A Mysterious Moonlit Meeting

At length the moon shone out faintly, when suddenly by its beams I beheld a figure moving before me at a slight distance. I quickened the pace of the burra and was soon close at its side….

man with donkey on mountain road

There was something peculiarly strange about the figure, but what struck me the most was the tranquility with which it moved along, taking no heed of me, though of course aware of my proximity, but looking straight forward along the road, save when it occasionally raised a huge face and large eyes toward the moon, which was now shining forth in the eastern quarter.

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Of Politics and Poo

“Medicinal rhubarb was commercially grown from 1777 in Oxfordshire. It had been valued as a purgative and laxative for many centuries: a bag of rhubarb was considered sufficiently valuable to have been listed in the will of Marco Polo, and in the mid-nineteenth century the Chinese official Lin Zexu, unaware that it was, by then, a familiar feature of the Victorian vegetable garden, threatened Queen Victoria with a complete ban on the export of rhubarb. His intention was to bring a constipated nation to its knees and thus to end British sales of opium in China.”
from The Silk Road: Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia by Frances Wood.

Portrait of Lin Zexu

Personally, I wish Lin Zexu had been successful in his quest to stop (or possibly stop up) that giant pusher the British Empire and “eliminate this poison once and for all and to the benefit of all mankind.” You can read more of his letter here. It’s powerful stuff, and even today, there are those to whom it could well be posted.

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Is There A Hell?

“I will not continue in a job which involves being kissed by worms like Claude Bates. No, no, no, sir!”

Mr Wrenn raised a shocked and wrathful face.
“He kissed you?”

“Yes. You had an article in the Home Companion last week, uncle, saying what a holy and beautiful thing the first kiss is. Well, Claude Bates’s wasn’t. He hadn’t shaved and he was wearing a dressing-gown. Also, he was pallid and greenish, and looked as if he had been out all night. Anything less beautiful and holy I never saw.”

“He kissed you! What did you do?”

Wim van den Heuvel en Yoka Berretty (1961)

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