Monthly Archives: August 2013

Rome

I looked at the Emperor as he sat upon his throne. He wore his deep purple robe over his pure white toga; both of which hung from his old withered body like death hangs from a carcase. His hair, white as ash, sat limp and lifeless atop his head as he sat upon his regal seat. His face wore, on top of the wrinkles of age, the wrinkles of one who rarely laughed and often frowned.

He looked past the man in front of him, seeing to either side of him row upon row of the Senators of the Roman Empire. Each man the Emperor knew by name, title and corruption. Alone in the room this tall figure before him was the only he did not know. He knew of the man, his deeds in battle were legendary and many within the army revered him as a god of sorts.

He was a member of the elite guard, but not the Emperors guard. He guarded a man far older than the emperor but a man far more powerful. This man ruled the armies of Rome and through them Rome itself. He was the most powerful man in all the world and could bring any nation and its armies to their knees. No man outside of his elite guard knew his name and few outside of the Caesar’s family knew of his existence.

I waited for the Emperor’s reaction to the news. I feared what he might say or how the messenger might receive the reaction. As the whole senate chamber waited for any reaction from their ruler I contemplated what the news meant.

Romulus, the shadow leader of Rome and the first of the elite guard was dead, hundreds of years after the date the history books give. The world would never be the same again and Rome would soon slip into mediocrity. Rome was Romulus and Romulus was Rome; one without the other was like rain without a cloud or cows without milk.

The Emperor stood slowly from his throne and the effort which it took him was audible throughout the chamber. He steadied himself for a moment and then spoke, “So Rome will finally be run by the Romans.”

Remus, the messenger of the army; Romulus’ second in command and son laughed. His voice reverberated through the chamber like that of a master orator; Julius Caesar himself would have been pushed to fill the roof so well. And then he abruptly stopped, “Rome will never be run by the Romans.”

Remus growled the words through gritted teeth and turned, marching from the chamber to complete silence.

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A Battle of Sticky Preportions

Tymon was tiered, his brow poured with sweat as he grappled with his foe. The smell of the last twenty minutes perspiration was beginning to waft further than just his nostrils. There was little he could do to remove the sweat bar flick his head to try and stop it from streaming into his eyes. His hair, he reflected, was far too long for the kind of harsh physical punishment and he made a mental note to keep it shorter as he punched and rolled for what seemed like the hundredth time in under a minute.

He fought with his adversary in a small room with bare walls. The heat borne from his body created a hot oppressive and muggy atmosphere which slowly became hotter as his ordeal continued. The bare walls, a natural cream colour, reflected the harsh white light back into his eyes giving him yet another reason to close them and think of England. The whole room reminded him of other days and other battles, all hard fought but he had won them all; that day would be no different.

His hands and wrists were covered in a thick sludge which clung to every crack and crease. The substance had little resemblance to what it had once been yet it still held that distinct smell. He rolled to the right using his solid right should, and then forward using his lesser left shoulder. He punched with the heel of his gnarled and tough hand pushing through his target into the table beneath it. He continued his toil punching and rolling, and rolling again until finally he felt that he was done. The dough was kneaded and ready to be put in the oven.

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Today WILL be epic…

I woke up to this being played on Classic FM.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUAPf_ccobc

 

Today is going to be an awesome day. I wonder if it is going to be an awesome days for everyone?

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A Knife and Body

I looked at the corpse on the slab before me in horror; the look upon my face must have been equally are disturbing. Breaking a neck creates little blood and in theory far less trauma than a gun or an axe. The naked flesh looked pasty, almost ill. I didn’t want to touch it and the more I looked at it the further away from it I wanted to be. The thought of putting my hand inside the body was even more repulsive and every hair on my body stood on end at the prospect.

I stretched out my hand toward the knife sitting ready for me. The light in the room glinted off the polished steel which reflected the cold colours of the ceiling and the surrounding walls. The handle was cold to the touch like only steel could be and it felt heavy in my hand. I dreaded the feel of the knife grinding through flesh and bone as I cut it up.

I stood there for a moment wondering if it was really worth it. After what felt like minutes I decided, a Roast chicken dinner is worth more than a little discomfort.

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The Old Man of the Road

The lone figure had walked the length of the town without so much as a word. His long coat would almost have scrapped the floor if the ends had not been so tattered through the years of use. The scuffed black boots which had carried him through the town poked out from under his worn coat. The coat was fastened from the crotch up to the man’s upper chest and the small ‘V’ at the top showed a worn and faded checked shirt done up to the penultimate button.

The man trudged down the main road of the town kicking up only a small amount of dust as he did so. His feet cleared the ground in slow measured steps, only enough for him to move but not enough to cause too much of a stir. His hands were gnarled and loosely clenched, almost as if he were holding something that was not quite there.

He did not look to his left nor his right as he carried on down the road, his eyes were firmly fixed on the horizon yet his head still hung slightly as if not to let too much sun into his eyes. His face allowed no emotion to pass it yet his eye spoke of a long road travelled and a longer road ahead. He slipped through the town with barely a soul noticing and slipped over the horizon and into oblivion with not a soul to see. The Old Man of the Road put one foot in front of the other and made his weary way down the road.

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Today’s journey

Today I have been mostly pretty down, just one of those days me thinks. Might have had something to do with me reintroducing one of my medications to my body but oh well. Anyway, as part of my general being down I decided that I would listen to the same piece of music over and over and over and over again. For me this helps, and I have decided that it is without a doubt one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have ever heard. I am aware though that however beautiful it may be that my dad may wish to shove the song somewhere that I would not find particularly comfortable.

Here’s a link:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y9yM53TowA

Anyway I kind of got to thinking about an event which happened a little while ago involving a charity worker at my front door.

So this lass came to the door, and the second that I opened the door she stated her spiel, it was obviously a script which she had learnt well. Very quickly I said to her in polite but very certain terms that I was not interested. She continued her spiel, down a slightly different tack but still the same. I told her again that I was not interested and eventually she got the message. She told me I was being rude because I didn’t want to listen to her, I told her she was trespassing… Na that last part didn’t happen but it sounded good.

So I closed the door and my dad made a cup of tea seems at it was then a convenient time to have a break from work. We got to chatting and I kind of realised that I just didn’t care about this woman’s charity. There are already charities which I give to and hers was not one of them. Then I got to thinking about if I should care; my conclusion was not and this is why.

If I cared about her charity, then it makes sense that I should care about every good cause but that is ridiculous. To care about every charity and every cause would drive any person mad. No single person has the time/money (apart from maybe the richest people in the world) to spend on every charity. A few figures for you here; there are a total of 163,095 charities in the country (http://www.charitycommission.gov.uk/about-charities/sector-facts-and-figures/). If we divide this by the number of counties (86) we have 1896 charities per county, IE within easy reach. That is more than 5 charities for every day of the year.

This whole thing though has reminded me of a particular essay which I read while I was doing my degree, “Famine, Affluence and Morality” by Peter Singer. In it Singer argues  makes two assumptions and then a conclusion.

The assumptions are that:-

IF suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bed,

AND IF it is within our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral value,

THEN humanity should reduce itself to the level of Marginal Utility.

Basically as long as we do not give up anything of equal MORAL value, we should give away everything away until we have brought everyone up to the same standard of living as everyone else. This is a massive ideal to live up to and many papers have said that, although it is a fantastic ideal, it is impractical and that a lesser level should be set.

So I am left pondering the idealistic minefield of solving the problem of third world poverty. This is the journey that I have travelled today. And Now I am watching a channel 4 documentary about Alfred the Great and the Anglo-Saxons.

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An excerpt that I really enjoyed writing (unedited)

Another day’s walk up the river and I found a village or a reasonable size. It had its own church and looked to be bustling with activity. But most important of all it had a long jetty sticking out into the water with a number of boats moored to it. As I neared the settlement some of the smaller children spotted me and ran to meet me, they laughed and giggled as they came towards me. The sight of children free and not besieged made me smile and I laughed with them and gave them some of the bread that I had brought with me. By the time I reached the village it seemed like all the children had come out to greet me.

The language that these people spoke was different from any that I had heard before and communicating with them was impossible. So instead I merely pointed towards the boats at the jetty and said boat, slowly and loudly. Two of the children looked at each other and ran off, the rest drifted away slowly as I sat on a tree sump just outside the village and waited for something to happen. Shortly though the two children brought a woman from the village to see me. She was dressed in the fashion of Troy, with exotic colours and long flowing robes that clung to her figure in all the right places.

I stood to greet the woman. I bowed my head as was custom in Sparta and waited till she acknowledged me. “Iiwy neferankh” the woman said, “I am Aneksi.”

“I am Helen, thank you for meeting me.”

“It is no trouble lady; it is I who should be honoured to meet one such as yourself.”

I paused for a moment. This woman, this Aneksi, she thought she knew something about me which I had not told her. I wondered for a moment what it was that she had called me and what language it was.

“You ponder the words which I spoke to you, neferankh. It means perfect life in my land. It is the term we use for one such as yourself.”

Almost as a knee-jerk reaction and still confused I asked, “One such as myself. And what would that be?”

Aneksi stopped for a moment, “Oh what is the word” she muttered to herself, “the language of you Greeks is so clumsy I forget your…” She trailed off as she continued searching for the word. “Elf! That’s it; you are an elf if I am not mistaken.”

The shock on my face must have been all that was required for her to know that she was right. “Come Helen, do not worry about your secret. Few in my crew will recognise you for what you are save one, and he is an elf anyway.” We both chuckled and Aneksi led me to her ship and as she did so I examined her more closely. She was uncommonly short, even for a woman, but she was broad shouldered. Her steps were firm and lacked the usual grace of a woman, yet she still commandeered the attention of a woman. She had long red hair as well, which fell past her shoulders but not quite to her waist. There was something different about her which I could not quite put my finger on.

We walked through the village quickly as it looked like it might rain, and sure enough, just as we reached to boat a light drizzle began to fall. The boat was small, with only ten oars on each side though whether each oarsman pulled one or two oars I could not ascertain until I went below decks. That part of the design was strange, in those days to have your oarsmen covered on a single tier ship was considered decadence not required to protect mere slaves. There was no mast on the ship, signalling that it worked out of a local port. It was perhaps sixty feet long and twenty wide; a snug fit for all aboard, and even more so once I got bellow and saw the cargo it carried.

Aneksi led me along the deck of the ship past barrels and boxes which were all lashed to the boat with thick, strong-looking rope. Near the rear there was a hatch with a ladder down to the deck where the oarsmen were. As my guide opened the hatch a cacophony of sound erupted from below which I had not noticed before. I jumped a little and Aneksi placed a hand on my shoulder to reassure me, “The men are quite safe my dear. I have hand picked every one of them from the free peoples of this world. Most of them already have wives too.” Aneksi winked at me and somehow that made things ok.

Aneksi descended the ladder and I followed behind. There were twenty men seated haphazardly between twenty benches. There was a narrow isle through the middle of the ship which led toward another bench. The noise which I had heard from above was the sound of twenty men cheering and shouting as some played games of chance, others told jokes and talked and still a few others swung from the roof of the ship almost as if they were racing. The bench at the far end of the ship was occupied by a single man who was quietly sitting reading. What he read was not a book though; it was a scroll of thin paper with no language which I had ever seen before. Indeed what was on the page did not look like a language at all but instead an organised series of pictures.

Four or five paces back from the ladder was a doorway which Aneksi opened and ushered me through. As I passed Aneksi I entered a small but comfortable cabin with a large bed to the right and a desk with four chairs next to it to the left. Neither the desk nor the chairs were large but they and the bed still took up most of the room. In the small space between the bed and the chairs, backed against the wall was a bookcase with a large number of scrolls crammed into it. “This is my cabin which, if you care to join us, will be yours.”

Before I could protest the door to the cabin opened and the man who had been reading entered. “Kamose.” he said smiling and inclining his head toward Aneksi, “Senankh.” As he turn toward me and bowed.

Aneksi lent toward me, “Sentankh mean ‘sister in life’. It is how Egyptian elves greet each other.

I looked my brother in life in the eye and replied, “Sentankh” bowing as he had done.

Aneksi and the elf both broke into laughter. The elf leant back into the oar deck and shouted something in his native tongue and the deck erupted with laughter. Aneksi spoke to me, “You just called him your sister.” I erupted into laughter with the rest of those onboard the ship.

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