When is a Tasmanian Tiger like a mouse? Well, never. But scientists from Australia and America have got close. They’ve brought back to life a gene from the extinct Tasmanian Tiger after implanting it in a mouse.
This world’s first is being applauded by science. But it scares the hell out of me. The Holy Grail of biology is being muted again – can we bring back a dinosaur? Now, do they really think, if they did, it would stay in a cage?
Whenever you introduce new life into an ecosystem, it rebalances itself. We know this. So the simple existence of that gene in a mouse will do the same. It may not be noticeable, but theoretically, it WILL occur.
And now it’s been done once, it will be repeated over and over again. And every time it’s done, our planetary ecosystem shifts in ways we have no idea. They say science and creationism cannot co-exist.
(c) Anthony North, May 2008
I’m often scornful of celebrities. We seem to be infatuated by them, and the more our infatuation rises, the more extreme and bizarre their behaviour seems to become. It makes some people wonder if it will ever stop.
Of course, it all seems so pointless. But could it be that celebrities play a vital role in modern culture? I think they do – and it isn’t an enhancing role. Rather, it helps to tie us up in chains of consumerism.
On one level, celebrities are more ‘perfect’ than the average person. Of course, this isn’t true, but their beauty, etc, makes it appear so. And the upshot is, we spend, spend, spend to emulate them, not realizing that perfection is an unreachable goal.
But they also work on a psychological level. They are open with their problems, the abuses they’ve suffered, and in this they appear to be repositories for our angst. Like cultural psychotherapists, our own problems are reflected back to us.
This power over the wallet and psyche fulfils another vital function of super capitalism. Whenever they do something you can guarantee the picture is all over the media. Indeed, there has been an explosion in media alongside the celebrity’s rise.
Big Biz likes this. For the bigger the media gets, the more ads Big Biz places. This is, infact, a control mechanism. For if Big Biz withdrew ads from any one media source, that source would be struggling to survive. Hence, the media doesn’t risk it, and only reports on news friendly to our consumer culture.
We seem to be informed a lot about celebrity, but not much else. This is why.
© Anthony North, April, 2008
HOW IT WORKS?
And as he walked through the wasteland, he knew his life was entering a new stage. He had questioned much of late – not only his life, but his society, his culture, his meaning …
And the sun burnt down upon him, and as he wandered he felt he lost his mind. Demons assaulted him from all sides, and he descended to the ultimate point of knowledge.
Touching this knowledge proved difficult, at first.
But he persevered, tried to make sense of it all, and eventually he saw, he knew – all was visible. And it felt good.
And he returned to the village, and he told his friends of what he had seen, and they did not believe him. But he knew it to be true, and he began to preach.
And one day someone came to him and said: I can see it, too. And from then on, there were two to tell what they had seen, and then there were four, and then there were eight, and then what they had seen came to the knowledge of the shaman.
And the shaman approached him and said: you tell lies. And he said he did not. And he said it with conviction, and his eyes burned with truth, and as the shaman looked into those eyes, he knew that old truth was no more. And the people rejoiced.
And the people found purpose and he said: build a temple, and it was so. And it was a mighty temple, and it imbued the people with good works, and they looked after the temple and looked after each other, for he had told them it was good.
And the chief heard of what they had seen and went to him and said: is what you have seen more powerful than what has been seen before? And he said yes.
And the chief feared the village over the hill, for they were powerful, and they stole their food. And the chief realized new power in the people who had seen, and he rallied them, and said: what you have seen makes you strong and we no longer need to fear.
And they went out in strength to the village over the hill, and the blood flowed and they were victorious. And the chief made a pact with him, one to tell of the truth, the other to guarantee the power of truth, and as the ages passed, and he and the chiefs came and went, great works of humanity were achieved, and great works of art advanced the knowledge of the world, and also the blood flowed as rivers, as the truth they had seen became predominant.
And finally, the scribe gathered the tales of what had been seen. And he took his parchment, and he began:
I am the Lord,
© Anthony North, April 2008
One of the central elements of our humanity is our ability to remember. Through memory we access an unlimited theatre of thoughts and experience from our unconscious. But why do we have a memory, and how does it work?
It’s a funny thing, is memory. In many ways I think it is peculiarly human, in that we have a conscious and unconscious mind. Most animals are thought to work through instinct, as if controlled at a species level.
The thing that separates us from the animals is our technology, and to become the technologist, we needed the ability to remove thoughts from our conscious in order to concentrate on a task in hand, thus needing a memory store we call the unconscious.
We couldn’t ‘be’ without this, for it seems that when we sense the world, everything that can be sensed enters the unconscious. In other words, we see, hear, smell and feel everything. It is this factor that, I’m sure, lies behind much of what we call the paranormal.
But if we ‘remembered’ all of this all of the time, we would suffer information overload, making it impossible for us to concentrate. Hence, we have a ‘filter’ which selects only the information we want at that particular time.
Perhaps this is why different people have very selective views of what they experience, even their beliefs being based upon this selectiveness. Maybe if this ‘mechanism’ was better understood, we would learn to understand, and tolerate, others more.
© Anthony North, April 2008
The number thousand seems innocuous enough, but it has been at the root of some of the most dangerous influences mankind has suffered. A thousand years is a millennium, a symbolic time span, which developed into the concept of Millenarianism.
Best described by Prof Norman Cohn in his book, The Pursuit of the Millennium, it is the belief that a major transformation of society is about to occur. Movements formed from the belief see the existing society as corrupt.
It will be destroyed by a powerful force.
In this sense, it forms the root of the belief in Apocalypse, or Armageddon. The Book of Revelation itself is the usual blueprint in the west for what such transition will involve.
From early Christianity, to present-day Al Qaeda, the Millenarianist impulse involves violence, ranging from self-destruction, to turning that violence upon others. And it does not just include major movements.
The Millenarianist mentality lies behind many cults.
The Branch Davidians and the horror of Waco is a classic example. Even 19th century Native Americans adapted their religion in the Ghost Dance, and the active belief that their worship would result in the destruction of the white man.
In this sense, we can often see Millenarianism as an act of desperation – a plea for a better world, invoking extreme or supernatural forces because normal means have collapsed. But there are numbers and there are symbols. When they mix, watch out!
© Anthony North, April 2008
Rivalry is good. We are all aware of this. A rival ‘ups’ your game; demands that you try harder - takes away the cosiness of your comfort zone, your satisfaction that you’re trying your best.
Often rivalry improves more than your own standards. Take debate. Ideas are thrashed out, leading to all sides being heard, and a balanced view arising. In politics, such debate is how societies are regulated, proving the importance of such rivalry.
Yet rivalry can be a religious thing.
Some elements, here, are obvious. God verses the Devil – an understanding of good and evil. Indeed, mystical traditions such as alchemy are grounded in rivalry.
Alchemy is about opposites, best symbolized in the alchemical image of the face of the beautiful young woman on the reverse side of the face of the wise old man. Rivalry, it seems, is more fundamental in the religious sphere.
The idea of good verses evil led to western ideals.
Fundamental to our way of doing things is the idea that things can be normal or abnormal. What is ‘normal’ is whatever we see ourselves as being. Everything else is abnormal, or wrong. This is rivalry in concept, in philosophy, in our very bones.
Yet this form of rivalry can also lead to persecution, to conflict, and is maybe the wrong way of looking at it. In eastern philosophies, rivalry is seen in terms of influences towards preservation and destruction. Yet they are held together by a life force which provides balance.
Maybe this is how rivalry should really be seen. For in balance, each side is weighed, but the conflict is stopped. I think we could learn a great deal from eastern mysticism – the west’s rival, as it were.
(c) Anthony North, April 2008
Now there’s a title to get you confused. If something is efficient it cannot be inefficient, surely? But in the crazy world we have created nowadays the two do not always follow. For instance, a PR message can appear efficient, but is full of spin.
Underneath so much of the modern world this factor rings true. A politician can appear efficient, but increasingly they are proving to be totally inefficient.
Such an argument goes to the heart of Big Biz.
The beauty of today’s corporate world is said to be that it runs with the perfection of a machine. Maximising everything to its utmost potential, nothing is wasted, and the end result is profit for all, and a service next to none.
In many ways, this is quite true. But there are problems in such an approach. First of all, it ends up being an unbending machine indeed. Everything is down to procedure, and any deviation from the norm becomes impossible.
And we’ve all been on the receiving end of this inflexibility.
But the major problem goes even deeper. Because this type of inflexibility may be essential to the running of a machine, but it is counter to good order.
Essential to any non-machine is the idea of surplus. Things happen in life that cause disruptions to the system, or even create sudden higher demand. But have you noticed that whenever our corporate world is faced with such a blip, it fails to provide?
Machines are machines, and societies are societies, and sadly the two cannot possibly meet. But too many who think they know seem to think they can. And as long as this is the case, the efficient will always be ultimately inefficient.
© Anthony North, February 2008
I write a lot about the paranormal. However, over the years I’ve been accused of being both a sceptic and a believer. How is such a thing possible? Surely I must be one or the other?
It is to my great delight that I’m not classed as one or the other. Rather, I take a middle ground on the subject, accepting that most phenomena happens, but not accepting classical interpretations such as spirits of the dead, etc.
I take a different approach.
Rather, I believe that if we are ever to understand what is going on, we must accept present knowledge, and move forward taking this knowledge with us, and taking just one small step at a time.
To not do so is to take huge leaps into the darkness of knowledge, and this is nothing more than perpetuating a belief system. Hence, I am labeled a believer for accepting phenomena happens, and a sceptic for trying to place known ‘mechanisms’ onto the subject.
The purpose of paranormal research is, to me, to look at what is said to happen, then look at what our knowledge says is capable of happening, and then extending that knowledge system just a little to see if what is thought to happen COULD happen.
It is, to me, the only stance that can lead to proper understanding.
© Anthony North, January 2007
Okay, folks, it's the last instalment today. Enjoy. And if not, be gentle :-)
CHAPTER TWENTY THREE
‘Stupid man, shouting like that. Who the hell does he think he is?’
It was the next morning, and Veronica Dean was still on a high. She hadn’t managed to sleep all night. Hence, when she had finished berating Vernie James, she made a bee-line for Peter Picasso’s flat. And we can guess what she was doing all night. After all, Vernie James had frustrated her, and made the ghost retire to its own corner of the supernatural. And a frustrated psychical researcher can be an animal.
‘It’s too much,’ said Peter Picasso.
‘What?’ Veronica was shocked as she lay in bed.
‘No, not that. The ghost and all those knockings. I don’t know whether we should go on.’
‘Oh, I see. You start something you can’t finish.’
‘It’s not that. I didn’t realize all the repercussions. I never thought ghosts were real.’
‘Well get over it, boy. There isn’t a chance of me leaving this.’
Peter Picasso lay silent in bed after that, unsure of the predicament he had got himself into. Part of him wished he had left well alone.
DI Summers had carried on where Veronica Dean had left off. He should, of course, have been in bed. After all, it had been a bad fall. But casualty had assured him that the broken arm would be better in a month or so.
‘Okay, you ghost, come out where I can see you,’ he said, amid the devastation of the fire. His attempts to move freely were somewhat restricted with only one arm to help him climb.
For some reason, it occurred to him that you could call up the spirits from upon high. Hence, he painfully negotiated the biggest pile of rubble, and soon he stood on top, as if some Egyptian emperor-god atop his pyramid.
‘I know you’ve got the Hollis boys. You’re pissed off because they burned you. It’s okay, you can come out and come quietly. You’ll only get life.’
The irony was lost on him, but maybe not on the ghost of Jack Thomas. The knockings began once more, building up to a crescendo, and soon the angry voices echoed through the night. But it was all lost on Summers. With the first knock, he had fallen – and it was several hours before he was discovered.
The casualty nurse shook her head and tutted as she set the cast on his leg.
Old Man Hollis’s mood was no better that morning, except he was now up to blaming his sons for being so stupid. Hence, anger was entering his mind frame. How could they get caught like that, he thought, the fools.
His thoughts were disturbed by the banging of the door. Looking up from his desk, he saw Rachel come in, worse for wear. Her revealing clothes looked disheveled and there appeared a kind of mania in her eyes. He guessed what she had been up to, but wondered if she would ever remember it with the amount of drugs she would have taken.
‘You look nice this morning,’ he said.
Rachel stopped in her tracks, looked at his face, noticed the excitement in his demeanour. Flashbacks came to her mind. Indeed, it had been ages before she worked out that he became the animal when life was not going his way.
She immediately noticed her confidence oozing away. This bastard had done this to her. But this particular morning she managed to raise the will to face him. ‘Forget it,’ she said, meeting eyeball with eyeball. ‘I’m not a little kid now. I fight back.’
She imagined his horrible bulk upon her and she could face him no more. She ran up the stairs and locked her door.
For many on the street it was becoming a bad morning indeed. But at least there was a respite for Bobby Crawford. ‘I like you,’ he said as he sat in the kitchen, waiting for Julia to prepare his breakfast.
‘Well thank you kind sir,’ she replied and curtsied.
Bobby laughed, and for the first time in so long, it seemed a genuine laugh.
Julia continued. ‘Your father was right, you know. You don’t have to put up with bullying.’
‘Well how do I fight it if I can’t hit them back?’
‘You fight it with body language.’
‘It’s a show of confidence. You put up a front. You meet their eyes and show them you’re not afraid. You stand tall so you look a more powerful person. And bullies never, ever, ever, try it on with a confident, powerful person.’
Bobby Crawford didn’t realize that she was speaking to herself as well as him. But it made him feel better all the same.
Rachel Hollis was also beginning to psyche herself up. Perhaps it is the reality of the bullied to become the bullies. She had heard it said often – by the occasional therapist she had had through her life; by the even more occasional man she had let in. And in her mind, she had used this advice to excuse the bitch she had become. But if only she had looked at the others on the street.
Julia James had been bullied for years. Bobby Crawford had been bullied for what seemed years. But it was not in their nature to give in to bullying and become the bully themselves. Rachel would, of course, have argued they had become mice instead. And she could never be one of those. Yet she DID scurry upstairs so recently as soon as her uncle gave the slightest indication of his old ways.
Well no more, she decided. I’m going to get my own back. And I’m going to begin with Dale Crawford.
Dale saw Rachel Hollis slam her front door shut as he came out of his own, yet he didn’t give her a second thought. The universe had gone round and round and delivered him a good new life. Indeed, he was sure that the memories of his first family breakfast would stay with him all day. And to kiss both his son and new love goodbye heartened him.
He took out his car keys as he stood on the street, taking in the air. And he was determined nothing would ruin this day. Not even Rachel as he saw her storming up to him.
‘Good morning,’ he said as she stopped close to him. He noticed her agitated state, her breathing approaching hyperventilation.
‘What’s good about it?’ she said.
‘Who’s in a mood, then.’
‘Don’t I have reason?’
Dale sighed. ‘Look. Rachel, it would never have worked out between us. We’re two different people. It was just fun.’
‘So that’s all I am, is it? A body to be used, for “fun”?’
‘I’m sorry you feel that way.’
‘Oh, don’t worry, you’re going to feel just as bad.’
‘And how is that?’
‘When I tell you the truth.’
‘That Bobby isn’t yours.’
‘Don’t be ridiculous.’
The world seemed to stop at that moment. Somehow, it all made sense. It made sense for Dale, and it made sense to Bobby, who, at that moment, had come out the door.
The universe went round and round and closed in on Dale Crawford as he watched Bobby run off.
CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR
Veronica Dean sat cross-legged with her lap top on her lap. ‘It’s coming on well,’ she said, looking up, briefly, at Peter.
They had taken a respite from the ghost hunt. Peter was becoming increasingly agitated as he sat in the bedsit. ‘I just don’t like the idea of ghosts,’ he said.
‘Don’t be ridiculous. How can you not like them when you started this in the first place.’
‘I never realized the pictures would lead to this.’
‘Pictures are like life, Peter,’ said Veronica, ‘they have unforeseen circumstances.’
She directed her attention back to the article she was writing on the case. Momentarily, a prickling feeling came to her body. She shivered. ‘That’s strange,’ she said.
She stood up – approached the window. Outside, the clouds seemed to be going round and round, hinting at a coming storm.
‘What is it?’ asked Peter.
Veronica Dean turned to face him and smiled. ‘The haunting is coming to a head,’ she said. ‘Look at the sky. The planet itself is about to join in.’
The clouds circled above Dale Crawford’s head as he stormed out of the house, but he wouldn’t have noticed them. There was too much on his mind at that moment, but were the forces acting upon him, too?
He had stormed back inside; told Julia what Rachel had said. ‘Did you know?’ he demanded, almost shaking her.
‘No! No! Of course I didn’t.’ A pause. Then: ‘My God, the bastard.’
The bastard indeed. Suddenly, so much made sense to Dale. He remembered the sticky patch in his previous marriage. ‘A baby is the answer,’ she had eventually said, ‘it will bring us back together.’
And it seemed to. But always those worries as Bobby grew up. Dale had been so guilty about his feelings. God, he loved the boy, but he always seemed so different to him. And now he knew the truth. She was having an affair – with Vernie – and he had got her pregnant. Had she already been pregnant when she suggested a baby?
He banged on Vernie’s door. ‘Come on, open it!’ he demanded. When it didn’t open, he kicked it in …
Rachel Hollis had returned home, a look of satisfaction on her face. That’ll teach him to be so smug, she thought, that’ll teach him to dump me for an old hag like Julia James.
She looked in her mirror, held in her tummy. How could he possibly resist me? She thought, I’m gorgeous.
The Old Man thought so, too, as he watched her from the open bedroom door. Maybe the paranormal was working overtime as the clouds gathered above, but Rachel sensed his presence. She turned round and looked into his salivating face.
‘Get out of here,’ she demanded, but he simply walked in and shut the door …
Veronica Dean knew it was time. ‘Come on,’ she said as she left the bedsit.
‘Do we have to,’ said Peter.
‘Come on, it will be marvelous.’
The two of them left and walked up the street. Veronica was determined, purposeful, and the wind seemed to howl about her. She felt as if she was walking into destiny, the site of the haunting coming into focus.
She heard a voice as she approached. The boy, she thought, the boy is here, talking. Excellent. We have a focus. And above her head, the first crack of thunder boomed.
‘What the hell do you want?’ demanded Vernie James.
Dale Crawford had never felt so angry in his life. ‘Bobby,’ he said, ‘is he yours?’
A smirk seemed to cross Vernie’s face. ‘What if he is,’ he snarled. ‘He’s only a brat. An accident.’
Dale grabbed him by the lapels and pulled him up out of his seat. ‘I ought to kill you,’ he said.
‘So why don’t you?’ asked Vernie. His eyes diverted, then, to the table. Dale followed his gaze and saw, for the first time, the whisky and bottle of tablets.
‘So you’re taking the easy way out, are you?’
‘What’s it to you?’
Dale ignored him; let him drop back to the chair. ‘I can’t do this,’ he said.
‘Let you die like this.’
‘Oh my god. Mr Perfect. Told his kid isn’t his and he still has a conscience.’
‘How long did it go on?’
‘The first time or the second?’
Vernie James smirked once more. ‘She was very clingy, your wife. Came back for more. But I got rid of her in the end.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘When I killed her …’
The darkness had now come. Throughout the street, the houses seemed to disappear in a dark that shrouded the Earth itself. Up in the sky, deep, black clouds hung, threatening to fall, cutting out the sun. Momentarily, a stark light would flicker the world into focus as lightning cracked, yet the houses looked so surreal. It was as if a great evil had taken over the land.
In the centre of the darkness were the remains of Jack Thomas’s house, and as Veronica arrived, she observed Bobby Crawford in its centre, his face seemingly illuminated. He seemed to be transfixed, and Veronica was sure he was mumbling. She walked up to him and listened.
‘… but my dad isn’t my dad. I don’t know what to do.’
If he received an answer, Veronica didn’t hear it. She was not yet attuned. She began to take deep breaths, focusing her mind. It was time for a trance.
Behind her, Peter Picasso surveyed the scene through fevered eyes. He had never been more frightened in his life. And the thunder rumbled, and the lightning struck …
Rachel’s world had gone dark also. And through the darkness, all she could see was the slowly approaching face of her tormentor. ‘Get away from me,’ she wailed, as if a little girl once more.
‘But Rachel, you must be a good little girl.’
‘Good little girls don’t do those things.’
‘But I told you you must.’
‘I can’t. GET AWAY!’
‘But I can have anything I want. I demand it.’
He grabbed her; pulled her to him. ‘No one defies me,’ he screamed. ‘Not you. No one. What I can’t have, I take.’
‘Leave me alone.’
‘I take, like burning down Jack Thomas’s house.’ A silence. ‘Yes, Rachel, that was me. And if I can do that, I can do anything.’
The house vibrated with the thunder; lit up with the simultaneous lightning. It seemed to fill Rachel Hollis with energy. ‘No!’ she screamed. ‘No! No! No!’ And with each scream she thrust out with her arms, pushing him ever backwards. Finally, they teetered on the edge of the stairs. ‘NO!’ she screamed once more, and with a mighty push she saw Old Man Hollis fly.
The lightning cracked once more as he flew, and again as he landed, in a pool of blood, at the bottom of the stairs.
His dead eyes stared as the lightning struck once more.
Bobby Crawford seemed comatose as the storm centred on the debris of the house. He had been transported to another realm, and Jack Thomas appeared before him. He was no longer angry, but Bobby felt he was tranquil amid the carnage of the fire and the anger of the storm.
Veronica Dean was also approaching trance, and her expectation seemed to join with Bobby’s mind, and from the corner of her eye she was convinced she saw Jack Thomas too.
She smiled triumphantly. But at that moment, Jack noticed her, turned to face her, and his face changed from light to dark, from tranquility to anger, and red eyes seemed to bore into her.
Around her, the thunder boomed and the lightning cracked, and from the very pits of the earth, the knockings began, and the angry voices were once more raised …
An anger more intense than anything he could imagine came to Dale Crawford as the words sank in. ‘You killed her,’ he said. ‘It was you.’
Vernie James was laughing now – a hysterical laughter that competed with the thunder and the lightning.
Dale grabbed him once more; pulled back a fist as if ready to strike. But at that moment a vision came into his mind, and he saw Bobby before him, a tranquility on his face. He was a beacon of light amid the darkness and as he stared at the image, Dale Crawford said: ‘My son.’
The anger flooded from him. He put Vernie James down. He looked at the pathetic wreck before him. Then he picked up the bottle of pills and held them. Finally, he turned to go, and as he did so he took one last look at Vernie and tossed him the pills.
The storm was reaching a crescendo. It was impossible to tell whether the world was more darkness or flashes of penetrating light. A huge cacophony of sound filled the site of Jack’s house. Yet through all the uproar, Veronica noticed the pile of rubble begin to fall away.
Excitement filled her once more as the falling rubble revealed a trapdoor, and that door vibrated. The poltergeist was centring itself, she was sure, and she approached the trapdoor.
Peter Picasso saw her actions. ‘Don’t do it, Veronica,’ he screamed, ‘you don’t know what forces you’re playing with.’
The thunder boomed once more; the lightning cracked. Veronica bent down, her hand grabbing the handle as it vibrated; as the angry voices raised themselves to fever pitch.
The last lightning crack lit up the darkness as Veronica opened the hatch. Slowly, a silence descended. Then, suddenly, a movement.
‘I’ll kill him,’ said a dirty, disheveled Wayne Hollis as he emerged from his imprisonment in the cellar. He was followed by an increasingly irate Duane. From the other side of the site, DI Summers popped up his head, stared intently at each face present.
Peter Picasso froze, and DI Summers noted the guilt. And as Picasso ran off, never to be seen again, Summers attempted to give chase. But with a broken leg, a broken arm and a crutch, it was inevitable he would fall and crack his skull.
CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE
The clouds had dispersed and the sun shone. And for Rachel Hollis the sky represented the freeing of her mind. Thoughts no longer went round and round. She was released and felt good.
Rachel had left the street in jeans and T-shirt with a bag on her back and a pocket stuffed with the Old Man’s money. And now she stood on the station platform at peace.
Questions would, of course, be asked, but they had to find her first. And even if they did, she was sure there would be no problem. After all, how could they prove that the frail old man hadn’t just slipped and fallen to his death?
She didn’t think about it for long. She had decided not to think about much at all. And as the train pulled into the platform and she got on, she thought only about her future.
Rachel Hollis was going back-packing.
The sun shone, and Dale Crawford had a lot to think about. He looked down at the grave of his wife and a tear fell. But it was not, so much, a tear of sadness but of renewal. ‘I know what happened now, my love,’ he said. ‘I know what happened and I forgive you.’
Life was beginning anew, and it was to begin with a cleansed mind and all questions answered.
Momentarily he felt a presence beside him. Turning round, he saw Julia standing close by. ‘I didn’t want to interrupt you,’ she said as she smiled.
Dale held out a beckoning arm and took her to himself. ‘It’s alright,’ he said as they cuddled. ‘I’ll always love her,’ he continued, ‘you know that. But there’s room for you too.’
They kissed lovingly and hand in hand they walked off.
As they approached the street they heard the sound of children playing. Dale soon spotted Bobby and he couldn’t help but think he looked happy for the first time in so long. Indeed, he couldn’t remember when he last saw him play with other children. And as he did so, he saw a new boy who reminded him so much of his own youth.
Bobby saw his father and Julia and ran over. ‘Hi,’ he said, ‘will tea be long.’
This last question was directed at Julia and she felt so good and knew she belonged.
Dale said: ‘It won’t be long son,’ and he knew it was the right word to say. And he walked off with his family anew.
Thadias Grimes was working hard making a new batch of pies. He had a grim expression on his face as he cut the meat. It had been hard work cutting off all the burnt bits. After all, he was already half cooked when he found him by the back door.
He never sensed the presence of Jack’s vengeful ghost as he worked, but he soon would.
In the back, Vernie James was freezing nicely.
(c) Anthony North, January 2008
A cloud is a mass of water droplets. But it is also something else – it is an indication of the future. Depending on its colour, we can look at a cloud and come to the conclusion that it will rain.
A cloud becomes a ‘sign’ which produces a response in the human mind. This process is known through the discipline of Semiotics. Signs are all around us. One of the latest is the ‘hoodie,’ and the automatic response that that teenager might be trouble.
Signs exist in the physical environment and are the bedrock of culture. They can vary from the ‘sign’ of the Cross to the automatic loathing of words such as Nazi. Signs have controlled who we are from the moment we became human.
Signs have been realized today in the power of the ‘symbol.’ Political spin and the publicity hungry celebrity culture are classic examples. It is signs like these that fuel the trivia-based lifestyle many people lead today. Yet these are shallow signs with little meaning behind them. Hence, they are fleeting.
Signs are in all areas of life, constantly adjusting our attitude and behaviour. And with their existence it is difficult to accept the idea of the individual. For if the individual is constantly re-modelled by the signs he perceives, how can he be totally his own person?
We believe we are individuals because we have the ‘sign’ that the individual exists. But consider the label on a soup can. It is so fundamental that it makes you salivate. You trust it is telling the true. But it could be a can of worms. Signs, you see, can lie.
© Anthony North, April 2007