When In Rome

Before I have a further thought, I would just like to make it clear that I am fanatically against the Taliban, and given half a chance I would put an end to the idea within a second. I think that I made this clear in the Royal Festival Hall programme in June 2001, three months before the New York attack. I just don’t want any more innocent Afghanis to join the innocent New Yorkers. It will be as bad, if not worse, to kill any more……….the problem is.. that it’s very much harder to kill an idea, than it is to kill the person who may be carrying it …….. However…….

As I was re-reading my rant on globalization, I realised that although I knew what I meant, that it was too general of a statement… and that to trash the whole concept isn’t real. After all, it’s here, and it’s here for as long as we can maintain this scale of ‘organised’ habitation on the planet. The most serious question that can be asked in the present context is whether or not, or how much, ‘globalization’ has contributed to conditions which precipitated the events of Sept 11th.

Recently, the question has been asked as to whether poverty and destitution are created by globalization. This is not easy to answer because whereas prosperity in the western sense is something which is nearly always perceived in terms of material possession, that perception is definitely not the only successful model adopted by human beings. I have to wonder about where the Australian Aboriginals would have been in another ten thousand years hadn’t they been ripped apart by western ‘values’. Or the Tibetans, the Native American, the Hawaiian, and many others.

It’s far too late of course to be thinking hypothetically about any of this because Rome has arrived…. everywhere. And that’s a good point. When I go to New York, as a Brit, there’s always a time when I feel vaguely Greek. Like I belong to the older lot… I think I’ve seen all this before…. and I think I know what happens. Instead of circular earthy buildings, which my greekness tells me I may have some folk memory of, it’s all squares and rectangles. And big, so big that it’s beyond phallic.

And when in Rome…..or anywhere near it, globalisation means partaking in an ‘open’ economy with rates of ‘international trade’ and ‘investment’. (Back to the Phoenicians again. In some way or another I am now suggesting that the Phoenicians created Rome. Well… they helped.) Concepts grow in the affluence of booty. So if the people with the most prolonged corporate investment end up with smart bombs, then….. how do they feel about what happens to the guys who can’t even begin to achieve international trade? And is prolonged corporate investment available to all? Of course not! We can see some carrots being dangled, but…

You need a huge tract of renewable resource, like a thousand miles of prairie, so that the sugar puffs can make it to the table in the morning. Forever. You need a few puritan ethics like “god looks after those who look after themselves”. Or you need a navy that sweeps the world on one-sided trading missions, exchanging the intangible delights of infrastructures, and bits of technology and ‘democracy’, for very tangible silks, spices, gold and diamonds, and in the case of Egypt, for example, a hefty fraction of the exhibits at The British Museum.

Is it the Third World’s fault that it’s poverty may have somehow contributed to the inevitability of Sept 11th? NO. …. Can the First World be blamed for the destitution of the Third World. Well not technically, but the First World has to be open to serious criticism. Much of the Third World has nothing to ‘trade’ except sex, drugs, slave labour and children. But it costs more to be in the club than that. And although the club itself is the sole arbiter of who joins, money talks. So that if you haven’t got anything which is in monster consumer demand, or you can’t meet the terms and conditions… It’s very expensive indeed…… And you’ll need a wealthy patron… Most of the time his metaphysical fetishes can be discounted.. Most of the time..

But can the smart bombers afford the time to feel anything for people who don’t have any investment other than a hard way of life and their children? Is it possible for them to even begin to understand? If all you’ve really ever aspired to is the honeymoon suite. Is it possible to even imagine what it’s like for people whose lives are traditionally lived in the desert, in a favella or on the proverbial road…… Are they to be fenced in…? or out…? To keep it all pasteurised. Klan style. Should we build another couple of big walls around them? Haven’t we already done so? With paperwork like the IMF. And WHAT….. is the World Trade Organisation? Ten trillion electronic fences? And is it possible for that particular klan to relate to even the possibility that poverty and destitution created by social imbalances, rip-off banking tactics, and plunging trade deficits, contributed to Sept 11th?

Well it isn’t, because I’m hearing them speak, but if you were to ask them whether they thought that ‘WE’ shouldn’t allow any more poverty to develop, on the premise that if ‘we’ do, then sooner or later Sept 11th will happen again; then they will agree with you. What isn’t ever going to be in the terms and conditions, however, is how they are going to prevent poverty and isolation from continuing to develop. They’ll be saying things like “There isn’t a ‘multinational’ in Afghanistan, so how can Globalisation be accused of causing these terrorist attacks?”

And…….. Long term corporate investment…..Mmmmm……. In my opinion, one of the reasons for the existence of poverty is that people are now confined inside artificial borders, unable, by sheer weight of numbers, and fences, to be able to continue to feed on the bounty of the earth; which used to be their birth right. The free space which had been the heritage of nomad mankind, and even the first settlers, has now been sub-divided into units which are no longer able to exist without huge communities, and internationality with all it’s restrictions, drawbacks, exclusive lawmaking, misuse of capital, hoarding of wealth by a minority, impossible mass politics, impersonality, lunatic fringes et al. And would the original settlers have noted the seeds of terrorism lurking in their ranks?

Have the real poor, everywhere, ever had ways of sending the brightest of their children away to Rome, in the hope that one day they’ll return with the talents? I don’t really think so.

Was the prolonged corporate investment model the best model that the human animal could have chosen? Do we need these huge populations for that model? Do those two questions answer each other?… Have we ever been able to make any choice? Is it all as inevitable as evaporation and rain? At one time we hunted and gathered. How are these two evolutionary traits transmitted now? Among the more seminal stories in the bible is the one about the talents. In some ways it’s a story about aptitude, and then it’s about dedication… And commitment.. And although it’s also about conservative care, essentially it’s about accruing. Incremental gathering.. And the philosophy of investment in that. There are perceived benefits to this philosophy. In the main though, they all boil down to the fact that if you accrue enough, you will be able to ‘afford’ the right kinds of comfort and drugs to extend your life. Your own life! It’s the obvious way. You don’t have to think about it for long. You see some pranny driving around in a Lexus Protexus and you want one. It used to be a Volvo. They were reputedly the life jackets at one time.

But there are more selfless ethics.

Jesus Christ probably went through a stage where he was trying to kill Romans. After all, they were superimposing their billion dollar megaton military culture onto his world at the time. He probably reached a stage where he realised that if he had to go down, then it was better to try to go down addressing the whole future, rather than just his own back yard. When he gave himself up he martyred himself for equality, an early form of communism. Which is not exactly the personal style of the man who shines Matron Blair’s teeth in the morning. He’s in charge of the ministry of very strict toilet habits.

Odd bin is trying to reach this martyr stage too. So what was your first clue roy?…. He’s pussy-footing around a bit, but a lot of martyrs will have a few moments hesitation. It’s natural. You’d want to take a last look round.. Make sure of every publicity angle. Shag the wife one last time. Also, you have to think that you’ve got the same odds as the average pop star, and that things may just work out. He probably has to stay out of reach for a good while longer yet. It may be months, it may even be years. Or never……..

We’ve seen the tension between himself and Pilate. !! Musharaff. But Pilate can’t help him now. Pilate has already declared for Barabas. We can see someone in the Taliban trying to do the Judas for him. But then the rest of the disciples try to close ranks. And then all semblance of propaganda is blasted out of the water by the more powerful Roman spin. We’ve seen the Taliban disciples waver, we’ve seen them stall for time, playing games that don’t work against brute force, hoping that Winter will close in, and getting themselves, and him, all stocked up for it. And then trying to stall again with another ruse.. .. .. No crapping in the snow boys. It’ll be picked up on one of the satellites. Heat seekers up the wazoo at dawn.

But do we have to sit through another re-run!!!? Of the children being bombed? Does Herod have to do this again? Or do we think about how we can break the cycle? YES!!! What a brilliant idea roy….

“Put the kettle on love!” … “Please”.

Does economic growth help the poor. Yes, I can confirm that it does. I’ve been there. It helps some of them to take advantage of the system, the blind system of economic growth. The hand to mouth, hand over fist, treacherous scramble for a place in the rain. It helps the minority to escape the poverty, it helps the majority to breed more children to make the ‘mouths into food’ equation a little harder to manage year by year.

And the great and growing weight of the poor bares down on other Roman sensibilities, like the morals of the western empire’s liberal consensus. The great gaping human mouth chases the diminished food resource around the planet. The huge bread baskets of the creaking grasslands are asked to pour endless harvests into an open wound. Investment is seen on the fringes, luxury ghettos in Malibu and Marbella, research into how to squeeze more food out of the rolling stone, star wars weapon research, demographic consumer research. Disneyland Paris. The Nasdaq. Microsoft. The giant insurance scam. McDonalds. Grain and butter mountains. Wine lakes. Scratch card businesses to finance new monsters. ‘The real thing’. !

Let’s build some more ‘new capital’ so that the Branson jerk can jerk. From airline to railway to monopoly board to creepy night hood. On and up the corporate ladder. Let’s all get on the ladder. It wont break……. will it? But Commercial Breaks. It’s just as fragile as pilot error. Will you ever get off an aeroplane again? Of course you will. You’ll be in Ibiza polishing your parts before you know it.

Weyhey<>xfh,lq=]nmiet! FIDDLE ON ! Fiddle on. While Rome gently crackles. And who would give a pox? ….”Why everyone sweet Pistol.” “And a pox on thy bollocks too”!

“Ney good Pistol, Bardolph says I shall own the lotter thee”. “Under my dead spunk thou wilt.. Sir Dicked…. Thou toasted fanny of a bearded witch. Thou cream cracker in the bed’!

The trouble with experts on the economy, whether they be global or just national, is that that’s all they see. The ‘economy’. That’s where they stand and deliver from. None of them I’ve ever read, stand back and step over to a new position to see what it looks like from outside the giant glass walls. I’m not an anti-globalist. How could I be? The earth is my home. I guess that what I’m saying is something very old. That if you try to exclude some people, either by chance or by design, then you will fail. Because their diseases will become virulent. And you’d be better to catch them while they’re not. I could have caught christianity. Luckily I was immunised at the right moment and I was able to hang on to my own mind….. “I SAY!! Well done old boy!”

There are a few ways of looking at the attempt of the western empire to exclude…. You might very well be able to exclude ‘those folks’ for a very long period of time, during which you look at them through the telescope, at arms length. You may very well turn them into what you think of as a colony of lepers who you film as a social study from a ’safe’ distance. But no distance is ever going to be safe. Rome was overrun by the ‘barbarians’ in the fifth century (AD!). They’d been trying to get in for hundreds of years. To all intents and purposes Rome was invincible. Or at least that’s the way it would have seemed in Verulamium. A couple of years beforehand.

In truth, I hate what the western economy does to us all. We are very transparently preying upon each other. It can turn some of us into entrepreneurial rats. I can’t say that I think that the best of the Taliban are any better. We have each other in about the correct focus. We’re all horribly wrong. Obviously I prefer our lot, because if you’ve got enough to stay out of the soup kitchen, they seem benign enough, but whereas George Bush used to put people to death strapped to a table in Texas, they probably have the equivalent of Harold Shipman presiding as judges in Kabul. The difference isn’t that big. We all need rentokil round.

On both sides there is a lesson to be learned. People nearly always think of ‘do unto others as you would do unto yourself’, as mainly present tense; and although it is as true of the present as it is to the future, it is to the far future that you will always have to address your compassion, and your real self. Because sooner or later, the ‘barbarians’ will be in. And even if it does take hundreds of years, they will be your masters. You may even be one of them. And ‘the boot’ will not be on the other foot, it will be on someone else. The lesson is NOW. And that is the lesson, but neither of these 2 sides of this monotheistic coin will get there unless they learn that lesson NOW. They will both give themselves credit, in public, and say that they have learned to respect the other side…. But not so secretly, they detest each other, and it’s not a lot more than racial…….. Hidden under religious rubble……. bloody sad.

And I’m tired of all this now. And that’s a big problem for all of us. As The Matron makes world statesman for himself, and my decisions for me. In the clutter, and the squawking, the fear and loathing, the petulance and the clutzing, stumbling, bare brained shrieking; we’re all tired of it. And we could take our eyes of the ball…… If we were being stupid….. ….But it’s obvious. It’s bloody obvious. Make friends. Break the cycle. Lock the madmen up and make friends. It’s the only chance I have of seeing any peace before I have to leave the building. I realise that that’s what Blairbush will say he’s doing, but it’s very important that he does that. Otherwise peace, in the way that I understand it, is not likely to be achieved ever again. Be prepared to give, with an even hand, and be prepared to be poorer. It may be the only way.

Fox news (in the US) says that 30% of the US population think that the Military attacks are too lenient. That would be about right too. There are up to 30% of us with the other view, who think that killing more people isn’t going to be that successful, and that all we can hope for is that a time is reached, quite soon, when Blairbash will decide to call an honourable draw. It’s very natural to want revenge after an act of such utter savagery, but, on a number of counts, is it right? Or, failing to be able to answer the moral query, is it for the best? In my previous mailing I have said that it would be down to body bags. I don’t think any differently now.

Afghanistan is in a general area of the world which has long been the province of warlords. Until the New York events they haven’t really bothered us much. Bits of heroine fuss, etc.. The Brits first tried to exert control in 1839, the last attempt being in 1919. There was a heavy loss in one retreat, where thousands of British Army were wiped out, I seem to think. In 1842. There is a bit of oil and quite a lot of gas it seems, and the country is largely ‘unexploited’, but I suspect that the reason for that is that the terrain is so difficult. A couple of well timed new laws right now and Alaska’s a lot easier…… boys…

When I say ‘warlord’, yes, it would kind of naturally be structured in a similar way for nearly 800 years. (Genghis Khan invaded in 1219), but in 1979 the Russians invaded to aid the new Marxist government, the spiritual heirs of which are now the Northern Alliance, (who are also quietly allied now with Iran!) The ‘rebel’ islamic opposition forces seem to have been propped up with arms and means by some Arab states, but mainly the USA, which was paranoid about the spread of communism. So really what it boiled down to was Russia v USA, If you remember, those were the days when we used to see the ‘friendly’ Mujahidin holding their trusty western weapons aloft, whilst the west lapped it up on TV because it really looked like the Dukes of Hazard dressed as teenage Lee Van Cleefs in some dodgy western……. When actually it was a dodgy eastern……… (sorry about that).

Looking at the TV pictures of that in those days I always used to think that it was so incongruous that we would support an army which was considerably to the right of Louis Farraquan and Silvio Berlusconi, and so far to the left of Dennis Skinner that it was lost to both sides. Of course my memory is telling me that I saw someone who looked like Osama’s younger brother in that footage. I used to think that it was mad that ‘our guys’ would make their women wear veils (burka) and not allow them to work or be educated. We all KNEW that that was outrageous. Everyone did. We all still do. If a woman wants to veil up and not and reveal herself, then it should be her right, but to make it compulsory is to deny her some basic human rights… To be able to see and hear properly, to be able to breathe fresh air, to walk without tripping, etc etc…….. I couldn’t stand the thought of it then and I still can’t. And the people who laid down those rules were on ‘our’ side! To me, those rules seem like cruelty and forcible enslavement. How on earth can you greet your fellow human when you can’t see her?

And I guess that’s the point. You’re not supposed to see her. No man can be trusted to see a woman. It might drive him mad with lust… Blah … I’ve seen it written in the last few days that when the militants on the streets of Peshawar thought that the western journalists were within earshot they were mouthing fundamentalist slogans, but when they thought that they were not being overheard, they were talking about girls. The girls will be pleased to hear that.

I haven’t changed my mind in the last weeks about anything that I’ve said. I believe that we should be trying to make peace at this point. Revenge is futile. It’s just going to keep us on the wrong road for longer. We have to treat the victims of the twin towers as martyrs to the cause of world freedom…. And call it a day. And make peace. I know what I think about islam. It’s the same as I think about christianity. They’re both much more trouble than they’re worth. Without them, we see the real people, underneath the masks, laid as bare as they were born. In all honesty. But I know nothing. On the Richter Scale, I’m worth a big fat zero… I’ll never be against the odd possibility of the metaphysical, of course. And what would the human world be without trying to stretch it’s imagination?? But I’m not prepared to die for, or in, someone else’s metaphysical nightmare. And regardless of what you read, there’s always the stuff between the lines…

And whether we want it or not, the real bites coming from in between those lines have the unmistakable taste of religious war. On the one side, it’s out in the open. On the other… They’re not going to admit it, because a. if they did the gloves would be off, and we’d be back 811 years, and b. their perception is that they don’t have to in any case. Perceptibly, they have more power, and if they can achieve some of their ends without any admission, without third world war body bags, just slip away, slip and slide away, remaining seemingly ecumenically disposed while being tacitly dominant, then it’ll be just that bit easier. Easier to rehabilitate the corporate vision of globalisation, market confidence, economic ascendancy, booze, chicks, and all we know and love… god bless britannia and hollywood rules the waves..
And c. after all, if they openly blamed any religion, they’d have to examine their own. As far as I’m concerned, they’re two bees in the same bonnet, and I’d love to take it off, screw it up, and dance on it…….. In the mind… That is.. And d. it can be put off…… for maybe a generation or two… and who the hell cares what happens after that, right? With the codicil… e. ..in the vernacular… In god we trust, the rest pay cash. And this month’s whip round is for Lockheed.

A few days ago the ground troops went in for the first time. Seeing as it was a prerequisite for the recovery of western pride, then it was as inevitable as the morning. Now that it has happened, I can honestly say that I dearly hope that it is successful. But I find that my bottom lip is forcing my top lip up towards my nose a lot of the time. I wanted us to be able to be big enough to do this a different way. I didn’t want us to prove to the world that we are as brutal as Al Q’aeda, but now that the inevitable is ongoing, I would hope that those men and women and their leaders can bring this to a speedy conclusion without wasting too many lives on either side. Too much of that has already been done. This isn’t a nation we are fighting, it’s a hundred secret societies with very iffy ideas, bent upon publicity missions using suicidal tactics. Most people will understand that. And bin liner is a fundamental megalomaniac.

For the world, we cannot afford to lash out indiscriminately. It sets any hope of future world harmony back four or five generations when we do that. It becomes a precedent. Revenge is not only distasteful, it is impossible to achieve. A hollow and probably pyrrhic victory. The Taliban is an organisation as brutal as any we have ever seen, but do we have to copy them? Gratuitously killing people is out of order, especially when everyone is aware of how speedily and frequently the Afghanis have traditionally changed sides. We’re talking about a different mentality here. Talk to them. Spend the time. Go back a hundred years, and talk to Cochise again. Treat him with equity this time.
The death warrant has finally arrived on the media table and I notice that it contains the words ‘in extremis’; which basically means that the USA doesn’t want him captured. They just want him dead. We haven’t seen the proof of his guilt, although they keep telling us they have it. We may very well agree with them if we were to see it, but I guess that we never will. Che Guevara, Salvadore Allende, Steve Biko and many others have gone the same way. I guess they know that it’s a liability to keep him, that a trial anywhere, even in the USA, could go on for years, which would just keep the heat in the situation. Killing him has nothing to do with perceived western justice, it just speaks of Rome, and expedience.

My own gut feeling of course, on September 12th, as soon as the world had realised where the attacks had come from, was to kill the bastards who did it. As I’ve already inferred in a past essay, we instinctively knew that it was highly unlikely to be Timothy McVeigh’s ghost, and that the whole middle eastern thing had jumped a continent, again. But in the cold light of day, and after deliberating for a month…….. And then bombing kids for a couple of weeks, the instinct for instant satisfaction has faded. If retribution could have been instant, out in the street, ‘High Noon’, then we could be getting on with the rebuilding now. But it’s not, and it’s entered into another phase…. And it’s going to drag.. And if he manages to squirrel for the winter… This is the worst possible kind of war, it’s a war against ideas, and it can never be ended.

The nature of the animal, and the state of play, would make it seem as if an eye for an eye this time isn’t going to work. If we take that eye, the ethic would then be permanently in place, as it is, still, in Israel and in Kashmir. This one is too big to be able to contain in a little Basque backwood somewhere. Or in the Chancellery Bunker in Berlin. This is half a billion suicide bombers who are going to force you to address the moral enquiry. And then some. We have to ask which way is the right way to go, and to me, the answer seems obvious. Towards peace, and as fast as possible. The longer this one goes on, the more difficult it will be to resolve.

But let’s plot a likely course, for the moment, using the other polemic. Just let’s say we march in and destroy all in front of us. Teach those bastards a lesson. Then the harvest will be a pretty difficult thing to have to reap. This is not Vietnam, where droves of people who had no real connection with the rest of the industrialised world, died fighting military invasion. Where other nations were unwilling to be drawn into it because it seemed vaguely pointless, it was so far away, religion didn’t enter into it unless you count communism as a religion, and at the beginning, the surrounding nations weren’t collectively powerful enough to have any voice.

No. This time it’s very different. Regardless of what you think of the system or the people, there are over a billion muslims. One fifth of the world’s population is muslim. Most are not extremists, and they are in disparate groups, but it is going to be quite easy to alter that. All you have to do is to invade and kill indiscriminately. Suddenly you will have a billion fundamentalists flying everything they have into everything you have. The simple reason is that they will believe that they have god on their side. A billion potential martyrs is a formidable army. I would have to say that I think that any plans you had to travel for the next generation or two would have to be put on hold. Does anybody really want that? You can do your best to try to keep them out, but that will be the most expensive security measure in the history of the world. And it would take us straight into a ‘Brave New World’. Do not pass go. In my view, for at least a hundred years….. that’ll put Star Trek back a bit…

Let’s not be silly. The maps can only be re drawn now with great difficulty. And none of the soldiers on the board can be changed. Unless of course you want to go straight to Milosovic regs. The allies can’t do any more than is allowed by the coalition/UN agreement of the moment. Otherwise the whole semi ‘civilised’ world knows that no one’s going to play fair. Ever again. In which case, the Himmler regs become the norm, and ‘civilisation’ means even less than it does now. Which means the whole world carries a gun, and uses it much more frequently. And justice deteriorates from the questionable Scalia to the Universal Taliban.

The apes who bombed the WTC planned it as a one move change of world order. It worked for them much better than they could have hoped, but it hasn’t changed world ‘order’. All that has so far ensued is a temporary psychological setback. It’s going to be harder to do it again, but it is a possibility. One big hit is all it takes to completely re-arrange world finance and world markets, which mainly only exist on confidence and sentiment. One big hit loses millions of ‘jobs’. Forces us to think in ways we should have been thinking fifty years ago. I would like to pose a question as to how many jobs this has lost east of Jerusalem? Does the rest of the world remain largely unaffected……….. ? If our loss can be translated into third world gain, then there would be trouble, but I expect that those kind of calculations will not be made hastily, and what the Pentagon Whitehall chooses to publish will economize on whatever facts may lie in those kind of details.

I didn’t really like the old world, but I sure as hell think that the new one is even worse. George Bush is now my ultimate leader. I feel as if I’m on the very edge of The Empire. And I’ve been there for a very long time. The only difference now is that all of the decisions that I make are governed by a centre which is so far away from me that I might as well be a mercenary on Hadrian’s wall. Sending lonely missives to a centre where they will hardly be received, let alone understood. Vague master of a destiny which is infinitely more influenced by the scary religion over the border than ever I could have been by Rome itself.

Directives will be transmitted; but will they ever reach me? Do I mean anything at all… here…… in the twilight? Where flickering lights of activity in the distance herald new entries in asinine encyclopedias of medals, and even more hope is left stranded in the forlorn meadows of superstar martyrdom. ‘Rock me baby’. Who wants to be on stage at the witching hour of the next catastrophe, when we see the futility of the gigantic armoury stood over starvation? Not me. Leastways, if I’m there, then I’ll have to catch the suicidal mood too.

I have to ask myself, in my deep self, whether this isn’t what I really wanted for this shallow western world, to be overthrown in favour of something more passionate and less glib. The problem with this thought is that I’ve only had a taste. I expect the real thing would be a deal more unpalatable. And what’s most unacceptable about this particular alternative is that it’s not exactly what I wanted……. In fact, in terms of metaphysical diversion, it’s exactly what I didn’t want… But I’m almost as prepared to go along with it as I am with western bullshit.

However, in the end, the intolerance of the narrow fundamentalist islamic mind turns me against it. The shutting up shop, no beer at the baseball game mentality. Like I can’t be trusted to take care of myself. And so I’m caught between two places which are almost as bad as each other, except that the one I’m living in, for all it’s glaring ineptitudes, is a little more preferable.. We wear Levis!, And our women don’t have as many obvious shackles. You didn’t think it could get like this at Disneyland, did you?…. Or did you?… For Disneyland, we should probably read globalisation. Disneyland is an outward manifestation of ‘acceptable’ western mores. Like using the font as a spittoon, or coming home drunk at 3 in the morning and smacking the old girl around. Painting yourself gold and standing on a box at the market for three hours, being given a suspended sentence for manslaughter, or joining an orgy club as a couple. A day well spent in humble prayer, facing Mecca five times, prostrate, in front of Lassie. Jilting and hilting, and lilting and quilting, merrily verily on our way to the Hippodrome, (qv), in our covered station wagons. Happily dodging the swingometers and scuds of outrageous fortune.

“At the end of the day”, as Sir David would say, to be very honest, I really hate the idea of the Taliban… And I really love The Blues.

There’ll perhaps be one more episode of this. I’d like to call it.. ‘Things I liked about The West’…… But we’ll see

Then there’s things I’d really like to know. Like… What’s on TV now in Riyadh?

Copyright 2001 Roy Harper