Thursday, July 2, 2009

How Green Is My Valley

There was a rather nice Doonesbury the other day. I'm not up on the strip enough to know all the characters by name (except for the president. It seems Trudeau hasn't yet figured out a way of depicting Obama. I liked his Bush: an empty Roman helmet.) but the slacker character was asked why there's so much green on the protesters' flags in Iran. He guessed that they may be connected with an environmental issue.

The point of the strip was that you don't learn unless you read. In this case, newspapers. This absolutely true. I am concerned that we're losing touch with what's really going on in the world. The "news" we get on TV is an absolute joke. It has as much to do with the real concerns of the world as a bubble-gum wrapper does. It's entertainment, and poorly written entertainment, at that. Tonight's snivelling offering from TV3 included this line: "The French captain saw the yacht on his bridge."

The story was about the plucky Kiwi family plucked from the ocean by the crew of a French frigate. I am reasonably certain that the yacht in question wasn't on the bridge of the frigate. If it was, then the rescue would have been very easy, and not involved the use of the frigate's Zodiacs. Also, I would have been astonished if the captain of the frigate missed seeing it. A 40-foot yacht in your office? Kind of like not seeing the rhinocerous in the bathroom.

Aside: the last time I saw a story featuring Frenchmen and Zodiac semi-rigid inflatable boats, the Rainbow Warrior went to the bottom of the sea. And here we are again....

Back to the protesters, and their green bunting. Green - as you'll know - is a pretty holy colour in Muslim countries. The Q'ran, Koran, or whatever you like to call their holy scribblings, states that Mohammed suggested that green would be the colours the good guys (ie followers of his) both wore and featured on their flags, clothing, and celebratory rags.

It's not surprising that a desert culture should look on green as being special. It is, after all, the colour of life. Vegetation, grass, trees... things that are in short supply in an arid dun-coloured landscape. What I'm curious about is this: why didn't the equally fanatical (but far more murderous) Hebrews proscribe green first?) They were, after all, a desert nation, etc. And as for the bloodthirsty ethnic-cleansing Christians - they got it right. Red, the colour of blood, pain, fire, and destruction. However, from my readings of the bible (Sorry. I just can't bring myself to give the word a capital letter) I don't recall even the one-eyed insane bigot, Saul of Tarsus, recommending the christian mob follow a red flag. It just happened. Murderous evolution in action. And why the Israelis chose a powder blue for their war-flag, I'll never know. It's such a sissy colour. Better than pink, I suppose, but not by much.

WORD OF THE DAY: Agnostic. What a weak, lily-livered word. Either there is a god, or there's not. Agnostics have to learn to piss or get off the pot.

LISTENING TO: Bob Dylan, "Modern Times". Jenny's a major Bob fan, but it wasn't 'til I heard this album that I started to appreciate him.

READING: Nothing new. I finished the Ted Dekker book, "Adam". Up until the last five (short) chapters, I was thoroughly enjoying it. Nice, atmospheric serial-killer with spooky shit going on kind of yarn. Unfortunately, he copped out at the end. Jenny had read it, and was very satisfied with it.


Chapter Five.
Fame, Easily Gained, Joyfully Lost.

Henry checks the old Smith electric clock set into the wooden dashboard of his car when he approaches Talbot Terrace on the afternoon of his shooting. He doesn’t, of course, think of the event as “my shooting”. He doesn’t think much of it at all, despite it having happened only ninety minutes or so ago. Actually, that disturbs him, not knowing exactly when it happened. He thinks back to the incident, and remembers that he’d carefully put the ATM receipt into his shirt pocket. That will have the time on it. Excellent. The time on the car’s clock reads bang on five, which means the eccentric old clock on the mantle in his brown study would have just finished chiming seven.
He carefully clicks the indicator down, and the little green jewel-light on the dash blinks. He checks the mirror, checks the road, and turns carefully into Talbot Terrace.
The Terrace is a dog-leg cul de sac, with Henry and Mary’s home right at the end. Henry always drives more carefully in his own street, and this evening it’s even more important: he does, after all, only have one working headlight, and the Friar’s little Yorkshire terrier loves chasing cars, and the MacIntosh’s four year old is a little tearaway. A few moments longer won’t –
What on earth is this? Henry’s magnificent old Rover has quietly billowed around the dog-leg, and the sight that greets Harry is catastrophic. There’s a mill of people waiting by his gate. People with lights, people with cameras, people with microphones. Damn. Henry turns to his only passenger, and grins broadly. “Well, we thought that something like this might happen, eh.”
His passenger grins in return.

Actually, there is no passenger. But if there had been, he would have been dressed in a black cloak, and carrying a vast scythe. Six months, Henry reminds himself.

Henry presses the horn-ring, and the lovely mellow bugle under the bonnet sounds its brassy note. Faces turn toward him, and the television lights run sparks across his vision. He holds a hand up against the glare, and the reporters immediately surround his car.
“Mr Talbot, Mr Talbot –“
“A few words, Henry, that’s all we want! Just a few words!”
“Henry – over here! Over here!”
“Is that him? Is it?”
Henry brakes, stops, and sits quietly. The clamour outside the car is deafening. Or, at least, it would be deafening if the car’s doors weren’t so thick. Henry reaches into his shirt pocket, and pulls out the receipt: 14.57.
Just on two hours ago. Henry looks up, past the journalists, and there’s Charlie, coming out his front door, and walking down to the gate, which she opens. Henry ignores the throng about his car, and slowly drives through them, past Charlie, and into the garage. He parks carefully, turning off the headlight, sliding the column shift to P-for-Park, shutting off the motor.
He gets out of the car, shuts the door gently, and turns to find Charlie, right there beside him.
“Ignore them, Henry. Mary’s inside. She’s OK, no real need to worry.”
“Thanks. Just a minute, Charlie.” Henry limps back to the gate, and into the glare of the lights. He stands there for half a minute, listening to the mob.
“Mr Talbot, over here!”
“Henry – you don’t mind if we call you Henry, do you?” Actually, thinks Henry, yes I do.
“Is it true you stopped the robber, Henry?”
“How serious is the wound, where were you shot?” This last surprises Henry. For a reporter, this one must write for the Braille Weekly.
Henry Talbot, of 22 Talbot Terrace, holds up his hand, his left hand, sinisterly, imperiously, palm outwards: the babble of the rabble slowly dies down.
“”I have only one thing to say, ladies and… ladies and.. Um. Just one thing to say.” Henry falls silent, purses his lips. He puts his hands’ palms together, holds the tips of his forefingers to his lips. He looks as though he’s praying. The clamour dies down, and Henry looks up, dropping his hands to his side. He smiles. Henry Talbot, standing there in the television lights, is a magnificent sight as the lights create a halo around his head. His driveway slopes up toward the house, so he looks even taller than he is. His shirt is immaculately buttoned. His tie has an elegantly fussy Windsor knot, his suit jacket fits him perfectly, and the only giveaway that anything extraordinary has happened to him is the fact that the right trouser leg of his suit has been cut off at the thigh. Around his calf is a bright white bandage - the wound was, indeed, minor.
“Yes. One thing.”
The silence clogs the air, and someone coughs and farts. A couple of cameras flash and slap, the TV soundman shuffles his feet as he checks his meters. The expectation is rising. Henry thinks it’s risible. Charlie moves to stand beside her brother.
“Ah, yes,” says Henry, and grins. “Fuck off.”

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