King Harold was a tall, thin, balding man in early middle age. Although diffident and reserved, quite unlike His Excellency in appearance and manner, he was in fact a True King. He was not a ceremonial figurehead living a life of luxury encrusted boredom, a puppet moved and ventriloquised by crass and cunning politicians. He was the best sort of king - the mystic sort. He had completed the ordeals and rituals of kingship, not in any symbolic show, but in reality, so that the symbols he wielded had real effect. He had merged with the Land whilst still living, and the Powers of the Land had accepted him as Sovereign. The King and the Land were One. He experienced the timeless memory of the land and participated in the lives of the creatures that inhabited it. It was because he devoted so much effort to seeking further levels of insight and initiation that he had not attended the opening of the Avebury
The treatment of “serious” criminals within the UK has long been a talking point which tends to polarise people. There are those in our society who consistently blame society itself for the criminal act and there are others who take a more pragmatic view.
Personally I believe that, as a broad rule of thumb, criminality should be punished and that punishment should, generally, fit the crime. In the early 1970’s I spent some time in various institutions as a result of my predilection for taking illegal drugs (whether or not said drug taking should be illegal is moot) and for generally being involved in the “anti-social” behaviour associated with the drug taking lifestyle. I stole things, I got involved in burglary, I avoided paying for goods and services, I bought and sold drugs and I had very scant regard for authority of any kind.
When I was caught I was charged and sentenced in line with the legal guidelines of the time, in total I spent just short of 15 months inside for offences that would now rarely merit a custodial sentence of any kind. Did it make me reflect on my behaviour, at the time, no, but the memory is still raw and the waste of my youth is always with me.
Four years ago I found myself rebuilding a house in Provence. We had attempted to use architects but not been able to find one willing to follow our instructions and so I had to do it myself with a very good builder who didn’t rate architects anyway.
At the outset we wanted to use tiles. Porcelain tiles are the best with ‘body colour’, they are harder wearing and, if chipped, do not show terracotta colour but the surface colour. Provence is expensive, and when we went to look in tile shops the prices were around 50 Euros per square metre before tax. The best tiles come from Italy, with 80% of the production in Sassuolo, a small town 17 km from Modena. A quick search on the internet revealed that the price in Italy for good quality porcelain tiles was 17 Euros. We were buying tiles for the floors, terrace, swimming pool and shower room walls. Later we decided to use tiles for the kitchen counter and island surfaces as well.
As is clear, there were great savings to be made by buying direct. More information was required. I looked up the price of shipping, having realised I could not do it myself in view of the weight involved (no HGV licence). Having found that out we decided to drive to Sassuolo and investigate.
After many decades of dedicated service, following the disgrace of his predecessor in 2016 and the latter’s recall to Hades for failure in office (and for ingestation by the next generation), Screwtape has been promoted to High Demonic Resident in Europe from his position as Chief Resident for the Balkans, where he had spent many happy years fomenting mayhem, corruption and economic collapse. As a coming senior demon Screwtape had been able in 2015 to secure the appointment as Chief Demonic Resident in the British Isles for his nephew Tapeworm - nepotism was one way to survive in the devil eat devil underworld.
Not for many years had Screwtape had the mundane role of contending for single souls, now he was scheming for millions. Such sweet power and awesome responsibility. He was a falling demon to watch all right.
Around the table in an anodyne office in Rome are gathered his subordinates, the Chief Demonic Residents for the various regions of Europe and supporting Directorate Heads. Needless-to-say, suppressed tension is the dominant mood in the room as a consequence of their peremptory summons to this meeting only minutes before.