Does Jeff Bezos need my US$100?

Jeff Bezos is the world’s richest man, so why does he need my $100?

My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind” has had about 50 downloads on Jeff’s Amazon KINDLE. That should have earned me between about US$120-150 crossing the threshold of US$100 when I am supposed to receive a cheque. But Jeff splits my account between US downloads, UK downloads, and a few German and Spanish downloads and I haven’t crossed the magic threshold in any single market – so I don’t get a cheque.

Of course my $100 is insignificant in Jeff’s 112 Billion dollar fortune – but he has 2.8 million authors on the US site, and 1.4 million on the UK site. Making the generous assumption that 50% of authors actually earn enough to get cheques, then Jeff is withholding around US$150,000,000 of author’s royalties – and realistically, probably a lot more.

So I am asking you to talk to your friends and get them to download about 10 copies of my book from amazon.com Kindle site so that I can cross the threshold at least in the US, and get a US$100 cheque.

To be honest US$100 I not really significant to me either, but why should Jeff have it? I promise you if I get the cheque it will go in full to charity. My reward will be knowing that a few more people will read my book which will give them authentic insights into the Mid-East between the 1960s and 2001 – and the events that led to 9/11.

And perhaps somebody should start a movement to clear a lot of other marginal authors from Kindle and send the money to charity, and deplete Jeff’s nice little cash cow.

To help you and others make the decision about my book here is the Foreword to THE GULF; “Reaping the Whirlwind.”

Foreword: Reaping the Whirlwind

Oil is the ultimate prize, equated with world mastery.
Winston Churchill

In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

Dazzled by the imperial splendours of exotic India—the Jewel in the Crown—and distracted by Byzantine political intrigues in Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad, the Arabian/Persian Gulf became a neglected backwater of the British Empire that allowed America to establish a dominant presence in Saudi Arabia and usurp British interests in Iran.

After WW2 America’s thirst for cheap oil developed the region rapidly from a collection of feudal Emirates into independent nation states of international significance ruled by ruthless despots. And when in 1972 they seized control of their crude oil supplies, and imposed a five-fold increase in price, it became a glittering modern arena of Western hedonism in conflict with austere Wahhabi and mystical Sufi Islam.

A world as it is, not as we wish it to be.

Reaping the Whirlwind spans 40 years and is journalistic: a collection of stories highlighting dramatic events featuring strong but damaged characters—expatriates washed up in The Gulf trying to survive in a rapidly changing world.

It is a classic hero’s journey.

The narrator is an idealistic young journalist sent from the UK to The Gulf in the early 60s by his Editor—his mentor. He encounters an atavistic society more corrupt than he had ever imagined. And he finds that the world of the foreign correspondent is more like show business than a serious profession trying to write as honestly as possible the first rough draft of history.

So he begins a lifelong private war.

He meets with Woman as Temptress—but fails to find love—and enters the Belly of the Whale, confronting corruption and hypocrisy no matter what the personal cost. He recalls the suffering and sacrifices of previous generations that built Western civilization—something that has been forgotten by adultlescent Baby Boomers living in their affluent bubble. He returns to the UK armed with a boon that will burst that bubble and change society for the better. But he is too late.

A Merry Christmas to my follower, and thanks for your support

Tomorrow the World?

 

“See you in Jerusalem . . . tomorrow,” was a greeting by Zionists expressing their desire to see Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

 

            Now that they have all but achieved that ambition – hiding behind the swagger of Donald Trump, and the influence of his Israeli son-in-law Jared Kushner – what is next?

 

             When I worked in Saudi Arabia, even the moderate Western educated young graduates I mentored said that the Israelis would never be satisfied until they controlled the whole of the Middle East – and its oil. At the time I thought that was extreme. But now with Trump cancelling the nuclear treaty with Iran I have become a believer. 

 

In exactly the same way as the build up to the deposing of Saddam Hussein, they are setting up to depose the Ayatollahs. The lies and deception about Saddam’s WMD, and his “yellow cake” nuclear weapons program are being replicated by Netanyahu and Trump recycling old – and discredited – data about Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

 

           Saddam was the most credible threat to Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East – and so he was removed by Bush, with the shameful collaboration of Tony Bloody Liar. Now Iran – and specifically the Iran back Hezbollah – are the most credible threat to Israeli expansion and control. The last time Israel invaded South Lebanon they were soundly beaten back by Hezbollah – and Israel lost control of South Lebanon.

 

 What baffles me is that the US, and other Western governments, never mention Israel’s stockpile of 400 nuclear weapons, or its refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Agreement. Does anybody doubt that Israel would start hurling these weapons at anybody and everybody if they were losing their battle?

 

While Israel has nuclear weapons I think it is permissible for Iran (or Saudi Arabia) to also have them. The situation is the same as Pakistan and India developing them to neutralize each other. It’s called a balance of power. 400 to nil is not a balance of power.

 

 Israel, backed by Trump, claiming Jerusalem as its capital to the exclusion of Christians and Muslims, is yet another act of aggression and destabilization. Israel has no interest in a stable situation. Only instability can be exploited under the guise of national security.

 

 It seems to me that successive Israeli governments (with the honorable exception of Iitzak Rabin) are intent on obliterating the Palestinians. They have no intention of allowing a 2 State solution.

 

In my book, THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, I have a character – Uncle Tom – who is murdered because of his support for a Christian home for orphaned Palestinian children. Like all my stories this is a fictionalization of a true story that concerns a Christian missionary/archaeology professor. He was murdered because it was rumoured he had found evidence that the Palestinians were in the Holy Land before the Jews.

 

 The inspiration for that story was from a brilliant book, ‘Palestinian Twilight’ by Edward Fox.

 

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

 

 www.amazon.com

Or on my publisher’s website:

 

            http://www.feedaread.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And did those feet in ancient times . . .

So begins the William Morris’ poem JERUSALEM, an anthem and an elegy to an ideal city that should be aspired to by all mankind. Jerusalem has never been seen as the capital of an exclusively Jewish State – except by Zionists.

Jerusalem is central to all the monotheistic religions – Judaeism, Christianity and Islam. It is the location of the Stations of the Cross – and the Dome of the Rock – in addition to the Wailing Wall. It needs to be under international control.

Trump’s support for Israel’s grab, and American pandering to the Jewish lobby, shows that the USA is entirely unsuitable as lead negotiators in Middle East Peace Process: a process that is an empty shell.

The UN needs to take control – and the UN headquarters needs to be removed from New York and re-located to the League of Nations site in Geneva. And if America threatens, as the biggest donor, to remove its funding, I am sure China and Russia will pick up the slack. The tectonic plates of geo-political economic power are shifting.

My young friends in the Arabian Gulf (graduates I mentored) always told me that the Israelis were not to be trusted. According to them the Israelis want to own the whole of the Middle East. I was sceptical. But if you look at Palestine it’s a sobering lesson. Israel now occupies 75% of the former Palestine, and controls 30% of the West Bank that is supposed to be reserved as the future Palestine – and they continue to build illegal settlements there, and in supposedly Palestinian controlled East Jerusalem.

There will never be peace in the Middle East until Israel is reined in – and the USA is unwilling/incapable of doing that.

My book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”, begins and ends with the plight of LAYLA, a young Palestinian woman converted to Christianity and trying to care for children who are always the innocent victims of conflicts caused by the greed and arrogance of zealots. And the protaganists in my short story collection, expats washed up in the Arabian/Persian Gulf, are veterans of politicians’ wars like Viet Nam, the battle for the BURAIMI Oasis, and the DHOFAR Campaign.

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

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

Lest We Forget

At the moment I am watching a CNN documentary about the 1970s. An era that saw the advent of cable TV, the 24 hour news cycle, NIXON and the Watergate scandal – and the ignominious end of the VIETNAM War.

And it is that last segment that resonates with me. I lived in the USA in the mid-1960s, and many of my young colleagues were drafted to fight in Viet Nam. I was even taken off a bus to Canada and questioned by the FBI as a potential draft dodger. Fortunately I had already done military service in the UK, and was not eligible for the draft.

And one of my best friends here in Australia fought in the Viet Nam war. In fact we first met on vacation in Viet Nam.

 The CNN segment on the war ends with a clip of the presenter standing in Arlington Cemetery among the endless rows of white headstones marking the graves of young Americans who died in Viet Nam, and he says,

“If any future President ever thinks of going into a foreign war again, he should visit this place before he makes that decision. The Viet Nam War cost America 7 trillion dollars, the lives of 56,000 young Americans, and more than a hundred thousand wounded – some of whom will never recover from their injuries.”

He spoke those words in 1974 – and what he didn’t say was that it was all to no avail. When the Americans left Viet Nam after 10 years of bloody conflict the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese swept into Saigon and took over the South.

Now think Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The body-bags still keep coming home (although figures are no longer published) – and the cost escalates to unimaginable numbers, not just in trillions of dollars, but in civilians killed and maimed and forced to flee their countries as refugees. Will no American President learn the lessons of (recent) history and heed George Washington’s words:

“Interventionists are the result of refined education on minds of a peculiar structure,”

If you want insights into the recent history, and the chaos and confusion in the Middle East read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. It is written from the points of view of the archetypal expatriates who washed up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf prior to the events of 9/11. They were victims of power-mad politicians’ wars, greedy finance house excesses – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out of control drug-crazed teenage children.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites for the USA, 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

Why am I a Sceptic/Cynic?

I had a happy childhood. I am by nature optimistic – and yet I am sceptical of everything I see and hear – because:

My first management role was as Group Leader of SHELL’s jet fuel lab near Heathrow. My first project was the field testing of a water detector that had been developed by SHELL’s prestigious Amsterdam Research Laboratorium – and I, and my 3 research assistants, could not make it work.

Under intense pressure from my boss – and feeling like a failure who had fallen at the first fence – and in the throes of a panic attack at 3 am, I thought the unthinkable. What if Amsterdam were wrong? It took me and my assistants a morning in the lab to show that they were wrong.

I rushed to my boss shouting “Amsterdam are wrong.”. He was aghast. “You can’t say that,” was his reponse. And I had to invent a bullshit technology invoking Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle to explain the difference between lab results and field experience. The SHELL Water Detector is still in safe use at most of the world’s airports – thanks to my 3 am panic attack.

Very much later, I was the Manager of SGS Redwood’s Production Laboratory in Aberdeen that devised the crude oil Production Allocation scheme for the EKOFISK field with the Norwegain Petroleum Directorate; and for Occidental’s PIPER/CLAYMORE oilfields. On that basis we were invited to participate in the development of a scheme for the vastly more complex Sullom Voe Terminal project along with SHELL, ESSO, BP and ICI.

Test samples were sent to all the labs for analysis – and the results were sent to a Cambridge PhD for collation and analysis. He issued a report that made no sense to anybody. Les Berqvist from ESSO then asked the 64K question, “What is the baseline you have used to compare the results?” His confident answer, “My results, of course.”

Instead of applying well known statistical methods to analyze all results, including his own, he had made the vain and arrogant assumption that his results were the most accurate – and he was hostile, embarrassed and defensive when he was found out. Contrary to popular belief, scientists are human. They are frequently vain, intellectually arrogant, insecure and desperate for recognition. And under intense pressure to conform to orthodox beliefs in order to attract funding.

Think what George Orwell said:

“At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas, which it is assumed right-thinking people will accept without question.”(GlobalWarming) ”Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without any need for an official ban.” (think the late Dr. David Kelly, and Iraqi WMD)

Just like the scientists, the neo-Cons and neo-Liberals are so certain of their righteousness that they feel justified in spinning their half truths – and their outright lies. Tony B-Liar is still maintaining it was right to get rid of Saddam Hussein, in spite of the hundreds of thousands killed and being killed, maimed and being maimed in Iraq and Syria, the millions of refugees being displaced into Jordan, Turkey, and on into Europe – and the rise of ISIS, a far more terrifying and effective terrorist group than Al Qa’eda. He needs to seek asylum – in a psychiatric unit.

If you want more insights into the chaos and confusion that preceded all this read my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. It is written from the points of view of the archetypal expatriates who washed up in the the Arabian/Persian Gulf, prior to the events of 9/11. They were victims of powermad politicians’ wars, greedy finance house excesses – and in some cases just victims of avaricious Western wives, and out of control drug-crazed teenage children.

It is based on my 40 years in the international oil industry, most of it spent in The Gulf. You can preview it on AMAZON’s Kindle Websites for the USA, 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

Second time Farce

The Chilcott report has confirmed what most of us suspected – that Bush and Blair were determined to go to war, and “sexed up” dubious intelligence to justify it. I hope that Dr. David Kelly’s widow gets millions in compensation – of course the relatives of the military personnel who died or were wounded, are not far behind.

Blair’s repeated assertion “I did not lie” is on a par (although much more serious) with his mate Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman”. Blair is either the biggest liar that ever existed – or his lying is pathological, and he is unable to distinguish lies from truth. And his assertion that the Middle East is better for his getting rid of Saddam is denial of the highest order. He needs to be sectioned and given electric shock treatment at a very high voltage. Or maybe he should just be “water-boarded”.

But Blair is not only a liar – he is also incompetent. Chilcott points out that the UK had no coherent plan for reorganising Iraq after the war was won. And the same goes for the Americans. If you want to put flesh on the bones of the Chilcott report then read Rory Stewart’s OCCUPATIONAL HAZARDS (he was a British interim regional governor in Iraq after the war), and Rajiv Chandrasekaran’s IMPERIAL LIFE IN THE EMERALD CITY. He reports on the delusional triumphalism of State Department Yahoos inside the safety of the Green Zone, while they carefully ignore the chaos and danger outside the walls.

But why be surprised? The Middle East is littered with the delusions of Western politicians causing chaos, and the death and maiming of innocents. The Great Game; Britain’s disastrous forays into Afghanistan; Sykes/Picot; the Balfour Declaration; Suez; the Shah of Iran; the Iran/Iraq war when we backed Saddam – and the First Gulf War.

There was some moral basis for that war – after Saddam invaded Kuwait. But there is strong evidence that the US State Department gave Saddam the green light to invade – and evidence that they wildly exaggerated (sexed up) the strength of Saddam’s Imperial Guard giving them the excuse to massacre hundreds of Iraqi conscripts and civilians (including women and children) as they streamed out of Kuwait towards Baghdad along the “Mile of Death”.

Read the story ‘IF YOU DON’T, SOMEONE ELSE WILL’ in my book THE GULF  “Reaping the Whirlwind”. Very little of that story is fiction. I met the US Colonel who was responsible for re-supplying Desert Storm – and I was working for ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia during that war responsible for jet fuel quality. My description of the helicopter Forward Operating Base is from personal experience. And my description of the sickening massacre along the “Mile of Death” comes from TV footage shown in Saudi Arabia – and the reports of one of the few journalists allowed in.

The tag line for my book reads “It’s all about oil…” but that really only applies to the 20th century. The Middle East is the cradle of our civilization, and the crossroads of our world – and has always been the scene of conflict. Mesopotamia, The Fertile Crescent, The Silk Road, the Ur of Chaldea, the birth of monotheastic religions, Jerusalem and the rise of Islam and the bloody Christian Crusades. And I am quite sure that those atavistic struggles have always been littered with the lies and incompetence of vainglorious and narcissitic politicans. History repeats itself – first time tragedy – second time farce.

If you want authentic insights into the chaos in the Middle East from 1960 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. Or if you prefer a real book order the paperback direct from my publisher:

www.feedaread.com

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

Duende, Cante Hondo . . . and all the Jazz

                        The highlight so far of what will be my last summer in Spain was when I experienced “Duende” at a flamenco recital.

Deunde (Do-en-day) is literally a goblin in Spanish mythology, and “tener duende” (to have duende) is to experience a heightened sense of awareness, of a diabolical emocion, that gives you the chills, and raises the hairs on your arms and the back of your neck. Duende exists in all arts, but in its purest and most authentic form it exists in the first art forms of primitive man—the telling of folk tales in the forest clearing, and dance around the fire—and the accompanying music of drum and flute, the purest form of emotional expression— and in song, poetry set to music .

In Spanish flamenco Cante (can-tay) Hondo, literally deep song, is just that. According to the poet Federico Garcia Lorca cante jondo is the deepest most meaningful form of flamenco, “a rare example of the primitive songs of oriental people preserved in its purest form . . .  and the oldest song in Europe”. And the people who sing cante jondo struggle with a duende that threatens to overwhelm their technique and strangle their voice. It is an authentic emotion that comes from the internal tribal memories of suffering and hardship, the spilling of blood and imminent death.

I attended a flamenco recital in the function room of a Parador, one of the chain of state owned 5 star hotels, and a rather clinical environment. And the singer was a 30 something pretty Spanish woman—not at all the elderly and severe and serious hawk faced North African gypsy with huge sweat stains under her unshaven armpits that I had heard in the catacombs below the Plaza Mayor in Madrid 40 years earlier that put Spain in my soul forever.

And the virtuoso guitarist who accompanied this modern and younger singer was just 19 years old. They started gently enough with soft flamenco patterns on the guitar and nice controlled modern flamenco, and tango, and sevillanas—she even sang some soulful Portuguese fados and a song that sounded like Jewish Kletzmer to remind us of the strong presence of Jews in Andalucía centuries ago —and finished with a rousing flamenco piece. But the encores were the highlight.

 She came back and set aside the mic, and sang three Garcia Lorca poems in unaccompanied cante jondo that had the crowd growling: this affluent and elderly 60-something 5 star hotel Spanish crowd actually growling, and moaning  like primitives. The applause was thunderous from a crowd on its feet.

And then the guitar player started to finger the delicate filigree of soft flamenco patterns while his thumb plucking the bass strings in an insistent rhythm. And the singer segued into flamenco with a deep and rich and low toned contralto gradually ascending and sliding back down those hair-raising quarter tone oriental Arabic scales. And the rhythm became faster and the volume grew, and the crowd were stamping their feet like flamenco dancers, and clapping their hands in complex cross rhythms, until at the end the singer was shrieking and wailing in an unearthly fashion, the guitarist was threshing the strings, and the crowd were on their feet again—ecstatic: this 60-something 5 star hotel affluent Spanish crowd were ecstatic. Truly climatic. Ole. Viva Espanya.

Freud was wrong. The most compelling human drive is not the primal sex urge and orgasmic gratification. It is the search for the primitive tribal memories that haunted Nietzsche—for community, for humanity—the search for our soul, and an end to Soledad, being alone, metaphysical loneliness. And in jazz, and particularly in The Blues, it is the same.

The Blues, and Jazz, is all about having soul, and improvisation, about creating spontaneously music of that moment. Of being sent: of having duende. Of something welling up from inside and taking control, and your fingers or voice go where they want to and not at your bidding. And in The Blues “the sound of a good man hurting” you have the tribal memories of slavery and oppression, of suffering, of defiant field hollers and work songs, and Christian gospel music—man’s hopeless search for pure true love and the search for God.

And that is Mick McCallister’s hopeless search, the harmonica playing, Blues musician protagonist in my book THE GULF “Reaping the Whirlwind”. It is a classic hero’s journey as Mick, an idealistic young journalist, tries to write as honestly as possible the first rough draft of the history of The Arabian/Persian Gulf through the stories of expatriates washed up there for whatever reason. The world as it is, not as The West wants it to be. He fights the corruption and hypocrisy and the indifference and prejudices of his London editors no matter what the cost.

You can preview my book at:

www.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 it from:

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