Tuesday, 15 April 2008


Some Haiku Poems

This ancient Japanese poetry form consists of three lines conveying a complete image or feeling in three lines of syllables.

Line 1 = 5 syllables
Line 2 = 7 syllables
Line 3 = 5 syllables

Here are a few of mine:

Darkness descends now
Erie silence signature note;
The mind games begin.

Frantic motioning
The perpetual shuffling;
Average working day.

Strive towards desire
Irrational in pursuit;
Fade away: Stillness.

Continuous drone
Dark spirals descend earthbound;
The end cometh.

Boundless attraction
Effortless magnetism;
Love is eternal.

The orange knows not
Mysterious forever;
Famous in colour.


Saturday, 12 April 2008

Mr. X

An individual who we will call Mr.X was in Bangkok for a mixture of business and

pleasure. The hundreds of temples, labyrinth like shopping malls, perpetual parties

and markets, make the place an essential visit if you have the time, money and

patience to fight off the vomit inducing pollution. Mr.X was meeting a Thai friend for

dinner and whiskey at an undisclosed location. After a typically delicious dinner,

Mr.X and his Thai friend settled down for a heavy drinking. In Thailand this will

involve copious amounts of very low quality gut rot, usually run or whiskey. Later,

both friends were sharing world views and eyeing salacious bar candy. Mr.X sensed

that the night was coming to a close, so suggested a night cap. The Thai friend felt it

would be a plan to go to the local university dorms as there, alcohol was in plentiful

supply. This did not seem like an outlandish idea to Mr.X as his new found friend was

indeed, a student. The two then set off in the direction of the university dorms, leaving

behind two empty bottles of Thai whiskey and most of their inhibitions.

When the motorbike finally weaved his way back to the dorms, the student switched

off the engine and took out a piece of paper. With drunken difficulty he also took out

a pen and wrote something on the paper. He handed the paper to Mr.X. who was

confused by what he saw

The Drunken scrawl read:

1= 5000 3= 2000 5: 1000
2= 3000 4= 1500

Mr.X, swayed in drunken abandon, very perplexed. Why was he being shown a

collection of random numbers? With his mind swirling, he drew a blank. When the

student saw the blank, vacuous stare he explained the situation.

“1000 is 40/45 year olds, 1500= 35/40 year olds, 2000=35/40 lady boys, 3000= 20/30

year olds and 5000=18year olds.”

Mr.X taken aback, but not shocked as he had traveled extensively in Asia, politely

said that he was not interested in prostitutes, and anyway he need not have the money

to fund such a thing. The student seemed slightly befuddled by the response, so took

the paper back and once again scribbled figures down. Like before this was passed,

this time with haste to Mr.X.

This time the paper had a sixth option.

6= 200

Curious Mr.X asked what this further sub division was for and why it was so cheap

compared to the others. The student then said as calm as the night sky,


This is a true story.


Friday, 4 April 2008

A Loyal State indeed.....................

In his new book entitled, ‘The State of loyalism in Northern Ireland’,Graham Spencer brings to light an issue that has been largely overlooked in recent years: The post-conflict loyalist community in Northern Ireland. He argues that the Loyalist role in the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement was paramount and something that is now forgotten. Spencer also reminds the reader that without this monumental effort by individuals such as David Ervine and Billy Hutchinson, the current power sharing assembly would not be in place today.

Therefore was the great loyalist leap forward of the late nineties all in vain? Are loyalists being over looked my mainstream politics, and could this have dire consequences for the future political landscape in the province?

The conventional image of paramilitary loyalism can be summed up in one word: criminality. Gone are the days of the fearless protestant warriors, defending communities for queen, country and the cross. This kind of rhetoric may have filled the imagination of yesteryear, but as the troubles progressed, gangsterism quickly replaced romanticism.

Over the years loyalism has been the subject of loathing by unionists and nationalists alike. It has propagated an image that appeals to a thuggish, criminal element within Northern Irish society, who wields power with reckless abandon. These shadowy individuals have proven their psychotic and pathological credentials over many years of killing and torturous bloodshed. Levels of violence have been maintained in order to exert status and influence in communities for no other reason that naked self interest.

Spencer argues that the ultra violent tendencies within loyalism make one question the political direction and aspirations of loyalism as a movement. This is an important point when contrasted with the nationalist cause who carved out a niche for themselves in a peace time province, with clear political goals and a more pragmatic approach. Loyalism can be seen to offer little to the non bigot and is quite frankly a thorn in the side of the unionist movement.

Spencer, although very aware of the atrocities committed by loyalist paramilitaries, states that there has been little attempt to include them in the current political battlefield. He finds this paradoxical considering the monumental political contributions by loyalists during the Peace Process. Individuals like the late David Ervine, provided an educated and moderating influence within loyaliam that gave it respect across communities that had been hitherto missing. Ervine and others like Billy Hutchinson provided faces of deliberation that cast aside the mask of terror, and engaged in the politics of reconciliation. It is an inescapable fact that without their contribution, the Good Friday Agreement (1998) would have been an impossibility, and would have remained firmly in the political starting blocks.

Spencer feels that the main problem for contemporary loyalism is finding their feet in a post conflict province. Without the cohesion of a military campaign, many loyalists have turned inwards, embracing gangsterism. This has led to inevitable splits in the movement and horrific killings. It is obvious that following down this self destructive path will lead to political suicide, something that is a long way from the thinking of Ervine and Co.

Spencer makes a distinction between the two main factions within loyalism, the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) and UDA (Ulster Defence Association). As he states, the UDA in its modern form have channelled their energies into what he calls ‘Containment,’ with volunteers working in local communities and building up new grass roots support networks. This new face of loyalism can be seen in action with members like Billy Stoker, who has won a 6 million pounds revamp for his native ‘village’, in south Belfast. The UVF on the other hand, encouraged members to re-build their lives away from the struggle. Spencer refers to this as ‘Controlled dispersal.’

The future of loyalism is one filled with a smokescreen of ambiguity. Many members of the various factions feel disenfranchised and perceive the political endgame at Stormount as a let down for their cause. If this is the case all sides will have to reorganise and search for a collective voice, if the legacy David Ervine is to live on.

The Good Friday Agreement era was a golden time for the loyalist movement, but now they see themselves left on the fringes of the political wilderness. Plagued by illegal activity and self interested motives, loyalist’s continue to tarnish the image left by the ‘moderates’ a decade ago, dragging the movement back into the dark ages.

Spencer puts this down to lack of knowledge. He states, ‘There are serious deficiencies in educational attainment existing within loyalist communities.’ Contrast this with the thriving intellectual side of the republican movement, spurred on by its romantic notions of language and history. It seems then, it is time for loyalists to hit the books or as Spencer states, ‘criminality becomes an attractive proposition.’

The media come under some attack in this book for their portrayal of the loyalist movement. Spencer argues that the media’s fascination with ‘personalities’ and not the complexities of the process is cause for concern. Fixating on monsters like Jonny Adair, result in disaffected youth idolising their lifestyles, and missing the point of the loyalist cause. Loyalism will need to find a more mainstream direction or risk having miscreants personify loyalism itself.

In conclusion, Spencer states that the only way forward for loyalism is for those outside its parameters to engage with its most progressive representatives and to develop a strategy for the future. It this does not happen, the future looks bleak for the movement, seeing it sink deeper into political obscurity and risking throwing the country back into an unthinkable past.


The Room

The orange glow gives the room a tinge of the orient,

An erect iron butterfly stands tall, laughing towards the magnificent sunset,

Its shadow cast on the wall is not that of a friendly being,

Not pleasant, revealing, animated, possibly living,

Light blast from a lone candle casts up images of hot Moroccan evenings,

Dense cinnamon fills the air full of delight, wafting over the starry lantern,

The evening is full of wonder and energy so intense that it can almost be tasted,

This is an experience. One of those beautiful moments in life, an unforgettable

snapshot of the mind,

A moment of abstract bliss.

So ripe for picking only if we look with both eyes focused,

Sadly we often miss opportunities to enjoy the simple,

We shy away, hide our face from the light, squint in its obvious majesty,

Blinded by the reality of nowness.


The Summer of Love

The violence in Tibet last month has stunned the world and shone a global spotlight of scepticism onto the current Beijing government. Many now doubt whether an event based on the virtue of togetherness, should be staged in a country with the human rights record of China. To quote the fundamental principle in the Olympic charter, part two, it describes the 'Educational value of good example and respect for fundamental ethical principles.' Taken at face value it begs to question why the International Olympic Committee (IOC), awarded the accolade to China, when memories of Tiaanamin are in the not so distant past? Do these political factors change anything when the world’s greatest sporting event is hanging in the balance? Perhaps the world should turn a collective blind eye to the politics and get on with the show, or would this be an unforgivable act of avoidance by the West?

Comparisons with the 1936 Berlin Olympics are now inevitable. Hitler was three years
into his dramatic premiership, one that would leave a permanent imprint on the psyche of humanity. The Furher put together a propaganda stage show that was beamed around the
world. The sporting nations of the world all took part without question, tacitly consenting to the Nazi regime.

All of this leads one to wonder if history will repeat itself in the summer? Loud cries can be heard from the public and media demanding the boycotting of China’s big day. It would be a hell of a party to put a dampener on and one that could have serious economic and political ramifications for all poopers involved.

The Chinese themselves could be forgiven for sniffing an air of hypocrisy with some of the flack it has received recently. For example, what action did the west take against Russia for actions in Chechnya? European diplomatic hands were washed clean of any responsibility. The hundreds of thousand of innocent lives that have been lost in the ‘War on Terror', combined with the open brutality of Guantanamo Bay, give the Chinese a more than adequate argument for critics of their internal affairs. Closer to home, can we ever forget the queen rolling out the red carpet for the king of Saudi Arabia with Gordon Brown and David Cameron both in attendance? The Saudi family are responsible for a regime that allows ritualised beatings, stoning and beheading of its citizens for minor infractions of the law. One could be excused for thinking the Chinese may have a case for telling the west to mind their own business, with double standards glaringly obvious.

It begs the question if this would be an international issue if the Olympics were being heldin another country? Would the world be so concerned about the rights of the Tibetians ten years after the Olympics? Also, what will become of the protestors inside China after the tidal wave of hype and concern has blown over? Will this prove to be another Darfur?

Only time will tell how this issue pans out. The games will almost definitely go ahead, albeit with some forms of political protest like the 1986 Mexico games, with the infamous Black Panther salutes on the podium. The Chinese government are used to total obedience and their patience will be tested to the full in the coming months, but few mistakes will be made by this tightly oiled machine. This will be China’s opportunity on shine on the world stage, and it would take something quite spectacular to spoil this party.


Sea of Bland Notion

The face fades into the mist,

Winking its last goodbye into the haze of nothingness,

Clear sky, clear meaning, clear mind,

Gone this time, gone for ever,

Memories flow back, ebbing towards the source,

Bounding forward and glistening with retrospective notions,

The persons now a distant ghost,

Their impact fading into the anticipation of tomorrow,

What will become of my daily existence?

Alone and free, or popular without a friend?

Only time will tell what the future will bring,

Everything and nothing lie waiting my arrival.