Monday, 26 October 2015

HMP Blantyre House (Taken From Time For Cannabis: The Prison Years 1991 to 1995 by Alun Buffry)


From Time For Cannabis: The Prison Years 1991 to 1995

Available on Amazon as paperback and Kindle

After writing the previous chapters, I had wanted to write about Blantyre House, a totally different and altogether more positive experience with a fresh start, rid of the influence of the Whitemoor memories, so I had decided to take a break.

Unintentionally, that break lasted 17 years!

Now I feel I can comfortably write this chapter, not that the long gap in time was due entirely to the Whitemoor experience, after all, I left that place a couple of years before starting this book. But there have been other things on my mind, which included co-founding and running a small political party based on the single issue of cannabis, travelling as I could afford and a lot of other writing

So, having been approved for HMP Blantyre House, Gary (the inmate travelling with me) and myself were all packed up and ready to leave Whitemoor as soon as we could.

We had heard favourable reports of the relaxed regime there and were looking forward to seeing our bridge-playing, ecstasy-smuggler friends Will and Tom along with a few others from Whitemoor.

This is what the Department of Justice says about Blantyre House in 2015:

"Blantyre House is an adult male category 'C/D' resettlement prison. The buildings themselves are located in a country house which was taken over by the Prison Commission in 1954, having previously operated as a Fegan Home. It was a Detention Centre for young offenders before converting to a resettlement prison for long term prisoners.

"Regime: The regime at Blantyre is designed to prepare men for their eventual release. Within the first six months it is compulsory for the men to continue to build upon their education, which will include obtaining Basic Skills qualifications and taking part in courses such as healthy lifestyles, social and life skills, independent living and preparation for work. There are also a number of vocational courses on offer including IT, Dry-lining and Plastering. Once risk-assessed prisoners are allowed the opportunity to develop their education by attending external colleges to obtain further employment skills. As well as education, prisoners are able to work as cleaners, kitchen workers, orderlies etc."

At Whitemoor on the day of our transfer, after the traditional slops for breakfast, we were escorted through numerous gates along with our possessions. We were taken to a holding cell to await the arrival of the screws and the transportation.

We were told to change into our own clothing by the screw from Blantyre House, which we gladly did. I felt like tearing up the prison clothing. But within minutes he came back and told us we would have to change again because the Whitemoor administration would not allow us in our own clothing whilst still inside the prison. So we changed, again. We did not want to get into trouble before we even left and anyway we were used to petty rules being thrown at us seemingly willy-nilly.

Once we were inside the prison van and outside the prison grounds, we were told we could change back into our own clothing again. The screw actually apologised. He said that at Blantyre House everyone knew the rules and he repeated them.

No alcohol or drugs, no violence or verbal abuse, obey the laws of the land and commit to a minimum of half a day at education every week.

They also told us to be careful with the food, especially the chips, as it was served hot and may be the first hot food we had eaten in prison. That was wrong of course but they did not know that I had been cooking much of my own food along with Ken and others, in the small kitchen on the wing, but they were correct about the Blantyre food as I was to find out.

The journey from Peterborough to Kent took a few hours and we were given sandwiches. The time went quick even though we could not see the scenery.

HMP Blantyre House was in Kent near the village of Goudhurst, close to Cranbrook, beautiful countryside famous for growing hops used to manufacture the drug alcohol.

As we arrived at Blantyre House, pulled in through the gates; we climbed out of the van and there stood my friend Will.

Will took us to our "rooms" inside the large wooden building. He said we would be sharing for a while but later would move to other rooms; this was the reception cell.

The cell contained two bunk beds but Gary and I were the only two that would be using them that night. Apparently we would be here a few days and then moved to another "room". We had our own keys. The room was next to the Principal Officer's (The PO) office; I assumed it was so they could better keep an eye on us.

Will also told us that he would take us to the dining hall as dinner was about to be served, then after that we would go to see the PO's office to "check in".

Afterwards, Will said, he would show us the prison grounds where we were free to wander at almost any time between 8 am and 8 pm. After 8 pm we had to be inside the main building and the outside doors would be locked, but we could associate in rooms until 10 pm.

I do not remember what I had for dinner except that it was vegetarian and hot and quite tasty. Will had arranged for us to share a table with himself and Tom from Whitemoor and a few others; one was Terry P. who was doing time for his part is an horrific robbery.

There were about 100 inmates at Blantyre and the dining room was crowded. Will told us that we would probably be put on washing up duty the next day, and do that, as was traditional for new arrivals, until more new inmates arrived. Then, he said, we would probably be put on cleaning and after that we would either do outside work or college, or do full time education. Being on my Open University course in computing and busy building my database on Ancient Egypt, education would suit me.

After dinner, as promised, Will took us to the Principle Officer's office. Gary Catton, the screw that had interviewed me in Whitemoor, was the PO on duty. Officers, though, weren't called "screws" or even "kangas" here. It took just a few minutes of confirming our names and numbers and being told that after breakfast the next day we had to report to the kitchen and do washing up duty.

After that, Will took Gary and I for a walk-about; he showed us the education block, canteen, church building and gym. There was quite a large green area where rugby and other sport was played.

On the Saturday, just two days after arriving, we joined about twenty others along with several officers, for a five mile country ramble. It was amazing, instead of being forced to march together as I had anticipated, we were all allowed to walk at our own paces. I found myself walking down a beautiful and quiet grove where the trees were brown and freshly fallen leaves were scattered about, passing large gates to houses and small cottages. I felt there may have been a babbling brook somewhere beyond but out of our sight.

After where I had been the last few years and even my home life before that, this was a new world. I felt free and trusted.

Beyond that area there was a fence with an open gate and the other side of that we saw several inmates' allotments, a chicken run, and a large field part of which inmates had worked on for use as a small golf course.

We walked right around the inside of the fence. We walked to places where we could not be seen from the main buildings. There was no razor wire and no visible cameras. It was hard to believe that we were not being watched. A result of Whitemoor paranoia?

I looked up at the trees but still saw no cameras. The only razor wire, Will said, was near the canteen, to stop local kids from climbing over and stealing stuff!

What an incredible change from Whitemoor. Here they talked about the "ethos" and the Governor, Jim Semple said that he did not like to be called "Sir". It was difficult at first to know who was a screw and who was a con.

I slept well that night, although Gary complained that I had snored loudly.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Suck it and see: LSD in Kabul

Taken from All About My Hat - The Hippy Trail 1972
available on Amazon

Suddenly Diane said “Hey, you want some of these?”
She held out her hand and in her palm were four or so small squares of blank paper.
“What's that?” asked Al “looks like paper!” he laughed.
“It's acid,” she said, “LSD, you know, Lucy in the Sky. I got some from a French guy. He reckoned they're really good! Want to try?”
Al found her manner too seductive to resist.
“How many do we take? How strong are they? How long do they last? I've never done it.”
"I don't know,” she said “I've got four. You take two and I'll take two.”
“I think I'll just take one first time,” he said.
With that Diane popped one small square of paper into Al's mouth. “Suck it and see,” she laughed.
Al laughed and then frowned as he watched Diane put the other three squares into her own mouth.
She washed it down with a fizzy drink.
“So this is going to be a trip”, thought Al.
He thought about the books he had read – “Aldoux Huxley and Timothy Leary, about LSD and other psychedelic drugs: there was that book by the guy that gave acid to dolphins and then took it himself and put himself into an “isolation tank” and had met beings made out of light. What was his name? Oh yeah, John Lily's Eye of the Cyclone. Oh and the Carlos Castaneda's tales about a Shaman that took psychedelic plants to make contact with beings on other levels.
“The Beatles of course – was that before or after they had gone to Rishikesh with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi?
“The whole hippy thing was a lot to do with LSD and love and peace and flowers, so that is obviously what it's about – a good time, a spiritual time – just probably stronger than hash.”
He looked up from his thoughts and started to look around the courtyard.
It looked different!
Al thought that he hadn't noticed the bells hanging from the edge of the roof, or the bright red flowerpots that held the small trees. And there seemed to be more flowers than before. Yet he'd been there several times before.
Some of the people there, the Westerners, started to look quite funny the way they were dressed. Bandanna’s! He hadn't noticed them – in Kabul – they looked really out of place!
Funny how so many were wearing blue jeans, including the two guys serving – and they had short hair, the customers all had long hair.
Weird that people came here to Sigis to eat food they could get back home.
Some of the people looked like people Al had known, or like mixtures of two of them. Several times he felt like shouting out to them, but then they moved and turned into themselves again. How strange, how funny.
He started to laugh and turned to Diane to tell her his thoughts – she was looking at a colourful bird, some sort of canary, that was standing on on top of a small green shrub, almost motionless, as she was. She looked mesmerised, so Al kept quiet, laughing again in his head.
Al turned back to look at the people again.
That guy looked familiar.
As he looked at the guy, the guy stood up and walked over.
“Hi!”, he said. “Are you Al?”
Al felt a little uneasy at that – how did the guy know his name?
“You from Norwich? I'm Pete – remember me – Pete Roscoe?”
“Wow,” said Al, “You are Pete Roscoe, yeah, I remember you of course, I thought you were somebody that looked like him, I mean you!”, he laughed.
Al had known Pete Roscoe back in Norwich but had had no idea that he too, would be heading for India. Pete had also known John and Keith.
“How you doing man?” said Pete, “How long you been here, where you going? ”
Al answered: “I went to India with Keith and then I got sick – Infectious Hepatitis and dysentery, nearly died, had no money, on my own, in Haridwar in the Northern Foothills. But I got to hospital in Delhi – I've been in hospital here too. Just waiting to get some money to get home. I'm with Diane. I want to get her home too."
He turned to introduce Pete to Diane. She was staring into a glass of fizzy drink and quietly giggling.
“Hi Pete!”
Al knew that Pete had known John and maybe Mike, so he asked: “Have you heard anything about John and Mike? Keith and I left them with the van in Antalya in Turkey and caught a boat to Iskenderun – we hitched from there across Syria to Baghdad. I haven't heard from them – we were supposed to meet them back in Istanbul but decided to carry on to India. Are they back in England yet?”
“God what a drag about John - you don't know what happened, do you?”, asked Pete.
“No,” said Al.
“Wow man, I hate to tell you this,” said Pete, “John was killed in a crash the night you left them in Turkey. Mike had broken his legs and some ribs and was in hospital there for several weeks. I heard they crashed into a parked truck on a bend at night – John was driving – he swerved out and probably saved Mike's life but was killed himself. Everyone was real sick about it, man.”
It may have been because Al was still in some doubt that this was actually Pete Roscoe – maybe that cushioned the blow for him – he was tripping on acid and just been told his best friend John had died hours after he had last seen him.
So Pete and Al chatted a while longer, Pete was on his way to India. Al gave him some advice about being really careful about what he ate and drank, to keep hydrated, and not to drink the Ganges.
Then it was time that Pete said he would have to go as he had people to meet. They agreed to meet in the same place at lunch time the next day.
Al ordered another two teas with milk. It tasted weird. Different. He didn't drink his.
Then he felt it time to go and explore the streets.
“Come on Diane, let's go for a walkabout. I want some of those spicy potatoes and corn on the cob I've seen..”
So they went outside to see the street.
“Where are we?” asked Diane.
“Sigis, Chicken Street!” said Al.
“Or is it? Hang on, it's not Chicken Street, we must have come out of a different door!,” exclaimed Al - “Wait a minute, there's that Kabul restaurant place – it is Chicken Street – wow, it looks different, I never noticed all those ribbons and flags – hey be careful where you walk, there's holes all over the place – hey look at that donkey, it's only got three legs!”
“Hey this is great, let's go look at Flower Street!”
“Okay,” said Diane. She wasn't saying much but she had a big grin. She took hold of Al's arm.
“Don't let me fall down a hole, it's really tricky up here with the wind.” she said.
Al couldn't feel any wind and we were not high up at all, from the road – well I guess if we're 6000 feet above sea level we must be “up here”.
“Six thousand feet and climbing!” he said for no real reason.
So they strolled down Chicken Street towards Flower Street, looking in the shop windows and at stalls that Al thought he had never seen before. Everything except the road itself was much more colourful and shiny than he remembered, except the road had many massive piles of dung on it. As he looked, he saw a donkey adding more to it!
All the local merchants seemed to be nodding and smiling at them today! Al thought they all looked like – well they were on something - they were tripping too! Well, thought Al, I guess you've got to be on something to live here – it's like magic.
They reached the end of Chicken Street where it joined Flower Street.
It looked really busy with people that obviously weren't tripping.. It didn't look magic at all. Dark and damp with too many hidden spots, thought Al. Despite the flowers it was not inviting. Noisy too. Chicken Street had seemed very quiet – probably all the shoppers were down here.
“Let's go back – or down by the river, we could see the Mosque,” he said.
“Yeah let's go that way, to the Mosque,” laughed Diana. “It doesn't matter where we land, we'll be OK.”
It seemed like hours before they reached the Mosque and Al had to sit down.
He sat on a low wall outside a building where he could see the Mosque and got lost in thoughts about the good and bad of religions and how the bad side made it hard to believe, yet so many had fallen for religions, as if it was some sort of spell to control people. Al did not want to be a part of religion – he wanted to be apart from them all. “If there's a God,” he thought, “it's not in religion.”
He heard Diane shouting “Get off, go away. Help!”
He turned to see Diane standing on the wall and below her were three dogs. They were jumping up at her in a friendly way, thought Al.
“It's OK, they're just trying to be friendly, just get down and pet them!”
“No they're trying to bite me, they won't leave me alone. They might have rabies!”
“But they're only little,” said Al.
“No they're not, they're massive. They're not dogs – they're wolves. Help! Please!” She was really freaked.
Al just shooed the dogs away. They went off down the street, stopped and looked back. Al shouted “Go!” Off they went, hunting for food probably.
He helped Diane climb down. She hugged him.
“Well obviously, cos she took three, she's right out of it”, thought Al.
He grabbed her by the arm and they went back to Sigis where they could relax in a good friendly atmosphere and listen to some good rock music.
“Kabul streets at night”, he said, “Not good on acid!”
That was a good decision. Diane calmed down and they both enjoyed the rest of the trip, going back to the Peace Hotel with a nice piece of hash to smoke, until they dozed off as dawn was breaking and the Mullahs were calling the so-called faithful to prayer, from their minaret towers.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Legal? No, cannabis should be a Class A.

My comment on the article below

It's been quite some time since I read the sort of nonsense written here by H Woods. For starters he suggests that cannabis, a plant, should be classed alongside dangerous drugs such as heroin (and presumably he feels the same way as that highly dangerous and often addictive drug, alcohol, let alone the killer, tobacco).

It sounds a little like mixing sweets with tablets - many people may be tempted after taking a sweet to try a tablet if they are all in the same bag. Likewise, if cannabis was classed in law as of equal danger to heroin and cocaine, surely when person tries cannabis, which is easily found on almost any main street in the UK, discovering that it actually eases stress and pain, has the feel-good-factor, and for the very vast number of people has no bad effects, why not try another drug if they are all equally dangerous.

Woods says he has met cannabis users. Well, I am now 65 and have used cannabis off-and-on most of my adult life, and I have had no problems. I have met literally thousands of cannabis smokers in about 30 countries that I have travelled in and apart from the fact that some may be eccentric, they were all decent people. Of course dealers have led some from one illegal "drug" to another but that is no reason per se to punish either those that have taken other drugs or those that have not, unless of course they have harmed others. It would be like punishing all people that like a drink because of those that became alcoholics or became violent or abusive (something one does not see amongst cannabis users).

Woods goes on to label the millions of people in the UK that do take illegal drugs as in a stupor, and those that supply as "evil". Woods fails to recognise the damage caused by many over-the-counter medications such as aspirin that kills hundreds annually, or the medications dished out by doctors, many pills with serious side-effects (read the warnings on the packets - side-effects ranging from impotence to loss of appetite, inability to coordinate, sleeplessness, depression and even suicide). It is undeniable that many pills need to be taken with other pills to try to counteract those terrible and terrifying side-effects.

So what to do with those (whether in white coats or not) that supply those harmful and killer drugs, such as alcohol and tobacco, as well as pills?

Woods also denies the testimonies not just of people in the UK that claim to find relief to terrible illnesses and find that relief through consumption of the cannabis plant, albeit illegal, being forced to risk prison by growing their own or buying from illegal suppliers: people with MS, epilepsy, arthritis, damage from accidents or just plain stress; more recently those dying from cancers.

Woods fails to take into account that here in the UK, Sativex (which is simply cannabis dissolved in alcohol in an expensive oral spray form) is prescribed by doctors and supplied by pharmacies (it is exactly the same as can be made at home for own use by people that grow their own yet can be sent to prison). Fails to recognise that herbal cannabis is prescribed in countries such as Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Italy ... and more .. as a pharmaceutical plant-product called Bedrocan.

Woods ignores the dozens of reports from around the world that state cannabis has medicinal value and is comparatively safe ("remarkably safe" in the words of Harvard University Professor Grinspoon; safer than most common foods in the words of DEA Judge Francis Young).

Woods fails to recognise that the UK's own Government-appointed study group, the ACMD, has stated over the years that cannabis should NOT be classed alongside heroin or even class B drugs as it now is.

But most of all Woods has blundered by attempting to promote prohibition policy which has quite clearly not just failed but caused more damage to people's lives than the drugs themselves - even the United Nations Drugs team says that.
Plymouth Herald, 22October 2015

Legal? No, cannabis should be a Class A

I READ in the Herald on October 10, cannabis campaigner in plea to MPs.
Daryl Sullivan has written to MPs for their help in legalising cannabis.
Cannabis like all drugs are bad, it should be a Class A drug as with all other drugs.
There has been proof that cannabis causes mental health problems, psychosis, schizophrenia and linked to suicides. It is not harmless at all and addictive. I have seen people on cannabis they were in a state of stupor.
Ninety nine percent of crime is drug related. Drugs and drug dealers are evil, we need to keep this vile damaging garbage off the streets. MPs say not to legalising cannabis.

Friday, 23 October 2015

UK Government needs Alchemists to make more profitable cannabis extract medicines.

The UK Government will not consider legalising cannabis but plan to invest more money into research for the production and supply of highly profitable pharmaceutical cannbinoids.

In plain language: we plan to make as much money as possible from sick people needing cannabinoids and the rest of you can go rot in prison or pay fines if we can get the police to deal with you. Cannabis has no medical value unless it is dissolved in alcohol (like Sativex) and sprayed up your bum.!

they want to make medicine from aplant with no medicinal value (according to UK drug schedules) by adding alcohol.  That sure is alchemy.

Thursday, 22 October 2015


One of the peoples who were around at the time, actually little more than desert nomads living in tents and herding goats, were the original Israelites. A lot of our knowledge of the Israelites comes from the Holy Bible, in the Old Testament which makes mention of the Egyptians and the Pharaoh. There is no mention of any specific Pharaoh, except one (I Kings 14) called King Shishak, whomay have been the Pharaoh Sheshonq III (835 - 783 BC), but this is almost one thousand years after the time I am talking about now. In fact, as recorded in the Bible, the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians and, for generation after generation, were treated cruelly and used to build cities and monuments. There is no mention of the Israelites in the few contemporary Egyptian stories that we have discovered and no mention in the Bible of any pyramid building (although there is a reference to a capstone). The only building task named in the Bible is connected to the city of Pi-Ramesse, which was somewhere in the Nile Delta and long destroyed.                            

Reading and writing had been around in Egypt for at least 1500 years by this time, but was reserved for royalty, scientists, doctors, astrologers, military commanders and courtiers. The ‘ordinary’ people and certainly the slaves, had very little education outside the family group or community and lived very basic lives, working hard from a very early age. They were involved with farming, goat-herding, construction, service to the rich, army duties and worshipping their various gods. A papyrus has been found that lists the cost of feeding one large group of pyramid construction workers; it seems that they mostly had to survive on things like unleavened bread, onions and garlic! The rich, no doubt, enjoyed a wide range of fish, birds, meat, vegetables and fruit and almost certainly drank wine and beer from very early times. Many of the tomb paintings in Egypt show scenes of life for the Pharaohs and their courtiers, including scenes of hunting, fishing and even making wine.

There is, however, a very interesting and relevant story in the Bible, about an Israelite who became very powerful and went against the Pharaoh and eventually won, enabling the slaves to escape Egypt. The story is called Exodus and the hero was Moses.

The Bible story tells that the Pharaoh strongly believed in astrology and when his Royal Astrologer predicted that an Israelite boy would be born and grow to overthrow the Pharaoh, he hit back and cruelly ordered that all the newest born Israelite boys should be slaughtered. So Moses’ mother decided to hide him in a basket in the bulrushes which grew along the Nile. Well, the story goes, the Pharaoh’s daughter, or one of them, happened to be bathing in the river and spotted the basket and , after sending her maids to bring it back, looked inside and saw the beautiful boy baby whom she named Moses. If you think about the name Moses and realise some of the Pharaohs had names like Amenophis, Tuthmosis and Dudimose, you may see some similarity. Pharaoh’s daughter was so in love with this baby that she decided to keep him for herself and educated him in reading and writing, which the Israelite slaves could not do. She brought him up into the Egyptian way of life, keeping him in ignorance of his true origins. This was a big mistake for the Pharaoh, because eventually Moses grew up and discovered he was really an Israelite and turned against the Pharaoh.

Moses adopted a different religion to the Pharaoh and worshipped the Hebrew god Yahweh. Moses also became very sensitive to the suffering of the slaves, his own people, and the scripture tells us he received instruction from his god to end the bondage of the slaves. Moses went to the Pharaoh and said “Let my people go!”, or words to that effect. Of course the Pharaoh wasn’t too happy about letting all this cheap labour go, so he refused and Moses had to resort to threats of violence and destruction, claiming that his god, Yahweh, was much more powerful than the Pharaohs’ gods all put together.

It is uncertain who the Pharaoh was when Moses was born, or when Exodus happened. Maybe it was Merneptah in the XIX dynasty, 1213 - 1203 BC as some claim, but other historians think differently. In his book ‘A Test of Time’, David Rohl presents a good argument that the Pharaoh of the Exodus was probably Dudimose, the last Pharaoh of the thirteenth dynasty, about 450 years earlier. Rohl also reconsiders the dating of the dynasties based on lists of Israel’s Kings. The Bible tells us that the Exodus was 480 years before the founding of the Temple of Jerusalem by Solomon. An early Christian historian Eusebius, referring to the work of an earlier Jewish historian, Artapanus, tells us about a Pharaoh called Palmanothes, who was cruel to the Hebrews He had a daughter called Merris who adopted a Hebrew boy called Mousos. Merris then married a Pharaoh called Khenephres who eventually became jealous of Mousos, causing Mousos to flee. Rohl argues that Khenephres was in fact the Greek version of the name Khaneferre, meaning ‘the perfection of Re shines in the horizon’, the twenty-third ruler of the thirteenth dynasty, Sobekhotep IV. Sobehhotep IV was a great and powerful ruler. Moses was 80 years old at the time of the Exodus and this was when Dudimose ruled. According to the historian Manetho the reign of this Pharaoh witnessed a ‘blast of God’. Other writers place Moses in the eighteenth dynasty and some even claim he was the same person as the Pharaoh Akhenaten. The truth is that nobody knows who the Pharaoh of Exodus really was.

Although there had been magicians in Egypt for many years, Moses’ magic was said - in the Bible - to be a different sort of ‘magic’. The difference was that Moses prayed to his God Yahweh for the miracles, whereas the Egyptian magicians were said to have performed their feats through powers which they had learned.

Moses, whether through prayer or magic, was able to do some very magical and wonderfully nasty things to the Pharaoh and his people, eventually starting plagues, turning the river to blood and causing the death of the new-born. The Pharaoh had to let them go. But that was not the end of the story because the Pharaoh cheated and went back on his word, leading his armies to bring his slaves back. This was really the worst thing he could have done, because somehow Moses was able to pray and part the waters of the sea, just long enough to let the Israelites through, but, when the Pharaoh and his army went through to chase them, the waters fell back together, drowning them all. Moses, with his brother Aaron, led the people on and on through the deserts, performing many miracles, causing ‘manna’ to fall from heaven, which they could eat when they were starving, as well as getting water out of a rock when they were thirsty. Moses had been taught how to read by the Egyptians and wrote down the stories that had been passed down through the generations, about how the world was made, Adam and Eve, Noah and his ark and who was whose son. In fact Moses wrote the first 5 books of the Old Testament.

As I said, there were many stories of magicians in Egypt long before Moses and in fact documents have been found with stories of similar miracles or magic being performed even as long as 1200 years earlier. For instance, the parting of the waters story can be seen in an old papyrus document, called the Westcar Papyrus, which was written in the early part of the XVIIIth dynasty, about 1550 BC, but it is clear that it has been copied from stories dating from the time of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, 2550 BC. The story is told to King Cheops by a person called Baiuf-Ra and is said to have happened in the time of the King’s father, Snorfu. It is about a powerful magician called Tchatcha-em-ankh (sorry about that, but I didn’t name him!). Well, apparently, one day old Snorfu was feeling a little miserable so called to his nobles to do something to cheer him up. After a while they brought in Tchatcha-em-ankh and he suggested that the king go out on the lake. “For”, said the magician, “the heart of Your Majesty will rejoice and be happy when you sail about and see the beautiful thickets which are on the lake.” Then Tchatcha-em-ankh persuaded Snorfu to allow him to arrange the trip and the story tells that he brought ‘twenty ebony paddles inlaid with gold and also twenty young virgins having beautiful heads of hair and lovely forms and shapely limbs and twenty nets wherein these virgins may dress themselves instead of in their own normal clothes.’ The virgins were to row and sing for his Majesty. Well, believe it or not, the old king was cheered up and had a very good time, until suddenly the leader of the rowers got her hair tangled up and her favourite piece of jewellery made of ‘new turquoise’ fell into the river. This made her stop rowing and singing, then, because she was their leader, all the other girls stopped as well. When Snorfu found out why she was so upset he promised to recover the jewellery and called for Tchatcha-em-ankh. The magician then did a spell (‘spoke certain words of power’) and caused one part of the lake to fold up and over on top of the other and so found the ornament. Snorfu was well pleased and arranged a big feast to celebrate.

This story tells of the power of just one magician, although there are many other stories and they are all just as impressive and reliable as any story ever told or written anywhere. You may choose to believe them or not.

There is another story from the time of Cheops about one of his sons, called Herutataf and a powerful magician called Teta ‘who is one hundred and ten years old’ and knew ‘how to fasten on again to its body a head that has been cut off’. At all times and in most places man has believed and feared magic, both White Magic, which is said to be for a good cause and Black Magic, which is said to be evil. This has led to all sorts of secret societies and rites and rituals, from chanting to sacrifice. Unless you have met a witch or magician yourself you either believe or you don’t.

At this point, we could decide to read the Bible and get an overall picture of what was happening to the Israelites; but I will not be going into biblical details here, as I am more concerned with telling you about the ancient Egyptians. But one thing which I must mention is what happened after the Israelites got away. Whilst they were out in the desert, Moses went up a mountain to pray. When he got to the top of the mountain he saw Yahweh in the form of a burning bush and God spoke to his servant and told him to write down a set of ten laws, The Ten Commandments. Moses was to give them to the people so they would know how to live their lives and be able to get to heaven. Moses carved these out on stone tablets and took them back down the mountainside. Unfortunately when he got there he was horrified and very angry, because all his people had missed his leadership and reverted to worshipping idols, probably in a panic. He found them worshipping a golden calf and in his anger Moses smashed the tablets, so had to go back up and write them again. We can only hope he got them all right the second time and didn’t miss any.

Moses’ set of commandments have been passed down through the ages and millions and millions of people have based their lives on them, or tried to. All in all, they’re not a bad set of rules to help us lead good and consistent lives without harming society around us.

As I said before, Moses was an expert with the writing materials and probably got hold of a whole load of papyrus. He put down on paper all the old stories that were passed down through the ages, about his ancestors and maybe even yours. Right from the very beginning, of how his God, Yahweh or Jehovah as we mostly call Him today, created the world out of the waters (sounds a bit like some of the Egyptian stories of the creation doesn’t it?), made all the earth, sky, oceans, trees, grass, animals and birds and fishes, the lot! Then Yahweh made man and because man was lonely Yahweh made woman. He put man and woman, who he called Adam and Eve, in an absolutely beautiful garden called Eden, with all the creatures and plants. He told Adam he could eat anything he wanted, “the seed bearing herbs and the fruit bearing tree, except the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge”. Up until now Adam and Eve had everything going for them and could do whatever they wanted, just wandering round naked in this beautiful Garden of Eden, in a state of innocence, with nobody bothering them. Unfortunately, like all good things, it came to an end, because a rebel angel from Yahweh’s heaven, who was called Satan, came down to earth and started crawling round the garden trying to get up to no good. Well, to cut a long story short, said Moses in his book ‘Genesis’, Satan managed to persuade Eve to try some of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, because, as he said “It must be good if God doesn’t want you to eat it”. Eve then got Adam to eat some and all the troubles of the world started. Adam and Eve suddenly became ashamed of their nakedness. God became very angry and kicked them out of the garden, saying “Go forth and multiply”, which is exactly what they did and their descendants have been doing ever since.

Moses then went on to tell us that Adam and Eve had three boys, Cain, Abel and Seth, who became farmers and shepherds. Mankind’s trouble was far from over and Cain ended up getting very jealous of Abel and killed him. Once again there is a similarity with the old Egyptian mythology, in which Seth killed Osiris. Do you think it could be the same Seth and maybe that Osiris and Abel were the same person? Who knows? It could be that Cain said Seth did it and Seth said Cain did it. Anyway, in Moses’s story Cain went off and founded his own line and the descendants of Seth, who are listed in the Old and New Testaments, became the Israelites. A lot happened between the time of Seth and that of Moses but Genesis tells us not only who had (begot) whom as a son, but also how long they lived for. If you trace this back it looks like Adam and Eve were around about 4004 BC

Moses went on to write the story of the Israelites leaving Egypt in his book called Exodus and then wrote books of laws and a sort of census. These books, called Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, together with Genesis and Exodus, make up the first five books of the Old Testament and, whatever your religious beliefs are, they make good reading!

Most of the writing in Ancient Egypt was, as I have said, in hieroglyphs and used by specially educated scribes. Royalty was also taught and sometimes even princesses; we know that two of Akhenaten’s daughters possessed writing equipment. The scribe’s writing tools consisted of a palette holding two cakes of ink, one black and the other red, a pot of water, various size brushes and a holder for the brush. The brushes were made, often by the scribe himself, by cutting short lengths of rushes and sucking one end until it became soft. Young scribes were taught a simplified version of hieroglyphics referred to as hieratic script. The difference between these two writing styles is like the difference between our modern day capital letters and handwriting. There are many pictures of scribes on the walls of tombs and statues in Cairo Museum and elsewhere. The scribes were such a valued profession that they were always respected, paid well and could afford good tombs of their own. They often acted as advisors and became knowledgeable in sciences such as astronomy, astrology, medicine, architecture and official letter writing. Parents in Egypt would have been very keen on their son becoming a scribe.

Generally the boys of the family would take up the craft of their fathers; baker’s sons would become bakers, sandal-makers’ sons would be sandal-makers. The teaching was done by dad. But to enter the higher ranks of society a boy would have to learn to read and write. The boy would start his lessons in these arts at a young age and probably at considerable expense to his family It was usually the nobility rather than the wealthy, who were educated best. The schooling, often at the palace, lasted ten or twelve years and would consist of hard work memorising all the characters and lots of practice writing them. There were over seven hundred different characters of hieroglyphics and one would have to remember them all.

Here is a report of a conversation of a father to his son, taken from an ancient papyrus, exhorting him to work hard:

“It is greater than any other profession. There is nothing like it on earth.
I have seen a coppersmith at work at his furnace. His fingers were like the claws of
the crocodile and he stank more than a fish.
The jeweller...when he has completed the inlay work of amulets,
his strength vanishes and he is tired out.
The barber shaves until the end of evening. But he must be up early...He takes himself from street to street to seek someone to shave. He wears out his arms to fill his stomach.
The potter is covered with dirt. His clothes are stiff with mud, his headwear like rag.
The weaver inside the weaving house is terrible. He cannot breathe the air. If he passes just one day without weaving he is beaten with 50 lashes of the whip. He has to give food to the doorkeeper to let him come into daylight. The arrow maker is completely wretched.
The furnace maker, his fingers are burnt, his eyes are inflamed because of the
heaviness of the smoke. The washerman launders at the river bank near the crocodiles!”

Then the father tells his son “See, I have placed you on the path of God”.

So, as you can gather, there were lots of professions open to a young boy, but to be a scribe was the best.

The 700 odd hieroglyphs were little pictures of animals, birds, wavy lines and strange shapes, but each picture was meant to represent the actual object. They were carved on stele, statues, walls and doors of tombs, temples as well as on everyday possessions. Later they were written onto papyrus. It was believed that hieroglyphics were the ‘words of the gods’ and therefore possessed magical powers. Not only did they represent objects, but in the afterlife they would actually become the objects. In the tomb of a king’s son called Rahotep, who was also a high official in the sixth dynasty, there is a list of objects and food he would need with him in the afterlife and , of course, his name and position. If the dead person was a Pharaoh then his name would be put into the oval shaped outline called the Cartouche. This is mostly how we identify relics today, although it was often the case that a later Pharaoh would wipe out the cartouche of an earlier Pharaoh. For instance nearly every cartouche of Hatshepsut was wiped clean by her step-son Tuthmosis IV who hated her for preventing him from becoming Pharaoh when he was a boy. Fortunately, several avoided the destructive chisel and so we do know a little about Hatshepsut.

In Egypt, magic spells were written on the tomb walls inside pyramids and these we have called the ‘Pyramid Texts’. This practice was often reserved for royalty. Noblemen sometimes had pyramid text spells written on the inside of their coffin. These spells were meant to protect the dead person on the journey through the underworld, so that he would suffer neither hunger, nor thirst and be safe from dangers.

Later on, in the New Kingdom and about the XVIIIth dynasty, priests sold spells in ‘Books of the Dead’, although they were not really books, but scrolls which contained spells to be chanted at funeral ceremonies and placed in the tomb or coffin, often with a statuette of the god Ptah-Sokaris-Osiris.

The word ‘hieroglyph’ comes from the Greek name for these characters; ‘hiero’ is the Greek word for ‘holy’ and ‘glyph’ is the Greek word for ‘carving’. Hieroglyphics were used as the language of official documentation in the time of Alexander the Great and used in Egypt up to 300 AD. Then, however, the ability to understand hieroglyphs was lost for 1500 years.

In 1799 AD some troops of Napoleon found a basalt stone tablet bearing three types of script, at a place called Rosetta. This stone, which we now call the ‘Rosetta Stone’ contained hieroglyphics, a demotic script and Greek. It was lucky for us, because that was the key to deciphering the hieroglyphics, since people still used the same Greek letters. A man called Jean Fran├žois Champollion decided to devote his time to the task of deciphering, which, even with knowledge of Greek, was not easy.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Arrest the cannabis medical growers??

How would you react if somebody came up to you in the street
shaking a collection tin and asking for a donation to help pay for the arrest and prosecution of sick and injured adults for growing a plant for their own beneficial use?

They would be armed with a list of ailments that it is claimed that cannabis helps - people to be targetted.

They would explain that there was no issue with them having harmed or put at risk other people.

There is no other (illegal to possess) drugs involved, and no supply to others.

They would be armed with the latest estimated costs of arrest and or courts, a breakdown of the total annual cost.

They would explain that since cannabis is against the law and police are becoming increasingly lenient or turning a blind eye to small growers as they have far more serious issues to deal with and are themselves underfunded, it is essential that people pay more money to finance more arrests and prosecutions above the billions in taxes.

They would explain that home grown cannabis used in those ways is a serious treat to the profits of the big phamaceutical companies that provide the present day prescription drugs that many growers are saying they have replaced with herbal cannabis.

Comment of UK Parliament back-bench debate on Cannabis petition signed by almost 250,000 to legalise possession, cultivation and supply

 UK Parliament back-bench debate on Cannabis petition signed by almost 250,000 to legalise possession, cultivation and supply.

The petition was not able health or medical cannabis, whatever that is, it was about changing the law to legalise possession, cultivation and suppy.  It was not about drugs, it was about cannabis and the law.

There wre just about 14 MP's present.   There were twice that number of non-MP's at least, witnessing.

My own MP, Chloe Smith for Norwicc North and the Norwich South MP were absent.   Brior to the debate, I emailed Ms Smith to ask her to attend and she replied that shie would listen.

So I do hope that she listens to the recordings or reads the Hansard transcript.

Paul Flynn started the debate by saying "we" do not want cannabis legalised because it is safe, we want it legalised because it is dangerous. "we" of course does not most campaigners that I know and legalisation based on that statement will lead for sure to excessive restrictions on supply.

From what the Minister said we can expect more availability of expensive pharmaceutical cannabis medications and it would not surpirise me if some sort of ban on seeds.

Not one of the MP's present admitted to having tried cannabis - fair enough - but is it not time they started to listen to those that have, the massive majority having suffered no ill effects and actually benefitted?

It was like listening to a group of people debating whether or not Paris is a good city and whether people should be allowed to go there, when none of those debating have actually been.

My impression of the Minister was that he had been drinking alcohol, I may be wrong, that is just my impression. Cheap alcohol subsidised by the taxpayers.

My prize for best speeches goes to Peter Lilley, Norman Lamb, Caroline Lucas and Paul Flynn.

Relevant pages:

Potent Quotes
News Reports
Cannabis Campaigners' Guide

Thursday, 8 October 2015


I do hope that the MPs stick to the issue that the petition raised which is full legalisation of cannabis possession, cultivation and supply for all, not just some sort of medical restrictions or decriminalisation and not about whether or not cannabis is beneficial or harmful.

Of course it has been shown to be highly beneficial for many people, but that is a reason to make it available from doctors and pharmacies just as are opiates, not a reason to legalise for everyone.

Likewise we have to accept that cannabis may be harmful for some people, but that is not a reason to punish them or others, or to keep possession or cultivation at home as offences: if it were, then many more substances that harm many more people, such as sugar, caffeine drinks, aspirin, glues and solvents, would be illegal for everyone to possess.


The issue of harm only becomes relevant for legalised commodities so that adequate and relevant controls on supply can be instated; whilst illegal for sales, no controls can be put on a substance left totally in the hands of criminal profiteers who don't even have to pay taxes.

Where is the JUSTICE in punishing victimless people for choice in their private lives, lifestyles and beliefs?

That question applies whether we talk about a beneficial or dangerous product.

Knives, for example, do untold harm, whether deliberate or accidental, even in the home, but are openly sold in shops and perfectly legal to have at home.

With knives it is what the person does with them that is the issue in law.

Neither is the government claim that cannabis is banned as a deterrent to others of any significance.

Neither is their claim that if legalised then more would use and more would suffer from cannabis (they ignore that many more would benefit)

Human Rights law both national and international, specifies criteria under which authority may interfere with private life or practice of belief: those criteria mean that law itself is not enough - which is the whole point of Human Rights to protect citizens against bad and unjust laws.

Human Rights law demands that the activity is a risk or does HARM to PUBLIC HEALTH, PUBLIC ORDER, NATIONAL SECURITY OR THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS - the Government have failed to show that in the case of possession or cultivation of the cannabis plant in one's own home for own uses.

So my message to Paul Flynn and others in this debate is PLEASE focus on JUSTICE