Letting Go

Knuckles round knife

And cutting the slice,

Peeling and paring

The earthen skin.

Searching the puzzle

And picking apart

Easing the seems

In integral heart.

Swollen of toe

In junior school shoes,

Casting away,

The things I must lose.

Barnacle’s grip

On memory rocks

Washed by the tides,

To loosen the locks.

Time is the oil,

Of Sesame’s call

Choosing the future

Amongst potential’s all.

Taking the grey ships

Into the West.

Death of the Old,

And pains in my chest.

Left on the beach,

In seaweed embrace.

Turning away

And looking for pace.

Leaving behind,

The more that you take,

Footsteps in sand,

And thirst that won’t slake.

Melancholy’s magic,

Tempers my mood

Washes the cheeks

And deadens the food.

Waiting and watching,

For sunrise in East,

Birth of the Knew,

Is bringing its feast.

Release is elastic

And stretches the thread,

Taking the knife,

And paring it dead.

Pulling on chord,

In navel hue

Eviscerate and cleanse,

The time it is due.

Letting it go

Is hard and IT aches

Letting it go

Is sad with BUT brakes.

Letting it go

Is now and IT takes.

Letting it go

Is time and IT makes.

Letting it go,

Is free and NO fakes.

Go to the door,

Yell at the sky

Open those wings,

It is, time to fly.

Raising above,

And looking down.

How small is the past

How distant, its town.

Ginger bread houses

And icing sugar roof

The future is here

Please, give me some proof.

Letting it go

Is hard as nails.

Letting it go

Is hard as ….

Letting it go

Is hard……

Letting it go

Is…….

Gone.

Peer Group Policing

We have seen over the last few months the difficulty members of the Conservative party have in admitting wrongdoing within their own ranks. They excuse behaviour which were it manifest in the opposition party they would be arguing for sacking and/or resignations. But no not us, the butter does not melt in OUR mouths, there must be a toothless show inquiry made by people of a similar ilk to satisfy the plebs. This kind of within peer group policing is very unlikely to find fault and if it does it will excuse and accept explanations rather than prosecute. In the worst case scenario people will be put out to pasture for a couple of months and then brought back into the corrupt fold when sufficient time has been deemed past.

Peer group policing has failed time and time again in business where wrongdoing is rarely punished by peer group. Should a little “filly” complain of sexual harassment the chums gather together and draw the circle of wagons for the “US” club ready to repel the sole complainer Apache outside the club.

“The nasty little harridan how dare she spoil our fun. It was only a bit of banter. Has she no sense of humour? ”

This kind of within peer group ganging up against any outside complaint is rife across all levels of society. For example asking academics to judge misdemeanour by other academics is asking people to judge one of their own. The confirmation bias is likely to blind the “jury” who cannot accept any wrongdoing within their ranks as an a priori starting point. They would find it hard to condemn and seek every other avenue first.

Backslapping Tory chums do not see that their manner of business is a tad corrupt.

“This is how we do things old chap. Been doing it for centuries. There is precedent you know…”

If a peer group imagines that within peer group policing is effective and fair, they are deluded. At one level they know it is protectionist. No matter how hard they pitch otherwise.

I suspect that the preferred outcome in most peer group policing is to sweep things under the carpet perhaps with a showy pretend inquiry and hope everything calms down. {Thank God all that fuss has died down.}

Group mind is blind to the faults and shortcomings of the group.  It reinforces within the group the supposed acceptability of its norms and is highly defensive of said group norms. We, the group are right and righteous. They, he/she/it are wrong and the Devil incarnate.

We have people writing placards saying, “death to TERFs”, for example.

Does being a tranny turn you into an advocate for murder?

Group mind has a tendency to remain even more stuck, stubborn and entrenched than individual mind. It can foster extremism more readily than individual mind. The protection of the herd and its momentum can swing to extremes at pace.

Group mind is dangerous…

It can and does turn on individuals with speed and with ruthlessness. Rarely does it see that group against individual is bullying no matter how thoroughly it is justified around the campfire and with the jungle drums.

—-

————————————————————————

Have I ever been party to group mind turning on and “attacking” an individual?

Did I feel that we as a group were justified so to do?

Susceptibility to Temptation

The dark jewel Temptation has the number 25 which means in effect minus seven or unwillingness to take any guidance. This is a seven year. If the planet offers us guidance in terms of ecological disaster we could listen, pay attention and try to find a solution. Or we could be tempted to do bugger all and carry on with our excessive luxury and consumption.

As a boomer I can say with a fair degree of likelihood that I will be dead by 2050. No male in my family has made it past 80 and I used to smoke like a chimney. I won’t be here to see the failed climate targets but I will experience the deterioration before I pop my clogs.

I believe the word “hack” is common parlance for finding a shortcut to at least temporarily “solve” a problem. They are good clickbait. Unfortunately, there is no hack, no shortcut for liberation and reduction in attachment.

In terms of life difficulties I am very sceptical about short cuts, am not interested in having advantage over others nor do I seek the lazy man’s way out. Very often the Elastoplast or sticking plaster “solution” whilst apparently expedient causes larger problems in the long term. Quick fix is an oxymoron.

There are some people who like, if possible, to find a low effort path. As a younger person I helped a number of people write their Ph.D. theses more than was perhaps appropriate. I was not in fact doing them a favour. They saw it as a quick fix and it was easier for me to help than to go thorough endless rewrites with them. Once you have written one thesis it is pretty easy to do others, especially in physical sciences.

There are others who instead of taking responsibility for their actions succumb to many excuses, the blame game and finger pointing. They imagine the world is against them and have a truly massive victim chip on their shoulders. “It is not fair mummy…”

Whilst is might seem expedient to succumb to the temptation of blaming others it rarely solves the character deficit such blame is meant to conceal.

Many people are very tempted by money, promised kudos and being all Kool and the Gang. If you look carefully, just like in cartoons, you can actually see $ signs rolling in their eyes in some cases.

The mutual backscratching, nod, nod, wink, wink, culture is seen as good business but it can mean yielding to temptation and evil.

“Go on old chap. You know that we are the best people to fulfil the PPE contract. After all we went to the same school as each other. I’ll return the favour in due course.”

The moral compass shatters when wanting to do a “favour” for a pal.

Temptation starts as the thin end of the wedge and in time it becomes normal practice. People can forget and grow ever more accustomed to doing dodgy stuff. People can become inured and tolerant of borderline illegal behaviours. They can find a whole host of reasons and justifications as to why it is kosher. The culture can become “infected” much quicker than many imagine. Academic bullying has been in the press. Is one supposed to take on the chin like a good little pleb? Cultural norms can be very unethical, tax evasion is OK provided that when you get caught you pay your fine, apparently.

Sleaze can become the “acceptable” norm.

I’ll make a postulate.

Anyone who is interested in power and power over is susceptible to temptation.

The type of mentality which seeks shortcuts and cuts corners can be easily tempted and swayed.

Those who are willing to put in a full and impeccable shift are less susceptible to temptation.

—-

Are you susceptible to temptation?

Freedom Quotes

People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.

Soren Kierkegaard

Freedom is not worth having if it does not connote freedom to err.

Mahatma Gandhi

We must be willing to pay a price for freedom.

H. L. Mencken

Freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.

Pericles

Real freedom is having nothing. I was freer when I didn’t have a cent.

Mike Tyson

Our freedom can be measured by the number of things we can walk away from.

Vernon Howard

Seek freedom and become captive of your desires. Seek discipline and find your liberty.

Frank Herbert

Heresy is another word for freedom of thought.

Graham Greene

If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.

Malcolm X

The more decisions that you are forced to make alone, the more you are aware of your freedom to choose.

Thornton Wilder

Freedom from the desire for an answer is essential to the understanding of a problem.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

If society fits you comfortably enough, you call it freedom.

Robert Frost

Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.

Charles Lindbergh

Until you have lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is.

Margaret Mitchell

Freedom has no history.

Andrew Cohen

Dharma of the Day #3

do not see apparent adversity as bad

rather see it as doorway, a garland

with which to decorate the new

within every challenge can be found

a seed which might germinate

into new experience and knowledge

all seeds whilst they are rooting

need careful care and attention

and newly sprouted stems

need to be rotated else they acquire bias

the germination of knowledge

is an act of love

which when tended, brings bounty

it is an act of receptivity to the spirit

knowledge which arrives quickly

is not so profound as that which

takes longer to mature,

much like vintage wine aged in its cask

vintage wine has more nuance

than that fresh from the vine

it has more depth and a subtle aroma

when wisdom arrives

it is like an old slipper

familiar to the foot

and slightly battered around the edges

it is not possible to attain wisdom

in the absence of trial

for all things have a price

only this one seems to be of better value

in learning to tend a garden

one learns much about Dao

and rhythm and seasoning

it makes one a better cook

in the Zen of gardening

hurry and haste are soon found

not to have any place

complete absorption in the moment

 –

in this manner one learns much

about the present

inherent in any gift of power

and all about, economy

better to tend a small garden well

than to take on a country estate

beauty in the small

heals the heart

in tending a garden

one tends one’s own heart

this teaches one

a sense of inner love

And what could be wrong with that?

What if Anything is Beyond Your Ken?

If there was/is anything beyond your ken you would not know about it, because by definition it is beyond your ken, your ability to cognize and assimilate.

Perhaps a better question is “where does my ken end? Am I aware of the step function change from within my ken to beyond my ken?”

Can you expand the boundaries of this ken? Yes.

Not so long ago someone asserted to me that the guardians of the race do not exist and by extension there is no spiritual hierarchy. He was always a bit of a gobshite prone to being adamant and making assertions beyond his ken.

There are a lot of people like him. If something is beyond their ken then it cannot, must not exit. They do not know where their ken ends yet are prone to soap box.

If you work in higher education as I once did, part of your job is to extend the ken of young people and from time to time to mess a little with their heads. An undergraduate level only goes so far, nuance and depth are found after a few more years. Most people who do an undergraduate degree forget the bulk of it in a few years.

I am married to a non-scientist and although she can manage well in the world, she lacks a physics understanding. This physics understanding has improved. When I say let gravitational potential help us shift this downstairs, she knows it means let it go, let it fall.

People by and large are unaware about their lack of understanding.

Say for example you are shit hot at maths and quantum optics, it does not mean that you have the faintest notion of the interpersonal dynamics of “Love Island” or the market at Electric Avenue in Brixton. Your ken of humanity might end at the door of the Physics department. Under certain circumstances your lack of ken could be dangerous for you. I had an ongoing banter with the weed dealers at the bus stop in Brixton. They asked me if I was a copper, because of my short hair, no. It was our little joke. They knew my face and I theirs. I was safe.

Unless you can turn off your internal dialogue at will, your ken does not extend to quiet mind, much less to the point before thought. You may be a smart cookie, but you have never known mental silence, it is beyond your ken.

—————-

Do you know where your ken ends?

When your ken ends do you have the humility to act accordingly?

Or in you self-diagnosed omniscience is the end of personal ken a notion which you cannot countenance, after all you are an omniscient being are you not?

How Well Do You Know Anyone?

People tend to make a host of assumptions about others and imagine that they know them. In an academic environment few consider the outside interests of others and if they do, they might imagine them benign, maybe hiking, gardening, arts or whatever.

Unless you belong to the “front row” club you have no idea as to the mentality of the sort of person who plays front row rugby. It does not compute unless you have experienced it. It can entail having semi-drunken light-hearted head butt competitions in a Paris café post-match, for example. It is not genteel though many front rowers are indeed gentle men away from the pitch. They tend not to be gob shites. They put up with a lot. They have broad shoulders.

I’ll wager that those who used to see me in a pastoral care role would not imagine me packing down, nor choking someone out during judo ground work. I got very close to causing unconsciousness on a number of occasions. Limpet like choke holds were a favourite of mine. People usually tapped before starting to go beyond. There is a latent capacity for controlled violence in me. People have walked closer than they think to its release.

“Are you having trouble concentrating? Have lost your appetite? Has your libido changed? Are you drinking more or less than usual? Have you had any self-harming thoughts?”

Is a bit of a contrast to full contact sparring, with take downs, locks and immobilisations. Until you have tried full contact martial arts you have no idea how you are going to respond to a donkey kick to the stomach or a punch to the head.

As I have said before I once met a geezer at an entrepreneurship event who said that he knew me well. He did not know who he was talking to. He had no idea that I was looking at the bridge of his nose as he was speaking, quite close to me, thinking that it would be very easy to head butt him and break his nose. That would cause quite a stir. He was oblivious, caught up in his bullshit.

Here people make some assumptions based on their general experience of British people. They are not so valid for us. When one says that they don’t have to try using English, one can see a brief wave of relief, I guess.

The thing is people make so many assumptions which are in many cases way off the mark.

———————

How well do you know anyone?

Are your perceptions and assumptions in any way accurate?

Karmeleon – Vis Viva Chapter 7

For a heterosexual man there are two things that can cause great fear and strike blows to the core, they are linked to his ability to function sexually. Those are to question his sexual orientation and the parentage of his children. These things strike deep at something in him, because perceived masculinity is so often linked to sexual performance.

In one sense one’s children are one’s legacy of sexual activity on the physical plane; in a more metaphorical sense when a man is being creative he fertilises the world through his actions hopefully sowing seeds of positive endeavour, his accomplishments.

The challenge for the cuckold to his sense of masculinity is immense particularly so if he discovers this many years down the line. He has in effect and affect been living a lie for most of his adult life. The statistics suggest that as many as one man in ten is unknowingly raising someone else’s child; in these days of multiple divorce and remarriage the raising of another man’s child is overt as well as covert.

In another sense a child can metaphorically re-present a man’s purpose and its nurturing. Eric reckons that a man nurtures with his heart, it is male love and male warmth which gives a child security to grow and to test the boundaries. He says that this is so important and the absence of this is what causes harm, unfortunately though this lack is self-propagating in that the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons, cold insecure men raise cold insecure boys.

Eric reckons that this phrase has other meanings than the genealogical sense and that it relates to fate and karma. He says that we should be careful about using the concept of fate and karma because these words have been bandied about by so many on the dharma trails from Katmandu to Goa and back again. He does believe that the quotation below from the works of Alice Bailey is a particularly good springboard from which to do a double twisting back somersault into the topic though.

The Cup of Karma

There is a cup held to the lips of those who drink, by four great Lords of Karma. The draught within that cup must all be drained, down to the nethermost drop, e’er it is possible to fill the cup with a purer, sweeter one. The seven Lords of cosmic Love await the hour of filling.

The cup is naught. The draught within distils forth drop by drop. It will not all be drained until the final hour wherein the Pilgrim takes the cup. He lifts it from the hand of those Who, bending, hold it to his lips. Until that day the cup is held, and in inner blind dismay the Pilgrim drinks. After that hour he lifts his head; he sees the light beyond; he takes the cup and, with a radiant joy, drains to the very dregs.

The contents of the cup are changed; the bitter now becomes the sweet; the fiery essence then is lost in cool, life-giving streams. The fire absorbed within has burned and scarred and seared. The draught now taken soothes the burns; it heals the scars and permeates the whole.

The Four bend down and see the work. They release the cup of Karma. The tender Lords of Cosmic Love then mix another draught, and – when the cup is empty seen (emptied by conscious will) – they pour within that which is needed now for broader, larger living. Until the cup has once been used, filled, drained, and seen as naught, it cannot safely hold within that which is later given.

But when to utter emptiness the Pilgrim drains the cup then to the world in torment now he turns. With cup in hand (drained once, filled again, and refused to selfish need) he tends the need of struggling men who tread the way with him. The draught of love, of sacred fire, of cool, health-giving stream he lifts not towards himself but holds it forth to others. Upon the road of weary man he becomes a Lord of Power – power gained through work accomplished, power reached through conscious will. Through the cup of Karma drained he gains the right to serve.

Look on, O Pilgrim, to the goal. See shining far ahead the glory that envelops and the light that naught can dim. Seize on the cup and swiftly drain, delay not for the pain. The empty cup, the steady hand, the firm and strong endeavour, lead to a moment’s agony and thence to radiant life.


Alice Bailey; “The Rays and The Initiations” Page 762, Lucis Publishing Company, New York. ISBN 0-85330-122-0

The vis viva then picks an aspect of awareness to animate, from time to time this awareness incarnates and the power within has the chance to eke out a physical plane existence and face the challenges therein. Because of the deeds and actions in previous incarnations the awareness of the power within has evolved and it chooses a circumstance, a fleeting moment in the evolution of space-time to incarnate such that it can live out the challenges as a fate, within the context of an overall destiny. Eric finds it interesting that the etymology of sin may have a root that is of the verb to be or être, that as a consequence of being in carnation sins result.

He also notes that fate has an air of fatality about it, a sense of death. Sin and Fate are together. They are existence and death, being and not-being and he reminds me that death is both the end of physical plane carnation and more generally transformation through death of the old. Here in the sense of old perceptions and ways of being.

He says that he doesn’t like these two words ( fate and karma) much and that challenges are better, because these are much less judgmental and finger pointy, they have less baggage. The power within sets things up for it to experience whilst in the form side of life, it chooses the circumstance of birth, the country of birth and the potential capacities and abilities. As a direct result there will be sin, or being, as the aspiration and intent of the power within seeks to further develop its awareness through the process of life. He says that a Warrior treats his death as an advisor because by keeping death present it encourages one to live in what he calls the eternal now and to act to the best of ones capacity and ability at any given time, he says that this is impeccability. So in this sense death is his fate and it is to transmute, transform and transfigure.

This transmutation then is when the power within recognises that it has gaps in its knowledge and goes about finding this missing knowledge, it sets itself up with challenges in order to learn. In a very simple sense, the first acts of transmutation are to find out what those challenges are and then welcome them, to literally live them bearing in mind that they are gifts and not tortures.

The next stage is transformation, which is changing the shape of a life so that finally the power within has the island of existence in roughly the shape it originally intended so as to live out its fate for a given lifetime. He reckons that most people have forgotten what it is that they are meant to be doing and live in a dream. All one has to do is to wake up in the dream and then get busy.

The Greek word hamartia (ἁμαρτία) is often translated as sin, this means miss the mark. If one is missing the mark in living out a life that is not in accord with fate then that is a sin, or transgression against the purpose of the vis viva and one’s own power within.

The nature of one’s challenges called forth in a given lifetime, are karma, there is no such thing as good karma or bad karma, only karma. There is not a direct and linear cause and effect here, karma is more cyclical than that, though there are sequences and when mixed with others con-sequence. Eric sees karma as much more of a pattern woven together with challenge threads and themes running through a life, the circumstance for which may be set up over a number of lifetimes, there are many twists and turns in this as the vis viva goes about its business of evolving awareness as a whole. It is difficult to account for the hubris of mankind against the backdrop of cosmic Manvantaras and Kalpas outlined in the Vedic scriptures.

If then as an aspirant for self discovery one drains the cup of Karma, one is actively taking part in the act of transformation by conscious will, by grasping the challenges in a life one makes way for a wider living both in a current life and those that follow.

Eric says that his fate must encompass things that challenge his sense of masculinity to the core and that in overcoming these he will be exploring masculinity. He says that by choosing a father who was emotionally distant and later physically distant during a traumatic period of his life; he had no one to learn from. In a very real sense then he was making it up as he went along. The ability to cope with extended periods of bullying has given him a sense of determination and self reliance which he can draw on in times of trouble. It is his opinion that if one looks back at the sort of challenges and themes that appear relatively early on in a life you can get a picture of some of the scope of a fate.

Eric says that I should now talk in first person about the events of my second year in boarding school; I am a little hesitant to provide full details. A boy asked me to do something and I guess it was and is not, that unusual a thing to ask, but we were caught in the act. He had asked me to play with his balls. We were hauled up in front of the housemaster and asked to account for ourselves. The other boy was quite clearly nervous because it was he that had asked. He asked me to cover for him and make something up so that he came out of it looking better. I could see that he was in trouble. So I took the blame for something that wasn’t really all that bad; though at the time it was catastrophe.

The whole school soon knew about it and so, “Ali-homo” was born. Can you imagine how young boys might chant that at each other and how after not very long a time this began to wear a little thin? As it happens I was put up a dorm in my second year and there the taunting continued en masse. So I waited and waited, in the end I ended up setting things up so that I fought with each boy in turn, when I had them on their own. This strategy seemed to work.

Ultimately, I got Morris, alone, and actually messed him up to such an extent that the housemaster warned me about exclusion. How strange to be bullied and then punished for fighting back. Needless to say I did not want to discuss this bullying with my parents, most especially my dad.

“How is school?”

“Just fine. Did you know I might be playing rugby for Colts next year?”

Later that year we were on a family holiday in the Kafue national park, this is a game reserve in Zambia. We were staying in some rondavels that were quite luxurious, close by the Kafue River. The Kafue River at Kwafala camp is very broad with some fast flowing water and many large islands. It was great. I could go fishing. We did various game drives and I got to go fishing in small boat with one of the guides. They liked doing this as, should we be lucky, they had some food for their families too. I can’t even remember his name but he was a small man and my parents have a picture of him somewhere.

We worked our way upstream across the fast flowing part to an area of more gentle flow going along the sides of a large island across an open expanse of water to the big reed bed. There we started fishing with spinners in search of bream and pike. Together we caught four bream and five pike. It was fantastic my best ever days fishing. The bream he caught were good sized around four pounds each and would be great to eat. As we rowed back he pointed to the signs of hippos making progress underwater, small rings of bubbles and said that is best to watch out for them. We got back and showed off our spoils, the other guides were excited as was my sister and the son of other guests at the camp. A trip was planned for the next day.

Then we had bream, fresh from the brai, magic, true magic.

The next day we set off, my sister, this other slightly younger boy, myself and three guides, the short man, Richard and a taller older man. The boat was quite full with all of us, the fishing tackle and the big slab of concrete that acted as anchor. We rowed across the fast flowing section and then to the more open space of water heading towards the fishing fields near the reeds.

As I am remembering all this, I stepped outside our house and a squadron of nine biplanes flew over head, making quite a noise. They are probably from the nearby RAF base and practising for an air show, harkening back to a time of white silk scarves and handlebar moustaches, crying tally-ho and let’s get after the Hun. Quite a contrast the English countryside to the depths of the African bush!

Then it happened, we saw the edges of some of those bubble rings and the edges of one by the side of the boat. Next thing we were all in the water and the boat had overturned. I was a good swimmer then but only eleven years old. The older man was close to me and he tried to get hold of me, I pushed him away. He tried again and I swam away. I saw him drift off in the current. He was drowning. Calling this back to memory is hard, because after the event I was wracked with guilt that perhaps I could have saved him, I had a bronze medallion life saving badge after all!!

I am crying slightly now at the thought of it all. Seeing someone drift away is not easy. We all swam to the boat; there were now five of us. Together we tried to right the boat and got it about halfway, it then bounced back and I was hit on the head. This made me a little dizzy. We tried again but that anchor was now holding the boat in place. I said to the guides that we weren’t really helping and that if we swam to the nearby island we would wait there whilst they tried righting the boat without hindrance. They sort of agreed but it was difficult to know who was in charge. So we swam towards the island. I remember thinking it strange that swimming was a lot harder in my new Clark’s Attackers, but that I might need my shoes later. As we neared the shore my sister and the other boy headed for a different landing point than mine. We got to the shore and hauled ourselves up onto land and into the bush.

We watched as they tried to right the boat a number of times, the sun now lowering across the water. They were getting tired. They gave up and came to join us on the island. Richard was the stronger swimmer of the two and headed towards where my sister had landed. The shorter man followed, my shorter route, splashing quite a lot as he swam. All of a sudden he was pulled under the water, he started thrashing about a little more wildly, surfaced once and then the water was silent. I knew what had happened; there are crocodiles in these parts. He had followed the path that I had taken just a few moments earlier. The four of us stood dumbstruck looking west at the empty river with the upturned boat and the now setting sun.

For an eternity we stood and stared. Richard seemed to be very, very far away. I said that we needed to do something because they could not hear us back at camp from here. We needed to let them know and that we must get moving soon as it would soon be dark. The only way was to make our way between the islands until such time as we were close enough to shout for help. So we began. Some of the islands were separated by shallow water, some were waist deep and others we had to swim a little in between.

So we did it, each entrance into the water tinged by the memory of what had just happened and the fear. I don’t to this day know whether the two other children knew what had happened, they were just glad to be on the move. We got to a small uncovered island about two hundred metres from camp, nearby the fast flowing section. We reckoned that there wouldn’t be hippos or crocs there and shouted across to the camp for help. We told them what had happened and it began; the ululation of an African woman at the loss of her man; such a haunting sound to accompany the swift and velvet fall of an African dusk.

There we were, then, cold and wet, in complete darkness on a small island in the middle of a game park, stranded. There was no other boat at the camp. The bush is alive at night. All we had for comfort was each other and the lights of the camp distant across the water and that terrible ululation. We heard that my father was going to drive to one of the other camps in search of a boat and that they would try to get to us, they had heard of a canoe and transporter some distance away.

I think soon after mid-night my father and the other boy’s father got in the canoe and made their way towards our shouts across the water to us with some food and clothing. It wasn’t an easy trip but it was with the current. It would not be wise to go back at night. They landed and we ate. We had a gun now. I remember that dawn very well, the mist rising off the river and that grey, grey stretching your arms and legs, yawning beginning to the day. We saw the canoe and were not quite as reassured as we once were. In the past a hippo had taken a bite out of it. We were ferried across and boy, were we glad. They took the thorn out of my sister’s foot and we were soon to leave. For some reason my mother was no longer keen on game parks. We would have to report the incident to the police and as we would reach the game park borders first, it was down to us to do that.

We got to the gate and went in to explain what had happened to the African policeman there. The dry mud brick hut was both gate house for the game park and police station. I had to give a statement. As I began to talk it was noticeable that the man could not really write. So I gave my first statement to the police in my scruffy handwriting all the while thinking that they might lock me up for not saving that man and thinking that it was weird that here I was writing, what were the grown ups doing why weren’t they doing all this? It was down to me I had to do it. Like a good public school boy I owned up. Nothing happened to me.

When we got back to Kabwe the story quickly did the rounds of the expat community and filtered down to the children. For a while we were quite famous locally, the grown ups though all had a shudder when they thought of it.

Eric says that it was my fate to be in that place at that time and to see that males who are the masculine expression of the vis viva cannot always be relied on and that I as a proto male would have to take charge from time to time. This was a part of my karma which left me with a great fear of swimming in open water and the sense that something unseen and terrible was lurking there. He reminds me that I nearly had a heart attack when that small fish followed me in Italy and that it took nearly twenty years before I could swim out of my depth in tropical waters.

He says that the burden of guilt for letting that man drown stayed with me for many years, unspoken, leaving me with a sense that I could have and should have, done more to save him.

Soon it was time to go back to school and I was dropped back into my original dorm. It was much better here and there was less bullying and conflict.