Meetings

Have you ever considered the reason there appears to be so much evil in the world might be because there is so much love..!DSC_0244

Up in the Himalayas, in the Kullu Valley, the April before last, I heard English being spoken at a table on the terrace restaurant of the hotel whose owner I knew, and from whom I wanted to order a special meal of trout from the nearby river Bea for my wife’s and my wedding anniversary. In fact, the speaker at the table was Russian, but his spoken English was perfect. He was with his English girlfriend on a trip to scout out Ayurvedic provisions for the business he was hoping to set up. They were staying at the same hostel as us, up the road. First, we arranged to meet next day and show them a local temple, then altered our plans when a friend, M – , offered to take us on a day-long hike instead.

On a typically lovely Himalayan spring morning, we met up and started out through the cool forest and onward along a path our friend knew well. Approaching a dwelling where an acquaintance of his lived – and whose dog had recently killed a jaguar in the vicinity – we stopped off at a small shrine incorporated within the surrounding orchard and admired the images of snakes and serpents engraved into the wood and stone.

Only then was I sure that I recognised Arkady’s voice. I changed the conversation to books and book-writing, and he explained how he had recently issued a three-part series containing his own fiction set on an invented south-sea island, and had recorded the narrative in order to help foreigners learn the Russian language.

‘Hahaha!’ I laughed, explaining how I had bought the books and downloaded the audio accompaniment just a few months prior, in an attempt to revive my waning memory of the language. I had them on my laptop back at the hostel, nearly forgotten while we travelled through northern India.

So, just yesterday, on a trip back to the UK, I took the London-Stratford-upon-Avon train and climbed off at the station where Arkady was waiting for me. We were joined by his wife – eight months pregnant – and spent the afternoon exploring the old spa town in the English summer heat. He is a member of the Society of Authors and only hopes that he can continue to write following the birth of their child. I told him that so long as he was prepared to get up at four o’clock in the morning and make some headway while the world was silent, there was no reason at all why shouldn’t continue to write. After all, I had done it.

Oh, yes – back to the rather cryptic opening…

In a section of the Key of Love – and included within my other fictional work – it’s described how the universe is created throughout infinity by a single force and how this force permeates all being as we can know its existence, and how this force ceases to be comprehended should the personal ego close its bond to the totality.

Well, evil originates from the closed egoistic mind and not from the original force from which it cannot emerge; therefore the more egoism there is around us, the greater the backdrop to the original binding force.

Unfortunately, since the rise of monetarism and its exaltation of personal greed, there has been a greater encouragement and acceptance of egoistic desires, so that presently this way of living has been allowed to become an encircling background for all to acknowledge –while the activities of love, fortunately, continue to play out ever brighter in the foreground.

With forbearance, the former will become even clearer against that which currently obscures all reality.

GLYN F RIDGLEY novels available worldwide at bookstores and online inc. Amazon

Travelling

fiat dobloSelling our beloved Fiat Doblo today…right now it’s up on the hydraulic jacks of the local garage getting its brakes and rear suspension sorted all in preparation for – I hope – some happy souls to continue its and their journey into the extended unknown…

Meanwhile listening to Bob Dylan’s most recent offering and reckoning it’s by far away his best album of songs ever (I never was a fan, not even now…). His Murder Most Foul is the best account of JFK’s assassination that I have personally come across: a great eulogy to its significance and place in twentieth century All-American culture (if that’s not too much of an affected oxymoron…)

Certainly His Nobel Prize for Literature makes just a little more sense after this offering.

Plus Key West (Philosopher Pirate) operates on pretty much the same level…and reminds me how an intended road trip down that way was aborted some years ago.

After our long and sometimes repeated trips through Europe, it makes sense to sell our old-time metallic friend. There are no hard feelings. We’re living in a different country – I mean, really and not metaphorically (although that other meaning could be true, too). The cost of matriculating the piece of machinery has made the process inevitable, anyhow.

All of which makes me think pleasantly ahead.

This year: family gathering and consolidation

Next year: Camino and Russia (Dostoevsky’s Bi-Centennial)

2022: road trip to Key West and down on to Cuba

Yeh, sorted!

GLYN F RIDGLEY novels are available at bookstores and online worldwide

Wandering & Wondering

My hometown is regularly voted in among the UK’s top ten Most Boring towns, largely because it contains all the usual high street brands, cinema chains and national supermarkets, and no longer has any kind of bohemian section. In other words, it has been homogenised and sanitised through town-planning and gentrification, and that’s the way the people like it, I guess. What’s more, it has become something of a dormitory town for those who work in the capital but can barely afford the cost of living in such a grand metropolis, thus removing the heart from ordinary daily activities.high wycombe b&w

I’m not saying those who vote are unfair, but it is to neglect that the town still contains the arcaded Guild Hall and similarly fashioned Corn Exchange at the end of its High Street, and a series of lovely old pubs from the Three Tuns at one end to the Antelope and Falcon by the aforementioned buildings – albeit the latter is now a bloody Wetherspoons. The Red Lion statute remains standing proudly atop the columned white portico halfway along.

At the time of my grandad, they still drove sheep up through the town, and are still permitted to do so by right – though I have never seen this actually happen.

The street market still operates but is a shadow of its former existence, with no stalls selling everyday fresh vegetables, meat or fish – unless your diet contains yams and green bananas. And you can eat great Turkish and Asian street food; otherwise, it’s all bongs and travel bags.

On the Saturday street market used to be a stall beneath the Guild Hall which sold cheap jewellery and we regularly walked the four miles from our village down through the fields and by way of the cemetery across the railway bridge to the centre of town in order to peruse what they had on display. One particular ring caught my fancy, a painted shiny black and chromium skull ring with clasps so that it could fit nearly any finger. That went straight on my left-hand middle digit, at a cost of two bob, sixpence less than the half-crown I saved by pocketing my dinner money. Plus, I had a paper round which paid 7s/6d. So, quids in.

Another stall sold little bottles of scented oils, like musk and strawberry. My favourite was patchouli, which I applied liberally to my neck and wrists (and even my Afghan coat later), enjoying the gloriously woody aroma wafting about my being as I went round the town. That scent has never been reproduced, not even during a recent trip to India where much of the prized oil is still manufactured. Also on that stall, apart from king-size Rizla, they sold little patches of woven cotton with simple designs and words like LOVE and PEACE or KEEP ON TRUCKIN’. Many a Sunday evening was passed with me rooting through mum’s Quality Street sewing tin, seeking out needles and the right-coloured thread before sewing the patches onto my jeans or denim jacket.

Metal studs were sold at the same jewellery stall under the Guild Hall, and were pushed through the material of the clothing – usually denim or leather – to ornament the shoulders, sleeves or cuffs, sometimes with a pattern on the back or placed strategically round the pockets of denim jeans.

A shop across the way by the Corn Exchange named Fosters quaintly displayed women’s clothing in one window and men’s the other side. There we espied matching pale-green brushed denim jackets and jeans and someone came up with the idea of us each buying a set and forming a uniformed gang. The Polecats was the name agreed upon until it was discovered that the animal was a kind of tree-climbing skunk and not the vicious land-based predatory feline of our imaginations. The gang was never officially formed, but we continued to hang around in each other’s company for a good while after and I did in fact buy the aforementioned clothes. I didn’t much like them on, though. They looked a bit sickly.

Driving back the other day with dad from town and cutting across at Four Ashes (where he and his brothers had seen a ghost) and along the lane overlooking Hughenden Valley as far as St Michael and All Angels church, seen beneath billowing white clouds, we stopped to look at the development taking place at the old Uplands conference centre. A purpose-built and modernist structure of glass and metal added to the original EB Lamb building, it never really caught on as a destination and has been lying disused for some years now. Typically, it is being converted into apartments, which I suppose will retail at something near half-a-million pounds apiece, what with the view and all. The same kind of development is occurring at the factory where I had my first proper job near Saunderton in the Aylesbury Vale, producing the contraceptive pill along with medical castration tablets and acne cream, in a grand-looking building which resembles the American White House. I’m not sure these apartments will fetch as much, however, given their non-elevated location.

Up at the disused conference centre, dad remarked how the land had belonged to Lady Murray, in connection with a conversation we’d been having about how local dignitaries used to visit the nearby schools and the children all had to stand up behind their desks in admiration of the personage now in their presence. What they were supposed to be admiring was never made perfectly clear, just simply understood as such. Most likely the visitor was being admired for their social station and wealth. I asked him if that would be the same Murray family which gave their name to the town’s only department store back in the sixties. When the time came to build the UK’s first shopping mall – called the Octagon for obvious reasons – the main entrance came by way of access through the store, which must have been a scheme cooked up by the local councillors and representatives of the land-owning family back then, in much the same way the Dashwoods – under the auspice of the Lord himself – have made a mint through selling off their land for more recent developments by the council.

Actually, it was from the development of the Octagon that the town centre grew into the near-sterile commercial wasteland that is currently always voted into the top ten Most Boring towns. The monetary die of mind-numbing affluence was cast with that decision, along with the one taken to concrete-over the Wye, which is formed by fresh water emerging from chalk streams beneath the Chiltern Hills at West Wycombe, joined with streams from Hughenden and Wycombe Marsh, and flows through the valley along a ten-mile stretch which used to incorporate several mills up to its confluence with the Thames at Bourne End. Two man-made mini-disasters based on money-making leading to a concrete desert where the only Eden to be found is the tunnel-like shopping project which is more or less an extension of the original sixties mall. Boring, in other words.

Still, maybe next year the town will not be voted onto the list on account of its football team being promoted to the EFL Championship after beating its nearby M40 rivals Oxford United in the play-offs. The raw vibe of that success may carry across to resuscitate the heart of the town. Especially since they play their football to a rock n roll rhythm (their manager fronts a rock band and they are sponsored by a music label). Certainly when I used to watch Wycombe Wanderers beneath the floodlights on midweek evenings at Loakes Park as a boy, I very much felt the quiver of life within me as I stood in the surrounding darkness of the terraces – but then I felt it all the time back then, pretty much as I do to this day.

*

As a result of being on a covid-restricted twenty-four hour ferry crossing, and in the spirit of my proposed novel P, I composed this prose poem, called Wandering and Wondering – or

P is for the Mask you wear

P is for Plenty.

P is for Penury.

We should have got the former, but instead we got the latter.

Worldwide.

Should not could.

Privatisation took it all away – from us.

Privat-I-sation paved the way for a few exalted Is of Plenty and many, many more Is of Penury.

Public-I-sation will save the day.

If privat-eye-sation hasn’t saturated the entire nation and now at last when we can see it is too late for public-eye-sation and honest conversation to provide true radicalisation without prison for a penalty.

They – the Is of Plenty – are throwing the radicals into OUR gaols.

Too late, then, as I head for the Land of My Forebears on a ship – no Black Star Liner – from the Basque Country into isolation.

My nation requires isolation for a solution to the ultimate failed state intrusion.

Who would a thunk it: Penury in place of Plenty, even when back then when the police were battering the public in the land of their forebears into submission at the behest of the state?

And yet it was clear.

We should have got the latter, but instead we got the former when the private Is took precedence above the public eye space.

Think about that next time you pull on your mask.

GLYN F RIDGLEY novels available from bookstores and Amazon worldwide

COVID-19

I was expecting to be travelling through a faux post-apocalyptic world last Friday, as I was booked on a BA flight back to London in order to pick up medication for my own particular virus (Hepatitis C). Instead of which, the trip was aborted and I now await the meds to be delivered by way of courier.

Shame. I was looking forward to writing about the experience, envisaging a K Dick-style journey of emptied buildings and more-than-wary fellow human beings. A kind of envisaging of humankind’s great dark future. Hmmm…

Whereas, my current book…

Well, I better not give the plot away…much as I would like to…

With a Ryanair flight and the ferries similarly cancelled, there is much time to be spent here in the mountains preparing the garden – which is starting to look like a Hawkwind album cover – ready for spring and summer and the time when hopefully this worldwide COVID-19 virus will have been totally eradicated.

Much love

KoL image

Feb 19

A week ago I arrived in the Midlands feeling a little apprehensive and concerned about the prospect of having an MRI scan on my abdomen. Owing to the fact that I couldn’t book a return flight for the following weekend, I have stayed around my old hometown and am leaving later today. In a way, the extended time here has been a blessing. I have re-connected with the area and some of the people who are important to me. As a result, I now feel more grounded. It seems to me that all I really want for the rest of my life is to be in close contact with my family, have access to nature and learn foreign languages. Oh, and have perfect health. Not too much to ask, surely?

NOVELS

chiltern-hills
South Bucks

Feb 7

We have made it back to base, a little later than intended. The ferry crossing was brilliant – calm waters, a good meal, the new Tarantino, an excellent night’s sleep – and the get-away straightforward, despite the extra security following Brexit. The roads were fine in the sunlight, and we had an audiobook to distract our attention away from the dull high plains. But as we approached the border, I began to feel very tired and the prospect of driving another 200 kms became increasingly unappealing. Instead, we pulled off to the small medieval town we had stopped in on the way up, knowing the hotel provided secure car parking where our over-stuffed vehicle would not be interfered with. A break-in we suffered in Soviet era Warsaw has made us very alert to the possibility of an overnight theft of all our goods.fiat doblo

As a consequence, the return was an almost exact mirror image of our departure ten weeks earlier: five weeks either side of the UK winter festivities, a consultation at the hospital the day of departure with unexpected and unwanted medical results, and an overnight stay at the same hotel. The main differences are that I no longer feel unwell and the UK is no longer a part of the continent. Maybe the two are interlinked!

We obtained a permit on arrival and just before dinner lit the bonfire left behind ten weeks ago. Pasta is set to boil on the hob and the log stove is ready for lighting, thus ensuring a cozy first night back.

Boa noite!

NOVELS

Feb 6

Docking in northern Spain at around midday and driving straight down to our place in the Santa Maria mountains on the Iberian Peninsula, about seven hours away. Because the drive through the high plains tends to become extremely tedious, on this occasion we are sharing the driving and have downloaded an audio version of Peter Hitchens’ ‘The Phoney Victory: The WWII Illusion’. A few years ago, I would never have thought I’d be reading this author’s work, but his integrity and desire for the truth have really come to the fore concerning the OPCW / Syria cover up, so that I am now more than willing to give the old boy a try.

Question_Cover_for_KindleOther avowed conservatives I now have time for are the Americans, Ron Paul and Gareth Porter, who also seem concerned that the truth regarding events in the world are more important than ideological positioning or presented in such a way to further the aims of the rich and powerful.

Read my QUESTION

NOVELS

Feb 5

On the ferry right now and feeling good about having some time to catch up with reading Graham Greene’s ‘The End of the Affair’, as chosen by our book club. It’s not a text I’d personally have chosen to select. I read pretty much all the Greene I wanted to experience way back before I began writing myself. Of all his books, I enjoyed his first published novel ‘The Man Within’ most because you could see the writer really working at his craft. Not that it was a particularly good end product in this instance. Our previous choice was Jose Saramago’s ‘Blindness’ which, for all its failings, did at least have the distinction of being written by a foreign writer with whose work I was unfamiliar. I’m not sure that I want to keep going over the same old ground when it comes to literature, no matter how distinguished the expired writer.dand

Thinking of Englishness and how much I love and dis-love it at the same time, my own account of the matter particularly comes to the fore in DEATH AND THE DEAD

NOVELS

Feb 4

A bit later than anticipated getting away today. Expecting to be given a clean bill of health from the consultant at the hospital, instead I found out there is probable scarring of the liver, very likely caused by some infection. The consequence being that it was necessary to queue for an hour and a half to provide blood samples for a whole battery of tests.

Then, just as we were leaving the house with our bags packed and the car loaded, our solicitor sent an email with a big bunch of documents attached which required to be either printed and signed or scanned and returned. We just made it to the post office in time, before continuing on our way to the south coast in the dark.

Right now, we are in our budget hotel, having just eaten sushi washed down with ale, and ready to settle down and listen to an audible version of the Graham Greene novel selected by members of the book club.

Tomorrow we board the ferry for a 24 hour crossing.

I shall probably have to fly back soon for an appointment at the hospital – which makes me feel quite modern, but also wishing (and hoping) I didn’t (won’t) have to.

PS I thought of a new word today – Bucosmic (adj) living off the land while studying the universe

NOVELS

Feb 3

Two more days before we catch the ferry from the south coast and leave the UK behind. That means washing the old campervan and keeping an appointment at the hospital with the consultant. The day before we returned last December, I was informed that I had diabetes and Hep C. Neither of which diagnosis made any sense to me. Now it looks as though the trouble has been bruising of the liver all along, caused by some kind of impact. Maybe the two cycling accidents I experienced just prior to falling ill were somehow responsible. Anyway, I look forward to regaining full health once more.

Things Britain seems to do well: fashion, music, food and drink (yes, really). Which means great High Streets, classic pop/rock, great food counters and terrific ale. South Bucks has all of this aplenty and it’s been a real joy to discover how many of the old ways continue to exist behind the façade of modern housing projects and post-1980s affluence. hawkwindLikewise, visiting Hungerford in nearby Berkshire for the weekend and walking beside the Kennet and the Avon canal towpath was a treat. I think the old hairies/hippies of the late sixties/seventies got it just about right with their combination of rural living and space rock. The perfect duo. Made even better with their desire for peace and love. That all seems a long while ago now, of course. But, even so, could yet prove realisable. Our departure from the shores of the UK is in many ways an extension of this dream – with the reality actually awaiting us.fiat doblo

So, time to get out the sponge and jet-wash.

NOVELS