Today isn’t our Day 27 on the way to Rome. We’re not making our 24th hike. The discrepancy is that we plan to rest on the seventh day of every week. If we were out on the trail, it would be categorised as an easy 19 km in the Pas-de-Calais. We’d have set out from Wisques after a good breakfast from accommodation unknown. I checked the weather – cloudy but only 9C. Perfect for a hike and another chat. Assuming we’re still talking to one another.[Read more…] about Day 27 (or not)
Renaming These Islands
Back in 1171, there was an English invasion of Ireland. They say English Pope Adrian IV had issued the Papal Bull Laudabiliter which granted English King Henry II the right to invade Ireland and Romanise the church. Though the existence of this document has been disputed, Ireland’s future was nonetheless subsumed when Henry declared sovereignty and Dublin became the centre for his enforcers.
Tax Collectors II
I have already been told that my first post on Tax Collectors was pretty dark. This second story will not be much brighter despite being desert based.
Tax collectors have often been brutal down the ages. Just ask the residents of Isfahan why they killed Tamerlane’s tax collectors in the late 1300s. Unfortunately for them, as when the city of Khiva upset the great Timur in 1370, he then slaughtered Isfahan’s citizens and razed the city. Arguably, his most infamous atrocity was that he commanded a pyramid be built from the skulls of the tax renegades. He treated Damascus and Baghdad with similar contempt. Yet he transformed his city of Samarkand to a place of wonder that persists today.
Tamerlane / Timur is a folk hero these days. He’s on the money in Uzbekistan and I’ve seen him on a horse in central Tashkent. Not bad for someone whose no-nonsense ruling style was accentuated by the slaughter of as many as ten million people across the Timurid Empire that once stretched from Ankara to Delhi and Hormuz nearly to Moscow.[Read more…] about Tax Collectors II
On Persistent Ambiguity
I was excited though not surprised when President Éamon de Valera walked down the aisle towards my grandfather’s coffin. Grandfathers can be hugely important and mysterious figures to kids so why wouldn’t the President of our country be showing his respect to my grandfather? The bar had been set quite high the week before with the TV coverage for Winston Churchill’s funeral. I had no other model for my first funeral, so to speak.
I was only ten and knew nothing much of the world beyond my family. Indeed, I wasn’t completely sure of that much within my family. Family gatherings, particularly those agnate, were generally fuelled by drink and thrived on stories of death by various mis-adventures. An oral tradition, the drinking and the storytelling both. The rituals often involved stormy nights under the flickering light of the damnable smokey coal fires of the era. The elaborations depended on the storyteller. ‘It was a late summer evening’ might become ‘One spring morning’ and we accepted such ambiguity because the outcome was assured.[Read more…] about On Persistent Ambiguity