#BlogMeMaybe: May 31 – May I tell you something about someone else?

Constantine

Constantine For the last post in this series, I want to share with you a few facts about a remarkable man, and a historical being who has haunted me since my youth. He was the son of an officer in the praetorian guard of emperor Aurelian, and of a mother named, inevitably, in my mind, Helena, a christian Bithynian Greek. His were times of uncertainty, of civil wars and barbarian assaults on the Empire. During his life, he made his mark on five cities that are at the vortex of Western civilisation: York in Britain, Trier and Aachen in Germany, Rome itself, and Constantinople. He is, genuinely, the real defender of the Christian Faith. He was born, on 27 February, circa 272 AD, in Naissus, in present day Niš, in Serbia. He died on 22 May, AD 337, in Nicomedia, now İzmit, in Turkey. He became the 57th emperor of Rome.

In his youth he fought for the emperor against barbarians in Asia, the Danube, in Syria and Mesopotamia: he was a brilliant and fearless officer. He went on to campaign in Britain, in 305 AD. From the largest roman garrison in the country, Eboracum, now York, he campaigned against the Picts, beyond the Hadrian’s wall, at his father’s side. At the death of the then western ruler of Rome, Constantius, he was proclaimed emperor and Augustus in Eboracum, immediately recognised by the armies, in Gaul and Britain. His share of the Empire was then Britain, Gaul and Spain. As such he commanded one of the largest roman armies, stationed along the Rhine. In 306 AD he left Eboracum for Augusta Treverorum (today’s Trier) and drove the Frank invaders back, capturing two of their kings.

He continued to fight the germanic tribes whilst Italy was ravaged by civil war, but eventually was forced to intervene. After protracted battles he entered Rome on 29 October, 312 AD. In 313 he and Licinius, his brother in law and Eastern emperor, agreed the Edict of Milan, granting tolerance to Christianity and all religions in the Empire. Alas, civil war soon broke out again in 320, this time with Licinius, helped by Goth mercenaries, challenging Constantine and religious tolerance. But by 325 Constantine had triumphed against his enemies, and was sole emperor of the Roman Empire.

Constantine, after some hesitation, decided to make the city of Byzantium, his capital, Nova Roma, unifying once again the Western and Eastern Roman empires. The city was renamed Constantinopolis in 330 AD. He became the first christian emperor, and founded the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of the temple of Aphrodite. Throughout his rule, he would support the Church, build basilicas, and grant privileges to the clergy. In 325 he summoned the first Council of Nicaea – the first ecumenical council of the christian church – that instituted the Nicene creed, and gave the Roman Julian calendar precedence over the lunar Hebrew calendar. In his later life he considered Constantinople as his capital and permanent residence. After his victory against the Goths in 332 AD, he extended his control over Scythia. He resolved then to campaign against Persia, for the treatment of Armenian christians, and called the war a christian crusade.

He fell seriously ill after the Feast of Easter  337. As he was praying, in his mother’s city of Helenopolis, at the church of Lucian the Apostle, he knew he was dying. Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, baptised him, as he lay dying, a few days later, in Nicomedia. He died on 22 May, 337 AD, a christian.

The Byzantine empire Constantine founded would last another 1,000 years. Its successor, Charlemagne’s Holy Roman empire, recognised Constantine as its predecessor. For eastern christian churches he is a saint. So for me.

#BlogMeMaybe: May 30 – May I ask some things about you?

Trivia

GivernyWhat is your favourite #hashtag?

Who’s your favourite male actor?

Who’s your favourite female actor?

Which play do you want to see, and see again?

Is there a photograph you have/would want to have in the room where you work?

Which film would you want to save if all the others were to be destroyed?

Which tune/song would you take to the desert island?

Which book(s) would you take with you on that long journey on the trans-siberian?

Do you know the name of your guardian angel?

#BlogMeMaybe: May 29 – May I tell you something about myself?

Intelligent Life

What we read makes us who we are. And technology is changing the way we read, not only in terms of hat we hold in our hands, but also where we can read, and how much. Yet I still love the touch of a book, the feel of turning real pages in a magazine. Today my partner, Gorgeous, bought me the May/June (printed) issue of Intelligent Life, the glossy from The Economist. IL has a wonderful IPad edition too.

The articles, the photographs are all interesting and attractive. On Prometheus and Ridley Scott: “Can he still  make us feel trapped when there’s so much room for manoeuvre?” (Nicholas Barber). “Non cogito, ergo sum: sometimes thinking is a bad idea – to make good decisions, you need to be skilled at ignoring information” (Ian Leslie)! On the opera director, David McVicar: “He often deploys violence, but never gratuitously: he’ll mine the text of a familiar classic  with passionate rigour, and induce his singers to do the same” (Michael Church)… “The shapes we are in”, by Isabel Lloyd is wondering about fashion, “matching bodies to decades”. “Like?” is about, of course, Facebook, “what it’s doing to real life”, an article by Robert Lane Green, all tweeps must read!

A nice touch: the magazine lists its contributors, with a nice pic of a shelf with their books (Shelf-publicity).

Of course it’s full of advertising, but quality (quite a few banking and investment outfits too, as it fits an Economist’s product)! Well, I have to admit I am a bit of a sucker for glamour and style. After all I am married to Gorgeous (mind you, not just glamour…)! How does she put up with this uncouth Neanderthal is another sweet mystery.

#BlogMeMaybe: May 28 – May I tell you something about writing?

Inspiration and images

I like your pics, they all look like you.” – Gorgeous

 Writing is for me a visual art: Inspiration comes from pictures, landscapes, flowers, a face seen in the street, or remembered from a far away memory, or from dreams. It may come from a painting, a shade under a tree, or the waves crashing on the shore… The way it translates is prose, mainly, a tale of beings and objects that mesh with the images. The closest analogy I can think of is cinema, but this is now so expensive to contemplate. Writing is the most “cost-effective” art, to speak the language of ineptitude and accountancy. Those images may, or not, speak to the reader.  “Best-sellers” speak to lots of people. And sometimes they are turned into films, for good reasons. The paintings on the ancient caves are all at once games, poems and great stories. They are also testimonies to our immortality as a species. Until some moron presses the button, that is.

#BlogMeMaybe: May 24 – May I tell you something about someone else?

The Model

Kate MossYou inspired thousands of photographers, kept the media busy with your private life, had that awful boy friend I’d have strangled with my bare hands with delight, and are the  metaphor for the greatest clubland anthems of all times…

For this adopted Londoner, you are the best of England, the real product of this tiny island, the daughter of this frustrating, attractive and abominable city where I live. You still turn heads in the streets, and no, you can’t really compete with the sculptural Italians, the colossal Germans and the tall North Americans, but you are, to my mind, without competitors, in a class of your own. You are the Model.

She’s a model and she’s looking good
I’d like to take her home that’s understood
She plays hard to get, she smiles from time to time
It only takes a camera to change her mind

She’s going out tonight but drinking just champagne
And she has been checking nearly all the men
She’s playing her game and you can hear them say
She is looking good, for beauty we will pay

She’s posing for consumer products now and then
For every camera she gives the best she can
I saw her on the cover of a magazine
Now she’s a big success, I want to meet her again…

[Kraftwerk: the Model, 1982]

#BlogMeMaybe: May 23 – May I ask something about you?

On #WW I have been asking myself questions about human relationships and attraction.

How people meet, become friends, lovers, mortal enemies or simply good neighbours, has always fascinated me. It seems important too for our characters, if we are fiction writers. But what about you? What attracts you in other people? Do you sometimes think, of a stranger, “I wouldn’t mind getting to know her/him”? Is it the face, the voice, their clothes? Is it about how you feel about yourself, or how you see “others”, or perhaps the exception, a different situation, something you cannot define but suddenly attracts you? Are you led by instinct, intuition, or good looks, in your relationships? Or is your lead one of intelligence, logic, or, dare I say it, calculation?

#BlogMeMaybe: May 22 – May I tell you something about myself?

The old daemon

This post is dedicated to @JenVinci

“What is the one thing you really wanna do that you keep telling yourself you shouldn’t ? And what’s really stopping you…?”

Three motorcycles with a view on the Alps, parked at the rim of an abyss

Photograph from:
the Lazy Motorbike site.

Yes, I must tell you about this… One of the great passions of my youth! I dreamed about it at school, watching with envy those older neighbours who were earning, and thus could buy a… motorcycle… Ahhh the sound of the engines, the symphony of exhaust pipes! During my time in the armed forces – some five years – I read the magazines, talked about it with other guys who were also fanatic. Then it was my turn to earn enough to make a decision. Then, we worked six days a week and 10 hours shifts, in my industry. After a year I could buy my first bike, a second hand 250cc Triumph which was my training steed. A very nice bike, very rigid frame, and a beautiful sound, though it was losing a bit of oil! I learned, frightened myself in occasions. By then I was living in the Rhônes valley – a short distance from the Alps, and some 200km from the Mediterranean coast…

Ahhhhhhhh those rides, in the Spring, over the recently open passes, still littered with snow drifts and ice, the thrill of sharp bends, over those mountains, to reach the Italian plain and then the magic name: Imola, then the temple of two-wheel serious races for big heart bikes, 500cc and above – soon to be dominated by Oriental steeds under the banner of Honda and Suzuki. I indulged in my first new 750cc bike for my 24th birthday – a BMW R75. Parents helped a bit, and then I was earning comfortably, having no other responsibility than for myself. Those were the days: long rides to the coast, Cannes, Nice, the Alps of Hautes Provences. We were camping, drinking, and were, by the standards of the time, rather promiscuous. But then, we were clean, and so were our women. The days before Aids and worse are now long forgotten. Penicillin, then, just worked.

I rode thousands of klicks to Germany and Northern Europe. As a reserve officer, I was then prohibited to go further East, behind the Iron Curtain. But there was plenty to do this side of it! Those nights with Finnish and German Angels – men and women looking as if they were inclined to drink the Bavarian Hydromel and Finnish Vodka in the skulls of their enemies (maybe they did!). I enjoyed the orgies, the dancing and drinking around the huge fires, the worship of the bikes.

And one cool morning far North in Jutland, on an isolated beach, I saw Aphrodite, in all her perfection. She was from Norway, and was bathing nude, as I was, there were only the two of us, and the bike, I still have no idea how she got there. Probably with a group camping nearby. It was a happy encounter, without complication, the sort of thing that I still remember and cherish today, (without kidding) a dozen bikes, and a couple of  hundred other bodies later, and being married, and loyal, to the same very beautiful person, for some twenty years… The bike took me to England and her short circuits, my first encounter with Brands Hatch, at the time one of the fastest circuits for motorcycling competition in Europe (but was England Europe then?) We live nearby now.

I never had any serious incident, broke down a few times, had near misses. Some 120,000 klicks later, I was drawn irresistibly by money and the big city. Traffic scared me. I had other needs. I was working 70hrs a week, no longer in shifts, but a gruelling schedule that left me exhausted every week. I got older, and sold the last bike.

Since then, every few years, it takes me in the guts (no it takes me in the balls): I wanna ride again, I look at the youngsters, and occasional oldies, on their steeds… I get restless. But I am now heavier, married, committed to other activities. So, even when I see bikers winding their ways around the beloved Italian passes, in the clear Alpine air, I told myself to stick to who I am now. So fade old bikers, on their way to Walhalla.

#BlogMeMaybe: May 21 – May I tell you something about writing?

I am really excited by Gillian’s announcement – so much so that I re-blogged her post! On my one attempt at the genre I sought and receive some comments from that most creative of bloggers… Which decided me to rewrite it, perhaps as a teaser before a submission, he says, pondering. For now, a lady friend, who knows a thing or two on the subject of BDSM/RLV, suggested this… Of course dedicated to @GillianColbert:

The diary

Helena is sitting at her little desk, writing her diary, as Mistress G has instructed her. As she writes, she sees herself in the mirror, just in front of her. She knows how to please Mistress, when she kneels prostrate, naked and chained, downstairs, in the dungeon. Up here, in this large room, lined up with books, large windows opening on one side to the sea, on the other to the lush garden, she knows that, to please, she has to be more sophisticated: not just obedient and supple, but also cultured and amusing. Not that she’s ever vulgar, even when she submits to the ultimate humiliations, being whipped and sodomised on the cross. Mistress G has taught her standards. But Helena is still learning: there is no end to the training of a submissive. Perfection is impossible.

She looks at the perfect oval of her face, the ocean green eyes, the black hair, the greek nose, the delicately shaped lips, the slender neck, her collar. She wears her collar with pride, her name is on it, it’s her distinctive and only wealth, together with the beautiful silver ring that glimmers on her shaven labia. But of course the whole of her belongs to Mistress G.

Todays her diary tells Mistress about her dreams, always related to pleasing and serving, but also, as Mistress instructed, to her progress in her understanding of her role as an obedient yet intelligent sub. She looks now at the sea, grey and foaming under the blue sky. She hears the dragonflies hovering  around the pond, the crystal sound of the cascade, their cascade. Perhaps Mistress will take her to the garden, down to the comfortable couch under the big cypress tree.

But now she hears Mistress’ footsteps: Helena stands up, wearing only a light gown over her naked body. Taking in the sight of her slave, Mistress G smiles: “how is my little girl today?” – Helena is on her knees, kissing Mistress’ feet, then, her eyes upturned adoringly to her Mistress, she says: “This girl is so happy to see her Mistress in the house”. She’s now taken the humble nadu position, palms open, and there is only obedience and devotion on her face. Mistress G has expertly freed her slave from the gown and is admiring her naked property. Helena’s eyes are turned down to the wooden floor: she’s awaiting her Mistress’ instructions.  “Let’s have a look at your diary, my good girl” Mistress G says, cheerfully, playing with the handle of her whip. Helena feels a little anguish in her heart: has she made any grammar mistake?

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