Our Children…or Theirs?

Around the time of the Referendum, I was chatting, as I normally do, with a couple of the people from the street market stalls that I frequent for lunch.

The subject was, of course, the Referendum. There was, amongst them, misgivings on their part about being made to leave Britain as a result. They had bought the Remain propaganda that it was all about immigration, and that anyone who voted Leave was set to eject them from Britain, the moment the order came down.

[As much as I, and all the other people who voted to leave the EU, might like to eject all non-subjects of HM from this beautiful island, it was hardly going to be a realistic expectation from Day 1 given the logistics involved.]

I did try to assuage their fears, given the likelihood of such a proposition coming to pass – the same likelihood as many other Remain/Project Fear scenarios.

But something really took me aback in the exchange.

One of the guys, a South American married to someone with Spanish citizenship, said to me, with venom in his voice: “I hope you are right, because I will be out on the streets fighting for my children.”

[It is at this point we can cue up a Remainer telling me this situation never happened. Or that he has every right to fight for his children against us horrible hate-filled Brexiteers.]

I felt threatened. And then I felt angry – but I didn’t show it.

I have had a long time to ruminate on that exchange.

Yes, I know he is not representative of all other people who are here but have no ties to the country other than living and/or working here. But I bet his remarks represent the thoughts of a significant cohort of non-citizens.

This exchange opened a few new lines of thinking for me, which I would never have considered before.

I have been a new arrival and have lived as an adult in four countries where I would be considered a foreigner (including here in Blighty, thanks to my accent).

Apart from Great Britain, as I am British by birth, I would never presume to feel entitled to continued residence if the locals decided I no longer belonged. Hell, it would suck to be kicked out of those countries due to politics, and it would be an upheaval, but the locals have every right to determine who gets to stay. I was a guest in each of those countries, and the host is free to do what he wants.

What makes someone who hails from a Third World shithole halfway around the world think he might have the right to remain no matter what the host thinks of his continued presence?

It wasn’t just that sense of entitlement, it was the threat of violence should things not go his way politically.

As I thought more about it, the scales began to fall from my eyes. If the shit really were to hit the fan for all of us, through war or economic hard times, would he and others like him ever be possessed by the Blitz spirit and be in it altogether with the rest of us?

Or would they riot, loot and pillage? Would they escape to where they came from if the chips were down? (BTW, where would we be able to go?)

And if it ever came down to our children or theirs, whose would you pick?


P.S. This is not the only line of thinking this exchanged opened up for me.

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Statement of Intent (for my 50th year on this planet…)

I turned 49 a couple of weeks ago. In the lead-up to my birthday, I went through my normal, almost unconscious annual navel-gazing process which has varied little over the past few years.

I moped a bit. I compared my potential to my accomplishments (massive gap). I reviewed my friendships (few, far-between, and practically non-existent). I looked at what I am doing for work (I get paid very well for doing something I hate in a sector I loathe – with a 1.5 hour commute on both sides of the day). I looked at how much I was drinking (quite a bit). I looked at my weight (I could lose about 20 pounds). I looked at my intellectual and creative output (none in recent years).

In fact, the only significant accomplishment/activity I can point to in recent times is being the breadwinner for my family. Which is no mean feat, given my once complete lack of responsibility and discipline in my life up until I was 30.

I have been feeling a lot like an automaton lately and a change is required.

I decided to at least give my body a Jubilee Year: For the next year, rather than going full-on paleo (which I have done at various times with good results but hard to maintain), I’ve decided to make it a bit simpler: no alcohol, no bread, and no sweets. (I will make an exception on Christmas Day, though.)

I’ve already lost about 7 pounds.

I’m also going to try to get adequate sleep. That has been difficult, however, given my commuting schedule and the things I like to do as part of my morning routine before I leave. And it would be difficult to shift some of these things to the commute, as Wim Hof Method breathing, for instance, tends to annoy or alarm other people when practiced in their vicinity.


One thing I have been doing over the past couple of years is listening voraciously to podcasts. As a result of some of this influence, I have become extremely aware of the gaps in my education.

For instance, although I am aware of much of the work that is considered part of the Western canon, I haven’t read enough of it. So…

I shall begin embarking on the Great Books reading list.


Additionally, I suspect part of my current malaise is spiritual. I haven’t been back to church since a certain situation around sex education at my oldest child’s Church of England school several years ago.

Truth is, I think there is something rotten in Anglicanism. And one of the reasons I went for CofE rather than evangelical Protestantism is that I like the idea of a tradition. Unfortunately, the modern CofE does not. I thought I was joining the church of CS Lewis, but instead got the Church of What’s Happening Now, with a whole lot of evangelical Love Songs for Jesus thrown in.

So I considered the RCs. But then look at the current Pope. Need I say more?

That leaves Orthodoxy, which has always been fascinating to me. I like tradition, I like liturgy, I like all the incense (all the things I thought I would get with the CofE). Orthodoxy seems to be the only place those sorts of things are surviving.

So I’m going to check out some of the writings and apologetics for Orthodoxy. Not sure if I will go to a church, but I need something Christian in my life, even if it is just a return to daily Bible reading.


Which brings me around to a third thing that keeps popping up for me. I have always loved alternate histories and conspiracy literature. There is a lot of truth in them. But I’ve managed to keep a lot of that stuff in the background as I haven’t really had time to follow it up. (I used to practically live on alt.conspiracy on Usenet.)

One just has to look at the way Brexit has been handled by the Establishment to realise that there really are a few factions vying for control of us all, especially our minds. Whether it is conspiracy, or just the way power exerts itself, I don’t know.

This may seem rather bold (or crazy), but I am now convinced that what is being played out on the world stage is a battle amongst various Luciferian/Satanist factions, and a battle between these factions and normal everyday people for control of our minds. Whether they are being driven by an active evil force or not, I am now convinced that the people at the top believe in it regardless of whether or not we do.

Yep, I suppose that sounds kind of crazy. But we are moving toward dystopia (we are already there). And the people at the top want it that way.

So, alongside my study of Western Civ and Orthodox Christianity, I shall be looking into the conspiracy/alternative history literature. And shall be seeking to free my mind a bit.


So amongst all this, I think I shall be writing a bit more, and who knows…I’ve been wanting to start up a podcast: maybe I’ll find a way to combine these various things into one long mad rant.

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Fuck All Y’All…

I am not a xenophobe. I can speak at least four other languages (Portuguese, Spanish, French, German) enough to get by after a week or two of immersion, and I can stretch to a fifth (Italian) after about two weeks. And I am learning another language right now (Russian, just for shits and giggles, and because it strikes me as a language just as complex and rich as English is).

I love other cultures. I can speak with many people with other cultures, using the pivot of a love of music with them. (In fact, some people are amazed when I tell them I have never lived in their countries, because, through music, I can speak to them about their own culture.)

I am no dummy, either. My IQ is three standard deviations from the norm (to the right, of course). Which means in a room full of 200 people, I am probably the most intelligent. I don’t need a newspaper or a politician telling me I’m clever for agreeing with them.

I grew up as an American. My accent is American, Southern, as well. I served six years in the US Navy. But this is the place I have chosen to make my home. And as a result of an ill-thought out law brought in by Obama (FATCA), I renounced my legal relationship with the USA in a divorce. England is my home.

This is where I live. My two children are English. I can hear it in the way they speak and in the things they are interested in.

And despite rumours to the contrary, we do have a unique culture with its own folkways here. And its own way of relating to the rest of the world.

But the mere fact of a European Union seeks to eliminate that. It seeks a bland, uniform compliance with some undefined, grey, world culture. It seeks to eliminate all that is English to make it European.

No doubt, English culture is a European culture, but it is one among many. But for me, it is primum inter pares. Had I ended up somewhere else, such as Sweden (which was wholly possible at a certain point in my life), I would have felt the same.

Because (to borrow from South Park): If you can’t root for the home team, then you should get the fuck out of the stadium.

We are undergoing an onslaught from those who would want to make all of us the same. Make us little Epsilons in their push for global hegemony.

I say (in my most redneck Southern accent): Fuck all y’all!

This is where I live and this is where I will die. For my culture and for my people and for my children. Because this is my land. And, like a lot of other people living here (especially those who don’t speak RP), I have nowhere else to go.


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Jordanetics by Vox Day

When I first encountered Jordan Peterson, I believed I had found someone who was able to pick up Joseph Campbell’s baton and turn some of the stories Campbell unearthed/highlighted in his studies into applicable advice.

I applauded his bloody-mindedness in opposing Canada’s bill C-60, mistaking it for a general resistance to our current SJW-tinged politically correct atmosphere in the Anglophone world.

I followed his doings and watched/listened to a lot of his lectures. Some of them had some real nuggets of truth in them, but then some quite didn’t hit the mark on my own understanding of things – such as his Bible lecture series.

I bought 12 Rules for Life and lapped it up, but still something wasn’t quite right, something I couldn’t put my finger on. But most of the advice, on its surface, was fairly pedestrian, and would appear to be a good starting point for those who might be truly lost.

(I must admit, his rule about petting cats just didn’t strike me as being altogether wise and might belie some hidden psychosis in the man. Okay, I am biased against cats, but, then there was the bit about taking pills, and inviting a crazy person to live with his young family, and then, and then…)

I had bought and was poised to read Maps of Meaning when I accidentally came across Vox Day’s critiques of JBP.

I had already read SJWs Always Lie and SJWs Always Double Down, but was unaware that Vox Day maintained a long-running blog. And in his blog, he pointed to Peterson’s involvement with Agenda 21-style UN work.

I followed the links and, yes, it was true. Which immediately got my spidey sense tingling.

And Vox Day has managed to point out what it was that wasn’t quite right.

As someone who had dabbled in the occult in my misspent youth, I was very familiar with some of the teachings of Alistair Crowley, and Vox Day has managed to point to the Crowleyan/Blavatskyist subtext of some of the 12 Rules. Once that filter was placed upon Peterson’s work, it became very clear to me that underneath the unassuming prairie golly-gee-whizness of Peterson’s delivery, there possibly lurks something darker.

Read the book for the details. Well worth it.

My only critique is the prodigious use of comments from JBP’s fanboys and ex-fanboys, but Vox Day defends this decision well in one of his recent blog posts.

I never did get around to reading Maps of Meaning.

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Brexit means…

You get to realise that someone you looked up to as a friend for the past 20+ years is a complete and utter dick.

There is someone whom I have considered one of the few people in my life that I could count on as a friend. We met when I was stationed in Portugal, and we shared a love of music, wine, and good, intelligent conversation.

He was always a lefty, but someone who (I thought) could accept that good people can disagree on things – even very important things.

He is the only person in my life that I would (have) spontaneously hop on a plane to be at his 50th birthday party at the behest of his missus, as she knew how much it would mean to him to see me (and vice versa).

We have mainly kept in touch via Facebook over the years.

And the content of his Facebook postings of the past couple of years is one of the (many) reasons I’ve decided to stop using Facebook. He went full anti-Brexit and full Trump Derangement Syndrome. And I didn’t want to come to dislike him.

As it came to pass, my wife – who still uses Facebook – came across some rather…erm…robust conversation regarding Brexit on his timeline. Particularly a bunch of emoting from a Brazilian woman who has lived here for 20 years and works at an NHS hospital.

The Brazilian woman said she would be meeting up with other non-UK nationals and working on ‘resistance’ to Brexit. She was also quite robust in calling all Brexit voters xenophobes and racists and moaning about how she wouldn’t have a say in a ‘People’s Vote’.

My wife asked a couple of pointed questions (summarised):

  1. If you’ve been here for 20 years, why didn’t you get a passport?
  2. What do you mean by ‘resistance’? Do you mean to do violence?

She also pointed out that the optics of foreigners advocating for overturning a democratic decision in a country where they didn’t have citizenship didn’t look so good, and might elicit the sort of ‘racist/xenophobic’ reaction they say they are afraid of.

Rather than get a direct answer to either of those two questions above, she was subject to a lot of vitriol and impugning of her motives.

No worries, she defends herself fine enough.

But what has really pissed me off is the way in which one of my best friends in the world joined in on the pile-on by twisting everything my wife wrote in a really manipulative way.

It has confirmed to me that he has gone full retard, and doesn’t even consider the amount of respect she had (via me) for him.

I am really disappointed. Someone I love has drunk the SJW Kool-Aid, and now, I don’t think I have a friend in the world.

The mass hypnosis is well underway. Whatever happens over the coming few years is not going to be pretty.

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. Matthew 10:34-36

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What in the Hell are They Thinking?

What in the hell are they thinking?

I read lately of crackdowns on online hate speech by the police. Amber Rudd (our illustrious home secretary) is proposing putting people in jail for looking at “far-right” web sites. Police forces don’t have the budgets to police Remembrance Day. But they have the resources to watch what we are saying online. Or to paint their nails blue in remembrance of slavery.

Children get maimed and killed at a concert, various other attacks take place, and all they can do is bleat concerns about Islamophobia. Light a candle, stick a teddy bear and some flowers on the site of the latest atrocity (and the next one, and the next one, etc.), say something about thoughts and prayers, and get on with your life.

Keep your head down, and listen to the soothing tone as the BBC and the government ask you “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” (Apologies to Marx.)

Because if you open up your eyes, and really take it in, you will want to scream…

The longer they tamp the anger down; the more they subvert the will of the majority; the more they deny the very real issues that are going on in the country; and the more they arrest people for having an unapproved opinion about it, the more likely they make it so that the only outcome is violence.

The mob has been known to rise up; it can be argued that the mob has been the cause of many self-corrections to the British State over the millennia, giving us what, up until recently, was probably one of the most evolved constitutions in the world.

What in the hell are they thinking? Is that what they want?

I’m beginning to wonder…

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Why I am not on Facebook Right Now

I have decided to more or less shut off the information stream that is Facebook. The noise has been getting too much to bear. I’m afraid that people I love may get hurt by my, most certainly, minority opinions on most things. And that goes for partisans on both (all?) sides of the issues that are currently getting up people’s asses. I tend to agree and disagree with most everyone and usually for counterintuitive reasons.

That is, I may agree with you or disagree with you, but my reasoning – the intellectual route through which I derived my opinion – will be completely different from yours or those of your run-of-the-mill opponent. Not to say it is better, just different.

Facebook doesn’t lend itself well to having intelligent conversations with people. Blogging lends itself better to the conversations we should be having. It is more measured and more nuanced. So when I see people getting all het up about an issue on Facebook, and I care enough to write about it, I shall be doing it here.

I spent a lot of my teen to adult life watching the fringes, following a lot of alternative press and (eventually) web sites (who here remembers Usenet?), and not just those locally printed rags packed with entertainment listings and personals that passed for “alternative” throughout the 80s and 90s. I was going to where not very many people go and wouldn’t even know existed. [Note 1]

I also read Manufacturing Consent by Noam Chomsky and Edward Hermann at an early point in my intellectual formation. Whether you agree with their politics or not, or the specific examples they give in the book, they were spot on about the uses of the mass media to manipulate the dominant cultural narrative.

From this book, which I read circa 1991-2, I learned early to watch the mainstream press and analyse it in a way that I could begin to surmise the story that wasn’t being told just by the omissions, or to figure out who the next national bogeyman would be. From watching the mainstream media and its treatment of the militia movement, I eerily predicted that something like the Oklahoma City Bombing was about to happen – much to the dismay of my first wife when it did happen and I said “toldya so”.

When I see a piece of reporting (even where I agree with the bias of the reporting), I ask myself: what isn’t being asked here? If I see a statistic, and I care enough about the story, I immediately start doing sums in my head to figure out just how intense the situation is that the statistic may imply.

Because I know there is bias in every bit of reporting. From the way the paragraphs are arranged to the supporting photos and graphics. The BBC News web site is not set up by a bunch of amateurs. Even if the editors are junior and nowhere near the broadcast news, they are learning the tools of propaganda from the masters and every nuance of the layout and writing is considered before it is published, particularly on stories that have partisan views.

Most people don’t see bias in mainstream reporting except to maybe have some vague idea about corporate advertising and sponsorship. But really, our perceptions are part of the reality that is being manufactured by the self-same media and by (some) people whose motivations are more than just corporate. The effect of these people has been to manufacture a type of groupthink with two sides about things, about what we call news.

(If you really want to go down the rabbit hole and begin unplugging from the matrix, google Antonio Gramsci, the Frankfurt School, Critical Theory, and the Long March Through the Institutions. This is what has formed our modern mainstream narrative on culture and politics – and I’ve even seen it be said that Trump is the unintended manifestation of all these people and movements. I find that difficult to disagree when “Alternative Facts” is something straight out of the Frankfurt School or the Saul Alinsky playbook.)

When one doesn’t really care what’s happening halfway around the world, or even in the ghettoised part of one’s own city, one will take the mainstream media’s views on it and move on to one’s own immediate concerns, such as “where am I going to go to dinner this weekend”, “how late should I stay at work”, or “what school is my child going to get into”.

And one will ponder (or not) on even these quotidian things, without realising that even these seemingly trifling issues are influenced by larger cultural and political forces, as well as cognitive biases that were either put there via one’s brain’s wiring, one’s family upbringing, the education one had, and the media one has been exposed to.

Most people go through their lives never questioning standardised thinking – this is not a judgment, just an observation. Also, many (most?) people appear to have never really examined their own opinions or how they came to them – sometimes (most times?) those opinions are derived because some clever-looking bloke on the telly (or the Interwebs, or the radio) said it was so, so it must be. And many (most?) people mistake opinions for facts.

(As they used to say back home: Opinions are like Camaros, everybody has one.)

And if you are watching something on the news and you think it is unbiased – it’s not. The viewpoint of the story just happens to align with your own worldview, which was probably put there by that self-same news organisation.

And at the end of the day, most issues are more nuanced than the space that a news broadcast or a web page may allow. I try to read a lot of analytical pieces as well as books, from all points of the spectrum. I try to find out the facts, and then have an opinion about them (which isn’t to say I do get knee-jerk reactions to things).

And I also know that when a news source claims to be unbiased, it is full of shit. Give me Mother Jones, Breitbart, Disinfo or Infowars over the BBC, CNN, Sky, and, yes, Fox News.

I read and listen to people I don’t agree with because I may just learn something from them. Most of my thinking on things at the moment has come about because I am willing to do this. And I know that what I think on any given issue right now is different from what I thought when I was younger, and I may just change my mind on a few things again, a few times, by the time this trip is over.

As Mohammed Ali said: “A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.”

We do live in interesting times. But Facebook and Twitter are not the best way to document them. I see (hope for?) a resurgence of blogging. It is the best format for dealing with interesting times. Podcasting is such a one-way medium, which, despite its popularity, is maybe not the best way to engage with these interesting times. Besides, who would want to listen to me rant on a podcast?

So, if you want to engage with me on the issues of the day, come over here – hell feel free to randomly ask my opinion on anything in the comments and I may end up doing a post on it. I ain’t doing it on Facebook any more, if I can help it.

And if I don’t get a chance to say Happy Birthday to you on Facebook, it is not because I don’t care about you. It is because Facebook drains a lot of energy that could be spent writing things and searching new stuff out – the sort of stuff that might just make me a more interesting, and better, friend.


Note 1: The 90s, before Internet saturation, held a great wealth of alternative thinking both on and off the Internet.

I had a side-hobby: The Rev Ivan Stang, the creator of the Church of the SubGenius [See Note 2], wrote a fantastic book called High Weirdness by Mail, wherein he put together a long list of addresses for enthusiasts, nutters, and cretins who would send you pamphlets, hand-written letters, and even free merchandise detailing their offbeat or twisted worldviews if you sent them a self-addressed stamped envelope. I used up a lot of stamps and envelopes. It was a lot more fun than trawling the Internet for them is nowadays.

Alongside this, I picked up any ‘zine I could find whenever I walked into alternative bookstores.

Although I would never be convinced of any one group’s worldview, I gained an appreciation for the fact that my way of looking at the world was not shared by everyone else.


Note 2: Disclosure, I became an ordained minister in the Church of the SubGenius around about 1992-3. It is the world’s only for-profit religious institution (it refuses to seek charitable status). It will ordain you for the paltry sum of $30. Its mad mix of satire, clip art, radio shows, conspiracy theory, and just plain weirdness went a long way in de-programming me from a lot of the evangelical bible-thumping stuff I grew up around.

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An Alternative for Refugees

I posted the following on my Facebook feed after watching all the pearl-clutching and crying over the fate of refugees under Trump. Couldn’t help it, and maybe I’ll start blogging again, now. Facebook does not really offer an appropriate platform for the long form and I feel I have a lot to say lately.


I am no stranger to the vagaries of the US Immigration system.

My wife of (then) 9 years applied for a green card and was rejected because I had done so well living overseas that there was no guarantee that she wouldn’t move to the US to take advantage of their generous welfare state unless I could post $67,000 into a US bank account (which I could not do unless we sold our house). This, at a time when there was strong bipartisan support in Congress for legalising illegals. i.e., sending the illegals to the front of the queue when rejecting the spouses of actual US citizens for legal immigration.

I, honestly, feel for those who may not be able to get visas for refugee status either in the States or here in the UK; I have experienced it. But you know what? I ain’t going to start cutting onions just because they have been temporarily removed from the front of the queue.

And if (the collective) we really give a sh** about people living in other countries and the improvement of the conditions in those countries, here is a prescription:

1. Open up free trade with those countries (something that is damn near impossible here in the UK, within the framework of EU trade policy, which is all about protecting German manufacturing and French agriculture)

2. Stop giving aid money to foreign governments. When we give money to a foreign government, we take away their impetus to create wealth, and a healthy tax base, locally. When we send our donations of goods and food to international charities we undermine local, job-creating businesses – such as small manufacturers and farmers.

If we must provide aid, it should be along the lines of helping other countries establish the institutional infrastructure to support a market economy. Don’t give a man a fish, teach a man to fish.

3. Stop stealing their best and brightest to do the work our own people are “too lazy to do”. Pay a bit more for those jobs here and I guarantee that you will find local people willing to do the work. As long as there is a steady stream of migrant labour ready to take the lower wages, there is no pressure on employers to pay more; and wages go down for everyone when this happens.

(And while I’m on the subject – do you want to see a “living wage”? Then stop taxing people on minimum wage. Our untaxed minimum wage has pretty much the same take-home value as the “Living Wage” being proposed here in the UK.)

4. Stop bombing the sh** out of their countries or arming the factions fighting in their countries. It would be far better for them than if we allowed them to come here.

Anyway, just the view from an unfeeling, uncaring conservative minarchist with a class warrior chip on his shoulder.

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A Suspension of Disbelief…

Time to start blogging again.

I’ve just been watching The Last Exorcism Part II, wherein a New Orleans Voodoo priestess plays a pivotal part. Which got me thinking…

I am a faithful sceptic. I believe in a God; a creative, intelligent force that keeps order in this universe and gives laws. So far, the Jewish God, as described by Dennis Prager in his Verse-by-verse Torah Study series makes the most sense to me. (Trust me: that is a big deal coming from me, someone who was born and steeped in the Christian tradition, with a particularly evangelical Protestant influence on my upbringing.)

This may alienate a few of the very very few readers of this blog who may reject the concept of a higher power, but so be it. But if you listen to Mr. Prager and his references to other Jewish scholars of the Talmud (and more recent times) about what the words actually mean to the preachers and practitioners of Judaism (which eliminates the mumbo-jumbo and literal blind faith of much of evangelical Protestantism’s literal interpretations of the King James Version of the Torah), then there is rhyme and reason to the Creator, and there are no fundamental conflicts between the symbolism of the Torah (particularly the creation story) and Science (with a capital S).

Although renouncing my US citizenship was a big step (see posts passim), I am not quite ready to renounce the faith of my upbringing …yet. Although the Jews do look like they know how to party.

I said that I was a faithful sceptic. That means that at most times, I am willing to suspend disbelief to expose myself to new ways of thinking about how the world works. I’ve dabbled in a bit of Wicca and other Neo-Pagan practices, a little Taoism and Buddhism, a very little ceremonial Magick, active Atheism, and the 12 Steps; I’ve prayed with Muslims, done guided meditations with others… you name it, I have probably challenged my belief systems with it.

Most recently, I was confirmed in the Church of England (c. 2005) after a debate with my wife on the evils of religion in general. She had been pointing out the latest Jihadist attacks saying that all religion was bad and unthinking. I defended the faith of C.S. Lewis and decided it was time to nail my colours to the mast*.

My faithful scepticism doesn’t mean I allow myself to be brainwashed, though that has happened, at times (I spent five years in my early 20s as a poster child for AA). It does mean, though, that when presented with an opportunity for new experiences which question how I regard the way the world works, I tend not to turn them down, which is how I was exposed to a bit of bastardised Candomblé.


About 18 years ago, I was living in Portugal. I had a two-bedroom flat, in a very nice location in the centre of town. A very dear friend of mine told me that his girlfriend (they are still together after that much time and three children) had a Brazilian friend who was going through a very rough divorce and was in danger of being homeless, and would I mind putting her up for a bit in my spare room; she would cook and clean in return for a roof over her head. No problem, I said, let her stay at my place.

Thus was born AGR’s Home for Wayward Women; I eventually adopted one other poor soul (a very sweet 17-year-old mixed-race Portuguese girl who worked as a waitress at one of the beach bars I frequented at the time) who had been turfed out by her mother in favour of her mother’s then-boyfriend. I shall save that story for another time, though.

S., (we shall call her that for the remainder of this post) the Brazilian woman, happened upon me in my usual (at the time) wanton state. I was going through a divorce and acting out about it. I kept myself in a constant state of drunkenness and was sleeping with anyone who would say “yes” to me. I had acquired a bit of a reputation as both a bon vivant and a ladykiller, and a woman hater. I used to quip that my favourite phrase in Portuguese was: “Tens preservativo?” (Use Google Translate for Gods’ sake!)

S. had determined that I was in need of spiritual sustenance, so she called upon a personal favour to repay my hospitality: she brought a Candomblé bruxa she knew into the house to perform an exorcism of the negative vibes emanating from me.

Over a couple of hours I was exposed to a Tarot reading, a reading of tea leaves, a reading of bones, a load of candles being lit about the house, salt lining each window sill and door frame, and protective pentagrams being drawn in chalk at each sill and frame. Thus the bastardisation I referred to, using modern New Age/Neo Pagan practices, followed by the Candomblé bit, which may be difficult for many Anglos to follow, as it was very strange.

She gave me a packet full of herbs and barks, told me to run a warm bath with them in it and submerse myself in it (buck naked). When I was ready, I was to stand up in the bath and call her into the bathroom. So I called her in. She used a wooden bowl and would fill it up with water, herbs, and barks, and call down the Orixas to protect me and look over me whilst she essentially baptised me in the mixture. Then she lit a cigar, and blew smoke over every inch of my body except the parts that were underwater (my feet and ankles), whilst chanting various incantations that sounded more African than Portuguese.

I can’t say that my evil spirits were exorcised, but I did feel an overwhelming calmness as I emerged from the experience. And she assured me that the Orixas were protecting me and that I would be all right (at the time, I was quite sceptical of reaching the age of 30, given the amount of “good times” I was having).

I don’t know whether I was possessed by evil spirits or not. I do know that I had a darkness about me and my mien. After the ceremony(ies), she assured me I was protected and that the evil spirits had left me. I felt serene (for the first time in a long time) upon her departure, for possibly no other reason than that I was willing to suspend disbelief temporarily. Once upon a time…

And so I choose to suspend disbelief whenever I can; because I never know what might come of it.


*I am now reconsidering, given the behaviour of so-called fellow followers when it came to a problem I had with sex ed for year 5s in the local CofE school; I haven’t been back to Church since. If my fellow members in the body of Christ can’t stand up for themselves, would they ever stand up for me? Fuck ‘em, I say, after a particularly virulent campaign of gossip against me and my daughter. And in the space of 5 years of my wife more than occasionally attending church with us, she was only witnessed to once. Fuck ‘em. Church is a club for them, nothing more, and I want nothing to do with that kind of club.

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Pet Peeves – Issues Surrounding Coffee

The following might have you thinking me a miserable git, or nodding in vigorous agreement. These are actually two different pet peeves, but revolving around the same substance: Coffee…

Coffee Pet Peeve Number 1: Coffee-flavoured milk drinks

There are a few aspects to this pet peeve that drive me nuts:

  1. Most things that people buy in “coffee shops” are not coffees but coffee-flavoured milk drinks. That is the first strike against people who order such products. Neither a latte, a cappuccino, a white americano, nor a flat white are coffees. They are coffee-flavoured milk drinks. Coffee makes up approximately 20% of these drinks at best. Do not call them a coffee.
  2. If you like cappuccinos you do not like coffee. You are not a coffee lover if you partake of these products.
  3. In order to receive the double espresso or the black filter coffee that I require, which each take about 10 seconds to prepare, I have to stand in the queue behind people ordering coffee-flavoured milk drinks, which inevitably postpones the enjoyment of why I walked into the coffee shop in the first place.
  4. The typical coffee-flavoured milk drink customer’s indecision on what flavouring (!!!) they want added to their drink as well as the time it takes to warm up the milk and the intense concentration of the barista when he makes shapes on the surface of the finished product have me tearing my hair out in frustration.
  5. And God forbid if one has only 15 minutes to catch one’s train but ends up getting stuck behind four female pensioners who decide they want just a “little treat” or some such from the platform coffee shop. It is agonising. I once stood in a queue with only one party of four in front of me, and abandoned it after 10 minutes because they all wanted coffee-flavoured milk drinks with added flavourings.
  6. If you want hot amaretto-and-coffee-flavoured drinks why don’t you go across the street to the pub and order a Kahlua and amaretto and tell them to nuke it in the microwave for about 30 seconds? You’ll be good to go, and feel better for it. And you’d make my life more pleasant, as it would make way for people who actually like coffee.
  7. Because people don’t like coffee, but rather coffee-flavoured milk drinks, the quality of the beans in most chain shops is deplorable. Why should the chains care about decent-tasting coffee when most of their customers don’t like coffee?

[Oh and don’t I remember the late 90s when I first moved here and all you Brit sorts were making fun of my American accent by using the phrase “decaff skinny latte” with nasal tones at an attempt at some sort of ironic humour. The joke’s on you, buddy boy: Thanks to the hegemony of American culture (a la “Friends”) I only ever hear those words spoken with English accents without the slightest hint of post-modern irony. Hah!]


Coffee Pet Peeve Number 2: The office coffee ritual

As with above, there is more than one aspect to this. And if it makes me an unsociable bastard, then so be it.

  1. The offer to get coffee for everyone in the office. I hate this. I drink coffee when I want to, not when someone else decides they want one. As a consequence, I only ever buy coffee for myself, usually on my return to the office from some other location in the building. I do not make a point of coming back to the office to ask everyone else if they want one.
  2. And just because you ask me every time you go (and I never avail myself of your services), it does not give you the right to look hurt or shake your head in disdain at me if I got a coffee and didn’t ask you for one. I never asked you to ask me if I want a coffee: I have no expectation of you nor obligation to you; I should be given the same courtesy!
  3. And don’t say you do it because you’re naturally polite, you do it because it is “what is done” and you do not want to be seen colouring outside of the lines for fear of being considered an unsociable git like me. Get over it.
  4. Following on from the concept of people getting coffee for everyone in the office, is the people who go to the free coffee machine with one of those contraptions that holds multiple cups of liquid at once so that they can get coffee for up to ten people at a time.
  5. Whoever came up with the idea of the multiple free coffee cup should be shot, and whoever got the idea to include these contraptions in the catalogue for office supplies should be drawn and quartered.
  6. If I come and stand in the queue behind you and you have one of thes contraptions and I don’t, chances are I only want one coffee from the machine. If you are still pouring your first of ten, why don’t you stand aside and make way for someone who needs one shot from the caffeine delivery system. It ain’t that hard, and if you have time to pour ten coffees, you are not in a hurry.
  7. If you are curious as to why this coffee snob would deign to use the free coffee machine, see point number 7 from the first section…Occasionally I find it necessary to use the free coffee machine at work, because the coffee from the coffee shop is bad. And it is inconsistently bad, never tasting the same twice. At least I can rely on the consistency of poor quality from the machine. (I once worked directly for a the board level guy in charge of facilities for a large corporation. He loved it when the coffee in the free vend machine was atrocious; less people used it and he spent less money.)

Anyway, I don’t mind being considered unsociable as long as it brings a little sunshine to my life by being left alone.

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