Penis Envy is a terrible affliction

In a recent article an Australian female journalist decried the white Anglo male desire to have a society that “makes things”. She said we should get used to a society that exists on service industries.

My Father worked all his life as a welder in a shipyard – a job that was 3D – Difficult, Dirty and Dangerous. And he loved it. He was forced to retire at 68 because he was becoming too old to crawl through double bottoms, or climb 100 foot ladders.

It took him 2 years to start enjoying a well-earned retirement because he missed the camaraderie of his mates – and the immense sense of pride and self-worth when the result of their labours was a ship gliding gracefully down the slipway into the river to enter useful service as a cargo vessel, or ferry boat – or warship.

And I was forceably retired recently at 74, after 45 years in the international oil industry mostly in jobs that were 3D. 2 years on a remote Persian Gulf desert island commissioning an offshore oil field that came in on-time and below budget. Working with highly skilled, dedicated and fearless people. Divers who dived in shark infested waters to fix pipeline leaks. Helicopter pilots who flew in all weathers to keep us supplied. And marine pilots who berthed enormous super-tankers whose momentum would destroy the jetty if they nudged it – and not once, even in the dead of night, did those pilots nudge the jetty.

Another 2 years in Venezuela in the petrochemical and petroleum marine transport sector ensuring that dangerous products were transported safely, without loss of quality – and training local staff to take over responsibility.

And then 10 years in Saudi Arabia commissioning 400 km pipelines to ensure that jet fuel free of rust was delivered safely to the international airports – and to the helicopter landing pads on the Yemeni border so that gunships could patrol and discourage infiltration by insurgents.

Like my Father, a man’s life worth living – and far more satisfying than flipping hamburgers at MacDonalds for a minimum wage – or trading worthless bits of paper (a.k.a. toxic mortgages) and being paid obscene amounts of money for doing so.

If you want to know more about life in the international oil industry read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. It is not autobiographical, or a memoir. It is journalistic – based on events I witnessed, or were reported to me by reliable sources. They were expatriated like myself, washed up in THE GULF, mostly trying to escape the boring soul destroying feminine Utopia called suburbia where mowing lawns and going shopping are the heights of human achievement.

You can preview my book at:

amazon.com

and download it if you have a Kindle

or, if you prefer a real book you can purchase it from my publisher:

feedaread.com

ISBN 978-1-786975-25-6

Jerusalem

The tagline to my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is:

‘It’s all about Oil’

Certainly in my working lifetime in the 20th Century international oil industry that appeared to be true. But in the new Millenium, the brutal Palestine/Israeli conflict became ever more prominent, and then with 9/11, the Gulf War, the Arab Spring, and the Syrian Civil War, came the rise of Da’esh (ISIS), which seemed to be the ultimate in atavistic and barbaric behaviour.

But in Biblical terms, Da’esh are absolutely within the context of Middle Eastern history. For the past 3,000 years, ever since Abraham(Ibrahim), it has always been the scene of cruel, bloody and brutal conflict. And maybe it always will be, for this is the site of Armageddon.

‘It’s all about Religion’

I have just watched Simon Montefiori’s documentary JERUSALEM that traces the history of this, the most Holy of Cities, from Canaanite paganism, through Judaism, Christianity and Islam. And the number of times it has been besieged, destroyed and rebuilt – all involving unbelievable levels of cruelty and barbarism – is mind boggling.

And after each destruction they rebuilt the city and its temples and shrines over the ruins of the religious sites of the previous occupiers, sometimes using the same stones. In exactly the same way The Holy Bible built on The Torah, and The Holy Qu’ran built on the Old Testament and the New Testament – and is proclaimed as the Final Testament. Yet we are all ‘People of the Book’ – followers of the same one God.

I have to admit that the focus of my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” is very narrow in terms of the religious strife that has riven the Middle East throughout the centuries. To try and correct this I am writing a sequel, GULF II “The Beginning of Sorrows”, based on the Biblical Quotation:

“And ye shall hear of wars, and rumours of wars: see that ye are not troubled, for all these things must come to pass – but the end is not yet. For Nation shall rise against Nation, and Kingdom against Kingdom: and there shall be Famine, and Pestilences, and Earthquakes in divers places. All these are The Beginning of Sorrows.”

In the meantime, if you want 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.

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 (BCCI, Lonrho, Lloyds of London, IOS etc.) – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out-of-control, drug-crazed teenage children.

You can preview my book on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites for the USA and UK, Germany and Spain, 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

Death to Drug Dealers

Living in Australia as I do I have been caught up in the wave of sympathy for the Bali Bombers sitting on Death Row as desperate measures are taken to prevent their execution by firing squad BUT – and there is always a but I guess – not anymore.

My grandaughter who is only just 5 years old came home from school using the F word. So now the evil tentacles of the “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll crowd” otherwise known as the foul mouthed Showbusiness reprobates (or the friends of Jimmie Saville) are reaching into the school playground and my grandaughter, and other children, are being robbed of their childhood innocence.

I flew into a rage at this, and the thought that in the not too distant future of them being offered drugs in the school playground and having their innocent young lives permanently blighted as is happening in America.

So now I believe that those who spread this poison through society should face the death penalty. And I believe that those weak souls who fall victim to drugs should be treated with firmness too – as they are in Saudi Arabia.

There is a drug problem there as there is in The West. About sixty percent of the 50 or so beheadings that take place every year are for drug smuggling. But the victims of the drug trade, the addicts it has created, are quietly removed from society and put through an enforced rehab program, and only released when the authorities are satisfied they are cured.

Once again the Saudis demonstrate that social stability is more important than a weak kneed concern for an individual’s civil rights.

If you want insights into the Middle East and its harsh and apparently barbaric societies, based on my 40 years experience there from the perspective of the weird and wonderful oilfield trash, expatriate characters who washed up there in the oil patch from 1960 to 2001, preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

Using the ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

For the Love of Money is the root of all Evil . . .

And is there anything more evil than the killing of innocent children such as is happening every day in Gaza.

The shooting down of MH 17 that killed so many young children was gruesome enough – but at least there is the possibility that this was a mistake and the terrorist thought he was shooting down a Ukrainian military plane. No such mitigating circumstance exists in Gaza where the Israeli forces are indiscriminately killing women and children with a ferocity that is unbelievable given that they claim to be a civilized society.
This weekend there was an article in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald that compared the policies of Benjamin Netenyahu and his LIKUD party to the Nazis, and their arrogance to that of Fascists. The savagery of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) retaliation to the HAMAS rockets smacks of the Nazis policy of shooting 100 innocent hostages for every German soldier killed. The recent wave of rockets killed 2 or 3 Israelis. The IDF response has been to kill almost 1,000 Palestinians (mostly civilians) including about 200 children.
This is barbaric and obscene. But what is even more obscene it the refusal of the USA to sanction Israel. Russia’s complicity in the shooting down of MH 17 has brought about a huge wave of sanctions orchestrated by the USA. Yet Israel has bulldozed 400 Palestinian villages, sent 1 million Palestinians into exile to live in the misery and squalor of refugee camps, laid siege to Gaza, continued to build illegal settlements on the West Bank – and continues to slaughter Palestinians: all with with the complicity of the USA, and with weaponry and ammunition supplied by them using the US$20 million per day of aid the USA provides to Israel. Why?
Because all American politicians know that without the support and the finance of the Jewish lobby they will not get re-elected. Shame on you for your inhumanity and putting politics before people. May you rot in Hell.
Is it any wonder the Arab Street refers to America as The Evil Empire and fundamental Islam is on the march. Some years ago an Arab friend of mine said that Israel would never be satisfied until they owned the whole of the Middle East and its oil wealth. At the time I thought that was an extreme view. But the Israelis seem intent on annihilating Gaza and annexing The West Bank. What is next? Jordan? Iraq? Syria? Tomorrow the World?
The Biblical quotation about the love of money ends like this:
“ . . . which some coveted after have erred from the faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.”

And while it seems that the majority of Israelis support Netanyahu and LIKUD, there is a sizeable minority who are sickened by their inhumanity.
The final chapter in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” tries to set this in context with the story of Layla, a Christian Palestinian who quits her career as a cabin attendant and runs a Church of England orphanage in Ramallah which is eventually closed by the IDF scattering the orphans to the wind. This is just one story of many of that turbulent region where millions of lives have been shattered by the blunderings of the Foreign policies of the super powers.
Perhaps God in His wisdom has forgiven Sykes and Picot and James Balfour. Millions of Palestinians cannot, and their dead and maimed children cannot.

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:
http://www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards
and download it if you have a Kindle.
Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:
http://www.thebookdepository.co.uk
The ISBN number is 978-1908147097
They offer free delivery worldwide.
I hope you enjoy it.

Lest We Forget

Here in Australia ANZAC day, commemorating first of all the carnage of the failed landing at Gallipolli in WWI and then the many Aussies and Kiwis who fell in WWII, Korea, VietNam, Afghanistan and Iraq – is a valiant attempt to prevent people forgetting the terrible sacrifice and struggle that has created and maintained this amazing Western civilization we are living in. But people all too easily do forget, and live in a world of endless entertainment and denial.

          WWI slaughtered 10 million people and was supposed be the war to end all wars and create a world fit for heroes. No such thing happened.

          Quite apart from all the fallen heroes, there are many more who remain alive but whose lives have been shattered by the horrors of war. What used to be called simply shell shock, and is now labelled as post traumatic stress disorder, is affecting more and more veterans in this better educated and informed world as they realize the futility of fighting in the dirty wars of vainglorious politicians.

         In my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” there are two stories that deal with the effects of war on young men.

        The first concerns Dudley, a young British cavalry officer who fought in the Battle for the Buraimi Oasis, a proxy war between the USA and Britain fought in the Trucial States of the Arabian Peninsula to gain control of the massive oil deposits of The Empty Quarter.

        The second concerns Buddy, an American volunteer Marine who fought in VietNam. He went away a hero and returned to the booes and jeers of the anti-Vietnam college boy intelligentsia.

       All too soon these wars have been forgotten to be replaced by the futile wars of attrition in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      And without wanting to trivialize the horrors of war – was it only 2008 when the GFC happened? Already the stock market is being pumped to unsustainable highs, and the real estate market is booming because interest rates are low. What will happen when (not if) they rise: another toxic mortgage/banking scandal.

      And one of the stories in my book concerns Captain Bob (Robert Smith) a supertanker captain who lost his life savings in the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), the Dubai based bank that went under in yet another banking scandal. And Dubai almost went under a mountain of debt in the GFC, and yet here it is again powering ahead with yet another property boom.

HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET

 

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

The sound of Axes being Ground is DEAFENING (Part 2)

Following on from my comments on the MH370 hijacking I had completely forgotten that the Prologue to my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” starts from the premise of a possible hijack that causes the protagonist, a world weary journalist who thinks he is about to die (and is not unhappy about that), to review his life in the Middle East – and the roller coaster ride of his past life in all of its exhilarating and frightening diversity in that atavistic and brutal part of the world.

This was my fictional means to present a series of linked stories that are authentic and journalistic based on events that I witnessed myself, or were reported to me by reliable sources. Each story features a character typical of the sorts of expatriate who wash up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf for whatever reason. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances trying to survive in a rapidly changing and hostile world.

It is in such situations that the surprising strength (or weakness) of characters shows through – revealing the truth.

You can preview my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a Kindle.

Or if you prefer a real book you can order the paperback edition from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

The ISBN number is 978-1908147097

They offer free delivery worldwide.

I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

 

Who Dunnit to JFK?

On this the 50th Anniversary of the Assassination of JFK there is still no reliable answer to Who Dunnit. The ridiculous lone gunman single bullet Warren Commission whitewash has long ago been debunked leaving the field wide open for all sorts of conspiracy theories. One of the most credible for me is the one told to me by a VietNam Vet who was a sharpshooter (sniper) during that war and I used this as the starter for my story

YA HEAR WHAT AH’M SAYIN. 

The conversation went like this:

You were in Viet Nam?” Mick asked.

Sure was . . . did three tours In Country,” Buddy said loudly and proudly. “Ah didn’t wait for no Draft neither. Dropped out of Aggie – Texas Agricultural & Mechanical to you Limies . . . and volunteered.”

You must feel bad you lost that war?”

It were McNamara and his bean counter brain that lost it. How does yawl fight a war gradually? Yah hit them with everythin ya got from the get go.”

Even when you went all out for total war you didn’t defeat the Viet Cong.”

Charlie don’t value life like us Christian folks . . . he didn’t care how many people he lost . . . and JFK didn’t help neither. No wonder the Army got rid of him and replaced him with a good ole boy like LBJ.”

Mick’s was now on full alert. While he had never accepted the ridiculous lone assassin single bullet findings of the Warren Commission he found it impossible to believe that the US Army had pulled a Coup d’Etat. But no matter how much scorn Mick heaped on Buddy’s theory he remained adamant. JFK had been triangulated by army sharpshooters:

Shitt, the Army is real proud of what they done. At the end of mah training they showed us a film of sharpshooters boarding a train in Dallas the day after Kennedy’s assassination. That dadgum Yankee pinko liberal was doin’ deals with the Commies to get us out of Nam.”

What gives my story credence is that Eisenhower in his final speech as President warned Kennedy to beware  of the mighty military/industrial machine in the USA: and Nixon, the Vice President and later President, firmly believed that LBJ was behind the assassination.

The full story is in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” and like all 10 stories in my book it is journalistic. They are all fictionalized accounts of events I witnessed, or were reported to me by a reliable source. They illuminate the fascinating region of the Arabian/Persian Gulf as seen through the eyes of  expatriates like myself who lead highly paid, but isolated, dangerous and lonely lives in the search for black gold – the crude oil that made the region mega-rich, and a target for all the greedy chancers in the Western World

You can preview my book at:

www.amazon.com/author/mikerichards

And download it if you have a Kindle. If you do not, or prefer a paperback, you can order from:

www.thebookdepository.co.uk

They offer free shipping worldwide.

 

 

See Cordoba . . . and live . . . and let live.

My final trip in Spain, to Cordoba, confirmed what I have always felt—that it is the 700 years of Moorish rule that makes Spain unique and different. The deeply felt Catholicism that exists in Spain also exists in many European and Latin countries; but nowhere in the Western World has the imprint of the Middle Eastern/North African Muslim Caliphates been left so indelibly.

In my last blog I dealt with the world famous Mezquita or Al Jama mosque in Cordoba that rivalled Damascus and Baghdad in its day with its mesmerizing endless avenues of hundreds of interlinked arches of alternate pink and cream stripes that are stylized palm trees dimly lit by bronze lanterns that hang on chains. And 8 kms outside Cordoba are the remains of Medinah Azahara (Brilliant Town) a beautifully planned and built city  for the religious, social, cultural and political administration of Al-Andalus (Andalucia)—a Moorish Spain that stretched to the banks of the Duero River.

But to go beyond the stunning physical beauty of Moorish Spain perhaps the true inheritance of the Moors is that Jews, and Christians, lived in harmony with their Muslim rulers, who allowed them their own laws, business and religious life, and their own districts, and left them in peace and prosperity provided they paid their taxes. And that heritage lives on today in the well mannered, elegant and courteous people of Cordoba.

It was Christian persecution that drove the Sephardic Jews from Spain, and the Reyes Catolicas (Christian Monarchs) who finally drove out the Caliphs from their beautiful cities like Cordoba, Granada, and Sevilla.

“History repeats itself” so the saying goes. Is it we Christians who are the cause of the conflict between the Semitic tribes of Jews and Arabs in the Middle East? Or at the very least are we, with our millions of petro-dollars and our greedy search for cheap oil, the catalysts?

In my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” you can read how our greed has been the cause of so much of the trouble in the Near and Middle East. It’s all about the search for cheap oil supplies, and the effects that this has on the expatriates who live highly paid, but isolated, dangerous and lonely lives in order to fulfil this greed.

You can preview my book at:

http://amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a KINDLE.

From Friday November 15, 2013 my book is on a promotion by Amazon. For the first 36 hours you can download it for just $0.99, for the next 36 hours for $1.99, for the next 36 hours $2.99, and for the next 36 hours $3.99. Finally it will revert back to its recommended price of $4.99.

Hurry and get a real bargain. If nothing else my character driven stories are authentic (read the 5 star reviews of previous readers who have experience of working and living in THE GULF). To paraphrase a more famous author than me “I may not have written the whole truth; but I have not written anything that is not the truth.”

Good reading.

Enjoy

Are Cathedrals Christian?

The long farewell to my Spanish home is coming rapidly to a close, so I decided to visit Sevilla and Cordoba—the heart and the soul of Spain in Andalucia—and of course in addition to touring the tapas bars, and watching a flamenco puro show complete with virtuoso guitarist, emotional cante jondo singer, and passionate dancer—I visited the cathedrals in both cities.

Seville Cathedral is an architectural mess. The third largest in the world after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, it took 400 years to build and matches the ambitions of the builders (they wanted to be thought of as mad). It is a hotchpotch of styles—only the Giralda, the tower in one corner that resembles an ornate Doges Palace, has any grace. And inside it is like all the cathedrals I have ever visited—an exercise in the overwhelming arrogance of power and wealth.

A high altar of huge proportions, ornate and heavily decorated with gold leaf, and all around the walls various chapels competing with each other in their opulence.  And a Treasury that contains solid gold chalices, headdresses and altar pieces made from solid gold presumably stolen from the Incas. This is not exactly what Christ taught is it? “It is more difficult for a rich man . . . camel through the eye of a needle etc . . .”

And Cordoba was even worse because they have built the cathedral on top of the pre-existing mosque—the world famous Mezquita or Al Jama mosque. At eye level the Mezquita is mesmerizing, hundreds of interlinked arches of alternate pink and cream stripes that are stylized palm trees dimly lit by bronze lanterns that hang on chains. But when you raise your eyes you are into Christian Cathedral Gothic. Soaring columns and vaulted ceilings that make you giddy built on top of the delicate Moorish arches. And at the centre they have added a huge high altar with plaster images of saints and virgins. Sacrilege, or whatever is the Arabic equivalent.

What is worse they have bricked up the Mihrab, the holy place where the Imam led prayers, and you can only look above the wall and see the brilliant Ajulejos (colourful and intricate tilework that is yet another legacy of the Moors) and delicate filigree of carvings in clay that have survived for more than 1,000 years. And even here the Christians have added a plaster saint on one wall of the Mihrab. Is triumphalism a Christian virtue?

In my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” you can read how another Western sin—Greed—has been the cause of so much of the trouble between Arabs, and Jews, and the Western world. It’s all about the search for cheap oil supplies, and the effects that the endless flow of petro-dollars has had on the expatriates who live highly paid, but isolated, dangerous and lonely lives in order to fulfil this greed.

You can preview my book at:

http://amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a KINDLE. If you do not, or you prefer a real book, you can order from:

http://thebookdepositry.co.uk

They offer free delivery worldwide

 

When did the Circus leave town?

When I was  child I loved it when the circus came to town. I loved the skills of the tumblers and acrobats, the skill and daring of the pretty girls bareback riding—and of course the heart- stopping daring and courage of the lion tamers who went alone into a cage full of wild beasts of the jungle. But the slapstick of clowns frightened me, it seemed cruel and heartless, and I hated the freak shows that clustered around the circus.

And if the world of Politics can be seen as a circus, then the skilful tumblers and acrobats, the pretty and skilful bare-back riders, and the brave and fearless lion tamers have gone, leaving behind the clowns and the freaks—vain, incompetent, corrupt, egotistical and damaged personalities jostling for their place in the limelight, and more than their share of the action, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake.

I cannot even bring myself to write about the freaks, although most literature and drama these days seems to concentrate on dysfunctional and bizarre people as though in some way this illuminates human nature. I prefer to write about normal people in abnormal situations that force them to act “out of character”—or perhaps enables them to reveal their true nature?   

But you can read about a 20th Century clown, Captain Bob, in my  story FALSE ECONOMY that is part of a collection of stories in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” set in The Arabian/Persian Gulf from the 1960s until the events of 9/11 changed everything.

You can preview my book at:

http://amazon.com/author/mikerichards

and download it if you have a KINDLE. If you do not, or you prefer a real book, you can order from:

http://thebookdepositry.co.uk

They offer free delivery worldwide