Showing posts from March, 2014

Harold Pinter : One Man's Land

'There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened. There are things I remember which may never have happened but as I recall them so they take place.'
Harold Pinter - Old Times.

When you look back upon your past
it will not be the words you wrote
you shall remember,
the words your chose yourself,
so carefully,
and with such purpose.

Rather it will be the voice 
behind the words
you shall recall,
the tone of the voice,
and the way in which you sat
as you were writing.

The past has no morals,
it is an alien country
huge and vast,
and things which occurred then,
though we knew them not,
will manifest today,
as though they happened today,
as we recall them today
from our past.

Chess with Aleister Crowley and Savielly Tartakower

'The wickedest man in the world'
Around 1930, the English magician, occultist and self-proclaimed Beast with the number 666, Aleister Crowley, was living in Paris, following his expulsion from Italy by Benito Mussolini.

Labelling by the British press 'The wickedest man in the world'because of the activities involving sexual-magic and drugs at his Abbey of Thelema in Sicily, Crowley was now spending his time in the calmer atmosphere of the Paris British Chess Club, a circle of chess players from the British community that met once or twice a week at the Café du Grand Palais. It was here that he was befriended by the young English writer George Langelaan, later to find fame for his cult short story The Fly.

'Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.'
Despite Crowley's notorious reputation as author of The Book of the Law, the 'sacred text' which he claimed had been dictated to him by an entity named Aiwass, and whose central tenet was to 'Do as t…

Pedro de Mendoza - the syphilitic Conquistador

After several tumultuous weeks on the high seas, the flotilla of thirteen vessels, under the command of Pedro de Mendoza, made its slow progress up the Rio de la Plata in South America. It was early February 1536, and the conquistador made land on the west side of the great river and constructed a fort, which he baptised Nuestra Señora Santa Maria del Buen Ayre, the future Buenos Aires. 

The good-natured natives, called Querandies, came to greet the new arrivals. But who were they, these strangers with their pale and hairy faces? Could they be gods come down from the firmament? Whoever they were, they were hungry, and the Indians graciously provisioned them with tasty game birds.   

Gods, however, the intruders most certainly were not. Pedro de Mendoza was a desperate mortal from the Spanish city of Guadix, Granada. He had lots of pride but very little money, but had heard of the profit-making exploits of Cortes and of Pizarro, and wanted to get in on the action himself.

So in 1529, at t…

Assam Tea: the day the English got their first taste of India tea

10 January 1839 is an important day in the history of England. For on that monumental day the first shipment of Indian tea was being sold by auction at East India House, Leadenhall Street, London.

Ever since an embargo on trade with Europe had been decreed by the Chinese emperor, in retaliation at the European powers saturating his country with opium, the English had been deprived of their daily libation of tea. Could they survive any longer? More importantly: could the Empire survive? They would need to find a solution to the grave crisis facing the nation!

Enter Robert Bruce, a Scotsman like his illustrious namesake Robert the Bruce. Part-time explorer and part-time trader, in 1823 he discovered a place in India called Assam, where the natives consumed a decoction that closely resembled tea. A local chief gave him his first taste of the brew. Indeed, it was just like tea! He was ecstatic! All he needed now was to convince the sour-faced English and his fortune would be made.

Then a cat…