I am moved by Lady Percy. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories,
vulgar interests, detestations, responses, apologies, and - more
recently - learning to sing. I hold posts to 300 words* finding
less is better than more. I re-comment on comments and
re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Would you prefer a DRC* coach tour?

Life's aftermath, a topic regularly visited by Tone Deaf. More so as the years slip by.

I won't qualify for Heaven which is just as well; the few definitions I've come across are vague and the delights based on repetition. But may I therefore ignore the penalties of Hell?

Most atheists do but I find it difficult to pretend that Satan lacks imagination. That Hell's torments aren't tailor-made for individuals.

A hint of this occurred in Cologne. I needed new underpants but German categories of garment size (S, M, L, XL, etc) seem out of step with the British system. Thus one feature of my personal Hell would be tight underpants
All car journeys would occur in a permanent state of mid-summer dawn and the direction would always be east. And yes, for the hundredth time, sunglasses aggravate this problem (everything becomes too dark), they don't solve it.

All Hellish novels would carry a growing conviction that the plot was going to turn out to be a dream.

It would be impossible to order a salad that lacked cucumber.

Guess who would be announcing the end of the world - night after night - on telly.

Red wine from Russia on every carte des vins.

Maintaining one’s garden (with much bending) would be an obligatory way of passing leisure time. Hell’s subsoil would be dominated by concrete fragments, each the size of a grapefruit.

Secondary-school education, conducted by deselected Tory MPs, would be extended into the pupil’s mid-forties. A difficult concept given the omni-presence of eternity.

Movies about heroin addicts would be popular.

Head-colds would be permanent.

Good news: singing lessons every day. Bad news: tone deaf teachers (Get the poetic irony!) and pianos strung with over-boiled spaghetti.

* Democratic Republic of Congo.


  1. From nearly a whole day yesterday wrestling with the instatement of a new router and it's range extender I suggest:

    Instant brainwashing of every password you create necessitating password re-set every time.

    I have just read the first few pages of God is not Great. Christopher Hitchens - looking good.

  2. Well, this doesn't sound so bad, now does it? Not compared to Medieval fever dreams of Hell, say. What would my not-so-bad-as-Bosch fantasy be? Gristle for meals. Waking nightmares. No books or pictures or music.

    But since a great many Christians (Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic) would say that future awareness of a self-chosen separation from God is the definition of hell, I suppose we can happily look at the various symbolisms of hell--and thus investigate yours as a self-portrait via your own dislikes! And I must say that I already knew a great many of them, and that it was amusing to meet them in this guise... Your hell is a condition of prolonged irritation.

    I suggest that you can solve the eternity-of-school problem with an eternal wheel of return--that is, by returning to, say, sixteen years of age every time you reach forty-six. And probably you need an even larger population of (arguing-but-not-listening) politicians to make it truly constant-irritant in nature.

  3. Whilst living in Japan, I was taken on an underground tunnel tour of the horrors of the Buddhist version of Hades. We walked in silence, our footsteps echoing on the cold stone, and to the left and the right were hand-painted pottery figure scenes of wailing dead people with bloody parts and expressions of deepest despair. Let me tell you, I was happy to emerge at the other end of the tunnel into sunlight. Whew!
    Marly has you pegged, lieber Robbie! "Your hell is a condition of prolonged irritation."
    You can guess what my hell would be ... everybody talking in a language I don't understand or speak, no ale, no laughter, no pencils, pens, or typewriters (and no paper), hence no writing, and no libraries or forests to explore. That's just for starters.

    1. No libraries, no forests, no talk, no ale... That is a good start.

    2. A good friend of mine told me I am too practical and predictable. She on the other hand, loving adventure, tells me that no kissing would be her hell.

    3. RW (zS): Oh, I have the most gorgeous tiny cluster of musical lines (from Purcell's duet "My Dearest, My Fairest") for your friend:

      Soprano: Oh why are love's hours so short and so sweet! Thus loving -

      Baritone: - and kissing -

      Both: - thus loving and kissing, fresh joys we'll pursue...

      What makes it so persuasive is the way the baritone breaks in madly, impatiently, followed by the glory of the two voices together. A brilliant example of merry, unfettered lust.

      Please promise me you'll play it for your friend. Here's the link:


    4. Oh ja! Vielen Dank, liebster Robbie!!!

  4. Sir Hugh: The router/expander situation is self-imposed. Hell, by definition, arrives from an external source.

    Loss of passwords may be attributable to the options you take - or your AV software takes - following an AV scan of your hard disc. With my (free) AV software I am offered the choice, post scan, of deleting cookies, etc. This is a box I do not tick.

    I can't remember whether I've read God is not Great but I have read a lot of Hitchens and am aware of his drift. Dawkins' The God Delusion in the paperback is very amusing and includes various updates on the original hardback. Notably his responses to the range of attacks he is subjected to by the fundamentalists. It's called getting your defence in first.

    Marly: There's a cultural disparity here, isn't there? You're better educated and better read. For you Satan evokes Bosch and the Middle Ages. For me Satan is apparent in the mundane nature of the twenty-first century. Your references revert to tomes, mine to newspapers and CNN.

    The concept of "a self-chosen separation from God" is too remote and, in any case, there are many matters to be digested before one reaches that state. But the idea of an imaginative Satan (characterised by the emergence of Trump and the concatenation of those all-male Alabama senators) is only too real. Yes S's afflictions on me may be seen by others as irritations but add figure-eight-on-its-side to the equation and I'm threatened by a cumulative state of hopelessness.

    I also felt that customised Hells might be predicted. You say you already "know" my dislikes, possibly in a slightly different form. However you do not say they irritate you. Never mind, one may be buoyed up by info from unexpected sources. As you must know I admire, respect and envy you (it's evident in the length of my comments) and I take great pleasure in this tiny overlap of our two worlds.

    I envisage a scrap of dialogue with St P before the gates which will be forever closed to me. I say, "Many years later you'll be admitting Marly, that goes without saying. It's more than a small irritation - the only one in fact - that I shan't be one of her neighbours."

    St P: "An irritation that will grow and grow".

    RW (zS): Yes, but reflect a little. Those depictions of non-Buddhist despairers were installed by pro-Buddhists. The more convincing they seem, the more one suspects they were executed with relish. Thus the despairers are thought to be beyond sympathy, their only function is to be jeered at. Can that be right? That sunlight you eventually re-discovered is shared with everyone.

    I take note of your quick trip to Hell. But here's where the idea of an imaginative Satan steps in. Dwell on a state where all those deprivations are allowed you but under the threat that they may be imposed at any time. Thus the pleasures of writing and of brewing become tainted with the random possibility that they will be taken away. You become embittered and stop brewing anyway.

    Hey, this is not happy stuff. I'm just a hypothetical devil's advocate living in irreligious Europe. Comforted only by Trump's disapproval.

    1. I suppose what you say ties into the idea that we make our own hells right here on Earth--that our choices make us what we become, and sometimes we become people in our own weird flames. I made bad choices until I was 30, by my own judgment. Trust I've done better since.

    2. Oh, forgot to say that I like your (sometimes pleasantly over-the-top) complaints at irritations--you take them and turn them into something amusing or touching.

    3. Oh I did sympathize with the despairers, because by then, I had come to love and cherish a number of Japanese Buddhists as friends. I asked whether there was a Satan figure in charge down there (why is it always down?), or a Hades, who does somehow seem more "human" ... and their answers varied. It got even more confusing when we went to a pub and started drinking Saké together. When the singing began, I knew we'd left hell far behind us. (Am I digressing?)

      For me (and you have to remember that I am a hard-nosed German underneath it all, albeit a Frankfurter with a genuine sense of humour), writing and brewing are hard work. And I love suffering! So I would never stop doing these things, because to suffer is to be happy. This is why Trump makes absolutely no sense in my world.

    4. RW (zS): Naively you ask if you digress. Surely by now you realise that the whole of Tone Deaf is one long digression. Nothing matters other than stylistics and a careful choice of persiflage. We are not put on Earth to be serious; if my religious friends are to be believed our seriousness coefficient (with its condign punishment) is arrived at the split-second the hospital turns off the ventilator ("You should see our electricity bill!") and our spirit takes the left or right fork according to The Grand Plan.

      I honestly didn't think Buddhists risked intoxication. I knew they sang, of course; I've heard them murmuring in the London streets to the accompaniment of the cling-cling of finger cymbals. They appear to be stuck on the same two notes, called a minor third as we say in the trade. I wish them future joy when the Buddhist equivalent of JS Bach appears in well-tempered glory and introduces them to the full chromatic scale.

    5. Oh but they do risk that and many things! I'm going to write a post about this very thing, you've inspired me ... give me a few days to sort out my thoughts and I'll put it on the 5fingerplatz ...

  5. Well RR, I enjoy Fitzgerald's "Omar Khayyam" and have always found this pretty pithy:

    Heav'n but the vision of fulfill'd desire,
    And hell the shadow of a soul on fire,
    Cast on the darkness into which ourselves,
    So late emerg'd from, shall so soon expire.

    Sums up all those varied religions/philosophies.

  6. Avus: When I was much younger (hadn't even left Bradford) I embraced the sentiments of the Rubaiyat with fervour and, as a tribute, set out to commit the whole thing to memory. Did my best work in the bath but after several nights of this gave up round about verse 14. Reasons forgotten.

    Now, much older, I'm not so enthusiastic. Wasn't it the characterisation of, say:

    Come fill the cup and in the fires of spring,
    The winter garment of repentance fling,
    The bird of time has but a little way to fly,
    And, lo! the bird is on the wing.

    that kept me from wandering down Commercial Street, here in Hereford, at about 23.00 of a Friday night? Would I wish to meet someone embodying that spirit walking in the opposite direction? Turned instead to Eliot.

  7. What about purgatory? Nightly dining at Hawksmoor Manchester, nightly accidental serving of a 2001 Chateau le Pin Pomerol to your nearest neighboring table for $290? Hmmm......maybe a little too close to Hell.

  8. Edsbath: What the story failed to reveal was whether the lucky man realised he was drinking an eighteen-year-old le Pin. He must have had pretensions since what he'd ordered cost - as you say - $290, or perhaps even £290.

    There can't be too many bottles of le Pin available in Manchester. It's an hors catégorie Bordeaux officially designated as that region's most expensive wine. That's like catnip to the Japanese who seem to buy entirely on price. I would have thought all extant bottles would be slumbering in a Tokyo cellar, marked up 500%.