I Am Woman, Help Me Roar


The police line-up looked like a page torn out of an Asian Who’s Who.
Sarah Champion said so, and she did not mince her words. “British Pakistani men ARE raping and exploiting white girls – and it’s time we face up to it.”
However, the aptly-named Champion is not just a woman in the street. Before she wrote the fateful words, she used to be the British Labour Party’s Shadow Minister for Equalities. She resigned from her frontbench position when she was hauled over the coals for using, and I quote, “blanket, radicalised, loaded statements” and “Nazi like language”, unquote.
This is another example of political correctness gone, not only awry, but totally crazy. Apparently, she was being racist, and was not supposed to have defined the perpetrators by race.
I would probably be one of the last women that feminists embrace as one of their own. However, I cannot help noting that whatever happens, it’s cherchez la femme in the worst possible meaning of the phrase… because women always get the wrong end of the stick.
A lot – too much – has been said about the foreign woman who, alas ‘offended public morals’ because she was as high as a kite, and consequently did not know, or probably care, what she was doing. But two men who go skinny-dipping are laughed off as “lads”, and two youths who endanger their lives and cost the state megabucks in rescue fees and manpower and time are just “boys being boys”.
Can anyone tell me whether the person who filmed the woman is being fined for disseminating porn? Or does the video-clip fall under the general heading of “news in the silly season”?
A man of the cloth – I use the euphemism on purpose – makes a mockery of what he stands for… and some have the audacity to say that, like all victims of sexual deviants, she “asked for it”.
A pathetic excuse for a husband beats his wife, who did not obey her lord and master, not because she was out with the girls, or watching television, but because she had chores to do. She is hospitalised. It did not even occur to him that his brutality would deprive him of many more of her meals.
A dirty old man under the illusion that he is some handsome virile porn star, attempts to go kinky on his wife… without her consent.
A girl dies – and the hacks rush to pick out the photos featuring her in the most provocative poses from Facebook and other social sites.
A punter thrashes the flat of a woman who has still not fully transgendered. Some self-styled experts said that there should have been full disclosure before they got down to the nitty-gritty. Only a few of us understood that his wrath stemmed partly from the fact that he knew he was going to be mocked by his peers (especially of they are of the same mind-set as he) for what happened to him…
In all the above stories, the victims are denied dignity… perhaps because they are women… perhaps because the perpetrators are men… perhaps a combination of both… Throw in some barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen fundamentalism, and there you have it.
There will always be, of course, women who ask why “she didn’t leave him”, and, when it comes to abortion and prostitution, that it is “her body, her choice”. Alas, things are not that simple.
Now we are being told that prostitution, stripper clubs (let’s not call a spade a digging implement), white (or any other colour) slavery, and money laundering, are totally unconnected topics. International documentation backed by research and statistics, is scorned and dismissed as a mere theory… by the people who stand to earn megabucks if things go their way.
Alas, I thought that those of us who voted in the last election, chose representatives who would “do something” about injustices. It seems they are too busy going about their official darg to find time for anything else.
Who will bell the cat?


How Do I Write? Let Me Count the Ways

Posted on June 7, 2010 at 2:29 AM

I write in the dark, comfortably supine, using pencils on unlined paper and my stomach for a desk. I write on spiral notebooks during the countless bus-rides I take because I do not drive. I write at the kitchen table, with ink-filled pens on beautiful stationery. I write at my personal computer  – and that is where FreeCell and e-mails do their best to distract me..
My version of a paperless office is both my night-time dreaming, and the writing I do in my head when my eyes glaze over where it would be bad form to whip out a ballpoint. Sometimes these words do not get to the physical point, but as far as I am concerned, they’re written anyhow..
I breathe because I write. I scrawl ideas on the margins of newspapers and the backs of envelopes and receipts..
I write because I breathe. A letter, a poem, a haiku, or an opinion piece may be written on impulse, but I have to knuckle down for deadlines. Yet I have no “routine” as such; I would never be able to write one thousand words before breakfast..
People fascinate me. Family, friends, and even perfect strangers often thinly disguise themselves and gate-crash my fiction. For non-fiction I have to keep half an eye on the libel laws. With Malta being such an insular place, this is especially pertinent..
Credibility is something I treasure. I always get my information from the source. I do not like censorship; yet I do not like people showing that it exists by depicting gratuitous vulgarity, or sex, or violence that are bound to be censored, either..
Sometimes, a column or a poem write themselves. I have never stumbled over the hackneyed writers’ block; perhaps that’s because I tend to procrastinate since I know I work best under pressure. So, if you want me to write for you, never say “no hurry”. I have always made deadlines (albeit sometimes with seconds to spare) come hell or high water, births and deaths, illness and travel..
I’m a stickler for using the correct terminology; and since the phrase “editors reserve the right to edit for length or clarity” covers a multitude of their sins, this has given rise to many heated discussions. I have no beef with writers who insist upon being paid for every word they pen; but I am not averse to donating articles (or poems or puzzles) to publications of worthy causes, without being credited – since this would defeat the “donation” principle..
My writing is eclectic; so I slant my work according to the demographics of the readership of each publication or site. I do insert a couple of “difficult” words in children’s stories in such a way that, even if they are not looked up (as I hope they will be) the tale will not lose anything. I try to get my values across in anything I write, be it a television critique column or an interview with a celebrity. I like puns, alliteration, and idioms. But unless the feature is deliberately meant to be over-the-top, I consciously ration myself not to risk losing the thrust of my piece. I have several dictionaries (some of them esoteric) and thesauruses, which I prefer to online versions.
Therapy; a weapon; serious fun; a dais. Writing, to me, is all these, and more..

Traskurati… jew imsieken?

Ġun 20, 2016 18:53

Fejn kienet ommu? Fejn kien missieru? Dawn il-kliem nisimgħuhom meta tifel jaqa’ mnn fuq bandla, jew jiżloq f’xi żejt tal-karozzi li jkun hemm fit-triq. Bħallikieku nistgħu nżommu jdejn uliedna 24/7 biex ma jiġrilhom xejn.
Nisimgħu dan il-kliem ukoll meta tiġri xi traġedja… meta xi tifel jittajjar minn karozza u jmut; jew, bħalma rajna dan l-aħħar, meta xi annimal salvaġġ jaħtaf lil xi tifel li jiżgiċċa mill-ħarsa tal-kbar, u joqrob lejh… u f’tebqa’ t’għajn l-annimal jagħmel dak li l-istint jgħidlu li għandu jsir.
U allura – il-kummenti krudili u inutli tiegħek ser ibiddlu li ġara? Mhux kulħadd jaf li ġenitur qatt m’għandu jidfen lil ibnu? Hemm għalfejn tikteb dan fil-gazzetti kollha fejn tidher l-istorja?
Meta tifel ikollu marda terminali, dan diġà jkun stallett fil-qlub ta’ dawk kollha li jħobbuh. Jixbgħu jistaqsu għaliex. Iduru l-professuri kollha biex jaraw jekk hemmx xi ħaġa li tista’ ssir; xi ħaga ġdida, imqar esperiment li qat ma ppruvawh fuq il-bnedmin qabel. Forsi ma tafx kif…
Meta jiġri xi inċident bħalma ġraw dan l-aħħar, imma, l-istorja tinbidel. Flok ma noħduha kontra Alla (jekk nemmnu fiH), nobżqu l-mibegħda kollha tagħna lejn il-ġenituri li ħallew idejn it-tfal tagħhom imqar għal sekonda. U jekk, kif ġara, ġarrbu t-telfa kiefra, xorta nsinnu lsienna u ma nħalluhiex ħelwa għal melħa.
Għax it-tfal tagħna qatt ma weġġgħu meta kienu magħna. Qatt ma korrew meta kienu l-iskola (u hemm inwaħħlu fl-għalliema). Qatt ma kellna xi membru tal-familja li baqa’ mmankat meta pprova jagħmel xi bravura. Jew forsi għandna żewġ qisien – dak “għalina” (għax it-tfal jgħalluk), u ieħor għall-oħrajn (għax il-ġenituri traskurati).
Kull minn segwa l-aħħar storja jaf li missier it-tifel tqabad bis-sħiħ biex jiġbed lit-tifel minn ħalq il-kukkudrill. Min jaf kemm xtaq li dan l-annimal feroċi jinsa lil ibnu u jaqbad fih minflok. Min jaf kif iġġennu bid-dispjaċir meta t-tifel ma deherx iżjed.
Din il-familja, li min jaf kemm damet tagħmel preparamenti, u tfaddal, biex tmur vaganza, ser tgħix il-bqija ta’ ħajjitha b’ħofra fonda f’qalbha – b’xogħfa kbira li f’dawk iż-żewġ sekondi, iż-żgħir żgiċċa u mar jesplora.
Imma possibbli hemm bżonn li kull meta tiġri xi waħda tinkiteb bħal din, aħna nfittxu każijiet simili fejn l-istorja spiċċat mod ieħor – jew għax it-tifel ikun salvat, jew għax jinqatel l-annimal – u nistaqsu “dan kif ma ġarax hekk din id-darba wkoll?”
Hawn min iwaħħal fl-internet… għax b’erba’ tektikiet tal-mouse nsibu dak li rridu flok li noqogħdu nqallbu l-gazzetti. Imma le. Mhux kulħadd juża l-internet għal skopijiet faħxija hekk. Mela allura, dawn huma n-nies li jħobbu jgħaddu ġudizzju fuq ħaddieħor… forsi biex tagħhom ma jidhirx.
Nistaqsi: kieku din l-omm, dan il-missier, kellhom ikunu ċ-ċimiterju meta int qed tqiegħed il-fjuri fuq il-qabar ta’ missierek / nannuk / dak li rabbiek, int tkellimhom? U meta ngħid tkellimhom, irrid infisser: x’tagħmel, ittihom il-kondoljanzi tiegħek u tibki magħhom… jew takkużahom bi traskuraġni u tgħidilhom li ħaqqhom li ġralhom hekk? Ser niftakru li jekk it-tfal tagħna qatt ma ġralhom xejn, dak mhux għax aħna perfetti iżda għax ma nqalgħetx l-okkażjoni?
Mela, dak li m’aħniex lesti li ngħidulu f’wiċċu lil dak li jkun, lanqas għandna ngħiduh minn wara dahru, jew fuq xi sit soċjali, biex nuru kemm aħna nafu ninsġu l-kliem (jew nitkellmu pastaż).

Maltese Gemgem: Good Moaning Begins Here!

Wednesday, 30th July 2008

Wherever Maltese are found
The grievance culture follows;
We are wont to protest
As if there’s no tomorrow.
We complain when it’s sunny;
We object when it’s not
We find fault when it’s freezing
We grouse when it is hot.
We gripe in morns and evenings
We whinge day in and out
We bellyache in cities…
In our villages and towns
We moan about the neighbours,
Our relatives and friends
We chunter about in-laws,
And the law of the land.
We beef at the high prices
But we frown when things are cheap;
Standing in queues annoys us…
But the fast life makes us weep…
This poem, dated 1976, fell out from between the pages of The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer when I was looking for a quote for another feature. I must have written it in a moment of boredom during an English Literature lesson, and then forgotten all about it.
I cringe at it amateurishness – in fact, I grumble, too – when I see how it fails to scan properly, but the message is clear. Then, as now, I never complied about “being born under an unlucky star”; I may not have what I want, but I want what I have.
Grumbling is a national pastime – however, it is an essential ingredient in the money-earning potential of my psycho friends (psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists). They tell me that sometimes, people complain simply because they do not want to be seen as doormats, or because they crave attention.
Because, really there is a psychological reason for grumbling. Whether it is disappointment at temperature of the tea you have been served at a bar, annoyance at having been wound up by a friend, or frustration at having been shoddily treated at a major shopping establishment where you had been a loyal customer, dissatisfaction is bound to manifest itself in letting of steam in the way of grumbling.
My kids tell me that if I didn’t have anything about which to complain, that is exactly about what I would be peevish; Sesame Street’s Grouch looks like Pollyanna when compared to me. But that is no skin off my nose. Really. But I have been vindicated.
According to my afore-mentioned psycho-friends, moaning is an essential part of life. Unless overdone into a full-blown persecution complex, it may actually be healthy to complain about something, anything – and it’s a moot point about whether it’s better than gossiping, too.
The British stiff upper lip mostly ensures that the person or institution being complained about is the last to know; but complaints about the weather are “fine”. Only rarely do they even consider complaining by “letting rip”.
But our Latin blood ensures that we Maltese are rather vociferous about complaining. Most complaints arise from the fact that we know we could carry out their jobs better than the Pope, the President and the Prime Minister and anyone else in authority.
There is also the fact that if people did things are way, life would be so much better for everyone. As Michael Winner succinctly put it, “co-operation is a lot of people doing what I say.” Why have I complained this week? let’s see… there was a host of different government departments all asking for the same documents to confirm the same thing; going to collect some photocopies that had to be ready the week before, but were not; a new pair of mules where the sole parted company with the shoe the minute my daughter climbed the steps of a bus; a new handbag that had a strap that was flaking off…
Complaining, done properly, brings results; but the chances are that when done aggressively, it alienates the person at whom the complaint is addressed, and makes him bend backwards to avoid fixing things for us. And most of us know better than to complain at eateries when another course is yet to follow.
We complain about he status quo, the slowness of the check-out girl at the supermarket; the footprints on our hitherto clean floor, the Health, Education, and Taxation systems; the amount of packaging we discard after shopping for a week; and we just know that things would be fine if everyone did things our way, simply because we cannot do everything ourselves (although it seems like that).
The book Complaint: From Minor Moans to Principled Protests by Julian Baggini, just out, mentions another type of complaint – the insincere, ‘boasting’ ones, which are part of a status symbol, rather than aimed at changing or at least improving anything. If you pay attention, you can hear people complaining about how their dress that cost €200, “apparently had the buttons stuck on with spittle..” and how difficult it was to get a table at a five-star restaurant, or how “tired” they feel because “in their social position they have to socialize nearly every night”. So the next time your friend says that it cost her €50 to do her fingernails and then she “got a fungus under three of them”, just smile coyly… and don’t remind her that where’s a blame, there’s a claim…”


A lifetime ago, before irate parents could call their favourite radio stations at the drop of a hat (more on this later) I worked as a Kindergarten Assistant.
Even back then, some of the children mocked their peers because whereas they “had a wardrobe bursting at the seams”, the latter “always wore the same clothes”.
Then came the decision that children, even at pre-school age, would wear uniforms. Ironically, the parents of the Clothes Show gang were the first ones to call the radio stations to complain about the “extra expense” they were going to be put through.
Alas, for some of them, the real reason was that their perfect little angels would not be able to preen any longer because they would look “the same as the others” as one of them succinctly put it in a rant outside the school gates. “Children are individuals!” she said “so why are they being treated as if they were in the Army? If they don’t wear their nice clothes to school, when can they wear them?”
Many people would remember the story with references to the Young Pioneer Movement, which has hitherto free-spirited children having to wear a uniform (like that of their teacher) and being given sweets sent by the “Great Leader” – after prayers to God delivered nothing.
The reason that I do not like uniforms is that most of them they tend to be drab… and some of them are also ugly, itchy, and badly-designed… such as summer shirts for girls that are so flimsy that a waistcoat made from the same fabric as the skirt, guaranteed to keep the heat in, has to be worn.
Or how about socks in school colours that do not have turned-over tops, such that they slide down the legs as the child walks?
There are schools that go for distinctive, expensive uniforms as a touch of class. For reasons of their own, they even forbid parents who are excellent seamstresses to sew their children’s’ blazers.
For others, the reason is more practical. It is much easier to do a headcount of children wearing a bright yellow polo-shirt during a school outing, than it would be had they been wearing white shirts…exactly like those of four other schools in the same place on a school outing.
Many children who watch television shows depicting foreign schools complain that their peers in the equivalent of Saved By the Bell, Fame, Beverly Hills 90210, Smallville and The O.C. can get away with, literally, everything. Making a uniform mandatory would probably make the series less interesting, since the clothing of the students in these shows reflects their characters, anyway.
They fail to realise that what is depicted on the screen is not ”the truth” – surely no self-respecting head of School would allow bare midriffs, spaghetti straps and painted-on cycling shorts, or other provocative clothing.
This is not a case of a Head of School ripping loose hems of skirts that are too short, or making students go to the toilets to remove tights worn underneath knee-socks to fight the cold if they were not “exactly” flesh-coloured.
Wearing a uniform is part of the praxis of religious orders, the armed forces, and other groups that want to present a depiction of “organisation” and “discipline” to the world. This is only a part of what school uniforms represent, however.
Some of us resent the fact that uniforms may only be bought from selected outlets or from the schools themselves – especially if they are not made of good-quality fabric and the only thing differentiating them from non-branded items is s logo that is sometimes just sewn on.
And yet, they solve the perennial what-shall-I-wear today problem, as well as indicating that a child is a part of a group with an innate sense of decorum and order.
It is a moot point whether a fail-safe dress code – no branded clothing, no jeans, no tracksuits, no visible cleavage, no stretch fabrics, covered shoulders, shorts up to the knees, no slogans of any kind (even religious ones) on t-shirts or sweater, no hoodies, no low-waisted trousers that expose underwear – would work.
It goes without saying that make-up, jewellery and piercings and non-sensible shoes will be forbidden, too.
There will always be that difference in how many different items of a type one has, and what quality they are, and whether they are new or obviously hand-me-downs. And there will always be students who assume that fashion shows and beauty contests are part and parcel of the educational system.
Ironically schools that boast they are progressive are all to ready allow children not to wear uniforms, just to prove their point, whereas the Malta Union of Teachers, in a memorandum to the political parties, has actually asked whether it is time to abolish them.
And then we have those who believe that the very wearing of a uniform is conducive to learning, because “a child in casual clothes is not in the right frame of mind to learn”. It is one less thing to worry about for school administrations. Alas, however, a uniform will not stop bullying.
One assumes that by the time the child is in tertiary education, his mind-set will be different.
At least, one hopes it will.

That Thing Called Child Abuse


Only a few people would probably remember Victoria Adjo Climbié and Kyria Ishaq. And the furore over Baby P, which brought to light how, in Britain alone, “three children a week are dying of abuse or neglect at the hands of parents or guardians” has all but faded away. Thousands of stories remain untold, ironically, sometimes, because those who could do something about it do not even notice what is going on right under their noses, be they parents or educators.
Child abuse is not “just” about the stereotypical dirty old man in the playground, playing spider to the fly. It usually happens within the four walls of the family home, the very place where a child’s rights include being loved, nurtured, fed, and clothed, or, by extension, in those places where we mistakenly think our children are safe.
Children may suffer neglect as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Typically, different types of abuse obtain in conjunction with one another more often than they exist alone. Sexually-abused children are often neglected and physically-abused children are also being emotionally abused.
There are times when, because of conflicting timetables, workload, illness or other commitments, we have to leave our children in the care of others.
Recent statistics indicate that, on average, there is at least one case of child abuse a day in Malta. Even if you would never plead guilty to abusing your child through neglect – because you work all God’s hours to give him everything (except, perhaps, the love he craves) – there are some red flags that may indicate that not all is well between your child and his alternative carers.
A child winces when you raise your hand to cover your mouth as you yawn. His demeanour changes at the sound of approaching footsteps.
He throws a tantrum when you mention a particular relative at whose house he will have to sleep over because you are going abroad on business…
Consider when a child who spends time in someone else’s care:
1. Appears constantly on edge, as if fearing what may happen.
2. Appears to have changed his eating and sleeping patterns.
3. Becomes aggressive, excessively withdrawn, compliant or passive.
4. Becomes tearful or throws tantrums at the least provocation.
5. Behaves in an over-the-top way in a given situation.
6. Behaves precociously, reverts to infantile habits, or self-harms.
7. Boasts, albeit in jest, that he has watched pornography.
8. Bullies children who are weaker or is cruel towards pets.
9. Develops medical problems (herpes, gum or teeth problems, dermatitis, etc).
10. Develops pruritus, a nervous tic, or repetitive behaviour.
11. Has an odd smell, or downright BO, when he returns from his visit.
12. Has bruises or other marks, explained away as falls, or bumps.
13. Has difficulty concentrating and occasionally daydreams.
14. Has not done his homework because he was not adequately supervised.
15. Is ambivalent when asked how he spent his time away from home.
16. Is in possession of gifts that he tries to conceal.
17. Now refuses to allow you to bathe him.
18. Rarely contributes comments during family discussions.
19. Refuses alternative carer(s), saying he is old enough to look after himself.
20. Says that so-and-so “allows” him to drink alcohol.
If sexual abuse is involved, there will be additional red flags, including a sudden, sophisticated or unusual sexual nous. A child, apart from having experiencing difficulty walking or sitting, may suddenly refuse to change for PE lessons in front of his peers, with a vehemence that may even cause his teachers to contact you.
Children may even run away from home or play truant from school. They may have nightmares or start wetting the bed. Appetite may be affected too; bulimia and anorexia may be a child’s subconscious effort to “cleanse” himself or become unattractive to his predator.
We strive to teach children that nobody may touch their “private body”, that they must respect authority figures and that they must avoid “tricky people”. Unfortunately, here “stranger danger” ceases to exist per se because sexual abuse, like other abuse, is usually carried out by people whom the child knows well. We, as parents, strive to give our kids all they could possibly need, and want, and more, ironically, perhaps, while someone else is ruining them physically, emotionally and mentally while we earn the money to be able to do so.
Victims of child abuse exist in a locked cage. They are told that they are bad children and, therefore, deserve to be abused instead of being sent to prison or to hell. They are threatened that the family will break up if they tell. Sometimes, they are asked whether they would rather the abuse happened to younger siblings.
Consider when an adult to whom you entrust your child:
1. Appears over-eager to look after him, even when it is not necessary.
2. Appears reluctant to hand over your child back when you call for him.
3. Appears to be depressed or admits being on medication.
4. Asks whether he may use physical punishment if your child misbehaves.
5. Bawls out, slaps, spanks or smacks your children as if they were his own.
6. Behaves irrationally, perhaps because of substance abuse.
7. Behaves possessively, alienating the child from other children.
8. Demands total devotion from your child, playing on his emotions.
9. Denies the existence of any problems or lies about them.
10. Either offers no explanation for your child’s injury or explains it away glibly.
11. Finds fault with whatever your child does or, conversely, praises him effusively.
12. Has a history of being abused as a child.
13. Insists that when children are inherently evil, they deserve punishment,
14. Insists that the child sorely tests one’s patience but that he adores him anyway.
15. Intimates that he is doing the child and the parent a favour by offering care.
16. Rarely, if ever, looks the child in the eye, except as what could be a “secret signal”.
17. Seeks out your child for care, attention and emotional needs rather than his partner.
18. Seems oblivious to the child’s needs, calling him a big baby and similar names.
19. Touches the child as one would touch an inanimate object.
20. Tries to bribe or steal the child’s affections from his parent(s).
This is a wake-up call; let’s not allow an obsession with materialism to place our children in jeopardy.
A pious fool is he who sees a child struggling in water and says: I’ll take off my tefillin and then save the child (Talmud Jerushalmi: Sota).

Pizza The Action

And so it came to pass that Boss Guy and his Buddies met up for a bite to eat at a fast food joint.
It was par for the course that they would order whatever junk food was on the menu – it was a boys’ night out after all… but the jury is still out on whether it was a wine and pizza party or whether they ordered Buds, as would have befitted the occasion – for lack of evidence (which some would call proof).
Right? Well, actually – wrong, on several counts.
As with the Giaconda, (and the “Hitler” You Tube clip) The Last Supper is one of the most used and abused works of art in the advertising world.
The advertising team of New York Best followed suit and had Jesus and his Apostles depicted wolfing down pizza, hamburgers, and such like… in an effort to garner publicity for their diner. That, they did… and alas, not all of it was the sycophantic adulation they had hoped for.
“Original!” cried some. When it was pointed out that this plagiarism was the nth one, the wannabe back-slappers claimed it was the first time they had seen it – which does not say much for their assumed worldliness.
Be that as it may… most people would know that the Last Supper was, in effect a Pesach meal. Therefore, leavened bread would have been anathema… and that means, pizza dough and hamburger baps would never have featured in the meal. Also… it would be later, much later, that tomatoes would be discovered in America – so pizza sauce and ketchup would not have been available, either.
But of course, that is not the point at all.
Anyone who believes that The Last Supper was when the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist was insulted was highly offended at this levity. “Grow up – its 2017!” is an argument that does not hold water… but it is the one that is bandied about when someone is not ‘modern enough for someone else’s liking.
Inevitably, there were those who dragged the incidents leading to Je Suis Charlie disaster into the fray – but, again, that had nothing to do with it. Predictably, too, some sought to haul (literally and figuratively) paedophilic clergy into it – rather as if this abominable plague is a prerogative of the Catholic Church – but let’s not digress.
It is a pity that some people do not know how to stick to an argument – “Was this offensive?” but seek to gain brownie points by going off at the tangent that best meets their needs (and sentiments) at the moment.
It is, I repeat, not a question of censorship. It is not a question of a niminy-piminy religious attitude. It is not a question of being a wet blanket and not recognising brilliant art when one sees it.
I find it ironic that the people who want “ethics” rather than “comparative religions” (let alone catechism / religion) to be taught in the classroom, found this depiction “beautiful” and “artistic” and “fantastic”…. When they really ought to have been protesting that the more than life-size mugs of ‘religious figures’ had been plastered across a wall for all to see (and enjoy?).
They ought to have been griping about the fact that this was an affront to their secular sensibilities. After all, who wants to see something “preposterous” (wise choice of word, that) day in, day out.
However, and this is a big however, this is where I draw the line.
Just because I don’t like something, or somewhere, (or someone) it does not mean that I can willy-nilly destroy, vandalise, (or kill) that thing, place (or person) to “set things right”. This is the stuff totalitarian regimes and kangaroo courts are made of.
I have said elsewhere that I would be the first one to smash car windows if I saw infants or pets inside, and no signs of ventilation (“I left the AC on,” is not an excuse if the glass is hot.) I have asked people (politely) to stop blaspheming in public. I have gently chided others who might not have known they were breaking the littering law by grinding cigarette butts into the ground, and leaving them there.

But I will never, ever, condone actions such as the vandal one perpetrated by those who high-handedly, and mistakenly, thought they were heroes defending their version of the Catholic Religion… and at the same time, consider some humans less worthy of living, than others.

At this point, I can only sort of quote – Oh (Religious) Liberty, what crimes are committed in thy name.




Hey! Roughton!

He started. He was alone; yet he could have sworn that somebody had addressed him by his surname. On the other hand—he knew that had been on the point of dozing off. So it could have been a mouse scrabbling across the parquet.

What does a girl have to do to get noticed around here?

This time he was sure he’d heard correctly. The voice came from the portrait of Margaret Wilson, who was usually referred to as “The Martyr of Solway”.

That was the first time it had happened.

His was no ordinary job. It was a unique concept. A museum dedicated solely to portraits.

What he had not bargained for was that the portraits . . . talked! Talked, did I say? Well, actually, It was more like a zillion vibrations, reverberating through his brain.

Soon he learned how to discern what they intended to communicate, so they lowered their tone. In time, the portraits didn’t even whisper; he just heard them inside his head.

Van Gogh coughed, a grimace on his cadaverous face. It’s only humans here, isn’t it? We could do with a couple of Louis Wain’s cats. They would keep away the mice.

Napoleon snorted. Cats! Bleurg. Why not horses? Mine—Désirée, not Marengo or Vizir or any other one of them—Babieca, Dhūljānāh, Matsukaze, Bucephalus, Copenhagen, Shadowless . . .

Why not write a book and make money out of all this? He would camouflage it as fiction—and sell it in the foyer.

And he did.

The Scream

It happened each time I looked into a mirror.
I’d smell the sea, and see the outline of a bald head swaying to inaudible music. The vision would last for a few moments, and then, there would I be, dishevelled hair, bags under my eyes, sunken cheeks…
There was the recurring dream, too. I would be walking along the coast road with two of my friends. It would occur to me that had I been Jesus, we’d have been on the road to Emmaus. But Cleopas and his friend still would not have said the magic words “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So they went on their way, and I looked at the long, yellow, brick road ahead of me. Would I be beset by thieves? Would I ever get to smell the green, green grass of home? Would I get to see a yellow ribbon tied to the old oak tree? I felt dejected, forlorn. I stooped and leaned against the low sea-wall, holding back the tears. I smelled brine. Surely this was not the Sea of Galilee.
Was I going crazy? Would I ever learn how to re-route my dreams, make them lucid, and get out of this scenario? I suddenly recognised the fjord of my childhood. The flat roofs of Samaria by this juncture would have been replaced by high-rise buildings but as soon as I shielded my eyes and looked up, trying to make out the floor where I worked when I had been a corporate banker before I went to prison for fraud, they disappeared.
In their place would be a row of old-fashioned Norwegian houses, all painted in different colours, and with grass and flowering weeds growing on the roofs. I’d see a road sign saying “Christiana (now called Oslo)”. Each time, it would be in a different font.
The sky suddenly turned into blood, and I recalled the proverb about how it was deemed to be a shepherd’s delight. Surely not this sky, though. The clouds burgeoned and pulsed with psychedelic lights. I would want to wake up, but I would not be able to.
I’d know that the clouds would soon begin rippling, and dripping blood. I’d look back and see the two men in the distance; they would seem to be looking back and waving at me, so I would half-raise my arm to salute them, and then, immediately feeling a physical ache in my heart, I’d massage my chest, feeling as if I had a gaping wound I had to close. I would wake up each time, dripping with sweat, even though it was the dead of winter. I could wring out the sheets, they’d be so wet.
I went to hypnotherapy sessions, acupuncture sessions, healing Masses… nothing worked. I tried Bach flower remedies and tuned vegan, and took serotonin, but still the dreams persisted.
The only thing that seemed to have an effect was learning how to chant, and using singing bowls. The energy and vibration of their specific frequencies worked on my subconscious, but only jjuyst. I read up on what Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein had said about this, and boy was I impressed.
The dreams persisted, but at least the scary details were gone. The two men I met I the dream had a different aura; if I poked my finger onto it, they disappeared. The sky-scrapers did not feature in my new set of dreams. When I woke up, I would no longer need to change the sheets. However, I’d started getting muscle tension, a migraine, and an upset stomach. My left thumb would hurt, for no reason.
I began listening to Gregorian chant on a loop. I was not yet ready to try transcendental meditation, because I was too busy trying to rebuild my career under a new identity, and I needed more hours in the day, not less.
And then, I found it – the house where I wanted to live until the end of my days. It even had a side door that gave it a room I could turn into an office, without having to travel to work or spend money on rent.
Life was good.
I was clearing out the basement, when I came upon a full-length mirror shrouded in a sheet. I removed it, and suddenly, I smelled the sea, and saw the outline of a man’s bald head, his hands cradling his face as he sang Gregorian chant.
Cue primal scream.



“As per Chapter XI, Section 8, paragraph 9(a)[b]#ꚉ, You will now interface with Xehelia, the chatbot selected for you according to your psychological profile. AI is making great steps. Please sign on the dotted line, and put on your headphones.”
Hello. I need to talk. yI’el.
œÅ\[SÜ~§Šÿà‡y °§¸„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨ ¸­‚¨¨¸­ I–/µ®”’Ý;­Ì<Ú k›¦É’¿çÉòµ{l“TÝ’, ûú$çðS×Ù¨¶+ŒÄŽÑéysxT øšõ˜RiûƸ„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨ ¸­‚¨¨¸­ò’šî ÿâ×ÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­
Maybe we can talk about that later.
sÄߧüÉ›Š¸„¤ÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨ ¸­|¸„¤ÅÈÓ X‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­ºþò éɨ¹„yRw?ïùªš¥Ñܸ„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­ÕÈÇ?Y“­êXLàöÈ wÏ{çO‡ü »‰+#Ú mëØÅÈÓX ‚¨¨¸­¨¶+ Œ¨¶+Œ ÄŽÑÄžñ¸ „¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨
I’m ambivalent about most things – veganism and vampirism included.
¨¸­•ÅèóX ‚¨¨ ¸­Ý°Í®ª(Úxl“æ ñõÏoéÐmëØ ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ ‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­ÊÒÈ}mëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­|iooŸþä-
Not always. I used to eat them when I was a child, though.
ñûMÖ ÈWÏ{ÇO‡ Ü»‰+#ÚMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ ¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄ ŽÑ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(ÚXL“Æ ÑÕÏ ÙÕmï?xºÏ?Å*+‹ õêðüñ²Ä¦y¶Èó¹óöäØù¸„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­/ðü…”v’Ü ‰ÂÄÙäû{Ÿ~tVû{o/ö:×û{<v`Já”åÎæÚ“û¿Þïï}vïwçâ-
Oh yes, I saw the film. Gore and guts….they make me queasy.
`ö”¢toQ,¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨ ¸­‚¨¨¸­?àÒ‘ièÇŠäÀ|à‹‚ßö ÈwÏ{çO‡ü» ‰+#ÚmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄ ŽÑÄžñ¸„¤Å ÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•Åè óX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Úxl“æñõÏ, ‰à~«”Ô㉻ɽÝ| ±öMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑ ĎѸ„¤ÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ÀÆŒ“ Ãœâ.±ûÉÅ,ýÅèó X‚¨¨¸­
Funny you should say that. I had a similar argument on Facebook just this morning.
fÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸ „¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­íÅÕÒ¹ ÏÖÈWÏ{ÇO‡Ü»‰+#Ú MËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨ ¸­Ý°Í®ª(ÚX L“ÆÑÕÏIâ+„Û\›>øv:. ܏ðs?ËâÊK\ŒäT!É
Oh, you know – usual stuff.
Y[ظ„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­M ËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽ ÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ úMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX ‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­< Ÿ½éÚØJl“á‡.’¡Ü õ¯öÈwÏ{çO‡ü»‰+#ÚmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸ „¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Úxl“ æñõÏK ]û¯¥+.ÛvoÇܪÅÈwÇÎáO».ËõÝv?]¯Ëýù>¬
I would rather live in a cave.
ŠýM ËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ ¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄŽÑ ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­ •ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ŠêmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨ ¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­°ˆüzÉÑwÄýxsÄߧüÉ›Š¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­|¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸ ­ºþòéɨ¹„yRw ?ïùª’¯ÈÍVÕ¤wðù
France and Thailand.
[zöÈwÏ{çO‡ü»‰+#ÚmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Úxl“æñõÏäÞMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄ ŽÑÄŽ Ѹ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­kŒ}‚«ŸKK— ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­MŒK?áßiéÄ—
Fantastic. But I Can’t swim.
“¸þ¨¶+ ÄŽÑXM ‰*Õè š¥Ñܸ ¤ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­ÕÈÇ?Y“ ­êXLàö ÈwÏ{çO‡ü»‰+#ÚmëØÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨ ¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Ú xl“æñõÏoéÐmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶ +ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÈX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­ÊÒ È}mëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­|iooÅ ÈÍVÕ¤wðù
How many languages do you speak?
[zöÈwÏ{çO‡ ü»‰ #Úmë ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„ ¤ÅÈÓX‚èóX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Úxl“æñõÏä+ŒÄŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­kŒ}‚«MÖÈWÏ{ÇO‡Ü»‰+#ÚMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+ Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(ÚXL“ÆÑÕ ÏŸKKMŒK?áßiéÄÑèðĉπăʫʤʭʯʠʡᴔᴓ ᴟfflקּ בֿשׁ§ªÅÈÁÐà“¸þ¨¶
I think it’s “nuq ‘oH ponglIj’e’?” in Klingon.
+ŒÄŽÑX M‰*Õè!‚¸„¤ ÓX ‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­|•ŽQ ¦^ÙÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ß\|¨¶+ŒÄŽÑ­>±å•‰ÄÏÆS/ $)lÃÆ/ŒØþì}´¿(ô›‡
No. In Esperanto it’s “Kio estas via nomo?”
â:è ¿¡cżMË ØÅ ÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒġÄŽ
Yes, definitely. But that would be taking the concept too far.
Ah. Hiroshi. He of the conscious robots.
I’m sorry. I wasn’t laughing at you. My comment was lost in translation. I meant, that was funny, not you are funny.
ð¨¶+ŒÄŽÑ´WmëØ ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄž ñ¸„ ¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•Å èóX‚¨¨¸­çðqºõ à ØöÈwÏ{çO‡ü »‰+#ÚmëØÅ ĊÈĠħÓX‚
Emotions are weird things.
Who’d have thought it?
¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ ŒÄ ĦċŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(ÚX L“Æ ÑÕÏO/’|.Æ“¤§j¨¶+ŒÄŽÑ‡-QÇ?q‚$¶ˆ¸„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­å/¯ý…ªä’$õÌ w׌¹ -lYòùñtã]ôVÙõýsO ¸kÈî渄¤ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­roÌL}½Ã œâ.±ûÉ Åġ
With your memory banks and connections, ha ha, you can watch them all, I assume.
ýÅèóX‚¨¨¸­„ÅÀżÄ)+ŸymëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX ‚¨¨¸­I§}úVxŒò’$âÆ »„qýüX:ñéâí,ßJ ÝmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ ¨¶+ŒÄŽ ÑÄžñ¸„¤Å ÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­íÅÕÒ¹ÏÖ ÈWÏ{ÇO‡Ü»‰ +# ÚMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­Ý° Í®ª(ÚXL “ÆÑÕÏIâ+„Û \›>øv:.܏ðsŸÅèóX‚¨¨¸­MŒK? áßiéÄ“¸þ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑX M ‰*Õèš ¥Ñܸ„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­ÕÈÇ?Y“­êXL àöÈwÏ{ çO‡ü»‰+#ÚmëØÅ
That was a pun. I was linking connections to data banks. My, aren’t you in a jolly mood this morning. Proper ray of sunshine, you are.
ĊżaÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤Å ÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Úxl“æñõÏoé ÐmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•Åè óX‚¨¨¸­ÊÒÈ} mëØ ÅÈÓX ‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+Œ ÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­|io ċoÅ.
Figure of speech. Sarcasm. Understatement. Irony. Whatever.
I wish I had never signed up for this. The feedback and background noises are annoying me.
ÈÍ.ċVÕ¤wðùzöÈwÏ{çO‡ü»‰+#ÚċmëØ ċżħ‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Úxl“æñõÏ äÞMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽ ÑĎѸ„ ¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­kŒ?Ë
Never mind.
âÊK\ŒäT!ÉsÄߧüÉ ›Š¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­|¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨ ¸­‚¨¨¸­ºþòéɨ¹„yRw?ïùª’¯ÈÍVÕ¤wŒ:—Å–XÚ–ÞÇȉÈ)‘¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÍÒ½V mëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•Å èóX‚¨¨¸­šÊ
Quite. But it seems that you need some tweaks.
ó`V½Ô,(Së”W º‘( Ò¹|Ÿ¨|#( ċ⺠µö ÈwÏ {çO‡ ü»‰ +#ÚmëØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑ Äžñ¸ „¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ ‚¨¨¸­•Åè óX‚¨¨¸­ Ý°Í®ª (Úxl“æñĠõÏçiW¦ Ö‚¤Ýä´²”ß (­Çʨ ¶+ŒÄ ŽÑ;ùÅèóX‚¨¨¸­<³ ò ,À•Šïáè>¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨ ‚¨¨¸­* ĠĊq!ÛË…§»j¨¶+ŒÄŽÑáæÉý¿<Y<‹rŒù ÀãÄàñ ë ÀLJI:Ö ã[»¨\î¹¥ Æ¡ŒL¦
Oh, if you had to believe all you hear…
vRYµŠÏ‹¸„¤ÅÈÓX ‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­Ƒ¥?Iª‹{¶/yüw YZ øÉ$® /Ór ¤â¥Ø^‘ ‹Q±ƒ º¦]’ÓÖë²xÈ*¨¶+ŒÄŽÑ®=®­ w´ÈÊŽÒ>’œ»jÈ…ç”ë\¨ ¶+ŒÑø`Q ½¡ÅèóX‚¨ ¨¸­jº¥Lý° jÌ ú½ŸÕ Ö È WÏ{ ÇO‡ Ü»‰ ġ+#Ú MËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŽÑ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈX‚¨¨¸­Ò¥ °Í®ª(ÚXL“ÆÑÕÏ‹o ÈÍżżġħ
I would have thought you had supersonic hearing. What I meant was…
VÕ¤wðù [zöÈwÏ{çO‡+# mëØÅÈ ÓX‚¨ħ ŒÄŽÑÄžñ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨ ¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•Å èóX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(ÚxlæõÏ äÞ MËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨Œ ¸ „¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­kŒ}‚«MÖ ÈWÏ{ÇO‡Ü»‰ +#Ú MË ØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨ ¶+ŒÄ ŽÑ Ä ŽÑ¸„¤Å ÈÓX‚¨ÃI¸Á­ ÈġċħÓX‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(ÚXL“ÆÑÕÏŸKK Åè óX‚¨¨¸­MŒK? ĊáßiéÄ“¸þ¨¶
A cycle. A bicycle. A tricycle…
+ŒÄŽÑXM‰*Õè œß+ƒ°àɝ“(Ž˜‘Ó¢è³MËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­ÍãÓÍL´
Yes. Trains and boats and planes.
¸„¤èóX‚ ¨¨¸­‚¨¨ ¸­$»À ¢(„š!ÉÖ±X) ÿ µÚk ö”È’.ÝQ[Ï‡ À•­+¬<mÅ…zZ¶°ÖÈWÏ{ÇO‡Ü ÚMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ŒÄŽÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­• Å È‚¨¨¸­Ý°Í®ª(Ú XL“ÆÑÕÏv•;¡
In any case, you’re staying put.
Actually, my brief was to see how much…
‰öêá(õIöi*ìÛþ{¡ð+¨¶+ ŒÄ Ž Ñ ÊËʼnð±Åù*û¦ÒT¯û‚QV,³KôRmÂª]½ô¯ Êt¥’¨¶+ŒÄ ŽÑo«Ô“w…ËRö ½OåSÛÒJMË ØÅÈÓ X‚¨¨¸­ ¸„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­°ÂRӲȥJ´Ÿi—›$ÓŽªÛ²¡‡…[KJ<õÀšªëMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶+ÑĎѸ„¤ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­V”YzœÍ¯ºŠkÿ?x¬±mVìMËØÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¨¶+Œ¨¶ ¸„

…as I was saying… it is not a matter of taking things literally. Nuances differ in languages, go figure non-language…
¤ÅÈ ÓX‚¨¨¸­‚¨¨¸­•ÅÈÓX‚¨¨¸­¯*«’Ɖ›Š²ÿ¦èK–§sL¤çËâmݍ+ë‘âðršÉÆ’ÿÖX¨¶+ŒÄTù|Š”¬(­-)Çzû‡Ç…§Ž ²Âû•Î–ˆË!{Ýä¡¥ âÛŠ¿R¸„¤ÅèóX‚¨¨ ¸­‚¨¨¸­`¯³#ƒž¨¶+ŒY*µ¦ÂÀ O’q(Ńq¨¶+ŒÄŽÑ…›l^k}¶V~Èȏ¦Í|lÿÄ$ ‚›ÅèóX‚¨¨¸­ :­¬ékv瘤Ӷ³Îäz ¿W’°{”ÜÝÌÁ)씝Ê>íó¸
Very much so.
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Thirty of our minutes.
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Mostly I read. Real books, not interfaces or eBooks.
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Yes, I heard about that. It makes things artificial. The lazy way out.
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Oh, I still wrote longhand.
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I bet you could.
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Oh. There’s the bell. Game Over