Not long now to the publication date.
Darquin, son of Kirian and Isolde was born on a Gallic- Romano estate in the shadow of the ancient Audean, fortified town of Bibracte on Mont Beuvray.
The chance discovery of the simmering love affair between Darquin and Helena, the betrothed teenage daughter of estate owner Tiberius, when caught in a passionate embrace, results in him being banished from the Villa. He is forced to join his cousin Arrius in a unit of Audean cavalry, which was attached to Roman reinforcements, destined to join Proconsul Marcus Licinius Crassus in Syria. The Roman Army suffer a crushing defeat at Carrhae. The Audean cavalry unit, isolated from the main force are captured by a group of mercenaries. They choose to join their captors with whom they travel to Ferghana, the Valley of the White Horses.
When Zhizhi Chanyu, leader of a group of Xiongnu tribesmen demanded from the town an annual tribute as insurance against attack, one hundred horses are sent, accompanied by both Audeans and Ferghanians, to his fort. Advancing from Kashgar towards Zhizhi was an army of the Han Empire, determined to end barbarian control over the trading routes into their country.
Caught in the ensuing siege, the group from Ferghana help with the defence of the fort. The bloody battle ends in victory for General Chen and his allies. One hundred and forty prisoners are taken, all belonging to the group from Ferghana whose tactics had impressed the General.
Darquin and his companions are taken to Chen’s headquarters at Kashgar but are dismayed when they are set one final task: to prove their allegiance to the Emperor. Their reward for success, will be a permanent settlement in the county of Liqian to end their eventful journey in peace. Execution will be the price of failure.
Behind one dead policeman are thousands of other public servants – all prepared to put their lives on the line to keep you, me and our families safe.
Perhaps those in power should remember, we vote to send our representatives to Westminster. Yet once in the corridors of power they forget. They continue to cut spending on essential services. They walk past the men and women who,as we have seen, are prepared to die to uphold peace and security in our streets.
Prayers and vigils will not return someone’s husband, wife son or daughter. Recognition of their value should NOT mean government cuts in staff numbers. It should NOT mean a wage freeze or paltry payrises of less than the cost of living .
The prayers should turn into meaningful demands for higher salaries for those who live on the front line every day of their lives.
March 26th is the fourth Sunday of Lent and traditionally is the day when children give presents, flowers, and homemade cards to their mothers. It has no connection with the Hallmarkian Americanized jamboree of that name where Mother’s Day is now the second Sunday in May and Internationally recognised May Day,has been moved to September.
In common with most of my readers I do not need a special day to remember mine, because later in the month on March 25th is her birthday. It only takes a word overheard or someone’s gesture, as I go about my daily duties, to remind me of both my departed parents.
Most Sundays in the year churchgoers in England worshipped at their nearest parish or “daughter church”. Centuries ago it was considered important for people to return to their home or “mother” church once a year. So in the middle of Lent, everyone would visit their “mother” church, or the main church or Cathedral of the area. It was the return to the “Mother” church which led to the tradition of children, particularly those working as domestic servants, or as apprentices, being given the day off to visit their mother and family.
It was quite common in those days for children to leave home for work once they were ten years old. As they walked along the country lanes, children would pick wild flowers or violets to take to church or give to their mother as a small gift.
With such a richness of strong and vital images of motherhood, we have much to celebrate on Mother’s Day. However it isn’t especially our birth mothers we are celebrating but more spiritually we thank Mother Nature, who sustains us in life and to whom we all eventually return.
Thanksgiving to Mother has ties to ancient pagan rituals. Prehistoric artefact’s, bare proof of this. The earliest recorded festival in history honoured the Egyptian goddess Nut. She was goddess of the sky and wife of Re, the god of the sun and creator of all, and was known for her incredible beauty and kindness. Her generous and loving nature was apparently extensive, leading her into affairs with Geb, the god of the earth, and Thoth, the god of divine words. Re found out and, understandably, was furious with her, issuing a curse that his pregnant wife would not give birth to the child within her in any month of any year! Filled with sorrow that she would never be a mother, Nut turned to Thoth for comfort. Like most males, he couldn’t stand to see a woman cry and promised to find a solution. Using his divine powers of persuasion, Thoth persuaded the Moon into gambling with him. If he won he would get just a little bit of the Moon’s light. The games went on for months, and at the end Thoth had won enough light to create five complete days. Nut didn’t waste a precious moment of those five days. She gave birth to a different child on each day. From that day forward she was called “Mother of the Gods”. Her firstborn, Osiris, was the son of Re and went on to become the god of all the earth. The Great Goddess Isis, daughter of Thoth, was born on the third day. Later as husband and wife they ruled together, creating the first great nation of Western civilization during the “Golden Age of Egypt”
Another Mother figure, Eostre a Saxon deity, marked not only the passage of time but also symbolised new life and fertility. We remember her at the timing of the vernal equinox, also known as Ostara. Legend has it that the goddess was saved by a bird whose wings had become frozen by the cold of winter. This process turned the bird into a hare that could also lay eggs. As usual the church borrowed these pagan symbols for Easter, so the egg and bunny became additional symbols for fertility and the resurrection of life.
On a less serious note I leave these memories which most children have of their Mother.
- My mother taught me TO APPRECIATE A JOB WELL DONE.
‘If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.’
- My mother taught me RELIGION.
‘You better pray that this will come out of the carpet.’
- My mother taught me about TIME TRAVEL
‘If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of
- My mother taught me LOGIC.
’Because I said so, that’s why.’
- My mother taught me MORE LOGIC.
‘If you fall out of that swing and break your neck, you’re not going
to the store with me.’
- My mother taught me FORESIGHT.
‘Make sure you wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.’
- My mother taught me IRONY.
‘Keep crying and I’ll give you something to cry about.’
- My mother taught me about the science of OSMOSIS.
‘Shut your mouth and eat your dinner.’
- My mother taught me about CONTORTIONISM.
‘Will you look at that dirt on the back of your neck?’
- My mother taught me about STAMINA
‘You’ll sit there until all those vegetables are eaten up.’
- My mother taught me about WEATHER…
‘This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.’
- My mother taught me about HYPOCRISY
‘If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!’
- My mother taught me the CIRCLE OF LIFE.
’I brought you into this world, and I can take you out.’
- My mother taught me about BEHAVIOUR MODIFICATION.
‘Stop acting like your father!’
- My mother taught me about ENVY.
‘There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t
have wonderful parents like you do….’
- My mother taught me about ANTICIPATION.
‘Just wait until we get home.
- My mother taught me about RECEIVING.
’You are going to get it when you get home!’
- My mother taught me MEDICAL SCIENCE.
’If you don’t stop crossing your eyes, they are going to get stuck
- My mother taught me E.S.P.
‘put your sweater on; don’t you think I know when you are cold?’
- My mother taught me HUMOUR.
‘When that lawn mower cuts off your toes, don’t come running to me….’
- My mother taught me HOW TO BECOME AN ADULT.
‘If you don’t eat your vegetables, you’ll never grow up.’
- My mother taught me GENETICS.
‘You’re just like your father.’
- My mother taught me about my ROOTS.
‘Shut that door behind you. Do you think you were born in a barn?’
- My mother taught me WISDOM.
‘When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.’
- And my favourite: My mother taught me about JUSTICE
‘One day you’ll have children, and I hope they turn out just like you’
In the church calendar this coming Sunday, commemorates the banquet given by Joseph to his brethren and forms the first lesson of the day. The story of the feeding of the five thousand, forms the gospel for the day. For this reason, Simnel Cakes, rich fruit cakes often covered with marzipan, were eaten on Mothering Sunday, a tradition that persists today.
I’ll to thee a Simnell bring
‘Gainst thou go’st a mothering,
So that, when she blesseth thee,
Half that blessing thou’lt give to me.
[Robert Herrick 1648]
This posting, one week in advance will give my reader’s time to prepare this Receipe for baking a Simnel Cake:
Softened Butter – 225g (8oz);
Castor sugar – 225g (8oz);
Self- Raising flour – 225g (8oz);
Sultanas. – 225g (8oz);
Currants. – 110g (4oz);
Glacé Cherries – 110g (4oz), quartered;
Chopped candied peel – 50g (2oz);
Zest of 2 lemons;
Mixed spice – 2 teaspoon
FILLING AND TOPPING:
Almond paste – 450g (1lb);
Apricot jam – 2 Tablespoons;
1 beaten egg (for glaze).
- Pre-heat oven to 150 °C / 300 °F
- Butter and line the base and sides of a 20 cm (8 inch) deep round cake tin with buttered greaseproof paper. Place all the cake ingredients bowl and beat well. Place half the mixture in the prepared tin.
- Take one-third of the almond paste and roll it out into a circle the size of the tin. Place it on top of the cake mixture. Spoon the remaining cake mixture over and smooth the surface.
- Bake for about 2½ hours until well risen and firm. (If the top of the cake is browning too quickly in the oven, cover it with greaseproof paper.) Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- When the cake has cooled, brush the top with a little warmed apricot jam and roll out half the remaining almond paste to fit the top. Press firmly on the top and crimp the edges to decorate.
- Mark a criss-cross pattern on the almond paste with a sharp knife. Roll the remaining almond paste into 11 balls.
- Brush the almond paste with beaten egg and arrange the balls around the outside. Brush the tops of the balls with egg as well. Place the cake under a hot grill to turn the almond paste golden.
- Decorate with crystallised flowers if liked.
Finally,as a genealogist, I dedicate this quotation to all Mothers.
“Mothers are fonder than fathers of their children because they are more certain they are their own.” ~Aristotle
They were alive once and dwelt among us. Now they are gone. It’s an old story, maybe the oldest there is, and it’s been told many millions of times. The year now ending has been no exception. The departed in 2016 include writers, actors, musicians and other ‘celebrities’. We know who they were. Their departures, amply covered by the news media and have been marked, applauded or mourned, at length by the public.
The huge obituaries and the blanket media coverage belong primarily to those who became famous, or infamous, in life, or to those whose deaths were sufficiently lurid or shocking that they generated instant fame at the last minute. Some luminaries manage to achieve notoriety on both counts.
Other lives also ended in 2016. Just as precious, just as loved by those who loved them deeply, and who love them still. Unnoticed unknown. That’s death, of course, and everyone knows it. Most people lead more circumscribed lives, ending in private deaths that are felt directly by only a few. Yet these factors do not diminish the worth of those lives or the pain engendered by their end.
This time of year brings back thoughts of those who crossed my path and too soon passed on. Whose smile, wise words and affection live on in my memory. These few, and the many others may well be unsung, but that doesn’t mean they lived without song.
I have listened to people with no view and people with many views. I question the reasoning of many. Particularly those thousands who after months of reminders decided to apply on line to be placed on the electoral register 10 minutes before the deadline. Why I ponder did they not register at the time of the recent local elections? Why were they surprised when the computer programme failed?
I remember the lack of investment in our manufacturing industries after WW2. Not forgetting the vagaries of a 25% tax on ALL our purchases and higher still Income Tax. We had to endure a decade of ‘Stop. Go’ economic’ policies of the 50’s and early 60’s. We even had a Tory Prime Minster who ‘did his sums with matchsticks’ thus he thought, compensated for his lack of financial and economic knowledge. Once Douglas-Home was discarded we suffered from attacks on our currency and investments from the “Gnomes of Zurich.”
I remember the debates before we finally joined the Treaty of Rome. Politicians from all political parties then were more honest and knowledgeable than today’s bunch of expense chasing losers. I have listened to George Osbourne, Britain’s Chancellor, and the Prime Minister but not heard much from Jeremy Corbyn who is apparently the Labour leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition. Dennis Skinner at 80+ is more of a firebrand who is not bespoke to speaking the ‘party’ line. Corbyn seems not to know what the policy is, despite the fact HE should be writing it.
Mr Michael Gove was recently sacked from ministerial office. The National Association of Head Teachers, condemned him for ‘the climate of bullying, fear and intimidation’ they said he had created, during his time as Education Secretary. Mr Gove is a spokesman for the, “Get us outta Europe” campaign. He said earlier this week, “I’m not interested in defending the position of those who already have money, power and privilege.’ He continued by actually condemning the European Union as “A job-destroying machine run by sneering elites, and said the EU “is a market rigged in favour of the rich and stacked against the poor.”
His inference is that it is acceptable for the people of Britain to be fleeced by the British aristocracy and their cohorts but not by anyone else, especially Europeans. Basically he wants all the ‘rewards’ for himself and his Tory cronies who will then carve up the wealth of the nation between themselves.
The British establishment clearly supports destroying the environment. Barclay’s Bank for example is giving financial backing to foreign companies in their wonton destruction of OUR countryside The imposition of fracking against growing public opposition is today’s example of the ‘pan calling the kettle black.’ There is no social licence for fracking in Ryedale, North Yorkshire. 99.2% of inhabitants said NO, to Fracking in the area. Whatever happened to democracy in the home of Magna Carta? One hazard is the potential contamination of the water table. The site at Kirby Misperton is within the catchment area of the river’s Ouse and Fosse and a dozen or so miles from the historic city of York. The same river’s that inundated parts of that city only months ago.
The British Government, despite growing opposition from the people, continues to coerce local planning authorities to allow fracking with what could be described as bribes. The phrases “sneering elites” and “in favour of the rich and stacked against the poor” come readily to mind.
The Trump lookalike Boris, Cameron and Gove’s mentor was ‘Lady’ Thatcher. Every move she made was charged by negativity; she destroyed the British manufacturing industry, she hated the miners, she hated the arts, she hated the English poor and did nothing at all to help them, she hated Greenpeace and environmental protectionists, she was the only European political leader who opposed a ban on the Ivory Trade. She was also against equal rights for women.
She was adamant that Socialist aims were power over people with more power to the State. Her policies included selling the people’s stock of ‘social’ housing and auctioning the nation’s utilities to private investors. This in fact removed power from the people and encouraged a generation of credit card spenders and day loan sharks. This fiscal suicide of capitalism, on both sides of the Atlantic, inevitably led to the banking irregularities in America which solely contributed to the financial meltdown from which Europe has yet to recover. She staunchly supported the US-UK ‘Special’ Relationship. This is another name for the ‘master and slave relationship’ of Transatlanticism’. Her supporters are the people who believe in an 11th Century England where peasants and serfs slave away daily, on inadequate recompense, where the ‘rich man in his castle’, [10% of the population whose money resides in off shore hideaways], owns 90% of OUR nation’s wealth. “Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.” Lucy Parsons wrote a century ago. As it was, is now, and ever shall be?
Cameron is probably her greatest advocate. He may be supporting the IN campaign but then someone has to. We already know he will not be leading the present government at the next General election. Either way IN or OUT of the EU, he will be a winner with the reward of a soccer “star’s” salary on one gravy train or another in London or New York.
Vote No on June 23rd 2016 and to future historians the decision will be seen as comparable to the fall of the Roman Empire. Our nation will decline further into a footnote in history. Attacks on Rome heralded the end of the ancient world and the onset of the Middle Ages and millennia of war and conflict. Thatcher conned the ‘working classes’. Blair conned the ‘middle classes’. We mustn’t allow the men and women, who for over millennia have fought against the tyranny of crown, church and invasion, to have done so in vain.
Vote Yes on June 23rd 2016 for a united Europe with Britain as an active member at its centre. It will be a beginning of the renaissance of the continent for all Europeans. Europe must not be allowed, through our own apathy, or malice of others, to become the vassal to those either to our east or those to our west.