270. Losing my cherry

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I read some more of Jono’s words this morning. The bugger encouraged me by text to start creating podcasts. To use in parallel with the website.

And it’s just one of those days where you think: ‘Why Not?’ The country is locked down in near martial law while the sun beams down its benevolence. After my first bike ride of the spring, the feeling of relaxation before the COVID-19 storm whips up further was massive. It’s like being on holiday. Will I be here in a few months? I reckon so, but who knows.

So I took Jono’s advice. For the hell of it. Got a nice recording on my phone, reading Chapter 17 of Out of Essex.

I was really pleased with it, until my PC kept telling me it couldn’t convert an M4A file into an MP3. I later found a way. Then I wasn’t sure if I could embed a voice recording in my website. You get the picture – I’m no techie.

In the end, Rory persuaded me to make a YouTube video. My first. It’s at https://youtu.be/5kJKIuwvgvw

Ignore the pictures of the old git and listen to his words. It’s a magical story.

Might revert to sound-only if the urge to experiment continues, in these unprecedented times.

269. Jono’s thoughts

Adding to the never-ending hot air about COVID-19 doesn’t appeal, because it is sunny outside, and the garden is asking me to come and tidy it up. And I want to put in a couple of long meditations today.

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So here are some recent words from my good friend Jonathan Evans, from his Facebook page. They are as good as anything I have recently read.

 

 

 

I love cricket. I always enjoy reading and listening to what Vic Marks has to say about it. I am appreciative of his view that Covid 19 (paraphrased): is leading to a recalibration of what constitutes a key worker. Not, it turns out, hedge fund managers, premiership footballers, estate agents, or sports journalists.

 

Or advertising executives. Or designers. Or Hollywood. Or pop and rock stars. Or celebrities of any kind or people who make programmes about them. Or DJs. Or ‘influencers’, bloggers, vloggers, opinion formers, and lobbyists. Etc. Or, dry heat engineers and stonemasons for that matter.

 

Is it really a huge surprise that key workers include employees of the NHS and social services from cleaner to consultant; delivery drivers (particularly those that work in whatever capacity for supermarkets and food distributors); shelf stackers and checkout staff; bin men and women; mortuary attendants and crematoria staff; etc?

 

Surely, time for a massive rethink? Time to ditch, forever, the all-pervasive Thatcherite dogma that we measure someone’s worth by their ability to earn money and accumulate assets (often through useless and immoral shifting of so called [and often non-existent] goods, services, and financial products) and look after and reward those that do the essential stuff? Time to acknowledge that there just isn’t enough meaningful work to keep us all employed and to introduce a universal basic income? Time to stop doing and producing and moving and selling useless crap? What are armies for…killing the citizens of other countries for oil or distributing food? Time to acknowledge that nature has the ability to fight back and that we may not like it?

 

Is Covid 19 an opportunity? Bloody well should be.

 

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268. My potato box

 

I was deeply chuffed to receive a potato box for my 63rd birthday last week. The designer and creator, Chris, is my son-in-law. He cut and treated the wood and screwed it together, then lugged the pieces round to our place.

 

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We slotted them together.

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I grow spuds every year, in the ground. Because they give such prolific yields, I have also put them in plastic tubs nearer the house. Now we’ve got a smart wooden box.  It should provide a large quantity of potatoes in a small space. It’s food for nothing. After filling the foot of the box, I put in some old wrinkled spuds that had gone to seed in our shed over the winter. You can even use old potato peelings as the seeds.

 

 

As the new shoots come out through the soil, you cover them with more compost. And then a few more times, until the box is full of soil.

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After that, free food later in the year. I love the simplicity of the process. (Might have to put a net over the top, to stop the cats using it as a toilet.)

267. New concrescence?

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I was on the rim of a nervous breakdown in summer 1993, inches from falling down the crater. Seven years as a milkman had left me bored beyond tolerance. The job paid the mortgage and the bills, but the huge unused portion of my intelligence was screaming for stimulation, variation, catalysis.

Numbed, withdrawn, anxious, and with no idea of how I could move on, I told my friend Andy, who practiced acupuncture. He immediately recommended chanting the Lotus Sutra, promising that it would open the pathways I needed. Four simple words: Nam Myoho Rengi Kyo. Chant them repeatedly, Andy said.

“But how does it work?”

“It just does.”

I took his advice. On the bike, to and from the dairy each morning. 15 minutes of howling at the universe with all my inner strength to please, please bring the changes I needed. It was a plunge into the pure unknown, into zones where yogis might walk on hot coals, or monks levitate. I had no idea that it was a Buddhist chant, nor any pre-conceived idea of whether it could change anything, but I was fighting a storm, seeking any port. Christ did I howl, because there was nothing to lose.

In early November 1993, my old university pal and roommate Jon Marks offered me an apprenticeship in financial journalism. I bit off his hand in eagerness. Learned how to write for business publications; got to visit a bunch of places that would otherwise have stayed unknown; found myself able to turn freelance and earn a decent amount.

Did the chanting bring that about? Or had the Gods and fates already decided? Or was Jon simply looking out for me all along? No idea: I’m just so grateful that it happened.

Flipping on the calendar 18 years, to October 2011, I was crumbling again, after telling two guys that my friendship with them was at an end. It felt like I’d wrenched out some of my insides, but I was doing all the listening while Tony and Steve talked. It was juvenile, and I had to get away.

Maureen’s friend Jean recommended meditating with a Hanmi Buddhist group in Chelmsford that embraced healing as one of its core functions.

I’ve mentioned it in blogs before. But to repeat – wow! Within weeks, all sorts of new stuff was blossoming, in ways that seemed to defy the laws of science. Happiness, energy, enchantment, and a burgeoning desire to begin to know more of the ancient wisdoms. At the heart of it all was the repeated chanting of various mantras, combined with visualisation.

Eventually I moved away, to do my own thing, while carrying on the meditations and chanting. I re-engaged with a whole set of lost friends from Southend-on-Sea, which almost made me die of happiness. Then, when Maggie Thatcher passed away in April 2013, ‘Out of Essex’ began to pour out of me, unplanned and spontaneously. Set in Southend. Where else?

Did the Buddhist practice prise open that soaring Essex synchronicity? Who knows? 8 years on, my appreciation and gratitude for that time remains fully intact.

And now a new page is perhaps being turned. Two days ago, my friend Jenny Lynne got in touch to say that she was starting a networked meditation, based around a 10-minute chanting of the Lotus Sutra. Seeking to create peace, calm, care and compassion in the wider world, and wisdom and centredness in the group, which operates through small cells.

Jenny is a therapist, a Buddhist of 38 years and a good human being. In Great Dunmow, a small Essex town near Stansted Airport, she masterminds ‘Get Diggin It’, a community-based venture to grow food locally. Jenny talks to me every now and again about a range of subjects, including what might happen if a significant percentage of mainstream journalists decided to place truth and authenticity before income, and ceased spoon feeding nonsensical narratives to over-trusting populaces. She has also been the UK coordinator for the Ubuntu movement, founded in South Africa with a view to gradually eliminating money through self-sustaining community.

She has decided to act, not by the easy, lazy route of condemning the wider world but by pushing for a new and better direction.

I’ve taken part in two of the group meditations, yesterday and this morning. No miracles, but they felt good, with a palpable sense of connection. I’m happy to see what happens. Does positive thought affect DNA? Does human emotion change matter, and thus the wider world?

I’ve moaned before about the lack of concrescence in my life. How I crave membership of a group that revolves around fellowship and kindness. Maybe this is it.

If anyone wants to join in, you could do so quietly, or tell me, or go directly to Jenny. She speaks about her aims in a video released today, at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7kdM1ku7r8&feature=youtu.be

It won’t be for everybody. For me, it’s fascinating.

Here is what I love, as an observer of patterns. Just hours after Jenny announced her group initiative, I was cycling into town, to get new tyres for my bike. On the way in, who should I see cycling the other way but Eleanor, the wife of ex-friend Tony. On the way back home, there she was again, passing me at around the journey’s mid-point.

After 63 years, it is possible to sort out signals from white noise. Seeing Eleanor was such an obvious sign. It made me think of allegories, or of Whitley Strieber seeing an owl. Something where the universe gives you a nudge, to say, ‘there you go, all’s well, we’ve got a new path for you’.

 

 

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266. Transition

OUT OF ESSEX – Chapter 36

 

 

People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in; their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

 

 

Almost 24 hours after Dave’s death, on 22 December, Dan’s mobile rang. An unfamiliar, posh voice asked: “Would you like the solution to many of Britain’s economic woes?”

“Who is this?”

“Somebody who has read your bulletins. Rather well-intentioned, I thought.”

Dan waited for more. Rain drummed against the caravan roof. He was writing his fourth newsletter. Distribution had spread beyond the moneyless communities to alternative media websites. Through the window, he saw police cars outside the Dawson household in Kensington Road.

“This call will not be traceable.” Another pause. “My father worked for the Bank of England, so I am familiar with the topics you cover.”

“Am I on the right track?” asked Dan

“Broadly speaking, yes. However you require a strong historical precedent to support your arguments against the banks.”

Dan reflected. He told the caller that he had extensively cited the short-lived, interest-free currency issues under American Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, and more protracted examples set by Australia, Canada and Guernsey.

“People often need to see something from their own history. Investigate the Bradbury Pound. It worked almost 100 years ago in Britain, under trying circumstances.” The line went dead. “Who was that,” asked Mary.

“No idea. Can you google ‘Bradbury Pound’ on your tablet?” They read together, gladly distracted from tensions that had crept into their domestic life under the shared limit of just a few square metres of draughty floor space.

The Bradbury Pound was introduced by British Prime Minister David Lloyd George on 7 August 1914. With war’s uncertainties looming, and only £9 million of gold sitting in national vaults, the move was designed to pre-empt any run on UK banks. Within just two days, Lloyd George forced a hardly used emergency measure through Parliament, allowing for money creation to shift away from the Bank of England’s interest-bearing notes to an interest- and debt-free currency printed by the Treasury.

Named after Sir John Bradbury, the Treasury Secretary who signed the initial batch, some £300 million of Bradbury paper was issued in ten shilling and pound notes. These were successfully used in the economy, as units of exchange, with no sudden inflation.

Dan added it to his mental arsenal. It was another important precedent of a major nation exercising its sovereign right to issue debt-free currency. A rare but welcome length of cold steel thrust into the heart of a vampiric private banking system.

 

***

Christmas was a mournful affair. The police had asked questions for a week, concluding that the murderer was an outsider. No key DNA traces were available. A young man in a dark hoodie was the suspect, which left several thousand possibilities.

The rain paused seven nights after Dave’s death. 350 people gathered under the starlight, on 28 December, 2013, to cremate his body alongside ‘Dave’s field’, as Southchurch Park’s massive allotment had been renamed.

Dan wore his brightest jumper, a thick tapestry of colour mirrored in every direction by his fellow campers. Predominantly yellow, red and orange garments were on display, sported by a throng of humans packed in a semi-circle around a funeral pyre built of driftwood and two of the park’s weakest trees. Old newspapers peeked out, ready for lighting. On top, the coffin waited.

Dave’s daughter, Lauren, walked uncertainly to a small podium, and delicately adjusted the microphone to a comfortable height. She pulled out a piece of paper and started to read.

“I love my daddy. He taught me to read, swim and ride a bike. He used to make toilet paper with famous people’s faces on it.” Chuckles broke out. Mary gripped Dan’s hand.

“I think you all loved him,” said Lauren. “I wish he would come back.” She looked across at her mum, Sarah, who smiled through tears.

Sarah joined her daughter at the mike. “It’s difficult for me to know what to say tonight. Dave probably helped every one of you, in one way or another. He can’t do that anymore. But he does have a legacy. Everything that will come out of the ground this spring will be down to his store of seeds.” Her eyes were streaming. Lauren hugged her mum’s waist.

“Dave built it up over the years, painstakingly. He used to swear blind that we would need it one day. I thought he was mad, but I loved him enough to indulge his madness. Anyway, this is the song he wanted everyone to hear, if it ever came to this.”

Nick Cave’s voice cut the air, pouring majestically out of hidden speakers, accompanied by simple, plaintive piano notes.

 

Across the oceans, across the seas,

Over forests of blackened trees.
Through valleys so still we dare not breathe,

To be by your side.

 

Over the shifting desert plains,

Across mountains all in flames.
Through howling winds and driving rains,

To be by your side.

Dan felt the lump in his throat swelling, as he recalled his one drunken evening with Dave, who preferred a mug of tea to alcohol. “Play this at my funeral, if it happens and you’re still around,” he had insisted, bringing up the video on his laptop. “Sarah knows, but there’s no harm in a bit of back up. You be my mate and remember this.”

Into the night as the stars collide,
Across the borders that divide.

Forests of stone standing petrified,
To be by your side.

Dave had helped himself to a fifth whisky, explaining that the song could be about the journey of a soul. “See all these geese in the video, they are like…. souls undertaking huge flights, thousands of miles, with short stops in between. That’s us. Yeah? In this life. Then the long haul to the next.”

 Every mile and every year,

For every one a single tear.
I cannot explain this, Dear,

I will not even try.

A cavalcade of gorgeous geese honks preceded the chorus.

For I know one thing, love comes on a wing.
For tonight I will be by your side, b
ut tomorrow I will fly.

Dave from the grave. Violins entered deftly, building the song. Wet-eyed, the semi-circle was transfixed.

Across the endless wilderness,

Where all the beasts bow down their heads.
Darling I will never rest,

Till I am by your side.

For I know one thing, love comes on a wing.

And tonight I will be by your side, but tomorrow I will fly away.

 

“He’s with us tonight,” croaked Dan to Mary, as the song ended. “Rest in peace, my friend.” Minutes passed while a choir of sobs swelled, cascaded and faded into the night.

Sarah spoke up again, grimacing. “We know now about the people who did this. Enemies who have shown their hand. Sal will talk about that later. All I ask is that every one of you toasts my husband deeply tonight. I’m told by our resident expert that dead souls can look down.”

She gestured towards the Buddha, who bowed his head. “So let’s give Dave something to behold. He would have wanted you to smile, laugh, cheer and celebrate his life. Please try.”

She walked to the funeral pyre, kissed her right hand and reached up to the coffin, pressing her fingers lightly on its lid. “Bye bye my darling.”

Buddha followed behind. He placed his arm on her left shoulder. She turned and walked away, while he applied a lit candle to the protruding paper twists. He intoned the Great Compassion Mantra.

As the flames caught, the community’s band, Parklife, struck up Dave’s second request. ‘Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.’ Voices were raised. Buckets were passed around, containing homemade mead Dave had brewed over the winter. Glasses were dipped again and again. Some danced, some hollered, some watched, as the fire consumed the coffin.

Dan caught glimpses of Claire’s rainbow hair bobbing as Captain Van Hoyte showed her a Dutch folk dance. He saw Mike Burper and Sheena drunkenly moving their bodies in what resembled something between a skinhead football stomp and a choreographed Bollywood routine.

But of all the odd, mismatched images, nothing came close to the sight of Buddha, Gandhi and Satan talking, while nobody around them paid any attention. The little Indian was dominating the conversation, gesticulating, jiggling his eyebrows, waving his arms. Sid was listening hard, impassively. Satan’s disdain for Gandhi had nowhere to hide.

An iconic threesome, spanning time and culture. No painter or photographer would ever capture this moment. Any nobody cared, because Dave was dead.

 

***

An hour or so later, they quietened again, as Satan took the podium. He briefed them on his London visit, no detail spared, wincing visibly as he played back Eric’s threat: “If these communities continue to be a nuisance, expect worse.” A ripple ran around the residents. Fear mixed with anger.

Stamping his feet for warmth, Dan began thinking about a visit to Nigeria in 2005. He recalled the power outages in Lagos hotels, holes in the road, and traffic congestions where beggars surrounded his taxi. As the sun rose in Abuja, Nigerians walked the long road from the airport to the capital city, belongings on their heads, marching in daily servitude to tribal chieftains that divvied up the nation’s profits.

Corruption was endemic. Tribes and militants stole oil from pipelines criss-crossing the Niger Delta. Pirates stole oil from tankers. The national oil company stole over $1 billion of oil revenues each month, according to the Central Bank. Heads of banks had been stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from shareholders until caught in 2009. The government regularly stole the hundreds of millions of dollars pumped in by the World Bank and other multilateral lenders.

None of the London bankers, insurers and lawyers who talked about Nigeria’s mess to Dan ever acknowledged the irony, if indeed they had the brains to perceive it. Not just Chancellor Osborne announcing growth, employment and inflation figures that bore no relation to reality, like any jaunty Nigerian politician, but the daily plunder under their own noses. Less brazen than Nigeria’s corruption, but equally wide-reaching. Companies and individuals sending their wealth out through the labyrinthine offshore tentacles of the City, switching and dodging and obfuscating until audit trails were dense and tax was no longer payable.

While, for the ordinary man and woman, bailiffs were banging on doors, potholes littered roads and hospitals struggled to cope.

***

 

The journalist in Dan swiftly identified key themes as Satan related Eric’s crowing. Under the guise of a global spiritual centre, the Vatican was a city-state wielding enormous power, sitting on untold wealth. Its corruption had always been palpable: biblical edits; ignoring priests’ paedophilia; collaboration with the Nazis; and a hoarding of riches while hundreds of millions of Catholics struggled in poverty. Dan recalled his history teacher telling him how Pope Innocent III had rejected and annulled the Magna Carta. Annulled it.

The clans’ military centre was Washington DC. It appeared to have a remit to pursue wars that kept human spirituality in perpetual check, and maximised profits from huge armaments and security industry investments by banking families. He made a mental note to dig deeper into the DC (District of Columbia) status. Was it also ring-fenced, like the Vatican?

The third centre lay upriver from Southend. A ‘Dark Star’ that exerted untrammelled financial seduction, according to Tony Travers, a London School of Economics professor. “London is the dark star of the economy, inexorably sucking in resources, people and energy. Nobody knows how to control it,” Travers argued. London took 45% of all foreign direct investment into the UK in 2012. Eric had intimated that the City was beyond parliamentary control, possibly another city-state.

Whatever it was, it was serviced by money slaves, who would find the Southchurch project incomprehensible. At least Nigerians had some colour about them. The City’s uniforms and dull orthodoxy had developed, dangerously, into something approaching a global business standard. Children everywhere were encouraged to study hard and become just like these people. Dan remembered one, a banker who revealed after two bottles of wine that he had funded Hawk jets used to bombard East Timor.

Dan looked across to the pyre, where Dave’s body was gone now, evaporated and scattered. His spirit had somehow stayed behind, spreading itself through the soil beneath their feet.

Even Dan’s son, 20 miles away, was feeling the love. How excellent, how bloody wonderful, how stupendously marvellous that his lad Edward wanted nothing to do with the City debt machine, or its legal underpinning, as it sucked and sucked.

No desire to be one of its operatives, who learned to stigmatise or disregard anything that did not fit the profit- and asset-based ‘business model’. Humans with hearts and minds who trained themselves to walk blithely past the homeless on London’s streets, oblivious to the implosion of the NHS and the permanent underclass swelling away from the tall buildings.

***

 

While Satan described Eric’s degeneracy, Dan mentally stripped the City of Corruption down to its essence, ignoring the human ants filing in and out. His mind tore away the superimposed hologram: the restaurants, bars, theatres, museums, galleries, shops and tourist attractions such as the London Eye.

The remnant was a terrifying wall of money, miles high, sloshing back and forth. Unleashed by Maggie’s financial deregulation, it had sluiced away from the City, propelled by the breath of the gargoyles, dragons, lizards and serpents that adorned ancient walls. It crashed and splashed out across Britain, then the world, soaking humanity in the illusion that credit was endless, cheap and the answer to every prayer.

Hedge funds burgeoned. Foreign exchange, derivatives and bond markets exploded. The nimblest humans and businesses surfed the wave, did their clever interest rate deals, stashed their gains. The masses dived right in, borne along. Money was so inexpensive it was almost free, opening a land of luxury and trinkets.

Suddenly bigger houses were within reach, or multiple foreign holidays. Perhaps private schooling. For those preferring visceral excitement, the options involving drugs, booze, gambling and stock markets exploded. Cocaine entered recreational use in the City; cafes spilled onto pavements, as licensing laws relaxed; day traders sprang up like warts; online punting was there at the click of a mouse. Credit for these activities was inexhaustible. Second mortgages were taken out for cars and holidays.

National, state and local authorities began to see themselves as potential investors, sitting on pensions and other assets able to generate additional earnings. Governments continued to borrow as if tomorrow would never come, while even tramps sat around new mattresses, comparing their credit cards. In 2006, you could buy a house via a self-certified mortgage. “Yes, I’m a school janitor, working from home mainly, earning about £300,000 a year.”

Then the wave hit the beach, in 2007-2008. Almost certainly the controlling families at work, Dan now saw. Panic rose, then subsided as G20 governments were ordered to bail out the clans’ banks. All seemed well again, until the money wave began to reverse, sucking repayments, plus interest, or the equivalent collateral, back towards those who had created it from nothing.

The wave pulled back houses and pensions; bankrupted businesses and individuals; decimated the financial standing of cities; squeezed local government budgets past the bone, imbibing jobs and salaries; and left governments resorting to bedroom taxes and privatisations to repay debts. A generation left high and dry.

Satan finished by depicting Eric’s death. Dan was surprised at how few cheers this evoked. Barely six months old, the community seemed to have accelerated, painfully, into hard-won adulthood.

As Sal slipped away into the darkness, Dan noticed Genevieve climb onto the podium, hair flying in the breeze that had lifted, and grab the mike.

“I’m pissed as a parrot, but I know for a fact that none of us will ever hear anything like that from anybody, ever again. We’ve just had a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse of how this world works.”

She was swaying. “I’ve heard some of you talking about leaving. Nobody would blame you, least of all me. It’s clearly fucking dangerous to go against these people.”

Diana wandered over, holding out her hand. “When I’m sober, I hope you’re still all here. I love all of you. Right now, my girlfriend needs me.”

**

 

Mary stayed with Sheena, Ruth and Claire. Sitting by the bonfire’s embers with Sarah and Lauren, saying a long goodbye to Dave.

Dan returned to the caravan, to pursue his growing obsession. He boiled the kettle, made a hot cup of drinking chocolate, and flipped open the laptop. He delved into the period just after the First World War’s outbreak, when markets were deemed to be calm enough to allow the reintroduction of traditional, privately-issued money. No more Bradbury Pound.

It seemed that Lloyd George had consulted his old adversary, the influential politician and banker Lord Nathan Mayer Rothschild, about what could be done to raise more money for the war effort.

Dan so wished he could have been a fly on that wall, eavesdropping on two titanic forces, bitterly opposed.

By war’s end, the usual narrative had resumed. The UK’s interest-bearing bond debt had grown hugely, from £650 million in 2014 to £7.5 billion. “The same old story: wars kill millions and enrich financiers,” muttered Dan.

He was encouraged to learn that a House of Commons Early Day Motion (EDM) had been signed just months ago, in November 2013, by Austin Mitchell, John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn and two other Labour MPs, to launch the Bradbury Pound’s forthcoming centenary anniversary (1914-2014). The EDM urged the Treasury “to follow John Bradbury’s model and address social, economic and political issues across party lines in one fell swoop and avoid wholly unnecessary austerity cuts.”

Dan smiled crookedly. “Not a chance in the world. But well done for trying lads.”

265. Dosh warfare

 

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Everybody is entitled to moan, self-indulgently, once a year. I had a whinge 12 months ago in Blog 158, blasting out stuff that would otherwise have festered inside.

It’s time to open a safety valve again. Here goes.

 

***

Sometimes we have no idea how lucky we are. 17 months ago, I enjoyed relatively good work and pay stability. Took it for granted.

Then, out of the blue, I was told that one of my freelance monthly writing tasks would in future be required just once every three months. The company (Croner-i) was downsizing and cutting expenses, as it shifted away from printed matter to online publications.

It was a significant financial blow, knocking more than three thousand pounds from our annual income. Not a fortune, but enough to nudge Maureen and I into more watchful mode regarding all the incidental spends formerly taken for granted: meals out, cinema, petrol, alcohol, days out and so on. Tedious but necessary.

But that minor shock was nothing compared to the crashing cataclysm of last May, when another employer, Edinburgh-based publisher NewsBase, declared itself insolvent. NewsBase had hired freelancers all over the world to write about energy markets. For some reason, my blog about this calamity produced more views than anything else I’ve ever posted on this site. It’s at https://wordpress.com/post/thebiscuitfactoryonline.com/1796

The fallout has been disastrous, potentially lethal. We are one pay cheque away from financial implosion.

NewsBase used to pay me about £350 a week, for work that I could do at home, at a time of my own choosing. Self-organising, no toes in the corporate bog. So far, I have found no way to replace that well-paid freedom. Adding to the blow, Croner-i told me later in 2019 that my services were no longer required at all.

Bringing a total of around £20,000 of income scythed away since late 2018.

Even before that happened, money had been a challenge for the best part of two decades. That’s another story, epitomised by a debt repayment programme and maximum £300 overdraft since 2006; and the parallel dance that the taxman and I have been engaged in. I have evolved into a nimble partner, shifting my arse right or left whenever his clammy, parasitical hands reach for my buttocks.

But I can’t wiggle or waltz my way out of the disappeared £20k. Maureen’s money from nannying pays for the food, the cats, clothes and birthdays. My remaining remuneration leaves us £1,000 short each month. A whole grand short of paying the bills, let alone going out. Or, fantasy of fantasies, taking a holiday.

Without me asking, my brother has filled that gap since May, God bless him. That cannot continue, nor would I want it to. Right now, an annual report job for a Belgian company is filling the lack from February to April. In May, the chasm yawns again.

The challenge is that I am already employed, with reasonable pay, in my remaining writing job, which takes up about half of each week. I have applied for other journalism posts, full and part-time, without any joy. It feels like that well of 26 years has run dry, like my enthusiasm. There may be one iron left in the fire, for a London-based company.

If not, given the much lower rates of pay for other jobs, I need to gain full-time work to claw back all that has been lost. I turn 63 next month. Have I the energy for a 60-hour week? It’s doubtful. But I keep looking.

The recent care job, looking after the elderly, would have filled some of the gap. In the end, it wasn’t for me, for reasons offered up already.

Maureen isn’t in the best of health anymore. High blood pressure, problems with her feet, and respiratory issues that give rise to breathlessness and a constant cough. She devotes huge chunks of her time to creating any manner of art. Painting, sewing, using all natural and man-made materials available to conjure up colour and beauty. I see her making the most of what’s available, but she pines for an answer to our challenges, works herself into deep upset trying to shape a beautiful plan.

Sometimes there is no obvious solution. There are no assets to fall back on. No house, no savings. Government pension three years away. Private pensions all cashed in ten years ago to keep the taxman at bay. It hasn’t prevented a new tax backlog. This is how it is. Too many bad decisions in the distant past. And no point in relying on a legacy. Dad’s house may come to us eventually, but maybe not. He may need a care home.

The psychological effect from these quandaries has been a slow draining of our optimism. There is some left – on good days a lot. There are other, super brittle days when being extra kind to each other is the only way through the mire.

Inevitably, social life has dwindled down to near-zero. We can’t afford it. We don’t make a fuss, just no longer go out to play. By contrast walking, cycling (soon) and TV are all free.

When we are in company, it is a struggle. There is less in common. We’re both introverts, and empaths, and have always sat quietly and listened, mostly. Banging on about our situation would not be in character. At times it can be galling to listen to others talk of their leisure, freedom and money. It can be difficult to raise a smile at their humour. People telling us that they are concerned is of no use whatsoever. None.

The long UK winter deepens the gloom. So many dark days, when I’ve gone to bed thinking ‘thank Christ that’s over’. Mornings when I wake and think ‘ah shit, not again’.

So downsize your rented home, has been one suggestion. Well it might, at a stretch, save a couple of hundred quid, but that’s not a game-changer. And moving costs money.

Despite all the above, there is never self-pity. I have always been resilient.

And always mindful of the upside. More time to visit my dad, look after him and cherish his remaining years. More time to meditate; and use the techniques to clear my head. More time to reflect on how fortunate I’ve been in finding somebody to love me, and to have brought up three kind-hearted, intelligent, witty children together. How fortunate in enjoying a decent standard of living all my life. Having a core group of trusted friends.

Always, every night, I write down six things to be grateful for.

We live amid rural beauty. Skies, fields, trees, flora, wildlife, local streams and rivers.

Frankie Boyle’s ‘Tour of Scotland’ makes me grin. We are nearly finished in financially helping our son, Rory, through higher education. West Ham almost stole a draw at Anfield on Monday night.

Writing the blog remains a deep medicine for the soul. Rewriting the book, ‘Out of Essex’, probably gives me more pleasure than anything on Earth. There is presently time for both. On 7 March, I’ll be at Chelmsford library, to listen to talks on how to use social networks and ways to self-publish. And to participate in a ‘writers slam’: three minutes to pitch the book to 49 other potential authors.

Instinct is powerful. Mine says something is looming, ripe and ready to open. It can’t be seen, rationalised or explained. All through life, paths forward have appeared. It has never been in my nature to chase anything, except deep intimacy. So my plan is to keep getting out of bed. Carrying on. Gritting teeth, but also letting the imagination romp and roam, unharnessed. That will keep me going. But I’ll listen to any better ideas.

OK. Done.

264. Wind, wobbles and…….wood

 

index

 

Ciara and Dennis, the recent storms that battered the UK, took me back through time to the morning of October 16, 1987.

The famed hurricane that hit Britain the previous night had involved 122 miles per hour winds, and a nationwide uprooting of trees. It had been difficult to sleep in our upstairs maisonette, in central Chelmsford. The bedroom window was wide, and we could feel it bowing with the stronger gusts. Some tiles came off the roof. Maureen had Lauren inside her, still three months away from birth.

Only an idiot or mad dog would have gone out into the maelstrom. Or a milkman.

Warily, at 4.30 a.m., I trotted the few hundred yards through the dark to the Chelmsford Star Coop dairy, loaded up the battery-powered, low gravity float with milk crates, and proceeded out on Round 16, around the Westlands council estate.

Concentration on the conditions outside the float was immense. I’d been manning the round for about 18 months, and knew the order book by heart, so the roads and the few other vehicles took all the focus.

Before long, the apprehensions faded. There were trees, bushes, flowerpots and all kinds of other debris littering the roads, but there was no stopping this ‘milko’, or ‘milky’, as some of the customers called me. The job was getting done. Pints delivered, notes read, empties collected, the odd conversation indulged in.

Two key recollections stand out. Because I was a youngish man, just 30, I would often sprint the round. Literally run from start to finish on the days when no doors were to be knocked on, giving myself calorie-burning workouts that kept waist size low. That morning I ran down the side of one house, saw too late in the dark that a fence had fallen across my path, tried to hurdle it and clipped the top with my heels, falling in a heap and smashing two pints of red top. Painful on the knees and hands, but I got up and grinned, buoyed by adrenalin.

Better, and still vivid, nearly 33 years on, is the memory of driving at top speed (a wild 15 mph or so) down one road and a huge branch literally flying at three times that speed past the open driver’s door, about three feet away from my head. I should have been scared, but somehow adored being in the eye of the chaos and carnage.

It was all over far too quickly. As the day dawned, and the round ended, a sense of anti-climax set in. The winds lost their force. I mourned their passing; but saw their legacy for years to come in landscapes scarred by trees ripped from the ground.

 

***

Round 16 fitted me like a glove.

The estate housed lots of employees from the local factories: Britvic, EEV, Marconi etc. Lots of regular employment, so I saw no grinding poverty (nor any conspicuous consumption). I met customers who became friends for years: Andy Kemp the acupuncturist and his wife Nina; Kevin the horse racing punter and his wife Hazel; Martin and Linda, the parents of Olivia, now one of Josie’s best friends. I started up an afternoon window-cleaning round amid this new set of acquaintances, who included the first gay couple I knew, Tommy and Richard. Not forgetting my ‘caaaaaaaaaant’ customer of Blog 235.

Bizarrely, a Geordie woman with mental health issues asked me into her house one day, to receive payment, pressed me up against a wall, and insisted on showing me an intimate part of her body, which was diseased. Another older lady would answer her door on a Friday lunchtime with vast amounts of cleavage on display.

Arousal memories of any substance belong to one specific morning. It must have been one of the quicker days, a Tuesday or Wednesday, when I had managed to get the bulk of the round done by around 8 a.m. A hot summer’s morning, when shorts and tee-shirt were my natural attire. Several younger women were walking towards the railway station, for their daily commute to London. Dressed minimally and transparently, catching my eye as a collective. In the relaxing, sensuous heat.

Despite the hours of aerobic running around, I realised that an erection was mine. Evident to any prurient onlooker, flopping around in my shorts as I ran across roads; or bent over on doorsteps. Embarrassed, I sat in the float for a while, flexing all my other muscles to divert the flow of blood.

 

***

 

I switched my round after three and a half years. Driven by mixed motivations: a dire need for change and the opportunity to cut out Friday night money collecting.

Now working from a Ford Transit, I would speed down the A130 six days a week to South Woodham Ferrers, a new town built near the River Crouch in the early 1980s. Some of the new street names on Round 5 were linked to JR Tolkein books: Gandalf’s Ride, Gimli Watch, Rivendell Vale, Hobbiton Hill and so on.

The streets reminded me of Portmeirion, the Welsh town that featured in the TV series with Patrick McGoohan, The Prisoner. Houses with relatively unusual colours, and slightly surreal architecture. But far less of a communal feel than the Chelmsford estate served on Round 16.

Hardly any Round 5 memories have stayed sharp. I recall peanut butter and banana sandwiches that I would devour before the sun rose. Also, spilling a dozen full crates onto the road when taking a roundabout too fast. Stopping in a quiet layby, once the round was done, to read the Sporting Life. And the deep snow of early 1991. Aching torso and leg muscles.

The standout memory, again, is of danger. On a Saturday morning, with two days milk loaded up, I was gunning the Transit down the fast road from Rettendon Turnpike to South Woodham, heading east. With no other vehicles in sight, and two miles to the next roundabout, I had 70 mph showing on the speed dial, with the radio turned high, as my mind wandered to that day’s horse racing. I had started up a betting syndicate with friends. Thoughts had to be marshalled.

Did I hit a bump? Or veer slightly across the lanes? Suddenly, the vehicle’s massive forward motion was being compromised by a sideways rocking, growing in force, as the milk cargo on the back started to shift, left then right, left then right. The whole bloody van began shuddering and creaking, wobbling, out of control. Instinct said hitting the brakes would make it worse, so I took my foot off the gas, keeping the vehicle as straight as possible, entering a time zone where fate and the Gods were in control of my life. It was in the balance for maybe 10 seconds, before the cargo stopped wobbling. I made a beeline for the nearest public toilet.

 

***

 

I still warmly remember some of the fellow milkmen (there were no women, until my very last year) from those years. None of them were proper mates, but I got on OK with almost everyone at the yard. There were three Bullimore brothers: foreman Bernie, and brothers Paul and John. The last of these killed himself, exhaust pipe turned into his car, after a split with his girlfriend.

It must have been catching. Albert, a relief milkman, set fire to himself (unsuccessfully) in his car after a bust-up with his wife. Albert showed me the ropes for the South Woodham Ferrers round for a few days before I went solo. “Spot of rain?” he would enquire, every time I hit the windscreen wipers by mistake.  Another relief milkman, Steve Wright, would also sprint his rounds.

Among Bernie and another dozen or so of the lads, a catch phrase could be heard every morning. “Think of the firm.” A sarcastic tribute to their company loyalty.

I remember ginger-haired Ted, short of temper and long on his support for his football team, Tottenham Hotspur, who would “swear on my kids’ lives” about any manner of things. Then there was Tom, who would often turn up for work still pissed after a lock-in at his local pub the night before. He was an alpha-male, nastily aggressive; and would brazenly take an extra crate of milk in front of Bernie’s nose, keeping the profit for himself.

Another drinker, Roger, wore red blotches on his face from his alcoholic exploits. Also a relief milkie, he would nick anywhere between £20 to £50 from the bag if he stood in for your holiday.

The real Jack the Lad of the yard was Phil Dove. His round was somewhere out in Hanningfield, where it was said he had at least two women customers who required ‘extra’ deliveries. Phil drank copiously, still played football, and had a second job as a private investigator. If there was something to have an opinion on, Phil’s would be heard. I met him again when he was driving taxis eight years ago. It was great to see his buoyant spirit once more, bursting through the wrinkles and extra weight added by the years.

John Tearle, the depot manager, came across to the Coop from Dairy Crest, where he had acquired a major reputation as a womaniser. In my final days as a milko, when the black dog of depression had its claws in me, John recommended that I find a mistress and shag myself silly. Then there was Bob, who helped Bernie get the milk ready from 3 a.m, before heading off to work for Brake Bros as a delivery driver. Bob still owes me £5 for a bet that I placed on his behalf.

Three older guys still come to mind. Ernie, Joe and Peter. All of them would disparage the younger lads who sprinted round. Ernie was odd, eccentric, a little unsure of himself. But mega-friendly. Joe was entrenched in his ways, a huge Trades Union man, who knew his every working right. He looked after his younger brother Theo, who had learning disabilities. Peter grew his own vegetables. He tailored his work and life to routines that he shaped and owned. Truly ‘his own man’.

Tony Timms was maybe the youngest guy in the yard. He admitted to still being a virgin, a fact that somehow got into the local Chelmsford newspaper. Presumably that status was left behind, as he was often to be seen dragging, pushing and otherwise cajoling a brood of children around town in later years.

The nicest lad of all was Kevin English. West Ham fan. Thoughtful, kind, sensitive, popular. I saw him a couple of years back, driving a milk float with his name on it.

 

***

 

The milk round featured in my dreams for many years after it ceased. Perplexingly and uncomfortably so. The general theme was whole streets that I had left unserved, or irate customers ringing the dairy because I had delivered the wrong milk. Only in recent times have those dreams ceased, occasionally to be replaced by a better ambience, where all was complete, as ordered.

 

images

 

 

 

263. Daughter poetry

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In its own, slow way, my dad Eric’s house is becoming a museum. As his routines become ever more restricted and reined in, his past seems to tower over his present. His memories of childhood and youth remain sharp, but his recollection of conversations held 20 seconds ago are generally non-existent.  Like Dad, the house is becoming worn out. The electric appliances are outdated, the curtain rail of nearly 40 years had to be replaced by Maureen and I a couple of days ago. Yesterday, his washing machine entered a cycle which would not end.

A beautiful fox uses his garden as a toilet.

Adorning the wall of his downstairs utility room, where the Hotpoint machine wants to spin forever, are framed poems written 22 years ago by our daughters Lauren and Josie.

Lauren composed hers while watching Eric, then 70, asleep after a Sunday roast dinner.

 

Grandad asleep on the sofa

 

A silent something spread out over a burgundy sofa

Sometimes small noises come out of its mouth

Striped and motionless,

It grunts, as if dreaming of horrid things

But who knows what things are going on in that still head,

As silent as a ripple in the water

Fists clenching, and sometimes slightly stirring

And still a silent something is spread out over a burgundy sofa

But suddenly eyes open in a split second

Shuffles over on its side and falls asleep again

This time, legs scrunched up and arms outstretched

When will this silent something wake up,

And move from the burgundy sofa?

Who knows?

By Lauren Godier

Aged 10 years

 

 

 

Josie dipped into her young imagination, to produce her own version of Genesis.

 

 

The Creation

A sparkly egg was floating in the darkness

It grew and grew and suddenly

CRACK!

The egg fell into two – a God fell out

One half of the egg formed the sun,

The other half formed the moon

Tiny bits of the egg formed stars

His hair made the trees

His teeth made the mountains

His fingers and toes made the people and the children

That is how the world was made

By Josie Godier

Aged 7 years

 

 

What a pair of poets. Creating, then preserving time in their snapshots. Very proud.

262. Presumption

OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 35

 

I’m always unsure about people who are so sure of themselves.
Joyce Rachelle

 

 

They entered a corridor. Through the next door, old and oaken, five stone steps descended to a mezzanine level. “A long list of the great and good have taken this route,” said Eric. “One such soul, now deceased, was a ‘disc jockey’ by profession.”

They sat on carved seats overlooking a stone floor, where candelabra illuminated a reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards. “My favourite room – I often come here to think,” said Eric. “There are tunnels extending from here to other City safe holdings.”

Sal detected smells, embedded in the walls. He asked about Jimmy Savile’s visits.

“Certain people bring an ability to unravel the discipline in others,” said Eric.

Sal was more precise: “He tipped others into behaviour that left them open to blackmail.”

“Oh yes. And he procured many of the children involved.” Something lightened in Eric’s eyes. “I read recently that 140,000 go missing each year in Britain. Most of them find their way home, but what of the others?”

Sal let him talk, feeling sick again. “Well, some are trafficked overseas, for the astounding profits. Some are kept, brainwashed and thoroughly used for sexual and blackmail purposes. Others are slaughtered.” Completely matter of fact, his hand pulled his lip again.

“For their blood?” Sal knew the answer.

Eric looked disdainful. “Ask merely why Hollywood makes films about vampires. Again, the real information is there, in open view. Rituals are a fundamental practice of our clans.” He referred to April 15, marking the ancient Festival of Bastet, a cat-headed Egyptian goddess. “Deities require sacrifices. Did you know that the Titanic went down that day, exactly 101 years before the Boston Marathon bombs? Almost a round number.”

Satan knew what was next. But waited to hear the old man say it. “Also, the secretions from a teenager’s pineal gland can extend adult human life. Think of the Pigna statue – the Pine Cone – at the Vatican. More tangible, visible information. Why on earth do you think Savile received a Papal Knighthood?”

Sal didn’t even ask about the other organs that were harvested and sold. His next question was uncomfortably close to home. “Who and what do you summon in that pentagram?”

For the second time that evening, Eric smiled. “Well, we have tried to invite you to our soirees, as you must remember.”

“I gradually learned to ignore that shit, like a fly in my ear,” said Sal. “I prefer a single malt and a joust on the dojo mat these days. When I do come to your world, the portal is more mundane. Through toilets and sewers.”

Despite his complete loathing of the old man, Satan couldn’t help himself. “As I think you know, I’ve accompanied and observed mankind’s journey since time immemorial. You also know that magic works, and spirits are real. But…….They do not go away easily, once solicited.”

Eric’s face showed zero concern, in the flickering candlelight. “If one wants to be near a Great White shark, one climbs into a cage,” said the old man. “We observe the protective spells available in the Lesser Key of Solomon and other grimoires. And follow the optimal timings indicated by the planets.”

“You’re stupidly naive,” said Satan. “Spirits lie, often because they are bullied to show up. You are playing with hostile beings, some of whom were previously Gods. Look through the Old Testament and you’ll find over 30 demi-Gods. Give them your attention and they always want more. Always. What point is there to your insane blood sacrifices if the recipients insist that only a nuclear or environmental holocaust will sate them?”

Eric was quiet, so Sal continued. “Angels and demons are not so dissimilar, whatever Dan Brown might say. The Watcher Angels taught humans metallurgy and farming, but also impregnated women, both against God’s will.”

“Angels helped the Elizabethan magician John Dee envision a British empire,” said Eric. “Consequently, you are sitting at the very heart of the most civilised social structures the world has ever known.”

“That’s debatable. You brought into your rituals a man who had sex with corpses. The bigger point is that those entities will play you, in a long-term game stretching way beyond your lifespan. And yet you trust them?” asked Sal, genuinely astonished. “Having rattled on about how deceptive holograms are!”

 

***

 

Sid’s students were remote viewing the encounter. Mary had called the Leigh centre shortly after Satan roared away to London.

Stan’s pencil captured the long table, with two lone diners. Sally drew a tall figure with a tail, bursting with anger. Towering over a white-haired man standing on top of a pyramid. A third figure featured at the margins, in an army uniform. Sid was reassured by the lack of violence.

 

***

Information was the only thing of any value to Sal from this worthless human being. Given the earlier mention of the SEC investigation, Satan asked about 9/11. To cajole, he traded the reality of the Akashic files, while elaborating their inability to access certain individuals and locations, and particular ceremonies.

“What do you know about that awful day in September 2001? Much of the information was inaccessible from my home dimension.”

“Well, it was handled at the US end. Frank went very quiet for months beforehand. He volunteered no information, and I have never asked him for the details, for one compelling reason.”

“The money that your families generated.”

“What else counts? The subsequent profit made by the armaments industry in blowing Afghanistan and Iraq back to the Stone Age was beyond belief. All Frank’s business. Then our Israeli colleague Shimon, he oversaw businesses that engaged in the almost endless installation of homeland security equipment at airports and other transport terminals in the USA and around the entire world, to counter this dastardly new Islamic enemy lurking around every corner.”

Eric pulled at his lip. “And here, in London. Well, it pleased me deeply that the governments of the Allied forces borrowed themselves silly for their military campaigns. Believe me, that money did not come cheap. So you see how sizeable business opportunities emerged after those towers fell. Conflict breeds commerce, and the richest never spurn those options.”

“So who exactly was responsible for the 9/11 attacks?”

Eric shook his head. “Honestly, I never asked. Seriously, I didn’t care. 3,000 dead on Frank’s patch. So what? Stock markets were out of control, and we benefitted from the volatility. We always do. Too busy to dwell on unprofitable detective matters.”

Eric relented. “But I can see you want to know whether I believe the farcical fairy-tale. This laughable lunacy that 19 Muslims, who couldn’t fly planes, and lacked any overt government or intelligence service support, outwitted not only all 16 US intelligence agencies, and airport security, but also the NATO and Mossad intelligence services? Marshalled and overseen by a man in a cave. I was blessed with a brain, so I think not.”

Satan was quiet. Listening hard, trying to shrug off the sleepiness induced by the wine.

“Look, Edward Snowden clearly demonstrated the breadth and depth of surveillance by the NSA. So let us be very clear. Every Arabic fart and burp would have been monitored, and these supposed ‘terrorists’ taken out without a second thought, had they been operating as reported. As it was, 8 of the 19 alleged hijackers who died in plane crashes later turned up alive and well, in their own countries, minding their own business. Our wonderful media somehow neglected to explain that magical impossibility, while jerking themselves off about Bin Laden’s ludicrous monochrome ‘videos’ that somehow emerged from the hills of Afghanistan.”

“And how strange that just 14 airforce fighter jets were left to cover the entire USA due to ‘drills’ and war games,” said Eric. “Always ask the old question of who benefits. Qui bono? On that note, I watched, not unhappily, the destruction of whole WTC floors that contained Enron prosecution papers and other financial information best not examined. Documents from the SEC, CIA, IRS and Salomon Smith Barney.”

A minor pause. “Actually, Frank did tell me one thing. A massive gold bullion haul was taken from the WTC 4 and 6 basements as the commotion broke. I was never told the value.”

Using the phrase that Sal was coming to despise, Eric pointed out more “real information”. That the FBI had publicly admitted they had no evidence on ex-CIA operative Osama Bin Laden; while Dick Cheney himself, in March 2006, had acknowledged that evidence that the Saudi was directly involved in 9/11 “has never been forthcoming.”

“But by that time the West had of course flattened a country rejecting the petro-dollar, seized control of its oil, and fastened its grip on the Afghan opium trade. That last point was a priority for Ignacio and his family. Come on, how much more obvious does anyone want their information?”

“I mean, consider the Patriot Act, swiftly signed into law in October 2001, but written and ready to go long before 9/11. Further stripping away US constitutional rights. Surveillance of citizens stepping up towards a point where every move can and will soon be second guessed. Coming soon, in your town.”

 

***

Maggie was anxious. She could not see Sal, and his conversational partner. Might she know the individual? She fell into a deep reverie.

Her martial arts learning curve had soared, then hit a stout brick wall. She could now take on and often beat Satan’s boys on the mats: even Beelzebub. But the next step, the minotaur, petrified her. Whenever she tried to imagine the beast, the Levantine face of Jesus appeared to her.

 

***

Sal pressed on. “In your honest opinion, could there have been an inside plot behind 9/11?”

“Jesus, why would I even care? Can I tell you how I enjoy my days?” Receiving no reply, the old man proceeded. “Naomi is one of ten girls employed here. All stunningly beautiful, all paid exorbitantly to service my needs. Aside from maintaining the house, and cooking, they are my playthings. My medication permits phenomenal activity. Let us do the maths. 30 penetrable orifices to choose from…no, 32 holes and a hefty penis, if you count Jamil, who participates if asked.”

Satan couldn’t resist. “34 and two dicks if you count Hoskyns. Do you ravage and sully him as well?”

Eric’s answer surprised Sal. “No, he is probably my best friend. We have played each other at chess for nearly 50 years.”

The old man scratched his ear, looking comfortably around the cold underground room, where death sat in the air. “But as you want my opinion on September the eleventh so badly, then here it is.”

He paused. “I would speculate, looking back, that it was a huge sacrificial death ritual, a quid pro quo to placate whatever dark spirits Frank is engaged with.”

The notion was horrific and outrageous enough to qualify as a valid explanation, as Satan mulled over how the families operated.

Eric was picking his words very carefully. “Again, in my retrospective opinion, the events of that day were also designed to open the military floodgates to the Middle East. It may well be that a flimsy terrorist plot was discovered and allowed to go ahead, and then significantly added to,” he argued. “The WTC7 collapse is there, documented, unignorable, unhit by planes, but in plain sight.”

Eric chuckled. “Now was George W Bush involved? In my opinion, the poor man could not organise a piss up in brewery, as my dear departed dad was wont to say.”

Eric nonetheless suggested that it was “nothing” for Western powers to plan attacks on their own citizens. He cited Operation Northwoods, an early 1960s CIA plot, which – but for JFK’s veto – would have seen attacks on American civilians and military targets. And then blame dished out to Cuba, to justify a war against Fidel Castro. All on public record.

Satan calmed himself by remembering Gandhi’s words: “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love. It is the prerogative of the brave.” To stay wholesome, Sal flipped to the memory of Dave Dawson, whose spectrum of talents encased human artistry at its fullest. And clearly an irreplaceable father and husband. The sack of shit beside him, by contrast, viewed the world as a giant chess board. With human pieces.

“It’s the profits that matter,” emphasised Eric. “Eventually over $50 billion of work came to Western companies to rebuild Iraq’s bombed out remains. A cornucopia: $12 billion worth to Dick Cheney’s Halliburton alone. In the smashed-up oil sector, awards for ExxonMobil, and our companies: Royal Dutch Shell and BP

Satan couldn’t think past the multiple birth defects that riddled Iraq, linked to Allied forces using chemical weapons and depleted uranium. Women in some regions were advised not to become pregnant. But this was of no consequence to the old man. Sal’s thoughts drifted to the child sacrifices undertaken yards away. And then the youngsters abused and murdered by Britain’s elite while Maggie was in power, ignoring the vile perversions under her nose. The Firm had made a drunken mistake in recruiting her.

Satan was decades away, revisiting Elm Guest House in Barnes, South East London, where 1970s and 1980s guest-lists united spies, politicians, aristocrats, police and celebrities. All intent on abusing and sometimes killing children before covering each other’s backs.

Eric was underlining how the “whole Iraqi state” was dismantled after the invasion. New laws allowed foreign investors to own Iraqi businesses, 100%, and send their entire profits home. Sal recalled how, when Blackwater contractors killed 17 unarmed civilians in 2007, they were deemed beyond Iraqi law.

“Enough!” Sal raised his arm. He related his comprehensive torture, and total evisceration, of Jimmy Savile. He watched the Old Controller quieten.

Sal ordered that they return for dessert. As a prelude, he walked into the pentagram, and relieved himself. Only tiredness and the excess of alcohol were preventing him from killing the old man. It could wait.

 

***

The dining room lights were dimmed, candles lit. Apricot & cointreau soufflé awaited, alongside Chateau d’Yquem, the gold standard of dessert wines. The label said 1847. Silently, Jamil and Naomi watched.

Satan opened another boasting opportunity. “What is the City of London? The Files cannot fathom it.” He let the wine soar through him, while the Old Controller painted a heavy picture, suitable for his walls.

“If Goldman Sachs is a ‘vampire squid’, as some say, the City is a shoal of such creatures – M15, M16……The Bank of England, Lloyds, the Stock Exchange – all overseen by George and I, operating invisibly behind fronts and agents.”

Eric chose words more carefully than ever. “It may be better conceptualised as the Crown, the corporate Crown, which Hansard struggles to define, and yet which holds the bonded indebtedness of much of the world. How many people know that?”

“Its juristic arm is the Temple Bar, but this goes beyond British entities. The Crown’s tentacles stretch offshore to many institutions, including the Federal Reserve, IMF, World Bank, Mossad and the UN, and almost all tax havens. Those tentacles reach into the governments of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Yet you must never lose sight of the Vatican’s gravitational pull on the Crown, steered by our colleague Vito, in Italy. It can cause ferocious tilt.”

Sal had to ask. “And the British Royal Family?” Pleasured only by soufflé, he listened to the answer. “No more than a token power now. All royals lost their wealth and fortunes by indebting themselves. Wars, always wars. And then insemination by some of our families. Carry out DNA tests, and you would find banking blood running deep.”

At least the apricot and cointreau was soothing.

The Crown Corporation was a commercial company, yet sitting outside of UK law, specified the old man, thus able to ignore any claptrap about capping bonuses within the entities it controlled. “The lip-service to democracy known as Parliament is convenient, convincing and efficient in representing our families’ interest by proxy. The Remembrancer spots the truly dangerous dissent. We deal with it, accordingly.”

It was difficult for Sal to think beyond the astonishing power of the amber-gold wine. Raisin flavours, intensely sweet and long. Concluding with an incredible finish.

“Please peer through the miasma.” The old man allowed himself another chuckle. “Tell me when the UK parliament last pulled rank on the City. We are talking immunity on the level of the Vatican. What happened in the 2008 crisis? We dictated to Prime Minister Brown how it would unfold. We grabbed the taxpayers’ money, after the token slap. Who was in charge?”

Satan wondered just how far genes could twist inward, as Eric’s hand fondled his mouth. “Think of a pyramid, power flowing down. Those holding key positions within the important City structures are mentally anaesthetised by excellent salaries.”

Satan recalled chatting at Southchurch with the lawyer who helped found the moneyless community. Clifford De Ricardo had worked in London extensively, and swore that greed, rather than organised conspiracy, was the root of City behaviour. “I know an ex Lord Mayor and the recent CEO of the City Corporation pretty well,” he had told Satan, in September sunshine. “They are not bad men, involved in secret hand shaking societies trying to make the lives of the underprivileged any worse than they are already.”

Eric explained what happened to dissenters. “Those whose eyes insist on opening are blackmailed, brainwashed or just eliminated.” The old man spoke slowly and carefully.

Too many questions flashed through Satan’s head. Eric explained the City was originally the Knights Templar Church, also known as the ‘Crown Temple’ or ‘Crown Templar’. He said the British author Ian Fleming was accurate in his depiction of the almost boundless power of M16.

 

***

The first remote viewing image that came to Jess frightened her. Her hand drew a dragon tearing apart a child. Sid laid his hand on her shoulder, reassuringly, bidding her to continue. The second one puzzled her. A set of scales, in perfect balance.

 

***

“Who controls the Bank of England,” asked Satan. He poured a second glass, almost too drunk to care about the answer.

“After tugs of war, centuries ago, it became our private bank, to scam with as we liked. It lent money that it created out of nothing to the English government and was paid back with interest. In 1946, our bank was nationalised, due to the exceptional political climate, but there was a complexity to that transaction.” Satan listened, almost inured. The wine seemed to change flavour as it breathed.

“Because the British government was completely broke after World War 2, it was unable to buy out the shareholders. A complicated-looking arrangement ensued whereby our families continued to take profits, but the bolshie lefties didn’t like this.”

In 1977, said Eric, “we buried things a little deeper, by setting up a wholly-owned subsidiary called Bank Of England Nominees Limited, a private limited company. This company, bless its blue cotton socks, is protected by the Official Secrets act, and its Royal Charter status, and so exempt from the normal disclosure requirements that other companies comply with to meet section 27 of the Companies Act 1976.”

Sal was fully aware how this complex-sounding language deterred ordinary men and women from nosing around in finance and law. He despised the use of the Official Secrets act, akin to treating British adults as children. “Trust uncle that it doesn’t concern you. Go back to sleep, little sheep.”

As he considered the contempt that this utter legal bollocks would receive in Iceland, more information was forthcoming. “You may ask what that all means. Well, I’ll crown things, metaphorically, by telling you that major financial players, including our families, use this company to purchase shares and remain anonymous.”

To Satan’s drunken eyes, the body language of Jamil and Naomi, who brought a cheese board and coffee, contained something more active. The wine serving was finished, and so was much of humanity, according to Eric.

His next admission riveted Satan’s attention. “All our clans have done well. The Pope and his Jesuits have run the equivalent of a Stalinist bootcamp for centuries, swelling the riches in the Vatican Bank beyond avarice and imagination. But most humans and governments are on a runaway debt train. The track is running out, yet everybody still argues over seats.”

He referred to the UN’s Agenda 21, unveiled in 1992 at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, facilitated by “one of Frank’s generals”. George Bush senior. The old man underlined the sprinkling of compassionate-sounding, politically correct terms like “population stabilisation” contained in the 40 chapter document. “Dig down to the real information,” he entreated. Eric described a coming cull of global populations, through various methods, leading to a subservient remainder, mostly micro-chipped.

Standing up, he asked Satan what the clans genuinely had to fear. “What does God have up her sleeve? We own Western money, politicians, military, intelligence agencies, police and courts. We rig economies, unemployment, inflation and Libor. We have been doing this for a very long time and we are not fucking around.”

Satan recalled a moment from the previous evening. Cheese bubbling on top of a fish pie, as residents trooped happily into the cafe from the cold darkness. He did his best to tell Eric how Southchurch Park was evolving, how a coherence was emerging, with goods and services being freely exchanged. despite the park’s fair share of hiccups, and the horrible death.

“It sounds ……bucolic,” said Eric.

“What you don’t realise, never will,” Satan retorted, “is that it’s all inside. Call it love, the God gene, whatever. You might have a zillion quid, a million tanks at your disposal, but you lack it. It ranges from simple acts of gratitude, of caring, sharing and humility, up to the higher spiritual levels, where the human imagination can manifest results in the physical plane. And you will never overcome it, however many sick ceremonies and rituals you hold.”

“Anything else?”

“In addition to Gandhi, the Buddha is helping our experiment accelerate.”

“Disappointing answers. The time of Holy men is long gone.”

The evening’s final phase had arrived. Eric suggested they might entertain themselves. Satan proposed a hand of Uno. “Winner ends with absolutely nothing. The individual left with the most loses.”

Eric ignored that. “Let’s forget our differences. Jamil and Naomi will offer you a range of physical comforts.” Sal said nothing.

As he stood, he noticed the woman who was clearing the table move behind Eric, wrap her left arm tightly around his throat, kick his legs away, and snap his neck.

 

***

Any movement in the old man’s body ceased in 10 seconds. The woman let his body fall to the floor. She was trembling, as she looked across at Satan.

“Am I next?” he asked.

“Are you really….Satan,” she said. He nodded. “Call me Sal. Why did you do that?”

“It is the first time that I have ever heard him talk at any length. His comments about black South Africa disgusted and appalled me. Amongst so many other things.” She was sweating profusely. Satan pushed across his wine. “Drink the rest of that, it will steady you.”

As she gulped down the dessert wine, he pieced together a plan. “Can you drive a motorbike?”

“Yes. I learned many things in the Nigerian army.”

“Aha. OK, where is Hoskyns?”

“Jamil has tied him up downstairs. Jamil and I will both leave tonight.”

“Will the other girls wake up?”

“I doubt it. Our accommodation in any case has its own, self-contained facilities. No need to come over here.”

“Will you drive me back to Southend? Too much alcohol in my blood.”

“I feel too unhinged to drive. Would you first fuck me, hard, to calm me down?”

 

***

Afterwards, as they donned their crash helmets, he asked Naomi whether she had enough money to get by. “I have saved up enormous amounts. In different accounts and currencies and names. On top of our salaries, Eric paid us eight thousand pounds per fuck.”

“I hope you charged for any extras.” She grinned.

“You might want to lay low with our community for awhile,” he offered. Maybe make up your mind in the morning?”

“I do not know that such caution will be necessary,” she said. “He told me once that he does not officially exist. That he quit the world at large when shedding his surname.”

As the Diavel pulled away, Sal looked up. Never-ending reptile heads were gazing down from old buildings at the unregistered number plates.

 

261. When Eric met Sal

OUT OF ESSEX – CHAPTER 34

 

We live in ..that time when everything had already changed, only people were too scared, too ignorant or too arrogant to understand and they pretended and acted as if everything was still normal and it wasn’t.

Libbe HaLevy

 

 

Maggie was immensely frustrated. Satan and the old man sat in comfortable silence, sealed away from all Akashic scrutiny. The Place had no way to track and record images and conversations from this location, where oil paintings of racehorses, courtesans and chateaux adorned the dark red walls. At the end of the room an arched door frame possessed unusual proportions.

 

***

Satan went first. “I should kill you.”

Across the table, Eric blinked. Satan re-appraised him. White shirt, top button undone, above dark, belted trousers. Symmetrical facial features, white hair, thinning but worn with extra length. Suggesting he remained in the mating game. Brown eyes. Healthy skin, glowing under the middle chandelier. Roughly six feet tall. Satan began to think of him as the Old Controller.

A young man and woman stood at each end of the long table, completing a human cross. White shirted. Black trousered. Presumably they would serve. “Let me introduce Jamil and Naomi,” Eric said, finally. The male was Arabic, maybe Lebanese. The young woman looked West African. Satan guessed Nigeria.

“Both outstanding martial artists.” Eric smiled faintly at a memory. “And even old Hoskyns can produce a mean kick.”

Satan considered for three seconds. “I would be the last one standing. But let’s wait. My terms next time.”

Hoskyns brought the white burgundy, offering Satan the testing sip. “Just fill the thing,” he snapped. Sal let the wine work, with no idea of how this would play out. “Can we start by confirming that my friend Dave Dawson was murdered, brutally, on your orders?”

Almost a minute passed before Eric responded. “Before that, I must welcome you. If you are who I imagine you to be, can I suggest we both speak with absolute honesty, all cards visible?”

He spoke quietly, accustomed to attentiveness. Satan knew bottles bearing the Montrachet label fetched astronomical prices. The concentrated flavours were producing a lengthy finish.

The chance to learn about the clan operations was too good to spurn. But Sal adored foreplay. “Why would you be truthful? By its very nature your operation – in fact the modus operandi of all trillionaire families – is secretive.”

Eric looked at Satan’s gloved hands. “Incorrect. Our code of conduct mandates that facts are laid out starkly for those able to peer past the many smokescreens. I think you know this: that the real information is always there, often hidden in plain sight.”

Satan knew, but wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth. He asked for examples. “When has the empire given public notice of its skulduggery?” The burgundy was exquisite.

The Old Controller speared a queen olive. “That’s extremely easy, and rather local. Think about how my proxy mouthpiece, Prime Minister Cameron, recently said Britain needs to operate with a smaller state “permanently”. Let me translate. Austerity, like diamonds, is forever. Rather apposite, coming from the Guildhall.”

“The Lord Mayor’s bloody banquet,” said Satan. “Sycophants and numbskulls in tiaras and bow ties listening to talk of rolling back the advances made by working people.”

“A little unfair, given the charitable work involved, and rather unrealistic,” smiled Eric, wanly. “Asia’s poor do the world’s dirty work. Advanced robotics govern Britain’s remaining factories. So why grub up money for irrelevant working classes?” He pulled out a mobile, examining a message.

Leaning back, arms behind his head, Satan responded: “For the record, God loathes charity. In a world of abundance, she thinks it stinks.” The wine was releasing his tensions.

Eric looked puzzled, for just a moment, before continuing. “As I was saying, the information sits availably. In this case, that there will be no surrender by the super-rich in a financial war to thin out the world’s lower echelons.”

Satan asked if he could begin to imagine how this would affect the globe’s poorest. The old man’s eyes glazed. “That disinterests me.” His fingers rose to his lower lip in an odd way. “Now let us consider how else we tip our hand. Let’s look at real information, let’s examine JP Morgan.” Satan groaned at the name, feeling slightly ill.

“Yes, one of our mightiest banking players,” said the old man. “Which sold over $30 billion worth of worthless mortgage-backed securities in the lead-up to the 2007-08 crash. Media, our loyal media, sternly tell the world that the naughty boys at JPM will have to pay $9 billion in fines and provide relief to consumers worth $4 billion. Serves them right, they say.”

Eric tutted quietly. Satan didn’t have his measure yet.

The old man waited again before speaking: “Our media back it up by claiming an “overhaul” of the broader banking culture. Much safer now, more onus on risk and compliance monitoring, they trumpet. Distracting from the reality that JP Morgan obtained a blanket amnesty for illegal actions that involved countless thousands of Americans losing their homes.”

Satan detected no emotion except confidence as Eric spoke. “Do not underestimate our grip on senior politicians. In setting the fine, the Obama administration calculated the bank could absorb the loss with minimal damage. $13 billion is nothing in the scheme of things. The Justice Department’s abundant evidence of illegal activity resulted in, what shall we say, the equivalent of a very hefty parking fine. There it is, for those with eyes. Most will not make the effort to see.”

While Eric sipped his burgundy, Satan ruminated. The sub-prime mortgage probe had been just one investigation into JP Morgan. Others delved into allegations of credit card fraud, illegal debt collection practices, rigging of energy markets, complicity in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, illegal home foreclosures, bribing Chinese officials, and involvement in Libor-rigging. Yet, incredibly, the Obama administration had refrained from indicting any high-ranking JPMorgan executive, or the bank itself.

“Quite an enjoyable Saturday evening,” said Eric, neutrally. “Again, ask what information all of that conveys. Quite unambiguously, that the financial elite sits comfortably above laws applying to lower orders, who receive long prison sentences for petty crimes involving hundreds of dollars.” His right hand went to his lip again.

Eric added that Obama had a “useful track record”, quickly touching his mouth once more. He praised the US President’s 2010 decision to kill the findings of a Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation into financial collusion linked to 9/11 events. He spoke of the days preceding the WTC attacks, when an extraordinary number of trades had bet the stock price of American Airlines and United Airlines would fall. “Unfortunately, for enquiring minds, relevant records were destroyed,” he said.

“Observe, clearly, the real information. That politicians are puppets. The Americas are ultimately controlled by two men. One, in New York, calls the shots over the Pentagon, NASA and, of course, Congress. Frank works closely with his peer, Ignacio, who controls much of the global drugs trade, and with it the CIA, from New Mexico.”

“Why no mention of Wall Street?”

“Well that is merely a front for the Federal Reserve. Which is itself an extension of the City of London.”

Sal nodded. He was thinking about political puppetry. How, in 2008, when many of his own party wanted to have hearings on the pre-emptive attack and occupation of Iraq, President Obama said it was time to “move forward”, instead. Obama was fundamentally a decent man, yet the number of murderous overseas US drone assaults had subsequently increased, exponentially, and US weaponry has been used to pulverise Libya, Syria and Yemen.

Sal asked a simple question. “And so here, in London, you steer Cameron, Clegg and whatever other jokers kid the public that they are in charge?”

“The City is King. Orders are quietly passed down. My colleague George and I pull the strings. But never directly. The other families work similarly.”

The old man was smiling. “By the way, those jokers, as you term them, have been told that Britain must leave the European Union by the end of the decade. Watch that space carefully.”

“Why?”

“The Euro is doomed. We want the City at a distance from that.”

Nothing he said surprised Satan.

“And here is more real information,” added Eric. “We started our ascent to untold wealth long ago when creating the scam that governments need to borrow, mainly to fight wars. Utter genius.”

Satan lost himself in misery. At how war, the worst thing in the world, was so tightly tied to finance. War was worse than economic injustice; worse than racism; than sexism and homophobia. In terms of death, destruction and suffering caused to human beings, nothing came within a country mile. Mountains of human corpses, bodies ripped apart, homes torn asunder, minds permanently destroyed by psychological trauma, extremist factions rising to power and inflicting unspeakable new violence on people. While bankers salivated over the huge profits.

 

***

When Sal emerged from his reverie, Eric was still talking, unabated. “This is the only real game in town.” His pupils were dilating. “Credit produced out of thin air; generations of tax cattle paying back the principal; while governments borrow even more to pay the interest, and the crippling compound interest.”

Satan recalled the Scotsman William Paterson, who in 1694 created the Bank of England, spelling the scam out clearly. “The bank hath benefit of interest on all moneys which it creates out of nothing.”

Eric elaborated. “Ad infinitum, we receive an endless cash supply, based on a financing model which is little more than a valueless fiction. All property is theft. All money is debt. From cradle to grave the mass global populace are debtors who the usurer class extract surplus labour from – even in their bloody sleep. It’s a delightful system made in heaven, my heaven. There is your information, stark as daylight. Interest, and taxes, enable us to keep whole populations in servitude. Even more importantly, indebted governments obey our directives. Our clans run the Western world.”

“The world extends beyond the West,” said Satan.

Rising, Eric flexed his shoulders and neck. “There are indeed frictions with those who run Asia and other regions. Nonetheless, you will have noticed how anyone opposing the governments we control around the entire world is increasingly labelled as a terrorist. Here in Britain, to help flush away the few remnants of free speech, a so-called ‘Gagging Bill’ will be passed in January, to silence political drivel from charities. By the way, how is your wine?”

Satan nodded. He thought of the campaign gradually building to make it illegal for London Underground workers to strike, quietly edging Britain closer to 1930s Germany. “And yes,” said Eric, re-seating himself. “Dawson’s death was a shot across the bows. If these communities continue to be a nuisance, expect worse.”

Satan responded in a flash. “You don’t seem to get it. Alternative communities, full of kind-hearted people like Dave Dawson, will continue to quit your ghastly social paradigm, which is slowly killing the planet. By resisting, and creating their own narrative, they open their eyes and build their souls. And, if people like you chose to make peaceful revolution impossible, then, as JFK said, violent revolution becomes inevitable.”

Eric sniffed. “And look what happened to Kennedy. We kept control.”

The starters arrived. Marinated var salmon with lemon and vodka jelly, according to Eric, who filled Sal’s glass. With a minor frown, he asked: “You mentioned God. When we discovered you operating in Essex, I have to admit I was intrigued. Dawson’s death was partially intended to bring you here. Good tactic, eh?”

Satan pictured the Old Controller’s head smashed to fuck by a nearby candelabra. “You could have just invited me, instead of killing a man arbitrarily.”

“He was expendable.” Then a pause as astonishment slowly blanketed Eric’s face. “Are you allied with God?” Satan winked.

Again, the Old Controller was speechless for over a minute. “Have you forgotten who you are?” He shook his head. “Let me guess what that insane lunatic does all day? Based on many of his….her creations, she rages at a TV screen, buoyed by alcohol, from a big chair.”

“I’m told it’s distilled water these days,” said Satan. “Here’s a piece of real information. We’ve had ups, and many downs, but I’ve been with God’s Firm for hundreds of years now.”

For the first time that evening, Eric laughed. “So you pitch in with a God who sits for thousands of years, passively, hoping people will do the ‘right thing’ and bring about her loving paradise. If he….she has the power to create, and intervene, then why not solve the world’s so-called ‘spiritual problem’, whatever that is?”

He shook his head, truly flabbergasted. “Any chance she once held has been annexed by our Biblically censorious friends in the Vatican. They don’t dwell in hope there. They, we, any sensible being, uses free will to sew things up and nail them down: financially, politically, militarily and legally.”

The salmon was seasoned to Satan’s taste. The jelly’s vodka redolent of his Russian escapades.

“Do you really think we gained power by hoping?” asked the old man. “In our case, it required deep planning, in order to bribe, manipulate and control people, opinion and press across Europe, and then centuries following the plan. And removing thousands of individuals who stood up to us.”

Satan’s recording device, confiscated by Hoskyns, could have captured everything. Sal had to control himself, by drinking slowly, and listening keenly. “By sticking to the plan, we have brought into mass acceptability war, terror, genocide, drug- and slave-running, all of which stack up more profit. An Italian mafia capo di tutti capi occasionally advises me. That’s between you and I.”

“Congratulations for being a murderer and a twisted fuck,” said Sal. “You’ll find out how God will prevail, but only after I enjoy more of your hospitality.” His green eyes flashed. “And let’s nail down more real information. You killed somebody worth you and your degenerate associates put together. If you caught fire, I wouldn’t piss on you.”

Eric shrugged. “Let your anger out, it’s good. Then come join us. While we crank out war, terror and debt, our clans get free and unlimited access to all our civilisation has to offer; free to exercise their power without responsibility or restraint.” His hand flicked Naomi’s rump as she collected plates. Satan wondered how far up his anus a candelabrum could be hammered.

“Autonomy is us,” said Eric. “Free to create phantom enemies out of minor players – Bin Laden, Saddam, Gaddafi, Kim Jong-un, Assange, Assad – to scare people into doing what we tell them. Free to lecture the slave classes about the virtues of personal responsibility and austerity, while we rub the moral incontinence of the rich and celebrated in their faces. And free to practice our ceremonies.” The old man nodded towards the arched doorway.

***

 

Eric described a classic economic cycle.

“We are told the world economic system is inherently and increasingly crisis prone. The real information, the obvious, unhidden truth, is that financial implosions are caused by central banks, our central banks. Who else has that power?”

A nano-smile, but no light in the eyes. Satan saw how medieval kings must have felt.

“Whenever our clans decide to shrink credit to industry and to government, under some official-sounding theory, millions of people are laid off globally. Individuals and businesses borrow harder against their best equity and property collateral. Stock prices drop. People starve, lose houses, die in droves.”

He was expressionless again. “Then the chattering classes complain. Wring their lilywhite hands and tear their remaining hair over whether business red tape should be trimmed. The super-rich top up their tans, take new lovers, buy up the cheap assets. Time to extend central bank credit again. To sighs of relief, unemployment drops. Stock prices rise. Yet again we enrich ourselves, far past the point where money could ever matter.”

His insouciance had Satan riled. “Tell that to a mother watching her child die for lack of food. To the people living in their cars or on the streets.”

Sal reflected on how these bastards were prone to boasting about their descent from Pharoahs. Their older line was Sumerian DNA. An obsession with genealogy permeated Europe’s royal and aristocratic families, which interbred compulsively, as did the Eastern Establishment families of the United States which produced America’s leaders. The candidate with the most European royal genes had won every presidential election since and including George Washington in 1789. A telling and very real piece of information.

Naomi and Jamil brought plates laden with veal, mashed potatoes and a creamy mushroom sauce. Eric poured claret from a bottle whose label read: Ch Cheval Blanc, 1er Grand Cru Classé, St Emilion 2003.

Then he touched upon a recent Credit Suisse study, indicating that the world’s richest 85 people owned as much as its poorest 3.5 billion. Sal returned it nimbly. “As Mahatma Gandhi said, this world has enough to meet the needs of everyone, but not enough to satisfy the greed of even one man.”

Eric’s eyes narrowed when Satan confirmed that Gandhi was indeed back in the game, in Southend. To keep the advantage, Sal complimented the old man’s cellar. The fruity Bordeaux rolled with almost zero friction from the tongue, leaving hits of cherries, herbs, smoke and oak.

“My point remains,” said Eric. “Oxfam has estimated the net income of the richest 100 billionaires would be enough to end global poverty 4 times over.” His eyes challenged Satan again. “Collectively, the super-rich may harm the world more than Hitler could ever have.”

It got worse. Eric lauded his clan associates for running rings around black South Africans. “So much loud and unsavoury cheering when Mandela was released and the ANC won the 1994 elections,” he sneered. “Well we both know that those who suck in newspaper and televised news may as well stare at a hologram.”

“It’s an effective hologram, developed over centuries,” Sal agreed.

“So effective that it shrouded the key piece of information,” smiled Eric. “Under the power-sharing, the control of the central bank was placed into the hands of “technicians”. And who did those technicians work for?”

Satan recalled. “The white-owned banking system and the IMF.” Gandhi had followed every nuance of the ANC story, relating details on cold park nights.

Eric stared fixedly at Sal. “Those fledgling ANC politicians walked around, punching the air naively, while we kept control of the nation’s money. When Mandela walked out of prison, rich countries and banks handed the people of South Africa a bill for tens of billions of dollars of debt run up by the previous apartheid system. Instead of defaulting, and giving our financial structures a robust middle finger, they were conquered by debt before they even began.” His eyes were moistening. With amusement.

Gandhi boiled over when discussing this. In 1996 alone, South Africa had paid a whopping $2,300 million in interest and debt repayments. Taken from reconstruction funds, that sum would have provided free health care and countless new homes and schools. Instead it repaid the costs of bullets and tanks used to oppress and murder black South Africans. This, above all, was why their society had not improved as their leaders had promised.

 

***

After a protracted silence, Satan stepped in. “You’ve talked sufficiently. Now listen.” He asked Eric what came to mind when he said the word ‘Guernsey’.

“A nuisance of a rock in the English Channel.”

“A rock indeed, an island which dug itself out of financial shit by rejecting your draconian system.”

Sal described how, in 1816, after the Napoleonic Wars, Guernsey’s roads were muddy and narrow; and its coastal crumbling, leading to land loss. Guernsey’s debt to banks was about £19,000. Its annual income was around £3,000, of which some £2,400 was required to pay interest on its debt, leaving just £600 a year to run the entire island.

As part of his “penance”, following his November night of theft and debauchery, Sal had researched these numbers. “In short, interest paid to banks was reducing the populace to near-serfdom,” he said. “Employment opportunities were declining. Sound like anywhere we know?”

Eric gazed across, implacably.

Now Sal moved to the front foot. “Fortunately, it had people who realised, logically, that continuing to borrow debt-bearing bank notes from the Bank of England or any commercial bank was akin to cutting their own throats. Taking America’s example, which so riled King George, they began to print their own treasury notes, debt and interest free. A new public market and sea wall repairs were paid for this way. People agreed to accept and trade the notes. By 1821, some £10,000 of Guernsey notes were circulating. The improvements brought visitors, and new prosperity.”

Satan knew there was no denying his arguments. And that Eric lacked the spontaneity to respond. A trait of inbreeding.

“The eventual result, now evident to anyone, was a high living standard. Guernsey has one of the world’s top 10 per capita incomes. No unemployment, modern infrastructure, no government debt. And low taxes, because no debt interest to repay. Also negligible inflation, a critical test of how well an interest-free money system can work.”

“What I say,” said Satan, lifting his glass, “is that Guernsey is a model for governments everywhere on how to escape your clans’ debt strictures. Yes, commercial banks are still there, lending privately, but the Guernsey government never borrows. Never.”

Flickers of vulnerability were detectable in the Old Controller. Around his mouth.

“Here’s a statistic for you to chew on,” said Sal. “In 1937 Guernsey’s debt-free money in circulation, worth about £175,000, cost just £450 for printing and handling. A similarly-sized loan would have cost almost £11,500 annually.”

One mouthful of mash and Morel mushroom later, Satan resumed. “Implement this system in Britain, and the monetary and tax systems would be more efficient. Booms and busts would pale into insignificance. Best of all, banks’ control of industry and political life would end. A British debt default would kick start this very nicely.” Eric was pursing his lips.

“We’re touching a nerve,” grinned Satan, half his attention riveted by the incredible wine. “No surprise that the banking community didn’t appreciate Guernsey’s experiment. In 1826, a complaint was lodged with the British Privy Council – unsuccessfully – that Guernsey had no right to issue debt-free notes. In 1827, a new commercial bank, Guernsey Old Bank, began printing private notes in large quantities, so that inflation became a genuine concern.”

“We made every effort,” said Eric. “But small size and geographical isolation played in Guernsey’s favour.”

Satan recapped how a compromise persisted until World War One, when – in the typical financial sector model – all mainland bank money was directed towards the war effort. Guernsey lacked such restriction. “Today, fiscal calculations are transparent, run by a citizens’ committee, and viewable online. As also happens in Iceland.”

Eric poked at his plate. Satan rammed it in hard, to the hilt, no grease. “There is no rocket science here. When the Guernsey government wants to create some private work or service, it simply issues the money required. Over the course of almost two centuries, Guernsey has remained prosperous and stable, fostering such a favourable tax climate that hordes of offshore fund managers and insurance companies have set up, many doubtless owned by your clans.”

Across the table, Eric bit forcefully into tender young meat. Satan smacked his lips as he finished his glass. “Another good example, in the US, is North Dakota, where a public-owned state bank recycles its profits back into the state and the community.”

Sal was fully aware of the problems in establishing more of these models: the near-absence of education and clear information; the disinterest of a general public dumbed down by all manner of junk screen entertainment; and the sheer power of the trillionaire families. But he kept punching, to irritate the old man. “The world has to follow these financial prototypes, instead of private banks deploying money and influence to create financial, political and military emergencies that maintain their monopoly on money issuance. Your murdering proclivities will not stop our Southend experiment in nudging that trend forward ”

Eric took a large slug of wine. After Jamil collected their plates, feet noiseless on the thick carpet, the old man sighed. “Come, let’s walk through my archway.”