Day 72.2 Samaritans

December 23rd, 2013 § 0 comments

The other day I had a Good Samaritan experience, as I expect they are called. They are becoming more frequent in this country, and those who have them (as opposed to near-death experiences, or alien kidnappings)

langettiLangetti (that’s the current attribution, but the authorities seem to keep changing their minds):  ’The Good Samaritan’. At the Holburne Art Museum, Bath.

are asked to text DEED, with an account of the experience and an expression of gratitude, to the popular journal ‘Metro’. I tried this, but haven’t yet seen any record of my text in print. So here, Sam, in case you are reading this: Many thanks for picking me up off the pavement when I had tripped in the rain and the dark and fallen over yet again, and was cursing profusely. You (I still mean Sam) helped me to a seat at a nearby café while you fetched a car, gave me a lift home, and even laid some Nurofen on me. Kindly people clustered around, advising me to put something on my cuts, go to bed, and steer well clear of A & E departments. As the neoliberals kill off our welfare system, the Samaritans are being forced to take over the services; maybe they should organize as a combination of church, trade union, and political party; and we/they could arrange joint conferences with the university of an-Najah in Nablus (where Jesus met the much-married Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well).

My attempts to keep up with the unending round of religious and pseudo-religious festivals has come another cropper owing to the unusually early date of Hanukah this year – three weeks and more before Christmas. Hanukah Harry must be long gone. Meanwhile, in a variant on the Samaritan theme, I hear news that increasing numbers of children are responding (moral blackmail from schools, or parents?) by opting to turn down the offer of an XBox One in favour of a goat, a snow leopard, or even a working well in an African village. But then, I hear you say, how will we keep them quiet on Christmas day? (It would be different if you had the physical snow leopard in the house – I expect the whole household would be quiet enough, what was left of them.)


Today I found myself with vast amounts of leftovers – not, of course, due to Christmas nor Hanukah (see above), but a party to celebrate my birthday, and my  sister’s safe return from South Sudan. Just in time, given the recent outbreak of fighting there

South Sudan ViolenceRefugees arriving at the UN compound in Juba

which featured the charismatic Riek Machar, who had previously – long ago – married the late Emma McCune, who had stayed for a few months with my mother, who… But I digress. The leftovers I was referring to (I expect you’d forgotten them) included about a litre of pheasant stock and some spinach. So, rather than dining on reheated sausage rolls and mince pies, I pirated Claudia Roden for the following recipe.

Spinach and Lentil Soup

Cook (say) a cup of brown lentils in a litre of pheasant stock (or, of course, any other liquid, but pheasant stock is what I had). When they are soft, fry a cup of chopped leftover spring onions – you can use ordinary onions, but that also is what I had – in olive oil. I recommend’Zaytoun’ Palestinian oil for flavour and political correctness – cheap substitutes will probably not be the real thing anyway, says my brother, who’s an olive farmer. Add some cumin seeds, to be safe. When the onions are golden, add a packet of washed spinach (Stop asking ‘How big a packet? This is cookery, not mathematics). Turn the gas down low, and cook the spinach till it’s done, wet and sad-looking. Add to the lentils, and season with salt and chilli powder to taste. I wouldn’t overdo the chilli, but that’s me. Mix well, simmer a bit more, and serve.

Stars, following.

Listening, perhaps for the first time, to the story of the three wise men or Magi (Matthew 2), I became troubled by an obvious question which may have struck others among my readers.

1. The Wise Men came from the east.

2. They saw a star in the east, and followed it.

Why, then, did they head west to Palestine, rather than east, to Iran (say), or China?

This blog would welcome any suggestions.

[A Mormon reader points out that you can actually get to the West by going East - cf Christopher Columbus, but vice versa, if you see what I mean. So the Wise Men could have headed east, following the star, and arrived at Bethlehem. A long journey, on just the worst night of the year; they'd have had to cross the whole of Asia, the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and the North American continent. Could it be, asks my reader, that they fetched up at Bethlehem, PA? I was referred to the third book of Nephi, but haven't yet got round to checking it out.]

Finally, being as concerned as the rest of you that we are insufficiently prepared to welcome 100,000 penniless Bulgarians to our shores on the first of January, perhaps this extract of Bulgarian techno will make them feel at home. I’m told that Bulgaria’s population of 7.36 million people is predominantly urbanised; that’s less than the population of London, and used to city life. Why are we worrying? We accommodated all those penniless Russian aristocrats in the 1920s, even finding them picturesque. добре дошъл, folks! Groove to my sounds!

While this poem, by Nikola Vaptsarov, poet, communist and revolutionary. (executed in 1942), could serve either as a warning of what to expect in the UK, or an encouragement to struggle against it.

Factory (завод)

Nikola Vaptsarov 1909-1942

A factory, Clouds of smoke above.
The people – simple,
The life – hard, boring.
Life with the mask and grease-paint off
Is a savage dog snarling.

You must tirelessly fight,
Must be tough and persist,
To extract from the teeth
Of the angry,
bristling beast
A crust.

Slapping belts in the shed,
Screeching shafts overhead,
And the air is so stale
You can’t easily

Not far off the spring breeze
Rocks the fields, the sun calls…
Leaning skyward
the trees
The factory walls.
How unwanted,
And strange
are the fields !
     have thrown in the dustbin
The sky and its dreams.
For to stray for a second
Or soften your heart,
Is to lose to no purpose
Your strong
You must shout in the clatter
And din of machines
For your words
to pass over
The spaces between.

I shouted for years –
An eternity …
I gathered the others too shouted in chorus –
The factory,
the machinery
And the man
in the farthest,
darkest corner.
This shout forged an alloy of steel
And we armoured our life with its plate.
Just try putting
a spoke in the wheel –
It’s your own hand you’ll break.

You, factory,
Still seek to blind us
With smoke and soot,
Layer on layer.
In vain! For you teach us to struggle.
We’ll bring
The sun
Down to us here.

So many
Under your tyranny smart.
But one heart within you tirelessly
Beats with a thousand hearts.

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