Thursday, 24 February 2011

Something to Crow About...

There is no doubt about it in my mind. Choosing a title is harder than writing the book. I have always had a title for Book Two of The Camino Chronicles, but I never thought of it as a working title. Compostela was the title I had chosen and that was that.

More recently, though, I have learned something of the skill of SEO: that's Search Engine Optimisation to you. I have also learned a thing or two about spiders: Google spiders. It seems they are very choosy and will only pick up words that are linked back. One or two people liked the name Compostela, but said that it might easily be confused with a non-fiction title while others said that it would never end up on the first page of any search about pilgrimage books. And I had to agree they were right.

But now what? Because the story has not one but two timelines (as does Pilgrimage to Heresy) it made it much harder to pick something snappy that would be appropriate to both. I needed something to grab peoples' attention.

Then the other day I was reading one of my many reference books and I found just the very thing. In a novel by Gallego Ramon Otero Pedrayo, one of his characters refers to Bishop Diego Gelmirez as El Gallo de Santiago. Now everything I know about Diego Gelmirez (and after three years of research I know a lot) tells me that was a man who - as my mother would have put it - wasn't backwards in coming forwards. Almost single handedly, Diego put the Santiago into Compostela. He was tireless (and ruthless) in making Compostela one of the three most important sites of Christian pilgrimage in the world. He was, most truly, cock of the walk: The Rooster of St. James.

So it's official. And you read it here first!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

And the morning after...

For some time now, I have been receiving messages from the Universe. No, I am not hearing voices or anything like that. My messages are relayed through Mike Dooley who somehow or another seems to know what I am thinking about! Mike Dooley is in Texas, I believe. We have never met and although the Universe very nicely addresses me by name, Mike doesn't know me from Eve.

Twenty years ago, my daughter and her best friend organised my 40th surprise birthday party. The theme - and the banner which adorned the wall - was Happy On Top of the Hill. I had no idea that these teenagers had been contacting my friends secretly and was astonished! I also liked the idea that at 40, I was "on top of the hill".

I was completely wrong.

Now I am sure that I had scaled a few foothills up to that point (abnd a few Sloughs of Despair), but I am not sure that I had really scaled The Big One.
I'm not even sure now, but the view from up here sure is nice. (Are those more mountains I see in the distance? Great! I've got my best hiking boots on...)
Anyway, the reason for two posts in two days is that the Universe has surpassed itself today. Having considered whether I was actually enjoying some sort of summit yesterday, here was my message today...

"Tracy, one of the greatest things about finally reaching the 'top of the mountain,' - gazing about at the magnificence of life through tears of joy, thoroughly understanding every inch of your climb and its many unexpected setbacks, and grasping the dazzling perfection of it all - is looking back down at those still climbing (no, not what you're thinking, there's more...), still struggling, still lost and confused, and realizing with absolute certainty that they, too, will reach the top, in just a whisper of time."

Have WikiLeaks been telling the Universe my top secret information?

Enjoy every day of your climb. The view really is magnificent!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Thoughts on becoming a little old lady...

I never thought it could happen to me! Today I officially become a "little old lady". That is to say that it is my 60th birthday and when I was a teenager I thought that anyone over 25 was incapable of having fun or really aware of the important things life at all. Well really: look at all the responsibility! Not to mention wrinkles and as Prince Phillip candidly put it recently, "bits starting to fall off". He is 90, I believe. By that time I shall be surprised if I have any bits at all. Not that I want my life in any way to be compared with Prince Phillip's, with or without bits.

And anyway, I am not 90. But nor am I 25. However, you know what? I think I am really going to enjoy my 60's - something I NEVER expected to be able to say. I wouldn't trade this day for my 25th birthday for anything in the world.


A couple of years ago, I posted my "Lessons from the Camino". I have since adopted them as lessons for life. I don't always succeed at remembering them, but I do try and I am grateful for all the little things the Universe sends me.

In fact the Universe did send me something today. I'll share it here with you. It said:

"Someone like you doesn´t come along very often. In fact, there has never been a single one like you, not is there any possibility that another will come again. You are an angel among us. Your eyes see what no eyes have ever seen before; your ears hear what no others have ever heard or will hear. Your perspective and feelings will never EVER be duplicated. Without you, the Universe and all that is would sadly be less than it is today."

Put it that way, and the very uniqueness of a human life - my life, my granddaughter's life, my children's lives as individuals your life - is an extraordinary thing.

Have you ever stopped to consider the very miracle that YOU are here at all? My father could have been torpedoed in his little e-boat off the Guernsey coast; my mother could have died in an air raid in Swindon. My grandfather could have fallen down a brewer's hatch, or my other one blown to smithereens in a Welsh coal mine. My German grandfather could have been killed during the First World War instead of living just long enough to sire my father in 1920. My German greatgrandfather could have had some horrific accident while he was chauffering the Kaiser's car (which of course could have wiped out the Kaiser too come to think about it). And then you can go even further back: if someone related to me hadn't survived the Battle of Hastings, or the Inquisition, if someone had been on the wrong side in the French Revolution, or the war of Caesar against the Gauls, I would never have come to be! So a big "Thank you" to all of them for the simple act of surviving long enough to procreate...

It's true! I am AMAZING!

And so are you.

Celebrate it! The Universe really wants you to.
P.S. If you want to know what the universe really thinks about you, it speaks through a very nice man in the USA. See:

Saturday, 5 February 2011

A Happy Heretic takes on the White Man's Burden...

I received an e-mail forward a few days ago. It was called "I'm 63 and I'm tired", written, purportedly, by an ex-government official with a lengthy service record. It was from someone I have known for very many years. That she had sent it to me came as a surprise since she and I have acknowledged (or so I believed) that we are poles apart politically. It was full of the old "White Man's Burden, all Muslims are terrorists, and why am I supporting all of you scum" sort of crap which I had hoped was only limited to Tea Baggers and those unfortunate enough to believe that Nick Griffin is the Messiah. I certainly am not going to dignify it by repeating it here.

To make matters worse it ended: "If you don't send this on (to at least five other people) you are part of the problem".

Excuse me?

I fumed for a while; I muttered to myself; paced a bit; made myself a strong cup of tea. And then I decided that I would not be silent. I sent the following to everyone on the list of addressees including the person who had sent it to me.

Two strangers, to my surprise, wrote back and thanked me for my "thought provoking" response.

So I thought I might share it with you. Perhaps it makes me even more of a heretic... but somehow, I don't think so.

I'm tired.

I am very tired that people who I would have thought would know me better would think that I would agree with a single word of this hate provoking diatribe let alone further the racial divide by forwarding it on.

I'm tired of reading bigoted, racist and ignorant statements designed to provoke prejudicial reactions which somehow I am supposed to "send to friends". I wouldn't dirty their in-boxes with the shit I have received here today.

I'm tired of people in the developed world whinging about how bad they have it when they should visit the slums of Dar es Salaam and Calcutta.

I'm tired of the so-called Silent Majority heaving collective sighs of not-so-silent discrimination, most especially when they are not even the majority.

I'm tired of hearing people speak about Muslims as if everyone of them were a terrorist or keeps his wife in a Burkah. Traditionally Islam has been FAR more tolerant than Christianity. Read your bloody history books.

In particular, I am tired of the ignorance which serves only to promote the Anglo-Saxon White protestants' so-called work ethic when it was on the backs on the fuzzy- wuzzies in the colonies that we all got rich enough to have anything to complain about.

I'm tired of hearing so-called Christians assume that somehow God must belong to them and that gives them carte blanche to trash every other religious perspective without ever taking the time to study them or the people who practice them.

I'm tired of people who are blatant white supremists but who hide behind their supposed political correctness while seething underneath about how things were all so much better in the good old days (of ignorance; the rigid class system; apartheid; women's subjugation; slavery; lack of education; lack of sanitation, and religious intolerance...oh, sorry that last one is still with us.)

I am tired that people cannot see how their hatred is being manipulated by the media and hate-mongerers and in their ignorance they simply pass on mindless propaganda they have not bothered to investigate for themselves.

I am tired of hearing how the poor White Man still has to carry the Burden of paying for everyone else. Just think about that the next time you need to use some form of social services. What did your last by-pass cost you? What nationality was the surgeon?

I'm tired of hearing how X ethnic group treats its women and children. Do you think that no white man ever beat and humiliated his wife or deprived his children of dignity?

I am very tired of people who criticise the idea of global warming, mostly because I believe they must have their head up their arse!

I am tired of people who think that they have the right to blow smoke in my face because it's a "free country".

I am tired of wondering if some of the people I have known for many years are planning on voting for Nick Griffin in the next election.

And I am deeply sorry for the writer of this diatribe I have received today, Robert A. Hall, because one day he is going to realise just what his grand-daughter truly thinks of him...


I am glad:

I am glad I live in a multi-cultural world where I can learn and grow.

I am glad for the education I have received which allows me to think for myself.

I am glad that I have Muslim friends, Jewish friends, black, yellow and brown friends. They bring me joy!

I am glad that I was born in the western hemisphere where I don't have to worry about hunger or disease.

I am glad that I have a home, work, and family who haven't had to go to distant countries to earn money they have to send home to me so that I can live in squalor, but at least live.

I am glad that I know enough about deep ecology to know that we are heading for climatic disaster and I can do my very little part to help and encourage others to do theirs.

I am glad I can look at the foibles of this celebrity cult world we live in - and laugh!

I am glad I have studied Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and seen the beauty in each while not remaining blind to the horrors of religious fundamentalism.

I am glad that I can work with children and help them to see beyond self-righteousness, and show them how they can intelligently weigh up the pro's and con's of each idea before making it their own.

Oh and for all you self-righteous catholics out there...I am glad I can see through the Roman church and its 2000 year old out-and-out lies - yes, and write a best seller about just one of them! You think paedophilia is the Catholic church's only sin....? !!!

Prejudice and hatred will destroy the world if we let it. If someone sends you a hate-filled forward. don't just delete it. Write back to the person who sent it to you and tell them just what you think. It may lose you a friend. But do you really want those kinds of friends?