Rest in peace in an unusual setting

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Do you ever think how you would like to be buried when you depart this world?

Finding a random place to go for an afternoon stroll on Sunday, near where we live in Brittany, we chanced upon an incredible place. At first I wondered what it was, there were quite a number of park benches…was it a picnic area?  After all it looked out on a beautiful scene, a wonderful estuary; with sailing boats moored and the sound ship masts clanging.

There were mementos surrounding trees.  It became clear after a time, it was garden of remembrance. Some had surrounded their dead loved ones with photographs, of happier times gone by.  Some had attached wind chimes to the tree.  Others had placed plastic windmills, which gave a kitsch effect.

It was so unexpected to chance upon this place.  My little son who has no inkling of what death is about, ran and rolled down the hill, showing no respect…but on the other hand I wondered if those buried in this incredible area of land from their spiritual planes might appreciate his vivacity and exuberance…from above.

This place was so different from a typical grave yard.  The fact that each plot has a tree and its own personalized decoration and is in such a wonderful setting, rather than the forlorn image most graveyards give.  Driving back to our house we passed the depressing looking graveyard, shadowed by a tall industrial tower, I am sorry but I don’t want to end up there, put me in the Les Jardins de Mémoire, 19 Rue du Reclus, 56400 Auray, that’s the place to be

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I is for If I could speak my mind to these people I would say…

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First all to politicians, who persist in ordering  air forces to bomb the hell out of innocent people,  thinking it will make for a better world,  or to rid the world of terrorism…no  you just continue the cycle of hatred, you create more terrorists, we are going nowhere with this. You can’t blow up an ideology,  you would be better off trying to re-educate those who follow it, and give them less reason to follow it. You bomb them, they bomb innocent people back ( as seen with Brussels).

To all Religious extremists,  listen what if the God you believe in is in reality nothing like the one you have blind faith in? How do we know the God the Christians believe in, the God the Muslims believe in…etc etc is totally different to the God they imagine?  What if there is no God?  If there is a God, would this being really humans to go around killing one another in its name?  Do you really think killing innocent people, including women and children  is a way to get to heaven? It is a way of creating Hell on earth, but no way does it endorse any Godly superior being.  If you put on a suicide belt and blow yourself up, you have stopped thinking , you have lost your sense of reasoning, you have been duped into killing people, you are dead in your head long before you blow yourself up, creating carnage around.

To Donald Trump, for God’s sake man,  give this pursuit of power up, before  you make an even bigger fool of yourself and drag the world into oblivion.  Mocking a disabled reporter,  threatening to punch a protester,  running a scam university, filing for corporate bankruptcy four times, in 1991, 1992, 2004 and 2009, hardly makes for a credible presidential candidate…does it? Where is this all going?

To Kim Jongun,  what are you trying to prove ? Threatening blast the US off the face of the earth while your people starve. Do  you want to go down in history as the mad dictator who brought about  oblivion.  I didn’t bring a son into this world for some oversized crazed dictator to destroy it…hopefully!

Who would you like to speak your mind to???

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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E is for Egon Sheiller and Edvard Munch.

E finished and completed

Egon Sheiller and Edvard Munch, were not only great painters, their lives were fraught with difficulties, which no doubt had a strong baring on their powerful work.

Egon Sheiller, the Austrian painter  had a life tainted by  controversy, and caused uproar and outrage with his raw, universalized approach to the nude and his leaning towards highly erotic paintings, at a time when people were far more puritanical. He dropped out of Art College due to the fact he did not appreciate his tutors rigid approach. If you scrutinize his work it is evident he had a strident fascination and appetite for the female form.  Egon even landed himself in prison, accused of seducing a minor – the runaway daughter of a naval officer who had been seen, along with a number of other children, lingering outside his studio. Although the main charge proved unfounded and was subsequently dropped, Schiele was forced to spend 24 days in jail for exhibiting erotic material where minors were present. I guess even in modern times he would be seen a controversial figure.

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His time in prison brought about  twelve paintings, in which he expressed his trauma and angst of being locked up.  Concerning his erotic work he wrote in his diary, “I do not deny that I have made drawings and watercolors of an erotic nature. But they are always works of art. Are there no artists who have done erotic pictures?”Egon obviously packed a lot into his short life, dying aged 28 having contacted Spanish flu, his pregnant wife dying three day previously. A life filled with tragedy but an artist who painted great images and had a very distinctive style.

Edvard Munch also had an uneasy life, his mother died because she was infected with tuberculosis. Following this, his sister Sophie died with the same disease. Another sister of his was suffered from mental illness in the age of 15 years old. In the age of 30, his brother died because of Pneumonia. It is no surprise that his work began to revolve around sickness and death.  Munch was  in a constant battle to control his drinking problem and mental illness. Munch died on 23 January 1944 in Nazi-occupied Norway. Of course he is famous for his painting called “The Scream”.  It expresses something which we all need to do from time to time letting out all our anguish.

The Scream

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

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D is for death and the afterlife.

D Finished

 

What happens after we pass over to the other side? It is a question that dogs us as soon as we become conscious of what death  is all about.  Of course points of view on this subject are colored  by  the religion that a person follows.   It is a commonly banded about  idea that some Muslims  believe  they are promised 72 virgins,  upon entry to paradise,  particularly those who fight in the way of Allah.

What do Catholics believe? At the moment of death, the soul is separated from the body and no longer sustains order within the natural body; as a result, the body begins to corrupt and left to its own will decompose. The soul, however, is immortal and never ceases to exist, once created. Immediately upon death, the soul of each person is judged by the Lord, either to eternal life or the damnation of hell.

There must be many permutations depending on which religion a person follows. Buddhists give two permutations,  If you still have unresolved kamma (Sanskrit: karma), if the conditions for rebirth are present, “you” are reborn. Alternatively If you have achieved nibbana (Sanskrit: nirvana) during your life, you will have no more kamma, and so the conditions for the creation of the five clinging-aggregates will no longer be present. Consciousness will cease, activity in your brain will cease, and your body will decay. Meaning you will die, and that’s your lot.

The Buddhist  version of life after death,  seems to not only be more appealing than the threat of damnation in Hell  but also seems to  be more logical, as well giving a meaning to life, in that through a life we learn and develop until we reach the point whereby it is unnecessary to learn any more.

From my point of view it is only when we all finally embrace death itself  will this vexing question about what happens after death will finally be answered.  There are those who have recently had their quest  to answer this  question satisfied.  David Bowie is no longer with us, having succumbed to cancer.  He was the type of man a person might imagine could live forever, he was such a part of my life as surely he was for many others.  Is he now in some other dimension  working on celestial music? Has he been interacting with other departed souls,  other geniuses,  departed family  members of the Jones family  (Jones was his real family name).

In my book Flight of Destiny, I present an image of both Heaven and Hell. In my story cast from Hell,  a man is rejected by Hell (for being too good)  and is sent back in the guise of a woman to wreak havoc.  This is his take on Hell.

As you can tell, my expectations of hell were quickly dashed.It was far removed from William Blake’s famed illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, and it didn’t even remotely resemble a Brueghel painting.To my surprise, there was no evidence in Hell of people being  grievously punished. The slothful were not being goaded with burning coals. The gluttons were not being tormented with thirst and hunger.There were no hedonists being bathed in burning pitch and stinking brimstone, or envious individuals howling with grief over that which they could never possess. The proud were not being brought down.The covetous were not being denied. In fact, the damned seemed to be living in a modicum of comfort. I never detected any weeping, wailing or gnashing of teeth. The place, called by some gehenna, the bottomless pit, was admittedly no holiday camp, but things there had grown shoddy and dysfunctional. It would require major rehabilitation to scare even a child. Being lodged with fellow rejects was sobering experience, not unlike being in a holding center for suspected criminals, refugees or illegal immigrants.

This is his take on Heaven.

I took a last look survey of Hell. It looked like a vast airport terminal: vacuous, tedious, and hum-drum. By now I couldn’t wait to leave. By contrast, I have often tried to imagine Heaven. To me it would be one long party in a great vivant night club, not unlike this second life to which I was now looking forward to I closed my inner eye as instructed and waited while Charon transported me to earth’s dimension.

What happens after death, is the ultimate, unanswerable question.

Francis H Powell is a writer. His recently published book is Flight of Destiny, a book of 22 short stories.

http://theflightofdestiny.yolasite.com/

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Guns and other killing machines!

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It all started off with bashing people over the head with a rock, followed by using a club, throwing spears, bows and arrows, crossbows, pistols, canons, explosives, right up to a 50 megaton nuclear bomb. Over the course of history Man has tried to find more and more effective methods to kill one another.
I was struck by a quote by Jesse Hughes, the front man of Eagles of Death Metal who said “I know people will disagree with me but it just seems that God created men and women and that night guns made it equal, and I hate it that it is that way. I think the only way that my mind has been changed is that maybe until nobody has guns everybody has to have them”.

I am sure this man has been traumatized by what happened in Paris, who wouldn’t be. If you are a musician, starting a concert, there is no way in a million years you can imagine maniacs arriving firing guns randomly causing a massacre. You have to admire the group for the way three months after this shocking event, they went back to Paris to finish the concert that was so dramatically shortened. However Jesse Hughes’ thinking can perhaps be brought into question. It is true that the concert goers were at the mercy of the psychopathic killers who burst in with powerful weaponry and had no means of defending themselves.

However imagine if you went to concerts knowing that most of the concert goers were armed with rifles, pistols or whatever…That standing next to you there could be an extremist, a trigger happy crazy guy hungry, for violence, a totally unhinged person, all of whom have freely been given the right to buy firearms in order to “protect themselves”. Put guns into the hands of everybody and people will be dying in far larger numbers and on a regular basis. Having said this it is obvious that measures should be implemented that ensure that what happened at the Bataclan is never repeated.

Everybody walking around in bullet proof vests would be a preferable solution rather than permit everybody walking around with guns. Sadly we have to face the fact that in Europe any major city can be attacked at any moment. We are reliant on the security services to intercept, decode, messages and derail any threats. What can be done in large concert spaces? Train security guards to use guns…have a police marksmen at any major event. There will need to be a system in place to protect people at important events.

Meanwhile the world in general seems to be a far less safer place, not that it has ever been a really safe place in my life time. We have rogue state North Korea, trying to show off to the world that it can do whatever the hell it likes. Testing an H bomb (theoretically) recently, firing a rocket, the only country that could make this errant country step into line is China, but they seem loathed to do so. Strong words might be uttered against their actions, but the threat remains constant, that their deluded “leader” Kim Jong-un, might go too far and try to pull off some crazy stunt that would tip the world into an Armageddon state.

Kim Jong-un is just one menace, but what is going on in Syria, also does not bode well for the continuation of the human race. We have arrived at a particularly dangerous moment in history. The possible illegal ground invasion of Syria by Turkey and Saudi Arabia could ignite a conflict engulfing the great powers that could spin out of control.

Added to this we have ISIS, or whatever name these morons  are labeled with, an organization, with evil on a par with the Nazis, an organization with warped ideology and a propensity to kill and destroy. They hate the West and wish to re-impose a world more akin to Middle Ages, with barbarity that has ceased to exist in the West.

The method of attack has gone far beyond throwing a rock at an adversary’s head, countries/politicians, the military have to consider the fact that they will send the human race over the abyss. Our only hope is that we end this perpetual cycle of hatred.

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Men watch out for Black Widows!

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You come home from work, perhaps your loving wife greets you with a kiss. The smell of the dinner your wife has prepared wafts from the kitchen. You exchange small talk and sit down for dinner. The food looks good and wholesome…but there’s a catch…your wife has only gone and laced it with arsenic…you have succumbed to a Black widow.

There are quite a number of them out there… Back in the mid 1860s, we encounter Lydia Sherman who was facing life with an unemployed husband and six dependent children. She found the idea of getting divorced as unappealing, her answer lay in poison a cheap and easy solution. So she served her husband a bowl of oatmeal gruel laced with arsenic. Following this, she gave arsenic-laced chocolate to her six children and calmly collected the insurance money.

On to pastures new Lydia found a wealthy farmer considerably older than her. She didn’t bide her time she poisoned his clam chowder a year later.
After hitting the marriage trail again she just couldn’t help but poison her third husband for good measure. Between 1864 and 1871, Lydia Sherman dispatched 10 people to an early grave. Dubbed “The Derby Poisoner,” “America’s Queen Poisoner,” or “Connecticut’s ‘Lucrezia Borgia’,” Lydia Sherman was accused of murder in 1871. She escaped the gallows because women were not sentenced to death at the time. Instead, she received the maximum penalty of life in prison.

Gesche Gottfried, seemingly a sweet attractive blond had men flocking to her doorstep, only to choose a loser alcoholic called Mittenberg, a handsome yet unsuitable man who she married in 1815.Their marriage proving a disaster Gesche took a lover, while deciding it was best to get shot of her husband. Having slipped arsenic into his beer, with no suspicians raised as to all and sundry he’d died alcohol poisoning, her next move was to induce her lover into marriage. He declined, due to her having two children, so she promptly poisoned them. When her parents raised objects to the marriage she cherished, of course they joined her list of victims. Due to his persistent refusal to marry her, Gesche poisoned her lover, however they did marry on his deathbed and Gesche was recipient of all of his fortune. She was finally brought to justice, the exact number of her victims is hard to define, but it could be up to 30.

Madeleine de Brinvilliers, a French aristocrat was reckless in the way she went about poisoning people, her Father and two brothers were among hher victims, her motives finacial. She attempted to poison her husband , having earlier taken on a cavalry officer lover. Her end was not so happy she was tortured, beheaded, and her body was burned at the stake in 1676.

Vera Renczi from Bucharest was a woman of rare beauty sent a grand total of sent two husbands, 32 lovers, and her own son to early graves.
What can we deduce? Most Black Widows are after their husband’s fortunes and are particularly interested in insurance money. Some are distrustful of men, driven by jealousy and paranoia. Another trait of a Black Widow is they have to be accomplished liars, to cover the tracks of their heinous crimes, especially if their murders are botched jobs, as in the case of Michele Williams who murdered her husband, successful businessman Greg, claiming she had been shot by an intruder, adding other unlikely stories in the mix, which only thrust more suspicion in her direction.

It is advisable that any Black Widow, plays the role of the grieving widow, something Michele failed to do, the next day going a restaurant for a celebratory big fry-up breakfast. It was later claimed Michele was a man-eater, who moved from one man to the next to get what she could, living the dream life. Under the pressure of the police Michele kept changing her story, coming up with ludicrous alternatives, for example that her husband had committed suicide and that she was simply try to hide this fact from her young daughter. In the end all fingers pointed to her and she was arrested. This compulsive liar continued to spin lie after lie, including saying she was pregnant with twins. It also turned out she was dating a toy boy Gene, a personal trainer. After angering judges, repeatedly changing her story, she finally was awarded a sturdy prison sentence.

In my book Flight of Destiny, one of my stories is called Black Widow. A woman Mercedes Shwartz, is a young woman whose marriage was short-lived. She lives in a remote luxurious house, on her own. She lures a man to house and then after they have had sex has his inexplicable urge to kill him. Suddenly luring unsuspecting men, having sex with them and murdering them becomes a ritual way of life for her.

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Births and Dispatches on Christmas Day…

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We have no choice (normally) the day we die….William Shakespeare died on his 52nd birthday…There are certain days you wouldn’t wish to die on…one such being Christmas day.

Did you know the great Charlie Chaplain passed away on Christmas Day?
Joan Miro, the Spanish surrealist painter, died at his home in Majorca after a substantial life, aged 90.

Go back many years and you will find Adrian I, Italian Pope (772-95), who also enjoyed longevity dying aged 95.

In more recent times you find in 2004 – Gennady Strekalov, Russian cosmonaut left earth for the afterlife.

In 1995, Rat Pack member Dean Martin died on Christmas Day, at the age of 78.

In 2006 – the legendary James Brown, rhythm & blues, gospel, jazz, soul and funk singer dubbed The Godfather of Soul passed away following a heart attack.

Eartha Kitt, American actress and singer, (she has that instantly recognizable voice) died in 2008.

There are those equally unlucky in a way who are born on Christmas day. Christmas birthdays are so rare: according to a 2006 Harvard University study, December 25 is least common day for births (after February 29)
One such person is Shane MacGowan, lead singer of The Pogues, also a man who must lick his lips around Christmas, as he must look forward to royalties for a well-known Christmas hit, The Fairytale of New York.

One of Hollywood’s leading men during the 20th Century, Humphrey Bogart also celebrated his birthday day on December 25th every year until his demise in 1957

Annie Lennox, that singer with the fantastic voice, one time lead singer of the Eurythmics was also born on Christmas day.

A brilliant influential musician Cab Calloway, celebrated as one of the undisputed giants of jazz, scat pioneer Cabell “Cab” Calloway came to define the Harlem sound, is another born on Christmas day. Cab Calloway is noted for his barnstorming performance of Minnie the Moocher, which received a lot of attention as it was included in the much celebrated “Blue Brothers” film.

Sir Isaac Newton One of the most influential scientists of all time who formulated the laws of Gravity. Sir Isaac Newton was born on Christmas Day in 1642.  The  legend goes he was sitting under an apple tree when an apple fell and hit him on the head, thus giving him the idea for gravity…maybe the reality was different.

I happened to see Quentin Crisp give a talk in Vienna many years ago. Quentin is another born on Christmas day. His life was subject to a film, “The Naked Civil Servant” which starred John Hurt. Quentin Crisp was a kind of 60s version of Oscar Wilde.

Have you ever seen Stephen King’s Carrie, then you would know the actress Sissy Spacek. She spent her late teenage years hanging out at Andy Warhol’s infamous Factory

 

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Francis H Powell, author of Flight of Destiny, 22 quirky short stories…

I enjoyed these tales as they gave me a fantastic break from my daily routine and I enjoyed remembering them and day dreaming about them afterwards. They’re a little Ray Bradbury, a little Stephen King, but with Powell’s own unique twists. Very interesting read.