The Shriek

I’ve lived as long as I have (120 years) because I take care of myself. Which is to say I exercise strenuously every day. I always have, and always will. I’m in such good shape, most people take me for only seventy. And, because of my prowess in the “sweet science” (I’m, for one thing, a former middleweight champion of the British Army), I can still knock out most of today’s young men in any bout of fisticuffs.

Hiking up and down mountainous terrain – a prominent feature of the northern Pacific Rain Coast where I now live, near a city I can’t name for reasons of security – is one of my ways of keeping in good shape. I did such a hike today – in the course of which something odd happened.

It was becoming dusk when I heard a very loud, hoarse, piercing, anguished shriek up ahead the path I was walking on. The shriek was of short duration, and almost unearthly. I heard it again a few seconds later. It was, being a shriek, high pitched, and could therefore have come from a human female, or perhaps from an ape – like a Sasquatch, which have been seen by some in these parts.

On hearing the unearthly shriek I quickened my steps, expecting to stumble upon something extremely unpleasant – like a murder. Then, from around a corner, a lady came towards me, walking a largish, long black-haired, Alsatian-like dog. Twenty yards behind her, also coming towards me, was a youngish man walking alone.

When the lady was about to pass me by I looked at her closely. She was, I surmised, fortyish, and she looked little fat. She was walking at a normal pace and was looking fixedly down at the ground. The dog seemed calm. The man behind her was of nondescript appearance, and therefore not alarming-looking. Which is to say, he didn’t look like a man who I couldn’t knock out in any bout of fisticuffs.

I thought of asking the lady if she’d heard the unearthly shriek. I decided against it because – who knows – she might have been the shrieker, and I wished not to embarrass her, for to publicly embarrass a lady is something an Englishman just doesn’t do.

If the shriek hadn’t come from her, it must have been from a non-human – like, as I’ve just said, from a Sasquatch, or even an extra-terrestrial alien, that have also been seen by some in these parts. The shriek could, I suppose, have come from a bird, maybe an exotic bird. But the shriek was somehow too loud, and too unearthly, for a bird – whether or not exotic.

Could, though, the shriek have been my imagination? Psychotics do, after all, hear noises that only they can hear. My being so old, and my brain likely deteriorating, it’s entirely possible I’m sliding the slippery slope into psychosis. However, and more happily, the shriek could have emanated from a parallel world – whose vibration frequencies my brain was able to tune into.

Whatever the shriek was, it will remain forever a mystery……..

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A Mendicant or A Monk

I attended last night in a church hall a book-signing talk by a Mr Graham Hancock, about how the version of human history drummed into the heads of all of us from when we were in school is nearly all nonsense.

Being so old, I don’t often now go to talks like this one, where there are lots of other people. It’s because I feel so conspicuous, for most people at talks or social functions anywhere, are many decades younger than my 120 years. I’m increasingly aware of this, even though inside I feel no older than fifty. But, in appearance I know I look older. And, how much older? What must those at any gathering think when they see me sitting among them?

Anyway……..back to Mr Graham Hancock.

Having read some of his previous books, I wasn’t surprised at what he said last night, which was roughly the summary of his new book, “The Magicians of the Gods”, that you can learn about if you *click here*. I, for my part, intend to read “The Magicians of the Gods”, for Mr Hancock’s previous books – in particular his “The Fingerprints of the Gods” – have helped win me to the point of view that what I learned in school – which I think is what we all learned in school – about human history, is nearly all nonsense.

My researches in other areas of knowledge throughout the years since I retired from being an active General, have convinced me also that what we’re told by experts about everything else, is nearly all nonsense. Because this “everything else” comprised most of the beliefs that sustained me and gave purpose to my life, my belief system has in fact crashed. One of my esteemed readers has now caused me to believe that this was reflected in the crashed car-like tangled metal that featured in my dream that I spoke of in my *previous posting*.

Crashed-car, crashed belief-system. It does make logical sense.

Had I known when young that everything we’re told is true by teachers and experts, is in fact mostly nonsense, my life would have been much different. For one thing, I could never have become a General, because to become a General you must believe the things that every one else believes. If you don’t, it means you’re not like everyone else, that you’re different – something you shouldn’t be if you want to get on in life. And you don’t get on in life much better than becoming a General.

In retrospect, then, I’m now grateful I swallowed unthinkingly all I was told was true by my teachers and all the experts. If I hadn’t swallowed it all, what would I have become? A mendicant? Or maybe a monk? There aren’t many other avenues open if you’re not like everyone else.

“The Individual is Nothing”

I had a dream some nights ago, in which………:

……..I’m about to enter a park of some sort. At the entrance there’s a large amorphous machine made of seemingly tangled metal (rather like a crashed car). It is issuing a message – either verbally or psychically – that says “The individual is nothing”.

I assume, while in the dream, that the machine is implying that it is the family and society that are everything. A friend, who I’ll call Tom, is either with me, or just inside the park. I say to him, “that machine is saying what you’ve always said”.

I continue walking with Tom into the park – I think to join up with his wife, who I’ll call Tess, and some other people. I know I’m late, and think Tess won’t like this, and will be angry. Tom says don’t worry, because he knows I’m coming from doing something else (or am coming from elsewhere). So Tess will understand.

Tom – who is one of the few people here who isn’t spooked out by very old men like me, and who I meet up with occasionally – is of the Chinese culture, and has reminded me, in fact, many times that in the Chinese culture, the importance of the individual is as nothing, compared with the importance of the family and society.

Upon waking from this dream I wondered if it was of any significance, for, despite being a retired General, I interest myself in things that Generals aren’t supposed interest themselves in – like our dreams. I felt instinctively that this dream – coming, I thought, from deep within my psyche – was telling me something about myself that I’ve been ignoring.

So, why was it telling me that “the individual is nothing”?

Clearly, it was because, in clinging tenaciously to this earthly life for so inordinately long, I’ve been tacitly saying to myself that the individual (my individual self) is everything – so much everything that I can’t “let go” of it. My dream was telling me to “let go” and to just go gently into that good night, where all my family and old friends have already gone.

What, then, about the “…… large amorphous machine made of seemingly tangled metal (rather like a crashed car)…..” in my dream?

Since such a badly damaged car implies death, my own forthcoming death was another of this dream’s important themes. Perhaps, then, the park I was entering into in the dream, represented the Realm I’ll enter when I breathe my last.

In my dream, I was late in entering the park, in the way I’m already late in going gently into that good night where my family and old friends understandingly await me, as understandingly as Tess awaited me in the park in my dream.

The Cross of Loneliness

For the umpteenth time since I began this blog in early 2006, I’m confirming I haven’t died yet, and so am very much alive. Were I merely a 70 year-old or an 80 year-old, I wouldn’t feel I have to keep reiterating – after a long absence away from this blog – that I’m still alive.

The fact is, however, that I’m now a 120 year-old. This makes me arguably the world’s oldest man. I’m prepared to admit, though, that I may not be the world’s oldest person, because, as anyone who isn’t a half-wit knows, those of the fair sex – which is to say, women – live much longer than us men.

This is because women have always had it much easier than us men, even though today they go out to work more than they used to. When I was a boy they (women). had it particularly easy. When at school a girl didn’t have to worry about studying hard in order into to pass exams so she could get a good job when she left school. She just had to look pretty and learn how to charm young men, the better that one of them would take her to wife.

On becoming a wife she would just stay home and have babies and look after them, and visit with her friends everyday for nice talks about babies and cooking and whatnot, while her husband went out to work every day and worked so hard that he died much earlier than she did.

If her husband didn’t die from having to work so hard so she could stay home and have a good time, he died on some battlefield somewhere. Men have always found a way to die early, and women have always found a way to die late. Even today, when lots of women are going out to work and working as hard as us men do, they (women) are still finding ways to die later than us.

Why is this? The answer may lie in this passage from *a book by a psychologist* I’ve just read, in which he said:

“……When speaking to women’s groups, I have suggested that women should look at men this way: if they took away their own network of intimate friends, those with whom they share their personal journey, removed their sense of emotional guidance, concluded that they were almost wholly alone in the world, and understood that they would be defined only by standards of productivity external to them, they would then know the inner state of the average man……..”

Even though, as a 120 year old man, I’m necessarily very alone because my family and friends are all long dead, I have always felt very alone. I know my fellow men well enough to know that this goes for all of them too. From the moment we’re born, we’re condemned to stagger under a cross of loneliness that those of the fair sex – which is to say, women – can’t even imagine.

Living In The Past

I had *written before* of my love for “Mad Men”, the ongoing television serial about men and ladies working in a large advertising agency in America (New York) during the 1960s. I myself lived in America in the 1960s, not in New York though, but in Washington DC, where I was posted as British military attache. However, I used to visit New York often. So, whenever I watch “Mad Men” I’m transported back to the New York of my memories.

I’m still only on “Mad Men’s” fourth season (I have the DVDs). I’m stretching the time between its episodes, for I fear my life won’t be worth living once “Mad Men” ends. Can there be other Generals like me, over whom “Mad Men” has cast such a spell?

Feeling more and more removed from today’s world with each passing day, I live more and more in the past. Hence, in the “New Age” parlance, “Mad Men” is a “safe place” for me to be. I also like “Mad Men” because its ladies are as important and as powerful as its men. This seems to me quite rare in American television, as well as in American films.

I was happy, then, to see my perception confirmed in this *newspaper piece*. It says in so many words that in your average American film of today, seventy percent of the speaking roles are male, and that this state of affairs has hardly changed in more than seventy years.

While this piece talks of American films, I feel sure this includes American television films, to which genre “Mad Men” belongs.

Since you know I’m a General, albeit a retired one, you may find it surprising that I like films in which the ladies are as important and as  powerful as the men. Generals, after all, are supposed to like films dominated by strong manly men. If these films do of necessity have ladies, they should be weak and compliant, although of course pretty.

Well, were I still an active General, with aspirations to be a Field Marshal, I of course would proclaim that I like the sorts of films that Generals are supposed to like. But, being now retired, I’m free to say what I feel.

Getting back to “Mad Men”, its lead character, Don Draper, is the paradigmatic ladies man with lots of “conquests”. Your average General would therefore normally approve of Don, except that he seems particularly attracted to ladies of the strong independent type. They are hence the more difficult to conquer, and when they do at last surrender, it’s all the more satisfying for Don, and no doubt for the conquered ladies too.

I’m attributing these feelings to Don, for they’ve been mine whenever I myself have conquered – or was conquered by – strong, independent and consequently fascinating ladies. I’m thinking now of………*Dolores*. Why now? Why Dolores? Is it because I’ll always associate her with the ‘sixties – when I was in Washington, and Don Draper was on Madison Avenue………?

Getting To Be a General

Today I’ll do something I don’t normally do on this blog, which is to speak of a recent happening that the Popular Press is discussing to no end. In this case it’s the vanishing from the sky over the Far East, of a rather large aeroplane filled with people. You, too, may have read of it.

I’ve become consumed with this, for it’s an extremely puzzling puzzle, and I like to solve puzzles. I have an acquaintance who is equally puzzled, so we’ve been exchanging views.

My most recent missive to him was about certain devices attached to this aeroplane, called Electronic Locator Transmitters ( ELTs), that are designed to send distress signals automatically should the aeroplane crash. The ELTs on this aeroplane appeared not to have sent any distress signals, leading one to think that it didn’t crash.

What I most recently said to my acquaintance, was:

I’ve happened upon *this article* that you just may find illuminating.

The important thing to keep in mind, is that the chances of an ELT not working if this aeroplane crashed, were very small. So the chances of all four ELTs not having worked, were smaller still.

It’s reasonable, then, to conclude that this aeroplane didn’t crash.

The complete radio silence from this aeroplane immediately after it changed course, has been ascribed to a comprehensive electrical failure. As with the putative failure of the ELTs, the chances of a total electrical failure (unless deliberately caused) was very small, because the electrical system in this type of aeroplane is powered from four sources independent from each other. While one or two sources could reasonably have failed, the chances of all four sources failing, were extremely small.

Hence, the chances of a comprehensive electrical failure, and the ELTs all failing too, became infinitesimally small.

That Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen caused this aeroplane to vanish, seems the likely explanation. Think of the fact that electrical failure in cars, missile sites, and planes, often happens when Flying Saucers are near. Think also of the known instances of military jets vanishing after chasing Flying Saucers.

Because the technology at the disposal of these Extra Terrestrial gentlemen would likely be hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions, of years ahead of ours, it follows that taking command of a large aeroplane – like the one that has vanished –  through remote control, would be as easy for them, as feeding ducks is for us.

Having remote-controlled this aeroplane plane down to the southern Indian Ocean, they put it on board a giant Flying Saucer mother-ship, or caused it to vanish into a parallel-world portal.

Remember, it’s as though this aeroplane was plucked from the sky.

The scenario I’ve sketched, is either not even mentioned in all the speculations I’ve encountered, or, if it’s mentioned, it’s in a jocular tone. What does this say about the obtuseness of the Human?

As a retired General who was once in on the world’s most sensitive military secrets, I should tell you that these Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen and their Flying Saucers are real, and visit us often. The top Military Men of our world accordingly take them seriously, while accepting there’s nothing they can do about them. I can say this now, only because I’m retired. Had I said this when still a serving officer, I would never have got to be a General.

While I don’t know for sure what these Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen want from us Earthlings, I do know for sure that if they did take this large aeroplane, our leaders – if they learn of this – will reveal nothing.  So we’ll carry on as before, unless the Extra-Terrestrial gentlemen wish otherwise…………

The Importance of Boxing Ernest

You will remember from last time, that I spoke of an evening in 1946 when I defeated Slugger McGee to win the middleweight boxing championship of the British Army. Today, I’ll speak of an afternoon in 1928 when I boxed no less than Mr Ernest Hemingway.

I was visiting Paris in the course of one of those extended Home Leaves I was entitled to as an army officer overseas. A friend who knew important men, introduced me to Mr Hemingway who was then still living in Paris. Upon learning I was a good amateur boxer, Mr Hemingway invited me to spar with him at the American Soldiers and Sailors Club, which had a gymnasium with a boxing ring.

Flattered that the famous Mr Hemingway wished to box me, I was nonetheless apprehensive, for I had heard the stories that he boxed as well as he wrote. And the six-foot 200 pound Mr Hemingway was in boxing terms a heavyweight, whereas I was a mere middleweight.

I thought also of the fact that my boxing skills had atrophied considerably over the previous decade, the years when I should have been in my physical prime. Unfortunately, when in the trenches during The Great War, I had received wounds which sent me to the hospital for many months, and which still took me several more years after, to recover completely from.

After the Armistice – throughout the ‘twenties and ‘thirties – I was continually posted from one torpid, fly-buzzing out-of-the-way garrison to another throughout the Empire, where training facilities by means of which to hone one’s boxing skills to the sharpest, just weren’t there. Then the war, which you know as the Second World War, came, in which for a further five years I was totally otherwise engaged, and so couldn’t box at all.

So, now you know why it was only as late as 1946, when I was 51, that I could at last have the chance to win the middleweight championship  of the British Army; and now you know also why I’d been so apprehensive when I’d climbed into the ring – nearly twenty years earlier – for my three-round sparring session with Mr Hemingway, who, by the way, awed his hangers-on so much, that they called him “Papa”. I would normally have thought this odd, for Mr Hemingway was not then thirty. But, in his mien, he seemed much older, notwithstanding that he still looked physically imposing. I wasn’t therefore comforted.

I needn’t have worried. The stories that “Papa” boxed as well as he wrote turned out to be……….well……..stories. Although strong, he was slow. The more his would-be knock-out blows missed, the wilder they became. I easily got inside his round-house swings, and dug counter-punches deep into “Papa’s” ribs and stomach. He gasped, I assumed from pain, each time my punches dug.

I knew I could easily have taken him out. I thought it best not to, though, for I had sensed his excessive masculine posturing was merely a facade, behind which a feminine vulnerability hid. To be knocked out by a much smaller man like me, in front of his servile retinue, may have been more than he could bear.

At the end of the third and final round “Papa” raised his arms. I assumed he thought he’d won. I felt chagrined, and regretted not knocking him out. But I grinned (sic) as a gentleman should grin after a world-famous man has accorded him the privilege to box him.