Letters from the dead.

Image result for Very old paintings of women writing a letter.

“I was abandoned on the side of a hill as a baby”.

I suppose I had a kind of reflective, forlorn sound or tone in my voice when I told Jacqui that, as she stopped doing what she was doing, let her hands drop to her side and sympathetically gazed at me…

“Oh…that’s really sad..Were you left there by your parents because you were seen as a weak child and they were testing if you could survive a night in the open fields..like the ancient Pagans would do to a crippled baby ?”

“No!..no!”…I was shocked at her suggestion..though I thought I detected an edge of cynical doubt in her voice..” They were just out on a picnic by the Onkaparinga River and forgot about me when they left to go!…it wasn’t for long..they stopped the car and rushed back!..”

Jacqui expressed a cynical snort and went back to her work with, I now noticed, an agitated manner..a little annoyed that she had expressed a modicum of unwarranted kindness toward me.

We were sorting through a tippled out box of correspondence to my mother…My mother had passed away six months or so before after a long illness and I was given a big box of these things to sort through and separate. I finally got around to it one Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t long before some of the personal letters from aunts or distant relatives caught my eye like seeing familiar people go about their everyday lives without them noticing you…a voyeur on domesticity.

“Oh…this ones from ‘Aunt Daphne’..in England”..I announced. Jacqui cocked a quizzical eye at me. ”She’s a half-sister of my grandmother..from her father’s second marriage..after his first wife died..a bit of a scandal really..she..the new wife.. was his secretary and many years younger than he..” I enlightened…” Daphne’s long dead now, like most of these people here, I imagine ”. I looked down at the spread of letters on the carpet.

I started reading from the letter..

“Dear Tess.” Most of them called my mother ; ‘Tess’…”Dear Tess.. So nice to get your long letter, it is always grand to hear from your distant home. Over here, England is having one of its worst droughts on record now..I suppose those sorts of things are not that unusual out there in Australia..but it makes so much more work to keep the garden going.. we are only permitted to use the hose at certain times of the day. I am enclosing post-cards and pictures which are always nice to have…”

They were great on post-cards in those days..I offered as an explanation..you could take a family photo and get it turned into a post-card…Here she says she got all the snaps of her mother’s when she died and the father came to live with her, Daphne..”. . . otherwise I would never had got a thing as he hates me…”  crikey!..she continues… ”. . . in fact, he hates all children and never wanted any more and it was only that my mother threatened to leave him that they had me!..” sounds like he was a terrible bloke..I folded the letter and put it back in its envelope. I read the post date on the front..

“That was from nineteen seventy five…that’s a long time ago..she’d be long gone by now.”

“How can a parent hate their child?”…Jaq’s reflected…” . . . throttle them sometimes..certainly..but to actually, physically hate them. . . ?” she shook her head not wanting (nor getting) an answer…She sat back up straight as she read another letter…and then blew out a push of air in disbelief..

“Flamin’ ‘ell!..and I say THAT in shock and surprise…cop a squizz at this letter!”…she pushed my grabbing hand away and proceeded to read from it…

“Dear Mr. Howes..Please accept my deepest sympathy in the sad loss of your dear wife and mother. I was shocked and saddened at her sudden passing, she was a lovely mother devoted to her family and home AND ABOVE ALL (her bold underlining) to her church and teachings. She was a DEVOUT CATHOLIC….”….Wow!..this is really full on Jesus stuff!…Who is it from and to? “

“Giz a look” I took the letter…”oh..it’s to my grandfather after gran’ died..back in the eighties…I can’t quite make out the surname..but it’s Ellen. S…something..must be one of gran’s fellow parishioners she chummed up with while at church..”..I gave the letter back to Jacqui and she read some more emphasising the underlined words…

“. . . she will REST IN PEACE with her loved ones to AWAIT the SECOND COMING of our BLESSED LORD on the RESURRECTION DAY….” Christ!..the whole letter’s full of it! “ . . . in the BEAUTIFUL COURTS OF HEAVEN, with our Lord and Saviour. He died for us ALL and was hung on a CRUEL CROSS and rose again so that all who believe in HIM will inherit ETERNAL LIFE with HIM in HEAVEN and so what a joy to LOOK FORWARD TO . . . “….oh that’s enough!..I can’t stand it anymore! “ and Jaq’s thrust the letter back into the envelope.

“I don’t know why my mother ended up with that letter, seeing how it was addressed to my grandfather…except that I think he couldn’t read or write very well..or couldn’t be bothered..I remember them having a huge blue one night back when they lived with us for a while…grandpa had wrenched a bottle of ink from gran’ and they wrestled toward the back door and grandpa broke free and hurled the bottle of ink into the night toward the chook yards, while crying out : “ You and your bloody letters…. ”

Speaking of the devil, I picked up one envelope which had a script in my grandmother’s obvious precise hand-writing..: “Read then BURN!”….I giggled aloud at that instruction as I read it to Jacqui..”It’s a letter from Aunt Harriet, Uncle Kevin’s wife…Gran despised her..said she was like a wrung-out dish cloth…but really gran hated her because she took her son away from her ambitions to see him enter the presbytery as a priest..she never forgave either of them for that and cut uncle Kev’ from her will…not even a mention of his name..pretty vicious.”

“Well, no-one knows how to hate like a good Catholic, I always say..” and Jacqui smiled her cat smile…Her family were from Methodist stock.

“I think it would be telling how much one is respected by the words carved onto one’s tombstone when you die…I recall my grandmother getting more consideration than my grandfather by their children…probably because, in truth , he was a narcissic sort of chap in life..and they paid him back in death. I can recall that when my grandmother died first, on her tombstone there was her name, place and country of birth, children’s names and a short reverence for the Lord and Saviour and that eternal life thingy…but then when grandad passed away a few years later, and was buried on top of her in the same grave (some said it was a terrible burden that having “carried him” all their married life, she now would have to support him into eternity), they simply inscribed on the same headstone under her testimony..:

“Here lies John Howes-loved husband of the above”….and that was it..brilliant , eh?”

Then I pulled a type-written letter from the scattered lot…I unfolded it and perused the contents..

‘Oh, this is an interesting one” I said. “It’s a form-letter from one of the daughters of this old lady my mother did house-cleaning for….It’s notifying every one of the old lady’s death ; ‘Dear friends of Helga Rosen’…and it gives details of the last days of the old lady’s illness, where she died and when she died….of course, my mother knew all about it, as it was she who called the ambulance..”

“Oh..and was the woman a very wealthy lady?” Jacqui asked.

“Well, they weren’t extremely wealthy, but they were comfortably retired…secure middle-class, I would say..My mother worked for her for over twenty-five years..became her confident and close companion…in a mistress – servant kind of way.”

“What…close companion between a middle-class woman and her house-cleaner?..How would you know that?…Were you there?”

I was a bit put out by Jacqui’s doubting tone, seeing as how I was also employed by some of those customers of my mother’s..when they needed a bit of maintenance done about the yard or house…I was a handy sort of young fellow when it was needed..

“So how would I know of the relationship between middle-class women and their poorer cleaners?..I know because my mother was one of those poorer cleaners..for most of her working life…She used to take me with her when I was a child…and she continued way past the time I was a young man, when she then used to take my younger sibling with her…She would tell me the everyday events in the lives of her “Ladies” ..as she used to call them..though she was not a gossip and the women would confide in her to an almost embarrassing depth that sometimes shocked her.

Many of these Ladies were from the professional class that needed a cleaner to keep on top of the housework that their two-bit husbands didn’t do..lazzeroni!..I remember many tales she later related to me when I would visit her as she got older..

I remember her telling me that one wealthy woman from an elite address confessed to her that she made it a point to NEVER pay any account until she had got the third threatening letter just in case the company wrote the bill off as a lost cause..

But most of all, I remember this one here she was devoted to..My mother even near retirement age herself, would walk the two kilometres to the woman’s place on a Monday evening to put her rubbish bin out for the Tuesday pick-up…at no cost..just because she was such a long term client …twenty-five years in fact…and in all that time, I can only recall my mother telling me once in surprise that :

“Oh..I was given an extra dollar for my cleaning at Mrs. Rosen’s on Friday..she pressed it into my hand and whispered (though there is never anyone there but her and myself) that in future I can look forward to that little bit extra…and she patted my hand..”

But she was devoted to that old Mrs. Rosen, a retired professional who “had rooms” somewhere in the city..The husband was a university professor in some faculty..I did know once, but I have forgotten..Anyway, after he died, my mother became almost, from what I could gather, the closest companion of that old Lady…They had a couple of children, also now professional people, but they were never around much ..shades of that Harry Chapin song…what was it? Oh yes! : “Cats in the Cradle”..

As a matter of fact, my mother saved her life a couple of times by climbing through the small (my mother was always a slight build) bathroom window to assist the woman who had collapsed on the floor..

One time, however, when my mother was not there, the woman had a fall and was not found for several days until my mother came to clean her house..She was in critical care in hospital in a bad way..My mother went to visit her a couple of days later and though Mrs. Rosen had her eyes shut, my mother told me she was sure she was aware..

“I sat next to her” she told me  “. . . and said hello and told her I had cleaned the house and attended to the cat and taken out the rubbish bin and whatever..I knew she would have wanted that..and she reached for and held my hand…I could feel she hadn’t long to live and she held my hand so tight..even for the frail little thing she now was . She held my hand so tight..so that when the nurse came in to check on her she saw she had my hand and asked me in a whisper if I was her daughter..it seems that I was her first and only visitor, and her children had not been…and I had to say that no…(and my mother shrugged her shoulders and grimaced somewhat at the thought of the moment) I was her house cleaner..”

So yes…Mrs. Rosen did die and after the funeral and all was settled, the children gave my mother five hundred dollars in recognition of her services for twenty five years…my mother was delightfully surprised. “

Jacqui sat up straight on her tucked-in legs and frowned..

“They’re such a sad lot of letters in the main..all about loss and scandal or missing from action fathers and husbands…isn’t there any cheerful ones we can read?”

I had just that moment happened upon three envelopes bundled together with a rubber-band around them and my mother’s neat hand stating : “Granny Kreiger” on them…I opened one as Jacqui was complaining…I read it and had to laugh..

“Something funny at last!?” Jacqui leant in to me.

“Yes…well, funny in its telling…but just a general whinge from old Granny Krieger when she was in the local hospital getting treated for a re-set broken arm…Here, listen to this bit..:” Jacqui leaned over my arm and nestled into my neck and read silently as I read aloud.

“. . . my arm has not improved much and even after I go to the Fizzo Ferapy treatment it is not better the doctor that has treated me for my arm should go jump in the lake old doctor Drever from Calvery sent me back to this jolly place before I was finished treatment down there now it is nearly my birthday and Im still stuck in  this bloomen place. Well dear I have the wireless on an while I am waiting for Hilda I just heard the Electric and Postal strike is over thank heavens for that wonder what next will be strike all they think about now is bloomen strikes and living off goverment relief a useless lot of robbery going on all over the places like when old man Ziedel got broken in an had Anteek Furnicture stolen….” ……Oh dear…that English really was a trial to those old generations of pioneers…no punctuation or anything…it was no wonder they had a twisted outlook on the world around them…but ah well..I suppose they managed”

I put the letter back in its envelope and consigned it to the “miscellaneous” box..and I had to agree with Jacqui that all these letters were so old now, written between people who were even then quite aged, my mother being one of the younger ones and now she too had passed away at the ripe old age of eighty six years…so all these people were gone too…and after all..who writes real letters anymore, it’s all Skype or email or whatever.

“Have you noticed that it is mostly women who write these letters..not men…perhaps it is a reflection that while men write the official histories of a people, it is really women who write the deeper stories of the society. They are like echos from years ago…the remaining cries of their spirit departing and when I have their letters all sorted and packed away, they will be finally laid to rest I suppose …forgotten…perhaps I should just throw them all back in one big box together and mix them up…all the pages loose and mixed together and then they could “talk” to each other again and again forever and ever…like letters from the dead to the dead..”

“C’mon” I said wearily  “ Time for some afternoon tea.”

The Man who Discovered Forever.

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If you were ever to ask old Jack Henke about it, he’d go all modest and dismiss any such notoriety about his discovery, and say ;

“I wouldn’t say I ACTUALLY discovered it, because it was already there!…Had been all along…Like Penicillin..or Australia…they were always there, but someone just recognised the fact..I just happened to be in the right frame of mind at the right time. “

Pressing further on the subject, he confided that he had to give some credit to a couple of Mormons who by chance came down his drive way at the very moment he was pondering on the word ‘forever”..

“I was weeding around a nice batch of flowers in the garden, flowers with the curiously named ; “Live Forever”..I think some would call similar flowers ; “Everlasting daisies”..I suppose everlasting and forever are the same meaning..and I was pondering on the creation of the word ; “forever”…not in any deep-thought way, just letting the word roll around in my thoughts while I weeded..you know the feeling..we all do it quite often…And these Mormons came straight toward me, one with his hand outstretched holding a printed pamphlet..He held it to me as if to give it away and then when I took the paper he held it still and with his other hand pointed, in silence, to the printed phrase at the top..It said : “ In the beginning there was the word.”..I released the pamphlet to him and politely dismissed them from my interest..but that phrase ; “in the beginning. . . “ stuck in my head, along with the other mystical word; ‘forever’….”

Jack paused…considered his next words and then surprisingly asked ..

“Are you a gambling man, George?”

I had to confess that I had such little faith in the chances of Lady Luck smiling in my favour that I had never wanted to place my hard-earned money in her hands. Old Jack smiled gently..

“Then you have never felt the soft kiss of fortune nor the hard slap of fate…But you have gambled none the less, for what else but a wager with social politics would get you such a career?…Good education?…chance appointment?….the right place at the right time?….I would think the latter played a very important risk factor in your life ambitions…a day late, a missed train, a stopped watch, a flat tyre….a horse-shoe nail…all these can alter the entire track of one’s life.”

Jack sat back in his comfortable chair and sipped at his tea before re-telling his story.

“When I was a young bloke and liked to “play the ponies” as we used to say, I had very plain luck at picking winners..but one day I accidentally and temporarily hit on a winning method of picking the horses…..Becoming sick and tired of “form picking” from the guide, I decided to try another..more loose and carefree approach..a riskier option…Working on the proposition that there are approximately 12-15 horses in a regular race, I got a deck of cards and randomly flipped over a card and put a win/place on that number..with ; 11-12-13-14 for Jack , Queen, King, and Joker..for each race…and would you believe it!..I started winning!…Daily doubles, even a couple of trifectas!!..and individual races..lots of them..I kid you not…not big winners, but it was good enough..I was only a penny-punter after all……BUT…now here’s where the Human Failing came in…After this initial good fortune had become an expectation, I altered the methodology..Now, having turned over the card, I would then check its form in the race guide..and if it was such a long-shot outsider, I would choose another..so then the corruption crept it..as did the doubt..it was the old “Silken Ladder” moral all over again…I tried to resurrect the system, but my doubt rose and my courage failed.. and I would over shuffle the deck of cards, I changed from the cards to numbers on slips of paper picked out of a tin… trying to once again grasp that elusive God of fortune..but to no avail, I had betrayed the gift of luck and now had only the deserved, futile company of hard fate….and I have to say by this time I was getting older and thinking of marriage…and life got the better of me and I gave the punting away…But it did give me a clue to a much wider knowledge of patterns of chance…in that the secret pattern of chance is : The fact that IT HAS NO PATTERN…and there is where the pattern lay!…ie; you cannot play chance AS a pattern, but you can “play” it using random choice as your “pattern”….if you get my meaning..because sometimes the best thing to do in a chancey situation is to do nothing, for there are so many variables in life operating all at the same time, there is sure to be the chance that something will intervene as much IN your favour as against it.”

I must say that while I could see a vague perception of where old Jack was going with this information, I was wondering if it did have anything to do with his theory of “Forever”. I was soon enlightened to this fact when he moved the conversation back onto the subject.

“It was the chance meeting of those Mormons and the one pointing to those words from Genesis that set me on the road to the discovery of forever..Those Mormons would’ve gone to the front door and spoken to my good lady if I had not been there in the garden..If I had been in my shed, which is where I was before taking a break to come to weed the flowers, I would not have had that trigger sentence to give me the clue..that ; “In the beginning…”

A care attendant came into the room at this juncture and placed a plate of food on the table. It was lunch time…I dismissed myself from Jack’s company so as to let him eat in peace..He thanked me for my time and said we can continue the discussion later.

There was never to be any “later”, as old Jack Henke passed away peacefully in his sleep that very night.

It was several days later that I had opportunity to make an appointment to visit Jack, only to be told by the aged-care nurse that he had passed away.. I was surprised and saddened by this news as I had wanted to talk further on his interest..and mine now too..of the “discovery of forever”. However, luck, of a kind was at hand and the station nurse touched my arm as I was about to turn away and held out a large notebook to me.

“Here, Doctor Jenke, He asked that this be given to you if anything happened to him.”

“What is it about?” I asked automatically as I took the notebook.

“Not sure,” she answered “But it is in his own hand-writing, so it may have something to do with his strange interest in the obscure”.

“The obscure?” I queried.

“Well..it had to be something like that I suppose, judging on his somewhat cryptic replies he’d give to commonplace questions.”

“Like?” I raised my eyebrows.

“Oh..nothing in particular, just that ..well if you asked if he’d like to go out for a bit of air, he would sometimes shrug and say ; ‘Out, in, up down inside out and all around…who will laugh at the tumbling clown’…that was one of his favourites..and another one was his asking any new carer if they knew the secret of forever.. He’d always grab the attention of a new carer with that one. I mean, it has an attraction of curiosity about it , doesn’t it?..but he never did tell his secret.”

I must have frowned at this seeming innocent jollity from old Jack, because the nurse then blushed a little and said that well, he was a little different from the other clients..THEY never said anything like that!..I inquired of the nurse what Old Jack’s occupation was when he worked for a living and was surprised to hear that it was in the trade of joinery.

“A Joiner?..”I repeated, surprised as he seemed more well read than most tradesmen I have spoken to. I made this observation to the nurse.

“He read a lot of books” the nurse informed me..and added that those books had been given already to the home’s op-shop for resale.

I thanked the nurse and made my way to my office to examine the reports of my day’s patients. I placed the notebook in my briefcase to take home for a more relaxed perusal later in the evening.

At home after a long day, the penumbra of a winter’s evening fading with the last light, I stoked the wood in the fire to a satisfactory warmth and settled back with a glass of Muscat handy to my reach and with the soft but ample glow of a standard light behind my shoulder, I sank into the broad reach of the sofa chair and opened the hard-cardboard cover of Jack Henke’s notebook.

It was Quarto sized, of approximately one hundred pages. The covers were of a thick, firm cardboard, covered with a pattern of false marbling with a red cloth binding. It opened to a well-written text, in a carefully scripted hand, as if wanting to be clearly understood by a strange reader.

In the first pages, there were two sketches of what looked to be mechanical descriptions of enactments for the, in the first, raising of building stones for the constructions of a pyramid..as in the pyramids of ancient Egypt, and in the other, the raising of one of those huge solid stone obelisks..also, I believe, of ancient Egypt.

I am wont to go into too much detail of those drawings and the simple notes that accompanied them, sufficient to describe them such:

The pyramid drawing described the lifting of those heavy stones from what looked to be a ramp that took them to around a third height of the completed pyramid and from there a slide that ascended up the rest of the height that the stones were elevated upon using a lubrication of mud on timber skids set parallel to each other up the side of the structure.. and hauled up by ropes that were pulled through a wheel…much like those cables seen through huge wheels on pictures of old mining operations in the English Midlands of the nineteenth century. These ropes were hauled upon by what looked like many men descending down the slope of the pyramid while the stone went up…much like, I ascertained from notes in the side column, the sash of a casement window being counter-weighted by the sash-cord tied weights in the side casement of that window. A side note indicated that enough men were used that counter-weighted the stone because they were the only “counterweight” that could ascend and descend repeatedly of their own volition to work the principle of weight-counterweight. Whether such a principle would work I leave to an engineer to peruse.

The second sketch showed one of those large obelisks on its side, with just over half, the lower half, protruding over the sharp edge of a ramp but attached to what looked like a quarter-circle wedge of a wheel-cradle, made, as old Jack indicated, of huge wooden lengths and of four short, stout spokes. There was an algebraic ‘X’ denoting both the measured length of the circumference of the cradle’s arc from the lowest point of contact with the ground to the foot of the obelisk resting on the upper lip, then from that same first point of the cradle, to where the obelisk would sit on a plinth already sited on the earth nearby. A high, formidable tower stood on the immediate far side of that plinth that would site and stabilise the obelisk temporarily when it was raised to its zenith. Stout ropes first soaked in water tied the obelisk to the cradle so that when dried, the ropes would shrink and fix the two together in a tight, rigid bind enough to secure the obelisk from slipping from its bed while in motion.

I studied the principle of the mechanics of the raising of the obelisk and I have come to the conclusion, in accordance with Jack’s notes, that once a chock is pulled out from the base of the cradle, the weight of the lower section of the obelisk would slowly fall in a controlled motion of the arc of circumference of the cradle, following the laws of gravity till it picked up enough momentum and force of speed with the arc of the cradle controlling both speed and accuracy of direction, to allow with using the obelisk’s own falling weight as the source of energy to assist the lift of the complete obelisk toward the huge frame that would secure it in place while a coordinated crew of workmen would swiftly chock and then cut the binding cords of the cradle so that the obelisk would not be encumbered with its extra weight once it reached its peak position, quickly secured with ties to the tower.

I am not an engineer, so will have to leave the calculations of these two extraordinary documents to those who can confirm or deny their competency..But given the numerous theories put forward for both these subjects, I can but give old Jack the benefit of the doubt that he can compete with other orthodox explanations.

But it was in his notes on the subject of “Forever” that I had the most interest and it is there that I will trust in his own words to relay to you, the reader, the basis of his discovery.

“ It was the most extraordinary of revelations..perhaps best described as a “road to Damascus” moment. I had just returned inside to my workshop from weeding some flowers and having been accosted by those nuisance religious folk proselytising for their absurd religion. I turned to resume my attention to smoothing a length of pine I had fixed in the bench vice for use as a shelving frame in the pantry. It was a clean length, meaning no knots or other defects that sometimes mar timber mass-produced and sold in the bulk merchandise warehouses in the suburbs. I had selected the timber myself, seeking the cleanest lengths from the shelf there.

I adjusted my sharpened smoothing plane and started to shave off the milled edge. I had taken a couple of runs to get the rough off, and then to give the timber a smooth, sharp-edged finished, I ran the plane straight along the entire length in one smooth cut, the shaving peeling back in a flowing curl to fall complete to the work-shop floor..It was that moment, that shaving curling like it did and the crisp sound it made as it peeled away from the timber…like the sharp, crisp zizzing sound made with the tearing of a piece of fine rice-paper…and the gentle scent of the wood…it was magnificent!

I made a couple more passes of that length of timber just to hear and see that perfect moment. I then picked up one of those complete curls from the floor, sat in a chair nearby and just stared at it…the words ; “In the beginning” and “forever” suspended above my thoughts. How these three different worlds of substance, language and possibility combined to coalesce into my “Discovery of Forever” I put down to the creative mysteries of the mind.

When I pressed that long curl of shaving into a singular, flat circular ring, the skin encircling each other over the top of the other to become a circle of about two inches diameter, I saw I couldn’t tell which end originally came from which end of the length of timber and as it was a complete circle, you could say there was no end..that is; no beginning and no end…just a continuity of circle without start or finish..a kind of eternal circle…a ; forever.

And I have noticed this quirk of religions that they embrace as a justification of Godly creation, a “Beginning”..which, proceeding along logical lines would determine that there then must be an implied ending..for nothing can begin except where there has been another ending..giving those who are inclined toward ecclesiastical belief a perimeter of understood boundary of territorial ownership…”In the beginning to the day of judgement”..an allotted time and also a perceived length of time.

I let the shaving of wood fall while holding one end and it described a smooth, even helix as it hung down, two surfaces, outside and inside exactly the same, if I joined the top and bottom ends to their respective planes, one to the outside and the other to the inner, it would form a continuous repetitive track up and down the spiral…where the inside of the shaving goes on to become the new outside of the helix and so it continues on forever…

Now, given that we have these words ; “eternal” and “forever” in the language that describe a perception of endlessness, and given that we, even those of ecclesiastical bent, accept the notion of “forever” and now when I look at that example of endless continuity in the joined shaving in front of me, I have to conclude, which you who read this must also conclude, that if there is no beginning and if there IS such a thing as “forever”, then that “forever” has the capacity to reach BACK in time gone as much as it reaches forward in time to come…ergo, since like a circle where there is no beginning or ending, then the notion of forever is at any point of that circle…so one has to conclude that as much as our ancient ancestors looked to the future and saw US in the here and now as a point toward forever, WE can as easy look BACK toward those ancestors and say THEY are at a reverse point in the future because there is no beginning nor end and forever is neither here nor there, neither out, in, up down inside out and all around…here, in this very spot, this workshop in the suburbs, here and now IS forever..! ”


I have to confess to not knowing what to make of this dialogue of forever. The theories of helixes, circles with no beginnings nor endings is nothing novel and putting aside Jack’s theories on the Egyptian puzzles, I have to say that I had to wonder how or why a joiner would think of these things..

I could see the line of rational thought that old Jack’s premise ran along, but given his lack of qualifications in the realm of science, theology or physics, I would be inclined to dismiss his writings as the ravings of a mad-man..were it not for that niggling inquisitiveness..that curiosity for the strange and elusive that lures many including myself to ponder further on such theories…perhaps such are the temptations of pursuing raw knowledge in the privacy of one’s own thoughts.

Here was I, an educated man of medicine, now becoming interested in this strange treatise on a subject that I would have thought irrelevant but a few hours ago. And then what of old Jack Henke?..What pulled him into this vortex of obscurity?..The only thing I have concluded is that it must be a universal attraction of inquisitive intuition.

If we give it some thought, the inquiries of the world have brought us down three distinctive paths : Religion, Science and Tribal intuition. I abhor the first as a “Black art”, suitable only for the parking up of those basic human fears of superstition and death. Science is more reliable for the pursuit of solid knowledge, be it in the various fields; organic, mathematics or physics, but even there it has to obey and prove itself eventually with concrete resolution.

But tribal intuition..THERE is a fascination for the human intellect!..and it is there that I would park old Jack’s ruminations..it is there that such imaginations appeal most to my relaxing hours..and I would wonder if such thoughts and revelations played more often that we like to accept in the conversations of our ancient forebears..Perhaps the notion of “forever” crossed the minds of those tribal groups as they made the regular rounds of their seasonal camps. The knowledge of having to regularly shift camp so as to renew and let regrow the worked-over site and hunting grounds would surely have become obvious and then habitual then become ritual as each season, each regular phase of moon and stars made their impression on the observant eyes and astute minds of those tribal elders, so that over many thousands of seasons, the regular pattern of activity that matched the geographical location of the camps brought the notion that here, in this repetitive movement and stillness, in the consumption and renewal of bush, berry and game was a hint of the notion of “forever”..

But yet, against the established orthodoxy of religion and science, tribal intuition doesn’t much get a consideration, yet I have concluded that with Jack’s personal discovery, he has hit upon a much larger piece of the jigsaw puzzle that humanity has been remiss in excluding from its complete knowledge..its wholeness ; the intuitive understanding of our “tribal place” in the universe and how forever is not in the far future, but is here and now, a moment that comes and goes with each circumference of the circle of life.

For this understanding, I give thanks to old Jack Henke…tradesman joiner, the discovery of forever.



The End of Eden..

In a world where it seems the only way to have future social and health security is through financial security, we keep getting almost hourly reports under the guise of news on the state of this or that stocks and shares of this or that corporation and how such business things will impact on your retirement superannuation. As if the only thing keeping the proverbial wolf from our door is the familiar gratuity of the world’s financial houses bequeathing largesse upon our heads…Oh, thank ya, thank ya, thank ya!

But then I suddenly remember this little bit of financial investment wisdom :

“ (FORTUNE Magazine) – JOE KENNEDY, a famous rich guy in his day, exited the stock market in timely fashion after a shoeshine boy gave him some stock tips. He figured that when the shoeshine boys have tips, the market is too popular for its own good, a theory also advanced by Bernard Baruch, another vested interest who described the scene before the big Crash:

“Taxi drivers told you what to buy. The shoeshine boy could give you a summary of the day’s financial news as he worked with rag and polish. An old beggar who regularly patrolled the street in front of my office now gave me tips and, I suppose, spent the money I and others gave him in the market. My cook had a brokerage account and followed the ticker closely. Her paper profits were quickly blown away in the gale of 1929.”

Yessss..the great depression..that ol’ thing..Broke the bottom’s of so many people and drove the world headlong into a world war…and then there’s this cheerful old ditty:

“Wars, bankruptcies, diseases and famine…good growing climate for the Morgan Bank”..

Now we got those venerable institutions ; the banks, rearing their ugly criminal heads, full to the gills of total and absolute corruption…just like we always knew they were…so nothing new there. But what is new in the world of financial whizz-kiddery, is..wait for it!: “Cryptocurrency”…and for some strange, obscure reason, I cannot for the life of me get the idea out of my tiny brain that there is some sort of convenient connection between this current Banking Royal Commission and the sudden rise of cryptocurrency…I can’t explain it, but there it is..

Perhaps it is the ever shrinking world of the availability of the old fashioned “easy gold” to mine..so many nations now a bit pinniky about those mega mining corporations screwing them over and ruining their environments in the process?..perhaps it is the notion of the attraction of “clean mining” of block-chain minting of a new currency..or perhaps it is the “once in a lifetime opportunity” for the free-market speculators to gain control of currency trading and money laundering between super-rich peer-to-peer trading and by-passing those sovereign federal treasury fiat currency reserves that ask all those pesky questions…like : “Where did this money come from?”…or the old chestnut : “How long’s THIS been going on!?”….add to that little by-pass, the opportunity to scalp so many small investor speculators like our above sucker shoe-shine boy wanting to “get in early and make a killing on the market” and you got one, big, ripe, plump, and juicy-ready to pick peach just waiting to be consumed.

Eden..with its one paltry apple tree as a tawdry temptation can but gaze upon it and weep!

All it’s going to take for this potpourri of financial chicanery, superannuation tom-foolery, banking irregularity to go bum-up is for one sovereign nation to declare that cryptocurrency is recognised by its federal reserve…Oh!..wait!..:

“New Sovereign Cryptocurrency will be Legal Tender in the Marshall Islands…”  https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/new-sovereign-cryptocurrency-will-be-legal-tender-marshall-islands/

Oh dear!…and since this article was published, I read there are other federal reserves considering the option. What this COULD mean, is that if the big player federal reserves DO NOT swiftly gain control of the “mining” and exchange rate of this new player, then that single stabiliser of civil order in these days..ie; sovereign fiat currencies, could be manipulated and devalued by an out of control peer-to-peer free-market in cryptocurrencies that can be held in the hands of those super-rich oligarchies or corporations and the rest of us will have to go begging with out of date, out of value currency and coins.

But this manipulation of a nation’s politics by the introduction of a new,“value-added” currency is nothing new. In both China with the Han Dynasty and the contemporaneous Roman Empire, monetary systems sometimes clashed and had to be competed with for local favour. :

“ This position is normally envisioned as the ruler’s control over the circulation of an existing stock of money rather than as policy-making regarding the manufacturing of money per se. For instance, in order to establish desired price levels, the ruler was meant to manipulate the money supply and hence prices by hoarding or spending cash rather than by issuing or demonetizing coin.

It has been argued that at least early on, merchants manufactured coins, employing regional weight standards. However, circumstantial evidence suggests that by about 300 BCE, Qin and Qi had established state control over coin production. The situation in the other states remains obscure, although high levels of uniformity within each polity may speak in favor of significant government involvement throughout the region.In textual sources covering the pre-imperial period, cash is rarely mentioned in elite contexts, and no state salaries in cash are recorded.


This interpretation is supported by the fact that for much of the first 80 years of the Han Dynasty, private individuals were permitted to make coins, and that the state only gradually entered this market (see below). Under these circumstances, given both the likely involvement or perhaps even predominance of private coin manufacturers, and the initial political fragmentation of the region later encompassed by the Qin and Han empires, a wide variety of currencies and denominations must have been in circulation during the Warring States period, and coins would not always – indeed not normally – meet target nominal weight standards. . . . “ (The monetary systems of the Han and Roman Empires..: https://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/scheidel/020803.pdf  )

Getting away from the intricacies of financial shenanigans, we, the common folk are now too dependent on that class of speculator whose only loyalty to national and indeed sovereign wealth is via such a speculative market of stocks, shares, money exchange etc..and if we as a people cannot get control and in charge of the distribution and rate of exchange of our own currency, then we will end up very poor indeed, if not perilously bankrupt.



“  Digital currencies can improve lives by replacing slow, expensive transactions. Unlike government-backed fiat currencies, like the U.S. dollar, digital currencies often have specific purposes. For example, Ripple offers a mostly-centralized digital currency payment platform that completes transactions in minutes, and at lower cost than traditional international payment products, such as SWIFT. The TRON currency’s peer-to-peer payment system aims to remove mobile app stores as intermediaries between content developers and consumers, extending savings to both. Other cryptocurrency technologies aim to streamline medical billing services, substitute traditional retail debit purchases, and potentially replace the need for banking and fiat currency.”

Which is why I am seeming unable to disconnect all these demoralising and destabilising revelations about the established banking sector..could this be a stratagem to restore confidence and faith in banking by introducing cryptocurrency under the guise of a “secure, stable” digi-currency?

Be afraid…be VERY afraid!



Ode to Machiavelli’s Discourses of Titus Livy.



Y’know..I can sympathise with ol’ Machiavelli,

Seeing how things at this moment are not very

Agreeable..somewhat friable..if’n you’ll allow…

And HE did avow to explain with a lengthy refrain

The deeper meanings of one : Titus Livius..THE man.


I have picked over his “Discourses” as one does pick,

Thread-bits from a new coat..or the currants, thick

From granny’s fruit loaf..very nice..’til she thanks

You with a rap of the wooden spoon, you’ll soon

Learn to pay close attention to such indelible rune..


And wonder, like he, whether such honour indeed,

Bestowed upon those ancients, and their seed be

But an impersonation of admired esteem,

Less one’s smarts be seen as hollow sincerity, given as trope

To impertination so vain as to promenade that path again and again….and again?


Wisdom admired..but never imitated, even diluted, you may plea,

So that WE, who have gained this Earth and now lost our soul,

Given, on the whole, as fuel to the false god of intellectual flattery.

Assault and battery on lost integrity exchanged impressionably

For mutual back-slapping and the odd “gold insignia”.


I wouldn’t be kidding yer if I was to say, with an underbreath ; “Ole’”

That the measure of intellect today is, sadly, awry, Y,

‘Tis enough to make one cry..given what history has bequeathed

So each generation in turn could turn over a new leaf.

With so much, so ample that we have more than sample..it’s that simple.


“For our civil laws are  but decisions by ancient Jurisconsults,

That teacheth our present Jurisconsults systems by which to judge…”

A drudge with nought to follow but example and re-assemble

Forebears preamble on things “socially medicinal”, as an endocrine?

Should work out fine ..if we but listen, not descend to vicious hissing.


The biggest mistake being; not understanding history,

But make mystery of what we WILL NOT see..Is it just me?

Or is it thee who takes more pleasure from the infinite variety

Of incidents in this or that society and such scandalous pleasure

As your measure of understanding, rather than demanding


We take heed to the answers to those deeds, as if these

Times have changed the behaviour of men and then of women too

It’s a shoo-in to see ; the Sun the Moon, the sea and thee

Have not changed their motions and power, hour on hour

From ancient times, I’d avower and from such error; allora!


I’d therefore call thee to hark to the wisdom of Titus Livy

And give time to study the erstwhile text of Machiavelli

Written in testament for us to understand such history

For ; Zanobi Buondelmonti and Cosimo Rucellai..

Which for this pleasure I now bequeath to thee…from me.