The Tourist (BBC) – another excellent January mini-series, made in Australia.

Jamie Dornan in a Two Brothers Pictures Highview Productions All3Media South Australian Film Corporation BBC Studios ZDF Stan production. Was the first ‘The Fall’ way back in 2013!!!

In a nutshell: a man is pursued by a vast tank truck trying to drive him off the road. He wakes in hospital, hurt, really really really thirsty but somehow alive. However, he has no idea who he is, so he searches for answers propels him through the vast and unforgiving outback of Australia.

Australian actor Danielle Macdonald played it really well. Brilliant Reminded me of the female heroes or is it anti-heroines of Fargo (Series 2)

 Kat George wrote of its cast of ‘female characters were written with such tender care and truth (even within the absurdity of the unfolding plot) that the show set a new standard for female heroes and anti-heroes.’ She concluded: ‘The world of Fargo is a violent one where even the wily don’t always survive. But the women of Fargo are the ones who left an indelible mark on its narrative.’ December 2015

Stay Close (Netflix 2021)

Cush Jumbo Richard Armitage James Nesbitt Sarah Parish

We liked it, especially as a late night binge watch over three nights – our son and his wife did it in two! Good cast (one of Sarah P’s best for years), keep-you-guessing story line, and enjoyed seeing Eddie Izard. Wanted to give it five stars, or at least 4.5. Except for Ken and Barbie – to keep us off balance, Harlan Coben explained! Spoilt it for us. They just didn’t fit in, portrayed like that. Made me think of someone trying to out-do Killing Eve. A blemish on a good production. As for a Ken and Barbie spin-off show, as some have suggested. Spare us. Not for us. **** it is then.

Time to reflect on the Covid-19 vaccines

7 January 2022 Oak Tree House

This morning I came across this – On 1 April 2020, ‘HORIZON: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine’ carried an article about the mRNA vaccines – first developed to fight cancer in humans, by the way.

It stressed the fact that only now (less than two years ago) are these vaccines beginning to be tested in humans, and that there are a lot of fairly basic unknowns which can only be answered through human trials. The following professor of microbiology was quoted many times in the piece:

Professor Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding –

Chair of the IMI (Innovative Medicines Initiative) Scientific Committee

Head of Microbiology at Paul-Ehrlich-Institut, Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines, Langen, Germany

Fields of expertise

§ Immunology of infection & host-pathogen interaction

§ Clinical microbiology and infectious disease

§ Pharmaceutical microbiology

§ Regulation of vaccines and biomedicines

In relation to our innate immune response system, as humans, to the mRNA vaccine, Prof Isabelle said, twenty-one months ago:

1

“There is still a lot of work to be done to understand this response, the length of the protection it could give and whether there are any downsides.”

II

“What is really the current challenge, I think, is to understand whether these vaccines will really be able to mount a sufficiently protective immune response in the human and to understand, for example, which quantities of mRNA will be needed to do this.”

Prof Isabelle also stated that the mRNA is ‘easier and faster to produce” (than traditional vaccines) and is a “very unique way of making a vaccine and, so far, no such vaccine has been licenced for infectious disease.”

Professor Isabelle Bekeredjian-Ding –

I am not a conspiracy theorist neither am I anti-vaccines. The C19 emergency vaccine has helped save the lives of many of the most vulnerable in our society. We owe medical scientists, from many countries, a huge debt of gratitude, for the research, started many decades ago, that is still on-going, into the SARS virus.

As a practitioner of the ‘cura animarum’ (cure of souls), or in today’s language, the ‘care of the whole person’ (with a lifetime of research into the human condition, especially its vulnerabilities), I am a firm believer in the sovereignty, nay sacredness, of the freedom of choice that we have the privilege to exercise.

It is a gift that lies at the heart of ‘the human,’ as Professor Isabelle calls us.  

Whatever your opinion about, and health response to, SARS-Co-V-19, or Covid-19, as it is more popularly known, I believe it’s worth making time to reflect on Professor Isabelle’s words at the start of this new year.

It may help some of you as you struggle with the pros and cons of a third jab, or  ‘that booster’ as our politicians call it – and possibly a fourth jab in the Spring, by which time two years will have passed since  Professor Isabelle shared her opinions with us, as an expert in microbiology and infectious disease.

A Blessed and Better New Year to you all. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda.

(Rev’d Geraint ap Iorwerth BA MPhil (University of Wales, Cardiff)

FEAR – FEARISM – FEARISTS! UK December 2021

Been thinking about UK Government’s Propaganda … oops, Public Information and Ministerial broadcasts recently. No! It is HMG Propaganda, which appears at times to be out and out brainwashing – ie the concept that our minds  can be altered or controlled by certain psychological techniques. It reduces our ability to think critically or independently, to allow the introduction of new, unwanted thoughts and ideas into our minds, as well as, ultimately changing our attitudes, values and belief-systems. Brainwashing? Yes! It is brainwashing.

But more frightening is comparing FEARISM and FEARISTS with Terrorism and Terrorists. It’s really got me thinking, although I could be wrong, of course, because I’m not a politician. They know that a terrorist campaign has three main goals: 1 The Body Count. 2 Disrupting normal day-to-day social behaviour. 3 Spreading Fear, and then more-and-more fear, in society.

Body Count? HMG’s C19 obsession is a different kind of ‘body count’, led by the BBC – which highlights the number of C19 daily cases and especially the number of daily deaths. Macabre? Surely not! Macabre -‘disturbing because concerned with or causing a fear of death.’ Yes! Macabre.

Societal disruption? I don’t think we need add much more under this heading.

Spreading Fear? Again, I’m not a politician or a medical officer or scientist, so maybe I’ve got that one wrong. It’s just information, of course. Silly me. HMG’s would never spread fear among its citizens. Next year, by the way, will be the 20th anniversary of when Saddaam Hussein could launch biological and chemical weapons within 45 minutes of receiving orders. Those famous W.M.D’s or Weapons of Mass Destruction.

By today we have our very own home-grown W.M.D’s – now called W.D.M’s , used to WILFULLY DECEIVE the MASSES about C19.

Such weapons, of course, would never be used against our children. No ‘Grown-up’ would put them through anything like that.

Get real. Our home grown Fearists are not even on the same scale as Terrorists. What a ridiculous thought. The latter want to do their utmost to deny us safe space, wherever we may want to wander. They want to reduce the places in which we can move and act freely. And above all, a terrorist wants us to be obsessed with our ‘bodies’ and the daily danger to those bodies.

It’s an exaggeration to say that C19 Fearists in Her Majesty’s Government and Parliament and the Media, in their own way, tick any of the three boxes beloved of the Terrorist.

It’s just me thinking dark thoughts! After all, it is the shortest day. Too much darkness. I’m just not thinking clearly. FEARISM. H.M.G’s FEARISTS. Really?

Gustav Courbet, The Desperate Man, 1843/45 – his 24 years old self-portrait

FEAR! A synchronistic passage for this morning in our C19 – B.1.1.529 world!

Fear is an eminently timely topic … fear today has become something like a test: be afraid, so you can prove that you are on the right side. Insulate yourself with fear … Not only does fear isolate a person from others, but it raises that person out of time. Fear is always of the moment, the present. It casts a person back into nature (for) fear exists only in the present tense. And what else is there that has no consciousness of the past of the future? The body. In the course of being afraid the body will be more important than anything else … in a state of fear, a person, more than anything else, reacts within the body’s corporeality …

From ‘Dostoevsky Reads Hegel in Siberia And Bursts Into Tears’ (A collection of essays on contemporary culture) by Laszlo F. Foldenyi 2020.

Hungarian critic, essayist and art theorist. Professor and Chair in the Theory of Art, University of Theatre, Film and Television, Budapest. He is also a member of the German Academy for Language and Literature. 

Laszlo F. Foldenyi b. 1952

One of the books I have on the go at the moment – combining morning contemplations or musings of a shamanic and philosophical nature. More to come from Laszlo

What a ‘Trip! What a late-night laugh …

Great to be re-united with Aksel Hennie and Lisa Rapace

We didn’t really know what to expect – superb Norwegian production and comedic black humour at it’s best. Yes! But it takes a good acting duo to pull it off. Almost a ‘laugh-a-minute.’

OK, one or two ‘bits’ that didn’t need to be there, but it is black humour, after all – with some cutting satirical bits.

 “It’s amusing and irreverent, bleak and repulsive — and therefore an exercise in cognitive dissonance, I guess. It’s definitely conceived more in sickness than in health. For better or worse. ’Till death by disembowelment or shotgun do we part. I’m gonna stop there”+ – John Serba … I couldn’t have put it better myself.

The three convicts on the run also played the terrible trio to perfection – Petter (Atle Antonsen), Dave (Christian Rubeck), and Roy (André Eriksen). Nils Ole Oftebro as ‘Dad’ – good to see him again. Stig Frode Henriksen was a new face for us – not much of a role for him.

It’s labelled as an action thriller- by who! It’s a HORROR-COMEDY folks. Silly? Yes. Daft? Yes.

Director: Tommy Wirkola – and co-writer. Will have to look-up his Dead Snow (2009). 

Tommy Wirkola – a Norwegian of Finnish heritage. That look, that smile says it all!

Anna Akhmatova: “She set our souls in motion”

Joseph Brodsky writes:“We did not go to her for praise, or literary recognition, or any kind of approval for our work … We went to see her because she set our souls in motion, because in her presence you seem to move on from the emotional and spiritual – oh, I don’t know what you call it – level you were on.

You rejected the language you spoke every day for the language she used. Of course, we discussed literature, and we gossiped, and we ran out for vodka, listened to Mozart, and mocked the government.

Looking back, though, what I hear and see is not this; in my consciousness surfaces one line from the same ‘Sweetbriar in Blossom’: “You do not know what you were forgiven.” This line tears itself away rather than bursting out of the context because it is uttered by the voice of the soul, for the forgiver is always greater than the offense and whoever inflicts it. This line, seemingly addressed to one person, is in fact addressed to the whole world.

It is the soul’s response to existence.

It is this, and not the ways of verse-making, that we learned from her.”

Soul of the World by Gurlev Vladmir
 Zinaida Serebriakova drawing of Anna 1922

Anna of all the Russias

Moisey Lyangleben, Portrait of Anna Akhmatova 1964, Anna Akhmatova in Komarovo, Russia,

Somehow, on this portrait, she reminds us of great Russian queens – and she truly was one.

“To the golden-lipped Anne — to a word
That all of Russia redeems!
Carry away my voice
And my heavy sigh, wind.

About quiet bow of the earth among
Golden fields, O the burning skies,
Tell the story; and also about
From the agony blackened eyes.

You attained once again
In the thundering height!
You — the nameless one!
Carry love of mine
To the gold-lipped Anne —
All of Russia
!”

Marina Tsvetaeva, To Akhmatova. 9, 1916.
Marina T by Magda Nachman Acharya 
Amedeo Modigliani, Sketches of Anna Akhmatova, 1911

Anna Akhmatova: ‘Big gray eyes. Sort of like snow leopards…’

Anna’s protégé was Nobel poet Joseph Brodsky, who was drawn to her circle in 1961, a few years before she died. He spoke about Anna this way:

“She’s the kind of poet whose lines you unwittingly mumble to yourself, especially when you’re in trouble. I remember several times, when I would be sick in hospital, surgery, this and that, et cetera et cetera. I would find myself mumbling, completely unrelated to the situation, a few of her lines. Well, they are very memorable.”

“She was simply, physically, visibly, beautiful. Big gray eyes. Sort of like snow leopards – you know those eyes, ya? Tremendous nose. She was one of the most beautiful women of the century, I think. Tremendous head. Just … absolutely majestic.”

Joseph was the favored protégé of the Great lady of Petersburg, as Anna was known. To hear him read her poems in Russian was an experience to make one’s hair stand on end even if one did not understand the Russian language (wrote Librarian of Congress Dr James Billington). Joseph Brodsky was the embodiment of the hopes not only of Anna, the last of the great Petersburg poets from the beginning of the century, but also Nadezhda Mandelstam, widow of another great martyred poet Osip Mandelstam. Both of them saw Joseph as part of the guiding light that might some day lead Russia back to her own deep roots.

Joseph Brodsky 1940 St Petersburg – 1996 New York City

In 1963, Joseph’s poetry was denounced by a Leningrad newspaper as “pornographic and anti-Soviet. His papers were confiscated, he was interrogated, twice put in a mental institution and then arrested. He was charged with social parasitism by the Soviet authorities in a trial in 1964, finding that his series of odd jobs and role as a poet were not a sufficient contribution to society. He left Russia in 1972. In 1991, Brodsky became the Poet Laureate of the USA.