Hope springs eternal…

One of my favourite films is ‘The Shawshank Redemption’. There are a number of reasons for this – one is that I’m a big fan of the novella it’s based on – ‘Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption’ by Stephen King.

The story was originally published in a book of 4 stories called ‘Different Seasons’. Each story had a subtitle based on a season.  If you’re interested, the other stories were ‘Apt Pupil’ – subtitled ‘Summer of Corruption’, ‘The Body’ – eventually filmed as ‘Stand By Me’, with the subtitle ‘Fall from Innocence’ and the final story was ‘the Breathing Method’, subtitled ‘A Winter’s Tale.

And ‘Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption’?  That was the story for spring, with the subtitle ‘Hope Springs Eternal’.  And that is another reason why I love this film – because it is about hope in a major way. Indeed, one of my favourite quotations about hope comes from this film:

“hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

I’m a Christian, and in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, there’s the lovely line ‘These three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.’.  Well, I sometimes beg to disagree with Paul – sometimes I think the greatest thing we can have is hope, especially in times like the ones we’re living through right now.

This is the closest thing you’ll get from me to a comment about the Paris terror attacks.  I’m not a soldier, not an intelligence operative, policeman, counter-insurgency specialist or witness. Anything I say about the attacks would be second hand – gleaned from mainstream or social media – and I have no answers.

I want to comment more about the reaction of people; I think it was barely 24 hours after the attacks when someone pointed me at a video someone had put together as to why the whole thing was somehow related to the Illuminati and the Knights Templars. (King Phillip IV of France suppressed the Templars – to whom he owed money – on Friday 13th October 1307)  As Saturday unfolded, I was regaled with ‘the truth’ from all and sundry on the wilder regions of social media – it was an inside job, it was the Jews / CIA / NSA / Boy Scouts (one of those was made up…), it was fault of the refugees in Calais, like Charlie Hebdot the attacks were stage managed (I assume the dead bodies are all some sort of dummies, or is the french government now slaughtering it’s own people?) There’s also the expected reaction from the bigots of ‘Throw out all the refugees and close the borders’, which is interestingly counterpointed by the conspiracy theorists with ‘Ahhh…the EU WANTS the refugees coming in to allow them to blame them for terrorist attacks and hence bring in more totalitarian measures…’  Oh, and it’s all been done to start WW3.

My take on this whole thing right now is that people are dead – and this week it’s been Beirut and Baghdad as well (whether those attacks were part of the same conspiracy or not I don’t know)  – and that the rest of us need to have some sort of hope that things will get better.  Does the whole conspiracy thing – with it’s endless proselytizing of unproveable ‘truths’ – give hope to anyone? I don’t think it does.  I’ve written on this blog before about this issue – 3 years ago – and it’s sad that nothing changes – here’s the previous posts, and I don’t intend to re-hash my thinking….

Oops Apocalypse – or get a fricking grip
Whoops! No Apocalypse!
Seven of Nine and the Illuminati

I think that it causes despair. I think the active conspiracy theorists are at best overly imaginative or suffering from problems with fact finding and elucidating cause and effect. At worst they’re just plain evil, and a major problem.  There are undoubtedly some conspiracies around – but sometimes, most of the time, Occam’s Razor Rules.

A friend put it well today “the thoughts and attitudes of people that I like and love even more scarey than the awful things that are happening in the world“.  When folks you regard as good, intelligent people start spouting this crap, or start becoming bigoted fascists, or start losing their common humanity – what do you do?

On Facebook today I posted:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

Today is a day to be a helper for humanity. Be compassionate, hug your friends, bury a few grudges, share food with family, pray, meditate, kill your hate.

Be good to yourself. I’m engaging with the world for a while as social media is going to be full of anger, hate, conspiracy theories and bigots, and I just don’t need that right now.


I think I should have added…be a hoper. Keep that good thing alive. Don’t succumb to despair.

This morning as I pondered this stuff, I looked out of my study window and to my great pleasure saw a rainbow arcing across the sky.  That was a hopeful sign.


Oops Apocalypse….or…..GET A FRIGGIN’ GRIP!

According to some folks, the Olympic Opening cermony on Friday night is going to go with a bang.  Not figuratively, but literally.  Apparently a bunch of ne’er do wells called the Illuminati are going to detonate a nuclear weapon at the Stadium which will open up an interdimensional portal and flood the world with… well, you get the picture.

Just as the Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’ was built on an Indian Burial Ground, the Olympic Stadium in London was apparently built on an area steeped in Satanism and nuclear waste.  I would have hated to have been the Health and Safety at Work officer signing off on that one….”Look, we have protocols for dealing with low level radioactive waste, but 3 legions of Demons and Azrat the Merciless, well, you can’t just put THEM in landfill….” I’ve visited Stratford – not my cup of tea but by no means the Hellmouth.

I’m not going to link to this garbage – at one level I find it incredibly funny, but at another level I’m sort of concerned that a lot of people are taking it at least semi-seriously, and some are really giving it the works; whilst the choice of the Clash’s ‘London Calling’ by BA for their advertising campaign is bizarre to say the least, the way in which people have freeze-framed and analysed the advert to ‘prove’ that it’s actually a warning of impending doom is reminiscent of the ‘Paul Is Dead’ business with the Beatles ‘A Day In The Life’.

I suppose it’s some form of Millienalism – I’m sure that it will get VERY crazy as the end of the ‘current’ phase of Mayan calendar approaches in December, but that’s another story – but I honestly wish these dingbats would shut the fuck up about it.  People.  It’s not going to happen.  If the Illuminati were so smart, how come it’s taken them 300 years and we’re still not all enslaved?  Why advertise the fact that they’re going to do this?  Are they some sort of Bond Villain who gives away their plot so they can be defeated and then have to go and create a new one to keep them busy for the next half century?  Why am I even trying to be logical about this?  Even if bugger all happens except what’s supposed to happen, the conspiracy theorists will have a brilliant explanation as to why Stratford isn’t a glowing crater surrounded by H P Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones.

The Internet seems to have allowed us to rapidly create instant mythologies, and then spread those mythologies far and wide.  Our leaders and Governments and institutions have failed miserably and ever since Kennedy was assassinated it seems that we’re happier to believe in conspiracy rather than cock up, in mind control rather than mindless violence.  Please folks, let’s just get a grip here; we’re in a big enough pile of pooh right now – just how we’re going to afford to keep a roof over our heads and food in our bellies in a year’s time is a bigger concern than a load of sub-X Files conspiracy fiction triggered by folks treating the Illuminatus! trilogy as historical fact rather than second rate, mildly pornographic science fiction.

And if I’m wrong, I’ll see you on Saturday in the Illuminati Death Camps that await most of us, and I will strangle any smart arse who says ‘I told you so….’


When can we have adults running the UK please?

Well, it looks like the Foreign Office have managed to confirm what I’ve felt about the majority of Civil Servants for some time.  That is, they need to grow up, realise that they’re on a pretty cushy number in ‘public service’ and deliver the work that we pay them for.

Just take a look at this news story: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7107656.ece  Doesn’t matter that it was Pope who was the butt of this pathetic attempt at ‘humour’.  What matters is that a visiting head of state was held up to ridicule in a briefing document that was distributed throughout the apparatus of Government.

The first paragraph of the news story tells us more than we need to know:

“Advisers to the Pope are starting to regret that he accepted an invitation to visit Britain this September after official papers emerged that suggested he should be asked to open an abortion clinic, bless a gay marriage and launch a Benedict-branded condom range.

The document also suggested that the National Anthem be changed, from God Save the Queen to God Save the World.”

Now, to be honest, this is ludicrous; it sounds like the antics of a 15 year old editor of a school magazine who’s still under the impression that this sort of juvenile stuff is the height of sophisticated humour.  According to the powers that b, this was a ‘brainstorming document’ that shouldn’t have been released, and that individual concerned has been transferred to other duties.

In other words, he or she still has a job in the Foreign Office.  However you look at this, it’s truly pathetic.  Let’s see – there are three options:

Personal stupidity and cock up – the document was written for private consumption but some how managed to get typed up, circulated and out on a distribution list for briefing papers.  As private humour it might have been fine as an email around friends, but to get get out in to the ‘official’ world required stupidity and / or poor process.

Poor judgement and cock up– someone may well actually believe this document, and intended it to be a genuine suggestion for their superiors.  Again, how it escaped in to the real world is a mystery that again requires phenomenally poor judgement, stupidity or process failure.

Conspiracy– the document was deliberately designed to be offensive, then deliberately leaked on to the distribution list, with the intention of annoying the Vatican so much that the Pope cancelled his visit later in the year.

Whichever option, the whole busienss makes the UK look either foolish, incompetent or both.  If it is a conspiracy, then it makes us look incompetent and cowardly. 

For God’s sake, civil servants and government, get a grip, grow up and start running this country properly.  YOU chose to become a civil servant; I don’t remember pointing a gun at you.  YOU chose to become a member of this Government.  Both civil servants and Government ministers feel that they can run this country better than the rest of us – so bloody well prove it.