Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Frightful Tomb

The Frightful Tomb


I clambered up the steep and irregular boulder steps to the entrance door high above the desert floor, for 40 centuries, the tallest structure on Earth.

I entered through the Robber’s Tunnel, a hole poked into the side of the massive structure by Persian Invaders around AD820. At that time, the main entrance was located higher up and off centre to dissuade looters, and was concealed behind slabs of polished stone covering the entire edifice.

Expending such a huge effort to rob the place, those early plunderers were sure to have left few treasures for me.

Entering this structure was not for the faint of heart. The limit of 300 daring souls admitted daily was seldom threatened, as most people refused to enter this foreboding place.

Posted signs warned of steep climbs, dark, damp, and narrow passageways, and low ceilings often requiring crawling on hands and knees. It was not at all the place for the claustrophobic, the faint of heart, or the out of shape.

But I saw entry as an opportunity of a lifetime as I enthusiastically made my way to the entrance. The reluctance of most to enter made me even more eager to explore this mysterious place.

The place? The Great Pyramid of Egypt. At 4000 years old, it is the only remaining structure of the original Seven Wonders of the World, and I was about to probe into the bowels of this place where so few humans over those 4000 years had ever been.

The inside is a honeycomb of dark mysterious stone passageways punctuated by steep climbs on inclined ramps and steep staircases and ladders. Some of the narrow passageways have been blocked by massive boulders designed to keep out intruders, or indeed, to keep those lost from escape. If lost, what a fate to be entombed and rot in this sweltering place.

Inside, every word and footstep echoes eerily, ghostlike off the solid stone walls, almost as if those from millenniums past are stalking your every step. Every whisper is amplified a thousand times by the massive stone walls comprised of millions of precision “hand cut” locomotive sized stone blocks pieced together so finely as to defy those who would want to slip an onionskin in the joints.

When you stop to listen, you are deafened by the menacing silence of the place. It seems the spirit of the ancient pharaoh entombed here, and his servants, and the workers sacrificed during construction, remain vigilant custodians tracking every movement of those who would enter this sacred place. When you stop to listen, they also silence their sounds so as to remain hidden from your view.

The trapped perspiration off every sweating visitor and the moisture exhaled through their breathing, and often exhumed as a result of their anxiety, adds to the 85% humidity to bathe each subsequent visitor with the vaporous discards of visitors past.

This build-up of humidity, in addition to being a severe discomfort for those brave enough to enter this tomb, is a giant concern to curators and conservators charged with protecting the treasure. Hence the daily limitation on visitors and recent closures for the installation of modern dehumidifier systems.

And to think this marvel of human ingenuity, unmatched even today, was built 4000 years ago with hand labour, primitive engineering, planning and complex design communicated orally or in ancient hieroglyphics written on papyri or clay tablets in the beginning stages of written language, complicated math and astronomical computations without the use of modern computing tools....a structure virtually impossible to duplicate today even in our advanced computerized and mechanized society.

It’s doubtful that any wonders of modern-day engineering will be around 4000 years into the future.

Who says we’ve come a long way in the last 4000 years in what humans have been able to accomplish.

We think of those ancient civilizations as primitive, but no person living today would be able to duplicate the mental and physical skills of the pyramid builders of that pre-biblical Egyptian society.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

To My Perfect Love
Bill Longworth , Nov. 5, 2008

Perfect love is thinking of you and wanting you always.

Perfect love is how our bodies mould so well together when we embrace.

Perfect love is getting the returned kiss as if neither of us could get enough.

Perfect love is the erotic lust to hold you and touch you and kiss you.

Perfect love is laying with you and being connected in love.

Perfect love is holding and squeezing your hand with a playful laugh.

Perfect love is the innocent and sometimes not-so-innocent touching and caressing and kissing of your entire body.

Perfect love is holding you close in a warm and ecstatic hug with the heat of your breasts penetrating my every fibre.

Perfect love is the exploding of all my desires and seeing this reciprocated a hundred times in your response.

Perfect love is the way we continue to passionately entangle our bodies after we’ve loved, and the sweet whisperings of “I love you and always will!”

Perfect love is the fond remembrances of passionate embraces from too few yesterdays and the way they captivate our thoughts.

Perfect love is the excited anticipation of all of the tomorrows we will spend together.

Perfect love is the affirmation of our love every time we meet.

Perfect love is the trust and safety we feel in everything we share together.

Perfect love is the strength we feel in venturing forth together into all the unknowns that life may bring.

Perfect love is our solemn pledge to love each other forever.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Sa'īd ‘s Heavy Briefcase



By Bill Longworth
October 31, 2012-10-30


My telephone rang unexpectedly in my Heliopolis apartment in the suburbs of Cairo.

I answered and heard a disappointed Sa'īd exclaim, “Bill, my dear friend.   I’m so disappointed you haven’t called me.  I’ve missed you.  Can I pick you up at noon to go to my Mirage City Club?”

“Love to, Sa'īd,” I responded excitedly, always interested in being hosted by Sa'īd at this most exclusive Resort that had been carved out of the desert complete with 36 hole golf course, huge waterpark with a series of wonderfully landscaped wave pools, and the most exclusive 5-Star Hotel I’d ever seen.

As promised, Sa'īd picked me up in his Mercedes sharply at noon, and shortly we arrived at the Mirage City security gates where guards with mirrors peered under the car for hidden bombs.

We didn’t get the full checkup that most get as Sa'īd was well known to the hotel security.  Still they checked his car’s undercarriage to insure that trouble-makers hadn’t secretly attached a detonation device.

Sa'īd spent most of his time at the hotel sitting around one of the many wave pools conducting business or entertaining guests, or entertaining female hotel workers in the privacy of his permanent suite of rooms, permissible I guess, in this culture that allowed each man to have as many as four wives.

Today, as on many other days, Sa'īd and I sat drinking and conversing around one of the the wave pools.

I had met Sa'īd as an employee of his wife, whom I secretly called “Diamonds."   She had hired me to set up an American-style High School and SAT training programs for very wealthy students in preparation for entrance to American Universities.  Diamond's attractiveness was not enhanced one iota by the incessant flashing of her expensive jewellery that hung around her wrist's and off her fingers like heavy exercise equipmenrt.

As we sat around the wave pool discussing our families, Sa'īd mentioned recruiting one of my daughters as his agent in Canada to sell his paper products.  This led me to point out that Canada had produced some high tech papers with special security features for the printing of currency which Canada did for a number of countries around the world.

Sa'īd’s ears perked up at the mention of this paper that would reduce the likelihood of counterfeiters reproducing their own copies of the currency.

“Can you get me some samples of this special paper?” asked Sa'īd.  “I could sell this to various governments in the Arab world for use in printing their own currency.”

“Impossible Sa'īd,” I responded.  “The Canadian Mint places top level security on this paper.”

“I understand,” Sa'īd said.  “Then do you think that you could have samples of the paper sent to the Prince of Saudia Arabia?  Then I’d just go and sell him the paper.”

Obviously, Sa'īd travelled in better circles in the Middle East than I was used to in Canada.

At the end of the day, Sa'īd took me back to his suite of rooms so we could change out of our swimming gear before he chauffeured me back to my own digs.

On leaving his suite, Sa'īd handed me one of his two brief cases to carry to his car.

He stopped at a hotel kiosk to buy cigarettes and opened his briefcase to get the cash.  It was the wrong briefcase and so he asked for the one I was carrying.

He opened it and I saw that it was stuffed full of brand new American $100 bills....There had to be a couple of million dollars or more in the case as it was stocked tight with the bills.

This was all the more remarkable in light of Egypt’s foreign exchange controls restricting foreign currencies to the government and the county’s most influential citizens.

Seeing all this money, I stammered out jokingly, if not wisely, “Hey Sa'īd, you didn’t want supplies of that special Canadian currency paper to feed your own printing presses, did you?”

Sa'īd‘s stock of cash did reinforce my assessment that he was a guy with real power and influence.  No wonder he was able to get me into Egypt without going through the normal border screening process.  I was met as I departed the plane and escorted through back airport passageways and entered the country without any government screening.

My experiences with Sa'id, and the extreme inequity of wealth. lifestyle, and privilege he represented compared to the vast majority of Egyptian Citizens, many of whom trunged barefoot through stews of muddied donkey-dunk streets in the older sections of Cairo, schooled me well on the causes of Egypt's Tahir Square Revolution that occurred just a year or two later!
Revolution is inevitable in any society when there is extreme inequity in wealth and opportunity among its citizens.







Saturday, October 31, 2015

To My Perfect Love ©

Perfect Love is thinking of you and wanting you always.

Perfect Love is how our bodies mould so well together when we embrace.

Perfect Love is getting the returned kiss as if neither of us could get enough.

Perfect Love is the erotic lust to hold you and touch you and kiss you.

Perfect Love is laying with you and being connected in love.

Perfect Love is holding and squeezing your hand with a playful laugh.

Perfect Love is the innocent and sometimes not so innocent

touching and caressing and kissing of your entire body.

Perfect Love is holding you close in a warm and ecstatic hug

            with the heat of your breasts penetrating my every fibre.

Perfect Love is the exploding of all my desires and seeing this

            reciprocated a hundred times in your response.

Perfect Love is the warm anticipation of just seeing you and being with you.

Perfect Love is the loneliness and sadness we feel when we’re apart.

Perfect Love is the way we continue to passionately entangle our bodies

            after we’ve loved, and the murmured sweet whisperings of

            “I love you and always will!”

Perfect Love is the fond remembrances of passionate embraces

            from too few yesterdays and the way they captivate our thoughts.

Perfect Love is the excited anticipation of all of the tomorrows

            we will spend together.

Perfect Love is the affirmation of our love every time we meet.

Perfect Love is the trust and safety we feel in everything we share together.

Perfect Love is the strength we feel in venturing forth together

            into all the unknowns that life may bring.

Perfect Love is our solemn pledge to love each other forever.

                                                                Bill Longworth

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Just Like Those Many Years Ago ©


This original song has been registered with the Library of Congress and we are offering it to recording artists and record producers with the hopes that it might be recorded



Lyrics written and sung here by Bill Longworth with Music and Guitar Accompaniment by Murray McCollom, both of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada.

Just Like Those Many Years Ago ©
Bill Longworth (lyrics), Murray McCollom (music)

Intro: D/G/A D/// Bm D // A /// D A G---to rythym of line We were young then, etc.

(D) We’re goin’ on a road trip like the one we took so many years a/(Em)go
Yeah! (A) Goin’ on a road trip like the one we took so many years a/(D)go
(D) We had a brand new Mustang gassed up and rarin’ to (Em) go
With the (A) roof down and the wind blowing through our (D) hair.

We were (G) young then, (A) young (D) carefree and in (Bm) love
(D) But that was so (A) many (D) years (A) a/(G)go

(D) We had no real destination ‘cept to stop for love each (Em) night
No (A) schedules, timelines, nothing we had to do
And nowhere we had to (D) be.
Whatever tickled our fancy was our desti/(Em)ny.
And (A) once again, we’ll have that wild and boundless joy of (D) youth.

We’ll be (G) young again, (A) young, (D) carefree and in (Bm) love,
(D) Just like those (A) many (D) years (A) a/(G)go

(D) Our working life is in our past, we’re free to break our (Em) ties
No (A) ropes to tie us down each day,
Nothing we have to do and nowhere we have to (D) be
We’re older now, but the spirits just the (Em) same
And (A) once again, we’ll enjoy the road trip of our (D) youth

When we were (G) young, (A) young (D) carefree and in (Bm) love
(D) Oh those (A) many (D) years (A) a(G)go.

(D) We're gonna put the roof down and roll wherever the wind will (Em) blow,
(A) Don't care where we're headed, just that we/re together on a road trip
Like the one so many years a/(D)go
Yes, (D) once again, we'll have that wild and boundless joy of (Em) youth,
Cause (A) we're on A road trip just like the one so many years a/(D) go,

And we'll be (G) young again---(A)young, (D) carefree and (Bm) in love, (A) just like those
(D) many years (A)a/(G)go
Yes, (D) just like those (A) many (D)years (A)a/(G)go   (G)  (G)   (D)


Bill Longworth,

159 Spirea Court,
Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
L1G6S8

905 579 3971









Saturday, June 20, 2015


Hoss and Me ©
Bill Longworth

February 6, 2013

We was headen back to our home port of Bonavista about four hours east of St. John’s when Captain Gord Willingham put aside his pipe and growled, “The arse is fallin out of er Jeb.  With those damn government quotas, can’t make a living with this no more.   Ain’t no good like before.  Fishen’s gettin as ugly as a boiled boot!”

I tipped back my Sou’Wester to survey the look of despair on Old Gord’s weathered face.

“Families is eating the putty outta da windows,” the Captain continued.  “Fishin just can’t put food on the table no more.  Fear this’ll be our last trip to the Banks.”

I been expecten this for some time.  This was the end of my way of life.  Fishen was the only thing I knew and liked....besides foot-stompin music-maken with my gitar.

My future looked dim, the same as most of my friends.  Out of work and no hope of a job.

Once ashore, I headed for Walkham's Gate Pub to drown my sorrow and ponder my future.

I sat down with the regulars and ordered a pint, and then another, and then another.  Borrowed a gitar and started to jam with some of the guys already well into the tank.   Hoped songs like “Doin' the Newfie Stomp” would lift my spirits.

Half cut, and with all the courage my beer could muster, I drunkedly belted out, “I’m done with this place.  I’m headen west.  Packing my gitar and tent on my Harley tomorrow and bikin to Alberta.  Heard there’s lots of work there.   Nuttin to keep me here.  Jobs gone, families mostly gone, and my girl run off with another guy.  I’m gonna see the country and claim some of that western gold.   Aint no use hanging around here on the public dole,” I stammered.

Next morning I arrived at Sydney, my first time on the mainland.  I was a little homesick already but this feeling was reduced by my urge to see the country and for this small-town guy to see those big cities I heard about like Montreal and Toronto.

Over the long trip, my love, reliance, and companionship for my bike grew....sorta like what happened with our fishin boats that  protected us through so many storms.

While bikin in the solitude and beauty north of Superior, I even started talkin to my companion, Harley.  Started calling him Hoss.

“Gotta stop to camp,” I said to Hoss.  “Let’s find a comfortable spot.  Figure you’re as hungry and tired as I am.”  Like any great friend, Hoss was always faithful, reliable, and agreeable.

When we reached the wide open Prairies, Hoss, and I started feeling like we really belonged in the west.  Home was completely erased from our minds by the adventures that lay ahead.

Before we knew it, we were in Calgary amazed at the richness of the many brand new shiny skyscrapers and all of the business people hustling about in their rich business suits---a far cry from our laid back way of life, and the sou’ westers, the heavy rubber aprons and work gloves and the slickers and hip waders that defined our work dress, not to mention the laid-back fellowship over singing, dancing and maken music that also defined our East Coast way of life.

I stopped in the first big office building i saw.  Happened to be a huge rich looking rust coloured marble building with the name Trans Canada on it.  Don’t know what they did, but went in to ask about work anyway.  Figured nuttin to lose!  Worst to happen was they’d tell me, “Ain’t got no work.”

I was directed to the personnel office where I was met by a richly attired young girl.  “Wonder if you got any work for a hard working East Coast fisherman ma’am,” I stammered.  Just got in and lookin for work.”

“Well,” said the pretty clerk, “You look strong, hard-working, and reliable.  There’s plenty of jobs in Calgary.   Just can’t get enough workers these days for the new pipelines we’re building, especially with our booming economy.  Pays good for unskilled workers and you’d have a chance to learn a trade--equipment operator or welder or such.  We can start you in an initiation program tomorrow.  You’d work two weeks at a time in a work camp and then we’d fly you back to Calgary for two weeks off.”

“Wow!” I thought.  “Why did I wait so long to come west?  Evenings at those work camps with all the guys will be just like those home town nightly gatherings at Walkham's Gate Pub.  I’ll get a chance to sing and make music with the gang every night”

First pay day had me feeling like a millionaire.   ”Never seen so much money.  It’ll sure give me a good time in Calgary on my time off.  I’d have to work months for this much on the fishin boats,” I thought, as I excitedly anticipated the time I’d have there.

The fellowship at the work camp didn’t quite work out as I thought as there seemed to be a lot of fighting and arguing over everything...and no one seemed interested in makin music.  Only drugs, alcohol and gambling seemed important.  And debts were settled nightly in drunken drug assisted stupors....so different from Walkham's Gate Pub.

All this heightened my desire for my time off in Calgary.

Upon my arrival in Calgary, with all that cash in my pocket, I was feeling that time in the big city would compensate for my disappointment at the time spent at the work camp.

It wasn’t long before I found that big city life was very impersonal with its hustle and bustle, its ear-busten music, and lack of friendship among the people.  Eveyone seemed alone doin their own thing in the crowd.  Calgary life was sterile compared to the richness of life in Bonavista.  Calgary weren’t no better than the work camps.

“Hoss,” I said, when I reunited with my best friend, “This place is just not for us.  Money ain’t everything.  Ya can take us outta Bonavista, but ya can’t take Bonavista outta us.   We’re like fish outta water!  Let’s go home!”


And Hoss gave an enthusiastic holler as his engine roared to life... and off we went.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

March of the Faceless People



Artist’s Inspiration for the Painting---
The Occupy Movement and Increasing Concentration of Wealth

This "political" painting portrays my sense of social protest and disorder, which is presently engulfing the world, and specifically, The Occupy Movement in the west.



Even with draconian laws and the mass slaughter of protesters, there is little that governments can do to limit dissent.  In fact, government measures to control dissent aggravates the situation (Toronto G20 Summit), calling more people into the fray.

Perhaps the world is becoming ungovernable.

The root causes of dissent are usually quite legitimate, and often a function of the exploiting nature of the rich and powerful.

With enough passion for their cause, and communication, promotion, and organizing talent, the modern Pied Pipers of Hamelin, dancing their way through the streets, can attract a following.   The music and social interaction soon turns to a party atmosphere promoting group cohesion and attracting others to join the party.

Protesters in the crowd remind me of watching a shepherd at work in China where I worked.  After mobilizing the sheep, the herder directed their movement by casually throwing rocks on either side of the lead animal.  All of the others followed mindless behind.  Similarly, this herd mentality was used widely by North American native peoples to drive herds of buffalo to their death over “Buffalo-Leap” cliffs.  And this herd mentality is no less strong among humans!

This herding characteristic of people is used by advertisers, politicians, opinion leaders, tacticians, propagandists, charlatans, hucksters, shysters, peddlers, scammers, fraudsters, and medicine men, "The Pied Pipers," all to sell their brand, their idea, or their political party and leader.

It is regrettable that so many mindless and faceless people are attracted "to the party" without being more cognizant of where they could put their energies, their beliefs, their support, and their actions to bring real change to the problem.                     

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sa'īd ‘s Heavy Briefcase


By Bill Longworth
October 31, 2012


My telephone rang unexpectedly in my Heliopolis apartment in the suburbs of Cairo, juat blocks from President Mubarik's Palace, that my driver passed every morning chauffering me to work.
I answered and heard a disappointed Sa'īd exclaim, “Bill, my dear friend. I’m so disappointed you haven’t called me. I’ve missed you. Can I pick you up at noon to go to my Mirage City Club?”
Love to, Sa'īd,” I responded excitedly, always interested in being hosted by Sa'īd at this most exclusive Resort that had been carved out of the desert complete with 36 hole golf course, a huge waterpark with a series of wonderfully landscaped wave pools, and the most exclusive 5-Star Hotel I’d ever seen.
As promised, Sa'īd picked me up in his Mercedes sharply at noon, and shortly we entered the Mirage City security gates where guards with mirrors peered under the car for hidden bombs.
We didn’t get the full checkup that most get as Sa'īd was well known to the hotel security. Still they checked his car’s undercarriage to insure that trouble-makers hadn’t secretly attached a detonation device under his car.
Sa'īd spent most time  sitting around one of the many wave pools conducting business or entertaining guests, or in his permanent suite in the hotel entertaining female hotel workers, permissable i guess, in this culture that permitted men to have as many as four wives.
Today, as on many other days, I was Sa'īd’s guest as we sat drinking and conversing around the wave pool.
I had met Sa'īd as an employee of his wife, whom I secretly called “Diamonds”. She had hired me to set up an American-style High School and SAT training programs for very wealthy students in preparation for entrance to American Universities. Her attractiveness was not enhanced one iota by the incessant flashing of her expensive jewellery, hung around her wrists or off her fingers, that might well have doubled as giant workout weights.
As we sat around the wave pool discussing our families, Sa'īd mentioned recruiting one of my daughters as his agent in Canada to sell his paper products. This led me to point out that Canada had produced some high tech papers with special security features for the printing of currency which Canada did for a number of countries around the world.
Sa'īd’s ears perked up at the mention of this paper that would reduce the likelihood of counterfeiters reproducing their own copies of the currency.
Can you get me some samples of this special paper?” asked Sa'īd. “I could sell this to various governments in the Arab world for use in printing their own currency.”
Impossible Sa'īd,” I responded. “The Canadian Mint places top level security on this paper.”
I understand,” Sa'īd said. “Then do you think that you could have samples of the paper sent to the Prince of Saudia Arabia? Then I’d just go and sell him the paper.”
Obviously, Sa'īd travelled in better circles in the Middle East than I was used to in Canada.
At the end of the day, Sa'īd took me back to his suite of rooms so we could change out of our swimming gear before he chauffeured me back to my own digs.
On leaving his suite, Sa'īd handed me one of his two brief cases to carry to his car.
He stopped at a hotel kiosk to buy cigarettes and opened his briefcase to get the cash. It was the wrong briefcase and so he asked for the one I was carrying.
He opened it and I saw that it was stuffed full of brand new American $100 bills....There had to be a couple of million dollars or more in the case as it was stocked tight with the bills.
This was all the more remarkable because of Egypt’s foreign exchange controls restricting foreign currencies to the government and the county’s most influential citizens.
Seeing all this money, I stammered out jokingly, if not wisely, “Hey Sa'īd, you didn’t want supplies of that special Canadian currency paper to feed your own printing presses, did you?”
Sa'īd‘s stock of cash did reinforce my assessment that he was a guy with real power and influence. No wonder he was able to get me into Egypt without going through the normal border custom's-screening process. I was met as I departed the plane and escorted through back airport passageways and entered the country without any government screening.
My experiences with Sa'id, and the extreme inequity in wealth. lifestyle, and privilege of some Egyptian Citizens he represented, contrasted with the many who trekked barefoot through a stew of muddied donkey-dung streets in Cairo's Older Districts, schooled me well on the causes of their Tahir Square Revolution that occurred just a year or two later!
Their Revolution did not surprise me a bit!  Revolution is inevitable in any society where there is extreme inequity in wealth and opportunity among its citizens.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Help Me Make It Through the Night---The backstory






HERE IS THE BACKSTORY TO THE SONG

With pen and paper in hand, Kris, anguished and tormented, head down and teary eyed, entered the tavern and sat down in a dark remote corner and ordered a double. He needed something to relieve his pain.

Hours earlier, a sympathetic and kindly Salvation Army Officer who was hoping to negotiate the beginning of a reconciliation had driven him up to the house of his long estranged wife.

Obviously, Kris had confided his pain to the Officer.

The uniformed Officer approached the door of the house while Kris waited hopefully in the car for a face-to-face meeting with his wife whom he had not seen for many years.

His wife angrily rejected any thought of reconciliation. And who could blame her?

By 20, she had mothered three of Kris’s four children. Despite this, Kris spent most of his wages virtually every night having a good time in the pub and coming home most evenings only after last call. Once home, usually in a drunken state, if indeed he did come home at all, he would beat his wife, often for rejecting his advances.

She was the classic abused wife and her beatings would earn Kris jail time these days. Unfortunately, spousal abuse was not treated seriously in those days of sexual inequality. Then, man ruled the roost as king of his castle.

Until recent times, divorce was uncommon and difficult. The only ground for divorce was infidelity, and embarrassment at that becoming public in the Victorian 40’s and 50’s deterred divorce for many on those grounds. The other ground for a legal end to a marriage was the death of a spouse. In the absence of evidence of death, this ruling was made following seven years of separation during which time the spouse could not be located. But Kris kept surfacing just before the seven years, each time denying his wife’s freedom.

After the birth of her fourth child at 24, Kris’s wife escaped the abuse by running away with her newborn son to work somewhere...anywhere, as a domestic. Painfully, she had to leave her other three children who came under the care of the Children’s Aid.

All this gnawed at Kris’s tormented mind as he cleared his tears and started to write.

“Dear Rose....”

Kris was spent and broken and words didn’t come easily. He found it difficult to express his remorse for the hell he’d brought his family.

“I think of you constantly,” he wrote. “I’ve brought only pain to you and our children. I regret this with all my heart. But yesterday is left and gone. It can’t be changed. But, I promise, I won’t let the devil take any tomorrows if we can share some time together. It’s so sad to be alone," he added in self pity.

Thinking of his shameful past was painful. He put his pen and paper aside and bowed his head to hide the tears again welling in his eyes. Kris’ emotions overcame him making it impossible to continue.

Shortly, a stranger, a busty scantily dressed woman with her hair tied up with a bright red ribbon approached his table.

“You’re all alone,” she said. “You look like you need some company.”

“Sure, sit down. Let me get you a drink,” Kris replied.

They drank until the place closed and then left arm in arm...together.

WRITER'S NOTE---This story is mostly factual with Kris portraying the character of my father and his estrangled wife my mother.  It is doubtful though that my father ever displayed any of Kris' remorse or tears until his end as a broken, lonely, and forgotten soul.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Case of Psychological Terrorism

By Bill Longworth
Nov. 29, 2011

An entry in the Writer's Community of Durham Region 2011 "Whispered Words" Prose Contest

Whispers everywhere! Every sound a foreboding message. The wind, the water, the trees, the birds, even the tires pounding the pavement seemed to be whispering, “Don’t do it!” Everywhere, I got the same message, “Don’t do it.”

Even the radio was blaring out a Marvin Gaye tune the DJ announced as, “Baby, Don’t Do It.” Why ever would this particular song come over the station I was listening to right now?

I had printed off a copy of the driving directions from my computer and even the sound of the print head traversing the paper seemed to be hypnotically whispering, “Don’t do it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it!”---“Don’t do it” was repeated with every passing stroke of the ink cartridge across the page.

The subliminal messages were everywhere. I wondered whether I was going nuts. These messages were toying with my imagination and playing games with my mind. Everywhere, whispered messages from my subconscious telling me what’s right...what’s safe....what’s... I couldn’t escape!

Sometimes, when an idea enters your head, you get blasted with the same message from everywhere. And I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. If I tried, I got the same message from another unlikely source....and then another....and then another. Almost as if the ideas were being propelled at me from some rapid-fire machine gun.

Are these thoughts bombarding my mind the kind of ammo that send some to insane asylums? If I wasn’t going nuts, such incessant messages were sure to send me there.

Perhaps the whole thing was a systematic plot by someone, something, or even my own mind to send me round the bend. Maybe something external had seized control of my mind....like some medication...or extraterrestrial... or hypnotic trance...or a shaman in this aboriginal land...or even the Supreme Being looking after my safety.

Regardless, my inability to rid my mind of the endless tape whispering “Don’t do it” over and over was, I thought, psychological terrorism. I couldn’t determine how much of the torment was coming from external sources and how much was a product of my own mind.

The whispered message was always ambiguous. “Don’t do it, don’t do it”....without ever making it clear what I shouldn’t do.

Every whispered plea, though, made me more determined to do whatever it was that I shouldn’t be doing.

The first messages came before I left Nanaimo to embark on what was billed as a three hour drive over the rugged mountains to Tofino on the west side of Vancouver Island, the most famous surfing site in Canada.

This February drive would let me witness Tofino’s best surfing which occurs from November to March when the swell is regularly in excess of ten feet.

This surf, and modern wet suit technology, attracts tons of backpackers and free spirits all winter.

The drive started as an easy 45 kilometre drive north from Nanaimo up the coast of the island before a turn westward across the rugged mountains to the west coast of Vancouver Island.

It wasn’t long after I turned inland that I came across Cathedral Grove, a rainforest of gigantic 800-year-old Douglas Fir, and stopped the car to wander through the majestic forest.

The peaceful tranquillity and lush smells of the rainforest made for a religious experience causing the loss of all semblance of time, and for once, distracted my mind, ridding it of the constant plea, “Don’t do it.”

Before long, the early afternoon dusk was settling in and I had yet to drive through the most mountainous sections of road.

The road rose to the Port Alberni summit as darkness started to settle in. There was still enough light to witness the treacherous passage ahead. It was bad enough in dusk, never mind at night when visibility further decreased.

As darkness approached, temperatures fell and freezing rain made the winding mountain road with its steep drop-offs even more deadly.

“Come to me,” the winds whispered gently from the deep canyons bordering the dark road being pelted with ice pellets from the brewing storm. The voice within me once again started its relentless, “Don’t do it, Don’t do it, Don’t do it.”

The sounds of nature, now far more than whispers, screamed out danger, while my inner voice “Don’t do it” urged me to caution. The hail pelted, the lightning exploded, and the thunder hollered as I continued through the Sutton Pass on this frightening night.


I slowed down, exercising extreme caution on the unfamiliar road, not being sure what unknowns were beyond the shoulders.

No matter my caution, I knew that other less cautious drivers could still involve my car in catastrophe as the ominous message, “Don’t do it,” now not a whisper but a jackhammer, continued pounding in my head.

It was a relief when morning came and I finally arrived at the Pacific shore for the scenic drive north to Tofino.

And then it struck me. The demon in my head could not have resulted from my anxiety at driving over the icy mountain road at night. The voice had started early in the morning when I was still on the coast in Nanaimo and before I knew anything about the road and its weather or what I’d find at Tofino.

The cautionary voice had to have another cause.

With this on my mind, I pulled up to the bay alive with twenty-something surfers with many of the free spirits, both males and females, standing stark naked in the parking lot, changing from their wet suits, oblivious to watching eyes like mine frantically checking out their progress in my rear view mirror.

Then, I had the Eureka moment! “Don’t do it” was a warning for naughty old me to control my excitement so that my blood pressure didn’t rise to gasket blowing levels.

But just then, my head exploded!

I next remember being surrounded by a cloud of white coats. I wasn’t sure whether they were angels or doctors.

Those ominous whispered “Don’t do it” warnings? I should have listened!

There But For The Grace Of God, Go I

Bill Longworth
February 29, 2012


“We’ll just have to tape up that shoe,“ my mother said disconsolately as she watched the sole of my shoe flap wildly with each step. “Our welfare cheque does not come until the end of the month and it’s hardly enough to keep us in food after we pay the rent,” she apologized as she fetched me a glass of milk from the orange crate that was perched on the ledge outside the window.

This kind of apologetic concern was expressed regularly by my mother who had a tough time stretching our scarce resources to provide our family of five with the barest of necessities. Despite this, she always displayed a cheerful and optimistic attitude that things would somehow get better.

That was a good thing because there was no way for her to hide her frustrations and anxieties in the single room in which we all lived in downtown Toronto’s Cabbagetown. No doubt, she worked hard at keeping her chin up to keep the spirits up in the rest of us.

This situation of poverty was new for my mother, the oldest of three attractive daughters in a stable middle class family of three girls, well provided for in their East York single-family home at 65 Gatwick Avenue by her businessman father and stay-at-home mom. The youngest of the daughters often entered beauty contests, which were popular at the time and, as often as not, came home with the prize, even coming third in the Miss Toronto contest in the early fifties.

These types of beauty contests seemed important to my grandmother who even, unbeknownst to my mother, entered my twin brother and I in the baby contests at the Canadian National Exhibition. At 12 months, we won for twins 12 to 18 months old.

While my mother`s childhood home seemed cheery with my grandmother`s melodious voice as she answered the phone, it was a very quiet prim and proper home run with quite formal, if unwritten, rules set with kindly example by my grandparents. No matter how close a relative you were, on visiting, you always knocked, waited to be let in, took your shoes off, and sat quietly on the couch for tea to be served. There didn’t seem to be a lot of joyful enthusiasm or comfortable spontaneity in the house.

So my mother finding herself living on welfare with all of her children in a single room in what were then Toronto’s slums must have been quite a shock to her.

No one ever knows when their life might take an unfortunate turn for the worse. In my mother’s case, she married the local “bad boy,” a drinking, carousing guy, always the center of attention and always on the edge of mischief. Unlike my mother, he came from a very boisterous home. The mismatched marriage lasted only until my youngest brother was born when I was just starting kindergarten at 5 years of age.

After a few years in a foster home under the care of the Children`s Aid, my mother and my brothers and sister and I reunited in that single downtown room and others like it over 4 or 5 years until my grandparent`s bought my mother a house. Perhaps they were feeling guilty about abandoning her earlier.

As always, necessity is the mother of invention, and at about 12 years of age, my twin brother and I became quite the entrepreneurs. We had numerous paper routes radiating out in all directions from our main distribution point, a newspaper stand at the bus stop at Sherbourne and Wellesley Streets. We’d sell hundreds of newspapers daily in our routes covering much of the area bounded by Jarvis, Wellesley, Queen and Ontario Streets. My identical twin and I were so busy that customers must have wondered how one person could be everywhere at once. Between routes, one of us would always go through the Wellesley Hospital patient rooms pitching papers. We grew to realize that if we needed shoes, bikes, a bottle of pop or a chocolate bar, we had to earn money to buy it. This responsibility and hard work were both excellent early teachers, the lessons of which have stayed with me and contributed enormously to my successes in life.

As a result of these life experiences, when I see the homeless or the poor, I have perfect understanding of the saying, “There but for the grace of God, go I.“ It`s unfortunate that too many of those who have never seen the dark side have so little understanding or empathy for those who have...and just don`t get it!

“Just work harder they say...and your path will be paved with gold!“

Yeah! Right!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Our Lake's Authentic "Red Green"

Jack S is the kind of guy that you’ve probably noticed around your office. Not content with being successful in his own right, he always figures the “political angle” into most things he does. On this one occasion, he figured it wouldn’t hurt his career to invite his “big” boss up to his cottage for the week to get in some fishing and quiet time, a little drinking, and some story telling.



Probably to Jack S’s amazement, the boss accepted. Just the two of them, Jack figured, and no one to run interference between he and the boss. Jack S would have the whole week to impart some of his wit and wisdom and create that great impression that could have a mercuric impact on his career.

Now to really appreciate this story, you’d have to meet Jack S’s boss. Since that is impossible for most of you, the description following may give you a sense of what he was like, and God forbid, remind you of someone in your own work world.

Tony O Lawless was a no-nonsense sort of guy, a sergeant-major type whose precise and proper manner had everything under control, including the minutest details of everything his subordinates did. His clipped British accent fired out rapid machine gun orders that were to be followed to a “T,” including business meetings that started at 6:37 am without regard to where you lived or how long your commute was. And God forbid if you were late. Protests about these early morning meetings always brought the same "no-nonsense" response---"The meeting will start at 6:37 old chap...I don’t care if you live in Timbuktu!"

Anyway, Jack S and the boss arrived at the public dock, Tony O opting to drive both up in the comfort of his Jaguar limo. Jack S started his boat to warm it up for the 8-mile trek across the lake to his water-access cottage. While he and Tony O were loading the boat, the motor conked out. No problem, thought Jack, as he once again hopped into the boat and proceeded to fire it up. No luck! His repeated attempts ran down the battery. What a start to the impressive time I`m showing the boss, Jack thought!

"The motor`s dead," Jack S reported apologetically to Tony O. "I guess we’ll just have to sit in your Jag until a cottager comes along who can help us out. Maybe we can borrow a set of booster cables and some tools and we’ll take the battery out of your car and boost the boat."

Jack S and the boss sat in the comfy confines of the Jaguar for what seemed like hours waiting for assistance to arrive. Jack S had not considered that this was a week in June when most sane cottagers forego the pleasures of the cottage leaving the place for the hordes of black flies that inhabit the North at this time of year.

No doubt, Tony O was impressed with Jack S’s wit and wisdom during the wait. Not used to waiting on anything, he probably wished he was back in the familiar surroundings of his Caledon Hills Horse farm.

Finally, at about 11 pm a motorist came down the cottage road, a young lady all alone, hardly the kind of help Jack S was looking for. Without a blink, however, Jack S hopped out of the Jag asking, "Skuse me miss, you don’t have a set of booster cables with you do you? My pal and I are stranded and can’t get to the cottage. Our battery’s dead!"

"Sorry! I don’t have any booster cables! Wish I could help!"

"You can," Jack S replied, "My pal and I would really appreciate a lift to my cottage."

"Well okay," responded the trusting lass reluctantly, realizing that cottagers always helped others in distress. "Where’s your cottage?"

"It’s about eight miles down the east arm," said Jack S. "Where’s yours?"

"I’m down the west arm and don’t know your part of the lake especially in the dark," answered the trusting lady. "Why don’t I take you down to my cottage?"

At this comment, Jack S’s imagination swung beyond his wildest dreams both at once forgetting about his battery and about his boss.

"Once I get to my cottage," she continued, "You can borrow my boat and return it in the morning."

"Really appreciate your help," Jack S responded slightly embarrassed at his mis-interpretation of the earlier remark.

Jack S and Tony O piled all of their stuff into the aluminum boat that was already burdened and climbed in for the long trek. Reaching the Good Samaritan’s cottage and helping her unload, Jack S and Tony O continued their journey to Jack’s cottage reaching it shortly after 1:00 am.

Getting up early the next morning, Jack S and Tony O travelled back to the public dock with some tools to fetch Jack S’s boat.

Jumping into the boat, Tony O said, "Let me have a look Jack?" Within seconds, he had diagnosed the problem as he held up Jack S’s fuel line which was disconnected from his motor exclaiming, "You know I hate wasting time Jack! And to think we wasted hours over this!"

Needless to say, Jack S did make a big impression with his boss. It wasn’t, however, the kind that he wanted to make. No doubt, Tony O went home thinking of Jack S as Jackass. And Jack is still waiting for that mercurial “break” in his career.



And, of course, any resemblance to individuals dead or alive is purely co-incidental. Oh yeah!

Friday, November 11, 2011

In Flander's Fields---A Recitation

This is a famous war memorial poem written by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae (November 30, 1872 – January 28, 1918),a Canadian poet, physician, author, artist and soldier during World War I and a surgeon during the Second Battle of Ypres.

The poppies mentioned in the poem are now a familiar emblem of remembrance day (Canada) and Armistice Day (USA) that is celebrated annually in ceremonies remembering the war dead at 11 am every November 11 signalling the signing of the armistice to end WWI at 11 on that day in 1918.

The red remembrance poppy has become a familiar emblem of Remembrance Day due to the poem "In Flanders Fields".

These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I, their brilliant red colour an appropriate symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

I enjoy reciting this sombre poem to myself every November 11 as my personal act of remembrance.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

You Couldn’t Dream Up A Comedy Like This ©

Bill Longworth
November 2, 2011

Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, the three stooges, Curly, Larry, and Moe, and even Laurel and Hardy were never this good!

It was an impromptu slapstick comedy act. Bicyclists peddling down the street knee deep in water with tons of floating garbage catching their spokes, seizing their wheels, and tumbling countless riders into the rushing water.

Too bad there weren’t judges around to hold up cards judging the dives...5.6, 6.0, 5.8, to make a real competition out of the pratfalls....and audiences to cheer the level of their approval. Instead there were only howls of laughter and derision at those unfortunate victims of the situation.

The speed of some of the bigger and heavier chunks of garbage rushing down the road collided with the bicycles crashing their riders into the flood.

In the face of colliding with the bigger debris, some nimble riders jumped off their bikes and took off as best they could into the drink to escape the bombardment.

You couldn’t plan such a comedy routine as rider after rider fell victim to the garbage strewn water.

Slapstick was never as good as this!

If I didn’t think I was in such a desperate predicament, I would have joined all of the other onlookers laughing their heads off at the ridiculous and bizarre buffoonery we were witnessing in the rapidly rising water.

With a few spare hours to kill, I had ventured out into a sunny China afternoon for a bike ride to a nearby rural neighbourhood when an unexpected rainstorm suddenly arose. Rapidly drenched, I quickly pulled my bike up under a canopy to avoid getting more soaked than I already was.

Without storm water control systems, the water rushed overland and was soon a torrential river roaring down the road that only a few minutes earlier had been a dusty broken road between the open-fronted shops lining the road.

The rain water flooded the street as I watched helplessly from higher ground wondering if I could get back to Kunming’s Yunnan Finance and Trade Institute in SW China to deliver my 7 o’clock lecture.

I shivered in my wet clothes as the river flooded higher and higher as I perched precariously atop the biggest boulder I could find. If I lost my footing or the water rose much higher, its strong current surely would have floated me downstream in the torrent, along with the many other comedic river rats and garbage.

Such a spectacle would probably have been the highlight of the show as most ordinary Chinese saw all white North American big noses like me as wealthy, coming as we did, from a place where all the streets were paved in gold. So being swept away in the current and garbage would be a just comeuppance for me.

While this flooding was a surprise and a fright to me as the water continued to rise, the native inhabitants of the place had obviously seen this before and saw humour where I saw danger, and they saw a cleansing of their neighbourhood where I saw pollution.

The eighteen inch water became a flushing system for all of the garbage and dirt of the community. To add to the mayhem, shopkeepers threw all of their garbage into the rushing water so that the flood become a sea of flotsam rushing downhill to Lord knows where. While the garbage was sure to end up as someone’s problem down the line, it was a welcome saviour for those on higher ground to get rid of litter that had probably been piling up since the last storm. Eco concerns were the last thing on anyone’s mind.

While this demonstration of a natural flushing system was probably a godsend to the upstream people, it brought considerable anguish to me with my concern with world pollution problems...such a contrast to this culture where garbage is simply strewn about.

This event, though, did provide reinforcement of lessons I have learned numerous times in my international work experience. And that is to not judge customs in foreign lands by my North American standards, which may be equally perplexing to them.

But my experience with this flash flood has given me greater appreciation of the power of nature and the catastrophe’s that can erupt so quickly catching all by surprise who are in its wake....and often with disastrous results.

And by the way, I never did get to that lecture.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My Foray Into The World of Crime ©

By Bill Longworth
October 19, 2011

We pulled up to the five star Fairmont Towers Hotel near the Cairo Airport and I slipped out of my chauffeur driven car with my backpack of money and ventured into the front passenger seat of an impeccably polished black Mercedes.

I didn’t know where I was going or who I was with, but the Mercedes driver had given my chauffeur a promise to convert my bag of Egyptian cash into real money in the form of American greenbacks.

I was returning to Canada after finishing my job assignment as Director of a “start up” International High School that paid me about as much as fifty Egyptian teachers and, despite living high off the hog, I had accumulated a healthy sum.

I had no idea how much Egyptian money I had in my bag...but it might well have been the equivalent of $15,000-$20,000US, and I knew that, if unconverted, it only had the value of last week’s newspaper once outside the country.

In retrospect, It’s frightening to contemplate the risks you’ll take when there’s money on the line.

Egypt has tightly regulated foreign exchange controls as the government attempts to lock up all internationally recognized currencies for its own use and for the use of its privileged insiders. Thus my money conversion was illegal and had to be done on the black market.

And neither my driver, nor the Mercedes driver, spoke much English so I had no idea of the specifics of the agreements or discussions they had.

I did know that my safety and security, and that of my bag of money, was in the hands of those I didn’t know and couldn’t communicate with. I was proceeding on blind faith....and a hope and a prayer.

Before hopping into the Mercedes, I had my driver write down the car’s license number, get the driver’s identification, and instructed him to wait until I returned. As if any of this would provide me security!

The Mercedes driver, a heavy-set guy with an olive Arabic complexion, was neatly dressed. His slick-backed hair and “hustler” manner distinguished him as not of the executive set. It appeared to me that his Mercedes was probably the result of criminal activity in this country where the best middle class salaries averaged $240US monthly---certainly not enough to afford these wheels.

As part of the criminal element, I wondered whether the guy was holstering a revolver under his jacket. I knew weapons were common to the Egyptian population. I once witnessed a guy sitting in broad daylight on the curb outside his residence cleaning his revolver.

And everywhere you look in Egypt, bus loads of heavily armed soldiers and police were waiting for immediate dispatch to trouble spots. Unfortunately none of these trouble-shooters were nearby. The only sense of security I got was from the hotel security guards, and who knows, they may have been in cahoots with the Mercedes driver hanging around the hotel parking lot. So it was not just my wild imagination wondering whether this stranger helping me break the law was packing some heat that might be used to do me in and steal my cash.

And I’d often heard rumours in Egypt about the proclivity of police and others to shoot first and ask questions later....a belief reinforced daily as my driver drove through heavily armed police check-points on my return from work, although we didn’t have to stop, perhaps because my car was somehow identified as “safe.”

It’s frightening how the need for practical action often causes you to throw caution to the wind...and this risky, foolhardy, and maybe even dumb-headed money exchange adventure seemed eerily similar to a perilous game of Russian roulette.

But to me, the amount of cash I had was no chicken feed, and I needed to convert it into something of value. Previous unsuccessful attempts to get the cash changed to American currency, had me shopping for Rolex watches as a last resort, but there was no guarantee even these would be real.

Anyway, despite my trepidations, I was in the Mercedes and it sped off through the streets to some unknown destination. After forty minutes or so through a section of Cairo that looked a little seedy to me, the car pulled up in a run-down high-rise apartment complex.

The driver handed me the keys to his Mercedes and gestured for my bag of money and we made the exchange.

He got out of the car and made his way to some unknown “out of sight” destination.

After what seemed like an eternity, he returned and gave me a sheaf of brand new American hundreds and I returned his keys.

Now that I had the real money and he had his keys, was he now going to drive me to some remote location to do me in and reclaim the money?

That question dominated my thinking until I saw the hotel and my chauffeur still there waiting for me. It was only then that I felt relief knowing that the transaction was complete, and I was safe.

I never even bothered counting the cash I got and didn’t care about the huge premium I probably paid, but I did applaud my alchemy at being able to convert my trash to gold.

And, oh yes, I did slip my chauffeur a few hundred for his collusion in this caper knowing that, if he was caught, it may well have resulted in jail time for him.

Now I feel better! This confession has cleansed my soul and absolved my sin! Hey! That’s so easy! Now, what other mischief can I get myself into?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It Helps to Have...
a Beautiful Woman On Your Arm ©

By Bill Longworth
October 5, 2011

As I sat in London’s Lyceum theatre with the beautiful young oriental woman I was with that Saturday night, minding my own business as usual, a stodgy old man sitting alone next to me started up a “small talk” conversation.

“Where you from?” he inquired.

Unimpressed, I looked at the guy not really interested in conversing with him. He was a little overweight and had just a smidgeon of white hair haloing his head. He was dressed in an unpressed brown suit, looked every day his age of at least 80, and, as if for some kind of security, he incessantly fondled a tattered well-worn “leather bound” novel. The little bit of hair he had was pulled back eccentrically into a three inch ponytail at the back of his head.

“Toronto,” I responded in a civil, if not so respectful tone, “And you?”

“Chicago,” he said, “But I spend about half the year here staying at the Reform Club.”

If I’d known then what I know now about the Reform Club, I’d suspect he was trying to impress me, or more probably, the Lady I was with that evening.

“I’m Professor Emeritus of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. Name's E. Blythe Statton Jr.,* he said, “But you can call me Blythe.”

“I’m Bill,” I said rather apologetically, realizing my “handle” was not nearly as impressive as his, but I suppose I could have jazzed it up a bit by identifying myself as William Longworth, the third.

“And the lady....what’s her name?” he continued, rather aggressively I thought, showing considerable interest in my companion so early in the conversation.

“She’s Helen and she came with me from Canada,” I responded, hoping this answer would give him the message that she was not only with me tonight but that she was also my travel mate.

At this the lecherous old man, after clearly establishing his credentials with both of us, leaned over me and started conversing more directly with Helen.

“I spend a lot of time in London,” he said, “And perhaps I could show you and Bill around the town. Dinner perhaps at the Reform Club Monday evening, as there’s a James Bond film shoot there tomorrow.”

Amazing a total stranger should offer us a dinner in what sounded like such an exclusive place...or perhaps he was arranging a date with Helen and I was merely the “third wheel” tag-along guest.

Anyway, after the theatre, we walked Blythe westward along the Strand towards Pall Mall where the Reform Club was located. We had to part company though at the Charing Cross Tube Station and head south across the Thames on the Hungerford Footbridge to the Waterloo Train station for the 40 minute train ride west to Staines, the London suburb where we lived.

Before splitting, though, we made sure to confirm our plans for the Reform Club dinner. As part of the details, Blythe cautioned me to wear a suit and tie and leather shoes, which also informed Helen of the standard of dinner dress expected of women guests.

The twenty minute walk with Blythe was interesting. He said he had a Rolls Royce in England and another in Chicago. “Women loved riding in them,” he stated, again I guessed for Helen’s enticement.

I was starting to think that Blythe, (despite his appearance, but being impressed with his two Rolls Royces), might be a quite a wealthy guy. I also became impressed with his intelligence when he said he was a Harvard Law Graduate. I wasn’t nearly as impressed when he said his great grandfather invented the elevator brake, which he demonstrated in the Crystal Palace Exposition Hall at the 1854 New York World’s Fair.

I made sure though, before the dinner, to research the Reform Club and the inventor of the elevator brake.

The Reform Club is one of five or six super exclusive by-invitation-only “Gentlemen’s Clubs” on Pall Mall, whose guests are mostly Lords and Ladies, and his great grandfather, the inventor of the elevator brake, was Elisha Graves Otis whose two sons, one Blythe’s grandfather, founded Otis Elevators and installed the world’s first public elevator in a five story Manhattan Department store. The rest, of course, is world class industrial and commercial history.

And the best part, Blythe still writes me from all over the world on his travels and when he visited me in Oshawa two years ago, he commented on how he enjoyed discussing things with me as he said there was so much to learn.

And this from a guy I considered the smartest guy I’d ever met.

I‘ll have to visit him in Chicago to see his whole collection of Rolls Royces and Bentleys going back to the early 1900s, some he said would cost millions of dollars to restore.

And, oh yes, I do credit Blythe’s interest in Helen for being the magnet for my continuing association with Blythe.

And I’ve learned beyond a doubt, It never hurts to have beautiful woman on your arm.


*Blythe’s surname, whose mother was one of the daughters of the founder of Otis Elevator Company, has been changed to protect his identity

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Frightful Tomb ©

Bill Longworth
September 28, 2011

I clambered up the steep and irregular boulder steps to the entrance high above the desert floor, for 40 centuries, the tallest structure on Earth.

I entered through the Robber’s Tunnel, a hole poked into the side of the massive structure by Persian Invaders around AD820. At that time, the main entrance was located higher up and off centre to dissuade looters, and was concealed behind slabs of polished stone covering the entire edifice.

Expending such a huge effort to rob the place, those early plunderers were sure to have left few treasures for me.



Entering this structure was not for the faint of heart. The limit of 300 daring souls admitted daily was seldom threatened, as most people refused to enter this foreboding place.

Posted signs warned of steep climbs, dark, damp, and narrow passageways, and low ceilings often requiring crawling on hands and knees. It was not at all the place for the claustrophobic, the faint of heart, or the out of shape.

But I saw entry as an opportunity of a lifetime as I enthusiastically made my way to the entrance. The reluctance of most to enter made me even more eager to explore this mysterious place.

The place? The Great Pyramid of Egypt. At 4000 years old, it is the only remaining structure of the original Seven Wonders of the World, and I was about to probe into the bowels of this place where so few humans over those 4000 years had ever been.

The inside is a honeycomb of dark mysterious stone passageways punctuated by steep climbs on inclined ramps and steep staircases and ladders. Some of the narrow passageways have been blocked by massive boulders designed to keep out intruders, or indeed, to keep those lost from escape. If lost, what a fate to be entombed and rot in this sweltering place.

Inside, every word and footstep echoes eerily, ghostlike off the solid stone walls, almost as if those from millenniums past are stalking your every step. Every whisper is amplified a thousand times by the massive stone walls comprised of millions of precision “hand cut” locomotive sized stone blocks pieced together so finely as to defy those who would want to slip an onionskin in the joints.

When you stop to listen, you are deafened by the menacing silence of the place. It seems the spirit of the ancient pharaoh entombed here, and his servants, and the workers sacrificed during construction, remain vigilant custodians tracking every movement of those who would enter this sacred place. When you stop to listen, they also silence their sounds so as to remain hidden from your view.

The trapped perspiration off every sweating visitor and the moisture exhaled through their breathing, and often exhumed as a result of their anxiety, adds to the 85% humidity to bathe each subsequent visitor with the vaporous discards of visitors past.

This build-up of humidity, in addition to being a severe discomfort for those brave enough to enter this tomb, is a giant concern to curators and conservators charged with protecting the treasure. Hence the daily limitation on visitors and recent closures for the installation of modern dehumidifier systems.

And to think this marvel of human ingenuity, unmatched even today, was built 4000 years ago with hand labour, primitive engineering, planning and complex design communicated orally or in ancient hieroglyphics written on papyri or clay tablets in the beginning stages of written language, complicated math and astronomical computations without the use of modern computing tools....a structure virtually impossible to duplicate today even in our advanced computerized and mechanized society.

It’s doubtful that any wonders of modern-day engineering will be around 4000 years into the future.

Who says we’ve come a long way in the last 4000 years in what humans have been able to accomplish.

We think of those ancient civilizations as primitive, but no person living today would be able to duplicate the mental and physical skills of the pyramid builders of that pre-biblical Egyptian society.

INTERESTING LINKS

How were the stones moved?---no one knows!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Torment of the Educated Cabbie ©

Bill Longworth
Sept 21, 2011


“Good afternoon sir. Please get in,” said the well mannered and well dressed cabbie in impeccable English. This greeting was extraordinary for taxi drivers in Cairo where I was employed. Most were illiterate. Very few could read or write Arabic, never mind speak English.

This guy smelled of pleasant cologne which was characteristic of higher class Egyptian men who always kept a bottle of spray nearby to combat the effects of the blistering temperatures, and he was clean cut and freshly shaven---not at all your typical Cairo cabbie.

Amazingly, I had no problem at all communicating with this guy.

Usually communication was dependent upon simple gestures or the names of a few key locations I had learned to pronounce. For safety’s sake, my business card had an Arabic labeled map with my residence identified on the back. At the outset, I would hand this to the driver and most would hop out of the cab to get it read by an educated bystander.



As time passed, and I learned the way to my favourite Cairo destinations, I was able to direct drivers by gesture.

While I welcomed the invitation to get into this cab and out of the blistering 100 degree heat on this hot September day, I ‘d never get into a cab before negotiating a price for a ride to my destination.

Throughout the Middle East, there are few fixed prices and everything is open to negotiation. To an outsider, the bargaining looks and sounds like an agitated quarrel soon to get violent.

So waving a banknote in the air, “I’m going to the Khan el Khalili market,” I said to the English speaking cabbie, “and I’ll give you ten Egyptian pounds for the ride.” This was the standard price I’d pay, about a dollar and a half Canadian, to anywhere in downtown Cairo from my residence in Heliopolis, a well-to-do suburb characterized by distinctive Turkish architecture.

“Okay, it’s a deal,” said the cabbie as he reached over to open the cab door.

The cab took off and we shortly swung past Hosni Mubarak’s Presidential Compound, a Heliopolis landmark not far from my residence that I was chauffeured past on my way to work every day of the week.

Some cabbies were reluctant to accept a ten pound offer from a foreigner and would drive off in a huff making gestures that I took to mean that they thought I was crazy. Such gestures are used frequently in negotiating prices and were tools I quickly picked up in perfecting my own bargaining skills for use in Egypt. Of course, unless you were nuts, you wouldn’t think of using such tactics in Canada.

One may think fare negotiations disrespectful and impolite, but it is a way of life in the Middle East. There are no firm prices. Every seller argues for more and every buyer argues for less. Buying anything is a game of wits and you’d lose your shirt in an instant if you failed to follow this custom. What most people lack in education, they more than make up in street smarts, guile, and cunning. From an early age, mostly spent as street kids, they all learn how to close the deal!

This Cabbie’s enthusiasm in accepting my ten pound offer without the usual bickering raised questions in my mind. Why did he want me in the cab so much? Why not the usual negotiations? Why is he so different from the typical cabbie? Is there something strange going on here? Should I be concerned about my security and safety? You never know about these things in a strange country where you don’t know the lay of the land.

Price negotiation was common for everyone getting a cab in Cairo as was a cabbie’s common refusal to provide the service. While negotiations with one cab driver were ensuing, it was common for two or three cabs to join the cab lineup hoping for the job. This lineup of cabs I thought was part of the negotiation game as each cab was hoping that my frustration with a refused offer would boost up my price for the next driver. All cabbies, it seemed, were in collusion to steal foreigners blind.

Anyway, once the cab set off, it wasn’t long before conversation ensued. “Where are you from?...and…What do you do?” inquired the cabbie.

"I’m from Canada and I’m Director of a Private High School preparing students to write the SAT examinations for entrance to Professional Schools in American Universities," I responded.

He would have known immediately that the students in the school were from extremely privileged families…and destined for the highest imaginable riches.

At that, the reason for the cab driver’s lack of bargaining in getting me into his cab became obvious.

"I’m trained as a lawyer," he said. "And I wonder if you’d have any influence in getting me a good job here in Egypt."

"Amazing," I thought! "He’s wondering whether a foreigner has influence in getting him a good job in his own country!"

This brought into sharp focus judgments I’d already made in observation of the students graduating from the school I administered. At the convocation ceremony, the majority of graduates were off to medical school.

Family influence and privilege are the birthrights for wealth and success in Egypt. Hard work, education, and intelligence are not the keys. Your life journey is determined at birth.

The rich grow richer and the poor grow poorer and nothing is able to break the cycle.

And that, in a nutshell folks, is the stark reason for the recent Egyptian revolution and the strife now flooding the Middle East.

And that revolution would be strongly supported by the tormented cabdriver and resisted strongly by the families of every student in my school.

Frighteningly, as in Egypt, growing income disparity in North America could lead to the same kind of strife.



More Reading on this topic as it relates to Canada and the USA

Growth of income inequality in Canada

Why Occupy? It's the Inequality

Kevin O'Leary gets a smackdown over corporate greed from Journalist Chris Hedges

Occupy Bay Street---Maclean's Mag

Occupy Toronto...the G20 and now Bay Street

New York Minute: Observations and Aims in Occupy Wall Street

Mic Check....Despatches from the Occupy Wall Street

An Activist's Guide to Occupy Toronto

Objectives of the Occupy Toronto Movement

Chris Hedges smacks down CBC/s Kevin O'Leary attacking protest movement

Why should Canadians care about the "Occupy" movement?

NYTIMES--opinion piece---Why the "Occupy Movement" frightens the rich