Monday, 30 June 2008

'Presience or eerie coincidence?'

'AS THE THIRD ANNIVERSARY of the London bombings approaches, the author Stephen Leather is among those with cause to reflect on the uncomfortable relationship between the real world and fiction - particularly when the plot of a thriller becomes horribly true.

In February 2005, five months before the 7/7 suicide attacks on the London Tube, Leather's thriller Soft Target detailed a plot by four British-born Muslims to explode bombs on the Underground.

As in real life, one of them went off above ground, albeit at the entrance to a Tube station rather than on a bus. His hero, an ex-SAS man called Dan Shepherd, has more luck preventing loss of life than did the real-life security services.

“It was uncanny really,” Leather says. “I had been been speaking to a lot of anti-terror people and the emergency services and they all said the same thing: their worst nightmare would be suicide bombers on the Underground.

“Then five months later it happens. I'm watching TV and there are the same people I'd been talking to, saying how they'd had to deal with it.”

The detail in Leather's book even had echoes of the subsequent shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell station: “My hero, Shepherd, has to shoot one of the bombers, even though he's coming at him from behind and can't see any indication that he's carrying a bomb, but there's this voice in his ear telling him that's the man. And he shoots him, and keeps on shooting him, putting bullets into his head until he stops moving. Because that's what the men at the Met told me they would have to do to deal with a suicide bomber.”

...Perhaps it is when terrorists appear to ape exact techniques that first appeared in fictional form that the phenomenon is most worrying. In his 1999 novel, Remembrance Day Henry Porter had his villain fix murderous cenotaph explosives to a mobile phone so that all that was required to detonate them was a simple call.

The Daily Mail trumpeted: “You can't go wrong with this plot”. It was a line the paper signally failed to repeat in March 2004, when bombs triggered by mobile phones exploded on crowded commuter trains in central Madrid, killing 191 people and wounding nearly 2,000 more.

There must have been a moment, somewhere between the first passenger jet crashing into the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, and the instant a few hours later when a third airliner smashed into the Pentagon, when Tom Clancy put his hand to his mouth and thought: “Oh my God, what have I done?” It had been all of six years since he had brought his series of novels featuring the CIA man Jack Ryan to a blockbuster climax with a crazed anti-American Japanese airline pilot crashing his 747 into the Capitol, killing the US President and half of Congress.'

MM x 2

'The head of the U.S. military visited Israel for the second time in six months yesterday as tensions continued to rise over Iran's nuclear plans. Israel refused to say what Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed with his opposite number in Tel Aviv except that they 'exchanged updates and joint estimates about security in the Middle East'.

But his two-day visit has fuelled speculation that Israel and the U.S. are planning a joint attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Yesterday, Iran threatened to cut off oil supplies in the region if it is bombed.

Israeli diplomats are urging western countries to step up sanctions against Iran and for the nuclear watchdog the IAEA to act more quickly... Two weeks ago, Israeli warplanes staged an exercise in the Mediterranean which looked like a dry-run for a raid on Iran.

[Former head of the Israeli Mossad secret service] Shabtai Shavit also said any U.S. action could be influenced by the result of the presidential election, with John McCain was much more likely to sanction a strike than Barack Obama.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki scoffed at the idea of an Israeli strike while the chief of the hardline Revolutionary Guards warned Iran would retaliate with missiles if attacked.

General Muhammad Ali Jafari said Iran would also cut off the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, a route taken by 60 per cent of the world's oil tankers.

'Oil prices will dramatically increase,' he added.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

'Imagine This'

There are a glut of Lennon biographies available to the ordinary reader, which range from the obsequious official narratives of Ray Coleman, to the barbed broadside of Albert Goldman. (Of those two, I far prefer the latter; which, whilst it fails to understand John Winston, nails John Ono.) I have read several; the most recent being 'Imagine This: Growing up with my brother John Lennon' by Julia Baird. This was a book for which I didn't entertain very high hopes. I had not long finished with Cynthia's anaemic tome, John, and expected something similar: doubts not dispelled by the existence of an earlier book by the same author, co-written by Geoffrey Guiliano. This, as some of you will be aware, is the notorious, semi-shady character who claims his Goldman-esque 'Lennon In America' was based on the 'lost Lennon diaries': the documents lifted from the Dakota by Fred Seaman (and accomplice/s) in 1980 and returned to Ono (for a price) shortly afterwards. Guiliano (and others, including author Robert Rosen) claim that a large proportion of these voluminous diaries were photocopied; Guiliano claims to have been given a copy by Harry Nilsson, Lennon's comrade during the 'Lost Weekend.' Needless to say, this is disputed not only by other Beatle researchers but by Nilsson's widow. Nilsson himself, conveniently, is now dead.

This second book, written without Guiliano's assistance, with a highly distinctive authorial voice of its own, dispels those doubts. It is unquestionably a most interesting contribution to a crowded field; not least for the questing- and subtlely clairvoyant- tone it adopts throughout. The author, Julia Baird, is Lennon's half-sister by the marriage of Julia Lennon to Bobby Dykins, John's stepfather. Perhaps the most interesting revelation, which all other biographers had failed to unearth, is the affair between John's stentorious Aunt Mimi, and a young lodger, Michael Fishwick; at that time a student at John Moores University, and a tenant in the family home at 251 Menlove Avenue. Most intriguing is the manner in which this information is received. Lengthy discussions with the ailing and elderly 'Nanny' (one of Mimi's younger sisters) disclose only the vague suspicion that Mimi may have had a lover, with whom she was planning to emigrate to New Zealand. Attempting to cast light on this family mystery, Julia Baird decides to contact Fishwick, who had lived at Mendips, as a tenant, for nine years. His proximity to Mimi during that time, she figures, would have afforded him a keen insight into what was going on behind the scenes...

Was this vital piece of information something 'intended' for Julia to discover; as part of her personal quest into her family history, and the trauma she has endured? Something about the 'ease' with which it materialised- having yet eluded the likes of Goldman, despite his teams of paid researchers- would suggest so. Interestingly, Baird evinces something close to a photographic memory of her childhood; even confessing to having lucid dreams in which her mother, Julia Lennon, appears to her. Every detail of these astral 'encounters' is lovingly recalled. Her keen interest in yoga, disclosed towards the end of the book, did not surprise me; more than most authors, she appreciates the magical currents (not all of them white) with which the Beatle myth is garlanded: an awareness which yoga (and meditation) would only deepen. She notes, for example, the 'almost identical' circumstances between the marriage of John and Cynthia in 1962, and Julia and Alfred, Lennon's father, twenty four years previously... and describes a very strange premonitory episode which preceded the tragic death of her mother.

Indeed, when at one point she describes herself and her younger sister, Jackie, as 'sisters who squabbled and made up as a way of life, who giggled uncontrollably, at the drop of a hat, like witches', you are tempted to take her literally. The authorial photograph- which reveals that enigmatic good looks were not John's sole preserve- depicts the author in a striking pose: clutching a small tabby.

In the final chapter, the book assumes the status of a psychic quest; as the courageous author scours a Liverpool cemetery in search of her mother's unmarked grave. Interestingly, 'there was no headstone, but someone had put a stone cat there as a marker'. The cat, venerated by the Egyptians and the Knight's Templar, is a Grail symbol; as seen, for example, on the Cat Monument in Shugborough Park in Staffordshire. From the sounds of things, the final resting place of Julia Lennon is now properly marked; and may well be a popular destination for the thousands of Beatles tourists who flock to nearby Woolton, where Lennon grew up. It would surely be no less than the 'Ocean Child' deserves.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

New article...

... at BTB, for intrepid souls. Part three of the Mind Control Suite.

Friday, 6 June 2008

'Schools are infilftrated by the Kabbalah cult...'

'The controversial Kabbalah movement is infiltrating state schools by running 'spirituality' classes for pupils as young as seven, it was claimed today.

Five primaries and a secondary school have introduced the sect's Spirituality for Kids programme - some without parental consent.

Devotees of the trendy movement visit the schools and teach youngsters to find 'the light' and reject an inner voice called 'the opponent'.

The Spirituality for Kids group, or SFK, insists the classes are non-religious but one head said he had scrapped the programme after volunteers began preaching to children about Kabbalah.

Originally a mystical form of Judaism, Kabbalah was turned into a global movement in the Seventies.

Jewish leaders believe the modern Kabbalah craze - whose celebrity followers include Madonna and Demi Moore - is distorting the tradition's true teachings.

They voiced deep concern about schools using SFK, which was founded by the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre. Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, of the Mill Hill synagogue in North London, said: 'I heard it was their intent, but I hadn't realised that they had infiltrated British schools. I believe they work using mind manipulation.'