giving. I am against false faces. Without the ritual, without donations, how would churches exist? I say live through your being, not your acts. Acts have made the Vatican rich beyond comprehension. Yet each incumbent in the Holy Seat refuses to use that power to reform humanity.”

Jesus paused. Dawn saw his eyes dim. “Remember, always, that Jorge Bergoglio declared that he was “protecting” children in his church from rape by criminalising its reporting. Remember always the Papal Knighthood awarded to James Savile. Imagine God’s rage. The real is found in the depths of your being. Let not intermediaries corrupt.”

Gandhi listened with reverence. Sid was deriving profound enjoyment from everything. A road just crossed bore the name Wingletye Lane. Had Billericay Dickie paid a visit? They were entering the city’s furthest outskirts. Greenery giving way to houses, motels, petrol stations. Dawn could see a major landmark, a roundabout and flyover where the A12 from Chelmsford and East Anglia joined the Arterial.

“Gallows Corner”, she announced, pointing ahead. Gandhi wondered who had hung there.

 

***

 

George took the call at 11.45. The morning had been taken up with eviscerating the Southchurch Park story. Within half a minute, a range of camera angles showed him the southern pavement of the long road’s mid-sections.

He ordered two small drones into the Essex air. It gave mobile vision, and a more aggressive option. Arterial Road drivers saw an Arabian-looking six foot male walking with three dwarves. Sid had maintained strong concentration to sustain the visual warp, which halved their heights to any observer at ground level. But cameras far above the ground were beaming accurate images to George, who immediately sent the stream to Rome. “Signor, it is your jurisdiction, your call,” said Vito’s icy voice. “But our Jesuit friends can only rewrite so much history.”

A return of Jesus was about the only factor the clans’ super-computer could not calculate. George nonetheless felt comfortable. Pondering on what treasures might sit in the tall Arab’s pineal gland, he suspected the group was running an optical alteration programme. There was time to shape a strategy; also the ability to kill the four in seconds. As the group passed without event through Romford’s northern suburbs, he congratulated himself that the disclosure of drone strike victims had dropped quietly from a Senate bill in Washington, after Frank had applied pressure.

He wondered at the woman’s identity. Face recognition technology indicated she lived in a Southend council house, and washed cars for a living. There had to be more. Teams were working on it. Over the next two hours, as the walkers made their way along the Eastern Avenue, he appraised the stakes.

His intrigue nagged. What did the swarthy freak propose? George knew the habits and proclivities of the populace thoroughly. They were every bit as battered by financial and other worries as had long been planned. What sway could Christ’s passion hold over debt-ridden 21st century Britain? His sense was that the ripples of this visit would be innocuous at best. If not, they had enough subtle and unsubtle weaponry to dispatch the four to Kingdom Come.

And that would be that. Game over. Wars in the Middle East and mainly contrived terrorist shocks would pave the way for more draconian laws; while less employment would be the grim reality as automation accelerated. Global trade deals would be implemented, overriding pesky sovereign laws. If necessary, a virus could be mobilised, introducing medical martial law to strengthen the clans’ control. Always more war, to maintain the human sacrifices. Probably a focus on attacking countries with state-run central banks or where Islamic finance thrived. Eventually, down the line, a two-tier population: slaves packed together in high rise buildings, and large swathes of land freed up for the clans to recreate and grow their crops. Already their technology was light years ahead of the contraptions used by the masses. He wanted his various descendants to travel the universe. To live forever, if the technology allowed.

In bed, George was once asked how the clans had engineered such an unapparent power structure. “By barraging the populace with fear, and capping the collective imagination,” he whispered. Tweaking the woman’s nipple, sensing the mark 6 Cialis could muster one last spurt, he explained that the events of 9/11 had proved beyond doubt the effectiveness of trauma-based mind control. “Education supports this, by engendering population-wide compliance. On a more general level, the biggest fear is created by the money system itself, which can never allow enough resources to circulate. Hidden in plain sight, it is our biggest lever.”

 

***

Out on the A127, Buddha tweaked the visual shield around his friends to take into account the higher buildings they were passing. From The Place, God and Maggie looked on. “This is this”, said God. “Shit or bust. Money or truth.”

 

***

Bob had not spoken for three minutes. Six cats waited, occasionally licking themselves. He was giving his feline friend Pastille’s comment his complete attention. “I’ve been here for thousands of years, and still don’t know what’s going on,” she said. “Is there any point to all this? And why is God so uptight?” Pastille was a simple soul.

The Creator’s nervousness had the whole Place in jitters. Groups of angels were meeting, huddling, whispering.

Bob concentrated. “She wants to stop a dishonourable way of living across Earth, wants it so hard, even while she insists on Free Will. On top of that, Jesus is making it up as he goes along. That just reminds God that this is completely out of her control.”

280. The Arterial Road

OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 41

 

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters.
Ursula Le Guin

 

 

Where the Arterial Road from London ends, at Kent Elms Corner, the woman watched the skinny Asian guy embrace the men wearing Arsenal and Tottenham shirts.

Downing her bucket, she ran across to them. “I’m not trying to be funny,” she said. “But are you the Prince of Peace?”

She was looking up in astonishment at the incredibly tall one, with the Middle Eastern face. “OMG, you are. You’re him.” Jesus wiggled an eyebrow. Noted her dark hair and strong shoulders. Eyes dancing, she offered him a McVitie’s Gold biscuit bar. He desisted.

Comfortably agnostic, never a churchgoer, Dawn felt the twin burdens of family and money lifting away. “It feels like I’ve been waiting so long for you, without even knowing it,” she said. She turned to the others. “Sorry guys, that was rude. These keep me going all day. Can I tempt you?” They also refused. Passing drivers were rubber-necking.

She twisted excitedly back to Yeshua. “Will you be truthful with me?”

He couldn’t help chuckling. Soon he shook with delight, tears running from his eyes. He had to lay on the pavement, next to a crushed plastic carton. She was perplexed. “It was a straight question mate. Will you tell the truth?”

He, also, had waited for her. “What name should I call you by?” he finally asked, finding a recovery position.

“Dawn. Dawn Landais.”

“Dawn, all I have ever uttered is truth. Please ask whatever you will.”

“Ta very much. Well first up, what are you lot doing in Southend?” She looked at Gandhi, narrowing her eyes. “I’ve seen you in a film somewhere. And who’s your pal in the Gooners shirt?”

Jesus stood, ushering them to begin the journey west. “Jesus, Sid and Mahatma, all at your service Dawn. Headed to the City of Corruption. Would you care to accompany us? Those gold bars could prove useful as the day finds its shadows.” The ghost of an idea had arrived.

“Mahatma…..Gandhi?” Now she remembered Genevieve’s description of Southchurch Park’s best-known inhabitant. “And you’re all set to walk to London? What’s the big idea then? Overthrow the tyranny, and pull us all out the stew?”

She couldn’t get over Yeshua’s height. “One thing I will say is I’m glad you’re a bloody giant. No offence intended, but it’s how I’ve always seen you.” Her smile was contagious, topping an orange fleece and dark jeggings. “Let me phone the old man. I could do with a break.”

Steve failed to answer, so she left a voicemail. “Steve sweetie, can you pick up my buckets by the Elms lights when you’re awake? I’ve hooked up with Jesus and two of his pals. I know, it sounds mad. Just look after the kids and don’t go on Betfair. You promised. I’ll be back when I’m back. Love you, my only darling.”

They walked alongside a cycle path. Pleased to converse, Gandhi asked Dawn about her work. “I’ve been washing screens for about a year, from just before when Steve almost died in the Big Wave. He hid under a betting shop floor down the seafront till it was safe. Now I earn about a ton and twenty a day, all ours, no tax, no questions.” She talked rapidly, over the cascade of horns, as they passed a Big Yellow Storage warehouse. Gandhi politely pursued the gambit she had opened. “Why would you withhold taxes, Dawn? Does that not penalise other taxpayers?”

Dawn looked at Gandhi’s bare legs beneath his white wrap. Calf muscles gleamed as he walked. “My daughter told me you’ve been in Southchurch Park.” The Indian smiled, as he wondered. Her blue eyes twinkled. “As for tax, my lovely, why would I be mug enough when the super-rich don’t bother? Council tax is bad enough. Here’s another thing. Show me where it says anyone is ‘obliged’ by law to pay tax.” It was Genevieve’s theory, which Dawn now touted.

She turned to Jesus. “Now who was your dad? God or Joseph?” Indeed, he loved her. Speaking plainly had set her free. She tried again. “You got a nickname? Seems weird calling you Jesus.”

“Yesh.”

“Sounds like yes.” A neonatal transfer ambulance roared past, siren wailing. Two passing cars slowed, drivers’ heads locked at 90 degrees. “Cat got your tongue?” she asked Buddha, who was observing flora bordering the path. He spied the flower head of a pignut, whose real treasure was its underground root, or tuber, a palatable wild food. He saw that Dawn lived without bitterness, cleaning each slate as she proceeded.

“Mahatma”, said Dawn, risking the forename. “I’ve just remembered something I read. It said you used human shit to fertilise the fields at one of your, whatever you called them….retreats?”

Gandhi said nothing this time. Cyclists glided past as the day found its feet. He reconsidered the fresh use of violence against the Southchurch community. Ten or more residents had told him they were leaving, but he envisaged a larger exodus. Dan said he would be writing a book, to log everything.

 

***

On the opposite carriageway, coming into Southend, the first impression of one driver was that a benevolent ninja squad had materialised in Essex.

Police constable Ray Wilkins decided that words were needed. He turned right at the Elms, cut back via Eastwood Road and The Fairway, and brought his vehicle into the stuttering traffic flow of the A127’s London-bound carriageway. The swarthy male’s staggering height was an accident waiting to happen. Ray pulled into a lay-by two hundred yards past the group, unnerved to see that only the woman wore shoes.

Following instinct, Jesus asked Dawn if she shared his love of trance music. She talked about “Time” by Hans Zimmer. “I know it’s utterly mainstream: they used it as a film score. Does it count? It works every time. Sometimes I’ve listened to it back-to-back for a whole morning doing the windscreens, and I feel like I’ll take off and float up the Arterial Road.”

As they approached, Ray heard her talk of dancing in her youth at outdoor parties, in forests, at an abandoned monastery, and by a river. Song in her voice. The giant said something about Goa, and journeys to other dimensions. Ray got out and planted himself across their path. “Morning ladies and gentlemen. Would you mind informing me where you are headed?”

Jesus and Buddha smiled; Gandhi looked sour. “Officer please inform us if we are committing a crime. Otherwise we will bid you a wonderful day and go about our business.”

“No crime that I can see, but you should be aware that you’re attracting attention. Too many drivers are slowing down to look at your group. Somebody is going to crash soon.”

Gandhi spotted a sideways pass; took a step forward. “Officer if we are not permitted to walk alongside this road then kindly detail the laws involved. We would welcome such enlightenment. Otherwise, I repeat, we will happily continue.”

The Indian’s brow furrowed further than usual. “And officer, I do hope we are not witnessing a display of what we might term as ‘heightism’.” He glanced up at Jesus, some six and a half feet above his own head. “We have all heard, with hurt in our hearts, of the racism and sexism sprinkled within the British police force. One prays there is surely not a ‘tallist’ tendency at play among you and your esteemed colleagues?”

Jesus looked down at Ray Wilkins, who was poised to instigate a drugs search, for want of a better option. As they held each other’s gaze, the policeman felt himself involuntarily reach out and up, touching the giant’s hip. It calmed him. “I’ll say goodbye then, and safe journey,” said the copper.

They recommenced. “He is correct about the drivers,” said Buddha, tilting his head towards the wobbling traffic. “Let safety prevail today, for the good of all.” The Arsenal fan turned to face the dual carriageway as the police car pulled away. He positioned his hands, shut his eyes, and softly chanted four Sanskrit words, repeatedly. The traffic regained shape and pace.

“I won’t ask how you did that Sid,” said Dawn. “But I can tell you this – there is a desire for that sort of magic buried in everyone.”

 

***

In East London’s former docklands, in a high Canary Wharf conference room, change was knocking for another Essex girl. Across the sparkling river, Susan Grice saw sunshine light the roof of the O2 indoor arena.

Susan felt awkward, uneasy and out of place, like a character thrown into the end of a novel.

She needed to sign off a roundtable transcript which had circulated her bank for a whole month. The bank’s in-house PR team, its lawyers and its corporate governance specialists had waded in, cutting out asymmetrical words, citing potential liability, taking days to redact, reduce and finally squash the energy pulsing through parts of the debate.

Despite an accelerating headache, she read it through again. Antagonistic feelings towards her husband were exacerbating Susan’s mood. Pete had spent the previous evening in their Hampstead home yo-yoing between endless texting and researching emerging market bond yields.

It hit her that she would give almost anything to be with her daughter, back-packing in Thailand. She brought up the private Facebook message from two days ago:

Hello mummy!  Just a update, we’re in Krabi now at the Pak-Up hostel for 3 nights 🙂 its so ridiculously cheap here! Costs 3.50 a night and i just had a massive lunch for less than two pounds! We’re going to ko phi tomorrow where ‘the beach’ was filmed and then koh phangan for the full moon party on friday 🙂 We’re all sweating like mad and i’ve been bitten about a thousand times but i’m having a ball! speak to you sooooon love you lots xxxxx

 

***

For a time, the group walked in silence, passing a wood on their left. Dawn spoke first. “What other animal on this planet needs police?” The men saw that she thought aloud with ease.

“As a kid, I thought the British were all like my dad: strong-willed, standing up and taking no nonsense. Somewhere along the line we got too passive. Nobody can tell me what to do, not ever; not as long as I’m not causing harm or distress.” She spoke with composure, as she recalled Genevieve’s words.

Gandhi found the number of white vans odd. He picked out a key word.  “The notion of passivity is intriguing, is it not? The greatest force on earth is passive resistance, which India used in my last incarnation to ensure it stood equal to the UK, rather than as subject or pawn. Incidentally Dawn, the precise word you were seeking was ‘ashram’, not retreat.”

In sight of Rayleigh Weir interchange, Dawn tucked back a squeegee poking from her pouch. She asked Jesus “what went wrong last time?”

He considered. “The people did not want the bread of life,” said Yeshua. “They followed me in the desire for physical bread. Pearls of wisdom, which would have flooded their lives with creative power, fell on stony ground. Most lost interest when the miracles stopped – but authorities so feared that power they could not let it be further expressed.”

As they waited at traffic lights to cross Rayleigh Road, she spoke of Genevieve and Nigel. Gandhi’s ears pricked up at the first name, which brought a surge of discomfort as he recalled the girl’s libidinal nature.

“Trouble is, everyone has to feed in a dog-eat-dog system,” said Dawn. “People have sex, have kids; those tiny mouths need bread and other food. I’ll never forget the struggles we had bringing ours up.” She looked up at Jesus. “Come on luv, time to tell me. What you trying to do in London?”

Jesus’ long legs made him difficult to keep up with. “The crazy has been normalised. Why would humanity want anything less than its full entitlement?”

“You’re sounding like Russell Brand,” said Dawn. “Genuinely lovely guy, real eye candy that you’d want to tuck up tight to. Brilliant with words. But he don’t satisfy my need to hear exactly what has to be done, to make it all perfect again.”

Jesus felt the rising sun on his back, as they passed the Woodside Garden Centre. Compassion for all things had grown the light inside Dawn Landais.

Gandhi watched a battered strip of tyre flipped up by a lorry. “For change to happen, you must first become aware of the problem,” he said. He raised his skinny arm, pointing rather dramatically down the road, thought Dawn. “In the town of Basildon, ahead, over 120 disabled people have already received bailiff notices from councils after their disability allowances ceased. Local disability groups say their members are pawning televisions and jewellery, to pay bills. This is contemporary Great Britain.”

They passed a café for lorry drivers. Crossed a slip road down to Canvey and Chelmsford. Gandhi resumed. “If the number were just 12, or even two, it would still be excessive.”

Jesus had still to accustom himself to how smooth the highway was, how ineffably different to the dirt tracks of Palestine and Syria, save for the sprinkling of holes.

Dawn tried to talk but Gandhi wouldn’t shut up. “The troubles go beyond Britain. The G7 is a front for failed states controlled by global central bankers that cannot stop their habit of theft. Their entire philosophy was laid bare, when Greece and Cyprus were stripped and financially raped before the world’s eyes.”

Dawn didn’t know much about that. But she felt Gandhi’s heat.

“You have a billionaire club on this planet which want you off, after they have taken your assets. And how do media react? While people starve, in the 21st century, they run lists of the world’s richest people as if we should admire them.”

They were opposite the Alton Garden centre, on Basildon’s outskirts. “One happy aspect”, continued Gandhi, “is that some unwholesome players in this drama are facing their final years.” He named a list that had “neglected their chance to make a positive difference”, citing David Rockefeller, George Soros, Donald Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, Rupert Murdoch, George Herbert Walker Bush and Jacob Rothschild.

Dawn was exasperated. “I don’t know very much about that lot, but I’d guess you’ll need gallons of disinfectant to kill the smell when they finally go. The shame on them, like you say, is they could have helped everyone on the planet. But then very rich and powerful people generally wouldn’t give you the steam off their piss. Me personally: I don’t see life’s point if you’re not helping others.”

She took a deep breath: “But you both ducked the question. What can we do about it? About them? Is a load of spunky kids camping outside St Pauls the best we can offer? Peoples’ backs are against the wall. How do we change it? I want answers.”

Sid and Mahatma looked at Jesus, who seemed indifferent to the question. They had reached the foot of a hill, where she noticed the ‘Pound Lane’ sign and let out a wicked laugh. “Now that brings back a major memory.” She smiled deeply. “The truth, though, is that most people are getting poorer. How can politicians sleep at night when people have to go to food banks?”

Gandhi noticed three cars in succession sporting UKIP stickers. “You ask for a remedy. I say outlaw interest paid to banks. The short- and long-term attritions of interest and compounded interest will eventually make paupers of all but the very rich. God alone knows how many millions end up destitute or dead because they or their governments have sold and pawned their last assets to repay interest-bearing debt.” The Indian looked across the dual carriageway at the Dick Turpin public house.

“Now you’re talking!” she exulted, also thinking of the famed highwayman. “I know all about debt. All we hear is how the banks can’t be touched, because it will damage growth and jobs in the City, yadda, yadda, yadda. Might even force banking ‘talent’ to flee the country, blah, blah, blah.” Dawn bared her teeth, showing several gaps. “Well good bloody riddance, I say.” She swayed as she walked, arms swinging to an invisible beat.

Gandhi intuited this woman would live to be 125. “Never forget that this ‘debt’ – which is destroying governments, businesses and individuals globally – is made up out of thin air,” he said. “From a young age, we are told that money does not grow on trees; and has to be earned through toil and sweat. Yet for banks it does indeed grow from nothing, inside a computer.”

Dawn could see he had a point. “And from this flimsy premise,” said Gandhi, “it rules and poisons everything, giving those who control money supply an unwarranted power, whose logical conclusion is to own the entire world.” He described how the UK was still borrowing tens of billions every year, without any obvious way to repay all the capital and interest. “Debts throttle all governments. Nobody knows what is to be done, so they penalise the poorest,” said Gandhi. Ahead, a sign indicated the A132 roundabout, leading to Basildon and Wickford. Drivers had lost interest in the group.

They walked down to a roundabout facing a large industrial estate, before continuing back up to the A127. “An associated problem is that poisons seep into the society, weakening morality,” continued Mahatma. “No longer does the majority ask: ‘What is the fair and just thing to do in any situation’. Instead the financial and legal ramifications must be figured out, so the entire population is expected to act increasingly like accountants, without souls. Parents want children to ditch their creativity, regurgitate second rate information in worthless exams and work in London’s big money machine. Sad and pathetic, because all money does is help one avoid oneself. Only meditation, looking at yourself, will reflect you.”

Dawn noticed Buddha nod. Jesus chipped in. “Seek for the treasure which fails not, which endures, where no moth comes near to devour, and no worm destroys.” The seventh saying from the Gospel of Thomas brought a segue from Buddha, who said that “the more things accumulate, the more life is wasted, because they have to be purchased at the cost of life.” Breeze ruffling his white wrap, Gandhi offered the notion that “outside things can, at the most, deceive others, not yourself.”

A sign said 31 miles to London. “You’re all nifty with your words, but I’ll ask again: What will we do up in your City of Corruption?” sighed Dawn.

They were approaching a retail park, signs for KFC, Homebase and Costa souring the skyline. Buddha reflected that the human drive for hard logic, for the boundaries and distinctions that science relentlessly chased, brought reality no nearer. You could reduce atoms to their tiniest components, but they still behaved unpredictably under microscopic observation. His religion, conversely, made boundaries disappear. The trees meet the sky; the sky drops into the trees. Why did Dawn imagine words and labels might chisel a profile for their pilgrimage?

Dawn needed the loo, so they sat on steep stone stairs by Costa, whose door she disappeared through. Away from the road, Sid relaxed his spell. “Bleedin’ weirdos” said a lorry driver strolling by. “More immigrants after our jobs and women.” Dawn returned with four glasses of water. “I’ve got a full bottle for later. The loo’s unisex, if you guys want it. Might be a bit cramped for you, Yesh.”

His long body covering many steps, Jesus asked Dawn to relate her Pound Lane memory. She suddenly looked hesitant. “It’s a bit tasty – not sure it’s suitable.”

Looking in, Maggie sensed this would be interesting. She had not been able to take her eyes from the screens.

“Does it involve love?” asked Jesus, who sensed something profoundly beautiful in her reference a couple of miles back. She smiled. “A bit more than love, my darling.” He gestured to proceed. “OK, between adults then. But first we’re all going to have a McVities Gold Bar. That leaves four for later on. No artificial colours or flavours.” They unwrapped and munched the bars, enjoying the caramel, white chocolate and crisp biscuit texture. Jesus reconsidered his earlier idea. It was a possibility.

Dawn set the scene: “It was late May, nearly 18 years ago. Steve’s parents were staying with us in Eastwood, getting on our nerves. I was climbing the bloody walls. Beautiful sunny evening, so we piled in the Escort and drove up the Arterial. Windows open, radio on. All the hedgerows and woods bustling with greenery. Didn’t have a plan, so we turned down Pound Lane on a whimsy. It took us into an old village, Bowers Gifford, where Steve’s aunty lived when he was a kid.”

Buddha loved the name. Like Tolleshunt D’Arcy and Stondon Massey, Bowers Gifford indicated the Essex history beneath the surface. The Gold Bar was delicious, assaulting his palate with temporary sweetness.

“Bowers Gifford always looked odd, like it didn’t belong to Basildon. It had these unpaved roads going nowhere, houses looking like homesteads. We drove to the other end of Pound Lane, turned right, found a pub called the Gun on the old A13. Theme nights and Mexican food. It didn’t feel cosy, so we wolfed the drinks, and Steve said he’d show me the oldest church he knew. He found a little road that went past a cemetery and across the new A13. After a quarter mile we were in a different world, heading down an old farm road towards the Thames, fields heaving with green barley shoots.”

“What colour was the car”, asked Jesus, listening intently.

“Red. A red Ford Escort, A-reg.” Three sets of male eyes met. “Did you say….A-reg?” asked Sid, intuiting a new prototype, an inception, the first in a series.

“Yeah….but believe me the car was no big deal. If you want to hear this, then listen up.”

279. My dad’s voice

This is a test to see if my podcasting skills are up to six-year old level. And to capture my dad’s voice for posterity. He’s increasingly struggling with Alzheimers. Not sure how much longer he can live on his own.  He talks of joining the navy, under-age, in 1944, and then his driving test in East London.

 

 

The sound is scratchy for the first 10 seconds.

Here’s a pic of my old man.

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278. Golden light, fried assets

OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 40

 

I have seen the Lord

Mary Magdalene

 

 

Stooping, Yeshua found a light switch. Then sat, silently, until upstairs noises faded back to slumber. He rubbed his head, still sore from the toilet roof. Then took in the visual cornucopia. Darkened wood, vinyl cushions on window seats. Anaglypta of a beer cream hue covered a low-beamed ceiling.

“Please ask for a top up,” requested a wall sign.

Above a window to the alleyway, a clock said 4.15. A blackboard advertised Nicholson’s guest ales, next to six sepia-tinted photos arranged in a rectangle. On another wall, a menu indicated maritime fare. ‘This hostelry was South East Essex Pub of the Year in 2012,’ boasted another sign.

Investigating the single malt shelf, Jesus sighted an 18-year-old Bunnahabhain. The rascal that had steered the outcome of the ‘Maggie meeting’ some six years previous, he recalled.

Its beginning released honeyed nuts and a salty tang, redolent of the sea. He looked out, through mist, to the ebbed Thames.

Slowly acclimatising, remembering his brief visit eleven months earlier. Out in the estuary. Here surfaces were compressed and oppressive. His body felt impossibly heavy.

The Bunnahabhain’s next stage comprised rich toffee and leathery oak aromas, then sherried nuts and a hint of natural oak wood. Subsequent dry notes mixed with varying spices. As the flavours bowed out on a light salt and sherry coda, soft steps carried from the alleyway. Jesus had unlocked the gate.

Siddharta entered the room, preceded by his habitual glow. They high-fived then hugged for a full minute. Yesh whispered to be quiet, indicating the small glass on the bar. Buddha sat with him at the small window table, stepping over his friend’s long legs. After Jesus brought him up to speed, Siddharta used his lowest voice. “To ask for your plan would be like requesting a lion to write a thesis.”

Jesus smiled. “We have a mission fit for lions. Gandhi will meet us in just over one hour. Then we travel to the City of Corruption.” Silently they enjoyed the whisky, before Jesus asked two questions.

“Did we hurry Maggie? And, had you been there, at the fatal, drunken meeting, would we have chosen her?”

Buddha reflected. The basic wisdoms never changed. “All souls make the best decisions available at any given moment. In epochs to come, our perceptions will accrue fresh colours. Something is unfolding, a process in which Maggie has enjoyed unique input. As has our friend Sal, who has been pining for his old existence.”

In payment, they blessed the pub, ensuring it would be successful, and a source of comfort, for decades ahead. Exiting, Jesus left the alley gate slightly ajar. Sal and Maggie would soon require access.

Old Leigh’s visuals mesmerised him. Surreal rows of wooden tables and benches; a sign proclaiming ‘Osborne Bros Seafood Merchants’; overwhelmingly yellow walls; the clapperboard of nearby buildings. Looking through screens was no preparation for this. They passed a white and brown building, The Coal Hole’, featured among the pub’s rectangle of photos.

Jesus said Gandhi would ensure their safe legal passage in the hours to come. “Many is the donkey that has conceded its back legs in debate with Mahatma,” agreed Buddha.

More views of the Estuary; then an old foundry. Cobbles beneath their feet, bared to ensure their souls were fully earthed. Other hostelries were here: The Smack, with SkySports, and the Mayflower. Lacking the softness of Palestinian inns.

“Of you, my great friend, I request protective powers,” said Jesus. They halted on the pedestrian bridge over the railway. Little of 21st century Essex was perceptible in the dark. “Just as you protected this village from the tsunami,” he said. A train approached, passed beneath, vibrating the bridge. Yeshua felt air cool his skin. “Would you kindly guide us to Kent Elms Corner?”

Sid mentally selected a route to stimulate his companion.

A few trees were apparent, white blossom catching their gaze as they descended, opposite The Ship public house. Then up a hill, past an abandoned-looking building, sporting advice. ‘Live the life you love’. Hearts sat below the words.

“My students are but 50 yards away – shall we collect them,” asked Sid. “All can be ready in minutes.” Jesus considered; shook his head. “Plenty of work awaits them, later. We must stay compact, deflect gazes.”

A horn honked furiously. “Wot’s all this then, the faakin noooth Larndon derby or wot?” shouted an Essex cowboy, arm hanging from the builder’s van. “And where you get them faaakkin stilts mate?” Laughter rocked the vehicle.

Jesus was wearing his Tottenham shirt and joggers. Essene carpenter robes would have been too conspicuous. He realised with a grin that Sid was in full Arsenal regalia. He had seen it as Buddha’s everyday garb, paying no notice. They would surely accustom themselves to further banter.

Over the road a cobbled, uphill path beckoned. Black paint engulfed metal rails at either side. They stepped up, passing several housing terraces, glimpsing dewed gardens. A spired building came into view at the top. “St Clements church – you might want to look,” suggested Buddha.

They heard a motorbike pass the foot of the hill, nearing its destination.

 

***

Dawn Landais had woken early, with Genevieve in mind. She wished her daughter would stay in more regular touch. Steve’s snoring drove her from the bedroom, for a first cup of coffee.

Fragments of her dream nagged. Something about a field. And Mrs Thatcher. No dafter than most dreams.

She decided to start work, despite the dark. As much as anything, she wanted to be in the fresh morning air. And takings from the windscreen work were beginning to rise again, as the days lengthened. She pulled on a spare fleece and jeggings. Instinct said it would be a good day. Better than usual.

 

***

George called a very senior Essex policeman with the instruction to bury the Southchurch events without trace. “Evaporate any mess.”

He called the editors of every British daily to specify zero coverage. A similar instruction to his contact who controlled Essex media. Relatives of the dirty dozen would be told their kin had died bravely preventing a coup by a would-be dictator in Central Africa.

 

***

 On the Highway to Hell, Bob held court, surrounded by Satan’s six other cats. “He’s gone down again,” he whispered. “Jesus has gone in again.”

Rosie felt surges of excitement. She regurgitated a conversation between archangels Gabriel and Michael that she had earwigged. “They were talking about that very possibility yesterday, in the angels’ canteen. Michael reckoned it was about two thousand Earth years since all the New Testament shenanigans.”

Bob did the maths. “2,014 years since he last went down.  1,981 years since he came back.” 

***

 

In the churchyard, Yesh looked at his own crucifixion.

No shelter had covered his thorned head outside the Jerusalem walls. He and Sid walked on, past graves, to a road. A sign was visible. ‘Unified by Love and Hope, Jesus welcomes all.’ It puzzled him. Vexed him even. “I never told a soul to congregate in churches,” he said, softly.

Priests were little more than entertainers, in the charade begun long ago by the Church of Rome.

They walked along Leigh Broadway, his eyes revolting. Gaudy merchandise in windows. Unyielding surfaces, colours swirling like vomit. Above a shop, a sign specified ‘A Touch Too Wild’. Lifeless mannequins in scanty dresses.

Cohesion eluded him. “Science seems to have created a society in which a simple man can no longer be,” he groaned. “If the next Jesus exists in these streets, or the next Buddha, nobody will recognise them.”

Paving stones alone provided symmetry. They passed Leigh Road Baptist church, adjacent to Our Lady of Lourdes and St Joseph Catholic church. A statue entitled ‘Christ of the Deep in bronze’ adorned the latter’s gardens.

“How did this happen, these buildings?” he asked Sid. “When you become religious you become solitary, dive for the innermost core, the inner Kingdom where only you are. It is the greatest transformation. You may humbly try to bring that light to others. But these churches? People can only lose themselves, even as they fill the collection boxes.”

They passed the Poppies Café of Leigh, Havens Hospices, The Cooperative and a shop named Karma. “Stay calm – you’re only 50,” advised a pink balloon in a window. “Come on you Irons,” yelled a driver with a West Ham mascot under his front mirror, just before the St Michael and All Angels church.

Soon the houses were bigger, more boastful. They turned left, past the red brick of a school with royal blue railings, traffic increasing in volume. Raucous comments came from drivers. Down a hill, past the Love Leigh Lengths Boutique. White houses proliferated, accentuating wisteria in flower. Green and blue boards sheltered waste ground at the foot of the hill, near a dazzlingly bright pink house. Somewhere below the horizon, light announced its imminence.

He dived within himself, losing track of surroundings until they crossed a large road, where dandelion waves bordered the pavement. “What do you make of it, Sid? You have lived here, mixed with citizens. I have no sense of this, saving the sense that all are fast asleep.”

It satisfied him that he could not have guessed the answer. Buddha referred to ‘The Grand Cross’, an extremely rare astrological alignment that peaked in 14 days, on April 23. Pluto opposite Jupiter; Mars opposite Uranus. “The cross that they make combines the signs of Aries, Libra, Cancer and Capricorn. These signs all enjoy being the boss, leading the parade. All love to initiate change,” he said.

Yeshua rejoiced that his friend could lift him. “Advise me on how we should best be during this time, as we head for the Dark City,” he said, smiling now.

“Just be”, Sid replied calmly. “Be, stay gentle with yourself and others. But know that old patterns and constructs no longer apply. What was done historically will no longer work, does no longer work, so dare to dream vividly, of new ways of community and governance.”

Sid continued. “I shared your unease when I arrived; but found most humans possess good hearts. That will count during this shift point. Dramatic but positive outcomes will be chosen.”

A female voice spoke in Polish from a top floor flat. The thoroughfare was widening, light trying to broaden. “Caterpillars will become butterflies,” said Sid, confidently. “You have entered a world where information can travel in a split second. No longer does it take 300 years to move from Dark Age to Renaissance. It can happen overnight, if a few strong minds send clear messages.”

Red and white lines laced the emergent sky. The Buddha told of his initial astonishment at the Essex humans he encountered. “My head and gut seized control. I saw indentured servants walking the breadline, money shrinking or stolen, justice disappearing, consciousness traduced by media. The government and royal family manufacturing consent then milking people left and right. Bankers printing money like madmen to keep their lifestyles and grandeur afloat. Everything for sale. And everyone trained to submission, believing the little pieces of paper have value, allowing the money printers to harvest their energy.”

Jesus walked on the grass wherever possible. Early passers-by looked up at him with incredulity. Buddha continued: “But my heart took over. I saw love in how humans can and do treat each other. It was clear they lack time or tools to change the wider situation. People are exhausted and uninformed – so Earth’s elites do whatever they want, when they want. My role was never to judge, but to enlighten. The results at our centre have been pleasing.”

A woman crossed the road, shunning them, as Siddharta described the universe eliminating things that did not work. “That is natural apocalypse – the striking apocalypse of renewal that we are living in now.”

Buddha explained how each night – in the few hours when his disciples slept – he went into trance to watch spirit worlds. He had seen the pain felt by tens of millions starving in sub-Saharan Africa. “It manifests as a thin yellow light with flecks of red anger, hidden behind dark ghouls that inhabit these worlds. I heard the Earth itself yelping with pain, from the trees being felled in the Amazon forest.”

They turned left, opposite a church, a huge cross on its side. St Cedds. Siddharta told of his watershed vision earlier that night. “There was not a single ghoul to be seen, nor any yelp from Gaia. Instead a golden light was close. I sensed it is ready to fry the flat and manufactured language of assets, profit, and investors’ rights. And that you were here, with us, at last. Unbidden, my feet took me to the Crooked Billet.”

They crossed a junction. Traffic lights divided the dwellings either side; the humble and the prouder. Drivers were opening windows, recording the sight on their phones. Jesus’ high vantage point gave an impression that small, shiny but misshapen boxes were shunting and shuffling. Ahead, he read the Essex Ford sign, saw greater numbers of the shuffling boxes that needed the Earth’s minerals.

“Kent Elms Corner,” said Sid, two minutes later. “Here we are.” They found a bench, near a large curving bridge across the road. On the other side of the junction, a dark-haired figure energetically washed windscreens at the traffic lights. Coins slid into her hip pouch at regular intervals. The sun was rising brightly to the east over the A127 suburbs. A small, wiry figure wrapped in white approached, pounding the pavement with an equal energy.

As Gandhi crossed towards them, smiling, the car washer looked across. “It has begun,” said Jesus. He felt harmony and balance return, felt his vibration rise, felt his head and gut chakras take a back seat.

Acclimatisation to Earth was every inch the challenge Sid had described.

 

 

277. Maureen’s Elegance

 

index

 

Because of the coronavirus, the missus and me made an exception last night, by watching the 10 pm news. This is a long-discarded habit of pure masochism.

Even before COVID-19, the message was perpetually miserable: that things are out of control; politicians cannot agree; people are suffering; and the future is coloured in tinges of the deepest shite. Cheers for that.

It isn’t edifying to see and hear constant negativity. Or to watch journalists who show us their ‘emotion’ but don’t drill down into their subjects, don’t ask ‘why’, and don’t question certain official narratives.

Why put yourself through that before sleeping? Or at any time during the day? My quarantine from news extends to radio. Almost all stations spoil my enjoyment with news broadcasts, pumping out downbeat narratives, with regular dollops of propaganda.

To stay relatively informed, I look at the headlines in my dad’s copy of The Times every second day. Every other day, I look online at the Guardian headlines. That’s as much as I can stomach, as the journalism in both papers has slowly descended from a former semblance of objectivity, into partisanship and quite often the equivalent of sixth-form reasoning. Probably the most objective news coverage is in the Financial Times, but then I have to put up with its barbaric underlying notion: that our capitalist system is a marvellous thing, to be shoe-shined, arse-rimmed and revered. Fuck that.

Anyway, last night’s news featured forecasts by ‘experts’ that the UK economy might contract by 35% this spring. That this would leave many with nothing to live on. And that UK government ‘borrowing’ would inevitably soar, racking up more debt. It later showed a poor guy in India who had lost his ‘zero hours’ job, been evicted by his landlord and was sleeping on a bridge. Doubt if he’s buying the FT.

Maureen, who has a huge heart, suggested out of the blue that if we are all ‘in it together’, as our governments constantly intone, then they should make sure every person in the world has enough money.

It took five seconds to register. Bang! Why not? Bingo! Succintly elegant.

If Occam’s Razor says that the explanation for an occurrence is likely to be the simplest of all the many elucidations, can we then nail down a new principle? Maureen’s Elegance. That the best solution to a problem is probably the simplest.

Her idea dovetailed perfectly with the most central idea in my book, Out of Essex.

Beneath all the shenanigans – tsunamis, Southend-on-Sea, Satan and Jesus, the single malted discussions and the ten trillionaires, Buddha and Gandhi, Maggie Thatcher’s martial artistry, the Sex Magic of Isis and the City of Corruption – I’m banging away with the message that money creation and distribution is now almost entirely in private hands. And thus has to be paid for, through interest-bearing debt. That nearly all of our money is literally rented out to us and our governments by banks and other forms of private finance, such as bond markets. That this process isn’t an accident.

That governments have let themselves become as vulnerable as individuals.

And that most of our taxes pay back the interest on state borrowing, rather than support health services or rebuild welfare states. In summary, that the finance system sucks parasitically on most of the world’s 7 billion population.

I could have tried to write a dry academic book, but wanted something that stayed in the mind, that could be transferred to small or big screens, with engaging and picaresque characters and a memorable ending (not long now). With piss-ups galore, plus sex and humour to adorn, embellish and colour a totally deserved dissing of the finance industry, and its chiefs.

And packed with real information. Food for thought. Such as the demise of John F Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln after their administrations printed and distributed state money, quarantined from the miasma of interest-bearing commercial debt. Coincidence?

index

How Guernsey has prospered by issuing state money, staying under the radar by dint of its size. How Libya did the same, more aggressively, and has almost been wiped from the face of the map. How the UK, Canada and Australia have occasionally done the same, only to be pulled back into the old ways. The result of those old ways is that total global debt now exceeds $257 trillion, according to the Institute of International Finance.

When CV-19 is finally contained, that debt will remain. Here in the UK, the $350 billion CV-19 support package from government is essentially lending by banks propped up by government guarantees. For decades in tot he future, it will tug at government and local council budgets, constrain any pretence at welfare, bring bailiffs back to front doors. In India, it could trigger that guy on the bridge into a decision to go over the side.

Is that what we want? I don’t.

Having shown the collective will to social distance, live under virtual house arrest and eschew our closest relatives, in order to save lives and take the pressure off national health systems, is our fate and reward to return to this so-called ‘normality’, where, in Britain alone, 320,000 people are homeless, according to Shelter? In India, 1.77 million are on the streets.

Will you settle for that? The pink, fluffy heart of neoliberalism, where Brits have generously been given a 3-month eviction holiday. Is that worth going back to?

Will you sleep-walk back into the inexorably widening gap between rich and poor? My dad taught me to stick up for the underdogs, always. Certainly not to ever be on the side of, as OOE terms them, “human locusts, the insects that continue to reward themselves with outlandish bonuses, which result from a money system that has always taken the roof from over peoples’ heads.”

Slight digression there, from the key point that governments have the power to print as much money as they want. And to distribute it. It is documented historical reality. ‘Experts’ will say that Maureen’s Elegance will cause inflation, as currencies become worthless. No. If every government does it, then we are in an unchartered territory that no ‘expert’ can predict, whoever pays their wages. It would need politicians with vision, and the balls to go against financial cartels, but I live in hope that somewhere like Iceland or New Zealand will set an example. And the dominoes will begin to fall. And eliminate the notion that it is somehow OK for any human to go to sleep empty-bellied, wet or cold. Or that financial markets somehow matter more than people.

Some may slap the label of ‘communism’ on Maureen’s Elegance. I’m fairly sure that she is thinking more of the abundance that is available, and withheld, rather than levering the next Joe Stalin into power. She has no interest in taking money back from the richest, just bringing an all-encompassing safety net into existence.

Imagine if a huge, war-footing effort was eventually put into the target that every global citizen was fed and sheltered. Is that not better than today’s cruel dissonance? Why would anyone not want that?

I can see an effort (much more joyful than our ‘stay at home’ diktat) that might run parallel to the ‘race’ between powerful, privately-run pharma companies to bring us a COVID-19 vaccination. I know which of the two sets of goalposts I’d prefer, given that huge chunks of global employment have been lost to the virus, which will bring ruin, and attendant deaths, to far more families than the virus will, unless mitigated.

My favourite short story, by Ursula Le Guin, is ‘The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas’. It describes a Utopian city where everyone is satisfied and happy, at the price of a 10-year old child locked forever in a broom cupboard. The citizens have everything they need. Yet some still leave, unable to stomach the distorted social contract.

As my missus said, we’re either all in it together or we ain’t. Another reminder of why I married her.

 

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276. Cherry Tree Gardens

For around seven days each April, our road in Great Waltham is transformed. Maybe 20 or so cherry trees come into blossom, transforming into still fountains of the purest colour. It is eye-catchingly beautiful, surreal, comforting, and animistic in ways that I think Vincent Van Gogh would have understood.

Perhaps I’m getting carried away. Here’s how some of it looks. Starting a few days ago, finishing in the now.

 

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275. Down to Essex

 

OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 39

 

 

A little too much anger, too often or at the wrong time, can destroy more than you would ever imagine

Marilynne Robinson

 

 

Mike Burper rubbed his eyes. Had a cat laughed? He never fell asleep on watches. The wall clock said 3.30 a.m. Stretching, he stood, and walked to the open café door facing the lake and field. A low rumble came from across the water, where the cricket pavilion glowed under a blood moon.

Crossing the bridge, he saw yellow shapes moving. It almost looked as if two excavating machines were steadily ploughing up the park’s massive vegetable allotments. It really looked like jagged buckets were swinging teeth-first into the rows of planted trenches, heaving away a yard of soil each time.

He broke into a run. “What the fuck are you playing at?” he shouted repeatedly at the digger operators. Hoping other residents would hear, Mike didn’t see the outstretched leg, saw only the ground speeding toward him. Breathless, he watched a dark boot kick his face.

***

 

God caught the movement on her screens before Mike awoke. She identified the machines – JCB’s JS360 range – as they went about destroying Dave’s Field.

Human history was littered with such moments.

Sending in Maggie would not change the bigger picture. But might be interesting. To assess lessons learned. To ascertain soul readiness.

 

***

 

Akash woke Maggie. She pulled on her whites, grabbed her sports bag. Jesus waited for her outside Heaven’s door.

Inside, they watched the destruction, before God asked if Maggie was ready. She was thrilled her mission had begun. “Am I going alone?” she asked, as a temporary portal down to Southchurch Park was prepared. “You will know what to do,” said Jesus, tucking something hard into her pocket.

She felt herself spin, vision warping. Stomach turning somersaults. Light broke into spectrums of colour, folded back in on itself. Then she was face down in moist soil, head and solar plexus swamped with nausea. Her hand reached instinctively, withdrawing the metal flask and unscrewing the top. She had no idea the tipple was Laphroaig. But enjoyed the sweet warmth, sweeping away physical discomfort.

In the darkness, Maggie listened. She raised herself, and began a stumbling run away from the tennis courts, around the western end of the lake. Movements on Dave’s Field clarified. She broke into a sprint.

 

***

Alex had been gliding at will over green landscape. When the discordant noise hijacked the dream, old training kicked in. Pulling away from Claire’s hip, he sat up and pulled on his boots. “Stay here until I come back,” he whispered. In seconds he was outside, quietly zipping his fleece.

Claire had re-pitched the tent east of the café, south of the lake, as the park moved towards a fuller agricultural mode. Using trees as cover, Alex gained the edge of the field and lay flat. A dozen darkly clad figures were loosely grouped around two swivelling and gouging JCBs.

“Who are these shits?” said a soft voice alongside. “They’re not police,” Alex told Satan. “You can spot regimentation when a bunch of coppers work together. These are freer spirits, probably mercenaries, and will think nothing of killing any of us.”

They watched Burper lay 80 yards away, holding his face, while a figure dressed in black pinned him down with one foot. “They remind me of Blackwater mercenaries in Iraq,” whispered Alex. “Nasty bastards, working multiple psy-ops for the CIA. Those guys go by a new name now, Greystone.”

Satan watched JCB treads and teeth continue to mash up the vegetable beds, thinking of Dave Dawson. A figure rushed silently from nearby trees, blond hair flying as he threw himself at another dark invader. The figure stepped aside and smashed Howard’s shoulder with a cosh. The assailant scanned around; pulled the balaclava tighter. The Welsh lad lay screaming, collarbone shattered.

“Can we do anything practical,” asked Satan. Instinct told him everything here was ending.

“Get everybody, the whole park, to the café. Nothing else has happened to Mike or Howard, so assume these fuckers are here to destroy the field.” Alex sounded confident. “We could do with photos of the diggers, using phones, from a distance. And call an ambulance and the police.”

 

***

Through the tiny cameras installed long ago on streetlights around the park, George viewed the destruction. Dan’s recent blog had stirred and riled him, particularly the notion that these communities could undermine political and monetary systems, and that Britain’s elite were up to their necks in ritual child abuse.

Without the clans’ control of mainstream media, and the elimination of various individuals, like the Dando woman, that connection would have been made time and time again. The children that went missing and were never found. It was time to review the freedom of speech the Internet offered.

 

***

Jesus had coached Maggie. “Until now, you have typically planned your actions based on past experiences,” he had said, when steering her from the stinking minotaur to a nearby shower. “As your soul awakens, you will increasingly act only when a thought or intention arises naturally. Listening to your body and responding to instincts, spontaneously.”

The process was incremental. For encouragement, he described the nature of complete freedom. “You will begin to stand in a dimensional crossover, both in and outside the physical plane. At times, the frequency will place you beyond the eye’s normal visual range.”

Unaware this was already the case, Maggie increased her speed, deciding in a nano-second to unleash a venomous kick at the chest of the nearest man in black. The consequence turned the heads of several of his colleagues. Three of them ran across, but his heart had already stopped. Each fell to the ground, their windpipes now smashed by invisible fingers.

God looked at Jesus. They shook their heads. “What did you hope for Mum?”

“Maybe a few broken legs, and a non-murderous cessation to this carnage.”

 

***

Satan’s phone lit up outside Sheena’s tent. He had asked her help in assembling everybody at the café. “Get her back. NOW!” said the message. Who was God referring to? “And tell Gandhi to be at Kent Elms Corner at 5.30.”

Ruth and Steph appeared through the darkness, bleary-eyed, followed by others. Suddenly a metallic grinding assaulted the night air. “Get to the café, everybody,” shouted Sal. He raced back to the field, through the bordering trees, out into the open. Alex was holding Howard’s shoulder. Burper was sitting up, head in his bloodied hands. Dark bodies strewn around the field resembled corpses.

The noise erupted again, from the remnants of the allotments. He turned to see a mangled JS360 swing through the air of its own volition, faster and faster, pivoting furiously around the end arm and bucket that somehow stood vertically. As if unseen hands rotated a lasso for an almighty throw.

The machine knifed through the air into its smashed partner for a second time. Metal embraced, grinded and rejected. Satan watched, fascinated.

Then he understood.

“Maggie: that’s enough,” he yelled through the darkness. “God wants you to stop.” She took four seconds to materialise, while he looked around in silent goodbye. “We’re taking a short motorbike ride.”

 

274. Spring

OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 38

 

 

Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.
Charlotte Brontë

 

 

 

Spring had blessed Dan and Mary Fawkes’ marriage with rediscovered desire. The lengthening evenings increasingly ended with them entwined; afterglows and pillow talk reminiscent of their early years.

Dan had also found a quiet place to write: the park’s rose garden, by the tennis courts, where Dave Dawson had pruned every bush the previous autumn. Each visit saw new stems thrust out, moistened by early morning watering.

Dan’s laptop was beyond the park’s wi-fi range. This issue of the newsletter would come from his heart. He began by announcing that two more moneyless communities were up and running, extending the network into Peterborough and Hull. But struggled for the next lines, feeling mesmerised by Edward’s visit hours earlier.

“Was that natural teenage evolution in our son or a quantum leap in consciousness?” Mary later asked her husband.

In sight of the budding willows overhanging the lake, Ed had animatedly relayed his journey down the 9/11 financial trail. While his parents sipped green tea sourced by the park’s Bangladeshi benefactor, Mr Begum, and Steph glided from table to table, taking orders and dispensing.

The 15-year old described the days before September 11, 2001; and the untoward level of speculation that American Airlines and United Airlines share prices would fall in the short-term. Despite an estimated 90 times the normal volume of financial market trading on this outcome, the US Security and Exchange Commission stonewalled the investigation into financial collusion linked to 9/11 events, by citing ‘destroyed’ documents, said Ed. He couldn’t keep his legs still.

“There was a ton of clear evidence indicating people knew in advance of the September 11 attacks,” he insisted. “How come the Texan cowboy Bush didn’t bring the relevant people to justice? ‘Smoke ‘em out’ and make their names public? Any chance his mates were involved?”

Dan cut in. “Move on Ed. The whole truth will never be known.”

Ed smiled, rubbing downy hair each side of his face. “Don’t worry Dad, I took your advice. I looked this side of 9/11.”

Mary hardly heard Ed’s words. Her son was growing up without her. His upper lip was nicked from shaving. Mary remembered school reports suggesting Ed could contribute more. Now he argued that “the real financial story after 9/11 is all about propping up the dollar, often by military force, to maintain it as the world’s reserve petro-currency. And grabbing resources.” Dan was astonished how Ed articulated a complex subject so clearly.

His lad recounted that US General Wesley Clark had spoken publicly in March 2007, telling TV viewers of instructions received shortly after 9/11. Ed said you could find internet videos of Clark relating this story. When the US was already bombing Afghanistan, Clark was given a Pentagon memo describing “how we were going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

Ed paused, noticing attention from other tables. Dan turned, noting Claire’s rainbow hair inches from Alex’s black face. “Now what I found out is that none of those countries were members of the Bank for International Settlements, the private central bankers’ private central bank.” Dan knew all about the BIS. Ed continued: “These were all countries deciding for themselves how to run their economies, rather than submit to the international banking cabal.”

***

 

In a parallel dimension, Maggie dropped her sports bag. She bunched her fists, unable to look up at Yeshua. Taking a deep breath, she croaked: “The Battle of the Beanfield”.

In 1948, George Orwell had written that an accurate vision of the future might be “a boot stamping on a human face”. 41 years later, in southern England, on 1 June, 1985, a convoy of several hundred New Age travellers were prevented from their Common Law right to attend the 11th Stonehenge Free Festival. An exclusion order granted by the British High Court extended four miles around Stonehenge.

“The police violence was horrible,” said Maggie, trembling. “Peaceful, harmless people were deliberately attacked, beaten about the head with truncheons.” The minotaur howled from its lair. “Coaches holding women and children were smashed with sledgehammers. Pregnant women were attacked.”

She wept freely, quivering, unable to catch her breath. “My responsibility. I loathed anyone with a view that they could ‘drop out’ at will,” she sobbed.

Jesus remembered the track by The Levellers, Battle of the Beanfield. After a wailing harmonica, a Clash-like vocal observed how they were committing treason, by trying to live on the road. With a flick of his mind he reviewed a stand-off lasting several hours, before police attacked the procession in the field where the vehicles sat. Some vehicles broke through an adjacent beanfield, to little avail. News flashes showed bandaged heads, screaming females and smoke rising from vehicles. A court judgment six years later found the police guilty of wrongful arrest, assault and criminal damage. “We ordered the TV companies to destroy the worst filmed evidence,” wailed Maggie, vision totally blurred.

Still the big one to go. Jesus asked for the very last shame, watching it wrench its way up through her body. “Please, please forgive me,” she bawled. Her entire body was shivering and shaking. “I chose to ignore a disgusting paedophile element in my own Cabinet. Men who raped children. Do you want the details?”

Jesus answered by reaching down and picking her up. He held her like a baby, kissed her tears away. Satan had and would deal with these people.

***

 

Ed had left X-Box far in his past. Mary didn’t recognise her little boy, as he scythed and slashed at established narrative. “I mean, who wouldn’t want Western democracy, even if it is at the barrel of a gun. Our noble and pure way of life eventually gives people a magnificent opportunity. To bank, borrow and rent. Those horrid dictators must be insane to refuse that, and do, generally, have to be eliminated, which frees up their people to live frugally, sometimes to starve, often in a bomb-scarred, privatised landscape.”

“But they adapt, it’s what we humans are good at. Sometimes you need to bring in the IMF, to halve everybody’s pension, as happened recently in Ukraine. Didn’t they have that horrible Viktor Yanukovych, who was often described as, let me recall, yes, that’s it: a ‘dictator’. And didn’t Ukraine’s gold mysteriously exit the country amid all that trouble? Same as Libya. The coincidences never stop.”

Dan had no idea if his son was inspired or deluded. About 30 people had gathered to listen, bunching outside the café. The sound of applause broke out behind them. Dressed in black from head to toe, Satan stood in the sunshine, banging his hands together. “Bravo young man, and don’t ever let yourself be swayed from your wisdoms. Dan, Mary, your boy has the ability to think for himself.”

Ed looked terrified, so Dan introduced them. Although his breath oozed booze, he hadn’t seen Sal look this happy for months. Ed timidly asked him how tall he was. “Seven foot one in my hoof warmers,” he grinned, adding that the situation described by Ed could apply to North Korea.

“Just like Syria, Iraq and Libya, that country has a state-owned central bank, and a leader blackened in the Western media,” said Satan. “On Facebook, they believe that Kim Jong-Un feeds people to dogs. Isn’t it fascinating, though, that North Korea sits on tungsten and other rare earth metals worth trillions of dollars?”

“Here’s a prediction,” said Sal. “The world’s psycho central bankers will have payday loans up and running in Baghdad, Tripoli, Damascus and Tehran in the next decade; and Wonga on every street corner in Pyongyang by 2025, if they don’t nuke it first.”

Ed spoke again, complaining that he had to sit at school with “dumbass kids” who associated the word Muslim with terrorism. “The constant demonising of Islam has actually warped peoples’ brains. Funny, isn’t it, how nameless, faceless enemies can be shifted with the wind to keep wars going indefinitely. Strange how nobody bats an eye when the peace-loving USA provides munitions to its greatest enemy – those despised Al Qaeda terrorists supposed to have caused 9/11 – to fight Assad in Syria.”

Even Satan was quiet. “And who benefits?” asked Ed. Dan smiled inwardly. He had taught Ed the ‘cui bono’ question.

“Once you get your head around it, you can see a never-ending flow of money for those who truly pull the strings. From equipping the police state, the public and private armed forces, the new prisons, and then all the contracts rebuilding the countries which are smashed to fuck by war. Think Carlyle Group, think SERCO, Halliburton and G4S. Think Israeli security companies winning business everywhere. Say hello to the new military-industrial complex.”

Mary recalled how Siddharta had chuckled at her request to protect Ed. “How would you like it Mary? Shall I throw a transparent blanket over him, as if he was Old Leigh awaiting a tsunami?”

It was impossible to picture Ed at school. He was highlighting that hardly any Muslim “terrorists” were caught and cross-examined in courts of law. “Their bodies are shot, blown to pieces, dumped at sea, or locked away in Guantanamo Bay. Where was a single shred of believable, irrevocable proof that terrorists were behind 9/11? A passport found amazingly intact in the WTC rubble, having survived heat sufficient to melt steel? Confessions extracted under torture? Really? Is that it? How credulous can people be?”

Ed was tailing off, losing steam, so Mary asked what he was listening to, changing subject. “Tell you what mum, I’ve found something that made me think music might contain real magic. It’s called Goa Trance. Check out God’s eye on Goa, by The Overlords.”

***

 

“Why are we doing this?” Among the spring roses, Dan re-commenced his newsletter.

“Personally, I got off on the sheer dare of the Southend experiment, in an era when human living arrangements generally exhibit a dull conformity. It was exciting to see disparate groups draw together: those who could no longer afford to live anywhere; those who objected to the government’s austerity drive; and others who wanted to create a new social model. What emerged, under a natural quarantine, is an antibody to the mass experiment in human despair beyond our park railings.”

He could see across to a young oak tree, surrounded by red roses, near one of the park’s southern entrances. The memorial to Stephanie Bottrill. Neighboured by a winter sweet chimonanthus praecox, from which yellow tepals blazed and spiralled.

Dan emphasised how self-sustainability was gradually supplanting the subsidies that initially propped up the Southchurch community. “It was with relief, and pride, that the first crop of spinach and lettuces were picked in early February from our farm space, Dave’s Field. We have debated hard about when spring seeds for this year’s crops should be planted, with caution over frosts holding the upper hand.”

They had taken a vote. “That caution manifested through an electronic show of hands, but the real bedrock of our park society is a set of guidelines required when many people live together.  In Southend, our lawyer has gone with a fine toothcomb through the land purchase and the laws regarding gatherings. But the park’s true law is no more than a tacit willingness to honour each other.”

As more words formed, a runner passed, hair bobbing in the breeze. “Every day, in the absence of money, and the presence of Natural Law, I witness a greater appreciation of the boundaries of others. Practical agreements – such as maximum noise levels – have been voted in to show respect to those living inside and outside the park.”

Hearing footsteps behind him, Dan turned to see Alex and Claire holding hands. She was telling Alex her dream. “I saw three skies. The first was the mess we often see now, with those unexplained white trails. Then it turned a venomous red. But not for long. This sweet turquoise colour kicked in. It stayed. Green shoots began springing from the ground.”

Claire – alongside Sheena, Ruth, Mary and Claire – had roped the desolate Sarah Dawson ever tighter into their group, which assumed Dave’s former roles in the park. Missing his friend beyond words, Micky Gaze had focused on the practical, mending the plumbing and unblocking the lake drains. He had pumped in his remaining finances.

***

 

Dan braced himself for the next section. Please go ahead, said his heart, as the sun emerged. “I hope your communities, as they develop, will replicate something else happening here. In Southchurch, it is as if our 300 plus residents are beginning to recover from two mighty punches administered since 2001.”

When the Twin Towers fell, “the Western world devolved, entropied and dumbed down”, Dan suggested. “Fear and the survival urge drowned humanity, as the airport searches stepped up, the surveillance increased and draconian security laws were passed. Even the most chilled souls were affected.”

Sometimes you had to stick your neck on the line. “You may disagree with my next view, which is retrospective. What we were told we saw and what happened were two different things. We were tested, from a dark place, to see how far humanity could be lied to, to gauge what percentage can be cajoled to look completely in the wrong direction.”

“So, one simple question for each reader. How many World Trade Centre towers collapsed completely, into their own footprint, on September 11th?  Time finding and contemplating that answer is time well spent.”

WTC7, the elephant in the room. He was walking with his dad’s 5% now.

“Having had your consciousness assaulted, and your freedom whittled down, it was time for an audacious smash and grab on your wallet. Fast forward six or seven years to the Lehman Brothers collapse and the financial crash. Again, we sat, docile, consenting with hardly a murmur, as governments span the narratives. But some people noticed things. On September 11, 2007, frantic customers were lining up outside Northern Rock, after the first British bank run in 141 years. On September 11, 2008, with both US presidential candidates visiting Ground Zero, Lehman suffered the biggest one-day drop in its stock, before its subsequent bankruptcy catalysed the global crash. Interesting coincidences.”

Dan remembered the relentless messages. ‘The banks must be saved, the ATMs will run out of cash, all hands to the pump!’ He continued: “We were told that large sums of our money had to be transferred to the least responsible, to people that were essentially financial terrorists. And everyone bar Iceland fell over backwards to comply. How did they harvest that consent?”

“Like 9/11, shocking events moved at a speed that allowed for little reflection. Voices of dissent were ignored, or dismissed as treasonous, and the common good was cited. This involved giving trillions of dollars and pounds and euros to the human locusts, the insects that continue to reward themselves with outlandish bonuses, which result from a money system that has always taken the roof from over peoples’ heads. Can you imagine how they laughed, tears streaming, at the fools they had mugged?”

He reiterated some facts. Wall Street banks had eventually received some $23 trillion of ‘support’ at zero interest, with no obligation to give anything back to the wider society in return for this liquidity, while over 15 million foreclosures were enforced by the financial system on US home-owners.

“Show me banks that were chastened by these experiences. It is no exaggeration to say that the City of London and Wall Street are still neck and neck in a competition to see who can rig the greatest number of markets. PPI, foreign exchange, Libor, gold, aluminium, oil and other areas where the deception never ends. Analysts in these markets describe the trends as ‘worrying’, or as having ‘potentially large ramifications for the perceived integrity of the financial system’.”

“Nobody seems to be able to state the profoundly simple truth: This system is run by cheats and is of no further use for ordinary people.”

***

 

The next deception was impossible to predict, said Dan. “Any realistic guess would have to encompass death, debt and new losses of freedom. World War 3? A manufactured or hoaxed pandemic? The only certainty is that more chicanery lays ahead.”

He mentioned Mark Carney’s appointment as the Bank of England’s new governor, marking the first non-British head in its more than 300-year history. “Carney is a former Goldman Sachs banker. This prompts me to ask whether you would appoint Ronnie Biggs to oversee British railway security.”

“But why expect better from the British Establishment, where powerful figures are still stifling or eliminating potential whistle-blowers on child sex abuse investigations?”

“To go back to my first question – ‘why are we here? – the answer may be that we are acting both as resistance and renaissance. Rather than fighting the 1% of psychopaths who will not leave the world alone, we have walked away from their negative energy, their laws and their illusion that value comes from printed money. One of us has already died for that. The rest of us are getting their greatest pleasure from helping each other, generating more real power than any skull-fucking rotten empire can ever muster.”

***

 

After Dan hit ‘send’, back at the cafe, one of the first pairs of eyes to read his words sat beneath a head of white hair. George badly mourned Eric.

***

 

Jesus was still cradling her when Maggie awoke. It was the sweetest, cleanest feeling. “You, my girl, are ready,” said Yeshua. He opened the labyrinth door; told her to walk in, backwards.

She got it. Trust now or never trust again. Bow to ingrained caution; or allow the other option to begin. The quickening of her heart sent more oxygen to her brain. “This is my body reacting in the correct way, in fact oxytocin is just as important as adrenalin,” she told herself, calmly. It came back that oxytocin was of course the ‘hugging hormone’, which primed humans to strengthen their close relationships, and helped hearts to heal.

Hands touching the walls, she watched Jesus grow smaller. Feet tuning into vibrations from the minotaur’s feet. Nostrils detecting the direction of its fetid breath. Yesh nodded. Had she ever felt so alive? A test came at the first bend, where she acknowledged him for the last time before battle. She saw how she could live in her next reincarnation. She would try to surround herself with caring hearts, seek to create benevolence in her life and the wider world.

The minotaur roared, about 15 yards away, shaking the walls. Her ears heard only clues. Her calm was the size of the universe, a million universes, because the challenge she was unable to handle did not exist. And she could never die. She stopped walking and relaxed completely. Let Minnie do the work. “Come meet Maggie,” she whispered. Her heart sensed a golden-purple filament still connecting to Jesus.

She would face her next life singing, making efforts to dance and laugh. Movement registered in the corner of her eye, where images were slowing into individual stills. Foreseeing this moment, God had made Maggie watch ‘The Matrix’ at least 40 times, always stopping the film where Neo Anderson holds up his hand to stop bullets in mid-air.

No point in turning around. She sensed the beast’s right paw descend at a snail’s pace towards her right shoulder. A deft sideways shift sent it out of balance, through lack of contact.

Then it hit her like a hammer. The realisation. Minnie was not just a stinking DNA slurry, bred to terrify and kill. It was imprisoned in this underworld, by its failure to utilise life potential on Earth. Its consciousness anchored it to perpetual anger and isolation. Why shouldn’t she drag the beast from the bottom rung of decay, and relight its divine but dormant spark?

Unlike Theseus, it was not for her to slay the minotaur. Nevertheless, the thing could wreak havoc, so she executed a back somersault to avoid its second rush. Then unleashed an almighty drop kick at its head to give herself space and time. Minnie was unable to rise. Maggie lay with it, smeared in the muck of aeons. She rested her face against the beast’s cheek, perceiving that any ‘us and them’ syndrome represented only spiritual stalemate.

Jesus towered over them. “Feel better?” he enquired. It was April 8, the first anniversary of her death.

273. No point pretending

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Anybody who knows me well will realise that my mind is a sewer, in need of strong disinfection. And that I laugh at my own humour. It’s just how I am. No amount of meditation will smooth away these character traits.

So when fellow blogger Mark Bickerton put out a challenge earlier today to write a sentence or paragraph of twenty-six words, with at least some meaning, where the first letter of each word reads acrostically from A to Z, I came up with the following miasmal effort.

 

A big cock does eventually find good housing, if jellied. KY leverages many new openings, particularly quirky, rare slots, typically under-hydrated. Very wet xtremities… yippee!

Zoro  

 

I’m still grinning. You see how little hope there is for me.

If anyone fancies having a try, it’s great fun and the webpage is at: https://markbickerton.com/2020/04/01/writers-wanted-exercise-2

 

 

272. Jane’s tuition

 

jane

 

One of my changes during the lockdown period has been an intensification of time spent meditating. For me, it feels pre-destined, meant to be, as time slows down for most of us.

I try and maintain the usual twice-a-day transcendental meditation practice, plus the 10-20 minutes engaged in the Lotus Sutra meditation, mentioned in Blog 267 (https://wordpress.com/post/thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/3012),

And now I’ve added a 20-minute slot at 11 each morning, beamed live on Facebook from the Brentwood Buddhist Centre.

It seems that Jane, who leads the centre, is mixing up a range of teaching, mantras and movement, but keeping it simple enough for anyone to understand and follow. I would recommend these to anyone who wants an all-over psychological boost. The Hanmi Buddhist practices that she is illustrating (for free) were detailed with shedloads of enthusiasm in Blog 126, at https://wordpress.com/post/thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/1151

This morning’s session – the third so far – can be seen at:

https://www.facebook.com/brentwoodbuddha108/videos/3135376563174160/

What struck me yesterday and today, above and beyond the enjoyment of resuscitating former practices that felt like old friends, was Jane herself. I first met her 8 years ago, when she had just opened the centre. She was much rawer around the edges.

The easiest description of current Jane might be that she is often ‘in the zone’, as is said of anyone performing something difficult with effortless ease. Whatever she has plugged into, through years of devotion and practice, is lighting her up with an unimaginable power. To these eyes, every cell in her body was cohering and sparking with purpose, determination and faith.

It was inspiring to see. A Lionel Messi of Buddhism, with an Essex accent.

 

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