Month: November 2015

Terrorism and the results thereof

I have been watching the recent developments in France with dismay. Make no mistake, I abhor the loss of innocent lives and I am in favour of using the maximum force to eradicate those who perpetrate it.
 
However, things are not always as they seem in conspiracy land, and herein lies the conundrum. The usual tub thumpers are frothing and foaming and portioning blame without looking rationally at what they are doing. Part of the doctrine of terrorism is the choosing of soft targets, eliciting the maximum sympathy and disgust and then blaming the people you are angry with for the loss of those innocent lives. EVEN THOUGH THE INNOCENTS HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH IT IN THE FIRST PLACE! It does however help to prove your point as a terrorist, because once you pick up the gun/bomb you are really declaring war on non combatants. Terrorists very rarely choose military targets because those tend to shoot back.
 
The rise of religious fundamentalism has always been with us, especially in the Middle East, It is part of their lives, Feuding people who have been at it for decades and who continue feuding even though that have forgotten what the original feud was about in the first place! 
 
There are also those who see a conspiracy everywhere, and who then blame it on the usual suspects who occupy offices and departments of government and who wear black hats and trenchcoats. And naturally there are kooks and fringe groups who blame it on complete populations or groups because it suits their agenda. 
 
Then there are those in the middle, who sheepishly follow what they read on social networks or the media. “I saw it on the news/facebook/twitter therefore it must be true.” 
 
There are really only a few who know the truth and motivation. And often they get taken out by security forces or themselves in some mad death wish, and invariably in one sectors mind martyrs are created and in others justice is seen to have been done.
 
Apart from those physically affected by these acts the rest of society goes on its way, although their freedoms may be somewhat incurred and they will get delayed even longer at the airport by security. Sabres will be rattled, and maybe a few countries get invaded and the United Nations will continue to avoid the issue because the lobbyists on one side are more effective (or richer) than on the other side. 
 
I come from a country where we had a terrorism “problem” (for want of a better word), and we lived with the paranoia and heightened security that goes with it. Lots of civilians died, and fingers were waved, people were detained and the people in black hats and trenchcoats got more power to arrest and detain without trial and point fingers at those who were in opposition. I remember walking to work on morning in the  early 1980’s after a particularly heavy bout of rampaging and killing had broken out and hearing somebody shouting about how a woman had been hung on a station and how revenge was the order of the day. We were all hotheaded in those days, having just come from National Service, and were ready to pick up our R1’s and go hunt down those responsible. In all the years since then I have never read anywhere that this “hanging” ever happened. And I do remember reading how our own security forces were behind some of the bombings and mysterious deaths that occurred. Somebody had been spinning us a yarn.
 
My best advise to those who feel the urge to go out there and form a lynch mob is to stay at home and go read a book or eat a sandwich. The media frenzy will drive the hotheads into action, and there will be a baying for blood. Guess what? that is exactly what those responsible were hoping to achieve in the first place. It is exactly the sort of frenzy that makes arms dealers rich and shady corporations richer, it plays into those who are overflowing with hatred but living off the fat of the land in a country they profess to hate. It is the same madness that makes people hang dachshunds because their names were German or who burn synagogues and paint slogans on the windows of Jewish shopkeepers before shipping them off to the “final solution.”
 
The actions in France are playing into the hands of those who are not happy with the influx of “refugees” into Europe, as well as those who think that their religion is right and the rest are wrong. And before you join the ranks of those who wield pitchforks and burning torches make 100% sure that the person you are setting fire to is not an innocent who just happened to be going about their lawful business, in fact, make sure it is not your son, or daughter, or your co-worker or the kind shopkeeper who always smiles when he sees you. Make sure that when you get home and are busy washing the blood off your hands make sure that you do not boast about your barbarism to your children, because you may have deprived their classmates of a breadwinner. And, when you read about your “exploit” in the newspaper do not be proud of it, because be rest assured somebody will retaliate and when you look again we are burning witches and Billy-Bob because he is different.
 
Remember that tomorrow you may be Billy-Bob or that strange old lady with the beard who talks to cats.

 


I wear a Poppy To Remember….

I wear a Poppy To Remember….

my Father: a signalman; who was captured in North Africa during World War 2

my Grandfather, a rifleman, who was wounded in Delville Wood

my Uncle: an air mechanic, who died in Egypt during World War 2, and who is the reason for my war grave photography

 

I remember the soldiers that I served with and who never completed their national service in South Africa.

Lionel Van Rooyen, Johann Potgieter, Peter Hall,  Hennie Van Der Colf

I remember those men of the South African Native Labour Corps who lost their lives in the sinking of the Mendi

I remember all of those other African and South African soldiers who have been largely unrecognised for their service

 

I remember the dedicated  nurses, VAD’s and other women who served in medical disciplines during and after the wars, many never returned and were victims of the conflict.

 

I remember the merchant seamen who faced not only a determined enemy, but the sea in all its fury, often in coffin ships that were only one screw turn away from the breakers yard. 

 

I remember those who have no grave, and who are just names on a memorial

I remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen, civilians, children and animals who lost their lives in the folly we call total war 

I remember the 6 million Jews who were exterminated
 
 
And the millions of other casualties who were caught up in the madness
 
I remember those who were left behind

and those who will die tomorrow, or next week, or next year, defending their country, their comrades, and their families; often for a cause they do not understand.

I remember them all because it is important to never forget them and to never drag the world down into the horror of total war, and I curse those who sit in positions of power and who create the conflagration but who never die in it, for they are a curse upon mankind. May they have to answer for the monsters that they unleash and may their punishment be eternal. 

 

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

 

Postscript.
Words do not adequately describe the feelings that I have around about this time of the year,  I served as a national serviceman in 1980/81, and when I first went in I did not think that at the end of 1981 I would have 4 names in my memory that would be with me until I die. My grandfather was a soldier, my father was a soldier, as was my brother, and so was I, my father and grandfather were volunteers, my brother and I were conscripts.  

It is difficult to quantify all of those who I have omitted, I could probably fill reams of paper with groups of people who were affected by warfare, and of course who continue to be affected by warfare. The images on this page are my own with the exception of the image of the grave of my late uncle Robert Turner who is really the reason I photograph war graves. I never knew him, but my mother did, and she still mourns him to this day. 

Happy Birthday Caitlyn

Many many years ago (and I am talking about early 2000’s here), I started writing stories using a small porcelain doll who I called Jenni Amanda; she was the original “Hollow Headed Girl” and the main heroine. I was really trying to emulate the the “Photo Picture Libraries” genre, but to be frank could never really emulate such “literature” so made my own instead. It was quite a rush doing these stories, although my main character was limited in many ways because of her size and simple wire frame skeleton and bisque limbs. Then my ideas ran out, as did my personal circumstances and the whole project was put on ice. 
It remained in my mind for quite some time though, all I needed was a more flexible actress (or 2)
By 2004 I had seen the My Twinn dolls on the internet and they were beautiful. 23 inches tall, with 18 points of pose-ability and each was unique. Unfortunately they were pricey too, and had to be imported, but it was not impossible to buy one and in November 2003 I took the plunge and bought Caitlyn. In those days they had what was loosely called a “Doll Designer”, although it was really a series of checkboxes that you clicked and they created the end result. 
As designed Caitlyn could be described as follows:
A 23 inch, customised doll with a poseable body, having a T9 (Audrey mold) face, V (Dark Brown) “A” style hair (long straight with bangs), A05 (light blue) eyes, and a 01 (very fair) complexion.
I experimented with different hair colours and skin tones and it was touch and go between a black or dark brown haired one. The final picture was the end result. I must admit though, the black hair colour was a close second. Finally I placed my order and she eventually arrived in January of 2004, possibly one of the last dolls which were actually delivered when MT went down. I only got to see the first picture of her in April of 2004, and when I arrived in the USA at the end of that month was able to see my visualisation from close up. She was beautiful.

Full Names: Caitlyn Rose.
Nicknames: Cait, Most High Weenie, Oh Fine Alpha Twinn, Oh Chairpoobah. 
Statistics: T9 (Audrey mold) face, V (Dark Brown) “A” style hair (long straight with bangs), A05 (light blue) eyes, and 01 (very fair) complexion. 
Manufactured: China 2003, arrived in SA: May 2004 
Pets: Godzilla the city stomping monster
Occupation: Formerly detective. Registered with Dolly Detective Board. Currently resting between jobs. Hobbies and Interests: Monster movies, reading detective novels, playing solitaire, Twinn adventures, playing hide and seek, hanging around with Muffin the Cat 
Official duties: Previous ChairTwinn of the Twinn Council of South Africa from 2004 to 2008. General: Caitlyn is the only customised Twinn amongst the Tumbling Twinns and is also the official SpokesTwinn for them. She also served as ChairTwinn of the Twinn Council till 2009. Her duties as the local naming authority for South Africa were relegated to Skye, who is a genuine Princess. Caitlyn enjoys pizza and milkshakes and loves to watch B movies whenever she can, she is also a holder of the “The Silver Order of the Mallory Mountain Sheep.” She briefly worked as an electronics technician and dallied with becoming a FireTwinn. Caitlyn and Dawn went into the detective business and she was part owner of the C&D Detective agency. She is registered with the Dolly Detective Board and served on the committee for the local library. She has been nominated to serve on the local Chamber of Commerce but declined due to business commitments.
Caitlyn has been with me ever since 2004, except for a period between 2013 and 2014, she is one of the 8 survivors of my collection that used to number 25. Retrenchment sounded the death knell of my girls, and I miss seeing their friendly faces. If anything Caitlyn helped me through many tough times, and I had a lot of fun with her. Doing the stories was great, but a lot of work and the legacy of those stories is all that remains. I have two folders of photographs of the gang, and even today I find it hard to believe that we did all of it. 
Nowadays she is looking much more battered, her original wig was in a very poor condition and her eyes are slowly turning purple (a common condition with the China Twinns). But, she still weighs in at 5 pounds and can still make me smile when I see her. Like it or not, she has been a part of my life for these past 12 years, a unique toy that I will treasure as long as I am able. 
Happy 12 Years together Grand Poohbah, Let us make more memories together.