Church Bans Christmas!
In the latter half of the 1500s the Puritans took over much of Europe, urged on by Queen Elizabeth (the first, of course, quite a different woman to the second, renowned for her hedonism)
They did not believe in having fun, not dissimilar to the Taliban today.
They first thing they did was to ban Christmas altogether, claiming, accurately that it did not get a single mention in the Bible. Claiming, correctly again that it was a pagan ritual of indulgence based on the Roman Saturnalia. The Saturnalia was a bachanal of debauchery and depravity where the poorest peasant was made the king for a day and all his foolish decrees were to be obeyed, such as; everyone must remain naked. The slaves were waited on by their masters. Absurdity was the order of the day.
Xmas was banned from 1647 till 1660- anyone found celebrating was fined 5 shillings- a king’s ransom in those days. The baking of minced pies was also banned. Upon the promulgation of these onerous edicts there was rioting in the streets. Blood was spilt. Lives were lost.
In New England (what was to become the United States) Xmas was banned until 1870. In Scotland it was banned until 1958 (l kid you not)
A key item of worship in the northern regions is The Yuletide log that once burned brightly all of Xmas day, a custom that has withered here in the antipodes for some unknown reason, whilst in the U.S. it has been contemporized: There is a Yultide log channel on the television so one can watch it burning all day long.( Believe me, l have seen it with my own eyes, but l can tell you, it is not a real log. It burns all day without diminishing. Perhaps this is one of the many miracles of Jesus Christ our Saviour?)
So that is Xmas or Saturnalia, a northern midwinter festival, absolutely nothing to do with the Midsummer Festival that we all celebrate around the world at the Summer Solstice. As we have very little record of traditional midsummer festivities here in the Great Southern Land, having exterminated the participants before documenting their amusing habits. ( something the anthra-apologists are very annoyed about) We must refer back to the habits of our European ancestors. These were people who knew how to party, not yet having invented Public Liability Insurance and Risk Assesment Protocols. It was a time of respite between the sowing and the harvesting, a time of healing and a time of fertility. 77 ½ herbs were gathered to cure all the known diseases plus The Unknown Disease.
A bonfire must be lit of immense proportions (No Total Fire Bans in those days) Once everyone is sufficiently inebriated they are required to leap over the fire and even run through the glowing ashes. Those who pike out will not have a good harvest and their house will burn down. Witches were traditionally placed on the top of the pyre but now-a-days that is considered a breech of O,H & S.
Young maidens find this an ideal time to pick up the usually catatonically shy young men. The idea is to remove ones vestments beside a pool in a quite glade in the forest. Pearing into the waters, your future husband will miraculously appear out of nowhere.( l am assured this time honoured practice still renders similar results to this day)
So what were some of the other weird cults doing around this time of the year?
The Jews, the Muslims, the Zoroastrians, the Yazidis. Well it turns out the dates of their festivals vary from year to year and over the millenia have long ceased to bear any relation to the solar year (how long it takes the earth to go around the sun – 365 days 5 hours 49 minutes 12 seconds)
The Christians however, under the astute rule of Pope Gregory rectified the problem way back in 1582. The Julian Calendar had become hopelessly out of sink with the solar year, by a whopping 10 days. This was simply rectified by erasing 10 days from the calendar year. Alas, those who missed their birthdays were not amused, there was rioting in the streets, blood was spilt, lives were lost.
The Gregorian calendar uses this simple and effective formula:
Every fourth year is a leap year – we add an extra day, except for years that are exactly divisible by 100, but these centurial years are leap years if they are exactly divisible by 400. For example, the years 1700, 1800, and 1900 are not leap years, but the year 2000 is. Thus we keep in sink for thousands of years. Neat huh!
So here we are today, 5 centuries later and no other religion is yet willing to adopt this very practical calendar, simply because it was started by a rival religion. Therein lies the problem of religion itself: When faith and common sense collide, it is common sense that invariably loses out.
Ben laycock 2015
l want to tell you all about a little surprise some of the local yokels have cooked up for you. A gathering of such immense proportions it could be bigger than the truck show, bigger even than the Monster Meeting of 1854, with similar repercussions.
The midwives of this audacious attempt to sculpt our minds, is a hardened group of seasoned activists called Local Futures. This mob have been putting on these shindigs all around the world for several years now:
Berkley and Byron Bay in 2013 (Soul Sister Cities)
Bangalore in India in 2014, Oregon, Soel and Castlemaine this year. So we are in illustrious company.
All part of a momentous global upheaval taking place before our very eyes.
So, you may be asking yourself, ‘what the fuck is it all about?
Well as far as l can gather with my limited schooling, it all revolves around this word relocalization, a buzz word that seems to mean localization that you do again.
Basically the idea is we all spend a very intense 3 days nutting out the nuts and bolts of how to run our own lives without the ‘help’ of the Corporate Megalomaniacs and Blood-thirsty War-mongering Psychopaths that run the world at this present juncture in time. People, and l use that term loosely, that think nature was put there by god for their own personal use.
At the end of the gig, we shall then send said Powers-That –Be, a terse text message informing them that their services are no longer required and recommending they go home and spend more time with their families.
(if anyone has their phone numbers that would be much appreciated)
As l said, l do believe that nothing as big as this has been accomplished in a town as small as this, by such a rag-tag bunch of rank amateurs, anywhere in the known world.
Where else would you expect to see people milling about in such multitudes, plotting the demise of the Oligarchs? The United Nations perhaps, the climate summit in Paris maybe?
With just a smidgeon of hyperbole l declare this could very well be the seed that grows into the mighty red gum that can withstand the ragging torrent and the endless drought.
This conference could very well turn out to be the founding stone of the most progressive town in Australia, if not the world.
Everyone is welcome!
Attendance is compulsory
Come along and help build a whole new paradigm, one mud brick at a time, then when your grand children ask you:
“Nona, where were you when it all began?”
You can say:
“l was right here in Castlemaine, doing my bit.”
Local Lives – Global Matters
Ben Laycock 2015
We could be living in
According to the Pundits, in the year of 1835, one John Batman Esquire was the first white man to arrive sober in the spot that now beers the boring title of Melbourne. He stuck a sharp stick in the ground and declared grandiosely, “This is the place for a Latte”. Prophetic words indeed. Coming from the bucolic isle of Tasmania and being a prize egotist he naturally wanted to call the place Batmania. However, unbeknownst to him, a far more crafty fellow by the name of Fawkner arrived very soon after in the S.S. Enterprize. (I kid you not) Being a prize Suck-hole he petitioned the Prime Minister of England to call the place Melbourne. Coincidentally the P.M.s name was Lord Melbourne, so being yet another prize egotist he hearltily agreed.
And so began the most livable city in the world. But it was not always quite so livable. Very early on it was plagued with parking problems.
Burke St. in particular was a nightmare. Can you even imagine doing a u-turn with a fully loaded dray and 6 ornery oxen without getting stuck in a bog or caught on the protruding stumps.
So one Henry Hoddle was commissioned to solve the problem. Which he promptly did. Presenting the burgers with ‘The Hoddle Model’. Being a simple man of simple mind he simply drew up a grid with his trusty set-square that he always carried in the top pocket of his trusty smoking jacket. Tragically, a mere slip of the quill inscribed an ugly black line from top to bottom. The said Burgers naturally enquired as to its purpose. Deftly, in a moment of uncharacteristic imagination, our Mr. Hoddle called it ‘The Melbourne Bypass’ Thus was born the infamous Hoddle St., bain of our existence, cursed for ever more as a slow-moving parking lot. To this day any young lass or lad, setting off to Melbourne to make their mark in the world, will receive the same parental advice; ‘Whatever you do, avoid Hoddle St, at all costs”.
Those who did not pay attention in primary school may not be aware of the fact that Australia was discovered by Captain Cook in 1770. Some of you may be suffering from the delusion that it was discovered some 40,000 years earlier by a bunch of blackfellas. Some may believe it was Willem Janszoon, purportedly the first white man to set foot on this land, in the vicinity of Cape York way back in 1606 would you believe, or maybe Dirk Hartog who mapped the west coast in 1616, or William Dampier in 1669. But you see, the problem with all these people is they were not Englishmen and we all know that Australia was discovered by the English, the very pinnacle of human evolution according to the social Darwinism that was all the rage at the time. So there fore logically speaking they could not have discovered Australia because they were Dutchmen weren’t they? But hang on, what about good old Able Tasman who discovered Tasmania several times, way back in 1642. Wasn’t he a full blooded Englishman? Why wasn’t he allowed to discover Australia?
Buggered if I know.
So we all know that Captain Cook visited Australia in 1770. Some of you may not be aware that he sailed all the way up the east coast without once setting foot on terra firma. It was not until his boat sprung a leak on the notorious Great Barrier Reef that he came ashore to fix it. There he encountered the Guugu Yimidirrh people.
He offered them gifts of cloth, nails and paper all of which they obviously found completely useless, but they were delighted when he gave them a fish, which they regarded as a symbolic gift.
He shot a large fury animal and asked one of the Australians what it was called. The fellow said gungurru. The first Australian word ever recorded.
After repairing the boat, which took 6 weeks, Captain Cook bid a fond farewell to the Guugu Yimidirrh and set sail for the Cook islands which had a different name at the time, where he did not receive such a warm welcome.
He wrote in his log, ‘From what I have seen of the natives of New Holland, they may appear to be some of the most wretched people on Earth. But in reality they are far happier than we Europeans, being wholly unacquainted not only with the superfluous, but with the necessary conveniences so much sought after in Europe. They are happy in not knowing the use of them. They live in tranquillity. The earth and the sea of their own accord furnish them with all things necessary in life.’
This is a very important statement. A description of the first encounter with people living in the Stone Age. They were obviously as happy, if not happier than we are today. So that begs the question ‘what is all this development for? All this technology, all these gadjets, all this stuff. Obviously not to make us happier, we were already happy. The only advantage to all this technological development is, we can support more and more people. But is the world a better place for having more people in it? Are we happier because there are more of us? This is not a rhetorical question? This is a very important question, at the very nub of the paradigm shift we face. The only advantage to an ever increasing population is that it is good for bussines. An ever growing population is an ever growing market. It keeps wages down and prices up. It keeps the economy growing and an economy that is not growing is not an economy at all.
Now where was I before I drifted off course into that diatribe. Ah yes, Captain Cook was sailing off to meet his grizzly fate. A friend of mine was teaching at a school in Aukland a place much frequented by auks and cook islanders. She innocently asked of her 5th graders ‘what do you know about Captain Cook?’ A little girl, of no more than 8 years old pipped up with ‘ my great great grandfather ate him’
Aparently Australia wasn’t always called Australia. When Captain Cook first arrived in his boat, he spied a group of natives involved in some sort of elaborate ceremony involving fire and animal sacrifice. Ignoring the caution of his less intrepid companions he strode purposefully up to them and asked ‘what is the name of this place’ To which the natives replied in surprisingly good English”This is the barbeque area, bro”
Captain Cook promptly claimed all of Barbequearea in the name of the king and returned to England forthwith to tell said king the good news. The king however was not impressed, having delt with cheeky natives before.
‘they are pulling your leg, having a lend of you, taking the piss”. The good Captain was blank with incomprehension till the king said “Jim, they were being faceacious.”
My fellow Australians,
Who the hell are we?
We are one of the most urbanised nations on earth, over 80% of us live in cities and those cities are all on the sea, almost the entire population lives within 50 kilometres of the ocean. That doesn’t include us renegade Castlemainiacs though does it? Yet the ‘quintisential Ozy’ lives in a place called the outback. We call it that because we are all hugging the coast and looking out to sea. At first we were searching for a ship from the motherland, now we scan the horizon for a glimpse of the real world that goes on somewhere beyond the horizon. Meanwhile our alter ego sits tall in the saddle of her magnificent steed, one hand to her sweaty brow, scanning the horizon of the red earth searching for fat cows and lost sheep.
We see ourselves as peace loving, generous, tolerant people yet is that how the world sees us?
The rest of the world sees a country constantly at war. We have been at war with both Iraq and Afganistan for over 7 years now. We here in Sleepy hollow may have forgotten about those wars but I can assure you the people of Iraq and Afganistan have not, nor has anybody else.
The rest of the world sees a nation hell bent on denying asylum to some of the most desperate people on earth, fleeing conflicts half of which we have created, while we debate whether to tow their boats back out to sea and use them for target practice.
The rest of the world sees a nation that treats its Indiginous people like shit. Always has and always will. We may believe we are trying really hard to ameliorate their endless suffering, but the world, I’m afraid, sees only our complete and utter failure, Why do we treat them so? Is it punishment for making us feel guilty?
We are one of the wealthiest nations on earth yet we sit back and watch our nearest neighbour Papua New Guinea descend into barbarism. We attempt to diddle our other neighbour East Timor out of their oil. We turn away Pacific Islanders desperately seeking somewhere to go after their countries disappear under the rising seas. A problem we have helped to create and are unwilling to fix.
Maybe it is time to administer a few drops of Optical Viagra and take a good hard look at our selves.
As we all learnt in grade bubs, Invasion day is the day the first batch of convicts arrived on our fair shores. The few members of the invasion party who were not chained up in the hold, ran up the nearest hill, stuck a Union Jack in the ground and proclaimed the entire island now belonged holus bolus, to the king of England.
I don’t think they realised just how big the island really was, and still is. Were the rightful owners of the place consulted in this serious matter? Were they even informed of their newfound status as chattels of King So and So? A rhetorical question, of course.
Some of us in our blissful ignorance however, may not be aware that fateful day of January 26th also commemorates the only coup de tat ever to take place in Australia. In 1808, exactly 20 years to the day after the arrival of the first fleet, a bunch of disgruntled officers from the New South Wales Corp overthrew the government of the fledgling colony. I do not mean to besmirch the good name of the gentlemen involved, but it has been reputed that they were drunk at the time. Not surprising considering that the legal tender of the colony was rum. Giving Australia the dubious distinction of being the only place in the world to employ such a form of currency.
Legend has it that when the said soldiers arrived, singing ribald sea shanties no doubt, Governor Bligh was found cowering under the bed. He was discovered there by one Captain Thomas Laycock no less, a distant relative of mine, I do believe.
Of course, that was not the infamous Captain Bligh’s only claim to fame was it now? This is the very same Captain Bligh that, some 20 years previously was set adrift, as depicted so dramatically in ‘Mutiny on the Bounty.’ The story goes that the lads were having a high old time in Tahiti with the local lasses, a welcome relief from their own sore bottoms, when Captain Bligh had the audacity to order the anchors reeled in and the sails set for departure to lands unknown. The lads having by now grown quite fond of their native paramours, and finding their attraction reciprocated, made the very sensible decision to abandon their captain rather than their lovers. Poor captain Bligh was set adrift in a dinghy on the open seas, with only a Yam as sustenance.(though it was purportedly a more than average sized yam) After suffering unspeakable sunburn on an epic journey of over 1500 miles, he arrived at what is now Timor L’Este.
The lads, meanwhile found Pitcairn, an idyllic little island in the middle of nowhere, promptly burnt The Bounty, just in case anyone was having second thoughts, and their they lived happily ever after. I do believe their descendants are still living on the island to this very day, though they have become a little in bred over the years, allowing some rather unsavoury habits to develop, but that is another story.
Ben Boyang www.binsblog.wordpress.com
‘Hoody’ Ben Laycock 2001
It is high time the burqa is banned altogether. It’s too confronting. All these women sneaking about hiding their identities. Maybe they aren’t even women, maybe they are bank robbers.
Paradoxically, banning the burqa appears at face value to restrict a woman’s freedom, but on closer inspection it becomes apparent that it is actually liberating her from oppression. As we are all aware the woman in a fundamentalist Islamic sect is compelled to wear the burqa by her husband, who is in turn ruled by the Mullahs. No ifs. No buts. In London recently, the local council finned a woman for wearing a burqa. Fortunately they didn’t insist she take it off immediately. Her husband promptly declared she would no longer be allowed outside the house at all because he did not want other men looking at his wife. It is the iron fist of the mullahs that the state must resist. Let us not forget, the state for all its failings, is far more democratic than any church, with far more participation by women. It is the sign of a civilized society that scantily clad women can stroll down the street on a summer’s day unmolested, despite whatever lewd thoughts some of their admirers may no doubt be thinking. To require a woman to wear a burqa, indeed to make a woman cover her body at all is an admission by the patriarch that he is incapable of controlling his lust and is no more than a wild beast.
Some have suggested the wives of fundamentalist Islamic men actually enjoy their slavery, but for every woman they find who is happy to look like a sack of potatoes, it is easy to find 10 who aren’t. Ayaan Hirsi Ali (former muslim turned vocal critic) being a shining example. Surely no one would suggest a woman as beautiful as she should be covered up at all, and let’s be honest here, these fundamentalist patriarchs claim they are keeping their beautiful wives from the ogling gaze of other men but I suspect their wives are actually really ugly. Call me sexist if you like but I believe the female form is the most beautiful thing in all the world and it should never be covered up at all, weather permitting. If I were the Mayor I would decree that everyone must go stark naked whenever the temperature reaches 30 degree. I do believe this would have a marked effect on obesity, not that I would be one of those poking fun at the fat people, especially as I am growing a little pounch all of my own.
Ok, I relent, maybe we could allow fat and ugly people to wear a burqa but all the beautiful people would be made to share their gift with all the world.
After all this is how we humans lived very hapily ever since our fur fell off a long time ago, including the indiginous people of this land ,till they were taught to feel shame by the fundamentalist Christians, but that is another story.
Gosamer Bin Liner 2010
The last of the Iraqi Yazidis are stranded on a lonely windswept mountain surrounded by the scorching desert and a marauding hoard of bloodthirsty savages.
But don’t worry Mr. Rabbot is coming to the rescue.
The Yazidis are one of the oldest religions in all the wide world, their origins lost in the mists of time. It is said they have adopted elements of Christianity, Gnosticism, (whatever that is?) Zoroastrianism, Judaism and Islam. Taking the juicy bits of these fads as they passed by. The Yazidis in turn have been mercilessly persecuted by just about all these creeds and most anyone who has come across them since time began. Such is their lot.
Alas there are no more than 100,000 Yazidis left, most of whom reside in Germany, ironically enough. How the mighty wheel of history turns. Those fleeing religious persecution find a safe haven in a land once synonymous with the word persecution.
This year is the year 6,762 in the Yazidi calendar so yes they certainly are very old indeed.
The Yazidis are Monotheistic – believing in but one God. This was a pretty radical idea back when Methuselah was a lad, when people were decidedly promiscuous, worshiping all manner of strange animals and objects, all at the same time. But their monotheism is the cause of all their problems. You see The Yazidis worship a giant Peacock: Melak Tans-the peacock angel, as God’s Deputy on earth, to the exclusion of all comers.
Apparently, according to ancient texts hidden in dark caves and passed down from generation to generation, God created 6 other angels and ordered them to make Adam (that’s us humans) and make HIM the Deputy. But Melak Tan was not having a bar of it. He said ‘no’. He said no to God himself. He said ‘what part of no don’t you understand my dear God’. Melak Tan said, ‘I will bow to one God, and one God only’. Surprisingly, God said ‘Good answer Melak, (they were on a first name basis by now) you have passed my little test, I will dub YOU my Deputy on earth.
All very well and good, but unfortunately this bears an uncanny resemblance to the story of Satan, who also challenged God and was not rewarded for his independent thinking, but was banished to Hades for his temerity and has been in a foul mood ever since. This is why the poor Yazidis have been mercilessly harassed from one end of Arabia to another since time immemorial as Devil Worshippers.
Ben Boyang 2014
Smoking pot is quite possibly the most popular illegal activity in the world, due no doubt to the fact that governments throughout the globe are almost unanimous in their philosophy that ‘if it feels good, ban it!’
Surveys indicate that about 30% of the Australian population have smoked pot at one time or another. This number would obviously increase to above 50% if it were legally available. So, if a majority of the population would like to smoke it, why, in a democracy is it still illegal? I have often pondered this conundrum. Personally I gave up the stuff long ago. Back in the 70’s (remember them?) we were convinced that legalization was just around the corner, but alas all our dreams went up in a puff of smoke. So here we find ourselves 40 years later and no closer to that dream becoming a reality. The cops are still running around chasing pot growers and pot sellers, despite the fact that the higher echelons of the police force itself feel it is a complete and utter waist of their time and resources.
I think it is fair to say that your average common or garden pot smoker would be a left winger, and for most smokers legalisation is far from the most important issue in their lives, so any left wing party is not going to pick up many extra votes by calling for legalisation. Whereas for those members of the community that oppose drugs, all drugs and every drug, no butts, it is a very emotive issue, a vote changer. There are a significant number of working class people, or ‘working families’ as they are now referred to, who would not vote for a party that otherwise had their best interests at heart, if that party was ‘soft on drugs’.
So the impasse continues ad infinitum.
This analysis can be extrapolated to many other thorny issues that crop up on a perennial basis. Terrorism, boat people, gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, killer bees, etc, etc. The core issue of any democracy is surely, who controls the purse strings, the wealthy elite or the rest of us? But somehow the rich have convinced us that other issues are far more important than getting our fair share of our countries abundant riches. The working poor have made a deal with the devil, ‘we will allow you to rule over us, and exploit us and neglect our fundamental wellbeing as long as you keep us safe from drugs, gays, terrorists, hooligans, anarchists, killer bees and every other fear that fills our hearts with dred.
This time-honoured and effective stratagem is called Rule by Fear.
Ben Laycock 2012