A Note on Christmas and being 2016 by Steve Fly

So, i really do sincerely hope each and every one of you out there, reading and not-reading this, find whatever meaning you are looking for this holiday. Today, i thought for a moment on the tram...'man...i must be a Christian after all, no matter what i call myself (model agnostic) by the amount of good thoughts and strong memories i have of Christmas, almost every one since being about 4 years old. The highlight of the year for so many many years, the presents, family, food, laughs, drinks, friends. Plus, i feel compelled to address everybody, like a speech at a massive dinner table. And keep up the good cheer. Putting the stark reality outside the front doorstep aside for a day, homelessness, refugee crisis, war, lies. No, today is a slightly bland merry old time, a day when we count our blessings (you see i can’t help but invoke religious terms today) and give thanks to whatever it is we each feel we wish to pay our respect. Jesus and/or Santa i rekon, if you think about it. But not many say so explicitly.  

We celebrate the birth of Jesus, like it or not, who went on to become the Jesus Christ, a popular figure in western cultures and who seems largely misunderstood to this day, due to interfering belief-systems and the inability to comprehend metaphor in religious and mythical texts and scriptures. So merry Christmas everybody, to mean, wake up to the birth of your own new saviour and muse, the birth of a new inner compass, a loving caring force inside which simply encourages you to be nice and helpful and to share. The birthing is like a filling up with stuff, including the chaos of what comes forth. I hope you quickly get over any difficulty in the beginning of making it new. Happy new year.

I have probably said and written some awful things about Christianity, sometimes with a similar fury to the likes of Christopher Hitchens, yet without his clarity and forceful fact based assault. (sorely missed in commentary today) I have said and written less about Islam and Judaism, but hold them in similar contempt as Christianity, very broadly speaking.
The abrahamic religions, as echoed by Timothy Leary, have been responsible for some of the worst trips this planet has ever known. Yet, having tasted the magic and mysticism connected to some other spiritual practices, strains of Buddhism, Taoism and Thelema, i feel that there are some parts to all religions that can be illuminating and informative, if your open to try new things, like simply new thoughts. It seems to me that to claim to BE an atheist rejects consciousness BEING itself…yourself. Theism can be fun and some gods can be exciting and helpful guides, at least, for me. Just because the large majority of theists may seem like zombie followers of some foreign doctrine or other, does not mean others are not progressive, intelligent and rational humans.      

To refine the idea further, belief itself, weather it be in the form of religious fundamentalism or materialist fundamentalism, leads to similar bad trips. However, i think parallel thinking about these prickly subjects can help bring about a peace for all man kind. You know, like the lyric from the Christmas carol, peace on earth, good will to all man and womenkind. As Bob used to say ‘if you can’t achieve tolerance at least attempt courtesy’ This Christmas, why not try to make a big effort to understand things you might not believe in. Suspend your disbelief, and present it like a fairy on a tree top.

Only the most ignorant and deluded hermit could not see that the coming years will be challenging for all around the world humanity, and closer to home for the disunited kingdom and disunited states of America, and of Europe. To remind yourself every day of all the trouble in the world can be damaging and unnecessarily, the world is not your problem. The animal and human torture, the terrorism, bombings, invasions and drone strikes, the beating and rapes, killings and daylight robbery are not your problem. Keeping a level head while others may loose it around you will be a daily challenge in a hyper-connected world. I sincerely wish you good luck with that, and i hope you can remember to remember. Violence is psychically self-defeating. Being nice to others is psychically self-affirming. What is there to understand? Just do it. 

This is the nice part of the Santa Claus story, the surprise and free gifts delivered, good behaviour and being nice to others is rewarded with presents and surprise prizes. So best wishes, all-around-the-world-humanity, and have a good day.

--Steve Fly




Skyswimmer & KFC - Two Stories For Sam and George Harris


Knock Knock
—Who's there?
—Kenny who?
Kenny hear you.
Knock Knock Knock….

Kenny dashed out the school gate like a race horse, bolting home to begin the other race. The big race, maybe the biggest race ever. Today was race day, it was the skyswimmers final.

Kenny knocked on the door with a loud thump, he pushed the door open with his shoes already in hand, dodged under his mums legs and scampered up the stairs like a dog.
"Kenny! Kenny, how about you say hi before playing games. And what about dinner, it will be ready at 5.45 and you need to be showered as auntie eve is coming over to visit. Don't be late" Kenny's mum shouted up the stairs.

"Yeah mum" he said. His friends were all giggling into their microphone headsets. Both skyswimmer champions were being grilled by their parents at the same time, both had family things to do tonight, and the winner would probably the one who could deal with parents, as much as deal with the opponent.

"Take your marks, get set, BANG" said the high pitched American voice of the ref, and the race started.

Wearing his sky swimmer socks and his skyswimmer gloves, and his sky swimmer goggles Kenny dived in, a huge crowd whistling and screaming along the pool side. Lying on his bed, Kenny kicked his legs and rotated his arms and moved his head, he was off to a good start. Kenny kicked and at the end of the pool, instead of a wall there was no wall. The pool flowed out into the clouds. This was sky swimming.

Kenny felt his stomach turn over as he flew over the edge, the rushing of blue and white colours from the bottom of the pool turning to sky blue and cloud-white, all with a hint of yellow from the sun. Kenny kicked and paddled through the clouds, all the time neck and neck with his opponent. Two of the greatest sky swimmers in the world.

The race course had been designed especially for this final, and nobody, not even the referee had ever seen it all-at-once before, only a small part of it. Thomas and his opponent John were tested in their skills by this course, and they both followed a natural instinct to compete, pushing each other forwards, faster and faster.

The duo soared through 1000 foot high hoops made of orange foam, and flew under golden bridges and between the tallest building you could image. They kicked and paddled and bounced around the fun course, and there was only a teeny-weeny cats-whisker between them. It was a close race, and there were only three more levels to complete, and one of them involved landing back on the ground.
Kenny concentrated and then quickly dived down toward a big green field beneath him, a sound was drawing him closer. The two sky-swimmers noticed hundreds of children gathered to greet them, cheering and very surprised to see them. They landed gracefully together, like ducks on a lake, and they listened closely to their ear buds for further instructions, this was the last part of the race, the final challenge, the highest level, the last hurdle…the final minute of play.

The challenges were created, and voted on by the virtual audience who were tuned in using their phones and computers. Friends, and friends of friends, and friends of friends of friends made up some very silly things to do. The words came through Kenny’s headset, ask the kids for food, you must cook for them all, then you will be the champion sky-swimmer.
“Cook, cook, cook, cook…” voices chanted and cheered inside his headphones.

After the cook off, and the children had not died of food poisoning, Kenny and John ran out to the filed and leap into the air, kicking and paddling. And into the wide forrest they flew, spinning and diving like falcons, scraping the tree tops and skimming the waters, lake to forrest the falcons flew, in and out of huge cloud rings, between massive luminous poles. They zoomed up and up through the clouds and back toward the pool where they started.

John nudged Kenny with his shoulder, what he called the zombie body check, where you push all your weight into somebody else, but Joh didi it wrong, and ended up slowing himself down slightly. Kenny nudged ahead, reached for the poolside and just about pipped John at the post. Wow. He won by 0.25 of a second, wow, that’s less than a finger snap. Snap!

Kenny pulled off his goggles and jumped from his bed onto the bedroom floor. He bounced up and down like a football player celebrating a cup winning goal, his hands clasped. “yes, yes, yes, i won” he said to himself. “Yiiiiii whooooooo’.

“Kenny, keep the noise down, and stop playing plants versus zombie-ding-dongs, and come down. You’ve homework to finish for school”           


Knock Knock
—Who's there?
—Thomas who?
Thomas’t have knocked before
It was the day after Thomas celebrated his 5th birthday that he thought up a really good magic trick. He said:

"I want to open my own place” he said to his parents. 
"we’ll have fish-fingers, chips and lots of cake, erm, and some milk"
"Oh Thomas, haha, you’re funny" his dad said, 
"Dad. I’m serious. My friends want to as well. We call it Kids Food Club" Thomas said confidently, while bouncing up and down on the couch.
"Let's talk about it tomorrow Thomas, now it's time for ‘beddy’ boys. Up you go, monkey”

And so Thomas bounced across the floor and up the stairs, brushed his teeth, washed his hands and face, and put on his cloud-patterned pyjamas. Pidge-jah-mass, pi-dja-mass, pyja-mas, he said to himself staring up at the shinning stars on his bedroom ceiling. What kind of a word is that…

Thomas had a dream in which his parents and brother, and his relations were all fruits and vegetables. Yeah, it was funny. His mum was an apple, his grandad a carrot, his brother was a strange potato, and his dad a banana. His grandma was a strawberry. And they all jumped around on the front garden like small goats, squeaking. Thomas smiled and rolled over to begin another dream of goal keeping for England, but instead of a ball it was a planet he had to save. He made the most unbelievable, gymnastic moves to catch the world. He saved it over and over again. 

The next morning Thomas and his friends gathered at school to talk about Kids Food Club. They talked and talked about the menu, and new words for the food they would make, instead of cake they would make fake, instead of chips they would make ships, instead of fishfingers they would make ishfingers. That was Tim's suggestion, and he had just lost a front tooth in a hover board accident, so couldn't say his 'S' words properly. So he said "ishfingers" and everybody laughed, so ishfingers it is.

By the end of the day, the first menu for the Kids Food Club looked like this: Ships (Potato Chips), Qs (Peas), Fake (Cake), Ishfingers (fishfingers), Cow Juice (milk), Council Pop (water), Nuffin' (Low fat cake), Navy (Blueberry Sauce), Salladinns (Salad Sauce), Leg-Go (Lego brick breakfast cereals), Council Stew (Don't ask), Gangham (Ham and cheese Sandwich), Cows in bandages (Bacon wrapped burger) and Zomburger (Again, please don't ask)

That evening, after spelling homework, and maths homework, plus drawing homework, Thomas waited for a good time, usually after dinner, because thats when mum had done the cooking and cleaning, and dad was home and reading through Facebook on his phone. A good time, he thought.  

“The kid food club had our meeting today"
"oh, um, Thomas, thats great, so, how did it go..?" his mum asked
"good, we made a new menu, and i made up three things"
"Three. And your going to cook these three things? wow”
"Yes, we will ask Miss Baker tomorrow if she can help us.”
"Which things are you making Thomas?" His Dad asked, picking him up and twirling around the living room"
"Heee, Cows in bandages" Thomas squealed.
"Cows in bandages"
"Its like pigs in blankets, but cows, and instead of blankets…erm, bandages!”

Both parents looked at each other, and laughed so hard they both fell off the couch, rolling around on the floor like dogs rolling in dry summer grass. 
"My other food is ham and cheese sandwiches…Gangham Sandwiches" and with that, Thomas moonwalks across the carpet, smoothly moving into a crazy dance.

At this point Thomas and his parents and his brother were all laughing, howling like wolves, yelping like monkeys, gasping for breath, and lay out on the floor in a huddle like drunks.

The next morning Thomas got up earlier than usual, went down stairs and started filling his rucksack with ingredients. He stuffed the bag right up to the top with potatoes, flour, sugar, butter, chocolate, ham, milk, cheese, fish-fingers and peas. 

Thomas staggered out the house and put his bag in the car. “I’m ready” he shouted to his mum. She was very surprised to hear this from Thomas, who was usually leaping around in the lounge at this time of the morning, or watching Gigglebiz on the gogglebox.

At the school gate Thomas made a distraction by pointing out that the drainpipe on the side of the school was loose, and could fall and hurt somebody. So Thomas’s mum quickly led him to his class, without noticing his heavy bag, and she walked to the school office to warn them of the broken drainpipe. Thomas’s mum was very kind.

Thomas entered the cooking class with his huge heavy bag, and dropped it onto the table with a heavy thud. The class turned and looked with amazement at the wide variety of ingredients Thomas had carried. “It’s ishfingers time” Thomas said, and the class laughed. Miss Baker had to calm down the class.
“Right then Thomas, what have you got for us today?”
“Well….i…..”  bililililililing bililililililing billililililing

The school fire alarm sounded. All the children and teachers followers the fire-drill they had learn’t. Calmly making single file line, and then walking to the nearest exit, finally all gathering in the sports-field for the register, to check that everybody was present and safe. 

Standing in the middle of the filed, Thomas looked up into the sky and saw something strange zooming across the sky, zig-zagging in and out of the clouds. He squinted his eyes, and put his hand up in front of his face to shield the sun. He starred and starred, his mouth wide open in amazement.
“Look at that everybody, wow, a skyswimmer, it’s a sky swimmer”

Hundreds of eyes looked up at what Thomas had spotted. High above them two things were swimming through the sky, darting like red arrows, and spiralling through the clouds in odd formations.
“They are going to land here, look, look” a boy called James shouted.

The two figures swooped down and landed next to the group of teachers gathered on the field. They paused for a moment, as if they could hear voices in the distance.
“Hello, erm, we would like to eat, can we eat, please take us to your kitchen”
“What….what?” Mr Foggerty, the headteacher said. “You want to eat? erm…okay, this way please.”
Mr Foggerty led the two boys into the cooking area, and there on the table were the ingredients Thomas had left there earlier.
“Fishfingers” my favourite, Lenny said.
“ishfingers!” Thomas shouted, and everybody laughed.

And so the skyswimmers cooked up the strangest feast you could ever imagine, and told each other knock knock jokes. They made fake navy muffins and Council Stew washed down with wowow juice. Yum. Lenny and Don ran back out to the field and kicked off into the sky together, like migrating birds they disappeared into the clouds. The children cheered, and Miss Baker shed a tear. Thomas shrugged his shoulders, put his hands in his pockets and turned his face towards the bright sun. He started to think about what to cook up tomorrow for the Kids Food Club,  umm, maybe bald swimmers in sewage, he thought. That would be, pea-soup. Brilliant. Zompea Sirwoop.

Knock Knock
—Who's there?
—Danny who?
Danny hear you knocking mate.

Knock Knock
—Who's there?

—Figs who?
Figs the intercom will ya’