Never Too Late!

Never Too Late!
any resemblance to anyone real or imaginary is mere bad luck
we are all lying in the gutter, but some of us are trying to get up


Sites of pilgrimage

Rouza Masjid, Mazar-i-Sharif: here lies hazrat Ali, first imam of the Shia. I always thought it was in Najaf or somewhere, in Iraq, but apparently they're just bluffing.

Mazar-i-Rabia Balkhi, Balkh: the tomb of Rabia Balkhi, 9th century princess-poetess of Balkh. She fell in love with a slave, and was either killed by her own brother due to the unacceptable royal-slave nature of the affair, or slashed her own wrists after the slave was sent away or killed by her family. She wrote her last verses in her own blood, supposedly on the walls of the room now beneath this tombstone. Over the centuries, her grave became a shrine for the prayers of young lovers beset by impossible circumstances... The caretaker, a gentle and ancient man, doesn't speak except to mumble obscure prayers... If you photograph him, he will assume a pious and prayerful expression...

Below a view of the mosque opposite the shrine and the old white-beard with the enigmatic smile who props it up...

Masjed-e-Nau-Gumbad, Balkh: nearby is also the Mosque of the Nine Domes, Afghanistan's oldest mosque (9th century), slowly crumbling next to a tranquil pool in the vicious dusty winds that often sweep the plain. Also the malung-ish caretaker.


Things you can do with wrecked armour

If you have had decades of conflict in your back yard and the whole place is a dreadful mess, despair not! Here we bring you some creative ideas for the use of war detritus for the discerning home-maker.

[this post will be updated with more and better pictures as they arrive, until I get completely bored at least]

Abandoned APCs can be used as roadside advertising billboards.

Tank tracks can be embedded in the road to make excellent speed bumps.

If you have a large number of trashed APCs, don't leave them lying around in a big mess; stack them neatly on top of each other in the river and build a petrol station on top of them.

The engine compartment of an old T-55 makes a marvellous place to plant a shrubbery.

Trashed upside-down tanks are also absolutely splendid for preventing avalanches and soil erosion.

Spent artillery shell casings are just the thing for sealing the ends of your roof beams to prevent rot; or why not go the whole way and line your whole roof with them?

They also make good traffic cones.


[approximate stream of consciousness:
-this is just like Peshawar! It feels so good to be back!
-whatthefuckwasthat?? This is a totally strange and alien country.
-oh the food the smells the feel in the air, this is just like coming home!
-whaat?? the hell is going on??
-oh this is great, just like how I remembered everything!
-what's that? where am I? someone explain??]

[the town is hard at work re-constructing itself... the most incredible scaffolding!]

"Az kojai? Uzbekistan?" [where you from? Uzbekistan?] some people keep insisting on asking.


So so so so so. Look too foreign to be Afghan, but not foreign enough to be American.

Incidentally, I am vaguely pleased at how Finland's international profile has improved in the last few years. It always used to be: "Pinnland? What? You mean England?" Now it's: "Finland? Good! Nokia is best phone!"

[Nokia with Persian characters and predictive texting in Urdu and Arabic...]

Magic plastic bag

At Heathrow they made me put my miniature travel-sized toothpaste tube in a clear plastic bag. Due to the security situation, you know? Liquid bomb plot and all that?

And a good thing that was, too. Because as it happens, I had concealed just enough plastic explosive in there so that, in combination with an empty brandy miniature to make a shaped charge with, it would have been just about enough to fracture one of the windows and cause explosive de-pressurisation.

But that damn plastic bag. I sat there all flight, just staring at my toothpaste - so near, and yet so unreachable!


"Estimate kin, those nearest whereof thou art sprung"

From: Grandad
To: Lazy
Re: gardening

Like you I think Iraq was a disaster for us, if only Tony Blair was not in dear Georges pocket, I should think he was after a plum job in America when he is no longer Prime Minister, or am I becoming cynical.

Akghanistan is different it is suppoesed to be a Nato operation, although it seems to be UK and Canada soldiers doing the fighting and dying. The Americans just Kill the odd Nato soldier and Afghan civilians by so called "friendly fire" I often think it is as dangerous having the Yanks around as the Taliban.

In Korea the much vaunted Gen. MacArthur left our regiment of about 600 men the "Glorious Glosters" [Gloucestershire Regiment] to hold a Chinese army of over 12000 while the American marines ran away-sorry made a strategic withdrawal. 350 Glosters were killed or captured when they ran out of food and amunition, abandoned by the American military and those who did escape did so because a British armoured column waited for them, without orders as the Americans were long gone.

If you do go to a fighting Zone, be as cautious regarding your safety if there are Yanks involved as of the "enemy"

The wisteria is out in the garden and the tulips and daffodils......
seven years to the day since arriving in London with a shoulderbag to stay for "I dunno, about two weeks?", a stranger walks out of an airport at midnight into the embrace of 100 degrees F air heavy and humid with the water of the Arabian sea and almost cries for sheer joy


i woke up from a strange dream. it was about 8pm, i was still sitting outside the bar holding a drink and the japanese girl had gone. the sun set blood red in the smoke.

other people.

i can't write about anything any more in case someone mistakes it for fact.

but i felt like writing about the essential rightness of the evening and the perfection of the door squeaking as it moved once with the breeze, later, when i was sitting alone staring at the sky.


you can't afford to lose it now, great things are at stake. spread disinformation. think. think. they're almost on to you.

i'm so paranoid i will call up and change the meeting place at the last moment, in case they've set something up... i mean, why choose that bar with the big fucking windows? who is watching through a 300mm lens? will they be wired?

jesus fuck.

someone tell me it's my own twisted psychopathology.
total radio silence