Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Iran’s Terrorist Allies the First to Benefit From Nuclear Deal

Iran’s Terrorist Allies the First to Benefit From Nuclear Deal: pPresident Obama did everything he could to convince Israelis not to reelect Benjamin Netanyahu. But a position paper just issued by Israel’s chief opposition party makes it clear that on the issue that most separates the U.S. from Israel—the Iran nuclear deal—there isn’t all that much daylight between the Likud and the Zionist Union parties. […]/p

22nd June 2011: A Century of Pain

Taken from my book A Century of Pain; the Can Wu trilogy.

22nd June 2011
The artist Ai Weiwei is finally free but yesterday, as he took his first steps towards freedom, he looked reluctant and scared of saying too much to the reporters waiting outside his home and I can’t blame him if he does keeps silence for a long time. He’s free but his freedom is an illusion as he so well knows -and if he says the wrong thing he will disappear again and this time he might not be so lucky. There are others still waiting for their freedom, men and women that are being tortured for no reason at all but contempt of a corrupt and evil government, and those unknown names will never taste freedom. Mr. Weiwei fought for their freedom and almost paid with his life. Now it’s time for someone else to do the fighting but the people need some help from above. Shall we pray together and see if the power of our prayers can make things better?

Free at last
Free at last
In the land of gags.
The freedom I have
Is a mere illusion
That can come apart with
The blow of a whistle.
My house is a prison
But at least I’m next
To the ones I love.
My life is a lie
Even if I know the truth.
I want to shout
But I’ve got to keep quiet.
I want to scream
But they have imposed silence on me.
I want to tell you all
But I’m forbidden to do so.

Free at last?

Chekhov - from Chasing the Ghost

My first novel Chasing the Ghost is out now on Amazon. A novel set in Japan it tells the story of a writer who sets out on a road trip through Japan to find out if his daughter really died two years ago. Here's an extract from it;


I always dreamt of writing a book about Chekhov or maybe just a short story about him, not for publication or for others to read but for myself. And not just about Chekhov, the writer, but Chekhov, the man, the doctor, and I would like to even write about his childhood.
Before the writer existed there was a child in his place, a child who couldn’t even imagine what the future held for him.
Chekhov was a sad boy. Unlike me, he had a tough upbringing, was brought up in a very religious and strict home, a home too strict and religious for my taste. I think his father or grandfather was the kind of person who used religion to make those around him miserable, always wanting to force his ideas and beliefs on others, no matter how insane or farfetched those ideas and beliefs were, a man out of touch with reality, who didn’t know that true religion is love; love one another. The kind of man who pretended to love G-d, who behaved like a gentleman around aristocrats, but away from the prying eye he disciplined his children with verbal abuse and violent beatings.
As a child Anton (Chekhov) was forced to attend endless masses, dreaming of who knows what while in there, forced to sing in the church choir; something he absolutely hated but he had no saying in it, forced to be someone he didn’t want to be, and all of that made him feel like a convict. His childhood kind of reminds me of something out of a Dickens story.
I could write a story about that boy, that sad little boy who grew up to be a great man in the face of all obstacles, the son of a serf who became a doctor and a writer, but I don’t know where to start. And does the world, or even I, need another short story about Chekhov?
I could write about his life as a doctor, his fight against tuberculosis, his private life, but just like those writers before me what I would write wouldn’t be the truth but only speculation.
In the spring of 1890 Chekhov travelled to the penal colony on the island of Sakhalin, an island that has belonged both to Russia and Japan. The journey there was an arduous one, especially for an already sick Chekhov, but he never complained about it (but who knows what he said at night alone in his room?). As he travelled to Sakhalin he wrote some of his best stuff, all in the form of letters, but he hardly wrote a thing while staying in the island, taking instead mental notes of everything around him, of the degradation around him, of the tears of those who had less, the ones who had lost their way. He spent months interviewing thousands of convicts, listening patiently and judging no one, and he even wrote a book about it with the hope of arousing public interest in the suffering of not only the convicts but also all those who had been affected by their actions; victims and family who had to live with the shame and pain.
Nobody cared about the book and even less about the suffering of others.
More than a century later the world remains the same.
We pretend to care about others but we don’t. Chekhov did.

That’s why I always wanted to write a story about him (but I won’t).

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The treacherous one

As usual I enjoyed my latest trip to Oxford with the family. So much to see, good restaurants to go to, and books to buy. On this latest trip, I went to the Oxford University Press bookshop where I bought three books, one of them being Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Reading through some of it, I came across this entry on Book 2:

Say to yourself at the start of the day, I shall meet with meddling, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, and unsociable people. They are subject to all these defects because they have no knowledge of good and bad. But I, who have observed the nature of good, and seen that it is the right; and of the bad, and seen that it is the wrong; and of the wrongdoer himself, and seen that his nature is akin to my own – not because he is of the same blood and seed, but because he shares as I do in mind and thus in a portion of the divine – I, then, can neither be harmed by these people, nor become angry with one who is akin to me, nor can I hate him, for we have come into being to work together, like feet, hands, eyelids, or like the two rows of teeth in our upper and lower jaws. To work against one another is therefore contrary to nature; and to be angry with another person and turn against him is surely to work against him.

I do work with some envious, good-for-nothing people, the kind of human beings that will stab you in the back if given the chance for it, and I’ve also seen that these unsociable people get nothing good out of life for the simple reason that they give nothing good to life. Life gives but life also wants something back, and if you give good, life will pay you back, but if you give bad, life will definitely pay you back.

All the envious, treacherous people at my workplace always end up leaving, and before they leave they show how nasty they are, their true colours. They are given the chance to be part of a team, to work in harmony with others, but not knowing right from wrong, they choose to start arguments, and they tell lies and spread rumours, until they are finally caught. These people forget that a lie has a short life. But there’s always one that stays behind, one liar, one treacherous creature that tries to survive against the odds.
Yes, I could try to work with this person but how can you work with someone who wishes you harm?
You can’t.
All you can do is step back and watch that person land flat on his/her face.
You could try to lend them Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations but those people don’t read books. They are too busy hating.

My book This is Not the End is available on Amazon

Monday, 6 April 2015

The End

Extract from Anhedonia, my first collection of short stories, released in 2012

The end

I was in the kitchen eating wonton with noodles, listening to the rain as it fell down softly from the sky, and I was also reading a book by the Japanese poet Bashō.
You were here too but you were in the living room, and I could hear music blasting from the stereo, my stereo, and you were pacing around the room like a madman, a beast, as if you had a cactus up your ass and couldn’t stand still for a minute. And where you quiet? The hell you were. You were talking loudly on the phone, you fool, so loud that I felt like shouting, “Turn the sound down and talk less loud!”
The noise and you, especially you, noisy you, were starting to get on my nerves. Before I met you my life was a sea of still waters where one could swim in peace or stand still and listen to one’s thoughts, but the moment you moved in with me my life became a tempest of wild waters and all I could hear was noise.
I looked around me as I ate. The kitchen was still in a mess from the previous night with cans of beers and dirty plates all over the place. For some reason you expected me, the woman of the house, the rightful owner, to clean up your mess.
I ate slowly. I read slowly. A poem needs to be read slowly so that one can take the same journey as the poet that wrote it.
You came into the kitchen, still talking loudly on the phone while Whitesnake’s 1987 was blasting out of my stereo; Coverdale’s high voice was singing Is This Love, and I knew that it definitely wasn’t love.
I watched you spill coffee grounds on the table and then you walked away without bothering to clean up your mess. You didn’t even ask if I wanted a cup of coffee. You used all my things, took everything without giving a thing back.
You never asked if I wanted anything because you only cared about yourself.
I finished eating. Sweat was pouring down my forehead. I grabbed a tissue and wiped it off. I made a cup of coffee and then I cleaned up your mess. When I went into the living room you were using my typewriter and your cup of coffee was standing on top of one of my manuscripts.
I became furious. I wanted to grab your neck and rip your head off, but instead I asked, “What are you doing?”
“Typing a letter for my mother,” you said without turning around.
You were always a mother’s boy, always running to mama whenever something went wrong, never capable of sorting anything on your own, and mama still did the laundry for you. You were a child in a man’s body.
I moved your cup away. I looked at my ruined manuscript and only then did you look my way. Poor you, you useless thing, you looked upset but had you put your selfishness aside you would have seen that I was the one that should have been upset; upset by the way you treated me and left my place in a mess.
You must have noticed something was wrong because you asked, “Are you okay?”
I said, “No, I’m not okay.” Pause. I looked at you and you looked at me and you looked like a fool and I don’t know how I looked. I knew I might as well say how I truly felt. Why lie and wait for changes that never come our way? “I’m not okay and neither are you.”
“What do you mean?” you asked and you leaned your elbow on my typewriter, my working tool, one of my most treasured possessions, a typewriter that my father had given to me.
And then I told you everything; what an idiot you were, a selfish, lazy, repugnant man, only good for one thing (“oh baby, do it, give to me,”) but I would rather use my fingers to achieve pleasure than to have you hanging around for another day.
Your face turned red. The truth is hard to take. I waited for a reaction but you knew I was right so you just walked away. I still had to clean up your mess, you, useless you, you dumb piece of shit.
The next day you left. Good riddance, you pig. At the door you said, “You poets are all crazy.”
You went back to mama, oh little you, how old are you? Thirty five? Still want a bit of mama’s milk?
I cleaned all traces of you.
I erased you out of my life.
I sat down in front of my beloved typewriter and wrote all this down.

Then I went out for a walk and I felt so happy for being on my own.