Messages Left …

A message received today (4 days after
it had been left) has obliged me to
reiterate the sense of my ‘Journey’s End’
which was ‘posted’ on this site last week …

Having no plans to return to this Internet site,
I shall be quite unaware of any personal messages left
– and would be mortified if anyone thought
that I was ignoring theirs.

The fact is that there is such an abundance of work
appearing on this site that –
since the topics presented are not enough
to elicit conversation (with rare exception,
they have not even merited a word of thanks
from the very folk who repeatedly return here
to read them),

I now find myself in the same situation
I was in at the end of 2016 …

Since March of 2012, I have done everything I can
to make this site visually appealing:
to make it self-evident that thought and care
has gone into the work that is presented.

Apart from the “Hunters” piece – which I wrote
in about twenty minutes – I cannot recall
having made any written work ‘public’
in anything under about ten hours –

each is carefully written, read; re-read …
and read again the following day;

the words are laid out on the page
with each line of text (as often as possible)
standing alone as a separate thought
which can be readily mentally-digested.

Photographs are made to be pleasing to the eye:
there are no snap-shots or super-saturated,
Photo-shopped blurs of colour;

five minutes is spent with my face in garden soil
so that I can get the best angle
for that beam of sunlight
shining through the petals of a flower

… so that anyone who arrives here
has the highest-quality photograph
that I can deliver at that time.

But, however much I have tried to please people
by not insulting them with the low-grade standards
that are now routinely seen in the world –
the result has consistently been the same.

I have spent my time on the Internet
futilely trying to understand
why multitudes have no desire to

read above the level of a comic book,
write cursively,
spell correctly,
speak grammatically,
or even think with attention span
longer than that of an infant.

What has been made obvious is that,
to such people … I … am the one
who is regarded as ‘abnormal’.

I do not own a Television … iToy … or Stereo;
live with only practical, needful possessions;

and live a Plain Lifestyle
that people in America would regard as “Amish”.

That is simply a fact.

But IF my observations about the degradation of
courtesy, consideration, and conscience
in humanity, in general, are Correct
(and 60 minutes spent noting comments on
tumblr, YouTube, and countless ‘blogs’
will show that they are correct – obscenity, vacuity,
and depravity are right there, uncensored),

then Why will You Not Make the Time
to pause, read … and genuinely consider
what is said throughout the pages of this site ?

Because I can GUARANTEE you that,

IF some Hollywood Celebrity
appeared on a screen

reciting words that agreed with what
I have been saying here for the past six years
(and ten before that) …

… you would be Gushing
with emotive Thanks and Gratitude
at how “caring” your Hollywood Hero was.

If … Livingstone… says it, then it is the ramblings
of some ‘narrow-minded’, ‘bitter’ old kill-joy:

but if some ‘Movie Star’ said the same thing,
it would be a Sad and Lamentable Truth
of which “we should all” take note.

I know it … And you know it.

The thoughts and observations on this site
that actually Matter – The Reason that this Site Exists
(moral decency, discernment, withstanding evil
and error in the daily life) –
are of no importance to modern-minded humanity.

Ten or Twelve hours to prepare a social commentary.

People arrive and return here
– from Austria, America, Australia; Britain, Canada, Europe –
making use of all that care and attention to detail,
and leave without a word.

It was a saying of the Puritans that,
“The sure way to raise the ire
of a kind man
is to trample his kindness underfoot.”

I make all this effort for You, Mister;
and You, Madam, because I

actually remember how adults used to dress,
and speak, and act – with Maturity, and Courtesy,
and Integrity;

am sickened by the comparative degeneracy; and

possess enough tender-heartedness
to care about You – who will not
give me the time of day.

You are visiting the Irish countryside;
you see an old foot bridge
that stretches over a deep chasm,
and start to walk across.

But I know that one of the posts
anchoring that bridge
was snapped in a rock fall
early this morning.

I scream at you – to Stop.

Why ? … Because I hate you ?

( You are wise enough … apply the illustration. )

The ‘bridge’ of the 21st century
is not merely defective —
it does not even extend to the other side:
the last remaining board
ends right at the precipice of an Abyss;

and the human race is four-fifths
of the way across,
heading towards that precipice at a dead run.

Honestly,
I am considered “eccentric” and “reclusive”
by people who Can Not put the ‘Smart Phone’ down
and leave it alone;

whose conscious existence is characterised
by an inability to exist for ten minutes
without looking at some type of screen;

who become irritated at anything
that might disturb the profanity-spewing,
Be Your Own God existence that defines
the 21st century.

I wear a shirt with a collar;
tuck my shirt into my trousers;
and wear actual, ‘proper’ shoes …
… and people think that … I … am ‘weird’ (?)

There is no commonality whatsoever.

Men dress like slobs;
Women have discarded every trace of femininity;
And both sexes miss no opportunity to exercise
aggressive, macho posturing towards others;

the human mind is governed by any
fear, farce, or fantasy – as long as it fosters either
‘self esteem’ or a victim-mentality,
and is presented on a television, Internet,
or some ludicrously-termed “news” paper,

but will not tolerate nothing
having to do with discernment, discretion,
humility, or self control.

Which is precisely what this site is about.

From the mid-80’s I composed and presented
a series of lectures – was ASKED to present those lectures –
entitled “Essential Principles of Dress and Deportment
for Gentlemen and Ladies”.

Until several television “Sit-coms” featuring
(I took the trouble to find out from ‘TV Times’ descriptions)
groups of ‘friends’ whose concern in each episode
was finding opportunity to copulate like rodents,
or talk about ‘sex in the city’ …

… inspired the concept of men wearing suits without a tie;
and women, a dress or skirt without nylons;
as if starting out to dress like a professional,
and then purposely abandoning the attempt

– because heaven forbid that anyone should have to
Make An Effort, or “endure” looking like a professional.

I remember seeing a 2002 excerpt
from British ‘Breakfast Television’, in which
a message just received was read out ‘live’
in front of the camera. In it, a viewer had, just then,
telephoned the station to ask …

If he bought a silk tie and brought it personally
to the 35-year old presenter in the television studio,
would he wear it ‘on air’ with his suit, and at least
make an effort to “dress properly”.

(Of course, the question was promptly
laughed away by said presenter and his co-host.)

Professionalism having been obliterated; and with people
now attending church in T-shirts and blue-jeans – appearing
(as they imagine) before God in casual, careless attire
that they would NEVER DARE to wear
to their daughter’s wedding, or their mother’s funeral –

the last time I was called to speak on Dress and Deportment
was in Edinburgh, in 2003.

I am so far removed from what is now deemed “Acceptable”,
that I can no longer stretch my imagination enough
to even attempt to relate to modern humanity.

Physicians have gone from white coats,
collared shirts, and ties,

to the practitioner that my wife and I encountered
in a Canadian hospital, who appeared wearing
a tie-dye t-shirt and blue jeans;

while the nurses – a profession that I remember as being
immaculately dressed in white uniform, nylons, and shoes
– varied from a girl wearing a baggy jogging suit
to others in pyjama-like “scrubs” and athletic shoes.

Dress like a slob, think like a slob –
dress as befitting the Company Picnic,
and think as befitting the Company Picnic.
The sentiment used to be taken as a warning;
now, it is a badge of honour.

Any vocation that once was set apart by self discipline,
professional standards of dress, and a meticulous work ethic,
has been reduced to the lowest common denominator
of self-pleasing, sloth, and apathy.

As children in the 1960’s, we learned
Reading, Writing, Grammar and Arithmetic;
addressed adults as “Mr”, “Mrs” or “Miss”,
and were quick to apologise with a bowed head.

If the Internet is anything by which to judge,
it is difficult to imagine just what children
of the last 30 years have been taught.

The content of this site invariably ‘challenges’
the Ease and Entertainment mentality of the modern world.
Since I will not wallow in the world’s muck;
and it has no interest in rising from the sludge,
this site is a pointless endeavour.

By all means leave a comment (there have been
around 30 in the past 6 years); but do not imagine
that I am ignoring you, not knowing that it is there.

I thought, in 2012, that I could use the Internet
to both encourage, and commiserate with,
folk who felt alone – ‘out of place’ in the world.
I was wrong.

I noted two years ago that the ‘flowers’ that I plant
will not grow in the putrid earth of the 21st century.’

There are just too many choking weeds
in a world where people are too busy
turning themselves into machines
to actually want any garden that I could offer.

PL

Journey’s End …

Echinacea

Hemerocallis

Peony

Cimicifuga

Aconitum

Iris

Echinops ritro

Blanc Doublet de Coubert

18th June …

A six month effort to present the highest quality
garden photographs of which I am capable
having been inadequate to interest folk,
I am again at a loss to understand
what more can be offered on this site.

A final few photographs
from the garden on the 17th of June …

My thanks to those few folk who were able to offer
a bit of conversation over the past six years:

Although I could not maintain your interest,
I did enjoy your company.

One more from the garden at Bedtime …

Considering What Now Passes for … “Love”

“Our parents delivered corporal punishment
because they loved us
and were not going to stand idly by while we
– the object of their affections –
turned ourselves into belligerent, unruly thugs.”

I do happen to be aware that, because we do not
use the vacuous tone or vulgar slang
of this crude 21st century,
many are apt to consider the topical articles
appearing in this Internet site as … “wordy”
and “too much effort” to attempt:

‘Why should I read about moral integrity,
when I can go to YouTube
and watch a video about the latest iToy?
Or find a ‘self-help blog’ that offers
fuzzy, feel-good advice that promises
to make me a happier person?’

It was only recently that we were informed
(with every good intention) that
in order to ‘gain’ followers,
the length of ‘posts’ should be greatly reduced.

However much we appreciate such well-meant advice
towards appealing to the modern masses
and garnering Internet ‘views’ and ‘likes’,

I am not willing to stupefy myself
or lower the standards
of the written work appearing here,
in order to accommodate the infantile attention span
and a-literate reading comprehension

of multitudes who have neither the Patience
nor the Self discipline
to apply themselves unto reading
something of moral substance.

I had rather this site continued to be ignored
by those who are too lazy to apply themselves
to anything above the level of a cartoon,

than to turn this into something that would be
appealing to the monosyllabic grunting
and single-sentence sentiments of the modern Age.

Despite the fact that we are living in a day
of such appalling ignorance that nothing may
be taken for granted,
I write as though I am speaking to people of maturity
and intelligence …

If I repeat the observation that
”The whole world lieth in wickedness”
I do not anticipate that someone will write
to inform me of their kindly Aunt Sarah
who feeds the birds at her cottage on the Dingle Peninsula:

if I did not believe that there were honourable people
left in the world, I would not waste my time
being on the Internet.

I have been extending the hand of fellowship and edification
to those who Want to raise themselves up
to a higher standard than the techno-toy-dependent
existence of the masses;

and will not insult the intelligence of those
who refuse to wallow in the mire of 21st century filth,
by writing for the entertainment
of those who aspire to nothing beyond Self and Ease.

This is an age that has NO understanding whatsoever
of the concept of … (genuine) Love.

“Love” (evidently) to the bulk of modern humanity means:

‘Approve of anything that I do”.

Anything higher than puerile Superficial Sentimentality
is deemed … “unloving” … and, disgracefully,
even “hate speech”.

What is completely lost to the modern mind,
is that (genuine) Love will not allow me
to stand by and see the person whom I love

degrade quiet, timid, or peaceable people,
debase themselves, or
destroy what remains of their own conscience.

As noted before, this is an age in which
anything higher than the infantile sentiment

“You are perfect, just the way you are”

is ‘offensive’.

To the modern mind, anything that does not
gratify my Vanity,
satisfy my Lust, or pander to my Ego,
is “wrong”.

Offer anything OTHER than that
on the Internet – or in the world at large,
and you are a bitter, miserable, narrow-minded fanatic
who wants to ruin everyone else’s ‘fun’.

“Truth is Whatever I think it is” —

I have read that self-deifying sentiment several times
during my nauseating forays onto the Internet.

Whilst it would be accurate to say that
young people at large do not even possess
the humility to feel ashamed –
the appalling truth is that (so-called) adults, generally,
are no better.

Allow people to do Whatever They Want
as long as ‘no one is hurt’ – is clearly,
the order of the day.

Any depravity is to be “understood” and countenanced:

“If You Love Me, You’ll Understand”.

No – when you publicly display your
lack of moral character by ridiculing
some quiet, plain-living, peaceful human being
who reads their Bible at night;

the only thing that I understand
is that you are an aggressive bully
who imagines that your Ignorance and Viciousness
is sufficient reason to degrade someone
whose personal philosophy of daily living
is doing You … No Harm Whatsoever.

Withstand Error.

Withstand Evil.

But degrading someone who seeks to live
a moral life as though they were … Not …
‘the centre of the universe’?

Love … will never sanction that:

IF anyone truly loves You,
they will not stand there and permit you
to be the sort of evil creature that preys upon
moral, timid, or peaceful human beings.

These are days in which moral decency
is despised.

Most, we fear, will not even recognise that
the thoughts and observations on this site
are actuated by Kindness
towards those who read them.

The average ‘article’ appearing on this Internet site
takes 10 hours from composition to final edit.
I spend that time (and often more)
because I want to provide the … means …
by which people can better themselves
and rise Above the disgusting,
lower than lowest-common-denominator
sub-standards of the 21st century.

To regular visitors
who will not give me the time of day.

Rather than making an effort to improve themselves
– morally (!!!) – modern humanity in general
expects everything to be brought down
to the level of the flesh-pleasing gutter.

The same is true of LOVE.

Love someone enough to tell them that
their expressions of ridicule, contempt;
apathy, hedonism, or hatred … are Wrong …

.. and you will see just how far
that love is returned to you.

“I Will be like the Most High”
is the Luciferian mentality that observably
actuates the bulk of what now roams this earth.

Nothing more disgusting than to see the odd bit of
CCTV footage from some city street in which a teenage girl
is vomiting against the side of a building,
or urinating into the street,
while her drunken “friends” laugh and shriek with mirth
at her pathetic state.

That may be the standard you have
for your daughter or son,
but I tell you, my heart breaks for any child
that is permitted by ‘parents’ to roam the streets at night,
or keep company with such as that.

LOVE – Genuine love – seeks the ultimate … Moral …
Good of the person towards whom it is directed.

When I was growing up,
any teen who ‘spoke back’ to an adult
received a parent’s hand across the back of the head.

Children would have their backsides ‘warmed’
by parents who cared enough about their moral fibre,
to deliver that unpleasant consequence
for selfish behaviour.

Such parental love has been illegal for decades.

And the results
are more than evident.

I recall that, as a boy, I impudently bellowed “No!”
when my Dad told me to speak quietly
when we had been visiting a church.

At home, he told me to get up to my room;
then, to take my trousers down, and lie across his lap.
I received several strokes from his belt –
and, You Know ? … it did not even really hurt.

I remember thinking to myself that I had better
‘put on a bit of a show’ and so, when he told me to,
I straightened up to a standing position,
my face melodramatically (as we say in Ireland) “gurning”
– pouting lips and eyes screwed up
as though ready to break forth in tears …

When I looked at my Dad, it was to see
tears streaming down his face.

He took me in his arms and said:
“Son, I love you, and I want you
to grow up to be an honourable man.”

I Wailed.

Tears came out like a river … I struggled to breath
through the sobbing grief that exploded in me
from that sight of my Dad;

from the knowledge that … I …
had made him cry.

I cannot recall that I ever got a spanking again.
For the simple reason that was determined that I would
never do anything to risk making my father cry.

There were limits – beyond which,
I would not allow myself to go.

I would never want anyone to suffer sadness,
shame or regret – because of me.
I only ever had one girlfriend in my life:
and that secret discipline of mine applied
– even with her.

Genuine Love has limits: things with which
it will not agree.

LOVE is the very opposite of unrestrained
self-centredness –

in others, as well as myself.

I am so grateful that my meek and gentle Dad
loved me enough to teach me: to show me (first-hand!)
that unpleasant consequences follow displays
of my own self-serving arrogance.

Our parents delivered corporal punishment
because they loved us
and were not going to stand idly by while we
– the object of their affections –
turned ourselves into belligerent, unruly thugs.

Our parents (people who deserved the name)
refused to let us grow into the type of shallow,
self-centred, readily-vicious narcissists
that are now so commonplace upon this earth.

A Friend – a Real Friend – will love their friend
enough to say “No”.

Love seeks the Higher Moral Good
of those to whom it is directed.

To pander to someone’s vanity ,
and say ‘Yes’ to every rash, rude,
or repugnant thing they do –
is have so little care and concern for them,
that your silence encourages, approves
and assists them in their own ruin.

Love will never do that.

And neither would this Internet site.

– PL
2012 – 2018

About This Internet Site …

from “A Blind Man, A Dog, and Modern Humanity” …

“A plea from my broken heart,
to young people in general:

feed the birds in the wintertime;
say “Good Morning” to every expressionless, vacuous,
modern-minded human being you pass
at the start of each new day;
stand in front of a mirror and practice, if need be,
to learn how to carry on an intelligent conversation,

but … please, for pity’s sake –– WAKE UP !!!

Stop the ludicrous obsession with ‘texting’,
get the earphones out of your ears;
break the addiction of constantly needing to spew trivia
and tripe into a “cell” ‘phone …

Consider … Ponder … Think – for a change:

– at least pretend that you are capable of considered,
independent, intelligent thought, without needing to
“look it up” on the Internet

… or be attached to some type of machine
for constant mental stimulation.

Instead of being rude, crude, vulgar and loud,
have the self-discipline to speak and spell properly:

and, by so doing,
set an example to everyone around you.

Practice Kindness … Consideration for others …
and Courtesy in public:

and start reversing this 30-year plummet
into self-serving, mindless oblivion that
( to an “out of touch”, “old fashioned” recluse such as me )
seems to have – with very, very little exception –
gripped the whole
of what now passes for ‘humanity’.

When people conduct themselves
with no more morality than an animal,

they are infinitely worse than any animal
because they have the capacity
– and the conscience ( in theory ) –
to exist at a level higher
than that of a beast …

… preferring instead, to choose the wilfully
stupid, slovenly, or savage alternatives.”

About … This Internet Site

“ … he that departeth from evil
maketh himself a prey … “

A Solitary Life

I remember a world in which the terms
“Lady” and “Gentleman” actually had relevance:

when young women
were not ashamed to be ladies,

nor sought to imitate the pathetic,
macho posturing of vicious and vulgar men;

and being a mother at home
was the most honourable job in the world;

when men had enough maturity
to tuck in their shirt ;

and enough respect for their wives, their family,
and the people they met,
to exercise the basic self discipline
of controlling their conduct and conversation;

and when children were taught
enough respect for adults
to address them as ‘Mr’ ‘Mrs’ or ‘Miss’.

It is heart breaking to realise
that everything that I value in life
– Courtesy, Consideration, and Conscience;

the ability to
read with an attention span,
write cursively,
speak grammatically,
and be mature enough to carry on
an intelligent conversation;

has not only vanished from the human race,
but are qualities that are now derided as “weakness”
and viewed with contempt.

The 21st century is an age when so-called “adults”
spew filthy profanity
as part of their common ‘conversation’,

and have not even the basic moral compass
to be ashamed at the vulgarity and obscenities
that vomit from their mouth.

The 21st century is a time when belligerent adolescents
– who cannot think without first “looking it up” –
regard the elderly as ‘out of touch’ ;

and contemptuously dismiss skill and wisdom
gleaned from mature life experience as …
“Well, that’s your opinion”.

And where any attempt to correct error
or enlighten the ignorant … is considered “offensive”
by those who should be thankful.

Never, in the history of the human race,
can human beings have been so
wilfully ignorant and illiterate – and yet,
been so belligerently proud of the fact.

The human race into which I was born
has long since been replaced.

Where I have spent my life being grateful
to those who have corrected my error,
this is an age in which
anything more challenging than

“You’re perfect, just the way you are”

is regarded as an “insult”.

It interferes, I suppose,
with the Luciferian religion of “Self Esteem” –

the arrogant veneration of … “Me”.

Criticism is good: it keeps a wise man or woman ‘sharp’ –
PROVIDED, of course,
that the one doing the criticizing is QUALIFIED
by Humility, Wisdom, and Mature Life Experience.

This Internet site exists only because
I care enough about people to make an effort
to reason with those who will not give me
the time of day.

Living without television, radio, or newspapers –
whilst being of indescribable benefit
to our moral conscience, mental acuity,
and family life – has nevertheless meant that

undertaking this Internet site in March of 2012,
opened us up to a torrent of “culture shock”
of depths that I could never have anticipated.

Until we became familiar with the Internet
and ‘had a look around it’, I had never imagined
‘ordinary’ people to be as vulgar and alliterate;

or as vicious, callous, and apathetic
towards anything that did not immediately gratify
their lusts, ease, viciousness or vanity.

Good people ‘post’ a nature video; a film-clip of their dog,
or even a portion of a documentary film,
and the comments that appear below
seethe with filth, vulgarity, and contempt.

I shall never forget the film on a mother with her autistic child,
and the comment from America that the woman should have
… “put your retard down”.

Or the assertion below the piece on the Amish farmer
and his wife, noting that “they are all pedophiles [sic],
brainwashed, and stupid”.

“What a f–king useless, boring life” declared another.
[ my edit ]

The depravity of modern mankind – especially young people –
is completely beyond my capacity to fully take in.

It took me less than a week to realise that I cannot
‘surf’ the Internet.

To attempt YouTube is to wade through a cesspool of filth:
find a video of bluebells growing in a woodland clearing
and, it seems, there will be some vile, obnoxious creature
spewing profanity and invective at that.

My brief look around the Internet taught me
about the 21st century – actually,
it explained a great deal.

Why it was, for instance, that whenever
I held the door open for a young woman at the supermarket,
she tells me that she can ‘get it’ herself;

Why people stand in the checkout queue
bellowing into ‘cell phones’ for all around them to hear;

Or why one cannot spend ten minutes
in any public place without hearing “f**k“
after each use of the word “the”.

They even have a slogan now – “WTF”.

The filthy obscenities of forty years ago
… are now a fashion statement.

There just is no lower depth of depravity than that.

It breaks my heart to see that any plea that advocates
moral discernment, self control, or moderation,
is now reviled as “Hate Speech” –

and that this is a world
where those who cry for “Equal Rights”
– once they get what they want –
are the very LAST to give equal rights to those
who are different from themselves.

The greatest shock – and only “benefit” (?) –
of the Internet, for me, has been to reveal
not merely the depravity of the modern
human race in general,
but the selfishness of people on the whole.

Multitudes who cannot even spell properly,
and are without even the Sense of Responsibility
– the integrity – to ‘check their work’,

have the Audacity to dispense “advice”
on the Internet,

to those who are without the capacity to think
– to discern – that something is manifestly wrong
with their “teacher”.

Ignorance, Error, and Apathy abound:
and no one cares.

Gardening has become, for me,
the last point of communication
with modern humanity.

The very nature of Gardening requires
conscientious thought, instils attention to detail,
and teaches patience.

It obliges the gardener
to pause long enough … To Think –

And in an Age that is absolutely Characterised
by wholesale Ignorance
and the blind pursuit of constant entertainment,
the ability to Think is something
that is desperately needed.

“How can I love anyone if I don’t love myself?”
has been the perverse mantra
of self esteem humanism
that has been trumpeted throughout the nations
since about 1990:

The answer is simple:

Remove that obscene “Me First” mindset.

Making a genuine physical and mental effort
will instil Compassion, Self-LESS-ness,
and Responsibility –

qualities which were not only instilled,
but expected – demanded – in us as children
in the 1960’s.

It will cultivate the HABIT of thinking
Less of ME … and More of Others.

This is the 21st century: an Age in which
human beings demand to live in a world where

“Do what thou wilt,
shall be the whole of the law.”

And anyone who might reason them away
from that self-serving existence,
is dismissed as a sad fanatic
who has nothing of value to offer beyond
… ‘complaining’.

Simply being ethical and quiet in the modern world,
is enough to earn the hatred of multitudes
in whose seared consciences, the very notion of morality,
moderation, and self-discipline … is a ‘thorn’.

My wife and I live a plain lifestyle without television,
stereo, or newspapers;
contentedly seeking to avoid the noise, vulgarity,
and ‘party’ mentality of modern humanity.

I am just a quiet and peaceable man who began
using a computer in 2001, because I could no longer
buy ribbon cartridges for my typewriter.

This Internet Site reflects those (obviously) unwanted,
‘out-of-touch’ characteristics of Moral Decency
which are repugnant to modern humanity – yet which,
nevertheless, define me.

I have lived a life simply walking the narrow way
along “Old Paths” that are now despised.

The observations made throughout this Internet site
are merely those written from the perspective
of a man who remembers … and laments

a world that is now long gone.

P Livingstone
2018

In the Garden … The Care of Fish

I said nothing.
And hung up the telephone.

Having purchased the house in September of 2009,
my wife and I ventured out during a sub-zero ‘cold snap’
one December morning,
to plan where to begin the work that would be needed
to rejuvenate its somewhat neglected garden.

Arriving at the far end of a raised portion of ground,
I paused and bent down to tug at the protruding end
of an old, partially buried … kitchen sink.

What I saw made me miss a breath.

There, in a corner, in the equivalent of about
two cups of water … were two goldfish
almost encased – solid – in ice.

I was deeply distressed by the sight;
disgusted that two fish had been
overlooked and forgotten;
and tried not to think of them dying like that.

Giving the ice a sharp tap in attempt to, at least,
remove and bury the fish properly,
I was shocked – when the block came loose,
to see ice water flow from beneath,
… and one of the fish move.

Trying not to actually drop the ice in my
what-can-only- be-described-as ‘controlled panic’,
I rushed inside the house and immediately
began filling a bucket with cold (ignoring the
overwhelming desire to want to warm the fish) water.

Adding a generous amount of chlorine neutralizing
drops, I returned to that disgusting, discarded sink
beneath the tree.

Placing ice and fish in the bucket,
I brought them indoors; sat cradling one in each hand,
and could not believe it when both
began to move and swim feebly on their own.

Genuinely upset, I found the house sale papers,
turned to one section in particular,
picked up the telephone
and called the woman whose house we had bought,
to tell her of my ‘find’, and that
her overlooked fish were alright.

“Oh,” she replied … “they’re still there?”
“We just let the fish freeze every winter,
and buy new ones in the spring.”

I was livid.
Said nothing.
Felt the silence.
Ignored her ‘Hello? Hello?”
And hung up the telephone.

They feel the cold,
they feel frightened,
they feel pain,
and they play when they are happy.

They are fish.
And, like any animal, they deserve the care
of any human being
who has them in their garden.

Nothing is as loathsome to me as Apathy –

the type of vicious, obscenity-spewing savages
that are lauded as “ real men” today
are brute beasts who openly reveal themselves
as such to anyone of maturity.

But self-centred ingrates who “use”,
and “enjoy”, or in any way ‘benefit from’
a person’s work, efforts, or good will;
or the loyalty or affection of an animal,
and yet refuse to go ‘out of their way’
to lift a finger in gratitude,

are the most repulsive of creatures:
characterless hypocrites who know to do good,
but CHOOSE to do nothing.

Below: Two little birds enjoy a drink from the fish pond …

Listening to comments over the past forty years or so,
it seems that that the reason why
conscientious people shy away
from having a fish pond in their garden,
is that they feel overwhelmed
by the responsibility of keeping both pond
and its inhabitants … “clean”.

If it might encourage some caring person
to provide a home for fish (who will certainly
return the favour with their calming influence),
I wonder if the following few thoughts
and observations from experience
might possibly benefit to one or two folk ?

No one who has visited this site
and read its contents, will imagine
that I have any admiration for the Internet
viewing it (as I do) as the greatest method
– the television alone excepted –
ever invented by man
to promote ignorance, confusion,
conflict, and cruelty amongst human society.

It is the theatre for every form of narcissism;
the soap-box for every quick-buck con man;
and the podium for propagating
inexperience and ignorance;

It is a labyrinth of nonsense
promulgated by those who are out to
to ‘impress’, amass ‘followers’,
sell either personal agenda or business product,
or entertain the frivolous.

One may indeed find occasional truth –
but it comes after wading through a cesspool of fantasy,
vanity, malignity, and outright malice.

Common Sense, Empathy, a compassionate heart,
along with Basic Understanding
will do far more for that rare person endued with discretion,
than the massed hordes of Internet ‘experts’ combined.

By proposing a few thoughts from experience,
it may be that I will be able to encourage
one person who would like to give and receive
the mutual enjoyment that comes from
caring for a garden pond.

When considering the matter of food for nishikigoi,
the name to seek is “Hikari” …

The difficulty with living in a garden that is
completely covered by a canopy of beautiful trees
is that some of those tress – such as Laburnum –
are toxic to fish;

others – like Acer – shed flowers in Springtime which,
whilst not toxic, ‘dye’ the water and,
falling en masse as they do, make it impossible to ‘skim’
the top of the pond effectively enough
to prevent the fish from being robbed of oxygen.

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast”
and, having always used this simple observation
as a indicator of any man or woman’s character,

it is a simple matter to mention that any animal
in my care is worth whatever effort it takes from me
to ensure its health and happiness …

There is, in the garden, an unreasonably enormous deck,
completely covered by a double-walled,
hard translucent plastic roof.
It was an unnecessarily luxurious affair
which just happened to come with the house.

As we would never use the thing, it was obvious that
it would be the perfect location for a free-standing
pool which would give the fish a much larger home

– and one which would be constantly protected from
cold rain (and the occasional snow fall) in the winter;
and the heat of a blazing sun, in the summer.

The roof covering the whole deck would mean that
there would not be even the possibility of threat
from leaves, flowers, or seeds
that might fall from the trees overhead.

The first stop was to a specialist lumber yard
for the purchase of fifteen, 4x6x10’
heavy ‘landscape’ ties.

After doing our best to be assured that the deck
was solid enough to support the weight,
– (a pocket camera was held underneath,
and photos taken with flash specifically
to see what was holding the deck boards up) –

we began the process of building the shell …

a layer of rigid plastic sheeting
was placed on the deck itself
to ‘pad’ the pond liner …

Special attention – and excessive time –
is always spent ensuring the liner
fits snuggly into the corners;

and that folds are made with meticulous care
to make them as minimal, and smooth, as possible.

THE PUMP and POND FILTER

Now, a little word about all those remedies
and promises that will (I am sure) be found
on the Internet, on the subject of garden ponds,
algae, and ‘green water’ …

Yes, barley straw and ‘oxygenating’ plants are fine
IF you have a large, natural pond. The ‘field pond’
in our previous home filtered itself quite nicely –

there are, after all, country homes in Britain
and Europe, that use reed beds on boggy ground
as a sewage treatment centres
– and they do wonderfully well.

BUT once you move to smaller ponds,
the number of fish, resultant biological wastes,
sunlight, algae spores, and falling vegetation
all affect the confined environment
of smaller ponds.

Please take up my suggestion to INVEST
in a proper, quality filter
that will clean the water, neutralise the algae,
and remove waste from the pond itself.

Do Not frustrate yourself with the ‘advice’
promises, and do-it-yourself gizmos that
might work for one person in one specific location,

but will end up wasting your time, money,
and best intentions,
in a very short space of time indeed.

The Air Pump is thoroughly cleaned,
and all parts checked for signs of wear.

Merely a Suggestion: When considering airline hose,
the spiral ribbing is touted as being
much more resistant to crushing.
This it may well be, however, one must ask
quite Why anyone should be careless enough
to be crushing the hose in the first place.

(Those ‘valleys’ between the ridges
are a wonderful home for algae
– which cannot be readily removed
by washing alone –

here, the ‘clean patches’
are where the sponge has removed algae;
the remainder provides some indication
of the difficulty in
getting in between the ridges.)

I have never, in over 50 years of caring for fish,
found any difficulty or disappointment with using
a quality, smooth hose …

The POND FILTER

The filter here is a very ‘standard’ one
that is made for ponds up to 2,000 gallons;
it will provide a clean, happy environment
for both fish and you.

Clean and check the filter unit –

examine the O-ring in the top channel;

clean and set the biological filter bags in place;

clean and insert the actual filter:

secure the lid in place and connect
the ‘input’ line from the pond pump,
and the ‘outflow’ line, which flows into the pond.

(The third outlet is used when cleaning the filter
– a hose is connected, and green algae-rich
fish-fertiliser-soaked water can be pumped
onto the garden beds.)

FILLING the POND

Once both filter and pump are again cleaned out
and rinsed thoroughly,
Water is added to stretch the liner …

With the pond filling always ENSURE that crucial
de-chlorinating liquid has been ADDED
to the household water supply.

Once the pond has been filled,
test the pump and filter unit.

This is the time to scrutinise the edges
of the ‘natural’ pond: checking for leaks
from water that is flowing backward
and escaping through some area of
liner whose fold lies below the water-line.

With the water flow started, THIS
is where the relaxing frustration begins —
arranging, and rearranging the rocks;

In a “Natural” appearing pond,
this means making what appears to be a natural ‘fall’
or distribution of rocks around the pond itself.

In a formal setting, it means selecting rocks and plants
amidst which, the fish may play and hide
– and generally not appear to be in a quarantine tank.

This of course will include pausing for cups of tea
and cheese sandwiches, before re-arranging once again
— to make those rocks “look natural”.

After the essential de-chlorinating solution,
the waterfall reservoir is tested.

I follow the precaution of adding a final
deterrent to particles of muck getting through the filter
and being returned to the pond –

here, a piece of filter material is simply
slotted into place immediately before
the waterfall return:

The results, after three weeks,  are self evident …

Plants having been added to give the fish
a ‘feel of their old home,
they are gently caught and placed in a large bag
to float in the new pool for a few hours
until the temperature in bag and pool are the same.

The whole project today has taken 10 hours,
and we are quite exhausted from our labours.

As cedar boards can be added later
to hide the exposed liner and act as a ‘top rail’
without any disturbance to the fish;

and stones placed gently at leisure
to provide a more ‘natural’ environment
in which the fish can play, and hide,
and generally feel secure …

… not wishing to subject them to
an unnecessary stay in a container overnight,
the fish are gently introduced into their new home.

The following series of photographs taken 30 seconds apart,
show the first three minutes
of the fish having their first ‘explore’ …

Update:

The pond with completed Cedar Rail …

I hope that the above may be of interest to any caring soul
who is considering a pond for their garden.

– PL

Silencing the Lone Voice

His was the lone voice crying out in the wilderness.

And no one was listening.

Listening ?

It was not simply that people were NOT listening;
they were becoming increasingly irritated
at his rambling pronouncements
and ‘doomsday’ speculation.

But to this one man, his concern
was of incredible significance:

– despite the fact that No One wanted to know.

The year was 1847 and, in the teaching hospital
of Aligemeine Krankenhaus, Vienna,
women who delivered babies were dying.

Or rather, women whose babies were delivered
by physicians and their assisting medical students
… were dying of what was termed “Childbed Fever”.

Women, in the other ward – by contrast,
who were delivered by the hospital’s midwives,
went home following successful births.

Hungarian obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis
was not only bothered by the phenomenon,
he was determined to stop it – and took it upon himself
to discover and make known the reason
for the appalling rate of mortality.

Semmelweis was agonising over possible causes
when his colleague, professor Jacob Kolletschka,
cut his finger on a scalpel blade whilst
conducting the post mortem of a woman
who had died in labour.

Kolletschka died.

What was incomprehensible, though,
was that his body revealed the Same Symptoms

… as the woman who had died giving birth.

How – How ! – Semmelweis wondered,
is it possible for … a MAN

to die from a disease restricted to
… WOMEN … in labour?

Upon considering the matter, Semmelweis
was absolutely certain that he knew the answer –

The transfer of disease from a physician’s hands,

following autopsy,

to the bodies of women in the wards.

Women delivered by midwives, survived.
Women delivered by doctors bore a good chance of dying.

Physicians conducted post mortems.
Midwives did not.

Physicians and their medical students
moved freely from scrutinising a corpse,
to examining a labouring woman.

They HAD to be – he reasoned – carrying infection
… on their hands.

Semmelweis began to insist that his colleagues
wash their hands with chloride of lime BEFORE
tending women in labour.

Whilst the idea of sepsis was, of course,
unknown to Semmelweis,
he was certain that it was NOT washing hands,
that led the deaths of women.

Using the mandatory washing of hands and instruments
in Chloride of Lime,
the mortality rate in the physician’s ward
dropped from 18% to 1%.

But to physicians who worked with Semmelweis,
– the very idea that … THEY … could cause death
was, outrageous and insulting.

THEY … Were Doctors !

With his second year appointment to the hospital
not being renewed, Semmelweis was obliged to leave
the hospital in Vienna and return to Hungary where, in 1851,
he took up a new position heading obstetrics
at St Rochus hospital.

Where the death rates of women subsequently plummeted.

But now, his new colleagues were becoming
more and more irritated at Semmelweis’ insistence
that they were causing death by not washing their hands.

Never one to display great patience for apathetic,
vanity-saturated, wilful imbeciles … Semmelweis
began to write – ( much to the heightened irritation
of those to whose self-importance, arrogance, and laziness,
Semmelweis’ assertions were a threat. )

In 1861, Semmelweis completed a monograph
on the Aetiology of Childbed Fever, which conveyed
his insistence ( along with his all-too evident frustration
against care-free doctors ) that the death of women
was being caused by lack of proper washing by doctors.

Physicians were unrelenting in their contempt
of Semmelweis’ warning of danger, and continued
in their filthy habits – infecting women
with whom they came into contact.

On a holiday arranged by his wife,
Semmelweis was grabbed by several men
and dragged inside a hospital that his wife had told him
she wanted to see.

The hospital was a lunatic asylum

and Semmelweis realised – far too late –
that his wife had betrayed him,
and had conspired with Semmelweis’ own doctor
to have her husband ‘committed’.

Imprisoned in a lunatic asylum – the only sane physician
amongst a medical community full of them –

Semmelweis would die in the same madhouse
from … an infected cut.

A physician who insisted upon hygiene
was declared ‘crazy’ for being clean;

and died at the age of 47, in an asylum,
from a wound infected due to lack of hygiene –

the Very Thing about which
he had been trying to warn the world.

Betrayed by his wife;
despised by self-important medical doctors,
Semmelweis would not live to see his name
utterly exonerated by the work of Joseph Lister.

As a boy reading history, I would always try to find
a moral from which I could learn something of substance,
from the life of someone else.

I have persistently maintained that, to follow
whatever is popular and pleasing to the majority
of modern humanity – is to guarantee certain degradation
of mind and morals, and conscience.

The reaction of people demonstrates that my warning
is perceived to be little more than monotonous,
‘boring’ narrow-minded fanaticism.

I cannot but wonder if, with these thoughts
about Semmelweis – I may be the only one capable
of seeing the moral in the appalling tragedy of this man:

The moral that –

‘The Majority’ … are Wrong.

And that, there are times
when individuals who are declared
( by the masses ) …
to be ‘crazy’, ‘narrow-minded’, or ‘alarmist’,

are the only sensible and intelligent voices
amidst multitudes who are either
anaesthetised with vanity,

or just too lazy to care.

P Livingstone
2015