Friday, 7 February 2014

Lady Chatterley's Admirer

Most of the readers who are attracted to a blog post that refers to Lady Chatterley will have at least some awareness of the book Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence, and the story of its publication. The book was roundly condemned in its own time as lewd, and Lawrence was forced to publish it himself and send it out to purchasers in the post. (One imagines it arriving in plain brown envelopes received sheepishly by gentlemen in quilted housecoats. Although I'd wager it was bought by as many women as men.) In spite of this unorthodox route to market (or perhaps because of it) Lawrence made more from the sale of Lady Chatterley's Lover than from any other work he had written.
    It is easy to see, or at least to imagine, what all the fuss was about. The book, first published in 1928, is replete with four letter sexual swear words that even today are taboo, and contained graphic descriptions of penetrative sex and his'n'hers orgasms. But, to me, this is largely a red herring, because the real force of the book is as a critique of the barrenness of industrial-economic life in the period after the Great War, the war that was to end all wars (or World War I as we now less optimistically call it). And in this sense, the book is an important pillar in the pantheon of formative modernist literature.
    I want to share with you (or remind you of, if you've already read it) a few important passages that illustrate the deep philosophical underpinnings of Lawrence's project. We can distinguish three threads of thought running through the book: the emptiness of industrial life; the sacrifice of passion to the greater god of money; and cynical, unwholesome sentimentality of some of the literature that was respected at the time. (Any page references refer to the Wordsworth Classics edition - ISBN 978-1-84022-488-7.)
    The first is exemplified by the following passage (page 136). It is an inner monologue voiced by Constance - Lady Chatterley - as she is driven through the English midlands:
This is history. One England blots out another. The mines had made the halls wealthy. Now they were blotting them out, as they had already blotted out the cottages. The industrial England blots out the agricultural England. One meaning blots out another. The new England blots out the old England. And the continuity is not organic, but mechanical.
    I'll illustrate Lawrence's second theme not in his own words (well, not all of them anyway), but by way of a 'found poem', a poem that recasts the essence Lawrence's text  in a new form. The original text can be found on page 266.
Modern Love

From Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D. H. Lawrence

This great industrial population has to be fed, kept
going somehow. The women talk, nowadays,
more than men, more cocksure. The men are limp,
feel doomed, go about as if nothing can be done,
in spite of all the talk. The young are mad
for want of money to spend; their lives depend
on spending money. This, we are told, is civilisation; for this,
we have state education: the masses reared on spending
until the money gives out, the pits on a two-day week,
no better even in winter, feeding a family on a pittance;
the mad spending goes on, and the women are the worst.
How can you tell them living is not spending? If only
they were taught, instead of earn and spend, to live,
they could learn to be happy on the little they earn.
Men dressed more gaily wouldn’t think about money:
they could dance and hop and skip, sing and swagger,
be handsome with little cash; and keep the women
amused, and be themselves amused by the women;
be naked and handsome; sing in a mass, and dance
the old dances together; carve their own seats,
weave their own emblems. But it is hopeless—
for they think only of spending who should not think at all.
Be alive and be frisky, worship the great god Pan.
Other gods are for the few, let the mass forever be pagan.
    The third theme can be exemplified by many passages from the book, but moreover the entire book can be seen as an embodiment, and incarnation, of Lawrence's call for genuine feeling. This is why none of the sexual language or description in the book is in any sense gratuitous. And it is this, far more than the socio-economic arguments, that makes the book political.
    Constance Chatterley is married to a wealthy, landed, cripple named Clifford. Clifford occupies his time by writing popular novels that fail to attract much critical applause. As this passage (page 53) shows, Clifford is frustrated by this lack of recognition:
Clifford, of course, had still many childish taboos and fetishes. He wanted to be thought 'really good', which was all cock-a-hoopy nonsense. What was really good was what actually caught on. It was no good being really good and getting left with it. It seemed as if most of the 'really good' men just missed the bus. After all you only lived one life, and if you missed the bus, you were just left on the pavement, along with the rest of the failures.
    Later (page 170) Clifford discusses literature with Constance:
'Have you ever read Proust?' he asked her.
'I've tried, but he bores me.'
'He's really very extraordinary.'
'Possibly! But he bores me: all that sophistication! He doesn't have feelings, he only has streams of words about feelings. I'm tired of self-important mentailities.'
'Would you prefer self-important animalities?'
'Perhaps! But one might possibly get something that wasn't self-important.'
'Well, I like Proust's subtlety and his well-bred anarchy.'
'It makes you very dead really.'
'There speaks my evangelical little wife.'
    How's that for a condemnation of sentimentality! I recommend reading Lady Chatterley's Lover, though I warn you to set aside any squeamishness - very few books, even today, are as brutally honest as this one is, or so linguistically fearless. I'll leave the last word to Lady Chatterley's lover himself, who has not been mentioned at all till now. He would describe the edifice of literature, and the society that has given rise to it, as just so much clatfart. Oh, go look it up!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Toxic Sentiment

Empathy is extraordinarily powerful. We see someone else's joy or suffering, and we feel in ourselves joy or suffering in sympathy with them. We are hard-wired to be moved to either share the other person's joy or to help relieve their suffering, and it is of little consequence whether the other person is a friend or a total stranger. Scientists have identified mirror neurons in the brains of humans and other primates. Our social instincts, those on which our societies and culture are founded, owe their existence to this biological adaptation. And unless you are a sociopath, empathy is as inescapable as eating and breathing.
    What could possibly be wrong in that? Well, for a start, empathy leads us up a whole lot of wrong moral paths if we follow it blindly. You see a little girl crying because she has dropped the change she was carrying home to her mother down the drain; your heart goes out to her, and you pull a note out of your wallet and press it into her hand, telling her, "there, there, no one need know you lost it". Your action is spontaneous and totally selfless; she's a stranger, she doesn't know your name, you're unlikely ever to meet her again. And you walk on, somewhat pleased with yourself, past the woman rattling a charity can in aid of the homeless and starving victims of another Asian typhoon.
    We are wired up to respond to immediate suffering, not to statistics. We don't suffer half as much reading of hundreds or thousands of death in a newspaper, as we do when we see someone we know crying. Empathy is unwilled, immediate, and has nothing to do with making sound moral choices.
    It also has nothing to do with the emotional impact of fiction. A recent long-running story-line in a UK TV soap concerned a married couple, in which the woman had a terminal illness and wished to end her life voluntarily; her husband opposed her, partly, we must suppose, because he loved her and wanted to keep her around as long as he could. Let's not question the rights or wrongs of the characters' choices - they're only fictional, after all; rather, let's look at the way the story was served up to the viewing public.
    The actors went to town with their escalating facial agonies; medieval wailing widows could learn a thing or two about emotional excesses from these two; their performances were positively Biblical. And all of it was shown in close up. The result is obvious: viewers saw all the tears and chest-beating and felt enormous empathy, their mirror neurons lighting up like the Coca-Cola Christmas convoy. Tears were wept. Some viewers even offered to help!
    What is wrong with this picture? What, apart from people wanting to help characters who don't even exist?
    Well, from a fiction-writing viewpoint, just about everything. Empathy may be an effective way to keep TV audiences hooked to a show so that you can raise the price of advertising slots (which, lest we forget, is the function of soap operas), but let's take a look at what emotional response was elicited. Did the viewer who cried at the husband's desperate attempts to keep his wife alive actually feel his anguish? Did the viewer whose heart broke when he accepted the need to let his wife go feel his sadness? No, they did not; they simply felt moved - mechanically, manipulated - by the portrayals of anguish and sorrow, but they felt nothing - nothing at all - of what the characters might be supposed to be feeling.
    This is the fundamental difference between fiction - good fiction, whether literary or cinematic - and life: fiction gives us, the audience, an opportunity to vicariously experience someone else's life from the inside, as if living it. The novel does this par excellence, but it is possible to do it too through drama - the awards given to great actors, such as Olivier, de Niro and Depp, or to great directors, like Polanski, were hard-won and richly deserved. They forego the cheap and easy use of crude expressions in favour of character development by means of layered motivation. For only when we can think as a character thinks can we feel as they feel. In the case of the soaps, it is doubtful even the actors felt real emotion. It's probably beyond their pay grade.
    So, both as a writer and as a consumer of fiction, eschew sentimentality and seek instead to walk in strangers' shoes. Sentimentality is toxic to fiction because the empathy it evokes is utterly empty.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

In Memory of Archie Hickmott

Albert Hickmott, the little boy of Union Street, grew up to become the great man we all knew as Archie. Or as Uncle Bert. Or as Dad. As quiet and unassuming a man as you will even meet: get caught up in the drama of the day and you could easily miss him, sitting a little way off either with his nose in a book — a paperback thriller probably — or looking on with an enigmatic smile.
Archie liked to tell stories, when he got the chance, such as the time he watched from Dover Castle as a German battleship slipped past the English guns to pass unscathed through the Channel; or how his Uncle Jack Arnold led a Luftwaffe squadron in a deadly raid upon Detling aerodrome; or the time Vera Lynn harangued at him in the street because he had parked his articulated lorry in front of her house.
For all his gentleness, he was a strong man until his illness robbed him of his strength. His arms and shoulders betrayed his years at the wheel of truck or a bus, wrestling them round Kentish bends long before the advent of power steering or synchromesh gearboxes. He used to say, with typical humility, that, when he started out, lorry drivers were considered the lowest class, and looked down on even by other working men. But, even in retirement, Archie could walk into any transport cafe in Britain and be recognised — and welcomed by proprietors and drivers alike.
The First World War robbed him, eventually, of his father. He was brought up as an only child by his mother. Too young to fight in the next war—no doubt much to his mother’s relief—he worked as a driver to support the war effort. Afterwards he travelled in Europe, and fell for Paris’s charms. At the age of 25 he married Lil, a Hampshire beauty four years his junior, and together they worked and fretted and raised their four children. When Lil’s fragile health failed her, Archie sacrificed his own financial security to care for her till the end, but characteristically he did so without complaint.
Lil passed away in 1991 but Archie carried on, stoic as ever. He looked on as his children established homes and families of their own, helping as and when he could, sharing their upsets and their joys. He saw 11 grandchildren arrive and grow up, and 5 great grandchildren scattered across the land.

Archie was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last January, and was told by his doctor to expect to survive no more than six months. “I’ll take a year,” Archie said. In the end he took a year and a half, such was his strength, and sustained as he was by the loving care and selfless friendship of Carol, for which we thank her dearly. We all will miss Archie, but he deserves his rest.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Where has all the Slush gone?

I feel almost as though I should apologize for my tardiness in failing to post poems regularly onto the Slush Poetry site. Having written and shared over 150 poems in 2012, observant followers could be forgiven for thinking I had lost my creative drive in 2013. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, I have been very busy this year, both writing new poems and rewriting a completed novel which I hope to get into print next year if I can persuade an agent to run with it. On top of that I have been running a poetry group (the Original Poets of Clapham, London) and been very busy promoting my first poetry collection, A Limited Season.

So where has all the poetry gone? It is true there is less of it. But if last year's frenetic production rate did anything, it allowed my poetry, through experimentation and practice, to find my poetic voice, something that would otherwise have taken far longer. And now I am able to write poems that say much more efficiently what I want to say, and say it in a voice that those closest to me would recognize at once as mine. The result is a steady flow of poems of, I think, a good and improving quality. I can take my time with them because I am confident they will mature slowly into what I want. And I am finding that the editors of literary journals recognize in the latest poems something distinctive - that is, they are accepting them much more readily than before.

Which is why I am posting far fewer on the Slush Poetry site: quite simply, I want to keep my poems under wraps so that they are all the more attractive to journals and, in time, to publishers. So I apologize for sharing less, but here's what I will do: I will share all published poems once the publication they are in has been sent out. Fewer poems, but all the best ones.

In the meantime, here is a small sample of my latest poem:

In snow

Much is explained
by the propensity of men
to sign their names
in snow

All that lay
en lettres anglaises
the dexterity of fletchers
and other trades

or the pleasures
men know...

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A year of wringing hands (Part 2)

In part one I said that 'Missing the match in McDonald's', while exploring child abuse in the wake of the Jimmy Savile affair, drew on my experience of losing two daughters in a rancorous divorce. Here I want to draw your attention to a few of the other poems in A Limited Season that draw on my own story.

We need turn no further than page 14, to 'Declaration of war'. Notice how most (the middle four couplets) of this tiny poem, which is all one sentence, are a parenthetical aside. Strip down the poem's syntax and you get a very simple statement:

‘Can either of you tell me,’ 
the conciliator said, 
‘when you first noticed 
your marriage was failing?’

This came from several events combined into one painful memory, times when my ex and I came into contact with social workers, counsellors and doctors. Of course, none of them actually said what I wrote in the poem, except by omission. It was the proverbial elephant in the consulting room for a while. And the mortgage advice? Well, we had money troubles too, back then, which no doubt played a part in our break up. But then doesn't every cloud have a silver lining?


And those money troubles once brought me to the edge of madness. (Or mental illness, as we are supposed to refer to it now.) I was twenty-four and I walked into a doctor's surgery to complain of sleeplessness and irritability. I had been working very long hours, I was burdened with debt, my first child was on the way. The doctor asked me in his kindest tone, 'What is the trouble?', and I broke down in tears. I can attest to the efficacy of antidepressants. I didn't go back to work for three months after that, and when I did, it was to hand in my resignation.

Cue the poem 'Maiden flight'. For it was as if I had stepped back from a precipice, from which I had surveyed the abyss. Out of it hope had risen, hard to see from within a rut, but easy when you're staring out into oblivion. It showed me there was freedom in going with the flow, following the currents wherever they lead. Oh, I just realised we're back at faith again. Funny that.

Anyway, the 'take home', as snake oil peddling management consultants call it, is this: antidepressants only address symptoms, the cure for living hell is a life better lived.


One should start, perhaps, with a clear conscience. But I say it would be easier if you could start out carrying in your heart all the pain you caused others in your previous life, metaphorically of course. But just knowing that we start out tainted would make it so much less painful to be good. How much finer it would be to win love than to lose it, and to look at oneself and say 'this does not have to be as it is, I can change me'. There is something in original sin.

Each of the three images portrayed in 'A quantum perspective on splitting the nuclear family' is an real and painful memory. (However, the cat is allegorical. No moggies were drowned in the making of this poem!) 

The beach was in Hastings. We had gone there after the disintegration of my first marriage, my mother having lost her daughter-in-law and lost contact with her grandchildren. The sea was frozen along the shore. It was 1987. A year later, having lost touch with my family, I walked out on someone I loved leaving a note asking her to be gone by the time I returned. And all through everything, my father acted as though I were the perfect son - and how that burned!

And, yes, at times I drank to forget.


The cat, of course, was the one Schrodinger imagined leaving in a box, a cat that theoretically would be both dead and alive until the box was opened. (The title did state it was a quantum perspective - pay attention!) Observant readers will have noted the reappearance of that cat later in A Limited Season. He crops up in my favourite poem in the book, 'Letting the cat out'.

Before I explain my fondness for that poem, let me tell you about the epigram (included on the blog but omitted from A Limited Season). At the weekends I live in a delightful village in Cheshire. A short distance from my village lies the Ellesmere Port Vauxhall car plant (the UK brand of General Motors). In 2012 the plant was threatened with closure, and for several months no one knew if it would survive. It was completely out of everyone in the UK's hands - the management, the unions, the politicians. Everyone waited for a decision from Detroit. And meanwhile - you guessed it! - the plant was both dead and alive. Here, pussy!

I'm almost as fond of that cat as I am of this poem. I'm always much happier that the cat survives.

As I said, 'Letting the cat out' is one of my favourite poems. It ticks several boxes for me. First, it is a sonnet, and I am a sucker for sonnets. You only have to count up the fourteen-liners in A Limited Season to know that: there are - wait for it - fourteen of them (and I'm not going to claim that was an accident!). Second, it is so visceral. Can't you just feel - and hear - that 'slurping birthing squelch' as the box is brought up? Third, it is full of unobtrusive rhymes (my favourite being 'we rubbed oil of cloves / under our noses'. Finally, just read it aloud - savour its texture, its rhythms, its melody! Okay, so I sound like a comedian laughing at his own joke, but if I can't love my poems, can I really expect you to?

Monday, 27 May 2013

A year of wringing hands (Part 1)

I thought it would be fun to share some of the background to the poems in A Limited Season. Some people don't like to much explanation, preferring to engage with poems as self-contained worlds with voices of their own. This is generally the way I approach other people's poems, so I have sympathy with that view. But, of course, I am unable to look at my own poems ever in that way, and, in any case, I suspect knowing a little more about the background of some of my favourite poems (by other poets) would deepen my relationship with them.

Certainly my relationship with my own poems has many more dimensions than I can hope to explore in other people's work. So I will try to share some of this with you in the hope that it will enhance your enjoyment of my poems. (Hyperlinks in this post are to my Slush Poetry blog where some of the poems can be found.)


We'll begin with the first poem in A Limited Season, 'Wellmeaning'. The epigraph shown on the blog version, but omitted from the published version, is a clue to its origin: 'Wellmeaning' was written as part of a year-long project for which I wrote poems inspired by news headlines. (I originally hoped to produce a collection from this, which would have been called A Year of Wringing Hands after a line in one of the early poems, but the resulting body of work was too uneven in style and quality.)

For 'Wellmeaning', the headline 'HIV test will be sold over the counter', taken from the free London paper METRO in July 2012, appealed strongly to me because of its connection, though the progression to AIDS, to terminal illness. My father was (and, at the time of writing, still is) suffering from a 'terminal' cancer of the oesophagus. I wanted to write about how, only eight months after his diagnosis (and over-pessimistic prognosis of a six month lifespan), those of us who love him seem to have come to terms already with his slow act of dying. That is, I was feeling more guilt than grief, and sought in poetry a catharsis.

Of course, the headline concerned HIV, not cancer, and I decided to fictionalize the poem with a protagonist infected with that disease, the research for which I found distressing, humbling and apposite in equal measure. I think I did it justice - do you agree?

I decided to omit two of the original stanzas from the version in A Limited Season (the third and fourth stanzas as shown on the blog), because they seemed on reflection to repeat points made better elsewhere. This kind of decision is always easier to make with old poems than with fresh ones. I hope I got it right. Another omission from the final version was the original epigraph. Removing it gave the poem a more personal feel, as though it were addressed to a person, not an anonymous 'case'. 'Wellmeaning' has proved to be very popular and deserves it place as the opening poem.


In December 2012, I was bringing the news project to a close but was still drawn, because of my father's continuing illness, to headlines about cancer. On 7th December the METRO ran a story with the headline 'Cancer strikes more people but death rates are falling'. The story described how cancer sufferers are surviving longer, often indefinitely, and how medicine was turning away from trying to cure the illness, and instead managing its symptoms to prevent them worsening. In other words, patients were having to learn to love with the disease.

It struck me that patients are not the only people who suffer from their cancer - that their loved ones, particularly those who live with them and care for them on a daily basis - also have to deal with its ramifications. From this thought was born the poem 'Live with it'.

One immediately obvious change that was made between the blog version and the one in A Limited Season is the change from first person to third person. The protagonist is a woman; this is obvious in both versions. When I originally wrote 'Live with it' I had her telling us her story. But, of course, I wanted A Limited Season to work as a single collection with a recognizable voice - mine.

The poem remains sympathetic to the plight of this woman, who is feels helpless in the face of her friend's illness, while having to cope with her ill husband's impotence and rage. It would be a depressing message were she to be simply portrayed as a victim, but it is her love for them both that pains her, and it is for love that she will bear to go on living with it.


The last poem I want to tell you about today is 'Missing the match in McDonald's'. This poem was already simmering when I came across a headline in the Telegraph: 'Child abuse allegation soar in wake of Savile scandal'. (Jimmy Savile was famous in the United Kingdom as a radio DJ turned TV presenter, and as a charity fundraiser. His fame was so great and his reputation for good deeds so unquestionable in life that the hundreds - yes, hundreds - of child victims of his decades of sex predation only felt able to come forward after his death. Savile is also the subject of another poem in A Limited Season, 'Pissing in the wind'.)

'Missing the match in McDonald's' is, of course, a sonnet. The first eight lines are largely autobiographical, and relate to a short period during which I had some strained access to my two daughters from my first marriage (I have now all but lost touch with them both. Though I frequently see the eldest one's picture appear on Facebook, I am afraid to click on it for fear of being ignored or rejected. I'd counsel you not to judge me a coward without knowing all the facts.) I had been observing Saturday dads for some time and considering writing about their plight, so the opportunity afforded by the Savile headline was a welcome one.

But the headline sent the poem off in a darker direction, for I imagined the fathers of small children acutely aware of latent suspicions. With a witch hunt under way for sex fiends in positions of trust, every man entrusted with the care of a child was suddenly a suspected paedophile. Will he be undressing them? Will he be bathing them? Will he be touching them? It all reminded me of the way innocent Asian men carrying backpacks were scrutinized after the terror attacks on London.


I hope you have enjoyed these glimpses under into my engine compartment. Within reason I am happy to answer questions, or I'd really like to know what you think of my poems and other writing. Just leave a message below. Peace to all!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

My faith in poetry

When I was in my early twenties I began searching for greater meaning to life. My wife, who had yet to turn into a witch, was expecting our first child, and it was the wonder of this above all else that convinced me there had to be more to life than was presented to the senses. And it was the birth of the child, my daughter Heather, and the heavy societal expectation she would be baptised, that delivered me into the hands of the Church of England.

I tried to be a Christian, I really did. I got up on Sunday mornings and attended mass, shook hands with other worshippers, wishing them the peace of the Lord with my sincerest smile, knelt for wafers and cloying wine, went to tea parties, invited all my friends and family to my confirmation. Jesus, I even tried bell ringing. I turned a blind eye while my parish priest got his bishop to sanction his marriage to a divorcee. (I was later, after my divorce from The Wicked One, denied the right to remarry in the Church of England.) And all the while I tried to persuade myself that, if I just persevered, I would come to believe there was a god.

My poem "The great key" tries to capture that burning schizoid desire to believe in things my senses told me were utterly false, to persevere with patterns of behaviour and speech that felt, even at the time, dishonest and debasing. Ironically my behaviour became more devout and evangelical the stronger my doubts grew. And if "schizoid" seems strong, let me tell you a year after I first walked into a church I was on medication for anxiety and depression, so it's not a million miles off the mark.

(Incidentally "The great key" is based on a true story. I recently decided to visit the parish church in the village I have lived in for sixteen years. I had never been inside it, but when I went I found the door locked.)

My recovery from Christianity was effected not by medicine, but by philosophy. Plato's Symposium was my starting point, but I was subsequently counselled by Spinoza, Descartes, Kant, Locke, Hume, Nietzsche  Marx, Mill, Sartre, Russell, Dennett. And Voltaire, oh Voltaire. I learned that there are no right answers, or at least there is no one right answer (but no unanswerable questions either), I learned to appreciate the rich and unfathomable complexity of the world, and I also learned to tolerate, even to embrace, ambiguity.

One day I read an article in New Scientist about the beneficial effects of Buddhist mindfulness meditation, which it claimed induced neurological changes that made practitioners happier and more focused. I didn't know how to meditate, but I live quite close to the headquarters of the Buddhist Society in London, so I decided to go to one of their courses to learn more. By the second week of the course I was so fascinated by Buddhism itself that I completely lost sight of my original aim, and by the end of the course was willing to call myself a Buddhist.

  • I do not believe there is a god, nor that there being one would explain anything.
  • I do not believe in an afterlife, nor do I feel any need to believe in one.
  • If there is a heaven or a hell, I believe this is it.
  • I believe we are reborn every moment we live, that everything that happens happens now.
  • I feel no need to explain how this world came to be, nor how it will end.
  • I believe that what we do is more important than what we believe.

This is not an exhaustive statement of my beliefs, but just enough, I hope, to explain how my predisposition to religion and immersion in philosophy and science perfectly readied me to accept the Buddhist view. For all of these "beliefs" are compatible with, if not fundamental to, Buddhism. I say "beliefs", but the it would be more accurate to say I considered them as propositions and found them to be either true, or at least helpful as heuristics, useful ways of dealing with the world. I put my faith in them in the same way as I put my faith in my senses.

And of course this new faith has found its way into my poems, too. A poem like "Waiting for the R Train", for instance, which deals with the real-life horror of facing imminent death, illustrates how it is the burdens our past regrets and hopes for an imagined future that prevent us living fully in the present. No one ever experiences their own death, of course, in the present, but only ever through anticipation. "Maiden flight" explores the same idea in a different way, its subject once again death but this time suicide, and once again we experience the liberation from casting off attachment - to mistakes from the past and to shattered hopes for the future. It's not quite nirvana, but doesn't suck.

In fairness to Christians let's remember that Jesus' parable of the birds said much the same thing.

Peace to all beings!

(c) 2013 Andy Hickmott