Their conversation ceased abruptly with the entry of an oddly-shaped man whose body resembled a certain vegetable. He was a thickset fellow with calloused and jaundiced skin and a patch of brown hair, a frizzy upheaval. We will call him Bell Pepper. Bell Pepper sidled up beside The Drippy Man and looked at the grilled cheese in his hand. The Drippy Man, a bit uncomfortable at the heaviness of the gaze, politely apologized and asked Bell Pepper if he would like one. Why is one of your legs fatter than the other? asked Bell Pepper. The Drippy Man realized Bell Pepper was not looking at his sandwich but towards the inconsistency of his leg sizes. You always get your kicks pointing out defects? retorted The Drippy Man. Just curious. Never seen anything like it before. I was raised not to feel shame and hide my legs in baggy pants. So you flaunt your deformity by wearing short shorts? Like you flaunt your pockmarks by not wearing a mask? Bell Pepper backed away, kicking wide the screen door, making an exit to a porch over hanging a dune of sand that curved into a jagged upward jab of rock. He is quite sensitive, commented The Dry Advisor. Who is he? A fellow who once manipulated the money in your wallet but now curses the fellow who does.
England is not the jewelled isle of Shakespeare's much-quoted message, nor is it the inferno depicted by Dr Goebbels. More than either it resembles a family, a rather stuffy Victorian family, with not many black sheep in it but with all its cupboards bursting with skeletons. It has rich relations who have to be kow-towed to and poor relations who are horribly sat upon, and there is a deep conspiracy of silence about the source of the family income. It is a family in which the young are generally thwarted and most of the power is in the hands of irresponsible uncles and bedridden aunts. Still, it is a family. It has its private language and its common memories, and at the approach of an enemy it closes its ranks. A family with the wrong members in control - that, perhaps is as near as one can come to describing England in a phrase.
I got hold of a copy of the video that showed how Saddam Hussein had actually confirmed himself in power. This snuff-movie opens with a plenary session of the Ba'ath Party central committee: perhaps a hundred men. Suddenly the doors are locked and Saddam, in the chair, announces a special session. Into the room is dragged an obviously broken man, who begins to emit a robotic confession of treason and subversion, that he sobs has been instigated by Syrian and other agents. As the (literally) extorted confession unfolds, names begin to be named. Once a fellow-conspirator is identified, guards come to his seat and haul him from the room. The reclining Saddam, meanwhile, lights a large cigar and contentedly scans his dossiers. The sickness of fear in the room is such that men begin to crack up and weep, rising to their feet to shout hysterical praise, even love, for the leader. Inexorably, though, the cull continues, and faces and bodies go slack as their owners are pinioned and led away. When it is over, about half the committee members are left, moaning with relief and heaving with ardent love for the boss. (In an accompanying sequel, which I have not seen, they were apparently required to go into the yard outside and shoot the other half, thus sealing the pact with Saddam. I am not sure that even Beria or Himmler would have had the nerve and ingenuity and cruelty to come up with that.)
There is a theory going around that the U.S.A. was and still is a gigantic Masonic plot under the ultimate control of the group known as the Illuminati. It is difficult to look for long at the strange single eye crowning the pyramid which is found on every dollar bill and not begin to believe the story, a little. Too many anarchists in 19th-century Europe Bakunin, Proudhon, Salverio Friscia were Masons for it to be pure chance. Lovers of global conspiracy, not all of them Catholic, can count on the Masons for a few good shivers and voids when all else fails.