Monthly Archives: December 2015

‘We’re starting up a brand new day… I’m thinking in a brand new way.’ New Year’s Eve. Unbidden thoughts.

Colorful fireworks of various colors over night sky
Colorful fireworks of various colors over night sky

Author’s program note. All of a sudden there was a bone-chilling gust of frigid air right off the punishing Atlantic filling the night… it was the kind of gust we here in Cambridge call the Montreal Express… not merely cold but gelid, polar, arctic… than which there is nothing colder but the morning after the greatest love of your life said good-bye, this time for good.

Shivering, I had to get up… present reality, even though freezing, being preferable to another minute of the dream being played out sharply in cinemascope in my brain. In it I was marrying Hillary Clinton, and we were redecorating my condo as our love nest after a cosmic flood. Yikes, it was indeed time for this article… and the music for it came swiftly out of no where saying, ” I think you’ve been looking for me.” And indeed I  had…

I was smiling…. this was how Marley (in clanking chains of course) summoned Scrooge to his destiny… and look what happened to them. I’m a literary gent, and I appreciated the reference… and this song by Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner, born October 2 1951, known to the world by his sobriquet “Sting”, a name, a description, a declaration, a clear statement of what you must do when the world is too much with you late and soon. Yes, that Sting.

I don’t think much about Sting. I’m not a rabid fan or anything close, but he’s got the poet’s own way of insinuating himself into my life at significant moments.  His words are often mine fields, often verbal shrapnel, the kinds of words one fastidious word smith appreciates in another who like you demands respect for the language and mastery from himself.

Cold reality.

My hands are cold… my fingers are stiff. It is 3:25 a.m., and Sting and his lyrical insights, melodic, as deep as you want them to go, fill the crucial space between two ears. I am listening, because here is a man who has something important to say to me, about the year now past, about you and me, and how we’re glad to be alive and give thanks to whoever made it possible. The song is called “Brand New Day” and I hadn’t heard it since it debuted in 1999, just in time for the new millennium.

I remember hearing this song in this very room, where I sat at this very desk in this very chair as I watched the clock move inexorably to the first midnight of the new century, the Y2K midnight that was supposed to bring cosmic computer chaos, so admonishing experts had told us. And so I, like so many others, worried myself into the new year, following the advent of midnight around the globe… only to discover that nothing happened anywhere…  the biggest “same old, same old” ever. Yes, I was listening to this song that night. It couldn’t really be so many years ago, could it? Go now and find it in any search engine and listen carefully….

“There’s simply no immunity/There’s no guarantee.”

2016. I lived it. Which is to say I was alone, I was together, I made money. I squandered money. I lied. I deceived. I was cruel. I was affectionate. I made messes and ignored them.  I cleaned up messes made by others who ignored them.

I cursed. I adored. I slept the sleep of the just. I just barely slept at all. I did random good deeds… I insulted those who meant me well. I hugged strangers… and ignored those nearest and dearest. I ate too much cake… and told others they shouldn’t eat cake at all, then ate theirs.

I knew the bite of the flesh… I abjured God… then went in panicked search of Him all over again. I was magnificent. I was squalid. I was the best of friends and the most unrelenting and tenacious of foes.

I demanded mercy and gave none. I wanted to make a difference and the difference I made was miniscule and negative. I ate without savor. I loved without passion and thought well of myself when there was not a single reason for so much conceit. I always took the easy way and had the temerity to tell others they must sacrifice when I would not. I took, always took, more than my share and bellowed that it was not more. I winked at injustice until I became an injustice.

I hated. I condemned. I demeaned. I disdained. I hurt whenever possible and denied whenever feasible. I exulted in the misfortunes of others and laid the burden of mine at the feet of God Almighty whose name in vane passed often through my lips.

I chose to misunderstand when understanding was facile… and blamed everyone but me on what was so readily apparent to others but willfully ignored by me. And yet I never lost the deep belief that I was a hero to others, a paragon to myself.

I was all this and more, I did all this and more in the tiniest morsel of time we call one year … as if it was something that could be neatly boxed and neatly understood. But even now this year, waning, its end in sight, abides… with possibilities still to come before it is played out, kaput, history we are glad to dispose of and forget, as if forgetting was even an option. It isn’t.

“Turn the clock all the way back.”

How many hours of 2016, how many hours of your life have you now wasted wishing you could regain even a single moment of time, to live it, savor it, even the most commonplace of activities? It is natural to think so for our system is profoundly exasperating… you lived that moment. It is yours. You want it back. You must have it back. And so you expostulate against your fate, the inevitability that defines us. You must go forward, only forward, never back no matter how badly you want it. and you know how badly that is.

Right this minute, the sands of time are escaping through your open hands, hands you long to close and stop the inexorable… but you cannot close them. And so, you experience the pain of certain loss that defines each of us in a world that we live in, are destroying, but cannot stop and enjoy without anxiety.

Each word you now read here takes you into a future that challenges us, a future we must engage whether we want to or not. We stand alone before eternity… and it frightens us to our very core. That is why next year, the year after that. and all the next years to come you will fail to stand tall and courageous before the vast immensity we call The Future and why instead we will take what comfort we can from what our species is most expert at doing: dissipation, distraction, diversion, self destruction.

Only by such devices can we face that which most concerns us… and so we are profligate about the time which constitutes our essence. Sic semper gloria mundi.

The only resolution that matters.

At this moment of peril for each of us, all of us, for our planet and our Cosmos, for our very God, what are we offering to change our course and destiny? Some opt for trivial resolutions about increased exercise and ways to diminish pounds. Others still seize upon any one or two of a myriad of possibilities to improve themselves, all petit, inconsequential, trifling, insignificant. Is this the best we can do against the daunting, monumental challenges we face? We must do better. And what better time to begin than now as a new year signals the commencement of a brand new day?

What then must we resolve and do? Just one thing: Love. For in this single thing there is everything and everyone. Where we dismissed and condemned… we must love. Where we demeaned and destroyed…. we must love. Where we insulted and hated… we must love. Where we divided and estranged…. we must love. And where we worked to rend asunder and alienate… we must love.

” ‘Love is pain,’ I hear you say/Love has a cruel and bitter way of Paying you back for all the faith you ever had in your brain.”

But it’s the only and certain way to start up the brand new day that dawns radiant this very day.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

About the Author

2017 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 70th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Over fifty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.drjeffreylant.com. You will also want to join his Guaranteed Millionaire Club with people striving together for financial freedom for all
www.drjeffreylant.com

Listen in to Dr. Lant’s reading and pass it on to a friend, neighbor, lover.

The sands of time are slipping through our hands

Take this time to make a resolution that really matters

To change our ways and direction.

 


peking_duck_headGeorge J. Quacker Production
Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day…” Christmas Eve 2015. God is not dead, nor doth He sleep. Cambridge, 1:17 a.m. 69 degrees Fahrenheit, 9 mph, humidity 94%.

Excerpt from “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear. Christmas Stories”by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Available at: http://www.drjeffreylant.com/store/p76/Christmas-stories-2016

Chapter 5

Longfellow“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day…”  Christmas Eve 2015. God is not dead,
nor doth He sleep. Cambridge, 1:17 a.m. 69 degrees Fahrenheit, 9 mph,
humidity 94%. 

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s Program Note.

I am sitting at my desk in one of the most beautiful rooms on Earth, the Blue
Room. Here on my well laden shelves reside the thoughts of generations of
my peers and colleagues through all the lands and ages, each one necessary
for the value and impact of the whole. We gather here, all of us, to refresh
ourselves in the peace and serenity of this place, for I insist that here peace
and serenity, diversity and tolerance shall reign supreme.

On this day, Christmas Eve in the morning, we are thinking of our dear friend
and Cambridge neighbor, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). I can tell you a
great deal about this great lyric poet of the Great Republic. A thousand miles from
where his swiftly moving pen enlivened each page, in prairie Illinois, he brought me,
through the magic in my young mother’s voice to “the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the
shining Big-Sea-Water,” thence to “the wigwam of Nokomis, daughter of the Moon,
Nokomis”.

She and Longfellow, reader and author, are so intertwined in my mind, that
remembering the one necessarily reminds me of the other. They are irresistible together.

They took me on Paul Revere’s epic ride of ’75  into eternity…  a determined
patriot with freedom enough for all a world distressed in his saddlebags… and
they made me feel the glistening muscles and smell the acrid sweat of the village
blacksmith whose shop I can walk to, though the chestnut tree is sadly gone in
fact; gladly to exist forever thanks to the poet who saw a story in the bellows
constantly at work at the forge, creating a nation more strong and notable
every single day.

Longfellow was the joyous poet of this blacksmith… this forge… this great nation
abuilding from sea to shining sea, never ceasing, never tiring, never flagging,
never quitting, never quavering, the whole chronicled by Longfellow, derided as
the poet of the masses by certain envious literati, a criticism he wore with panache
and festivity… and the respect of every Yankee, as his “squibs” fetched by mid century
as much as $3,000; an astonishing amount for a “mere” poet. If there had ever been a
poet so well heeled, able to live so well before, no one could instantly name him.

In 1860, this paragon of heart-touching poets was living a life anyone might
envy. He resided in the grandest mansion in Cambridge, once the great domicile
of Tory John Vasall, a merchant whose loyalty to King and Crown cost him beyond
dear. George and Martha Washington made it their headquarters while George
created an army of farmers, so powerful at the end that the greatest nation
on Earth, bowed low before their majesty, the world indeed turned upside
down.

Next, in 1843, Brattle Street and the imposing mansion given as a wedding
present by the bride’s affluent father, welcomed the prolific poet, his gracious
wife Fannie, and his soon to be numerous progeny, two sons and four daughters.
It was one of the young nation’s greatest romances. It became, and all too soon,
one of its greatest tragedies.

When joy ceases… and can no longer be even imagined. This is where tragedy
begins.

It began in an instant and was relived every day, every minute of his remaining
life; the death in 1861of loving Fannie by burns sustained in a freak accident.
One minute the highest bliss known, the next unspeakable pain that destroyed
every happy thought and made a mockery of all the joy that went before and
could never be again.

Death abides in the hymeneal chamber of love and life.

I have on divers occasions visited what is today preserved as the Longfellow –
Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site, the sumptuous edifice
that began its life in 1759 as Craigie House. Here I have attended concerts
in the gardens, gathered the first lilacs and drunk wildly of their exuberant scent,
and peered over the white picket fence, wondering at the exalted beings who
had in their time claimed all this as their earthly paradise.

Would  I, I  wondered, write such verses to beguile a great nation? And would I,
for all that the words might come, yet also face eternal grief beyond reckoning,
no antidote to be had?

Such thoughts come easily and unbidden to poets who wander in the moonlight
on Brattle Street where the great house with its stately beauty yet fails to blot out
the tragedy that still reverberates within. I have known such unspeakable tragedy,
too, which words can never assuage. They return every day, but most of all at
Christmas. So do the blighted living feel the deep, abiding power of the dead, our
dead for the ones we most loved, hurt us the most deeply, and forever, simply by
leaving us. And we can do nothing about this final separation, this pain, nothing but
submit and bow our heads in profound resignation. But the pain abides forever.
This is the essential fact of the human condition, and it is bitter indeed.

On my last visit to this lordly residence, I made a special point of lingering in the
couple’s bedroom where Fannie lingered for a handful of precious hours after
being severely burned while putting locks of her children’s hair into an envelope
and attempting to seal it with hot sealing wax. Her dress caught fire, her shrieks
awakening Longfellow who was taking a nap just a few feet away. He rushed
to her assistance, throwing a rug over her, which proved too small to stop the
flames.

Fannie had died while saving hair from each child; instead just a day later, each
took a strand of her hair for remembrance and so she was buried on the 18th
anniversary of her marriage. There you will find her in the Mount Auburn Cemetery
where in due course she was joined by husband and where, in due course, I, too,
shall reside for the ages.

Thus the saddest event in the history of all the distinguished people who made
this celebrated house a home continued to burn. By the time Longfellow got
through to Fannie, both were badly burned, she dying the next morning of July 10,
1861; he disfigured for life, some of his deep scars covered by the patriarchal beard
he now adopted, giving him his trademark look.

The park service guide, whose objective is always moving the visitors through briskly
and maintaining a strict schedule tells the broad outline of this tale crisply and without
any emotion whatever. Their goal is management, not truth. To such guides I am
anathema, for I ask many questions, good questions and expect good answers, which
all too often I do not get. My presence irks them; their presence irks me. We each
understand the other perfectly,

Thus the guide told me to “come along” long before I was ready to do so. I am in
search of “Veritas” (“truth”), and this room, where so much happened, good and bad,
was there, the only eye-witness who saw it all. The hectoring guide didn’t.

That’s why I move slowly through this place of jumbled sensations, sensing the joys
therein but also, overwhelmingly, the terrible pain and grief; pain and grief so powerful
and destructive the great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the essence
of American optimism and determination almost succumbed, his indomitable spirit
crushed by a single word, “Why?”, a question that all of us confront over and over again,
never finding a satisfying answer, but only the single word that perplexes, confuses,
and angers. So it is for you and me and our struggles; so it was with Longfellow and
his.

His writing, the chronicle of a great nation, stopped, his thoughts bleak and pathetic.
He was not only convinced he would never write again but that the glorious,
lyric words and the works he had fashioned from them for so long were as superficial
and trivial as his critics said, just so much forgettable dross, not a glimmer of eternity
to be had. He decided to have his say on the matter before his more learned friends
and colleagues had theirs.

He dipped his pen into fresh ink as dark as the thoughts he would write from it.

“Hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men.” And as
these caustic, despairing words were recorded, his head was bowed, his grief
unfathomable, nothing left to live for.

But then he heard the bells of Christmas Day,1863, the joyous cacophony of
bells from Harvard and every steeple alerting the citizens that, yes, our Messiah
was born. Dour, dismayed, desolate Longfellow was so touched by their adamant
certainty, he changed the message of his poem altogether.

God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.

He wrote quickly, bold scrawls across the page, determined not to mss this
rebirth, this reaffirmation. For the first time since his great tragedy, he felt, if
not yet peace and hope, then at least their possibility. The bells of Christmas Day
had done their work, as the tears cascaded down his scarred face, a remembrance’
of deep love, abiding through the ages to come. God had heard. God had not
forgotten. God was here.

Envoi

The poem written on Christmas Day in 1863 was first published in February 1865
in “Our Young Folks,”  as “Christmas Bells”. The heart of the nation went out to the
grieving author. After all, everyone, whatever their situation or station had asked
at one time or another, the momentous question — “Why?”

He had laid his trouble before the world. The world responded with kindness, humanity,
empathy, renewed admiration, and love. Despite his thoughts of suicide, he came
to see how selfish that would be given the universal plea that he heal, write, and live,
the great nation’s great poet again.

However he was a man who had written but one love poem in his life. Of course it went
to Fannie… as did every thought and word, all dedicated to the great romance he
had won and lost.

Some years later, in 1872, English composer and organist John Baptiste Calkin
came to read Longfellow’s poem. Like all discerning readers, he felt the power of
Longfellow’s searing language, and he wrote the music which with the lyrics
touches us so. You can find the moving result in any search engine. I prefer the
version done expertly by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Listen to it when the
dawn comes up on Christmas Day, and be comforted.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

About the Author

2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything
you ever write.
www.writerssecrets.com

A most beautiful article I hope you will listen to this beautiful reading by Dr. Lant and be moved by it.

 

 

 

 

peking_duck_headGeorge J. Quacker Production
Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Building Your Vocabulary

Building your vocabulary -Your dictionary is your friend visit it frequently learning new words every day!

Words are what give structure to our writing!

Having the words. For without words there is no story, without words there is no writing!

Here are some words for describing your pain given to us from the good people over at the Edmonton Nerve Pain Association

words_for_pain

Photo source credit: Edmonton Nerve Pain Association

For words to describe sound we have a great list from Word Object

words_for_sounds

Photo Source: Word Object

INSTEAD OF WHISPER CONSIDER

Compliments of WriteWorld.org.

words_for_whisper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: WriteWorld.org

A great resource for building your vocabular is Writer World’s word list page at: http://writeworld.org/tagged/word%20list

DESCRIBING EMOTIONS THROUGH ACTIONS

emotions_as_actions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See part two at the source of this posting Writing Advice

Photo Source via Tumblr

Substitute Ways of Saying Things

how_it's_said_001

See more at Life H4cks

 Animal Collective Nouns

group_name_of_animals_from_deer_to_gnats

See more at the All Mighty Guru

or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_terms_of_venery,_by_animal

Join Writers Secrets extraordinary online writing course at: http://writerssecrets.com for more tips like this.

Tips that are short, sweet, and proven to improve your writing.

A starets called Rasputin, a Yankee classicist, The Holy Mountain above the restless cerulean sea … God. Joy. Wonder.

www.writerssecrets.com Travel Series

Smart Tips For Your Personal And Business Success

Today……….

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Mount_AthosA starets called Rasputin, a Yankee classicist, The Holy Mountain
above the restless cerulean sea … God. Joy. Wonder.

Author’s program note. I went to Greece, to Mount Athos through a slick of my own blood, because of a single line in a book I read over
and over again, only when “finished” to continue by listening to the film
score all over again.

In 1971 it was all “Nicholas and Alexandra”  all the time, and you must hie
thee at once to any search engine for the stupendous music that evokes
the greatest of empires, as it hurtled through its last days to Hell, taking us
all along on an epic journey of death and a tragic destiny that enthrals us still.

Homage to Robert Massie, author “Nicholas and Alexandra” (1967)

Robert Massie (born 1929) is not merely an historian, though he is surely that;
nor is he simply a poet though his magic turns every line, even the most prosaic,
into something no god, not Zeus himself, would disdain to call his own.

You might have thought such a rara avis would warble only in the most fastidious
circumstances… but you would be wrong for Mr. Massie once lived not far from me,
along the hallowed route the citizen-solders of April ’75 traversed and from where they made such a ruckus when they used musket against King and Crown, the shot heard round the world.

So positioned, with stirring history on his door step, he might have written of the Great American Coming Together which is a way of seeing the thirteen factious Colonies forge a great Nation. However he had a dearly beloved son who was hemophiliac and like every parent of such a child, he lived in a state of helplessness, a tragic condition where every new idea, every new specialist, every new therapy and treatment did no good… merely breaking his heart… again.

And thus the hopeless search for a miracle goes on… as it did for Nicholas and
Alexandra, at the pinnacle of human position, for whom science offered no solution;
their power and riches counting for nothing.

Miracles.

Grigori Rasputin, peasant from Siberia would have said, “Do not look for miracles
where there are no miracles and can never be. Science begets science, not miracles.
Look instead for God… for in God there are miracles.” And so because he wanted to
know this God of miracles, he set off in 1900 on foot, without shoes, without a kopeck, with no map but with the profound faith that moves mountains.

Mount Athos, over 3,100 miles from his first step, was his destination, but God was
always his purpose, then until the last day of his life when his still cunning fingers broke through his frozen tomb, the better to bless the great people of Russia, so needing a miracle of their own.

Thus he blessed them and expired… and so the common folk wondered and spoke of the reality of God, the mysterious ways of God and the living God who works His ways howsoever He would, to the confounding of the ungodly and the comfort of the rest. And across the landscape of Holy Russia, unravelling, there were dark mutterings and awe as swift-moving fingers made the sign of the cross with the deep fervor of unquestioned, uncritical belief and wondered what the dead starets had found at Mount Athos and knew it was God, then quickly crossed themselves again…

Professor Mason Hammond, Pope Professor of the Latin language and literature, 1903-2003.

Professor Hammond would never be hired today to teach at Harvard — or any renowned institution of higher education. Amongst other drawbacks, he lacked the “meal ticket”  of the Ph.D. and his literary output, though durable, was thin at best consisting principally of two well-regarded studies on “City State and World State” and “The Antonine Monarchy.” I found both, not a lyric word in either, heavy going.

Notwithstanding such lackluster work product, on the day of the 1994 Harvard
Commencement, when he was given the highest honor of the ancient university, Doctor of Letters honoris causa there was joyful pandemonium, and men, once shy and lost, now eminent and gray, wept with a glad heart and shouted themselves hoarse, for Hammond was the keeper of the flame, and every true Harvard man knew it and rushed to honor him. I was there that day… and I cheered heartily indeed for I had benefited more than most.

“You’ll need a ‘dago dazzler’ “.

Once each week, generally on Thursday, the Hammonds were “at home” in their gracious
residence on Brattle Street. There in a room graced with a Sargent portrait of Hammond’s
mother they received their wide acquaintance, always including present and past students.
I think I am right to say I never missed a single chance to visit, never taking such occasions
for granted. My thanks to my hostess, Mrs. (Florence) Hammond were never perfunctory but sincerely grateful.

During one such visit I mentioned I was going to Greece, my first visit. “Well, then,” he said “You must go to Mount Athos. ” A bell went off… Athos… the place of pilgrimage to which the starets Rasputin walked. “I’d like that,” I said. And he said, “Of course you’ll need a ‘dago dazzler’. I’ll make the necessary arrangements.”

And that is how just weeks later my two friends and I happened to be spending the most uncomfortable of nights in the far north of Greece, in the squalid port of Ierirros … a place where the mosquitos slurped so much of my blood and were then so contented that when I look a towel to kill them the walls were streaked with what had once been mine, now graphic evidence that I had been there, scourging myself like any devout pilgrim might. Still the morning came, the more welcome after the lurid night before. We were soon on our way to Mount Athos… and God.

You must understand that Greece, a laughing stock as a nation, is yet amongst the
most beautiful of places… and so it was as Mount Athos approached each view was
breathtaking, picture postcard perfect, until at last we were there and told to strip in the town square, so that we might be properly cleaned as pilgrims should be.

All obeyed…. but me. Whilst my fellow countrymen, hippies, and erstwhile seekers after God stripped to their underwear, knelt for a quick lather and a bucket of cold water, thence to have their hair chopped off I declined. My two companions looked at me for instructions. But I was a Harvard man, semper paratus, already wearing my ultra serviceable blue blazer…. and had the “dago dazzler” at the ready. I made myself clear that I wished to see the highest ranking gendarme.

And it was he who first saw the product of Professor Hammond’s kindness and
forethought. It was magnificent indeed, and I confess I did not like the officer’s dirty
fingers upon it…. but my dignity was at stake and that was the priority, along with
saving my friends, who never before looked at me with greater admiration and
hope. The gendarme, of course, had to show the document; in Greek and
beautifully illustrated in the medieval fashion to his superior… and that superior, too,
needed to pass it to his. No one wished to be responsible for improperly greeting
such a worthy as me.

And so for an hour, for an order we waited, until a young priest came to escort me to an abbot, the first one who understood that I, as specifically named in the document, and my two companions (not specifically mentioned and therefore needing to heed my every whim) was a personage of consequence under the special protection of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of New England, thereby outranking any mere abbot or two.

And so it began, “Would your excellency’s party care to walk in? The abbot is expecting you.” I bet he was…. Thus did I enter the first of Mount Athos’ 20 monasteries in ceremony, so very different from Rasputin…

Whilst waiting for the Abbot, young priests delivered, first, a glass of the purest water,
then a plate of Turkish delight, the very sweetest variety of jelly beloved of my Grannie.
The Abbot, with acolyte then arrived. I shook his hand as I should do with any
man; he gave me the kiss of peace and brotherhood, right, left, right…. his patriarchal
beard tickled. I did not smile; he was doing his duty, I was doing mine

And so we complimented politely whilst he asked the expected questions.
We were all men of the world and our manners were comme il faut. Of course
he invited us to dinner, at his end of the long trestle tables, the pilgrims far
at the bottom, we privileged well above the salt. But how did you converse,
you say? In French. For each abbot spoke it fluently as did my best friend William
Powers Ingoldsby, who joined perfect pronunciation to insinuating manners.

I handled my French the way Sir Winston Churchill did, with blunt authority and
audacity. It worked anywhere, even on the Champs Elysees.

And so it went for a week or so. Up early to walk in the sweet sunshine of dawn
to the next great monastery of Oxthodoxy where they was another glass of cool
water, another plate of Turkisih delight, and the three expected kisses, right, left,
right.

On the last day I decided to go to mass. My mother had always urged me to
understand even if I did not believe a particular rite. And so I immersed myself
in the glories of the Eastern Mass… until it was time to kiss the icon. Then just a
minute before my time to submit arrived, the pilgrim before me spit up and covered
the icon with the most nauseating mixture on earth.

I shied away… the priest pushed my head down in case I had any idea to escape as
I most assuredly did. And then I remembered the genteel young man is never without
a clean linen pocket handkerchief, and he was not remiss here. With it, I covered the
outrage — just — without missing a beat or turning green.

I had learned much, seen much and used my time well…but God had not favored me
with either audience or sign. Thus I waited at Ouranoupolis for the tiny craft designated to take up back to the  mainland, to Greece. And here fate intervened. Six priests arrived, going to the mainland to do their shopping. Since they rarely if ever bathed their pungency was high and notable. I asked the captain to lash me to the mainmast so I could breath.

Then after a half hour or so a sudden storm arose…. and I felt a pure exhilaration
such as I had never felt before… the waves breaking on the deck, the wind racing through my uncut hair, my skin pummeled by rain, the benediction of heaven. And I was happy, traveling the route of the Virgin Mary, the last woman to be allowed at the Holy Mountain….
and all those who had followed her, for good or ill. Somehow amidst these elements
summoning me to life, there was the whisper of God which simply said “You and I shall meet again, my son.”  At  that I felt, in the roiling sea, His awe and infinite wonder, and knew the reality of bliss.

About the Author
2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs; worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write.
www.writerssecrets.com

peking_duck_headGeorge J. Quacker Production
Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.
Your response to this article is requested. What do you think?
Let Dr. Lant know by posting your comments below.

 

Listen in to a special reading by the author Dr. Jeffrey Lant:

 

 

Margaret Thatcher Trilogy – a surprising look inside the life and times of one of history’s most famous women, The Iron Lady.

www.writerssecrets.com Famous People, World Leaders Series

Margaret Thatcher Trilogy

Article 1:

Margaret_Thatcher‘How shall we extol thee…?’ Thoughts on Margaret Thatcher, dead at 87, April 8, 2013, her irremovable place in History.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. If you want to know where someone is going, then look at where they have been. We are all the product of our experiences but rarely do these events alter the course of a great nation. However, in the case of’ The Right Honourable The Baroness Thatcher LG, OM, PC and FRS they did.

We must, therefore, look carefully at the early Thatcher, the strict Non-Conformist tradition into which she was born, her hard-working, God-fearing parents (and particularly her father), how they made their living, how and where she secured her extensive education that moved her out and up, for her personal and professional experiences did not merely influence just herself, but also the lives of all of us.

Thus, to a singular degree, to look at her past is to see our present and that makes Margaret Thatcher one of the most important of our leaders and one of the most readily understandable. We always knew where she stood, like it or not. Her clarity of thought and expression became a byword, not least in the corridors of power where such clarity is often the first casualty. But not with Mrs.Thatcher. We understood her because she understood us… and her deep understanding was readily apparent whenever she spoke and whatever she spoke about. Her opponents were stymied on the rock of her unflinching plain spoken common sense. We knew she was right because we knew whereof she spoke. “Her nonsense,” they grumbled, “was their nonsense.”

Of course the liberal elite delighted in such clever put-downs, first because her sureness about what was right and wrong infuriated their relativism, making them appear (what they so often were) weak and ineffectual; second because they both scorned and envied her bond with real people and their everyday concerns.  Liberals, you see, too often concentrate on fomenting outrage about the affronting and unconscionable aspects of our human reality when instead they must move beyond mere outrage, should instead be constantly at the task of exploring and implementing practical solutions, one step at a time.

Too often they feel that mere outrage is sufficient, thereby putting them on the high road to Heaven. But they forget, if they ever knew at all, it is everyday people who must understand every change, accept every change, and implement every change or there can be no change. Or to put this another way liberals might decry the lack of inside water and toilet facilities, using the most persuasive and eloquent of language to make their case for dignity, sanitation, and health. Such exquisite outrage touches our hearts…. but nothing else.

However real people have to fill the heavy pails to the brim and engage in the hard business of carrying them upstairs and down until practical entrepreneurs find a way (with their own time and money, mind) to cut the burden, reduce human work and improve the human condition… and make money where there was no money before. Liberals then peruse the situation, urging that the enterprise, its works and of course its profits be taxed as a matter of “fairness”. In due course, Margaret Thatcher became the strongest possible opponent of such cockamamie  “fairness”. We knew she was right and supported her accordingly. Thus “her sense was our sense”.

Margaret Thatcher remembered this salient aspect of leadership more often than any of the prime or other cabinet ministers of her era. She was always at her greatest when she not only remembered and represented these “common” people and their pressing concerns, but made sure these people were not excluded from planning and shaping the future in which they must live. Consider this: her maiden speech after she was finally elected to Parliament in 1959 after a typically hard-fought battle was in support of her private member’s bill (Public Bodies (Admission to Meetings) Act 1960). It required local authorities to hold their council meetings in public. And so she began as she was to go on: the people’s friend, and none better. It was the way, the only way, to build a land of hope and glory.

It begins…

To understand the magnitude of her epochal achievement, you have only to consider the right honourable gentlemen (for they were all men) who were the Conservative Party prime ministers of the realm before she ascended to their ranks and changed the reality of political generations forever: Sir Winston Churchill, grandson of a duke, heir to a gilded place at the acme of the peerage; followed by the Earl of Avon (Anthony Eden); the Earl of Stockton (my distant cousin Harold Macmillan); the Earl of Hume with the consummate noble pedigree, a plethora of titles and the hauteur it takes generations to perfect. Finally, her immediate predecessor, Edward Heath, who, too, was a member of the Establishment. Margaret Thatcher was not… broad acres, liveried servants, a safe seat in the House of Commons, followed by the nirvana of the hereditary House of Lords were as remote from her reality as they were from ours. See for yourself…

Born in the village of Grantham, England on October 13, 1925, just a few years after British women gained the suffrage, Margaret Hilda Roberts was the second daughter of Alfred Roberts, a small-time grocer and lay Methodist minister, and Beatrice Roberts, a dressmaker. Throughout her career, Thatcher never tired of reminding the everyday people that she was one of them, growing up “above the shop” in an apartment that lacked indoor plumbing and running water. She thus knew first-hand and over and over again the drudgery of filling, carrying and emptying pails… that was her present, unending reality. She knew it was also ours. She was determined to go beyond it. Her greatness comes from the fact she was determined to help all of us go beyond it, too.

Fortunately she started with the best possible help: a strong sense of self and personal responsibility; a father with the strongest possible work ethic, long experience in and love for politics (a town councilor, he later became Grantham’s mayor) and (again through her father, a long-time lay Methodist minister) a sense, direct, personal and profound that God was on her side.

Perhaps because the tenets of Methodism are not now as widely known as they once were, this essential aspect has gone insufficiently noted, if noted at all. But those who are early imbued with a love of God do not shirk the fight or the terrible odds they might face, for the Lord of Hosts sustains them. And if Margaret Thatcher did not wear her redeemer or her belief on her sleeve, it does not mean the woman did not value what the girl had learned at her father’s knee, grateful for it her entire life.

One more point: born as she was, a member of the great conscience of Non-Conformity, she understood that she could expect no assistance from the prevailing Establishment, overwhelmingly members of the Church of England. She would have to make her own way .. and so she did, her biography packed with applying for such-and-such a thing, being rejected because she was a woman and, so fortified, applying again… and again until her fortitude, endurance, and commitment wore down the prejudiced so she, the model for the advancement of women, could make another step forward, inspiring and empowering all women, everywhere.

It was grueling, often depressing, always demanding… but it was God’s work, something that must be done, and wonderful in His eyes. In this way, she harked back to one of the greatest and most significant British statesmen, but it was not a Conservative; rather William Ewart Gladstone, 4 times Liberal Prime Minister between 1868 and 1894, adored by Non-Conformists, including her Liberal father. Thus, with the thickest of irony, the Grand Old Man of British politics saw his mantel of consequence descend to the Grand New Woman.

Under the circumstances, Mrs. Thatcher in her time became the great polarizing figure that he had been. If the abuse, the censure, the ridicule and cruel commentary bothered her, she took it all in stride, proud of the enemies she made, bidding them to do their worst for she was ready.

“In politics if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”

Thus, Prime Ministers came to rely on Mrs. Thatcher. It is a measure of family pride that cousin Harold Macmillan, premier from 1957-1963, first appointed her to office, in 1961, as Parliamentary Undersecretary at the Ministry of Pensions and National Insurance. It was the lowest rung on the ladder, but she had achieved it against all odds. But far greater odds with far greater risks and far greater challenges now confronted her. The issue was nothing less than the future of England, of Europe, of what we believed in, how we lived, and every right and freedom we so wrongly took for granted.

Her opponents, voluble, numerous, boisterous and condescending, belittled, despised, and excoriated her. Her response? In remarks made at the Conservative Party conference the day she was elected leader in February, 1975 she threw down the gauntlet, “I am not a consensus politician,” she said. “I am a conviction politician.” She meant every word of it and spent the rest of her long political life showing the world what conviction could deliver.

Her achievements were staggering… because she was clear what she wanted… not peace and quiet and hours wasted in persiflage and platitudes… but results, results, results.

State-run enterprises like British Airways and Rolls-Royce? Privatize to see immediate improvements.

Deregulate to the maximum extent? Absolutely. That’s far more productive and efficient.

Reduce the power and influence of trade unions? To be sure. Those autocratic dinosaurs were well past their usefulness, every incendiary word testament to just how ineffectual they were.

Home and stock ownership? Of course. Citizens should be owners and benefit accordingly.

And what should be done to other nations intent on stealing what was left of the empire on which the sun never sets? Strike back, early, resolutely, proudly. And so in 1982 she did the necessary to remove covetous Argentina from the British-controlled Falkland Islands. And so bit by bit Great Britain became great again… and we all were better for it and her many electoral victories which made her the longest serving Prime Minister of modern times.

Now Margaret Thatcher is dead. Her journey over. Her place of greatness secure forever However, I can hear her now, reminding us that everything she stood for and achieved can so easily be threatened, diminished, lost if we do not do what is necessary to preserve it. Thus her legacy must be one of unceasing vigilance and prompt action to ensure that we maintain the freedom necessary for the well lived life, the life we are free to live, shape and improve to our heart’s content.This she would bluntly say is the only way to make not just England but the entire world mighty, then mightier yet and every land the land of hope and glory.

Envoi

For the musical accompaniment to this article, I have selected Sir Edward Elgar’s  well- known 1902 song “Land of Hope and Glory,” with its deeply affecting lyrics by A.C. Benson. Go now to any search engine. You will find many fine versions. The best make you feel the mystic bond that unites people with homelands, especially if that land is England, a place inspiring the deepest bonds of loyalty, affection and gratitude. As such I can never hear this composition’s words and music working so well together without a tear, glad to extol a nation I loved long before I went, just as I admired Margaret Thatcher long before I met her. My fervent wish is that this article is worthy of its subject, the lady who made England mightier yet and will always be an example of what is possible when one is willing to do the necessary work, hard, arduous, daunting though it may be.

About the Author:

Dr. Jeffrey Lant is historian, consultant and the author of 20 books, several ebooks and over one thousand articles.

George J. Quacker Production
Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Article 2:

Margaret_Thatcher_with_hat‘I’m a girl, and by me that’s only great’. Of Mrs. Thatcher, the Iron Lady and Max… and me.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. This is what she said. This is what the Iron Lady said on January 31, 1976:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you tonight in my red chiffon evening gown, my face softly made up, my fair hair gently waved… the Iron Lady of the Western World. Me?” The crowd filled with blue-haired matrons and their all too often overweight swains ate it up… and they went wild as she continued, “A Cold War warrior? Well, yes — if that is how they wish to interpret my defense of values and freedoms instrumental to our way of life.”  It was quintessential Margaret Thatcher, sometimes playing the woman card, all frilly in lace, every hair in place; sometimes playing the man card, sterner, more serious, with more brass than a barrel full of generals.

That was our Maggie… able to play both sides of the gender issue, doing whatever needed to be done to make her point and drive it home. It was great politics… great theatre… great media. And it infuriated  most every (particularly male) politician and not  just members of the Labour Party either. Quick, can you say Ted Heath, the Conservative Prime Minister she outsmarted and deposed? Those hapless palookas just couldn’t land a punch on her, no matter how scatological, venomous, condescending, vulgar, rude, irritating, exasperating, insolent or insulting they were.

She knew the game. She played the game. She loved the game. And more often than not, she won the game. There was no false bologna about how hard the messy business of politics could be. No crocodile tears about the mind-numbing pressure of work. No one knew it better than Mrs. Thatcher. And no one, absolutely no one, loved that boisterous, zany, often ludicrous business better than she did. Yes, she loved it… every maudlin, sanctimonious, self-serving, treacherous, back-stabbing stratagem and maneuver. She was the star… the queen of the May… the once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon we all wanted to see, to touch, to know.

French President Francois Mitterrand tried to sum her up this way, “She has the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe.” Or as pop star Geri Halliwell put it, “We Spice Girls are true Thatcherites. Thatcher was the first Spice Girl, the pioneer of our ideology — Girl Power.”

Under these circumstances, it was the work of a moment to select just the right music for this article. It’s “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from the 1961 film “Flower Drum Song.” This was the eighth musical by the golden team of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein and was based on the 1957 novel,”The Flower Drum Song”, by Chinese-American author C.Y. Lee.

Go now to any search engine. While there are many fine versions of this tune by many popular singers including Doris Day and Miss Peggy Lee, purist that I am I like the film version best. And don’t tell me its lyrics don’t apply to Mrs. Thatcher and the great, mesmerizing, unprecedented act she brought first to England, then to the world.

She had twice as many cards to play as any other politician… and she played them, whether with a pound and a half of cream upon her face or not, with a radiance and joy that could never be disguised or hidden, no matter how serious the problem or tragic the circumstances. She adored her job and every single aspect… and we all knew it.

“When I have a brand new hairdo/ With my eyelashes all in curl/ I float as the clouds on air do/ I enjoy being a girl!”

I learn about the lady.

I can tell you exactly where I was when I first heard of Mrs. Thatcher. It was in the spring of 1968, the tumultuous season when the elite at colleges and universities worldwide stopped going to classes and tried on the bombastic language and misinformation of sidewalk revolutionaries. I was spending that year at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. There to the astonishment of all I became the first American ever elected to the Students Representative Council, as delegate for the Faculty of Arts, by far the largest component of the university. You see, I was a political animal and rapt aficionado, too.

Thus with relish and a professional eye I went to the latest demonstration where I heard one of my colleagues from the SRC, dressed in revolutionary chic, denounce everything he had grown up believing in and benefiting from. Whenever his overheated rhetoric flagged, he had Margaret Thatcher to fall back on and the catchy execration, “Thatcher, Thatcher,  Milk Snatcher.”

This referred to an incident from her tenure as Secretary of State for Education and Science in the Edward Heath government elected in 1970. The government wanted to abolish free milk for school children aged seven to eleven. Personally she was opposed to this cut but she was loyal to the administration. As a result she incurred the maximum of odium and a moniker that dogged her for life. Thus she learned that a “friend” (especially one who wants to be Prime Minister) can be far more devastating than an avowed opponent, something she never forgot and came to use with deadly accuracy herself.

More accuracy.

My next sharp recollection came with the April, 1982 war against the ruling junta in Argentina, determined to regain the British-occupied Falkland Islands. I was in England then and followed the matter closely. This, one sensed, was the “do or die” crisis, not just for her government but for Great Britain itself. Thus when a special news bulletin announced the sinking of the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano I joined the enthusiastic cheers in the parlor of a small hotel. Free drinks and relief were the order of the day. I am proud to tell you my cousin Harold Macmillan had been instrumental in advising her at this critical moment when success and the June 14 Argentine capitulation secured her place in England … and the world. There was also an unanticipated consequence for me… but not yet.

“All good things…”

At her acme as the General Belgrano went down with 323 officers and men, over time her enemies — including an increasing number of Conservatives — began to snipe, wound, and weaken. By the fall of 1990 they sensed her vulnerability and moved in for the kill. Thatcher sounded pugnacious and promised the fight of her life, but in reality she expected to be re-elected because of who she was, what she had done for party, nation and world. But that never washes. What happened, pure and simple, was that she had lost touch with her base… and that is always fatal, as no one knew better than she did. She withdrew her candidacy… and an era ended in tears, bitterness, recrimination and the grandiloquent and lordly honors which signal you are politically dead and irrelevant.

Neil Simmons.

Amongst the many honours she received, her statue for the House of Commons by sculptor Neil Simmons was amongst the highest, in both size (eight foot) and significance. As it happened I had the privilege of watching Simmons find the lady (including her celebrated handbag) in the marble. James Lindsay was restoring a number of my Empire clocks; his atelier was next to Simmons. Thus whenever I saw Lindsay, I saw Simmons… and I snapped a number of pictures as the historic work developed. I thought these would make an interesting article one day. I was therefore pleased to receive an invitation to attend a party at London’s ancient Guildhall and see the newly minted Baroness Thatcher unveil the work. I had Neil’s assurance he would introduce me. And so in May 2002 I got on a plane in Boston flying to an encounter which I thought would be just a minute or two. And that would have been enough…

“I believe you know my cousin.”

Lady Thatcher, as she then was, was famous for being on time, and that day was no different. As the Guildhall clock struck the hour, her foot trod the last stair leading to the party. She was the very definition of exactitude As always, she was meticulously dressed, nothing out of place, a smile for the gentleman greeting her and a quick, strong hand shake. I never took my eyes off her. She then commenced to do the “circle”, systematically speaking to each guest, many of whom were MPs past and present; the people who had made her, including some whose support had wavered at the end and now wished for absolution and the kiss of peace.

In short order she came to me where a small purple rabbit was clearly visible in the pocket of my sports coat. This was Maximiliano von Rabbit, the most charming icebreaker on Earth. He had arrived in my attache case. The folks from MI5 who ran the case through the metal detector saw him, said nothing, but glanced at each other in a pronounced way which could not be mistaken.

“Who’s your little friend?”, she asked and, moving right into the appropriate mode, stretched out her hand and shook his paw. “Lady Thatcher,” I said, “This is Max”, and right off I knew that, as far as Max and I were concerned, the Iron Lady I expected was not present. And it got even better when I said, “I believe you know my cousin.” “Who’s that” she replied in her unmistakable sonority which she had once taken speech lessons to perfect. “Harold Macmillan.” At that she drew herself up to her full 5 foot 5 and a half inch height, as if an electric current had run up her backbone, saying “He gave me my first  ministry.”  At that she decided to stay awhile and get better acquainted, never forgetting Max for he is very sensitive on such matters, as she of course at once discerned.

And so the meeting I expected, Iron Lady and Dr. Lant, was superceded by something far better, warm, amiable. My admiration had brought me these thousands of miles; her charm and friendliness to both of us ensured this encounter would be one of life’s significant moments.

However, there were many others to greet and already there was a whiff of resentment that the only Yank at the event should be singled out, so well treated and incredibly that “Maggie” had unaccountably shaken Max’s paw, her references to him not merely polite, but kind.  Before she left, I gave her a packet of the photos I had taken in Simmons’ studio as his work progressed and a note requesting she autograph one for me. She then pulled me into a hug, so that her head was on my shoulder, kissing my cheek twice, with one more for Max. The scene was clearly seen by all… resented by some; wondered at by the rest.

I came to extol a legend and found instead a woman who having given so much to so many now needed something back for herself, a hug from one friend to another, giving reassurance, asking for nothing.

Envoi.

One of the regrets of my life is that I don’t have a picture of Lady Thatcher with Max and me. I took lots of pictures of her ladyship alone but that is not the picture I want now. And the sad thing is, I had another chance to get one because having finished greeting her guests, unveiling the statue and making a few apt remarks, she returned to us for some more congenial conversation and, yes, another kiss and hug.

As for the statue itself, its unveiling the reason for the event, on July 3, 2002 a man named Paull Kelleher decapitated it by using a metal rope support stanchion. He then waited to be arrested by the police. Whilst the damage was fixed, the ill-starred statue was placed elsewhere. A new design was then commissioned in 2003 from Anthony Dufort. It was unveiled on 21 February 2007 by the Speaker of the  House of  Commons, the Rt Hon. Michael Martin MP. Thus abides the Iron Lady cast in bronze for the ages, looking all brisk and business in a characteristic pose from her first ministry. But that is not how Max and I saw her.

About the Author

2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write.
www.writerssecrets.com
George J. Quacker Production
Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

Article 3:

Margret_ThatcherSelling Mrs. Thatcher. Hers were the glad rags indeed.  Your Correspondent
puts you inside her astonishing estate auction of December 15, 2015.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note.

I had originally decided to write just one article about the historical
phenomenon known as Mrs. Thatcher (if you were her friend) and “Maggie”
(if you weren’t.)

This article was (if I do say so myself) a superior version of what every
self-proclaimed statesman wants said (and more importantly remembered)
after his always sad demise. Her Nibs, however, would have expected
it to have the necessary quota of compliments, no need to read them.
(“Has Dr. Lant’s ‘Appreciation’ arrived yet?” ) She always knew things like
this.

She was, after all, a grocer’s daughter who learned to account for every tin
on the shelves, woe if even a half penny had gone missing. She had too
little growing up to be casual about details. Details built empires… and historical
figures. People who fail never learn this point. Mrs. Thatcher never forgot it.

The second article was a gift from Clio my muse, for this muse of history
understands the importance of human interest vignettes to enliven text. People
forget facts and mangle numbers, but they remember a good story especially it
it’s a corker like the one that featured an American lad named Jeffrey and his
purple rabbit Max.

For this story to be born, the newly minted Baroness had to ignore at the
unveiling of her official statue for the House of Commons (July, 2002)
a room full of her once inseparable, incense burning Tory MPs, instead saving
her kisses for Lant and Rabbit; and I do mean real kisses, not air blown facsimiles.

This startled the grandees who were present (and ignored) who wondered whether “Maggie” had lost her marbles. What other explanation could there possibly be for
such odd behavior from the Iron Lady? But too many of these VIPs had spurned her,
tossing her out of the high office and historic situation she had adorned to perfection, causing her to run sobbing into the street. No lady, no woman every forgets this, remembering that revenge is a dish best tasted cold.

Besides. Lady, Lant, and Rabbit enjoyed each other’s company. Her Yankee
visitors asked for nothing but the chance to adore their hero which the grandees
had so obviously failed to do. What’s more I was Harold Macmillan’s cousin, and
he had as prime minister given her first ministry (1961) and later advised her at a
crucial moment in the fight to save the Falkland Islands (1982). And so I became
the “boy Maggie kissed”  (and not just once either)… and Max von Rabbit, too, his
quantity of kisses exactly equal to mine. Thus did we surge ahead in the regard  of
all true and abiding Thatcherites, for she valued loyalty above all.

Thus “the boy kissed by the Iron Lady” (and not just once, remember) entered
history as a rollicking anecdote whilst the appeal of man and rabbit were extolled
by friends, (excoriated by former friends). Many people worldwide ask us about this
tale. We remain silent and smiling, our eyes cast up to Heaven above which alone
holds the key to our “magic.”

And now Article 3, The Auction.
“The race is on to get out of the bottom/The top is high so your roots are forgotten.”
— The Spice Girls.

Like most people I love going to the celebrity sales at the major auction
houses and, after exercising as much self control as I can, making bids which
commit me to as little as possible.

The Thatcher sale was tailor-made for my experienced paddle. I knew from the
opening bell that this would be quite possibly the craziest auction I had ever attended,
with astronomical prices that only the out-of-control would pay. “Are you sure I cannot
tempt you, Dr. Lant?”, my Christie’s reps kept saying. But “tempt” was as far as I got,
leaving the hapless winners a certain “morning after” headache which is
never shared by the more cautious who didn’t plunge further than they should have.
Instead of over-priced bric-a-brac I left with deep insight into the life and rise of
one of history’s recognized giants.

To understand how far she went, you must know where she started.  Only then
can you understand the magnitude of her achievement. An early photograph
pictures her as a soft-faced, slack bodied, matron of the particularly unappealing
English variety; the dutiful spouse of the Pillsbury Dough Boy, speaking a
dialect that made her sound both uneducated and unintelligent at the same time.
(She took lessons to obliterate where she came from in favor of where she
was going.)

Most people would have given up in the face of so little to work with. But she
was not “most people”, even from the start. Bit by bit she realized with hard work
and commitment she could grow, she could rise, she could conquer, she could
succeed, she could astonish and, maybe with a little luck, she could become
eternal… growth was Job I. If it wasn’t about growth, she got rid of it.

She looked in the mirror and asked, “Who do you think you are?/
(Think, think you are)/
I said ‘Who? Some kind of superstar’ ”

Chez Thatcher

When you attend a celebrity or house auction you get inside a world you
would never see in life. Depending on the particular interests of the subject,
you get into such personal space as kitchen, bedroom, dining room and
den. It’s all there, everything that shows you who the subject is, how she
lived, and what she valued. It’s like being an approved Peeping Tom,
not just urged but encouraged to see, consider, touch and even buy
items of intimacy and personal importance.

The Thatcher sale opens the door to a woman who was private to a
degree. Because she was the first woman prime minister, this is the
first such sale. But interesting enough this is the first such sale by any
prime minister at all. She has set the pace here as she so often set
it in any endeavor. However, because most  ministers, prime or otherwise,
are gray, rather dull figures, for all the history they may make, don’t expect
to see a steady drip of such sales in the years ahead. Even her political
peers don’t have Thatcher’s star power, and that is crucial.

Star duds make star sales.

All celebrity sales are divided into the usual categories, memorabilia,
autographed items, awards and citations, furniture, soft furnishings, jewelry,
(ranging from costume to eye-popping bling) books… and clothes.

Thatcher had all these but the focus was on her clothes and accessories. In other
words when Mrs. Thatcher let us in it was into her closets, for her little secret was
that she loved clothes of taste, quality, and what we might call executive sex appeal.
The dowdy girl of yore detested being drab, and the first chance she got she went
shopping, her famous hand bags at the top of the list; drab never again.

The style she evolved was not just executive, however, it was royal. She knew it
and so did Elizabeth of England who spent the Thatcher years reminding the
world that it was she who reigned… in hearts,and minds, and closets. Mrs.
Thatcher’s retort was always in fabric, and it was always stylish and uppity.

Goof by the Victoria & Albert.

Prime examples of such clothes of course worn by such a figure should have
gone to the nation, to the Victoria & Albert Museum. But here there was some
kerfuffle of the “he said, she said” variety. Thatcher’s kin say they offered gems
from her collection; the museum says “no way”. Either way, a prime chance for
preserving clothes that helped rule a nation and so provide political as well as
sartorial models was lost.

The truth is the haughty museum officials sniffed at Thatcher and her successes
and were glad to trip her and her place in the history of threads. It’s another
annoyance from the Establishment, which obstructed the lady whenever they
thought they could get away with it. It irked of course, but her motto was
“Non illegitimi carborundum” (“Don’t let the bastards get you down”). And so
the fast-moving circus that was her estate sale moved to Christie’s, “The Arts
People.”

All that was missing was the Spice Girls anthem “Who Do You Think You Are?”
(1996). I’m adding it now. You can find it in  any search  engine.

“you have got to/ Swing it, shake it, move it, make it/
Who do you think you are?/ Trust it, use it, prove it, groove it/
Show me how good you are.”

Dead or alive, Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven, LG, OM, FRS, was good,
so good she was to turn an expected half a million dollars in auction receipts into
five lip-smacking millions!

No wonder smart, successful folks like Geri Halliwell liked Mrs. Thatcher,
calling her the “original Spice Girl”. It was probably true and certain ticked
off a legion of Halliwell’s dull, politically correct fans. What was Geri talking
about anyway; was’t “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” her motto and theme song?

It most assuredly was, for after all, being Prime Minister and bossing
the boys around was the most fun of all. And no one knew it better than
Mrs. Thatcher, the lady who knew just the right boy (and rabbit) to kiss…
(and did.)

Series details. This is the third of Dr. Lant’s three articles on Mrs. Thatcher,
Baroness of Kesteven. The first is titled ‘How shall we extol thee’…? Thoughts
on Margaret Thatcher, dead at 87, April 8, 2013, her irremovable place in
History.

The second is ‘I’m a girl, and by me that’s only great’. Of Mrs. Thatcher, the Iron Lady

and Max… and me.

You can find all three articles at www.writerssecrets.com or in any search engine.

About the Author

2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated in the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing
course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write.

www.writerssecrets.com

peking_duck_headGeorge J. Quacker Production
Div. Jeffrey Lant Associates, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

ebook cover Margaret ThatcherFor an insiders look into the life and times of Margaret Thatcher get a FREE copy of the eBook

Margaret Thatcher – A surprising look inside the life and times of one of history’s most famous women, The Iron Lady.  by one who knew her, Dr. Jeffrey Lant at: https://www.scribd.com/doc/294403601/Margaret-Thatcher-A-surprising-look-inside-the-life-and-times-of-one-of-history-s-most-famous-women-The-Iron-Lady-by-one-who-knew-her-Dr-Jeffrey

‘ … in all the old familiar places.’ The insistence of memory… any time, any place, in an instant, there, never alone or unaffecting.

Vera_LynnAuthor’s program note. I was ruminating about my next article this morning when it happened. I was thinking of doing a piece on the bookstores we all grew up with… inviting places you could go to get out of the storm, and sit and read for a bit, even if you had no money that day to purchase. That was my intention but things got away from me, as they often do these days… and I was remembering. No, not merely remembering… but being there… on Clark Street, Chicago, where special stores for second-hand books catered to the bibliophiles of the Windy City… folks who discovered these stores like an archeologist the layers of ancient Troy or Babylon, eureka!

But then, fleet-footed memory ran fast ahead… and it was not just the place I was recalling but why I was there and who I was with. Then, there she was. It was my mother; I was 13 or 14 or so and she was young and beautiful. She was telling me, and I did not just remember the words; I heard them, just as she said them…

… an admonition she had told me every time we visited such a place of leather bound and folio’ed addiction that I could have as many books as I could carry, but not one more. I would nod sagely, signifying agreement… then run rampant through the shelves, brainstorming strategies to break the treaty and emerge into the late afternoon light with more than I had agreed to. Sometimes, if a title moved her, she’d even concur… while making it clear this was no precedent.

And then there were tears in my eyes… and I missed her and that smile which was as vibrant this early morning as it was those long years ago… Songstress Vera Lynn knew this feeling and made it the signature of an entire generation, the World War II generation. The minute “I’ll be seeing you” (music by Sammy Fain, lyrics by Irving Kahal) was released (1938), it was clear this was not just or even mostly a song about the people you would indeed see again… but, as war engulfed Europe, far more poignantly about the people, literally here today, gone tomorrow — that you would only see again in your mind’s eye… with fond recollections, love, tears, all ingredients of memory which works its potent alchemy so sharply in “all the old familiar places.”

Thus, go now to any search engine to find this well-loved number; there are many fine renditions, but Vera Lynn’s is my own constant selection.

Around the corner, memory awaits…

I often think that remembrance is unrelenting, unremitting, unfair. It means us to remember and ensures, through pangs that can grip you with unbearable force and urgency, that you will remember… whether you like it or not. And most of us don’t like it… at least the fact that memory has the unrivalled power to stop us from what we are doing and demand instant obeisance. And this can happen anywhere, at any time.

Old familiar places of course make us aware of the sovereign powers of memory… old familiar objects do, too; photographs, prized possessions, and especially clothes which retain scents. Oh, yes, scents. A whiff of Chanel no. 5 makes me reel, pulled from whatever I am doing… to right where memory wants me to be. This was my mother’s scent, and I see myself buying some for her at Mr. Mackey’s general store one Christmas when I was a boy. I had no idea the sustaining power of that fragrance or that gift…

Scents you once detested, memory changes to gifts of great value. A friend told me not so long ago that she hated the pipe smoke her husband insisted in generating, to the gags and disgust of his wife and others. Those “others” may have felt relief when his passing removed the menace; she did not. She searched their well-appointed home, his drawers, his closet sniffing the air until she sniffed just what she wanted and was looking for: the pipe scent, pungent, masculine, unmistakable that signified in her grieving mind… him. She told me, too, hesitant at first, that she had found some of his special mixture tobacco, smoked it herself (to near nausea) until the bedroom resembled the back room of a political convention… then lay down… closed her eyes…. and remembered. It was the night she felt nearest to him. Before she said another word, I embraced her… before she said so much, so intimate. That was for her alone.

Even rulers of great lands…

No one, however powerful and well placed, is immune from the powers of memory and its connivances. It means to have you… and it will. As Queen Victoria, ruler of half the planet, learned and relearned every day of her long life. She was just 42 years old when her obsessively beloved consort Prince Albert succumbed; he was just 42, too. Her world dissolved… and she spent a lifetime and the patience of a great nation, doing whatever it took to assuage the memories and escape the madness of her ancestors.

His pajamas, his soap, even his toothpaste (with new paste applied daily) were all summoned to assist in the process of at once keeping the memories from overpowering while simultaneously holding them close. Queens are not alone in discovering that this formula is hard, perhaps impossible, to render just so… just so you can continue.

And these memories become most potent at Christmas… for this holiday of the greatest joy becomes a minefield of the greatest pain… not something you look forward to, but something you dread and fear…

This is wrong.

What you should fear and dread is not the unrelenting grip of your memories, their proven power to discommode you, their potency and unbridled force… for these are the good things, the necessary things you should move heaven and earth to protect, conserve, and maintain. Instead, fear and dread the steady diminution of these memories, time that brings not precise, enhanced remembrance but oblivion, well-minded people telling you over and over again (out of kindness, mind, however misdirected) to get “closure” on the matter and so diminish what you should be greatly striving to keep intact, close and forever.

“This too shall pass”, the Bible says. But beware of what you wish for, for you may get it. And is oblivion and eternal loss truly what you aim for? Thus hold every memory close and give way when memory seizes you… for what you have is precious and irreplaceable.

Thus approach this holiday season with a fresh new attitude and embrace the memories, every one of them no matter how painful. Remember, you are the curator of your memories… the person responsible for tending them, ensuring their vibrancy… charged with their complete and total extent. This is one of the duties of every adult; in fact, the proper realization of what memory is and its intrinsic significance in our lives is one of the proofs that you have lived, have loved, that you are an adult, with an adult’s insight.

None of this is easy, obvious or the work of an instant, not least because as you mature and grow sensitive to their interpretation and significance your understanding shifts, improves, ripens. And you see why sustaining these memories, in their total completeness is so very important.

Now let’s listen again, with a different ear, to Vera Lynn’s song and, for the first time understand that it is not Vera Lynn singing to us, bringing the balm of peace, serenity and comfort. It is immemorial memory itself… resonating through your life through the ages.

“I’ll be seeing you In all the old familiar places…

I’ll find you in the morning sun And when the night is new. I’ll be looking at the moon But I’ll be seeing you.”

This article is dedicated to my colleague Lance Sumner, in friendship, and in recognition of his good heart, vigilant keeper of profound memories.

Your response to this article is requested. What do you think? Let us know by posting your comments below.

About the Author Dr. Jeffrey Lant

2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69 birthday. He is, he likes to

say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age

5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Worldwide recognition and

enthusiasm, which culminated with the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he delighted in the awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write.

Writers Secrets, an extraordinary online writer’s course of exquisite quality.

Not just on writing but communicating, how to use words to move people, motivate, broaden horizons, build bridges and bring people together.

Go to: http://writerssecrets.com

Listen in for a special reading by the author Dr. Jeffrey Lant

 

 

 

peking_duck_headGeorge Quacker Production

Jeffrey Lant Associates,Inc.

All Rights Reserved

 

Your lousy communication skills are hurting yourself and others. Here’s what you need to do at once.

communication_toolsIt’s time to call a spade a spade. We are members of the
most communications savvy and personally wired
generation ever. Even the tiniest mite has her cell
phone with camera. Yet the truth is, the explosion
of communications tools has produced less real
communication than ever; you and your poor
communications skills are one of the culprits. Listen
up! After all, it’s time your communication skills
improved to the level of your communications tools.

The quality of communications is not strained…

You, being an educated soul, are no doubt
familiar with Portia’s famous speech:

  The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

(The Merchant of Venice. Act 4, scene 1.)

Bold and even impious, I now advise you (while great
Shakespeare rolls in his grave) to change the
word “mercy” to “communications,” thus:

The quality of communications is not strain’d…
it is twice blessed…”

And so it is. Good communications are good for
the recipient and for the sender too.

You know this… but you do not act accordingly.
Which is why this (shall we say) motivating article
is so necessary and why you should take every
single word to heart and make radical adjustments
in your lamentable behavior.

Poor communicators (with the probability strong
that you are one of them) exhibit these traits:

Arrogance. The human animal is a selfish animal,
conceived in selfishness and nurtured in the belief
that the Great Me, the universe-centered I Am is the
most important animal anywhere at any time
. As a
result, this animal well and truly believes that she
is so important that others must feel grateful, even when
the communication is not returned.  Oh, my!

People (like you?) who do not communicate effectively
are people who are telling others, clear as crystal, that
they are superior to you; that their time is more valuable
than yours… and that these lesser folk need wait (and happily so)
and wait and wait some more until you condescend to
respond.

Such people by their behavior and non responsiveness
clearly indicate that you and your concerns are, by
definition, of infinitely less consideration than theirs.
And that you’d best be glad for the little you get, for
it is infinitely more than you deserve.

Poor communicators are slothful.

Good communicators, effective communicators
realize that the business of communicating is like
a tennis match. The ball must always be in motion
between the communicator and those he wishes to
communicate with. When the ball stops moving,
the communication stops with it. The person who
has stopped the communicating process is , by
definition, the lazy, inhibiting one.

All too often the communication stops and is
not extended because of unadulterated sloth.
It takes work to communicate… it takes work
to conceive a message and deliver that message.
It takes work to be prepared and move matters to
their next stage. However the slothful communicator
can and does think of a myriad of “reasons” why
he can obliterate the communications process
without remorse. Thus he goes blithely on with
his affairs while others, fuming, apply language
which is ever more blue as time passes and their
legitimate reasons for communicating go without
any response whatsoever. Oh, my!

A special cycle of hell

For the intractable, for the miscreants arrogant
and slothful who will not change, an idea: for them:
a special cycle of hell wherein they are asked such
questions as “are you hungry?” or “are you feeling
hot and uncomfortable?” These hungry and uncomfortable
miscreants answer and answer and answer. But
response comes there none, ever. Delicious.

Help for the socially challenged and shy johns
and janes everywhere.

Yet is the world of the non communicators made up
solely and exclusively of the arrogant and slothful?
Certainly not. It is also, and in significant numbers, the
preserve of the shy, the timid, the socially malaprop,
and untutored.

For them a single word: study.

There is one thing and only one thing which sets
us apart and elevated from animals of every kind
and place… and that one thing is communicating.
So, if you truly wish to learn, improve and foster
rather than retard communications, here is what
you must learn and do.

1) Learn empathy, that crucial ability to enter
into the minds and hearts of the people you are to
communicate with.
What is it they are expecting
from you? Deliver that, to the furthest extent
possible, and you have the essential element of
success.

2) Be prompt about responding. In an age of
instant communications, there can be absolutely
no reason for delayed or no response at all
except your own failure to provide it. The means
are at hand; use them “as quick as  boiled
asparagus.” And that’s very fast!

3) Be clear on where you can be reached.
Assume the person you are communicating
with does not have this vital intelligence. State
it clearly, thoroughly… and reiterate to avoid any
confusion whatsoever.

4)  Be willing to try again if the person you
are trying to reach (even if that person initiated
the communication) fails to respond
. Remember,
empathy is the basis for successful communications.

5) Above all else, never stop improving your
knowledge of communication and its techniques.
In this golden age of communications, the
overwhelming majority of loaves and fishes
will go to the communicating elite… those who make
it a point to master communications and steadily
enhance their knowledge and expertise. Make
that  person you!

Give this article to the communicating challenged.
They need it so.

Your last task for today is to give a copy of this
article to every substandard and inadequate
communicator you can. The task at hand, training
communicators and enhancing their skills, is a
lifetime affair. Start it now. There is so very much
to do and so many who need the help.

About The Author

About the Author

2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69th birthday. He is, he likes to
say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age
5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Untold radio and television programs;
worldwide recognition and enthusiasm, all of which culminated with the publication of
his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he has
delighted in the several awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com.

You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write.

Christmas from another point of view. The Grinch has his day… astonishing revelations from his first-ever interview exclusive to me exclusively here.

Grinch

www.writerssecrets.com Christmas Bonanza Series

Author’s program note. You just never know what impact the printed word is going to have, and this tale of The Grinch proves the point. Thanksgiving Day, The Grinch (he insists upon the use of the capital “T” ) was sitting at home having polished off last year’s holiday left-overs as his wont, when his eye happened to see a corner of an article used to wrap the garbage. It was my report on “Squawk”, the valiant leader of the “Young Turks” fighting for the freedom of turkeys everywhere.

The paper was greasy, ripped, noisome from the remainder of The Grinch’s favorite morsels which stank to high heaven…. in fact, he could only finish the article by searching online for it at www.writerssecrets.com. He liked what he read… and at that moment (as he later told me) he determined to break his lifetime of media silence. He wanted his story to be told, and he wanted me to tell it.

Within the hour, his invitation was en route to me, never mind that it was the middle of the night, 3:22 a.m. Eastern. The Grinch knew his man. You can sleep anytime; but such an interview comes but once in a lifetime.

The letter to me from The Grinch.

There was a sharp knock at the door, the kind of knock that summons you to Destiny. I couldn’t immediately tell if it were real or a dream but its insistence made the point. There was a note under the door. It said, “Open the door!”, nothing more. So more irritated than apprehensive, I did. There was a Christmas bouquet on the welcome mat, wilted, one half- eaten candy-cane alone amongst the dying foliage. And there was a message, too, on stationery engraved with this motto, “After me, you are the most important person on Earth.”

The message couldn’t have been clearer: “You have 10.5 minutes to get dressed and leave for your Exclusive Interview With The Grinch. Be sure to brush your teeth. Don’t keep your car and driver waiting!”

I’m proud to tell you, nearly 66 that I am, that I was ready with a minute to spare, though there was, I confess, stubble on my noble chin.

limo_doorA black limousine was waiting, sleek, important looking… and clearly in need of a good wash. The night was chill, the breeze off the snow piecing and unremitting. The door to my car was open, and I could hear rock music from within. It was Eric Clapton singing “After Midnight” where “we’re gonna let it all hang out”, where “we’re gonna find out what it’s all about.” It was astonishingly apt music….

Grinch's_eyesI slid into the back seat, where my full attention was immediately arrested by a pair of creme colored eyes looking directly into mine. At the same moment he merely brushed my hand by way of greeting. It was fur, not flesh, and it was a shade of green I had never seen before. Then right beside a dog, his dog Max, a half-breed rumored to be The Grinch’s only friend, faithful to his Master, his aspect anything but welcoming. Throughout our interview The Grinch idly stroked his hide. I liked him the better for it.

“Well, get in, Mack, it’s cold out there,” a directive swiftly followed by a short, sharp nudge to my rib cage. My encounter with The Grinch was well and truly underway.

“Ask me anything….”, and he grinned broadly, the kind of grin of ribald remarks, very dry martinis perfectly made, and bottoms pinched just so. Thus I learned that The Grinch liked the good life. “Cookie, Mack?” He offered a box of demolished Christmas cookies with the air of a prince. There were dog hairs in the mix. I declined the dainty. “Your loss, Mack. Now what do you want to know?”, and he told his driver to “get the lead out.”

The Grinch’s personal history.

“Tell me about yourself, Mr. Grinch,” I asked. “Nothing I’d rather do, Mack. For as you know, I am a most interesting fellow”. Max’s tail wagged as if in confirmation. And so in a voice that mixed insinuation, wisecracks, and sweet self satisfaction, he laid out the broad outlines of his unlikely life, the life that made him one of the handful of the immediately recognized. He laid back, lit a stoggie (whether I liked it or not) and readied himself for his favorite story… his, at which there came into his eyes a look of reverie, fond remembrance, and Olde Lang Syne. He smiled the smile of those who love themselves to distraction, not wisely but too well.

Yes, there he was, the creature of the hour, the creature the world loved to revile, sitting back, oozing self satisfaction, toodling through the darkness of the night, going nowhere in particular, loving the high life. It was all so wicked cool… and then he remembered this all had a purpose. “Now, Mack, what is it you wanted to know?”

The facts.

“What started it off, sir?”

And darned if The Grinch didn’t shake his tambourine and so begin his tale.

“Mack, it all happened a very long time ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. It was near Christmas. I was a shy kid and had only a small role in the school pageant. I played one of the extra shepherds who get put in the back because they have to be put somewhere. It was not my finest hour.”

“It so happened that from the time I was a nipper I had a beard, full, rich, patriarchal. The day of the pageant, my mother decided her shepherd needed a freshly shaved look. But she was terrible, absolutely awful at what she was doing and cut me to ribbons. I was in despair knowing what the other kids would say.”

“Mom, was horrified by what she had done. She took some ointment from the cabinet and applied it liberally. Then she kissed me and sent me on my way.”

At this point he closed his eyes, the better to recall his affecting story.

“I thought the matter was closed, but as I got closer to school, the kids started pointing at me, using some pretty strong words I can tell you. To a certain extent I was used to them; after all I was a kid with a beard. But these remarks were nothing compared to what they were calling me this day. It was the worst ever and every single one of them was pointing at my face.”

“As soon as I could I went to the boys’ room to see what I could see. And what I saw horrified me. My whole face was green, I mean every single inch. It had to be that ointment.”   “I wanted to run away.”

The hot words came thick and fast, every aspect of the incident at his fingertips. He decided to run home and hide. But he was grabbed by a teacher who thought he was trying to escape from the pageant, something boys did. He was deposited on stage… and then it happened.

The Grinch explodes.

“I couldn’t stay on that stage. I couldn’t face the teachers and all the kids who started to snigger and point the minute they saw me. I just had to get out of there.”

He turned. He tripped. He fell on a pile of boxes wrapped like Christmas presents under the tree. He crushed the boxes. The tree fell. The crowd roared. The kids jumped all over the place pointing at me and shouting. There was the pop, pop, pop as incriminating photos were snapped in their hundreds.

And then The Grinch heard himself shout in a voice not his own…

“I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it,” sing song like a chant. “I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it. I hate Christmas. I hate everything about it.” The crowd went bananas.

Dr. Seuss heard it all, too, because he was in the audience that fateful day. And he knew a great story when he heard one. He went home and started work on the book which after many drafts and edits became in 1957, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”.

“Mack, I get a nice fat royalty check every Christmas, which enables me to live in the manner to which I’ve become accustomed.”

The car was just pulling up to my house. The dawn was just about to break. I had just one more question to ask, but when we arrived, the door opened as if by magic. The Grinch poked my rib cage again, Max glowered at me.

“It’s been real, Mack. Write me a good story.” He told the driver to “put pedal to the metal”. And he turned his head in my direction and seemed to say something. But Max was barking, while the car shot away and I couldn’t be sure. I thought I heard him say something like “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night”. But I can’t be sure…  it’s so unGrinch-like.

Grinch_merry_ChristmasAnd then I heard one more line from Clapton in The Grinch’s unmistable voice:

“We’re gonna cause talk and suspicion”…… and he was laughing, Mack, he was laughing….

About the Author

2016 is fast approaching and with it Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s 69 birthday. He is, he likes to

say, in the prime of his prime. Thus does the “scribbling” life he commenced at age

5 continue. Twenty books. Thousands of articles. Worldwide recognition and

enthusiasm, which culminated with the publication of his autobiography, “A Connoisseur’s Journey, being the artful memoirs of a man of wit, discernment, pluck and joy”. It was a book that screamed “classic!”, and he delighted in the awards that followed.

To get your copy go to www.writerssecrets.com. You will also want to join his writing course and learn from this master communicator just how you can improve everything you ever write.

Writers Secrets, an extraordinary online writer’s course of exquisite quality.

Not just on writing but communicating, how to use words to move people, motivate, broaden horizons, build bridges and bring people together.

Go to: http://writerssecrets.com

Family Histories, Telling Your Stories, Passing them on to Future Generations

pic_telling_storiesOur family histories let us know where we are coming from and our family stories are often the only way we can get to know past generations.

Perhaps Grandparents that we never got to meet in person through our stories we can make our loved ones become alive and vibrant!

At www.writerssecrets.com there is a special emphasis on telling family stories to make your beloved alive for others to get to know them.

One of the topics covered at www.writerssecrets.com was on writing about yourself. Which could be the beginning of your memoirs, or getting your Family Stories down to pass on to future generations.

Sign up for one year of writing insights with Dr. Jeffrey Lant and Guests
Go to: http://writerssecrets.com

Writers Secrets – Exquisite Online Writing Course to Master the Art of Writing!

Not just on Writing but Communicating.

How to use words to move people, motivate, broaden horizons,

Build bridges and bring people together.

 

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That’s right, for less than 2 pennies a day

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Writing tips for each week. These tips are short, sweet, and proven to improve your writing.

Guests of the week. The conversations that follow are designed to help you improve your writing and are guaranteed to be fast-moving, clever, and packed with useful material.

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Readings from Dr. Lant’s works and those of guests and experts.

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Photo credit goes to Julie via Flickr