The Sun Also Goeth Down

The biblical phrase “The Sun also rises”, most famously used by Ernest Hemingway as the sub-title to his novel FIESTA, actually says “The suns also rises, and the sun also goeth down and hastens to the place where it arose”. This leads me to wonder if the developed World  weary of the Middle East and its intractable problems, is turning its attention to the Indo-Pacific region where every day in the Gregorian calendar has its beginning?

We see the urgency of dealing with the rise of China as an aggressive superpower, and the economic rise of India, and its problems with Pakistan that in some ways mirrors the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. It is atavistic, religious, tribal, nuclearized and about territory (West Bank/Kashmir)?

The tagline of my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” starts with the sentence “It’s all about oil.” And certainly the rise of the Arabian/Persian Gulf from a sleepy tribal backwater of the British Empire to a region of sovereign states of international significance was driven by the thirst of the West for cheap oil, and the abrupt rise in crude oil prices from $5 to $25 per barrel in the 1970s.

Now, with the wide availability of shale oil and coal seam gas in the short term, and the projected dominance of electric motor cars in the medium term, the significance of secure and cheap crude oil supplies is becoming irrelevant. Will The Gulf once again become a sleepy backwater, not of the British Empire as it once was, but of American Imperialism?

“The sun also goeth down” is certainly true. . . but then the sun will also rise again, and by all that is normal to us, and most of what is manufactured for us, it will rise in The Far East.

If The West had so many problems with its cultural clash with a few million Arabs and Israelis, how are they going to deal with the problems of 1.5 Billion Chinese (and their spear carriers the North Koreans), a billion Indians and Pakistanis, s70 million Indonesian Muslims – not to mention Malays, Thais, Filipinos and assorted Polynesians, Melanesians and Micronesians – and 125 million Japanese?

I hope the US State Department and the UK Foreign Office is up to it (I actually know Dominic Raab the UK Foreign Secretary and he’s a very clever man). And I hope the EU can come up with a coherent foreign policy – some hope.

Except that I love life so much, I am almost glad I’m nearing the end of my life. But what about my grandkids and the World that they will inherit? Maybe they’ll get lucky. Global warming will make this planet uninhabitable, and technology will be so developed that they will be able to rock(et)-off to a better galaxy???

Times and technology are changing so rapidly that the conflicts I dramatized in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, that was published just a few years ago, are beginning to look like scenes in a historical novel. At least it they are authentic and not based on reading unreliable historians rewriting history to favour the winners. I did live through those times and witness the events I used as the seeds of my stories. And I certainly did not favour the winners.

I lived and I worked with the ordinary working people (and I never once met an ordinary person) in Iran, Bahrain, Qatar, Dubai and Abu Dhabi – and for 10 years in Saudi Arabia.

You can review and buy my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” and its fictionalizations of real events in the Middle East in Kindle format at:

amazon.com

Or in paperback edition on my publisher’s website:

feedaread.com

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Is Fiction stranger then Fact

 It was an Australian journalist who said, “Journalists write fiction, and pretend it’s fact – and novelists write fact, and pretend it’s fiction.” And there is truth in this.

Certainly my book of short stories, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, is based on fictionalised facts. I call it journalistic because every story springs from an event I witnessed myself during my 40 years living and working in the Arabian/Persian Gulf – or was reported to me by a reliable source.

I have just written my first Australian story, THE SENSE OF LOSS, which is a complete fiction, and yet in many ways is as factual and even more authentic than the stories in THE GULF. I say this because the end result was not the story I set out to write. My fictional protagonist, an elderly Australian widow from rural Australia – a person I have never met in a place I have never been – took over, and behaved as an elderly strong-willed Australian widow from rural Australia would behave.

Graham Greene will be spinning in his grave. He believed that fictional characters are merely constructs designed to carry the authors ideas. I have never found that to be true. Once I create a good strong character they behave as that character would behave. They cannot be directed and told what to do. I believe, mad though I may be,that Margaret McLaughlin, the character in my story, behaved exactly as Margaret McLaughlin would behave.

I am English by birth, education, and upbringing, and assumed before coming to Australia, that Australians would be pretty much the same as myself. After all, almost all of the early settlers and the majority of the population is from the British Isles – and English is the official language (although you wouldn’t think so if you spend a lot of time in Sydney). But I have found that Australians are foreign to me.

Maybe because of their beginnings as a penal colony, and the large percentage of Irish Catholic convicts? Maybe because their hard-scrabble pioneering and suffering is such recent history? Maybe because they became (almost) universally affluent so fast that they are more American than British. There is (almost) no class structure and snobbery here (except in Melbourne)? But whatever, we are related – maybe like distant cousins – but they are certainly not British in their thoughts or actions. As my daughter so succinctly put it “They are lovely people, but rough around the edges”.

To be precious about it, those differences and rough edges have subconsciously permeated my artistic sensibility. So when I came to write my first Australian story, from my English perspective it just did not go the way I thought it should go.

“Good on ya – Margaret McLaughlin”,

because I have written a story that is “pure fiction” – and yet it is as authentic and factual as if pulled from tomorrow’s headlines.

The same cannot be said for the stories in THE GULF. Yes, they are authentic. But all of them are told from the perspective of archetypal British expatriates who washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf for whatever reason. People like me. Ordinary people who found trauma in their lives through no fault of their own, trying to cope and make a living in extraordinary circumstances. People I can easily relate to.

THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, deals with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. You can preview my book on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

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 UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com

It’s not all about oil anymore

The tagline to my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, set in the context of the recent past of the Persian/Arabian Gulf, states:

It’s all about oil . . . “

and I still believe that holds true for most of the 20th Century  Iran – and it was certainly true from 1936 when the Americans discovered vast reserves of cheap crude oil in Saudi Arabia.

But the Americans, having discovered vast reserves of shale oil and gas at home, are no longer dependent on Middle East crude oil. They have shifted their geo-political focus onto the Far East. Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and the Syrian civil war are disappearing from the headlines. And what about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that drove most of the 20th Century chaos in the Middle East?

Flying under the rader, the Israelis have taken possession of more than 70 % of the former Palestine. Of the remaining 30% (the West Bank, supposedly set aside for the Palestinian State) the Israelis continue to build settlements in strategic locations, linked by settler only roads. Effectively they are now in control of the West Bank, and the two state solution is dead. How long will it be before they annex the West Bank – and then what next?

If you believe my Arab friends, the Israelis will never be satisfied until they control the whole of the Middle East. They will, under the pretext of national security, attempt to annex Jordan – the home of so many displaced Palestinians.

In the meantime I grieve for the characters I created to tell the turbulent story of the oil rich Middle East. The flotsam and jetsam that washed up in The Gulf for a variety of reasons. Archetypal expatriates. Ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, driven to the fringes of Western society trying to survive.

Poor old Uncle Tom, diabetic and obese and impotent. Unable to give his wife Hettie the child she wanted so desperately. His foster son Ray, the brave SAS trooper whose fiancee cheated on him while he was away fighting in the Dhofar campaign – a hidden politicians war.

And the equally brave Dudley, a young cavalry lieutenant leading desert patrols in the Trucial States, fighting tribesmen in the Battle for Buraimi Oasis – a proxy war between Britain and the USA.

And Captain Bob who, when he lost his command of a supertanker, lost his command – and submitted to the ferocious attacks of the shrew of his social climbing Glaswegian wife.

And my narrator Mick, a journalist of the old school, grubbing around in all the darkest corners exposing corruption and hypocrisy regardless of the personal cost. It cost him the love of his life – Leila – the lovely young Palestinian woman from the refugee camps trying to pass as a Lebanese flight attendant because she just wanted a husband, and a normal life.

And it almost cost him the friendship of his life-long friend Pete Moore, a talented geologist and succesful businessman who was too high-minded and naïve to withstand the blandishments of Natalya, a 19 year old Kosovan whore, and the threats of her brutal Albanian pimps.

All of this is fading into history as international attention shifts to the Far East, and the maniac who is running North Korea. Here in Australia, even that story takes second and third place to the debate about gay marriage – and the citizenship requirements of senators. Both subjects rank somewhere between 0 and 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. How low can we go?

THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, deals with the effect that fabulous oil wealth brought to the region after the quadrupling of crude oil prices in 1972. You can preview my book on Amazon’s Kindle Websites at:

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 UK publisher:

www.feedaread.com