Friday, December 17, 2010

A story of love and war at the genesis of a Millennium.


Part One

Scarred and scared

Through the lace drapes and partly opened venetian blinds, the sky is turning from blue into grey as the morning light alludes to rain. Gazing across the pillows in the dimness of the room David watches his wife's breast gently rising and falling as she breathes calmly in a tranquil slumber. Sally is a singer, a Rock-blues singer, she’s good and popular and she is going to make it. Lying on his back staring at the ceiling, David's thoughts drift between moments of hopeful sentiment and the grudging acceptance of the end of passion: No more simple delights, like the easy slouching cosiness of his best-friend in sweet intimate repose against his body. Or the casual sensuality of his hand rested upon her thighs draped across his lap, their legs entwined, recumbent, as they watch a rented video and munch rice-crackers between sensuous gulps of a big velvety Shiraz from the Coonawarra region of South Australia...
Nothing: Just a cold blackness where once there were hopes and aspirations.
Sinister nuances invade his blissful melancholy - foreboding his impending trip overseas. The future seems like a trap, a punitive sentence – the deprivation of choice. Back to the calamity of war in south-east Asia: Back to the annoying pretence of journalism and the awful realities of reporting from the Frontline. The ‘Media’ what a lot of shyte - Fuck the Media! ‘The News’; what a scam: Infomercials, Lifestyle programs, Advertorials and Reality TV. The vitriol exploded loudly into the stillness of the room.
“It’s all bullshit!” David shouted. This outburst caused Sally to murmur and twist restlessly, rolling over and dragging the Bed-cover off David and on to the floor on her side of the bed.
Sally's hair was spread in a silken spray towards him. David moved his head onto her pillow laying his face on her hair, his nose nuzzling the nape of her neck. Unconsciously shifting her position, her knees bending and her back arching, Sally's supple sensual form and David's sinuous frame fit snugly. Gingerly he embraces her. Sliding his hand under her arm and around over her opposite shoulder he drew her gently and firmly against himself. Sighing in a heavy release, his tears dampened her hair.
David's breath stalled in little hiccups as he attempted to control his quivering lungs. The storm of the previous night’s clash had past and consistent with the history of their turbulent marriage they wound up in bed together - emotionally exhausted, physically stimulated and passionately and strenuously engaging in an aggressive sexual dual until they fell limp and wasted, into a deep fitful sleep.
Yet, the consolation of the relationship surviving another day, if only for survival’s sake was no longer present. The inevitable consequence of this parting would be an absolute and indefinite separation. For David, the prospect was unconscionable.
He realised at that moment how much he had relied on his wife. Sally had been his best friend, his nurse, his mother and his whore.
Sally had intelligence and talent, charisma and beauty. David, good for little else but journalism, had the charm of a smiling Assassin and the base cunning of a Shit-house Rat.
With his boyish good looks and quick wit David was generally popular with women and men alike, he had a few good mates but most of his friends were women. David was an enthusiastic bar room buddy and a good-natured lady’s-man. His Anglo-Irish temperament however, was often the qualifying factor at the demise of a relationship.
In business David was the same, circumstances were not often of his own making – it’s just that when offered alternatives; he invariably made the wrong choice – a guileless airhead. Sally was cognisant of this and the consequence it entailed: Like all the plain decent folk labelled as ‘losers’ these days, Sally was aware that David was too sentimental and too generous to be a success. In this age of sycophants in suits supplicating profits to appease greedy shareholders, at the expense of quality and conscience – David had no place. He just didn’t have the knack for the kind of shameless self-promotion that so many of the Chardonnay swilling Café-set she new referred to as, ‘Networking’. Conform or concede.
And Sally knew also, that although he always had a convincing excuse, or someone else to blame for his gullibility and failures David could be cruel and cowardly. He was not a posturing hero like Hemingway and he certainly didn’t have the genius for intrigue like Fleming. David, to his credit, was consistently producing inspired feature-stories. His genuine newsgathering exploits in combat were more the result of the dumb luck of an adrenaline junkie rather than real machismo or detective intuition. David had a peculiar gift.
Sally felt that David showed great potential and she was briefly seduced by his dimpled smile – they were early days - she was over that – no amount of love can save a lost cause. Success meant money and money meant Bills could be paid. Bigger success meant better apartments and greater comfort in the few special moments permitted for relaxation and love by a busy Career-centred lifestyle - Love unfettered and unhindered by financial problems. Time was precious and love required time – with money you could buy the time. Sally new that David’s youthful joie de vies was genuine and tragically fatal. He just didn’t get it, and that infuriated Sally – the more so because she believed that she had really loved him and this compounded her pain because she felt betrayed by his dumb innocence.
Once in a moment of rage she was moved to slap David so hard and with such cruel intent that she had blackened his eye and cut his cheek with her wedding rings. That rage was the result of David’s response to her concerns over their financial situation. After explaining to him the dilemmas of their money problems for an hour – David had no proclivity for mathematics whatsoever. David had answered with wholesome wide-eyed sincerity; while taking a beer from the fridge, ‘we’ll be right princess and money can’t buy love!’
David was clueless and naïve to a fault. An over energized; sentimental fuck-up.
Sally had cried for an hour afterwards, David tried everything to console her until she finally began to laugh hysterically and smother him with kisses and apologies – she was bewildered by the ironic realisation that she felt guilty of beating a child. Sally was loving him to death like an obsessive mother does a backward infant and this love/hate relationship was destroying her and she didn’t have the strength to go on.
If only he’d change. If only he could change.
David wanted desperately to do the right thing, to be a good man and succeed with honesty and integrity. It was easier before his success, no one cared what he thought; His opinions didn’t matter and he didn’t care, he was on a personal crusade. Then, after a series of successful articles people started to listen to him, and socialize with him, which meant booze. “In Vino Veritas” – Sally would watch and wait and worry and then cringe as David would invariably say the wrong thing to the wrong person – honesty is the best policy only if you keep it to yourself. David gradually felt more and more betrayed and he couldn’t understand what he’d done wrong. Sally tried to explain it too him a thousand times after a thousand perceived betrayals. Sally had given up – their wasn’t a single Politically Correct bone in David’s body and he had always stubbornly refused to eat the shit. Now, at another pretentious Gallery 'Opening Night', in a crisis devoid of grace; David lost his faith and embellished a story to try to impress the PC Media's middle-class cognoscenti – the result; too little too late and an impromptu fall from grace. Before when David had nothing and lived in a void. When he was nothing and ignored, at least he had his integrity. No contact with humans – no need to bathe ones soul. No contamination.

Integrity exists in a void.

David needed Sally more than oxygen. He was lost and alone and he didn't want to go back to war - there was just nowhere else for him to go.

end part one/...Part two: "Oblivion or Bust" (who wants to see another part?)

War Photographs: A small example of images I created during 11 years of work as a War Correspondent.

Most of these images were hand-printed by me. I was a member of a group referred to as "concerned photographers" during the eighties and nineties that chose to file the edge of the negative carrier down in their Enlargers, so as to print the entire area of the negative. This technique is used to show the viewer that what we saw, you see. It is a discipline that seperates the "I'll crop a decent image out of it in the darkroom" cheats and those altruistic photographers devoted to the purity and honesty of their craft. It is all about truth from the get go!

ABSDF: All Burma Student's Democratic Front; When I met this boy on the 8th of March 1992, he told me he was 11 years old. I found his little body battered and torn on the 9th of March 1992, he had 12 wounds.

ABSDF: The man crouching on the left is Platoon Sargeant; he was a Technical Studies teacher in Rangoon (Yangon); the boys on the right are his students, now they are his soldiers.

KNLAF: Karen National Liberation Armed Forces: This boy I found in the field hospital of Manerplaw Head Quarters on the banks of the Salween River. The Médecins Sans Frontières Surgeons told me the wounds were caused by an "aggressive combustible accelerant" – Napalm. This was graphic evidence that the Junta in Rangoon was using illegal weapons in their war of oppression.

TWE PA WE-JO: The Sleeping Dog Hill; looking back from the forward spur which protrudes into Burmese held ground about 700 metres, As a Burmese 150mm Artillery shell strike the summit. The dense shrubbery you can see in the middle-distance is the Front-line. The reason for this geographical anomaly is the incredibly steep sides of the mountain and spur-line. 10 to 12 metres either side of the spur-line is an almost sheer jungle gradient, which requires hand over hand crawling to scale. The gradient cannot be discerned from this photograph.


KNLAF: This Karen Commando is about to fire upon approaching Burmese soldiers as they appear over the edge of the steep sides of the Spur-line. ( Most of  the negatives I created during my career were destroyed as the result of a domestic dispute, including a small folder containing my best negatives and transparencies; during a period of seperation from my second ex-wife. Doh!)

Coup d'etat in the Philippines: Lumbia Airport on the outskirts of Cagayan D'Oro on the southern Island of Mindinao: This young Marine is pensive as he sits with his comrades while they are told they will be leading the first assault wave during the dawn attack against the rebel held Army instalation called 'Camp Evangelista'. He was killed  in the first five minutes, I tried to find him in vain. I usually try to stay close to the kids that I feature in my stories.

ANKI: Armée National Kampucea Independent: Cambodian guerrillas loyal to the Monarchy these Sihanoukist guerrillas caused the Vietnamese backed regime some serious grief. Trained by the SAS (Thatcher denies it, duh) in small weapons and tactics, demolition and a whole gamut of nasty tactics. This particularly amicable looking chap was my body-guard. (original image; scanned colour print)


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weasel Words

Weasel words is an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that something specific and meaningful has been said, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated. For example, an advertisement may use a weasel phrase such as "up to 50% off on all products"; this is misleading because the audience is invited to imagine many items reduced by the proclaimed 50%, but the words taken literally mean only that no discount will exceed 50%, and in practice the vendor is free to not reduce any prices and still remain faithful to the wording of the advertisement.

The use of weasel words to avoid making an outright assertion is a synonym to tergiversate. Weasel words can imply meaning far beyond the claim actually being made. Some weasel words may also have the effect of softening the force of a potentially loaded or otherwise controversial statement through some form of understatement, for example using detensifiers such as "somewhat" or "in most respects".


to tergiversate (third-person singular simple present tergiversates, present participle tergiversating, simple past and past participle tergiversated)

1. (intransitive) To evade, to equivocate using subterfuge; to deliberately obfuscate.

2. (intransitive) To change sides or affiliation; to apostatize.
From Wikipedia the free encyclopaedia [edited for clarity]