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Bond limericks V

April 23, 2010

Bond lit a Morland’s Specials,

probing croco-carnassials.

The fangs were of plastic

and rather eleastic,

courtesy of Q-branch initials.

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Bond limericks IV

April 23, 2010

Bond flew to Morocco

to meet agent ‘Scirocco’.

‘Scirocco’ was late,

so Bond shagged the maid

and flew from Morocco.

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Bond limericks III

April 23, 2010

Bond came to Fujiyama

to kill a traitor llama.

The job was weird,

as James Bond feared.

The llama went with drama.

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Bond limericks II

April 23, 2010

The head of Station WB

diverted funds,  for no one to see.

T’ settle the matter

Bond resorted to batter

t’ head of the head of WB.

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Bond limericks I

April 23, 2010

A boy from 00-section,

too fond of Jameson’s Selection,

-his hand was not steady,

his Colt hardly ready-

now drinks in bookkeeping-section.

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Never Let Me Go – Review

April 14, 2010

I have just finished Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

A great read, touching, thoughtful, shocking, heartbreaking even. Not necessarily one you will want to go back to, but surely one you won’t forget. Not easy on the mind and conscience. I’m not sure, how much one should know about it in the beginning, so I’ll go on in spoiler tags. But I really think you should pick up and read this.

SPOILER ALERT!

Never Let Me Go tells the story of Kathy H. and her two friends Ruth and Tommy, growing up at Hailsham, a mixture between children’s home and public school. Kathy H. tells it as a 30-something adult living in 90’s UK in retrospect.

Hailsham at first looks innocuous enough, but there are a number of strange things too. The teachers are ‘guardians’, there is never talk about families, not even second names are mentioned, there is an ‘outside’ that is never explored by the students, there is no tv, but apparently there are videoplayers and tapes, there’s no teenager stuff like gossip about actors, music and so on. There are no weekends or holidays spent at home, no siblings and generally, no other background than Hailsham.

The kids at Hailsham are told that they are ‘special’, that they have a specific purpose, and an enormous effort is made to educate them, spur their creativity in every direction, painting, poetry, needlework, even stage plays are hinted at, giving at first glance the impression of an exclusive boarding school. Yet, there are also a number of curious gaps in that childhood. Keeping healthy and in good overall condition is imperative at Hailsham, and diseases are not an item there. The only connection to ‘outside’ is a lorry full of an obscure assortment of goods the children can buy with Hailsham’s own currency. The students own works of art, paintings and so on encouraged so much, are shown at regular exhibitions and the kids buy each others works, whereas the best examples are going into the ‘gallery’ of Madame, a woman irregularly visiting the premises.

Gradually it is hinted at that the studens, all of them, are to become ‘donors’ in the future, and by then the reader already suspects what this means. But when it’s finally vocalised by one of the guardians that all the kids are just clones, merely bred to become a living resource for vital organs, what’s really shocking is not the monstrosity of this simple truth, but the complete ignorance of the implications and absence of any opposition the students show. What they are disturbed about is not their nature as a different form of kettle, but the fact that ‘they’ (meaning in this context ordinary people, embodied in the character of Madame) seem to be utterly afraid and revolted by them.

The Hailsham students also seem to have gotten little to no education in the field one could in a wider context call ‘religion and moral philosophy’. They are merely taught to accept their fate and even to assist in it, becoming after a certain time ‘carers’, which means driving across the country, visiting ‘donors’, talking to them, encouraging them, help them keep on pushing. Until it’s their own time to become a ‘donor’, a perspective met by most with hardly a blink. Apart from that, there is no real purpose for them in life.

But it’s shown that the students develop their own form of myths, their own search for a sense in life. One of these myths is the rumour that a couple, if they really love each other, can get a deferral, for a time. And Kathy and Tommy set out to find out about this. Unintentionally, they meet by accident their… what? parent? no… God? no… But then again, in a way, they do. And what they learn is even more of a shock than the story up to then.

Never Let Me Go is in many ways a fascinating read, but it also has an awful message, and the moment the story gets even worse is, as far as I remember, the only scene when Ishiguro actually mentions a current brand name. For the simple purpose to prevent readers from dismissing the world of the story as not being ours. It is different, but it’s also much closer to ours than we would like to admit. The theme, therapeutic cloning, is a red-hot one, and while it’s not mentioned as such often, it is exactly the questions this book asks we would have to answer in our present day, if there was to be a major break-through with cloning in the near future.

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Sleepyhead

April 12, 2010

As the day breaks, the light through the tinted wall-to-wall panorama window slowly turns blue, colouring the steep hillside, scattered spruce, all covered in heavy snow. And above it the sheer rock of the mountain face. Nora lies on her left, away from the window, her features hidden in the soft shadow, the blonde hair picking up the blue-grey sheen from outside. It’s a picture of such perfect peace and beauty that I feel a sob in my throat.

I fight for control, contain myself. Nora mustn’t realise there is something wrong. Nothing must look out of the ordinary. If she even so much as suspected, what I’m about to do, all my efforts of the last five months would be for nothing. And I certainly won’t let that happen.

With two steps I’m at the bed, looking down on her face. I kneel by her side, my left hand feeling the slight dampness of the sheets, the lingering warmth of our bodies from last night. The noise of my skiing clothes must have woken her, as a faint smile shows on her lips, just visible in the half-light of dawn. I take her right hand lying on the pillow, feeling the pulse of her blood running through her veins. Nora’s smile broadens, her eyes sleepily squinting at me, a soft cosy growl giving away her happiness.

I glance beyond her, across the wide wooden veranda, studying the slopes, the first light of dawn promising a perfect winter day, the air so clear you feel you can reach out and touch the mountains, a chocolate box picture.

‘Aw, come back to bed, please. It’s still so early.’

Her blue eyes look at me from across the valley of content cosiness. The soft shimmer of her peachy skin is alluring, threatening to weaken my resolve. It would be so easy to let myself fall into her comforting arms, enjoying her one last exquisite time. Celebrate our lives, our youth.

It mustn’t be. This is perhaps the worst thing of all, not being able to explain myself. To explain what is necessary, what must be done.

Instead, I smile at her, kiss her soft cheek, taste her on my lips. This will be what I’ll remember of her until my death, a faint intimate taste of vanilla.

While I kiss her I look once more out of the window. Suddenly the mountain view is disturbed by tiny black flecks. The wind must have caught the contents of the ashtray on the table outside, taking the ashes of the three sheets of paper that I’ve burned last evening while Nora was taking a shower. Three sheets of paper that I’ve carried with me for five months; crumpled and with dog ears. I’ve read them so often the folds were already coming apart. But their massage remained, no matter how often I took them from my pocket, read them, refolded them. I’ve taken them everywhere, a reminder of what I had decided to do and why it was necessary.

Yesterday, I’ve burned them.

Today, I won’t need them any longer.

Steeling myself for what I have to do now, I stand up.

‘See you later, sleepyhead.’

Nora blows me a kiss and I turn around, not pausing, endlessly thankful that my voice didn’t betray me as I close the door behind me, going to my last downhill run.