Thursday, July 2, 2009


Yesterday was I July. I measure my life out in days, months and years. Time seems to exist in two separate spheres. In one it’s racing past in the other it drags on slowly.

Friend Tom has been helpful. He has a good DVD library which he has catalogued. I can borrow disks from him. I’ve been pigging out on nostalgia including Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines, The Magnificent Seven and Dr Zhivago. All have splendid music, especially the haunting Lara’s Theme from Zhivago. Such movies and music is my past – they helped shape and define me and it’s been fun to revisit them and see how they stand up. I’d forgotten the epic nature of Zhivago and the portrayal of the cold. My mental picture of Russia I realise is based on that film. It has stood the test of time better than the other two.

The American troops are pulling out of the Iraq cities as part of Obama’s election pledge to withdraw them, The bloodshed will continue. Filkin’s narrative in its honesty makes a chilling read. What a brutal unnecessary war Bush committed the American’s to.

Quoting Filkin: ‘Of course [the Iraqis] lied. It was that they had more to consider than the American were ever willing to give them credit for. The Iraqis had to live in their neighbourhoods, after the American soldiers had gone home. The Iraqis had to survive. They had their children to consider. For the Iraqis, life among the Americans often meant living a double life, the one they thought the Americans wanted to see, and the real one they lived when the Americans went home.’

He describes an incident. One American officer, charged with searching villages for hidden weapons, had a striking blonde woman amongst his soldiers. She took off her helmet and he auctioned her off to the Iraqi men standing around. Bidding got very fierce. Meanwhile the other troops searched the village. Each time they got a biggest haul of weapons than usual. The auctions were called off on the grounds that the bid was not high enough. The officer got reprimanded for his action. He told Filkin it was the smartest thing he ever did.

It was great to have a visit from my brother Bruce and his wife Margaret who flew up from Christchurch for the day. They brought up two frozen wild ducks and some home-killed mutton chops. So we’ll be dining well. It was an emotional occasion as we reminisced about Mum and the past. We looked at photos and recalled incidents and events. Margaret gave me the Cairngorm brooch with a Celtic design that I’d bought for Mum in Scotland on my fist visit to Britain. She wore it all the time. It was her favourite piece of jewellery.

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