Writing is like living life twice

Writing is a hard discipline that gives you headaches, sleepless nights – and a bad back. But a wonderful thing about writing is the threads that weave into stories unbidden – and only reveal themselves later.

My first book – THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” was written on weekends as short stories while living in an oilfield camp in Saudi Arabia and based on my 40 years experiences in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. There were 10 stories – two from each decade. But when YouWriteOn (the UK Arts Council initiative designed to encourage new writing) offered to publish a book for me, I realized I didn’t have a book – just a collection of stories. I had to weave those stories into a narrative.

I chose to do this through the eyes of a young and idealistic journalist sent out from the UK to cover the region. I topped and tailed the stories with a fictitious beginning and end for the fictitious journalist’s career. And when I had finished I realized that, subconsciously, the thread running through the book is a classic hero’s journey.

I have made several false starts on the sequel GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”, but recently, using a peripheral story from my first book set in aftermath of the war in Kosovo, I realize that this has set the tone for that book.

In the Kosovo excerpt a Serb policeman makes the point that UNMIK (United Nations Mission in Kosovo) and the O.S.C.E. (Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe) are desperate to prove that they were not wrong to back the Albanians against the Serbs.

But in researching the story again I find that now, General Wesley Clarke, the Supreme Allied Commander NATO during the Kosovo War, believes that NATO intervened on the wrong side. And Carla del Ponte, the former special prosecutor of ICTY (the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) produced a book, THE HUNT, in 2008 that contained “serious and credible allegations” that the Albanians had transported 3-400 Serb prisoners from Kosovo, harvested their organs – and then killed them. These allegations were backed by The Council for Europe.

This is by no means the first time The West has blundered in and created chaos. Politicians understand the issues (maybe) – but they don’t understand the people. They don’t understand the tribalism, the depth of ethnic hatreds and the desire for revenge going back centuries that is rife in the Middle East and The Balkans. And so they blunder around and make things worse.

In the Middle East think Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration, and Britain’s neglect of its mandates in The Gulf, and the 5 fold increase in crude oil prices that funded the rise of fundamental Islam leading to the events of 9/11. And now Gulf II that destabilized the region and led to ISIS.

Read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Although it is a work of fiction, it is journalistic because the stories start from real events I witnessed – or were reported to me by reliable sources during my 40 years in The Gulf.

It is written from the points of view of those sources, archetypal expatriates who washed up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf. They were victims of power-mad politicians’ proxy wars,(The Buraimi Oasis, the Dhofar Campaign, the Viet Nam War), greedy finance house excesses (IOS, BCCI, Lonrho, Lloyds of London etc.) – and in some cases just victims of Madame Bovary style Western wives, and out-of-control, drug-crazed teenage children.

You can preview my book on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites:

www.amazon.com

www.amazon.co.uk

and read the comprehensive 5 Star reviews it has received, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, you can preview my book, and order the paperback from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com

The lesser of two Evils

It is unbelievable that the most dynamic and enterprising nation on this planet can only produce two such mediocre candidates for the presidency.

Trump is an egomaniac cunningly riding the wave of peoples’ disgust for the venal and corrupt, lying and cheating and stealing political classes that have allowed the financial community to ride roughshod over our so-called civilization. And Hillary Clinton belongs exactly to that breed who are in cahoots with the banks and Wall Street.

She is a throwback to the hubris of the 1990s when the collapse of Communism led them to believe that globalised, laissez faire, free-market capitalism had solved all of life’s problems. Then came the financial collapse of Iceland, Lehman Brothers, Bear Sterns, Bernie Madof Et.Al. – and the GFC – initiated by Bill Clinton’s de-regulation of the banks in the 1990s. And the aftershocks of financial scandals continue to reverberate around the world.

We are now in the 16th year of the new Millennium, and if Hillary Clinton becomes President we will have 4-8 years of more of the same. It’s Deja Vu all over again.

Then again Barack Obama has been a mediocre do nothing President. He, and Hillary, are symptoms of rampant political correctness. Obama was elected on a triumphal wave of “the first black President” (although in fact his Mother is a white woman and he was raised by his white grandmother), and Hillary will be elected on a triumphal wave of “the first female President”, without regard for whether either of them are up to the job. Perception is more valued than reality.

Into this vacuous vacuum China and now Russia have been able to ramp up their powers without any effective countermeasures – and after 8 years of Obama, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria are still in turmoil – and Guantanamo is still open for business. And I don’t even want to think about the chaos that is Europe – brought about by the failed utopian dreams of drunken, tin-pot geriatric politicians and bureaucrats from tin-pot no-account nations.

Can America, or Europe, not find in the new tech-savvy digital generation a real leader? Or are they too lost in the hubris and unreal and narcissistic world of Social Media? Where is the Washington, the Lincoln, the Churchill, the Eisenhower, the Cromwell?

Or have I really been brainwashed by the Western version of History that I was taught?

In researching my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” I read deeply the writings of TE Lawrence, Freya Starke, Gertrude Bell, and learned about the imperial connivings of France and Britain in the Middle East– the Sykes-Picot agreement, the Balfour Declaration – and later the proxy conflicts between Britain and the USA in oil-rich Iran and Arabia – that sowed the seeds of the present conflicts. And further back Peter Hopkirk’s books about THE GREAT GAME between Imperial Russia and Britain over India – the Jewel in the Crown. History repeats itself – endlessly.

If you want my insights into the chaos and confusion in the Middle East from Britain’s neglect of its mandates in The Gulf, and the 5 fold increase in crude oil prices that funded the rise of Islam, until the events of 9/11, read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Although it is a work of fiction, it is journalistic because the stories start from real events I witnessed – or were reported to me by reliable sources – during my 40 years in The Gulf.

You can preview my book on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites, and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, order the paperback, or hardback if you are a real bibliophile, direct from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com

Don’t wait for my sequel, GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”

Stop the World – I want to get off

Am I the only sane person on this planet?

At the present moment there is 11 times more financial instruments being traded worldwide than the total World GDP. A massive bubble waiting to burst. Here in Australia private debt is 250% of GDP, and yet, in order to buy a house young couples are being encouraged to extend themselves, and borrow 8 times their joint incomes.

Yet the cause of the most recent Global Financial Crisis was the Banks and investment houses selling mortgages that they knew people could not afford (i.e. they committed fraud) and then bet against those toxic financial instruments so that they made billions when they failed. And nobody went to jail.

And the IMF have admitted that they allowed Greece to draw down 2,000 times more than the agreed safe borrowing limit. And, of course, nobody can find the papers on that, or who was responsible for signing it off.

Stop the World I want to get off.

Now the neo-liberal urban elite are decrying BREXIT, in spite of the fact that there are already 8.5 million immigrants in the UK, with more to come, in a country about a third the size of New South Wales, with a permanent population of 60 million. And the much vaunted trade with Europe is running at a Euros 89 Billion deficit per year for the UK. The EU is dominated by an anti-British bureacracy in Brussels, run by a drunken old fool, that has actively encouraged, and funded the transfer of British manufacturing and technology across to Eastern Europe.

Stop the World I want to get off.

And now on a global basis it is predicted that Robotics, and the “Internet of Everything” will be a new Industrial (Digital) Revolution that will throw millions of people out of work. And still we hear that Globalization – a euphemism for Americanization – the only way for mankind to proper.

Are we all going to emulate a society whose only philosophy is “Get rich quick”? A violent society riven by racism, where almost every citizen owns a gun: with 20,000 gun murders a year (including massacres in schools, colleges and gay clubs), with 200,000 aggravated assaults and 200,000 (reported) rapes a year – where 2.5 million citizens are in jail with a further 1 Million on parole – and where the President and Commander in Chief of 40% of the world’s miltary with his/her finger on the trigger is either going to be an ego-maniac jingoist with a ridiculous combover, or a crazed geriatric chipmunk with an adulterous husband: a Wall Street puppet whose CV is littered with shady business dealings who has shown ignorance of, or cavalier disregard for, even the most basic disciplines of national security.

Stop the World I want to get off.

But I guess it was always so. Look at the chaos in the Middle East, whose past is littered with fools, carpetbaggers, despots, religious zealots and power crazed politicians – and outright thieves. If you want insights into how it got into such a mess read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”.

It is a linked series of character studies of archetypal expatriates who wash up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf, victims of powermad politicians’ wars, greedy finance house excesses – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out of control drug-addled teenage children. Welcome to the modern world.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, order the paperback direct from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com

Tribal Weaving

One of the criticisms levelled at BREXIT it that it will encourage the rise of nationalism in Europe. The irony of the European Union is that it has already presided over the rise of nationalism, and a descent into tribalism.

First we had the breakup of Yugoslavia, with only Serbia, Slovenia, and Croatia as viable economic entities, and the remainder as dependent entities for the forseeable future. Then Czechoslovakia broke up with Slovakia heavily dependent.

Now it seems that the UK might break up – with Scotland and Northern Ireland wanting to stay in the EU – and leave the UK. The EU encourages disintegration, with its promise of huge regional grants to support peripheral economies that actively encourages ethnic differences.

I am, on my Mother’s side, Anglo Saxon from Middle England, with surnames like Brown, Jackson and Washington, and possible distant realtionships with American Presidents. But on my Father’s side I am a Celt with grandparents from Greenock on Clydeside, and Wrexham, North Wales. I even have a Manx great grandmother, so there is some Viking in there. (And this raises the issue of The Shetlands, which are as much Norwegian in their thinking – UP HELLY Aa festival with Geizer Jarl and a procession of Vikings. And remember, The Shetlands were a gift from the Norwegians to the English Crown so legally does not belong to Scotland).

Where I was born and raised in England our neighbours were predominantly Irish – the Brandons, the Braddocks, the Burkeys and the Hollingsworths – and Welsh, the Williams, the Roberts and Jones’s. And where my grandparents lived they were mostly Scottish – the Lawsons, the McTaggarts, the McCallisters. And the Anglo, Irish, Welsh and Scottish children all freely intermarried. The idea of racial purity is atavistic.

The British are a mongrel nation of Anglo-Celts with dashes of Viking, Norman and even Roman blood – and it was this broad gene pool that produced the hybrid energy and dynamism that changed and enriched the whole world. It is unthinkable that we will go back to the atavistic extremes of nationalism, tribalism and ferocious clan loyalties.

We have just recently emerged from 25 years of the blood letting and brutality of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. A battle between two Celtic tribes with the English as “piggy-in-the-middle”. Imagine if Sinn Fein get their wish, and Northern Ireland stays in the EU, and the EU supports the unification of Ireland. How will the Protestant Celts respond? I forsee a civil war with Scottish Protestants joining the fray. It will be The Balkans all over again, with the Americans and the UN joining in and turning a crisis into a disaster.

It is exactly this sort of outside interference and intervention that has caused the sectarian rivalry and tribalism and the apocalyptic and brutal conflicts in the Middle East.

In my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” there is a story, TRIBAL WEAVING, that appears to support tribalism. In a way it does, because the yearning to return to the simpler nomadic life of a hunter/gather, (the Noble Savage), and escape the boredom of sedentary and tedious suburban living, is very strong, particularly in the hard-pressed Western male. But the story is more serious than that.

Iran had a democratically elected government under Mossadeq – but he was socialist, and so the Americans deposed him and placed the despicable Shah and his cronies in power. They tried to drive the nomadic tribes to settle in towns and villages so that they could seize their lands. And the people revolted and threw out The Shahinshah and replaced him with the Ayatollahs. Out of the frying pan and into . . .

If you want authentic insights into the chaos in the Middle East from 1960 that lead to the events of 9/11, 2001 then read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Based on 40 years working in the international oil industry it is a collection of stories about expatriates washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf. Flotsam and jetsam trying to survive in a rapidly changing and frequently violent world. You can preview it at:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book in your hands, order the paperback direct from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com

Rule Britannia?

The British referendum that has sent shock waves through the EU, and the rest of the World, is being seen through the lens of being bad for Britain. But the realization is sinking in that it is at least as bad – if not worse – for the EU.

As the second largest economy in Europe, Britain contributed more than Euros 20 Billion annually to the EU budget, so who is going to pick up that tab? And their balance of trade was more than Euros 100 Billion in deficit (i.e. the EU made that in profit from British trade). And what about the 3 million Poles, and God knows how many other East Europeans, currently employed in the UK – and drawing family benefits to send home?

And if the more than 500,000 expatriate Brits living in Spain and France decide to leave and dump their houses on an already depressed real estate sector, what effect will that have? And what if Brits decide to forgoe holidays in France and Spain in favour of the USA and Dubai?

And what if fleet of foot Britain – not hidebound by 26 other partners and their vested self interests – does rapidly conclude trade deals with the USA (and China and Russia???) and their former colonies? And what if the British banking sector, again not hidebound by EU bureaucracy, gets even bigger inflows of money?

President Obama, and Secretary John Kerry, have already backflipped and said that of course there is a special relationship with Britain and there will be a trade deal. Why? Because the USA needs Britain firmly in NATO. They are the second largest military force, and almost always back the USA (unlike the bloody French).

I am pro-Europe. I lived in France for a year, and Spain for 23 very happy years. But like the majority of Brits I am sick and tired of unelected Brussels commissioners meddling, and trying to micro-manage Europe – and alarmed that they have been plotting to create a superstate where all 27 members will be subjugated to their rule. Britain is the home of Magna Carta – and Common Law that always has to pass the test of reasonableness – and not the dictates of Napoleonic Civil Code.

The French invented the EU, and congratulations for that vision; but with arrogant intellectual vanity they have become Messianic. European Union is not a religion, Brussels is not the Vatican, and Jean-Claude Juncker is not a Pope issuing infallible dogma. Britain has done the World a favour by injecting a dose of pragmatism into what was becoming a dangerous situation. That which does not bend – breaks.

Analyse any revolution (including the French), and bloody and barbaric as they always are, you will see the cause is a ruling class detached from the wishes of the common people. And the common people, at least in Britain (and I suspect many other European countries) are sick and tired of being treated as cannon fodder having their lives destroyed by the dogmas of a high-minded elite who believe they have a Divine Right to Rule. And they are also tired of thieving, lying and corrupt politicians – and a compliant media – who allow this to happen.

Europe is in uproar, and the Middle East is even worse. And the cause was a ruling elite who thought they knew better. They blundered in and intervened – and lied and cheated because in their eyes the end justifies the means. Now look at the chaos and suffering they have caused. And ironically it is that conflict – and its flood of refugees, that has triggered the chaos in the EU.

If you want authentic insights into how the Middle East became such a mess then read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. You can preview it at:

www.amazon.com

or

www.amazon.co.uk

and download it if you have a Kindle.

If you prefer a real book order the paperback direct from my publisher

www.feedaread.com