Monday, 6 June 2016



When I see the colour blue I think of my quest. I have to be true to my destiny, I cannot rest until I find it, I must go on, searching, hunting, never tiring until one day  it will be revealed to me and I can relax after these many long years.
I thought I had found it, deep in a temporal created crevasse in the glacier feeding the Bentley Trench in Antarctica, the lowest land surface on the surface of the planet. It was not to be, it was the spring sunlight filtering through the snow deposited over Millenia and converted to ice by the alchemy of time as it snaked its way down the slopes of Mount Vinson.
What about the Tongue of the Ocean, that deep rift in the sea bed close to Andros Island in the Bahamas. The rippling of the currents and the supersaturated water is still creating ooliths ready to form the limestones that will be raised to be the mountains of the future? Not here, another blind alley, the Caribbean sun playing tricks as it rippled down through the waters. 
I asked in neighbouring Yucatan but they didn’t know, it might have been buried in the Chicxulub crater when the asteroid hit but it was so long ago there was no living memory of it. The recent drilling into the buried crater rim didn’t help.
I flew across the great coral reef off Australia’s Eastern shore. This was no barrier to me, I glided down the force lines of Magnetic Island’s field, always seeking the true frequency – just a few more Ångstrom please - but it was not to be, the parrot fish had done their work, the bleaching from the warming seas not helping.
I heard a rumour, so it was to holy Mount Kailash in far Tibet next, three times around, a pilgrimage to purge my soul, after helping to lift the pole carrying the flags, a thousand prayers flapping away in the freezing wind. I knew Kailash was still unclimbed, forbidden.  I sought permission from the Dalai Lama, 
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible’ he said and allowed me to go to the cave, high on the mountain, above the dry Tibetan plain, looking down on Lake Namtso, the highest lake in the world. I struggled up the crags to the cave, I could feel it now, I was getting closer. I rolled over the lip and lay there, gasping in the thin, cold air.
There it was, on a ledge, just a chip, but I knew, it had to be, its radiance undimmed. The intense diagnostic ultramarine blue of Lapis Lazuli. I had found my destination, the true blue. 
My life would never be the same again.
But I shall go down from this airy space, this swift white peace,
this stinging exultation;
And time will close about me, and my soul stir to the rhythm
of the daily round.
Yet, having known, life will not press so close, and always I
shall feel time ravel thin about me;
For once I stood
In the white windy presence of eternity.

from The Most Sacred Mountain Eunice Tietjens

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The referendum

The referendum
He opened the creaking door, pushing hard against the self closing spring. Young Jim jumped up from his perch next to one armed bandit and pulled the door open for him. He slowly walked in, leaning heavily on his ash walking stick. 
‘Hi Jack.’ said Ben, the barman, looking up from the lemons he was slicing.
‘No,’ said Jack, ‘just got held up by the traffic coming down through Long Shorting. Ever since they built that housing estate on Fred Gile’s ten acre, there’s been traffic jams. It’ll only get worse, just you mark my words. Pint of Old Mouldy please Ben and one of whatever he’s drinking for Happy George here.’
‘Thanks mate but what are you so chipper about? It’s not like you to buy someone else a drink, your arms are usually shorter than your pockets are deep.’ said George, looking pleasantly surprised at the prospect of a free pint.
‘Haven’t you heard? There’s going to be a referendum.’
‘No, I haven’t seen the forecast today. Won’t that be bad for the harvest?’ asked George.
‘ Don’t be so daft, a referendum is nothing to do with the weather. It is a chance for everyone in the country to have a vote.’
‘A vote on what?’ queried George. ‘How will that change the weather?’
‘A binary decision of national significance,’ pontificated Jack.
George stayed quiet, he didn’t believe in fiddling around with things that might change the weather.
‘And what would that be?’ asked Ben, joining in what he thought was brewing up to be an interesting discussion.
‘It’s to decide whether to stay in or leave the European Union.’
‘It won’t affect me then,’ said George, ‘I’m with the other lot, the farmer’s union. Did I tell you about the good price I got from them for my insurance last year?’
‘Yes, several times,’ groaned Ben , ‘but I don’t think that’s what Jack is on about. He means Europe and whether we leave or stay in.’
‘Well, we haven’t been part of Europe since the sea level rose, drowned Doggerland and cut a channel through the chalk between us and France. I don’t see how we are going to change that, even if we wanted to. We don’t get on with those Frenchies very well anyway.’ George fancied himself as a bit of a palaeohistorian. ‘At least the FU don’t mess around with the weather.’
‘But surely we are better off in the European Club than on our own outside it?’
‘Yes, I think you are right, we are better of with the remanians but don’t call me Shirley,’ protested George.
‘But why do the Romanians want us to stay in?’ queried Ben.
‘No idea, I don’t even know where Romania is.’ said George.’ Does anyone know where it is and why they want us to stay in? What about you Jack, you’ve always been a bit of a political animal?’
‘I think it’s in Mittel Europa and they want us to stay in because we want them to be free to join the EU so they think we will help them if we stay in. I don’t have much sympathy with the Romanians. I’m supporting the Beleavers myself.’ stated Jack firmly.
‘Well I go to church most Sundays but what has that got to do with Europe?’ asked Ben.
‘Europe is rapidly becoming a secular super state, except for Islam which is, of course, expanding because of the recent rise in immigration so the Beleavers want us to vote to come out and get back to the Church of England.’ explained Jack
‘But the Catholics are ruled from Rome, which is in Italy, which is in Europe,’ protested Ben. ‘That doesn’t make sense.’
‘Since when did religion have to make sense?’ asked Young Jim, who thought of himself as a bit of a seventh day iconoclast.
‘I think the Romanians are Catholics’ muttered George darkly. ‘They could be some sort of Papist fifth column. I’m a Welsh tobacconist myself, always have been - and my father and grandfather before me. No one’s going to tell me I can’t go to the Bethesda Chapel.’
‘I think it’s you who wants to be careful Ben,’ warned Jack. ‘I’ve seen how thin you slice those lemons. Did you know that there’s an EU directive that says each slice should not be less than 5mm in thickness?’
‘No, I didn’t know that, when did that come in,’ said a wary Ben.
‘It hasn’t, you muppet, but it just shows what people think Europe is capable of doesn’t it?’ laughed Jack as he took a deep pull on his pint of Old Mouldy.’They’ll be changing our pints to half litres soon but I’m sure you’ll charge us the same even though we will be losing 27ml.’
‘Never crossed me mind,’ protested Ben. “That’s a good idea,” he thought.
The door opened and in limped Lame Faulks - the local MP - for his traditional Friday night pint. ‘Helps me connect with what the grass roots are thinking’ was his excuse. 
‘Hi Lame. You’re a bit late tonight, was the train late’? asked Ben
‘No, I was tired after all that shouting in the House, so I stopped at Paddington and had a cup of Tai Chi in the coffee shop before catching the later train, and…’’
  ‘Can we ask you if you support the Romanians or the Believers,’ interrupted George. Poor George, he suffered from intellectual rigor mortis, he hadn’t had a new idea in twenty years.
‘Eh?’ said The Honourable Lame Faulks MP. For once in his parliamentary life he was lost for words. ‘What are you talking about, you have to explain that to a simple person like me.’ He hung his walking stick on the rail over the bar and sat on one of the stools. He wasn’t really lame and didn’t need a stick but it was a useful sympathy gainer and a prop to divert attention when he was lost for words.
‘We’re talking about the EU. Are you for staying in or coming out?’ asked George aggressively. ‘If anyone should know what to do it should be an MP.’
‘I think we politicians should leave it to the people to decide. I personally don’t have much time for either the Romanians or the Beleavers. I haven’t had much chance to think about this recently. One of my friends is in prison. He took two aspirins and then killed a man. He’s been charged with premedicated murder.
George looked a little worried, ‘that could happen to any of us, it’s a good job I’ve got the strength of the insurance companies around me. Did I tell you I use the Farmers Union?’

‘Yes George, all the time,’ they chorused.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

The Humanist

The Humanist

Joe had many discussions with his Dad about religion over the years. George was against any and every religion and refused to have anything to do with them, or anyone connected with them. Although Joe respected his Dad and his opinions, he thought he was wrong. Joe was educated at the local school which was Church of England  and it was seen as supporting a very watered down form of Catholicism. Some of this had soaked into Joe, much  to George’s disgust, ‘ why don’t you think for yourself and look at the evidence rather than listening to the ravings of an uneducated bunch of goat herders who knew mostly nothing about anything?’
‘But the bible is a very good book, Dad,’ argued Joe.
‘Yes, and so are “Noddy goes to town” and “The little red hen”, but you don’t base your life on those stories do you?’
This sort of discussion went on for many years and, truth to tell, each rather enjoyed these discussions and would have been quite surprised and disappointed if one had managed to convert the other to his way of thinking.
George’s daughter, Caroline, was agnostic about the whole thing. She went to church at Christmas and Easter but it was more of a date in her social calendar rather than from any religiosity on her part. She enjoyed singing the familiar hymns and carols and joined in with more gusto than expertise.

George got ill just after his 82nd birthday. First he got an ulcer on his leg which got so bad that he had to go to bed in spite of his protestations ‘I’m tough,’ he said, ‘I’ll get over it. With all that time spent immobile in bed, he got a chest infection which he didn’t seem to be able to shake off in spite of the antibiotics that were pumped into him daily. He seemed to get more frail each day until the doctor confirmed that he now had pneumonia, ‘the old person’s friend’ as doctors used to call it before the fetish of extending life at all costs came in as the fashion - even if the patient had to pay those costs - George wasn’t long for this world. 
Joe and Caroline contacted all the family and said that they were all very welcome to come and see George but that they were on no account to let George know that he was dying. There started a long procession to see George in his bed, people he knew well and others that he hadn’t seen for years, ’just dropped in to see how you are, we’ll come back next week to see if you are up and about,’ they said with false cheerfulness. George knew better than this. He was old but not stupid. He knew he was dying and wanted to get the arrangements sorted out while there was still time. Joe was summoned to the bedside. He was instructed to be there soon after breakfast because that was George’s best time so he was likely to be awake then.
‘Hi Dad, what can I do for you?’
  ‘I want to set out my wishes for my funeral and I don’t want you to deny it. I know I haven’t got much time left so will you please humour me and arrange things as I want them?’
‘Whatever you want Dad, I won’t try to change your mind and I won’t let anyone else argue with what you want. I’ll make sure that everything will happen just as you want it.’
‘Thanks, Joe, you’ve always been a good lad and I knew you would come through for me.’ George lay back on his pillow. Joe thought the effort had tired him so much that he wanted to sleep but no, George still wanted to dictate his instructions even though his voice was now thin and quiet - very difficult to hear so Joe had to really concentrate and lean close to hear his father’s last wishes.
Joe wrote them down very carefully and repeated them back but, by this time George was beyond listening and was breathing very slowly and shallowly. Joe called in his Mother and sister and told them that George was very close to the end of his life and didn’t have much time left but that he had written down his last wishes and had promised to carry them out, in spite of what anyone else might think.
George took his last breath at 1153. 
‘Dad would have joked that he missed his lunch,’ said Joe, trying to lighten the mood. ‘He died peacefully, typical Dad, no drama or hassle, just the end with no fuss, just as he wanted.’ He didn’t tell them about the pills that George had secreted in his bedside locker a couple of weeks before and the strict instructions his father had given him about their use.


As is usually the case, Joe, as the eldest son - the only one - took on the practicalities of organising his Dad’s funeral. The distaff side of the family was too emotional to organise anything. He booked funeral directors and passed on to them his dad’s wishes. All was now in place for George’s last journey on Friday 23rd February. The invitations were sent out, the notification placed in the local paper, “no flowers please, any donations you would like to make, please give to your favourite charity.” All he had to do now was to find someone who would abide by his dad’s wishes and officiate at the funeral. The search was long and tedious, there was not much demand for the type of person who could meet his dad’s requirements but he eventually found someone on the net. He met up with him and briefed him on his dad’s life and what type of send off he had wanted.
The day arrived. It was a grey, cold February day with a low grey cloud threatening but not delivering rain, weather to match the mood of a funeral. The mourners gathered outside the chapel of the crematorium., huddled together for mutual comfort in their black outfits like a murder of crows. The cortege arrived. George had demanded a cardboard coffin - ‘to save a few trees, why should they have to die just because I have’, he had said on innumerable occasions. The coffin was unloaded and carried into the chapel, placed on the rollers of the conveyor that were part shielded by long curtains. The mourners followed the family into the chapel in sad silence. The family members were shown to the front row by the head undertaker and the other mourners took the rows behind them.There was an individual standing at the pulpit, where a priest normally based himself. The man was dressed in oversize, yellow shoes, a red jacket, a bright blue bow tie and appeared to have a red plastic nose stuck on to his original one - probably a relic from Red Nose Day a few months earlier.
‘Who is that clown,’ whispered Caroline urgently to Joe. ‘What’s he doing here?’
‘He was the nearest I could get to what Dad wanted,’ defended Joe.
Everyone settled down in their seats, trying not to look at George’s coffin on the conveyor. 
‘Hello everyone. My name is Coco and I am a humourist. I have been asked to lead this ceremony by Joe who is carrying out his Dad’s wishes. I specialise in telling jokes and stories that relate to a special ceremony. Firstly I would like to tell you a few jokes to try and cheer you up a bit and then talk about George’s life based on what Caroline andJoe have told me about him. As you will all know, George was a teacher, During his teaching career, he came across many funny situations, including this one, which I thought was quite appropriate to this occasion.
He was taking his physics class one day when young Ken came in half way through the lesson. ‘Where have you been, Kenneth, why are you so late?’ he asked
‘Sorry Sir, my Dad got burnt this morning.’
‘Good heavens, is it bad?’
‘Well they don’t mess around at the crematorium.’
There was a horrified silence. Was this type of thing what George really wanted?
‘A student in Austria was doing his PhD dissertation on the life and times of Mozart. His research was going quite well but he could not find a record anywhere of Wolfie’s height. He approached the Mayor of Vienna to get permission to exhume him. After a year of delay and many discussions, permission was finally granted. The student arranged for people to help him and they all arrived, at the appointed time, at St Marx Cemetery in the Landstraße district of Vienna. After a lot of hard digging, the coffin came into view. They carefully levered off the lid and there was Herr Mozart, sitting up with a sheaf of manuscripts in his hand, crossing off the notes one by one.
‘Vot are you doing Volfgang?’ cried the student
‘Decomposing,’ came the great man’s reply.
Again there was a deathly hush in the chapel, broken only by a stifled laugh and a fit of coughing from the back.
The clown / humourist told several more jokes in the same genre until, after some 17 minutes, the ranks of mourners were wiping tears from their eyes and unashamedly laughing out loud.
Caroline leaned over to Joe and said in a stage whisper, ‘I think this is great and Dad would have enjoyed it immensely but did he really ask for a humourist?’
‘Yes, I am certain that is what he said.’
‘Are you sure he didn’t ask for a humanist?’

Saturday, 16 April 2016

The Future

‘The future’s coming’, my teacher said
‘When is it coming, will I be in bed?’ I said.
The future is coming, nearer and nearer
The concept, the idea, is still no clearer
I don’t understand, maybe I’m thick

Is it today, is it tomorrow?
I must be ready, could I beg or borrow,
a clock or watch to count down the hours
I’ll check them both, yours and hours
Listening out for the merest tick

Yesterday’s gone, really old hat
Today’s come now, imagine that!
Yesterday was today’s yesterday 
 Tomorrow is tomorrow’s today.
Perhaps this is a great con trick?

‘I’ll do it tomorrow’ the husband said
‘Today I’ll have a rest instead.’
‘Tomorrow’s come, will you do it now?’
Asks the wife, risking a row.
It’s today now, tomorrow needs a psychic

‘So when will you do it?’ she cried in desperation.
‘When I can fit it in, using alliteration.’
‘Does that mean today or tomorrow?’
‘Perhaps twoday or twomorrow
It’s a long job even working manic.’

She gave it up descending to despair.
‘So you are saying it’s all in the air
But when you work hard, it all goes so fast.
It turns out well even when vast.
I do think that poetry is really your schtick.

Show and tell

Show and tell

The first character walked into the pub. He bellied up to the bar and asked to see the landlord. While we are waiting for him to turn up, I will describe the first character. He was about 55 years old, of medium height, dressed in a suit that was of medium quality but that had seen some hard wear from many hours of being worn sat in a car, criss crossing the country in search of business. He had a perpetual optimistic smile, like someone who was used to disappointment but still had to go to work each week in the hope of meeting his sales target and, perhaps one day, landing ‘the big one.’
Ah, here comes the landlord. ‘Hello, I’m the second character, how can I help?’ There was a brief handshake, more business-like than friendly. I’ll now take a moment to describe the second character. He had the physique of an ex rugby player. His head sprang directly from his shoulders, no sign of a neck. His head was shaved to disguise the recent lack of hair growth. His hands were large although a couple of fingers were slightly deformed, he still managed to slightly crush the first character’s hand during the shake. His face was pallid from working indoors during the last fifteen years. Lack of exercise and too much beer was showing up in his incipient paunch and the presence of broken capillaries in his nose. He had obviously relaxed his rugby training during that time as evidenced by the thin gold ring in his left ear. 
‘I’m here representing the Homeopathic Brewery in Stanley - on - Severn. I know it will be a difficult conversation and your first thought will probably be to throw me out but I hope I can find some common conversational ground with you, like any good salesman and build on that to create a rapport. Then I can slowly draw you into a discussion about how we can move towards a mutually beneficial commercial relationship. I will always have my eye on my monthly sales target and my chance of winning our “Salesman of the Year’ prize.”’ said the first character.
‘I understand all of that and I will be a reluctant participant. I will have an evident reluctance to show any enthusiasm for your product as this will affect the final price to me. I will also pretend to have more important things to do as a self employed business man, rather than stand here talking to you. This will set up our relative status in this relationship.’ protested the second character.
‘I’ll try rugby first then. What do you think of England’s performance in the six nations recently,’ he said, using an obvious opening gambit.
‘I’ve no idea as I’ve never had any interest in rugby.’ said the second character..
‘Well I guess I got that wrong,’ retreated the first character. ‘However, like any good salesman, I’ll be undaunted, regroup and try a different approach. What are your main interests?’
‘I don’t admit this to most people as they think I’m gay - er, which I’m not, of course. I used to be a ballet dancer before I retired and now I like to watch ballet and listen to opera. I like Mozart’s best, along with some of the earlier ones like those by Pergolesi after he left Mantua to return to Jesi, the city of his birth in the Italian Ancona province.’
‘I have nothing against gay people but of course, just like yourself I am not gay. The reason people think I am is that I am a homeopath. They think that I have just come out of the homeopath dispensary.’
‘Well ok then, perhaps we can get on well as we both seem to have the same problem,’ said the second character. ‘Let’s shake on that. A firm, manly, non-gay handshake, of course. I feel a lot more comfortable now knowing that you’re not gay and also you knowing that I’m not gay either.’
The first character laughed and agreed. ‘ I think we have found the mutual interest that every salesman like me yearns for with a potential customer. It will now be easier to start talking about ballet and opera for a few minutes and then gently ease you into talking about the reason for my visit which, of course is to persuade you to buy some of my products.’
‘Which are?’
‘I work for a homeopathic brewery so my products are homeopathic beers and wines.’
‘You’re having a laugh ain’t yu?’ protested the second character. ‘Look at the third character, Old Tom, along the bar there, he nearly choked on his pint.’
‘Ah, but there you have it. If you go homeopathic you won’t have pints, you’ll just serve small cocktail glasses. You can also sell drinks more cheaply because your buying, transport, storage and hygiene costs will all come down. This means that you will attract more drinkers who will spend more in your pub so you will make more money. Everybody wins with homeopathy. Like any good salesman, I won’t try to sell you the product but will concentrate more on the benefits. I can see if I am winning by checking on the third character’s reaction. Isn’t that right Tom?’ 
‘I’ve been coming here for 22 years and I don’t want this place turned into a gay bar.’ stated Tom, the third character, firmly.
‘The first and second characters exchanged a glance, ‘You see what you’re up against don’t you? Most of the regulars will feel the same as the third character there. You have certainly got some explaining and convincing to do.’ warned the second character.
‘OK well let me talk about some of the benefits to you as the landlord of this excellent establishment. Firstly, can I ask you how many of your customers have been caught for drink driving over the last year.’ asked the first character, earnestly.
‘ Alright, go ahead then,’ allowed the third character, reluctantly.
‘How many of your customers have been caught drunk driving over the last twelve months?’
‘Most of them I suppose. There was the time that the darts teams was stopped by the police after their championship win. They had been celebrating a little too much and the coach that we had hired broke down on its way to us so most of the team members had to drive home. They were fined quite heavily and each gained a few points on their licence, depending if they had been caught before. A couple were banned from driving for a year.There have also been several individuals who have been stopped, breathalysed and found to be over the limit as well. So I suppose, to answer your question, it is probably most of them.’
‘Thank you second character, I can now give you an absolute guarantee that, should you decide to convert to being a fully homeopathic pub, never again will any of your customers be charged with driving while above the alcohol limit in their blood.
I will now give you and the reader a short exposition on Homeopathy - normally called an exposition dump - to explain how this is possible. The principle behind homeopathy is that ‘Like cures like.’ This means that a small portion of a poison can be administered to a patient and though it may give rise to the same symptoms as the original poison, it will still cure the patient. Because of the danger of taking disease- agents as medicines, the idea has arisen that the original agent can be diluted many times. In fact the belief is that the greater the dilution, the more potent the agent becomes. Some agents are diluted so many times that not one molecule of the original agent will remain. as an example, ducks liver, called Oscillococcinum, is used as a medicine to cure flu. It is diluted 200C times, which as a log scale is used it means that the agent is diluted more than would allow one atom to be present. In fact it would need 1040 more universes to guarantee one atom in the dose. Operators of this system say that the dilutant, water, retains the memory of the original agent and that is what effects the cure. To ensure this happens, the phial of medicine is percussed - that is shaken and tapped onto a soft surface before each dilution. This is where the myth came from that James Bond was a homeopath because of his insistence that his cocktail was always shaken, not stirred. Here endeth the exposition.’ said the first character, after taking a deep breath.
‘I’m glad about that,’ said the second character, ‘I was on the verge of falling asleep. Does that mean I won’t serve my customers alcohol, just water with the memory of alcohol?’
‘Exactly” proclaimed the first character. ‘They will still feel the affects as if they had been drinking alcohol but if they are breathalysed, there will be no trace of alcohol in their system, even though they may well be acting like a newt. What do you think of it so far, Tom,’ he asked the third character.
‘Never heard so much tosh in my life. I never did believe that James Bond was a homeopath,’ said the third character. ‘but I’m delighted to be asked my opinion so I am happy to give it a try.’
‘OK then, what about you second character? Would you be willing to have a homo evening, with my brewery supplying the drinks, for free of course,, to see what the reaction is of the rest of your regulars?’
‘It would be completely free then and you would get the flyers for the event printed free as well?’ Negotiated the second character
‘Well, err, yes I think so. So if I could just take your name Mr Second Character.’
‘Yes, certainly, my name is Henry Gaylord Singh. The name of the pub is The Strangled Ferret.’
‘Great, consider it done, let’s have another manly, non-gay handshake to seal the deal.’
They shook hands again, carefully avoiding eye contact.

1,690 words



‘Pass me the lamp, please,’ said Gunilla as she peered into the phreatic cave.’
Tomaslav handed her the light that was on a long lead from the power socket in the farmhouse.
‘Please be careful with the cable in all that dampness. We’ll have to get proper lighting if we are going to be digging in here for a while.’
‘If we have here what I think it is, we’ll be here for a very long time. How are you on runes?’
‘Well I know a little about most of them but my specialism is the elder futhark. That was before they messed them about and modernised the runic script.’
‘Only a runes man from Macedonia could talk about modernisation that took place before the 8th century,’ laughed Gunilla as she peered at the inscription on the limestone wall of the cave. ‘I think I can count only twenty four characters although it is hard to see with this limited light. Why don’t we pack up for now and come back as soon as we can get some decent lighting rigged up in here?’
It sounded like a suggestion but Tomaslav knew it was really a command. His boss had made it a habit to get her own way.


They returned to Gottland the next summer after a long winter at their home university of Lund where they spent the time attempting to demonstrate the value of their find to the financial research committee, to try and prise some money out of it. They needed  to fund their research during the following summer. They both spent the rest of the time researching deeper into the history of runes and especially the elder futhark - trying to get themselves in the mythical meditative state of ‘Kenning of Runelore’.
The funding was eventually and reluctantly released to allow them to set up an expedition after they explained that their find could be as important as the find of the Kylver Stone in 1903, thus bringing more prestige and fame to their university. The committee members all knew about Kylver - the ‘Rosetta Stone’ of runes.This was the clincher for the committee as they were getting a little fed up with all the astro physicists and cosmologists wittering on about incomprehensible mathematics and possible multi dimensional universes and other stuff about which they had little or no understanding. A rock with old writing scratched on its surface was something they could get their teeth into - metaphorically speaking, of course - as many of the committee had lost many of them.

It was early summer, they were ready. They set off with their gleaming new equipment and an enhanced team. Gunilla Carlsson was the leader. She was now a professor of ancient Germanic languages. Dr Tomaslav Vladic was second in command and they now had a team of four post grad students and one PhD student, Helena Lödqvist, who had an interest in runes and Scanwegian invasions of the UK.
They set up the equipment, including waterproof lighting, in the cave and started work. They started by mapping the cave’s limestone surfaces using a miniature LIDAR system so that they could take the complete data set back to Lund. They could carry on working on it through the next winter. None of them wanted to spend a Swedish winter  in a cave in Gottland.
They modified the LIDAR so that they could map and record each character in great detail under Gunilla’s direction while Tomaslav carried out a search and survey of  the cave  with two of the students. They hoped to find an ancient burial, other  runes written on the walls or, failing that, some animal bones from long ago - hopefully from extinct species. Unfortunately nothing was found to put meat on the bones of the lonely inscription.


The survey of the cave and the detailed LIDAR record of the inscription had been produced. It was now time to pack up all their gear and return to Lund to work on the data that they had accumulated on site. Their final job was to secure a locked steel grid over the invaluable ancient inscription to protect it from any possible vandalism. It was a unique and invaluable artefact and could well include indicators for the elixir of eternal life or the early history of Germanic tribes or…?


Gunilla and Tomaslav had been working on the records from the cave for some three months with little progress. They could identify several characters of the script but they couldn’t identify sentences, phrases that made sense or even words. They both spent several weeks in Stockholm, looking at the Kylver stone in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities. Nothing really helped until they realised that the word ‘sueus’ at the end of the Kylver inscription was a palindrome. Perhaps that was a clue that meant the elder futhark script could be read from either direction?


They hastened back to Lund, convinced they had a breakthrough in understanding ‘their ‘ inscription. They used the LIDAR scans to reverse the inscription but it still didn’t make any sense. They knew from the style of the characters that the inscription was one of the earliest elder futhark inscriptions ever found so, in desperation, they decided to go back to the origins of the runic system and call in an Etruscan expert, in spite of realising that this would put a rather large dent in their funding.
Dr Anna-Karin Söderström eventually arrived from Stockholm, looked at the inscription, spent several hours humming to herself while poring over it and then called Gunhilla and Tomaslav together to announce her findings.
‘I have come to a conclusion,’ she announced. ‘In my experience you have done the right thing in reversing the inscription so that it is read from right to left. I can now read the inscription to you, I am just rather surprised that you have not realised what it said before this.’
The other two looked at each other, a little shamefaced, and leaned forward to better hear what the good doctor was going to say.’
‘Wha…what does it say, Doctor?
Anna-Karin leaned back with a smirk and pronounced;
‘It says “Kilroy was here”.’

1037 words

Sunday, 20 March 2016


I have published a new book on Amazon called NAMASTE.

It is a diary of a trek in the Himalaya with the ambition to watch the sun rise over Everest.

But I shall go down from this airy space, this swift white peace,
this stinging exultation;
And time will close about me, and my soul stir to the rhythm
of the daily round.
Yet, having known, life will not press so close, and always I
shall feel time ravel thin about me;
For once I stood

In the white windy presence of eternity.

From O sacred Mountain
Eunice Tietjens

The book can be found here:-