Saturday, 27 August 2016

Movie Quote and Scenes relevant to you..................

How many people have seen films or TV shows without realizing that many of them - as Tolkien said - have to have some semblance of reality to be believable? He said this of his own stories - how he created his Middle Earth using real life peoples and characters from our own history and culture. This applies no less to many other stories found in films and TV shows, and while many might be flattering portrayals of individuals or events some aren't, while all are attempts at showing what might be right or wrong so people can decide from what they have seen or heard. No-one wants to look bad - or at least most people don't, while everyone from James Cameron, Francis Coppola, Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter have in their own inimitable style shown who or what the good, the bad and the downright ugly can be. In this Blog I will attempt to explain to you what those metaphors, analogies and characterizations might mean in the context of our own realities and actions. The rest - as they say - is up to the reader!

Watch this space.............

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Binary Options - the new Frontier

I recommend some Binary Options People you can rely on. 24option the most trusted in the world - with full regulation, Here's what some professionals are saying about them.....

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I'm not Gordon Gecko - but after a few forays into the world of Binary Options Trading I reached a few quite informed conclusions, not based on Mr Douglas's Characters knowledge of the Markets but on some common sense and a feeling that this has become the new Frontier - fraught with almost as many virtual hazards as any Pioneer might have in the 'olde days' where Maps said "Here be Dragons!'

How many People have been inundated with Email promising to make them a Millionaire in a few Minutes? That all you have to do is subscribe to their "Free" software and you will live the lifestyle of your Dreams? Seen those Videos of posh Cars, Ladies, even posher Houses, the inevitable cliched Photo's of some exotic place - probably copied from a Holiday Company Brochure. How many of you have thought that if anyone approached you in real life like they do in their Email you might ignore them - or even tell them to £%&^£ off!

That the "Free" ends when you get referred to a Broker who contacts you almost immediately asking for a £250 Deposit. This they do before they ask you for any Accreditation - ID Documents and the like - which is weird because no Bank would even let you open a Deposit Account without some proof of ID. Suffice to say that while they might get yer Money with a read of your Card Number, Sort Code and CVV Code - you can't re-access it quite so promptly while your Accreditation has to be 'approved'.

Then how about the Software that got you into all this to start with? One has a 'Demo' Account, which created the impression that everything is prompt, accurate and lucrative.Wow I thought, but after a while it prompted a few questions from me. The first was why as soon as it starts it does so at the same value on the same Currency Pair every time? How the same Names of 'Winners' always appeared telling you "so and so has just won.... etc". The fact is that this 'Demo' is rather like any artificial intelligence game - which might have some interactivity but all of it is pre-programmed. Sim City might let you create Trading Estates, Housing, Civic Infrastructure and everything else that makes a Metropolis work - but it isn't wired into City Hall. Unfortunately there is nothing to tell you that this 'Demo' isn't actually trading Monopoly Money in Wall Street, so the impression it gives is very misleading. Someone somewhere will 'go through go' but you might not necessarily collect £200!

How about the Pitch that got you to the Software - or at least that online Video you see where they ask for your Email and Phone Number? Actors ( and you half expect them to look like Robert Redford and Paul Newman), some glamour puss draped on their arm (probably from an Agency), that sleek Car - a rental - maybe even some Real Estate - which you could photograph or film using a reasonable quality Digital Camera - just stand outside House/Condo of choice, Testimonials - probably Friends and Colleagues, maybe even Photos lifted from Google Images/Facebook/Twitter etc - and those Screenshots of Bank Statements. Photoshop Guarantees and Money back pledges, drone, blah - it's almost become a parody of itself.

Then there is the Propaganda and Counter-Propaganda. Websites - decrying one and promoting the other - usually because one works for or knows, been payed by - those behind it, some even copy and paste the Blurb written by them and call it a "Review". One I wrote to - where my Name was changed - another asking for my Email Password, both of which seemed rather like the very sites they write about!

In the end, if whoever responsible for it is that confident that their Program works - and will make you anything like the Money they claim - when they do contact you ask them if you can borrow the paltry £250 to set it up. Mere Bagatelle to People who will make you "half a Millionaire in 30 days", and when you have made your first few 1000 - you could meet them, do all that stuff the Bloke in the Video does, or just celebrate your good fortune with a Meal and Night out. Not only do they get their Money back they also get to live up to their own Hype!

As People look for alternative incomes and solutions to minimal wages and unemployment these People are potentially very exploitative, while the actual premise of trading on the Internet is as sound as sending Email and all the other good things it offered.


I read heaps of reviews about a certain Auto Trading Program, saw the Videos, those "Live Trades" etc, and after a few days decided to do it. Suddenly all those reviews are null and void because I got assigned this Broker - and the complaints seem almost as omnipresent as that Programs reviews.

Almost instantly, my back was up. Clicked on "Chat" for the Brokers Website and it doesn't work. Fine, so I'll contact the Support People at the Software Office. Ahh, can't be found - at least not until I make my Deposit. So much for their vaunted "Superb support" etc. Asking to get them to assign me a different Broker, y'know - like the one all those Reviewers use.

Because of this I have not made my Deposit because it all looks very flaky. I don't think it's right that these Software Companies can operate a System of Pot Luck when it comes to which Broker you use, while I think you should have the Option (no pun intended) to choose which one you want an Account with.

This will put People off - and I'm not surprised, while the stuff I'd read about a Broker affiliated to that Program looks like the sort of thing we've come to expect in the shadier areas of Binary Trading. I hope that the Software people sort this out and maybe they should reassign any Customers with the Broker their glowing reviewers use.

There were a few questions I had for the Software People...

The first and obvious one being the Broker Assignment - that they should tell you which Broker you will have BEFORE you sign up.......surely? That you don't open a Bank Account with HSBC - only to find you've got one with Nat West, or say that HSBC has "HSBC" in big letters on the Premises.

That the 'Reviews' are not only with a Broker I didn't get assigned to - they are based on 10 Minute Trades. My Broker doesn't offer those - so - how can the Software work?

That they might claim their Program makes a lot of Money - but that means diddly squat if you can't withdraw it.

That the Website the Broker uses looks suspiciously like some of the less than reputable Sites operating at the moment. A new word can be added to the lexicon of Hypespeak - "Viral" - which sums it all up - perhaps unintentionally!

Here are the main - and quite common - criticisms People have had about this particular Broker...

That they can't make a Withdrawal.

That the Broker does Trades for them - frittering away any Profits, Balances and Deposits. This isn't with any Autotrading Software, just individuals working for them.

Completely stonewalling any attempts at contact and communication.

All of this is why I'm reluctant to continue because regardless of what any Software Program might claim, it's rendered meaningless if the Broker is shonky. That it might make you Money - but that could easily disappear if they do Trades without your consent.

The crucial bit is when you transfer Funds to your Bank Account, until then your "Balance" is meaningless!

The things that put me off were.....

How I couldn't contact the Software providers UNTIL I made a Deposit

How the reviews were for 10 Minute Trades - not available with that Broker (thus; irrelevant). Do they really check their Brokers for compatibility?

How there wasn't even a "Withdrawal" facility on their Webpage.

That the Video wasn't working like any YouTube Vid might (ie; You couldn't replay it)

How the Brokers "Chat" Facility wasn't working.

Some of this suggests that their Website isn't up to the Job. After all, how could you do a manual Trade soon enough if you have to struggle with the HTML to get it to work at all?

Also, 'Trading' must be quite difficult if there isn't a 'Trading Platform'. (which any site usually shows - even if you have a nil Balance). If I could post a Screenshot of their Website - and one of the many serious Trading Sites - you will see the difference between what any namesake Trader might use - and what can be done with Wax Crayons and bits of coloured Paper. I'm not saying any Sites should be overly complicated, but there wasn't very much to work with at all.

So if you can't access any trading page how do you know what you are going to be using?

It was similar with some Autotrade Programs. That there wasn't any "Contact Us" on the Page at all, while when I googled them what that showed looked nothing like what I got sent to after clicking their Email and subsequent Application Form.

In the end, my Conclusion was this.......

That the (Software) Web-link I clicked on must be a Spoof. That if People could spoof Paypal like they did a few years ago they could do with this

The Giveaway was how it didn't have an SSL Certificate. This is the Padlock and HTTP you see in your Browser. If this isn't there then it could be someone spoofing the Site - using a temporary Domain to do so. It also means that there is no secure Connection with the Provider, thus anything you send or receive can be read by any third, fourth, fifth etc party who cares to.

In other words I was right not to continue with the Application -while equally right not to use Autotraders that look amateurish.

Watch this Space for more - as I continue with the next instalment of a Story that was at best frustrating at worse traumatic.

Click below for something rather more reliable..........

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2 Months ago something quite extraordinary happened. An emotional Prime Minister announced his pending Resignation. The German President - Angela Merkel - seemed humbled, European Politicians shook their Heads in disbelief ...............

Britain voted the leave the European Union!

Admittedly it was a very small Margin - but a Vote is a Vote - and about 1.5% of those who did decided to vote Brexit. Suddenly, Politicians who had been ridiculed for years were vindicated. Nigel Farage - Leader of the UK Independence Party looked triumphant and announced June 23rd should be our Independence Day. Sir James Goldsmith - whose euro-sceptic Referendum Party ran in the 1997 Election - must have finally sighed "I hate to say I told you so - but I told you so" - and on it went.

Britains Poltical Establishment went into Meltdown. Jeremy Corbyn - whose Mettle was sorely tested during the Campaign - and whose efforts many Labour Supporters felt were left wanting - steadfastly refused to do what David Cameron did on June 24th. The Tories became a rudderless Ship as leading Frontbenchers announced their Leadership Bids. The rumbustious Boris Johnson looked set to become Cameron’s successor - until Micheal Gove plunged a Knife in his back, then - in turn - was also trounced in his hopes to become Prime Minister.

Then, the 'People' took to the Streets in what can only be described as a very skewed Statement of "People Power!" Pro-European Demonstrators called for a second Referendum and protested at who exactly? They missed the Point, and this wasn't a Decision made by Parliament - it was a Decision made by.............the People, so we were given the bizarre Spectacle of People trying to dissolve the People - and elect another! TV Journalists interviewed some - and while it was a Vote by Britain about - and for - Britain - those German, French etc Accents were furious at why 'they' should now leave the EU!

This seemed like the equivalent of a Warsaw Pact country leaving the Pact. That a complete destructing of the Eurocracy has to start concurrent with a re-structuring of the domestic Executive, Legislature and Sovereignty. That the career structure for cynics might try and recidivate - if they want to look like Generalisimo Franco in 1936 and his response to Spanish Democracy - Krushchev to Nagy in 1956, Brezhnev to Dubcek’s reforms - or Yaneyev's Gang of Four in 1991 to Gorbachev’s.

Then, how about when Airbus threatened to close its UK Operation if Britain voted against the EU? That's like Brezhnev warning Dubcek that he'll shut down the Kalashnikov Rifle Factory in Czechoslovakia if Prague decides to cede from the Warsaw Pact in 1968. Not particularly democratic while also revealing the iniquities of the MIC - something Eisenhower warned about in 1960 - and how it could interfere with the civic Life of the US.

Others criticised the older Voters who voted Brexit. Millennials - 16 to 35 year olds - who weren't alive when those Voters did so in the 1975 Referendum, seemed oblivious to why and what that Vote went the way it did, and what it was for.

There were thosethat thought these Decisions should be left to the Political Elite. It was - when David Cameron had the Referendum in his 2010 Manifesto. That he threw it open to the Demos in Democracy scotches those who felt that this ought to have been left to Parliament. If he hadn't it'd be rather like a European Commission who wouldn't even forward Policy to the European Parliament to vote on. So even pro-Europeans must see that their process was applied in this instance (the Public being the equivalent of the Euro-Parliament). Their reaction to the Vote is like a Commission who decide that a "yes" or "no" Vote in the Parliament is somehow invalid. In that context even the EU has to accept our decision.

Euro-Sceptics were branded Racist, an insult to anyone who realises that People entering Britain because of their EU Passport means those who don't have one can't. How the EU merely expands the Borders of Racism because of this, that a Euro-Chauvinism developed - no less racist than any Alf Garnet Characters might have been in BBC Sitcoms. How the very Policies of the European Union have spawned reactionary Groups like the Front Nationale in France and Golden Dawn in Greece. How the EU seemed to benefit White, northern Europeans at the Expense of the Mediterranean Countries. To see how serious this is No-one ever envisaged Martin Webster ever becoming an MP like the Nationalists in France have now, while the BNP can only manage a few Councillors. It isn't any of those things.

Then there were others....

The Environment would suffer someone said, except Friends of the Earth were created in Britain - the Worlds most respected Eco-Lobbyist and Research Organisation, before we joined the EEC in 1973. Human Rights was another - but Amnesty International was started in Britain in 1961. It was these that prompted me to ask if we've become too dependent on the EU for everything, and that it almost implies that we've somehow forgotten how to do Environment and Human Rights completely. That a moral Bankruptcy meant we could always rely on Brussels and Strasbourg for these things. The positive thing here is; now we can rediscover how - and shrug off the Eurocomplacency that has developed in the last 43 years. It's that "They should do something about it" thing isn't it - except after June 23rd 2016 there is no "They" just you or us!

Also, the combination of the industrial Lobbyists and their influence on the Commission - and the Impotency of the European Parliament - a Pseudo-Legislature that in reality just "yay" or "Nays" Commission Directives - means that concessions to the Environment and Human Rights are just Crumbs that fall from the European Round Table. A very small Carrot offset by a very large Stick!

In the Debate before the Vote Frances O'Grady - the Leader of the TUC - lamented how Industries were "crushed by Bankers" in the 1980s. This isn't entirely true, and the huge Closures of Coal and Steel which made 100s of 1000s unemployed was done as much for ideological Reasons as economic. She should meet the Latvian who complained how - once in the EU - many Latvian Business's were closed - even viable ones - to align the Country with the European Union. That this is no less ideological than Thatchers Government doing same in Britain. Subsequently, about a 3rd of the Population has now left Latvia - severely depleting her Workforce. This is akin to the ideologically driven Collectivizations that caused the Soviet Famine of the 1930s and turned Ceaucescus Romania into Absurdistan - where the Presidents Dogs ate more nutritious Food than a People living in South East Europe's Market Garden. That something like 800,000 People leaving a Country of only 2.5 Million amounts to severe Depopulation.

This continued in Southern Europe - where Euro-policies have caused 50% youth unemployment. However you look at this - it is either chronic and brutal indifference - or that same Ideologically driven Policy making and application.

This brings me to this.........

That while a veritable army of Poles, Balts, Slovaks and other former Warsaw Pact Citizens arrived in more prosperous European Countries - what does this say about the failure of the EU to develop their Economies so they don't have to migrate? What does it also say about the unfortunate consequence of what is effectively Economic Migrancy? It also implies that a Centric attitude existed in the EU that meant any Benefits supposedly felt by those Countries never got that far.

Then Sinn Fein MP Martin McGuinness got involved. Seeing how the Referendum showed Ulster was a pro-Europe Area, and how the Vote might estrange the Province from the Republic he mooted an Irish Reunification Referendum. This was a bit opportunistic and while many Loyalists might have been pro-Europe they still aren't pro-united Ireland. Your Enemies Enemy isn't necessarily your Friend and all that!

Britain gets more Money from the EU than she puts in apparently! So, if we are the 2nd largest Contributor to the EU how can we be? Does this imply that Germany gives the EU so much that it supports us - not to mention Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and the former Warsaw Pact - all at once? The problem I have with Euro-Subsidies is how Money goes to the EU - then comes back. Why can't we keep it and decide what we do with it? Having read something someone wrote in support of the EU - and my being involved with an Anti-Poverty Campaign in Wales in 1999, I would say that a paltry £2.5 Billion from 2014 to 2020 isn't much of a return on our £10 Billion a year investment. I realise that that amount is sent by the UK as a whole - but while EU Subsidies are meant for the most needy of regions - Wales being one of them - where the other £58 Billion goes is a question for those responsible. Despite the Subsidy Economy in Wales - Cymru voted Brexit!

The French Prime Minister summed it up - although maybe unwittingly - when he said that the Referendum was a "Jolt" to the complacency and arrogance of the EU - prompting them to reconnect with the People. but why did the second largest contributor to it have to leave before he finally said it? People had been telling him this for years. His attitude isn't just at the highest echelon of the EU either. I could say that it applied at an every day level too. What this has finally also proved - and that is just how patronising the EU is (that, "let them calm down, be sensible, and have a second EU referendum" attitude, and how undemocratic. Anyone who voted against has to keep schtum in Company and Social Media for fear of recriminations.

But then, when you have an Organisation that employs 10,000 People - all paid more Money than he or she in Downing Street with the Nuclear Launch Codes the desire to continue with it must be very tempting. The Machinations to garner support in the daily lives of everyone as omnipresent as the Reactionists attitude proved.

One of the central Myths about the EU was how it prevented another War in Europe. To say this is to ignore why Germany is one of the most powerful economies in the world and that of the Continent. Marshall Aid gave them the biggest incentive of all not to wage War in Europe again, (ditto for Italy and others in receipt of the Program), while if the EU was meant to prevent another European Conflict then why wasn't it implemented in the late 1940's instead of that of the 1950s? Although it failed the Legue of Nations was within Wilson's Presidency after WW1. Also, the EU actually failed to prevent war in Europe when Yugoslavia descended into Conflict in the 90's, ominously a lot of it happened in Sarajevo. It didn’t stop the continuing Violence in Ireland either - despite both Britain and the republic joining in 1973. The Good Friday Agreement resolved this - and it was completely independent of the European Union.

Economic stability?

The recent Fortunes of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland are in conflict with this, but it gets worse.

After the European Commission was disbanded in 2000 because some Commissioners were committing extreme Fraud a Group of Ombudsmen were appointed to monitor the EU - particularly its dealings with the industrial Lobbyists. These People were supposed to be independent - but when they were researched it turned out some had connections with the same Companies behind the Economic Slump of 2008. Considering how impotent the SEC were in the US at preventing what eventually led to 2008, I found it distressing that these same people could be involved in the political process of the EU. That it has been said that 2008 will happen again because that Bubble has been replaced by an even bigger one. When that one bursts the implications for any economy bound up with the EU are obvious, and will be far more disastrous than something that came from Wall Street.

This is why Brexit wasn't the economic disaster Scaremongers would have us believe and might even be a safeguard against what could happen in Europe. That to wrest our Economy from the toxic Morass of the EU couldn't have happened at a better time.

To be continued……………………….

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A few years after the Iraq War - a disaster that vindicated many who don't gloat.

Iraq's Regime had gone - but what next?

Meanwhile, until I find my writings about the Caucasus in the context of the recent Russian-Georgian War here's some stuff I wrote a few years ago about the Wars in Syria and northern Iraq

Having just read about ISIS and their Activities in the last 12 Years it seems some of us are being proved right about the disaster that unfurls in the Region formerly called Arabia and the Levant. Those Paramilitaries GWB went on about - which, then, were factitious - are now there in their 1000s - and while the West tries to evaluate which one might be friendly and those that aren't, all have shown that the Arab Expression "Your Enemies Enemy isn't necessarily your Friend" is right. Even the Iraqi Government recently showed support for Syrian Government Air strikes against recent rebel Activity as it encroached into Iraq. So much for the continued Support the West has had for the insurgency in Syria then as it puts them in conflict with their new Protege, while President Obama has asked for yet another $500M to arm what he hopes would be "Moderate" Forces in the Rebellion. I'm sure some of those Moujahedin in 1980s Afghanistan must have seemed quite moderate when the US did something similar then.

Isn't this Folly and for a Number of Reasons? Firstly; that the Afghan example applies and that today s 'Freedom Fighters' are tomorrows 'Terrorists' - or that the Ebb and Flow of Allegiances in the Region could mean the President being duped into supplying People who could change sides at the Drop of a Keffir. Also, if they are defeated those Weapons are captured - just like the many others that have been - in both Syria and Iraq (the latter having a Squadron of Helicopters appropriated by ISIS when they seized Mosul Airport recently). John Kerry must have seen something similar in Vietnam when those 'Vietnamised' Troops (Soldiers from South Vietnam charged with assuming Army Duty once the US withdrew) collapsed and their Weapons siezed by VC and NVA Troops instead. This is why I'm surprised the President even suggested it - particularly when his Secretary of State for Defence must also realise why Vietnamisation didn't work for the same Reason those Iraqi'ised Troops surrendered as promptly as they did. After almost the same Time-scale (about 3-4 Years) Vietnamised Soldiers realised that the People they pointed their Rifles at were as Vietnamese as they were - those they did so on behalf of weren't. The same applies to the Iraqi Army - with the additional Element of whichever Strand of Islam they subscribe to.

Meanwhile, a Consignment of F16s seem to have got lost in the Post - causing Baghdad to buy Sukhoi Aircraft from Russia and Belorus instead - something Saddam used to do - and while those ,and maybe any other FWhatevernumbers, seem to be mislaid in the Sorting Office maybe they'll continue buying Planes from Saddam s former Ally!

All of this is partially because western Intel insisted on identifying Sunnis and Shia Moslems as potential Friend or Foe Groupings rather than as Iraqis - a Policy we saw the beginnings of in 1990 when GHB tried rallying those Shias of the Basra region into Insurrection against Saddam's Sunni Government, and continued when the recent War raged. The Aim of ISIS is to create a pre-1919 Arabia where Islam (the Caliphate) effectively erases the artificially created Countries of the post WWl Era (Sykes-Piquot). Considering they are a Reaction to the predominantly Shia Government in Baghdad - who were a Reaction to the Sunni Government of Saddam - while Assads Regime in Damascus is a Shia Alawite Sect of Islam - the Allegiances in the region are somewhat Skewed. The West backs the new Iraqi Government and opposes Damascus - thus supports Rebels in Syria - but is against those in Iraq. Iraq's Government supports the Government in Damascus and tacitly opposes Rebels.. All of this suggests that Groupings like ISIS could prove very seductive to a People wearied by War in either Countries and begin to see their Presence as potential to end it in both. Even one of their Regions (where Tikrit is located) has the very evocative Name Salah-ah-Din - from a time when Shia and Sunni Saracens were unified in the 12th-13th Century. Something I'm sure isn't lost on those responsible for their Propaganda.

All of this shows that the recent Wars could prove to be counter-productive in protecting western Interests in Arabia and the Levant - while Israel must wince at the prospect of a unified Islamic Caliphate on their Doorstep.

It also shows that whatever they have now is far more extreme than anything they had before - including the Syrian Government and former Iraqi Regime. In the recent Years of the current Conflicts the myriad Combatants have probably killed, maimed, kidnapped and oppressed as many People on every side as either Government had in rather more Years. Even the formerly maligned Kurds during Saddam's Era haven't escaped the Conflict as they have had to defend themselves (and others fleeing the War) against the Paramilitaries. NATO Turkey has seen its Government severely compromised as the Strain starts to cross its own Borders with Syria and the Kurdish PK begin to seize their chance in the uncertainty. This is why ISIS have had an Ascendancy they otherwise wouldn't have as the Wars gradually wear down the People and any Resolve they might have had to retain any Westernisation, where that 12th-13th Century historical Figure who represented Unification and subsequent Peace, seems more attractive as each Day of the Conflict continues - even in Sunni Islamic Turkey. There have even been mass Executions of POWs not seen since the Massacre of the Saracens at 1190s Acre or those of Refugee Camps in Lebanon..They have seen 12 Years of total War - and like any omnipresent Conflict anything that existed before gradually fades into distant Memory.

What makes it all far more dangerous to the West and Israel is how any previous Paramilitary Activity from the PLO and the late Yassur Arafat were waged from Refugee Camps and the tiny Enclaves of Gaza and the West Bank. These were also Nationalist Conflicts - a territorial Battle for Areas of what used to be called Palestine. ISIS and others have an Islamist Agenda that wouldn't be negotiated at Camp David with Maps and territorial and administerial Agreements, while they now control Areas of the Region rather more substantial and not completely reliant on Funding from other Arabist States. This means they are in a much more powerful Position to export 'Terrorism' to other Islamic Regions and the sort of Activity in the West we used to see in the 1960s-90s by the PLO - but on a wider Scale. Arafat might have been behind those Bombings and Hijackings - but at least he and Rabin could be brought to the Negotiating Table to resolve the Crisis.

Even when it was possible to negotiate about Geography like the British and French did with Faisal there were still mistakes........

As these 2 Maps show - the first from the 6th Century - the second after Sykes-Picot - the Anglo-French almost applied their Borders according to traditional Tribal Regions - with one glaring omission - no Homeland for the Kurds.

Also, I remember how Hostages were returned to the West via Syrian backed Amal in Lebanon - to Assad's Damascus and ultimately their Home Countries. The kidnapping Activities of these Groups in the current Conflict have shown no Intent at all of doing the same - quite the opposite - and while Damascus is compromised as a regional Influence so is the prospect of an acceptable Resolution to any Hostage Scenario. That these have - and will - happen in Areas far larger than the Lebanon merely compounds the Problem.

And no-one has even contemplated the Dilemma surrounding the Millions of Refugees scattered across the Region, who - at some Point - will have to return Home. Home - to what exactly - while it's Luck of the Draw as to who rules which Area each Refugee came from and returns to.

What also makes all of this more dangerous than ever before are things like that and the many other Crises that afflict the Region. Israel have fought their Wars with Arabs and Palestinians many times before - the latter a comparatively small Group of Fighters numbering no more than a few Thousand, while the other Arab Peoples watched. This time - and unlike Yom Kippur in 1973 - if things escalated (and Israel seem to have resorted to the usual Tit for Tat Policy with Gaza at the moment) they won't be fighting either a conventional Army controlled from Cairo, Amman and Damascus or that small Group of Palestinians - but an entire Swathe of potentially 100s of 1000s of increasingly desperate People - all armed - and of all Aramaic Demographics. The biggest Mistake the West can make would be to send yet another Coalition into War - where those 'People' they are there to 'Liberate' might just as readily shoot them as support them.

Whoever it was who thought a Rebellion in Syria might be a good Idea ought to be brought to account for this - while the Iraq Conflict suffered because GWB broke one of the most important Rules of War - don't over-deploy your Army on any second Fronts, which he did - as that 250,000 was split - 125,000 each in Iraq and Afghanistan. This means neither were as effective as they could have been had they just focussed on each objective at a time. Those WMDs might or might not have been there (while it could be argued certain former Vice Presidents probably had the Copies of Invoices from the Sale of any that did - as does France, Britain etc with many conventional Weapons) but how any of this could be decisive when you don't have enough Troops in the Conflict is a Question for him. Apparently, amongst the Weapons ISIS have captured was a SCUD Missile - so, so much for disposing of any of those anyway then.

Also, Yitzhak Rabin was killed - not by a Palestinian, or anyone else who might oppose Israel - but by an Israeli (who thought Rabin had made too many Concessions to Arafat) - so the extremist Element in all this isn't just in the Arab Camp and Israel has its own Enemies of Peace too!

What should also be remembered here is that while the 1967 War concluded with the Capture of the Golan Heights and Yom Kippur by the conventional Defeat of a conventional Army (with the usual Announcement of Cessation of Hostilities) any War waged against Israel now won't. Unlike a very small Group of Suicide Bombers from Hamas there are infinitely more of them - and we have seen them do this in their Battles in Iraq and Syria. These Rocket Attacks - launched from Gaza and Southern Lebanon - are limited by the Borders they have with Israel. Now, they could do it from the Syrian Border Region and maybe even Jordan if the Conflict spreads into there too. King Hussein's Government has been regarded by the Islamists as an Enemy and they could make Life very difficult in Amman.

GWBs biggest Error was self-admitted in 2001 when he said how he was going to play one Group off against another - while his under-deployment of Resources showed how he also underestimated how difficult it would be to keep those same Factions from fighting each other long after Saddam was toppled. He broke the Country and Iraqi Society - but couldn't repair it. while the same applied to Syria - but on a much larger Scale as her Russian Allies were prompt in supporting the Government. Suddenly the War reached the Gates of Moscow.

Not sure what George Robertson was doing either when he let Sakashvili loose a few Years ago in the Caucasus. Instead of this he ought to have urged Caution as Secretary General of NATO - but he didn't, thus forfeiting any diplomatic Work via the Kremlin as Putin 'resolved' the Ossetia and Abkazia Crisis in quite predictatble Fashion. Although, for all Putin’s Faults it has to be said it was just as well it was 'concluded' as quickly as it was to prevent South Ossettia and Abkhazia turning into Ingushettia and Chechnya - oeven these being embroiled in a wider - opportunistic Conflict by Grozny. Problem now being those same Chechens are now in control of a Region of Syria - with all that that entails.

(This is where I wish I could access my Piece about the Caucasus being the most dangerous place on Earth - an Analysis of the various Allegiances and enmities in the region).

On the continuing Israel-Palestinian conflict and the contrast..........................

The Difference now is how the Conflict is infinitely bigger than it was since 1948.........and certainly after the Palestinians established Refugee Camps in Lebanon and Jordan. For Years Palestinians had their internecine Skirmishes, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Peoples Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Revolutionary Justice Organisation, more latterly Hamas and the PLO have squabbled - as have Lebanese Groups like Hezbollah and Amal, Abu Nidal and the Druze. Their common Enemy is Israel and her western Allies, but these Groupings are all comparatively small and even unified haven't really done much Damage to the Jewish State.

The Knesset's biggest Dilemma is how they have been manoeuvred into an unenviable Position by Events and while it might be one thing to launch the usual Air strikes on Gaza or even invade Lebanon like they have in the past - it could be something entirely different if they did on any of these new Groupings in Syria and Iraq. Even the IDF can't be everywhere - and they must realise that if anything would unify these Groupings it would be that. There is an unfortunate Resonance with the Crusades - particularly that of the third - as a Caliphate now occupies somewhere called Salah'ah'Din and we have seen a Massacre of Prisoners of War almost as large as Richard lst's mass Execution of Saracens at Acre. There was no Geneva Convention in the 1190s - there seems to be scant regard for it now!

Iraq, before, during and after the Invasion in Maps.....

For a complete geographical understanding of the current Situation click here..............

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Friday, 26 August 2016

Why did the Iraq War worry so many?

Many years ago now, it seems, the world wrangled with itself about a mooted war in Iraq. Washington and London set out to convince their Electorates that a War with now former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein wasn't only necessary it was also inevitable. After about a year of this and the many Radio Talk Shows and much Media Speculation I eventually wrote this Article as my definitive comment on it all. It formed the basis for quite a lot of Media Coverage on the Subject and proved quite influential. Rather than have it stored in some Archive never to be read or seen again I thought I would post it here so you can see and decide for yourselves whether the now ended Conflict was right or wrong. All I know is that after the last Soldiers withdrew a Couple of years ago the Region has descended into Violence and Chaos, and areas of it are now completely ungovernable, or are in the hands of the Islamic Caliphate ISIS. Even the Pentagon - who only in quite recent years - are admitting the fallacies of a War that ended 40 years ago (Vietnam) - are now starting to think the war in Iraq was a mistake. An unprecedented stance in an increasingly uncertain World.


In January 1991 I was watching “The Villain” on BBC 1, when all of a sudden Richard Burton disappeared, and the Beeb went over to  “Special report” mode. Martyn Lewis announced that operation “Desert Storm” had been launched - taking us over to Dahran air base and Brian Barron, engulfed in a wave of jet fighter sounds and air raid sirens. The sirens, Brian explained, screamed because Saddam had launched Scud missiles, and it was believed that they were heading for his location. A lot of  Martyn - Brian, Brian - Martyn tooing and froing unfolded on the screen, as we were given that sense of immediacy only broadcast media can create in times of crisis. Brian’s journalistic mastery conveying the real sense of history he was witnessing, The pictures of Tornado aircraft taking off into the darkness, the sirens still wailing in the background, then suddenly NOTHING!!!. Whiteout, a snowstorm picture with a white noise soundtrack where a BBC news veteran had, moments earlier, filled my portable! I remember the overwhelming sense of shock, the pulse quickening, and mind racing with ”what's happened?” questions, the sudden contrast as Martyn Lewis, surrounded by soundproofed studio silence, gamely held the broadcast together, finding himself on an electrical frontline where the chilling abruptness of war suddenly became very very real!

This was our introduction to a whole new way of fighting a war, when the technology being employed in the air and on the ground in Iraq, would be matched by  the advances in media coverage techniques that became a part of all our lives in the weeks to follow. Peter Arnett of CNN - a news organisation only regularly watched by the - then - minority of people with cable or satellite TV suddenly appearing on every terrestrial box in the land! A prototype News 24 service, put together by circumstance as the BBC opened its newsroom to the events happening in a desert 1000's of miles away! The jargon that would find its way into the lexicon of every day parlance, and the expert academics becoming the new celebrities of the moment! I remember the eerie cogniscience of seeing a Broadcast in the darkness - and later watching a squadron of Stratofortresses vapour trailing the dawn skies on their way back to Gloucestershire after a “Carpet bombing” mission. These were all momentous events in a seismic chapter of time when the world was in flux! To understand what I mean look at the 'then' world order...............

Political geography had just changed as the impossible became possible and the Warsaw pact gaffed and lumbered its way into extinction. Every street in eastern Europe had been filled with  jubilant crowds of newly liberated people, who'd seen their communist rulers fall one by one as an intelligent, enlightened man in the Kremlin left them to their own devices. The Berlin wall - that dividing line of world ideologies that so scarred the psyche of cold war Europe - had been reduced to souvenirs on mantelpieces around the world, and the Iron curtain had been drawn back to let in the light of freedom. Europe had been made whole for the first time since the out break of the second world war, and we all basked in a new spirit of optimism.   U2 provided the soundtrack  with “Achtung baby” - freed Trabants guesting at their live shows.

At the turn of the year we were still riding the wave, and Saddam was going to get squashed by the biggest international military build up since D day, about to crash onto him like a mighty Tsunami.   To add a paradoxical twist that somehow compounds the certainty of the moment, Massive Attack - whose rule book trashing ”Blue lines” album appeared the year before - dropped the ”Attack” suffix to the name as an act of protest for the duration.  Everything seemed to be balanced  in a way we could all readily understand.                                                        This was a very tumultuous period indeed..... .......................................and a very long time ago!!!

Back then we weren't having any of Saddam’s claims that Kuwait belonged to Iraq, a contention dating back to when Baghdad was first granted sovereignty. The protestations that the tiny Emirates over-production of oil was forcing down the price of Iraqi petroleum , and that a lot of it was being drawn from a source that was partially theirs anyway! He'd overstepped the mark, ignored UN security council resolutions to quit Kuwait, and something was going to be done about it!

This wasn't the first time the west had taken military action with the country over oil as - long before Mr Hussein assumed the presidency and stepped into the annals of international notoriety - Britain dispatched forces to Iraq to prevent the USSR getting too close to the Baghdad government - and therefore the precious resource the area seems to float on! To call the region volatile is an understatement, as Baghdad and Tehran’s bickering over the disputed Shatt al Arab waterway blew up into a full scale war, (ignited by an Iranian Kurd problem spilling over into Iraq at the turn of the 80s), resulting in an 8 year conflict that cost an estimated 1 million lives. Ironically, at that time Kuwait was Saddam’s ally - probably because they saw the arabic Ba'athist dictator as more favorable than the theocratic Persian Mullahs in Iran, and the simple geographic buffer presented by Iraq that afforded them protection from the Ayatollah! Looking further back, David Leans epic film portrayed how captain T E Lawrence (of Arabia) assisted the fledgling Iraqi nation in its guerrilla war against Turkish hegemony in the early 20th century, and up until the 1950s Baghdad was a member of what was then known as the “Sterling Bond” linking their currency to ours................The twists and turns of Arabic destiny is steeped in blood, oil, violence, and betrayal going back centuries, and Mr Bush Jr is about to become another player in the game of middle eastern politics.

The Persian gulf war of the early 90s was a relatively straight forward affair, a recognisably 'legitimate' international response to an intolerable violation of one countries territorial sovereignty by another, and one that was easily sold to electorates and politicians the world over. A global sentiment that had echoes in the similar international reaction to the atrocities of 9/11, when the world really did sing in unison about how justice must be done to those responsible. The mighty tidal waves that carried the respective coalitions into those wars has diminished to not much more than a ripple, upon which George Bush Jr rides a surf board of technicalities, and an up hill political struggle shared by our own Prime minister. Theoretically, we could (and some say should) have finished off the job in 1991, using the vast array of military materiel in the area at the time. But the war was based on the premise that we were liberating one country from another, and therefore the campaign had reached its conclusion the moment the last Iraqi soldier crossed the border back into his own country. I remember how, when that had happened, George Bush Sr rallied the Shia marsh Arabs in southern Iraq to rise up against the government, and how they were brutally put down by the remnants of Saddam’s army, rendered prostrate before any conventional force but still more than a match for a lightly armed group of largely poor civilians (They actually got more practical support at the time from Iran than any western source!)

At that time the cold war had just ended and the seed that would later grow into Al Qa,eda had its roots in the Moujahadin rebellion that drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan the previous decade. How many of us can remember those 80's dispatches of  smiling Afghans surrounding captured or knocked out Russian tanks - portrayed as heroes in the struggle against soviet oppression? That same man in the Kremlin had long realized the folly of the USSR adventure in his southern neighbour, and to prevent the hemorrhaging of more lives and money his country could afford, he withdrew, leaving Afghanistan to continue her own destiny. The problem is that while Moscow attempted to subjugate Kabul with sheer military might, the west - through its proxys - supported the rebels, and when the Red army left the country to her own devices so did we! By definition Bin Laden’s men were allied - though tenuously - to us, so when the gulf war was under way those that would later become the worlds most wanted terrorist organisation would technically have been on the same side. But they were left behind, in a country brought to its knees by war, a land with no clearly defined structure in which to function, a place where hatred could (and did) fester, a place ripe for the propaganda of the merchants of  violence! Osamas Saudi family had huge financial interests in both construction and oil, so any multinational military force that would indirectly safeguard the interests of the Saudi petrodollar was also unwittingly protecting the huge financial resource that later helped fund those responsible for some of the most notorious acts of terrorism committed in the 1990s.

There's an expression that sums up the region quite eloquently, and so it should as it was coined by an Arab any way........”Your enemy's enemy is not necessarily your friend!” Right now we're in the process of courting favour with the Saudis for permission to use their airbases in the same way as we did 11 years ago, but this isn't 11 years ago, and we aren't going in to release a small country from Saddam’s iron grasp. Saudi Arabia isn't a democracy, and one wonders what the ordinary people of the region are going to think as they see this campaign unfolding on their TV screens via Al Jazeera. Something between 100,000 and 200,000 civilian lives were lost in a war that was about driving an occupying force out of another country, so what will the cost in civilian lives be when trying to drive the same army from their own?  Saudi money was the principal lifeline for Al Qa'eda, and the events of 9/11 proved that there is a completely undeterred network of terrorists capable of executing the biggest blow to American domesticity since the Japanese raid on Pearl harbour. Put all these factors together can we guarantee that the Saudi government will be able to hold on to power, when the Saudi people (and others in the region) begin to see the body count mount up? What measures would they have to begin to apply should civil unrest begin to hit the streets, and how would any response look in the eyes of the rest of the Moslem world? Would we not be giving every Islamic terror group on earth the best recruiting sergeant they ever wanted, rendering them capable of waging their particular brand of warfare at home and abroad?...........................................................And what about the Iraqis themselves?

Iraq is a country that owes its very existence to insurrection, a proud people that has fought off the advances of many foreign powers for 100s of years, and the current regime has enjoyed absolute rule for over 20. Even if we drove Saddam from every sphere of local, regional, and national government - installing the desired regime and bolstering it with military and financial support, where would the Ba'athists go if they weren't all killed or captured, and who's to say that they wouldn't form a guerrilla army of their own and wreak havoc both in and outside the country? The new world order has changed dramatically over the last 10 years, and the developing world has demonstrated both on 9/11, and at the recent earth summit, that they aren't scared of us anymore, and the old subserviences that the 19th and 20th centuries were made of are beginning to evaporate. Our government has tried to establish a link between Saddam and Bin Laden in its attempt to justify the campaign. The irony is that any links at all could be reinforced totally by this war as remnants of both Al Qaeda and the Ba'athists find common cause in their hatred and contempt for the west, and the US and Britain particularly!  We could be in danger of galvanizing the very entity that the post 9/11 war on terrorism was supposed to deal with, as any perceived western threat  extremists in the region (and beyond) have been pointing out to anyone who would listen begins to take on the characteristics of a promise.........................are we not playing into their hands?

There is the instantly obvious paradox that any link between Bin Laden and Saddam is theoretical compared to the fact that he has one with the very country the majority of the new coalition is going to be based.

Lurking in the background is the question of Iran, and how do they fit in with this scenario? During the gulf conflict, the old “Enemies enemy ......” adage became very appropriate, as upon the declaration of war they proclaimed their neutrality. A neutrality that meant 100 Iraqi pilots fled to Iran rather than fight western aircraft or stay at home. Here you had a country who - only 2 years earlier - were negotiating their way out of a bloody war with Iraq that had cost them 100's of thousands of lives and severe damage to civilian and industrial infrastructure. It proves that even the most bitter enmities in the region can be over ridden in the face of an outside military power - and, rather than side with us, Rafsanjanis government opted to become the Switzerland of the region by staying out of it. They have progressed since the days of Khomeini, with moves towards moderation and renewing diplomatic links with the west, and I wonder whether putting them in the same category as Iraq with the so called “Axis of evil” might threaten to turn the clock back. A danger that could become all too real when they begin seeing the hostilities raging on the other side of the border! ..........................................................It would force the obvious question “Who's next?”

Ostensibly, the reason we are going to war against Saddam is because of his refusal to comply with the UN resolutions surrounding his weapons of mass destruction, and a desire in the White house for a “Regime change” . Whether he possesses them or not is less important than the fact that if he did have them, would he use them? He certainly did against Kurdish villages, and during the war with Iran in the 80s, and if he still had any left would he use them on Allied troops in any conflict? If this war was interpreted in Baghdad as some kind of end game then the chances of a biological or chemical attack on coalition forces (maybe even Kuwait, Turkey or Saudi Arabia) escalate drastically! During the gulf war Saddam knew that the forces pitted against him were there to liberate Kuwait, not topple him from power. This time he'll be all too aware of what the ultimate objective will be, and as he lost about a third of his conventional forces in 1991 will he resort to other weapons at his disposal?*  Couple that with the scorched earth policy he used at that time - setting fire to Kuwaiti oil wells, and releasing millions of gallons of crude oil into the gulf - the potential consequences on both human life and the environment are unthinkable! Even if  a new regime was installed in Baghdad, how much security would be needed to protect the oil production mechanism from terrorist attacks by a group of people who feel they have nothing to lose?

*He has also shown a willingness to use innocent people as hostages, as was demonstrated in 1990/91 with the so called “Human shield” strategy - using foreign civilian nationals as bargaining chips in a kind of blackmail to the coalition forces!

If the proposed campaign had too much of a unilaterally Anglo-american bias any new regime would be closer to Britain and America in a very direct sense than any other state in the region, with a  political pipe line into Washington and London, which raises the inevitable question about the consequences on oil production and prices. How are the other gulf states going to respond to the prospect that Iraqi oil could enjoy favoured status in the west against their own product as a 'be good' incentive to the new government? Would the Iraqi oil industry be denationalized anyway, opening it up to foreign private ownership, and therefore removing control of the country's biggest resource from Baghdad? (Provoking potential criticism that we would be undermining Iraq's sovereignty and position as a self determined Nation State by the back door for financial motives, thus exacerbating an already precarious political situation, and therefore compromising our own standing in the middle east as a force for justice!) Saudi Arabia, who have had to be chivvied   more than most regarding the planned campaign, could find itself in a far less powerful position in the region than the one it has enjoyed for decades, so what would the consequences be on their internal stability should their monarchistic government begin to show signs of weakness? One expert on Saudi affairs described the country as a house of cards which could very easily collapse should too much pressure befall it, and Bin Laden enjoys a lot of support on the ground there. Could we really run the risk of lighting the touch paper of a firework with his name on in an oil rich country like that? A very frightening thought indeed!

Much has been made about the UN in the political haggling over the proposals, but up until September last year the USA had arrears of around $2.3billion in its subscription to the organisation. (This would be enough to run it for an entire year!) Since then they've paid a substantial amount towards this, but it's still claimed to be an estimated 1$billion shortfall on the amount owed. It's sad that it wasn't until 9/11, when their vulnerability to attack was revealed, they decided to make moves towards clearing the debt. A cynic could argue that they decided to make amends to restore UN confidence in Washington should the White house need them for any plans they might have in their foreign policy! Or that, because of the attrocity committed last year they finally realize the true worth of the organisation as the main hope towards world peace! If they, and other western powers, got up to date with their subscriptions the UN would be in a much stronger position to be a bit more forceful with its peace keeping role, and maintaining international law over 'rogue' regimes like Saddam Hussein, bolstering the weapons inspection teams etc. (Maybe even installing and reinforcing a substantial UN mission in Iraq that would work so closely with Baghdad, Saddam would have very little choice but to comply! After all, if he thinks letting the UN back in would prevent the war and stop him from being “Smart bombed” out of office - therefore saving face with the Arab League - it could also be a step towards fostering some kind of legitimate indigenously developed opposition in a country that has never really known any, and set Iraq on a course that could ultimately, and more importantly, free itself from his ruler-ship from the inside. This would give any new government an unshakable mandate to exist, both in the eyes of the Iraqi people, and to the outside world. It would also present us with the opportunity to bring Saddam to justice for war crimes and human rights violations! The danger of using force in the way that we did then is that he could very well go into hiding, running the country from an undisclosed location the minute the first coalition plane takes off!!!) “Desert storm” cost an estimated $53billiion, at 1991 prices, so how much this operation would cost in today's money is incalculable. Money spent in a war with a very uncertain conclusion, and one that could set the whole region ablaze in conflict for years. Wouldn't it be more sensible for us to invest that sort of money in organisations like the UN, with their commitments to peace keeping, human rights, the environment, and work to improve the quality of life for peoples where ever they are?

I'm not sure whether they've thought this through very well at all, and I think Tony Blair is in danger of losing sight of the necessary objectivity in dealing with Mr Bush. At a time like this it is crucial to be constructively critical of any grand foreign policy making on either side of the Atlantic,.To his credit, Mr Blair has been very effective in securing some restraint in Washington , and he has shown a willingness to be open to serious questions raised in Parliament. The global wave of sympathy for the west after 9/11 has been severely compromised over the whole Iraq debacle, and we are in danger of isolating ourselves from the international community. National opinion is against a unilateral war in Iraq, and the whole argument has distracted attention from the proposals to rehabilitate Afghanistan. Are we in danger of spreading ourselves too thinly as a result of this? Former President Bill Clinton believes so, saying we should concentrate our efforts in Afghanistan. He could be right. We need to disarm the causes of terrorism, before people become terrorists, (let alone rogue states) and the opportunity to do this in Kabul is one we should capitalize on as much as possible!

Yes, I am worried about the proposed war on Iraq, not out of any appeasement or defense of the Baghdad government, (far from it) but out of the potential consequences for the world where I live, and the one my family will have to grow up in. A world that I believe is in a situation potentially more dangerous than it might have been during the Cuban Missile crisis! The potential fault line dividing the 2 sides is rooted in something far older, and etched far more profoundly in the souls of those involved than a comparatively transient political ideology that has only been around for about 150 years . The old cold war policy of Mutually Assured Destruction (”M.A.D”) is alive and well, but the potential for insanity runs much deeper, and is a lot more volatile

..........Oh, and what would make for an ominous piece of broadcasting? - Watching BBC1 as they show a well known film starring Peter O'Toole!!!

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John Arthur Wynne - an unsung Philanthropist!

John Arthur Wynne

"He called for Legislation to enable ‘all to read the entire word of God’, for which Petitions would be presented ‘from all parts’ of Ireland ‘if the influence of the Catholic Hierarchy could be withdrawn for a few months’"

This is from The History of Parliament online - a direct quote, not an adaptation, and while it might sound like something from a Cecil B Demille Epic - in reality and seen in purely secular terms it establishes the philanthropic Credentials of a largely unheard of - but very influential historical Figure!

So who was - and who were - John Arthur and the Wynnes of Hazelwood and Lietrim - Co Sligo, Ireland? A family who trace their origins to a 12th Century Chieftain of Wales who came from Lake Bala - and are related to those of Gwydir? Why was he so influential, but why haven't many People heard of him?

Maybe some of that is answered by the Level of Reactionarism in the Catholic Hierarchy against his campaign to promote literacy. That he had to keep them in check for a few months to be able to enact this Policy suggests that anyone - regardless of Benevolence - was somehow tarred with the same Brush as those not so philanthropic in the interests of a very Black and White depiction of the British presence in Ireland. The Foundation for his work was established by his Father - Owen - an MP in the Gratton Parliament who voted against the controversial Act of Union 1880, everyone from the most ardent Fenianist to Poet Laureat Seamus Heaney has criticized. These things never get mentioned in the Plethora of Stereotypes but even they must concede - Can there be any more substantial force for liberation than helping those Irish People Irish Nationalism always claims to represent than ensuring they can read, not only the scriptures but everything - including the Rent Book and all those other every day things? It's a Paradox isn't it - that Catholics resisted exactly this! There is an unfortunate History of what happened to others who did similarly liberating things - William Tyndale for example..

Owen Wynne

Documentaries about Irish Immigrants to the Americas might have those Letters to and from Ireland and the Americas, but how did they learn to read and write them?

This might seem trivial to People today but even now how easy would it be to scam someone who couldn't even read what was stamped on a Coin or Banknote?.

For example; Someone says how he thought he gave someone else 20p. He's asked whether it was - or might have been 50p? He says he doesn't know - but he gave the Coin with the Corners on it. They might give someone a £10 - only to be told it was only £5 - so they give them another.

In the 1840's when the worst Landlords wanted to evict a Tenant. The latter could show the former the Rent Book with last weeks Rent written recorded and even signed by the Landlord. That Landlord - with a Justice of the Peace in his Pocket - says I haven't signed or recorded anything in 6 Months. It's the beleaguered Tenants word against the Landlords.

Writing Letters meant you could communicate with Friends or Relatives in Dublin, Belfast - even abroad - like you couldn't before. To realize the significance of this just consider how Email has helped Peoples lives. Being able to write from or to People from the remotest regions of Ireland had the same effect as sending an Email to New Zealand might now.

So it wasn't just being able to read the Bible Wynne was trying to encourage, the ramifications of his Campaign are apparent to anyone. When he says how the Catholic Hierarchy had to be kept in check just long enough to enact this he doesn't just mean a few recalcitrant Priests or a Bishop or two, he means a Structure that goes as far as Rome, in a Europe dominated by Catholicism.

After People had done what others couldn't (or wouldn't) do, teach the Populace how to read Goidelic the Reactionaries condemned not just the Practice but also the Language. Admittedly it was hoped that those now literate Goidelic speakers might become Protestant, but even if they didn't they still had a Skill they were denied before. Teachers recruited from the literate Catholic Community to do this were pragmatic - despite the Conflict in Theology, seeing it as a Job with regular Wages open to them and similarly denied before. So, despite having Blood as Milesian as any Priest they - and those who learnt - were condemned as "Sassanach". (the derisory term Jacobites had for the English).

The Catholic stance on all this is skewed because it forgets how People define their Irishness. How literate Celtic Christian, or Culdean Clerics arrived in Ireland and began collecting the Stories about the Tuatha de Danaan, Firbolg and Partholonians and wrote them down. Had they not done this - or not had the necessary skills - the Stories about Nuada, Cuchulain, Maeve, Ferdia etc would have been long forgotten. Had that Catholic attitude prevailed would Goidelic be spoken at all now?

So, who's doing more to promote and protect Irish Culture - those who wanted to ensure People could at least read and write it - or those who would rather keep them in Ignorance and Superstition for Centuries?

I don't know how much Martin Scorsese knows about our History but has the maker of "Gangs of New York" asked why some of those People arrived pitiful, and who couldn't even read their own Language - let alone Amerenglish? That that Reactionaryism in the Catholic Hierarchy meant that even by the 1840s some People were still illiterate when they got there!

So, not only was Wynne helping to free Irish People from the darkness of a deliberately promoted ignorance - which might have got him burnt at the Stake only a couple of Centuries earlier - he was also one of the Architects of Emancipation. (The Slavery Abolition Act 1833).

The Act of 1833 and its conclusion in 1838

This was when he presented Petitions to Parliament lobbying for the Abolition of Slavery.

Did the 13th Amendment cost Abraham Lincoln his life?  After all - when it was passed a few disgruntled former Confederate Plantation Owners must have been miffed - just how much opposition would People like Wynne have had 35 years before? When you watch the Film "Lincoln" you see how difficult it was to get the Legislation through a comparatively small Congress - what must it have been like in a Parliament that was then even bigger than it is today - with those Irish MPs there too? Abe Lincoln was a President - those Abolitionists were just MP's and a few Landed Gentry wanting to end something even Royalty were involved with. That needed resolve and not the sort of Courage you drink.

That opposition wouldn't have just come from the Slave Seaports like Bristol and Liverpool. How many associated Industries would have been affected? The Cotton and Textile Mills of Greater Manchester and the North West, the Tobacco Trade in Bristol, those involved in Sugar, Molasses and others catering to the Empires sweet Tooth. There's a superb Documentary by a descendant of a Slave who came from Liverpool - a modest Fishing Village before the Trade started - and he shows you those Street Signs synonymous with the Trade - including Penny Lane! Huge industrial lobbying power buying Votes.

But even after years of a War that had brought America to her Knees there were still those Representatives who wouldn't vote for the 13th Amendment, which suggests just how recalcitrant the Resistance to Emancipation was - even after we'd set the Precedent.

How would 1833 influenced America?

Britain wasn't like it is now and 200 years ago ran most of the known World in its vast Empire - from Canada to Australia and New Zealand. So how long would it have been after the ending of Slavery in most of the Empire before its effects would encourage and boost the Emancipation Movement in the US? The Fact that Tobacco and Cotton was produced by Slaves before the Continental War of the 1700s would resonate with some a Century later.

Fast forward to the 1840's and you have this......

The Irish Famine

It's almost become a Cliche but many People know about the Famine in Ireland that killed something like 1000,000, caused by the Potato Blight. Equally cliched is the impression we're given that all the Landlords in Ireland were Robber Barons - plundering and exploiting their Tenants, exporting other Foodstuffs - and taking advantage of their Plight to clear Land for other uses. This is a hugely inaccurate and very misleading Representation of Fact as not all of them were - and some were even helpful.

John Arthur Wynne was one off the helpful ones.

He reduced the Rents, improved the Infrastructure by building a Canal to Sligo - and even paid for Peoples passage to Canada, all of which helped on more than one Level.

What was different to his approach and many others was how those he helped weren't plundered of their Savings by Owners of the so called "Coffin Ships" to a very uncertain future - and they arrived in Canada with some Money. There were very many who didn't, whose Plight was wretched in the extreme.

By improving the Infrastructure not only could People travel to the nearest large Town to ply their Trade (Blacksmith, Wheelwright, Carpenter, Stone Mason, etc) they could also take the Produce of their Wife/Daughters Cottage Industries with them to sell. After all, who are they going to trade or sell to if their only Customers are as broke and starving as they are - trapped in a tiny Village or Hamlet?

That while you were in Sligo Town Ships are bringing in Foodstuffs that you could also access/buy with the Money you have just made. Imported Produce, Sea Food from the Trawlers etc - so you aren't totally reliant on the stricken Potato Crop..

Plus you have less Rent to pay because he reduced it. He also proposed an inquiry into Irish Tenure!

The Tragedy is that he lost his Wife - Lady Anne Wandesforde Butler - while she was involved in Anti-Poverty work during all this.

John Arthur Wynne with his Wife

So, occasionally there are People who are quite awesome - some of whom you don't hear very much about - John Arthur Wynne was one of them......

Hazelwood House

Search here for Books, Documentaries Films or Collectibles about Slavery and its Abolition and the Irish Famine

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The real Middle Earth????

How many People have read the "Lord of the Rings", or "The Hobbit" - and many other works by Tolkien and asked why they are so powerful as Stories they almost seem like History? That you read them and it feels like these things, and these People, happened at some time, very many years ago?

Why does Tolkien seem to invoke something that the similarly epic C S Lewis doesn't?

Tolkien might have answered that question himself when he said that "to make a Story believable it has to have some basis in reality!"

But what "Facts" has he based his vast Stories on? Where do all these things happen, these People come from, the Land itself?

What is interesting about Tolkien is how his Books - starting with "The Silmarillion" and ending with the Appendices of "Return of the King" - is how they are almost a study in the formation of Britain as much as they might be that of Middle Earth. That to read those you also do the ancient History of our own Land, and his Authority as an Academic - the Philology of Languages - how Words travel - the emergence of Quenya, Sindarin, Khuzdul and Westron - apply to our own Peoples as they do his.

Although CS Lewis also drew on "Facts" many of his applied to other People, other Cultures, which is why his "Narnia" Stories don't have a similar - almost archetypal - significance that Tolkien's work might. It seems apparent that to obtain his "Facts" Tolkien used his Knowledge as a Philologist as a template to construct his Characters and their Abodes and Adventures.

Paul Dunbavins Book "Picts and ancient Britons" attempts a similar Journey when he explains who the mysterious Picts were and where they came from. That by using place names and some Words found inscribed in what is now Scotland he also traces the origin of those Characters the World grew to love after "The Hobbit" was published in 1934.

So where did all this start?

To do this any Atlas with a decent map of northern Europe showing Scandinavia and Britain, along with the Atlantic Coast of Canada would help, and so - surprisingly would one of California. (All will be explained) While so might the Atlas's of Middle Earth by either Karen Wynn Fonstat or Brian Sibley. Those Maps of the First Age. Oh, and a Copy of "The Silmarillion".

Second Age Map showing the inland Sea of Helcar to the far East, Numenor before its destruction and note the small Island just to the east of Valinor....... read on!

So we begin....

Paradoxically, for someone who claimed not to be influenced by Celtic Mythology - which he described as "Unreasonable" and who had an apparent dislike of Goidelic (Gaelic) one of the biggest Clues is found in the name of his Creator - Eru. This sounds very similar to the Deity who gave her name to Ireland - Eriu or Eire, while referring to the Map of the First Age you'll notice how Valinor, the Realm of the Valar - corresponds with the Emerald Isle. But then considering his interest in Norse Mythology and the Viking Settlement of Ireland perhaps it isn't as surprising. Maybe to somehow legitimize the Norse presence in Ireland - or explain it - he fuses the Mythology of a Culture he was passionate about with one far more ancient to that of the indigenous.

We are given the Tolkien Creation Myth which I won't go into here, except the mentioning of the Two Trees (Telperion and Laurelin - more of that later) but ultimately we are told how the People start to appear. The Firstborn - the Elves  - far to the East, on the eastern Shores of the inland Sea of Helcar - in a place called Cuiviennen. They begin to travel west, and while there are some who settle Areas of Arda (the Earth) collectively called the Moriquendi (Elves of darkness) from whom the Sindar descended - the Caliquendi continued and eventually reached Aman (Valinor). These two groups are thus those that have not seen the light of the Trees, and those who have.

This is where Geography and Philology fuse to reveal the Migration of People as they correspond with these Characters.

Tolkien created 2 Languages for his Elves, Quenya and Sindarin. Quenya, he based on Finnish, Sindarin predominantly on Welsh. So, his Sindar who are from the Moriquendi who settled Arda and never went to Valinor could also be a People who spoke proto-Welsh (Brythonic) who lived in Briton for 1000s of years. All Moriquendi were Teleri Elves but there were some who did make that Journey. Like some Britons who did go to Ireland. These are called the Cruthin People by the Gaels - People who it is thought were related to others in Briton.

So what is Quenya and who spoke it?

As I mentioned Quenya is derived from Finnish, part of the Finno-Ugric group of Languages spoken in Finland, Estonia and Hungary (Magar being the latter). This is where the 2 Maps (Arda - Tolkien) and Scandinavia and the Baltic (Atlas) start to help. If looked at in terms of ancient History the Proto-Finns and Balts (called the Aesti) came from that region and somewhere which straddles the Russo-Finnish border called the Veiner Karelia. It's believed that they traveled west and even reached as far as Ireland. They settled for a while, offered their Services as Warriors to an Irish King, married 7 widowed Princesses and then went to what is now Scotland. This is where the 7 Pictish Kingdoms came from. Paul Dunbavin explains how Pictish might not be a 'Celtic' Language at all - and is in fact derived from that of those Finnic People who arrived in Scotland via Ireland. Quenya is spoken by the High Elves - those who did get to Valinor, while the Sindar who didn't gradually adopted Sindarin.

Rather like those Elves People gradually adopted Brythonic - or merged their and that Language. What's interesting about Goidelic is how it might be a Celtic Language - but it is quite different to Welsh and Breton. That it might be a Hybrid of what the Milesians brought with them and what the Natives spoke. So, maybe something similar happened in Briton - while everyday Parlance was gradually conducted in its native Language. The Noldor returned to an Arda where other Elves had already settled for Centuries and the same process happened.

So, in this context, who were the Picts? It is widely thought the name Pict derives from the Word Picti - or Painted People, referring to their liberal use of Body Art. The "Wodes" of Gerry Bruckheimers Film "King Arthur" so named for the Blue dye they adorned themselves with before going into battle. But there's another supposition about their name. According to Mr Dunbavin the Norse word for Pict was "Peti" - a somewhat derisive reference to a People not as large as they were. Thus, the 7 Picish Kingdoms become the 7 Dwarf Lords, even the 7 Dwarves of Snow White fame....... but is it that simple?

As those Proto-Finns traveled west there must have been a collision with - or merging of - them and the Germanic Norse of Scandinavia.. Like the Vikings they are described as a seafaring People whose Journeys could have started 1000s of years ago, but who influenced who here? New Age Departments in Bookshops sell Runes, strangely carved Letters or Symbols on small Stones - called the Futhark. A Norse form of Shamanism and Divination, but while the Vikings might have a certain Chauvenism about those "peti" the Dwarven Cirth developed by Tolkien as a written form of Khuzdul (Dwarvish) looks very similar. Does he suggest a mingling of the Cultures - Proto-Finnic and Proto-Norse?


That's an interesting question, because as there seemed to be a merger between Dwarves and Elves via their Script vis a vis the Futhark Runes and Norse Mythology and Symbols, here we rediscover "The Hobbit" and the Dwarf Leader Thorin Oakenshield. Maybe his name is derived from that of a Pictish King called Tharain, so too was Thrain. But then here's something else that seems to suggest they might be merged. It was reported by the Romans that Pictish Warriors carried a Snack - rather like a Bean - that could sustain them all day. this is rather like Lembas - the Waybread the Elves prepare - which "One small bite is enough to fill the Stomach of a grown Man".

This is the proverbial Password that opens the Gate of rather more than Moria!

"The Silmarillion" is named after the cause of the eventual downfall or Curse of the Noldor and the many Battles that took place in the First Age between the Children of Illuvater (of Eru) and those of the arch antagonist Morgoth. Feanor crafts his Silmarils - Jewels wrought from the Light of the Trees. In real Life - and to this day - Baltic Amber is famed the world over as it graces Rings, Pendants, Necklaces and all other Trinkets. Amber is derived from the Sap (or Light) of Trees and has hardened into a Stonelike Substance - which is then worked into Gemstones for Jewelry. This suggests a Craft that travelled with those Finnic Balts which would have appeared anywhere they might have lived - including Ireland and Briton. Thus Feanor represents this when he makes his Jewels.

How do these appear in Briton and our History you might ask? The answer to that is found in the Dal Raitian People who settled western Scotland and some of the western Isles - the Sil Conaire - or Seeds (descendants) of Connary Mor. A Tribe from what is now Ulster they were renowned Craftspeople - making particularly beautiful Jewelry. Thus Tolkien derived his syllable "Sil" from the Word Sil - or Seed.. It is from this Line came subsequent Kings of Ireland and the Celtic Kings of Scotland including David lst and Alexander lllrd. (More of this in a moment).

How about those Trees and who or what is influencing things here?

Norse Mythology has its Yggdrassil - a giant Ash Tree. But maybe this has a Seed that came from elsewhere - somewhere more ancient? The Kalavela is the Finnish Mythology equivalent of the Norse Edda and any other Mythology subscribed to. Here we find a deity called Rauni, who is described sometimes as a Thunder God, a Woman consort to Ukko - but also a Rowan Tree. Considering a Rowan Tree is a Mountain Ash there is an obvious connection with the huge Tree of the Norse, while Geography suggests a concurrence or even a merge. Also, Viking Prowess as Sailors is legendary, but did this also come from somewhere else?

So you have a People east of the Baltic, whose journey west would have meant travelling down - or across - the Norway/Sweden Peninsular - whose Culture, Customs and Crafts traveled with them. Who met and merged with proto-Germanic Norse, and who eventually got here via Ireland. Tolkien has his Elves traveling west, crossing or traversing a Sea to the East, crossing a Land, sailing to another further west - then coming back East.


When the Host of Feanor pursue Morgoth to retrieve the Silmarils they reach the Seaport of Alqualonde and after being refused the Ships of the Falmari a Battle ensues. Many Elves are killed and Feanors Host sieze the Ships - sailing east to Arda. For this they are cursed by the Valar. To become King of Ireland Conaire Mor kills Nuadu Necht. According to some Nuadu - or Nuada - is one of the Tuatha De Danaan - a semi-mythological People who ruled Ireland before the Milesians. Others say that he lived about 27BC-14AD, but the name Nuadu/Nuada is evocative of something very significant in the context of this.

Nuada is regarded as the first King of the Tuatha, but the name is very similar to the Finno-Baltic/Estonian words for Druid or Shaman. The Niduari, Noita, Noid - and the Lappish Noiada - all allude to something that could connect these People to semi-Mythic Ireland, so if Conaire Mor killed anyone called Nuada or Nuadu he would have been severely rebuked and cused by Druids and anyone involved in Shamanism. This also suggests substance to the Idea that a People peopled Ireland who might be distantly related to the Picts..It is reinforced by how Olwe - leader of the Falmari - had a Brother called Elwe Thingol - who refused Feanors Friendship and to give Assistance upon the latters arrival in Arda. Like he killed someone significant to both Realms, Conaire did Ireland and Briton.

Elwe Thingol was Leader of the Teleri and the King of the Eldar - of those who remained in Arda after the rest had gone and settled in Valinor. His Daughter Luthien married Beren (an Edain) and it is from this union we get to Aragorn and Arwen at the end of the Third Age. After (Elwe) Thingol is killed Beren retrieves the Treasures of his house - including the Ring of Barahir - the one we see Aragorn wear in those Films, thus this confers Sovereignty on whoever rightfully owns it. It is also from the union between Beren and Luthien we eventually get to the half-Elven Brothers Elrond and Elros - the latter becoming first King of Numenor after he chooses Mortality.


This is where your Atlas proves useful - both of them.

Readers of "The Silmarillion" will know that after the Great Battle - the end of the First Age - the Edain were rewarded with the Island of Numenor for their part in the defeat of Morgoth..Numenor lay in the Sea to the west of Arda and for the duration of the Second Age flourished until Ar Pharazon - whose Line had gradually been corrputed by Sauron - defied the ban of the Valar who wreaked destruction on the Island and its inhabitants. Ynnis Mannaw - or the Isle of Mann is an Island to the west of Briton - which - according to Irish Myth was created by the eponymous Mananan Mac Llyr. He is associated with the Tuatha De Danaan - but also thought to be the first King of Mann. So the combination of Allegory and of semi-Mythological History explains how the Kingdom - and thus its Sovereignty - came into being.

Also, while being these things Mananan Mac Llyr was also a Sea deity - and while he might see his Kingship usurped - the very reason he 'created' it, in Tolkien Terms he destroyed Numenor by inundation. The Island was drowned.

Admittedly, it is of Norse origin but the name of the Manx Parliament is the Tynwald - Luthien Tinuviel anyone?

All was not lost after Numenors destruction and Elendil, with his sons Anarion and Isildur, abandon it just before and sail to Middle Earth. when the Isle of Mann was captured and inundated by the Vikings Elidir ap Sande (similar name to both Elendil and Elros) abandoned Mann and arrived in Gwynedd north west Wales. It is from this Gwraid and Merfyn Frych descend - and thus quite a few notable Welsh and Brithonic Nobles.. Elendil and his sons establish Gondor and Arnor. The latter gradually fractures and becomes Arthedain, Cardolan and Rhudaur, but its Capital is at Annuminas on Lake Evendim. Rather like Lake Bala - while Arthedain could be Gwynedd.


The clue here is when Denethor llnd curses Aragorn. "I will not bow down to this Ranger of the North - last of a ragged House long bereft of Lordship and Dignity". According to The History Files a King of the ancient Kingdom of Rheged ruled about 450-490AD called Gwrast Lledlwm (the Ragged). It is from him that notables like Urien Rheged, Owain and Elffin, and someone called Elydir Llandanwyn came. That via the convoluted route of Brithonic Lineage these People are connected with Elidir - formerly of Mann - is also true.

Meanwhile, in Scotland.

To the south east of what is now Scotland lies the region of Lothian. This resonates with Lothlorien - home of Celeborn and Galadriel, but there were Elves in Lorien before they arrived. They were part of those Moriquendi I mentioned earlier, but when the Elven Royals arrived - Galadriel being one of the Noldor who came with Feanor - they tuned it into the Realm it became famous for in the "Lord of the Rings".- its Citadel being Caras Galadhon - or City of the Trees, reminiscent of that 'Light of the Trees' Feanor worked with in the First Age. If the Host of Feanor are those Sil Conaire - those Dal Raitians - who arrived in Scotand from Ireland, David lst was known as the King who turned Dun Edain - the original name for Edinburgh - into the City we know today. Coincidence? Maybe not!

Also, there's an Area of Lorien called the Naith - or Gore - so named because it's the Junction of the Rivers Anduin and Celebrant and forms a Spear point. The Cross of St Naith contained a fragment of the true Cross brought to Wales by Hywel Dda, He is descended from People who went to Wales in the 4th Century to defend what became Gwynedd - and they were led by Cunedda a Celto-Pict Warrior who was from that region of Scotland. It is from him most of the Welsh Nobles - and particularly those of Gwynedd ('Arthedain') descend.

The connections continue........

Remember the Battle of Amon Hen - where the Fellowship is sundered and Boromir is killed?

In that far off region of the North - formerly Peopled by the Votadini - is those Peoples orignal Capital - Traprain Law. as well as Amon Hen (Hill of the Eye) was also Amon Llaw - Hill of the Ear, and these formed look out posts for the Dunedain during the height of Gondor. Just to give it an added aura of something once powerful - but seemingly spent, and equally ancient is the name they had for that region of northern England and the Scottish Lowlands - Yr Hen Ogledd.

A rather ethereal View of Traprain Law

What adds credibility to the Idea that the Dunedain are somehow derived from Britons who spoke Welsh is the name for Minas Tireth. Minas appears as a Hybrid of Mynnedd - Mountain or Hill, and Dinas - Town or City. After all, what is Minas Tireth if it isn't a City carved out of a Mountain?

Still in Wales Snowdonia is described in Welsh as the Land of Eagles - the Eryri. This not only alludes to both Thorondor and Gwahir (Tolkiens Eagles) it also does both Owain Gwynedd (Eagle of Eagles), and a name Aragorn used while fighting incognito for Ecthellion - Denethors Father - Thorongil. "Eaglestar". To this day Cearnarfon has its Eagles Flag. If we trace back to Cunedda's Homeland according to the Ordinance Survey Map of Roman Britain - on the south Bank of the Forth River is somewhere called Camelon

Also, while one of Elendil's Sons was called Anarion - there was a Bard/Poet called Aneurin who wrote "Y Gododdin" - an account of the Votadini's Battle at Catraeth. Their Capital was Traprain Law in modern day East Lothian, while the Argonath - giant Statues of both Isildur and Anarion, are at the entrance to the Lake where Amon Hen and Amon Law are located.


One of the low points in Gondors History was that of the Kinstrife - a bloody Civil War that threatened the very existence of Middle Earth. Castamir felt that Eldacar - and his Progeny - weren't of pure enough Dunedain Blood to rule and went to war about it. Something similar happned with the Sons of Maelgwyn Gwynedd - one of whom, Elidir of Strathclyde, who felt that any iligitimate Child of Maelgwyn shouldn't inherit and he did the same. To make things worse Maelgwyn had had Issue from Liaisons with non-Britons - Domlech his Daughter being a Pict. Subsequently, Elidir had his War, but was defeated by an Alliance of Britons, Picts and Dal Ratians - rather like Eldacars with the Men of Rhovanion, from whom his Wife came. The Moral here being that had Castamir prevailed the Alliance with other Peoples would be jeopardized and Middle Earth weakened against any Threat from Sauron, thus Briton would be similarly compromised as Alliances formed with others in her defence would also be.


How they appear - obtain Rohan, and ally themselves with the Men of Gondor is rather like the Saxons who arrived at the invitation of Vortigern - to fight for the Britons. They were given Thanet to settle - like Cirion gives Eorls Eotheod Calenhardhon - which becomes Rohan, There were also Alliances formed by Alfred with Britons from Wales as he fought to defend Wessex. History tells us that relations between Briton and Saxon weren't always quite as amicable, but Tolkien seems to draw on examples when they were and it was mutually benificial.


How many People are familiar with the Grail Legend? How the quest led to Galahads death, and its retrieval by Gawain and Peredur? How does this relate to the final destruction of the One Ring? you might ask. But maybe this can be explained in the contrast between the Hobbits and even other Protagonists. Galahad we are told was the result of a union between Lancelot and Elaine of Astolat, but Lancelot was the result of a union between a mortal Man and the Lady of the Lake, while Gawain and Peredur are altogether more earthy - both of mortal Parents. Frodo makes his Journey helped throughout by the similarly earthy Sam Gamgee, but who would never have made it without. At the Grey Havens we see the Departure of some, but not others. That those some had fulfilled their Part in a Tale that begins with the killing of the Two Trees in Valinor by Melkor, continues with the emergance of his Servant Sauron, and ends at Orodruin - Mount Doom. Gandalf and the other Istari were sent to help the People in their continuing War, Galadriel - a Noldor - was cursed after Alqalonde - but also had her part to play and thus readmitted - while Frodo suffers from the Wound given him by the Wraith at Weathertop.  Those that were left behind were meant to be in the Fellowship - but had further business. Galahad saw the Grail, and thus his destiny was fulfilled and he expired, the Ring found Bilbo and thus Frodos destiny was laid. The other Knights continued like Sam Gamgee does. The One Ring is destroyed - and thus Narya, Nenya and Vilya - the other 3 Rings - lose their potency.

That the final Journey from the Havens is symbolic of Death is explained in a moment.

As the 4th Age starts other Peoples time gradually ends too. The Elves all eventually leave - so do the Dwarves and Hobbits - the Dominion of Men begins. So it's like these too also had their Part in the Conflict that started with Melkor and ended with Sauron - and they also depart. This is rather like the arrival of the Milesians in Ireland - who gradually replace the semi-Mythic Tuatha who have played theirs in the formation of the Land - and Eire becomes what we know today. Maybe the Hobbits gradually became similar to the Leprechauns of Ireland, once powerful beings whose time has elapsed and thus lived underground as the Little People!


And so - as Gandalf says - we have reached the end of our Fellowship, but what happens once that Ship disappears to Annie Lennox's Song?

This is where those Atlas Maps suddenly get very big. "What do you see on the Horizon" the Lady asks - but the destination could be close - or 1000s of Miles away. If we looked into the West from the Coast of Harlech in Wales (the name for the Grey Havens being Harlond) we might see Bardsey Island. If we sailed from Ireland* we might end up in Newfoundland, and believe it or not - if we did from California we might Santa Catalina. What all of these have in common is something evocative of a famous Story in our Legendum - Avalon.

* In Irish Myth this corresponds with the Journey to Tir Na Nog - the Land of eternal Youth

Bardsey Island

Bardsey Island - where something like 20,000 Saints are buried - has occasionally been described as Affalach - the Welsh word for Apples and maybe a Root for the name Avalon, a Crop it was famous for and a very ancient Tree grows there still reminiscent of the White Tree of Gondor. It has also been suggested - and I find it quite believable - that it was to there Arthur sailed after the battle of Camlan, while others say it was Merlins final resting place. Newfoundland has its Avalon - a Peninsular originally settled by Edward Wynn, while Santa Catalina a few miles off the Coast of Califonia has its Township of Avalon too. Because of this even when Galadriel, Celeborn, Gandalf, Frodo, Eowyn, Aragorn and Arwen become plain old Cate, Marton, Ian, Elijah, Miranda, Viggo and Liv they are still affected by this as Hollywood sees that particular Avalon when they look "Into the West".Tolkien says how the keen eyed can see the gleaming Spire of Avallone - the Citadel on Tol Eressea - the Undying Lands - like you could the Lighthouse on Bardsey.- while it was said that the mortally wounded Arthur made his last Journey by Boat to Avalon.

So, this brings us to the start of the 4th Age and what it was that helped bring us to it. Arthur had his Sword - Excalibur or Caliburn, Tolkien had his - a Sword forged by the Dwarves, reforged by the Elves and wielded only by someone who had to right to use it..

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