An Online Journal by Richard Stanley
(Originally appeared in R. S.' MySpace, August 16th, 2007.)
Dark out there. So dark.
Been raining so long I can't imagine it any other way.
And I'm alone at this keyboard and although I'd rather be asleep or getting laid or catching the sun some place I got no choice because there are things I have to tell you that can't wait. Things that concern our survival as a species in the long term and my survival in the here and now as a living, breathing blog-writing film director with a thriving MySpace site and a bunch of irons in the production fire.
I knew this period would be a transient one and all the signs seem to indicate my tenure in this drowning city is drawing to an end, at which point these postings will grow less frequent. I warned at the top there was an agenda at work here. A madness to my method. When I made my first posting a couple of months ago there were only a handful of you. I salute those who have been here long enough to recall the manifesto I ran at the beginning and welcome all who have found this site since. The virtual tribe now numbers more than six hundred souls, six hundred jpegs in the Shadow Theatre inbox. Chickenfeed compared to the ten thousand plus views recorded for my last blogs. Enough to get myself corporate sponsorship were I that way inclined, which I ain't. Ten thousand, silent hits. All but invisible. Could be anyone. Random Google searches. Journalists looking for copy. Fans looking for gossip. Entertainment lawyers lookin' for action. Your mother. My mother. Ex-girlfriends. What have you.
Except I have Spyware and various resources at my disposal such as Lauri Löytökoski in Finland, who has been recording similar unidentified cybertraffic on the unofficial site
Between Death and the Devil @ www.everythingisundercontrol.org/nagtloper/, and we know darn well what audience we're playing to. While much of the banter over the last weeks has been perfectly lighthearted, I dropped odd details into the blogs for reasons that may have seemed unclear at the time. This was because I have been aware there were bigger fish than you might imagine cruising these cybershallows. I now intend to introduce you to our nameless guests and make this blog's agenda clear.
Friends, fellow surfers, assembled skins of the virtual tribe I would like you to meet the hidden rulers of your world or at least their emissaries:
And what does that stand for, you ask?
mil is for military, oh my brothers and whs is Washington Headquarters Services.
"WHS provides consolidated administrative and operational support to several Defense Agencies, DoD Field Activities, the headquarters and various elements of the military departments, the White House, and to some degree Congress." - From Wikipedia
In case you doubt me (which is only natural), the IP address for wakko.whs.mil is 188.8.131.52.
OrgName: The Pentagon
Address: OPN-BM, Pentagon
Address: Rm BE884
Please step into the light, gentlemen! Don't be shy.
Forgive the Spyware but some things are best dealt with in the open. I know we're all supposed to be on the same side, but in this war, you can never be too sure, and if I have to stand alone against you then do not expect me to do so in silence. Not unless you do the honorable thing, unblock my credit cards and pay me off, at which point I'll happily cooperate in any and all investigations, sign the official secrets act and never say another blessed word about it. Until then I have a reputation and a livelihood to defend.
Brothers and sisters, fellow Americans, tax payers one and all, meet your 'elected' government. The Pentagon, the White House and 'to some degree' Congress!
|From the Wikipedia article Clandestine cell system, under the heading Non-traditional models, exemplified by al-Qaeda: "If Osama, the most respected, died, the core would reconstitute itself. While different members have an individual ideological guide, and these are not the same for all members, the core would reconstitute itself with Richard as most respected." Who else you think is modifying Wikipedia than our friends in the Vatican? -lauri|
Not to mention their friends:
ns.nic.ddn.mil / Defense Information Systems Agency
aos.arl.army.mil / U.S. Army Research Lab
My, my! What a bunch! Step forward and take a bow!
The walking dude sends the ancient sign of greeting and welcomes you to his campfire.
Now you might be telling yourself I'm a natural paranoid making mountains out of molehills, that a janitor or bored public servant was probably just foolin' around on an in-house terminal but my techno-savvy cohort, Lauri, records 143 Page views and 1483 Hits on a single file alone which seems like an awful lot of foolin' to me.
Like it or not there's no way of avoiding the fact that Lauri and myself along with most of the other Shadow Theatre Irregulars and God knows how many others on this site are under surveillance from the powers that be. Why? Because although I may be a filmmaker and a fantasist, it seems I may have gotten one or two things right along the way. Of course the problem with messengers is they tend to get shot, which is why I'm posting this screed and having examined all the angles I believe I'm within my rights.
Since I've obviously got your attention I thought I'd tell you a story. It's an old story and you've probably heard it before, but to set the record straight I will try to tell you about my role in 'World War Three' - not my choice of words, but that's how the spook phrased it when he debriefed myself and Ms. Moor at Grosvenor Square a few days after 9/11. He went by the name of 'James'.
We were referred to him directly by CIA, Langley and did our best to cooperate under the circumstances. Most of what I reproduce has been printed elsewhere as sleeve notes for Subversive Cinema's Dust Devil disc (although the garbled text managed to get pretty much every Afghan name back to front and sideways). This statement is essentially a fuller, amended version merged with material culled from recent private mails. I chose to make the content of those mails available to save the intelligence community the effort of rummaging through the inbox's and to hopefully preserve my friends privacy, something that matters a lot to dodgy, liberal, long-haired types like myself at the end of the day.
For those who know this already, you can tune out now as I doubt you will gather anything new from this hoary yarn, give or take a few trivial corrections. For the rest here is the full existing account of how I got myself into this mess.
I hope you're sitting comfortably!
Gonna Try for the Kingdom if I Can - An Open Letter to the Pentagon
I have the dark hair and eyes of my native American great-grandmother, whose partner was a plantation overseer in Trinidad, dark enough to feel a natural antipathy for the blue-eyed Afrikaners. The rest of me is Anglo-Welsh colonial stock, transplanted to the southernmost tip of Africa, where I was born and raised. There was a military tradition in the family and after cadet school, where I excelled in the school shooting team, I might have expected to become an officer. Only I hated everything the South African army stood for.
The Afrikaners justified Apartheid by telling themselves they were fighting Godless communism. It was the time of the Angolan bushwar and everyone knew there were Russian T-62 tanks and Cuban troops waiting just across the border, ready to roll on Pretoria at any time. One more proxy war between capitalism and communism fought at a sufficient distance to preserve a couple of generations from the fire Stateside. Certainly none of my family wanted to admit they were basically killing black people for a living. For me there were only two alternatives. Stay and serve time as a deserter or get the hell out of Dodge.
I knew I didn't belong in Africa but in some other place which matched my hair and eyes, some homeland I'd never seen.
Staying just one jump in front of the military police and a none too promising career in the stockade, I high-tailed it across the border to Namibia (formerly the German colony of South West Africa) and hence to Frankfurt, the Netherlands, and finally, London, where I joined the Committee on South African War Reservists (COSAWR) and held a torch outside the embassy in Trafalgar Square, but my relatives shrugged it off, preferring to believe I was too chickenshit to face up to the communist threat than to accept my opinions as a genuine challenge to their warped morality. So I went to Afghanistan instead.
We first entered the country as part of a UN food convoy, distributing flour to the border area east of Jallalabad. Frustrated by the rigid protocols which forced us to stick to a carefully defined route, I resolved to return the only way I could, by embedding myself with one of the burgeoning fundamentalist parties along with two fellow westerners, cameraman Mr. Horn and former Wall Street banker Carlos Mavroleon.
Carlos was the son of a Greek shipping tycoon with demons of his own to grapple with. Islam offered him a way out of his various addictions, but I guess changing his name to Kari Mullah and taking up arms against the Soviets was hardly what his parents had in mind when they put him through Harvard. By the time we met in '89, they had more or less disinherited him and he was down and out in London, doing any odd job he could find to save up enough money to return to the Jihad. In fact he was driving a truck on a video shoot when we first got talking, bitching about the gears being as tricky as the stickshift on a BTR-60, a lightweight Soviet troop transporter used in the invasion of Afghanistan.
In fact you can still see us debating our options now but you'll have to look carefully.
Noir Desir - Always Lost in the Sea (Full clip available at YouTube)
We're in the background of a video for Noir Desir, that, for some reason, played for years on the Paris Metro. I'm sitting in a boat just off the Norfolk coast somewhere in the late 80's beside the huddled outline of Paul Trijbits, who would later become the head of the Film Council and, for a while, the 'most powerful man in the British film industry', watching lead singer, Bernard Cantat (later jailed for the murder of his girlfriend Marie Trintignant) doing his thing in the vessel ahead. Carlos is standing beside us, oar in hand like some sort of Volga boatsman, immediately identifiable by his Afghan pachul and threadbare Italian army jacket, all three of us staring into the mist, headed some place else.
The second Nephilim video, Blue Water, hadn't turned out the way we wished, largely because of bad luck in running into one of the worst storms in British history, making the resulting cut into something of a salvage job. It was a tough old winter, I had just been ditched by my first girlfriend and those earliest wounds are always the deepest. Either way, I was in a Devil-may-care mood, and offered to pay Carlos's expenses if he could get me across the border into Afghanistan.
With Carlos's aid, we threw in our lot with the Hezb-i-Islam under General Younis Khalis, but the war and the ideologies that motivated it held little interest or attraction for me, other than having effectively left the country culturally isolated, cut off from the mainstream of the 20th century. Precisely the conditions I was looking for!
I had studied anthropology at College and knew that the Native Americans and the Inuit were related to the tribal people and horse cultures of northern and central Asia, people like the Yakut, the Evenki, the Tungus and the Goldi, who still cling to their shamanic beliefs, the old religion that dates back to Cro-Magnon man, to the Ice Age and the cave paintings of Lascaux and Troisfrere (see image).
The Hopis speak of their ancestors entering America via a back door now blocked by ice, and if those tribal people were moving north across the roof of the world, then it figures they were probably spreading south as well, into the mountain locked vastness of the Karakorums, Himalayas and Hindu Kush, where time moves at a very different rate and the distant past is still a recent memory. While still a bone of academic contention, it does not seem unlikely to me that the lost tribes of Kafiristan may represent the remnants of that first migration (3rd - 2nd millennium B.C.) of pagan Indo-European people from South Russia and Central Asia.
In South Africa the word 'kaffir' was a racist insult, a fighting word, the word the slavers had used for their heathen cargo. But Kaffiristan was the land of the pagan, of the unbeliever, the very last to be converted to anything. Sir George Scott Robertson accurately states that "civilization fell asleep centuries ago in Kafiristan".
Quintus Rufus makes mention of them in 50 A.D., and Arrian in approximately 100 A.D., while Herodotus describes similar people apparently living in Ethiopia! There is definite evidence of bloody confrontations with Tamerlane (May, 1398 A.D.) and the Moghul Emperoer, Babur (1507 A.D.).
Before 1910, the people of the Hindu Kush worshiped a supreme being, Imra (whose prophet was Moni), a fertility Goddess Dizani (or Dizni, which has a certain ironic ring to it), a rain God Suteran, and a devil/trickster (also the God of money!) Ba-Gisht, identifiable by his missing thumbs or forefingers. Even now, there are villages where the Wahabis fear to tread and where some perform an ancient ecstatic dance (akin to Haitian 'Voodoo'), known as the Attani Meli kaishana, or 'The Dance of the Animals', in which the hunters become possessed by the 'spirits of the animals they hunt', an ecstatic rite also practiced in remote corners of Chitral.
Of course dogs are unclean in Islam (if one licks your hand you have to wash before being allowed to pray), so the accusation that the neighboring tribe are 'dogs', or 'wolves wearing human skin', has to be taken with a certain pinch of salt, yet stories persist (A northern alliance commander recently on trial in London for war crimes was accused amongst other things of feeding his prisoners to a 'human dog' he apparently kept in a pit for this very purpose!). There are no jails or mental hospitals in the mountains and it is possible some villages have become human garbage bins, populated by social outcasts and murderous brigands, but underneath it all beats another, deeper rhythm, one I recognized.
In Europe, the old ways have been banished for centuries, but in Kaffiristan the tradition survived until 1910, when Abdur Rahman brought Islam to the Hindu Kush and forcibly converted its people by the sword. Barely a lifetime ago in a country where news travels slowly and there are still white spots on the maps which simply read 'relief data incomplete'. Close one eye and the men become braves, the patouks become ponchos, the mud-walled villages are revealed as pueblos and those dark-haired children that ran, jibing at the hooves of our horses seem awfully familiar.
In point of fact, the Afghans made for poor Muslims. I never saw a woman wearing a veil in the high villages, and their faces were decorated with henna and golden jewelry that bore the same strange patterns such as surviving roof beams scavenged from the earlier temples and some of the horsehead marker stones in the graveyards, literally the spirit horses that carry the dead on their journey to the underworld.
I thought the people of the high mountains were the last survivors of a culture literally freeze-dried from an earlier epoch, and would have given my life to defend them, but my companion, Mr. Horn (who came closer to death than I on that journey), quietly disagreed. For him, they were people of the future, a race that would endure to repopulate the earth, once our civilization has gone the way of all histories and our technologies are one with the dust.
And their women were beautiful and their men were strong and wore strange flowers plaited into their long floppy hair as they danced, jumping one by one over the sacred fire...
If I could get it down to one image, my war in thumbnail, it was that Hind helicopter gunship carved on a cave wall as a warning to future generations in Am-La, the valley of light. Beside it was the outline of the aeroplane that had crashed some years before in the mountains above Dudruk. Finding no survivors, the locals had cut up the wreck and turned it into something useful, raw material for plough blades and irrigation pipes. A few days later, the 'choppers had come and strange men had disembarked speaking a language no-one could understand, the first outsiders to enter the valley since the 1940's, when their previous visitor had been a Chinese trader, who had walked in through the Wakhan corridor, dragging his bad-tempered pack animals behind him (I was shown a coin minted in the time of Pu-Yi, the wartime puppet emperor).
When the Spetsnaz found the remains of their downed Mig, they rounded up the locals, brandishing guns and shouting angry, incomprehensible words. Before leaving, they blew up most of Dudruk and shot all the men they could find between 15 and 50 as an example to the others. Those who were left, had rebuilt their lives and repaired the shattered walls of their homes accordingly, and when they were done they carved a picture of the craft into the rock so that it might last 10,000 years, so that all could see it and know to fear it if it came again. It might as well have been a flying saucer, like something Erich von Daniken would've creamed himself over...
Two years ago, an American Special Ops unit got mislaid in the same area. Before sending in the choppers to pick 'em up, the yanks decided to bomb the surrounding villages first, a routine 'softening up' exercise to make certain the rescue party met with no resistance. Those valleys were one of the few earthly paradises I have been privileged to enter, and had I still been there now, I don't doubt I would have fired on those boys as readily as I would have fired on the Russians in the 80's. As with most modern warfare, you never really get to see the faces of the people you're fighting. We were bombed and strafed often enough, but the only Russians I got to see up close were dead ones. Two kids who probably never even knew what country they were in. Held hostage and then shot after being captured near Abdul Kheil, their bodies were heaved into a fox-hole and fed to the dogs. What was left of them was nothing like human. I felt neither disgust nor pity. Instead, I went and found a shadow to sit in and cracked open a few more walnuts with my AK's banana clip. It was hot in the sun and I dozed off and had an absurd dream about flat-hunting in London.
We were all on the same side back then. America had armed the Afghans willy-nilly, fighting the cold war by proxy and inevitably backed the most right wing, fundamentalist elements, the same forces supported by the Saudis and the young Sheik, Osama bin Laden, who was still cutting roads. Let's get this clear at least. I am not now nor have I ever been a Muslim any more than I am a Christian or a Communist, and have no sympathy for the Wahibis, who, in my eyes, are symptomatic of the same murderous intolerance as the fanatics who put the kafir priests to the sword in 1910, or threw the last of the Cathars onto the bonfire after the fall of Montsegur in 1244. I make Sci-Fi horror movies. Hanging videotapes from trees just never appealed. The Wahabis were religious fanatics and foreigners, Arabs, who were paid for their services, unlike the Afghans, who had no choice but to fight. For their sins, the Wahabis felt much the same way about me and would have killed me on sight had they known I was a Westerner, but in times of chaos, your enemies' enemy is oft-times your friend and for the while, an uneasy truce existed.
Unloading ammunition at Islam Dara (stills courtesy of Immo Horn, 1989).
I think the first contact I had with Sheik Osama, and the group that were to become the rump of the nebulous movement known to you as 'Al Qaeda', was at a hastily convened sitting of the ad-hoc guerilla government (or 'shura') in Chiga Serai, a tiny trading town on the Kunar river, that was briefly declared the capital of free Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, in the vain hope of gaining some form of recognition from the outside world. The kind of town where you could buy boiled sweets, chick peas, bullets, flour, heroin, gasoline, hashish or plastique all under one roof. What I'd call 'one stop shopping'.
We were the only Westerners present and I made the mistake of approaching the Wahabis to see if they had fresh batteries for my Sony Walkman.
My sympathies were always with the tribal people, who mistrusted the Arabs just as they mistrusted all outside forces that sought to meddle in their ways. While I made firm friends with the Afghans, Carlos, seemingly an old hand, belonged to neither one side or another. Possessed of the missionary zeal of a recent convert, he seemed fearful of the pagan ways that drew me from the council of white-bearded mullahs and back to the high pastures at every turn. He was confused by how I could choose to film the sunset or sit, watching the moon rise and listen to the sound of the river, rather than retreat into the mosque at dawn and dusk to face the bare mud wall that represented the shortest cut to Meccah. Like the Americans and the Russians before them, the Wahabis instinctively feared the night, retreating into their floodlit compounds with the coming of the dark.
On one of my last attempts to penetrate the mountainous heartland of the country, working from an aerial navigation chart provided by the U.S Defense Mapping Agency Aerospace Center (St Louis AFS, Missouri 63118. ATTN PP.), which I had corrected by hand, making close to a thousand tiny amendments, we found ourselves caught outside as the shadows lengthened in the headwaters of the Pech Valley, and talk turned again to the unseen creatures of the high mountains and the nameless tribes that lived beyond. The nightwalkers and shapeshifters that one of my recent correspondents rightly linked to the pishacas, rakshasas, and vetalas of Hindu mythology, the children of a non-Aryan sage and a daughter of Daksha, who had allegedly possessed the head or horns of a goat.
My Afghan friend now long lost to me, the jocular, ginger-bearded Nawab, told me the high mountains were full of them, although he had never seen their faces clearly as they always turned away. Such things, he said, would never be seen clearly by mortals 'til the day of judgement. Carlos usually fell silent at times like this, refusing to translate any details that rested uneasily with his faith, but for once, he chimed in to explain that while these beings might well be creations of Allah, they were evil and capricious like the Djinn and not to be associated with.
Then his eyes fell to the image of the horned man on the copper medallion at my throat, and while I insisted it was in no way intended as a 'representation of God', Carlos sullenly maintained it was, nonetheless, a part of the 'malthusian forces of darkness from which Islam sought to rescue Afghanistan' and as such an anathema to him.
Like I said, war makes for strange bedfellows.
At the time, myself and Mr. Horn began to think Carlos was a little crazy, potentially dangerous, even in the way he seemed hellbent in drawing us again and again into the very thick of the mayhem, but like Conrad's Lord Jim, he had something to prove that no-one but himself could ever fully understand. He averted his eyes from the heathen music and totems that confronted him, and frowned on my efforts to introduce the tribal people to Spaghetti Westerns and the joys of early Ennio Morricone, whose crooning, screaming vocals and galloping rhythms mirrored their own strange, keening songs. Sensing his disapproval, I often declined the smouldering joints passed my way, although it was the finest Hashish known to man and, to my lasting regret, I never tasted the ever-present opium or knew the dreams that came with it. But I enjoyed the sight of the poppy fields and the vividness of their colors nonetheless. The incursion of the poppy into the Hindu Kush is a relatively recent deal of course, taking the place of the vineyards that were stamped out when Islam came in 1910 and put an end to the making of wine and the songs and ways that went with it.
It was only years later that I learned from a man named Aiden Hartley, who had known Carlos in Mogadishu, that our friend had once had a heavy habit of his own, and radical Islam was what he got instead of rehab. He was looking for something that would make sense of his jumbled life and the last thing he needed was a pagan like myself challenging the very faith that gave him refuge.
And although at times he was a pain in the neck, so much so that I felt like shooting him myself on at least one occasion, at least he had faith, and aspired towards what he felt could be a better world even if he couldn't help falling time and again below those aspirations. And as Goethe says: "He who strives constantly upwards, him can we save..."
For a while, we were united in our cause and I did what little I could to help. Having some prior knowledge of automatic weapons, I was able to help the locals recalibrate their gun sites and taught them enough rudimentary English to be able to write their names on their rifle straps to avoid potential squabbling. My map played a central part in the local commander's planning.
Hazrat Ali was the main man in Am-La, a beaming bear of a man, who invited us into his house with open arms, but for a native he seemed singularly poorly informed when it came to the topography his crew commanded. Years later he was the put in charge of the Allied assault on Tora Bora and it came as no surprise uncle Osama slipped through the net.
The last I saw of Hazrat Ali was in Time magazine, older now and wearing the same kinda look as the one worn by Murray Boyd, the location manager on The Island of Dr. Moreau, when he said "No worries, mate! Sea's gonna be flat as a millpond", the day before the hurricane blew in. But I digress!
The UN refused to recognize the guerrilla government, the shura, unless it was established in one of the existing provincial capitals. Until then, food aid continued to go to the Communist regime, now crumbling as the Soviet Union withdrew support.
Thus it was that with the backing of the free world and the tacit support of America and the UN, we eventually swept down on Jallalabad, starting the battle that led to the installation of the Taliban. For the record, the attack was launched to the soundtrack of 'NAVAJO JOE'. Having experimented with Carl Orff and Jimi Hendrix, it turned out that Ennio Morricone was the only one that really cut across the cultural barriers.
Of course it was a disaster.
The initial assault on Jallallabad was the single biggest guerilla defeat of the 10-year war and the mujaheddin lost over a thousand men a day in the carnage, but time is of the essence and there is no point lingering over the details now.
My final journal entry on the morning of the battle reads: "Let's do this all again from the top some day. Let's do it again when when we're 103 and the birds bring us honey and flowers for tea..."
After that the pages are blank.
Siege of Jallallabad, 1989 - stills by Immo Horn
We were attached to a BM-12 missile crew that were supposed to take out the runway before the Migs could make it into the air. My fault perhaps for making such a big deal out of the contours that enabled us to situate the rocket crews in natural gulleys and washouts in the surrounding hills. Unfortunately, we were well within range of a Communist garrison on an overlooking hill that was supposed to have been taken out by another group the night before, but Hazrat Ali was away in Pakistan at the time looking for a wife for his younger brother Sunak and the correct order didn't get passed down.
Leaving us to be massacred...
The last I saw of Carlos was when he went to pray just before dawn. The moment we opened fire, we gave away our position and were pounded into submission by incoming. It was pretty much over by the end of day one.
I had my John Woo moment at sunset. We were working our way down a gulley. Our target was the nearest river, but when we came around the corner, we saw all the grass was on fire and there was no way to go forward but going back was inconcievable. No one said a word. We just looked at each other and then, hard as it is to believe, my brothers, I raised my rifle and ran screaming through the flames towards the enemy lines and the incoming fire. It was so hot I couldn't even see where I was going. We never did make it to the river but we didn't die either, so I suppose it's no big deal or anything. But we should have died. The missile that hit us just after dark should have done the trick in any sane world. I was picked up and blown through the air and for a while, everything was silent and blinding white. Like the movie had slowed right down to a stop.
Then the light broke up into sparks, moving so slowly I could see every one of them, every tiny white hot splinter of shrapnel in perfect focus. Some of those sparks went right through Mr. Horn's body without severing any major arteries and miraculously cut the nerves to his legs so that he was spared the worst of the pain. They fanned out past me into the gathering night and as the dark returned I hit the ground and normal sound and motion returned.
I got up and let go of my backpack, because I simply couldn't hold on to it and Mr. Horn and the Kalashnikov all at the same time. He's a big lad, Mr. Horn. All of seven feet, the descendant of a lost race of German giants which is why he presented such an easy target. I managed to half-drag, half-carry him back across the field of fire to the advance position. Everything was coming apart, the writing clearly on the wall and requisitioning a donkey I decided to head for home, striking out across the minefields towards the distant mountains where we belonged.
I used to catch snakes for pocket money when I was a kid. The local venom man milked them for serum before turning them free. Mostly boomslang and puff adders but you could get five bucks for a decent cobra, which was a fortune in those days. Before leaving Peshawar, I'd done a half-assed course on mine recognition but on the ground, I relied on the same instincts I had used to avoid getting bitten as a kid. Doubtless a form of delusion, but God knows how many times I paused in mid-stride or changed course just in time, somehow always knowing the boobytaps were there just the same as the way you stop, catch your breath and look for the snake, knowing it's there a beat before you consciously see it.
Total horseshit perhaps, but it was enough to keep me moving and my relaxed, loping gait meant I never fell or twisted my ankle although at times the going was rough and when the way was dark, it was my dark-adjusted therian eyes that gave me enough of an edge to stay in the land of the living or at least within striking distance of it's borders.
In danger all that counts is moving forward. I can't remember who said that. Nietschze or Conan the Barbarian.
All I know is we walked a while.
And then we walked again.
A former associate of mine, Sonja Nasery Cole (otherwise known as "The Stinger Girl") likes to argue that she was ultimately responsible for persuading Reagan to arm the resistance with heat-seeking rockets, but by the final stages of the war, the Communists had learned to drop parachute flares to throw the American ground-to-air missiles off their scent. They were so bright they burned out your visual purple so you couldn't see the stars, only those incandescent points of light that descended so slowly it was as if the whole world were rising to meet them. It was perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I could feel the changing air pressure in my diaphragm and the bass of the heavy artillery rose through the soles of my feet like the thunder of some tremendous party, the night cut with the flicker and strobe of incoming fire, tracers weaving cat's cradles in my retinas, incendiaries rising in great golden balls of living plasma, falling and fading in slow cooling sparks, into nothing. And all the while the city burned behind us, a ruddy glow beyond the hills, a thickening plume that seemed to rise forever to fill a third part of the heavens.
Allow me that Biblical reference, my brethren, for Biblical it was. The sight of thousands fleeing their homes, dragging their families and all they owned on the backs of mules and camels, fleeing aimlessly into the dark like Joseph, Mary and the baby Jesus lighting out for Egypt land. We made it as far as a Red Crescent field hospital, a huddle of tents strewn amidst the boulders at the mouth of a river known as Islam Dara.
Forward position at Islam-Dara - stills by Immo Horn
There were no doctors or surgeons, only wounded people, a few boxes of analgesics and enough morphine to stop the pain which is sometimes enough, even if you can't always save people. I have College level physiology and could help the overworked Pakistani medical student, who was trying to stay on top of the situation with the externals, burns, amputations, etc., but there was no realistic hope for the internals, not in a place like that.
The only chance I had of keeping Mr. Horn alive lay in somehow making it back through enemy lines and across the mountains to the border, the outside world and what remained of the 20th century. Despite the prominent symbols painted on the tents, we endured an air strike on the field hospital before loading all those with a reasonable chance of survival into the remaining trucks and making a break for it. The enemy found our range almost immediately and our pathetic, slow moving convoy came under sustained fire.
I tried saying Hail Mary's and chanting every mantra I could recall, but in the end, when there was fire all around us, I put my dog tags and that copper medallion I am still wearing now in my mouth and bit down, hoping someone might identify me by then and it was my own foolish, simple pagan faith that came to my rescue and gave me the strength to keep going, the one thing in my life I can be justly proud of.
And the Djinn were merciful, my brothers, and sent a storm to hide us from the Migs, whose Doppler lookdown systems were no match for the dust cloud that swirled about us like great black wings. And we came as far as Am-La and I stopped to retrieve the surviving film stock cached before the battle, before striking out for Chiga Serai and the free territories. The spring rains had begun, the pass Sheik Osama and his Arabs had cut through the Kashkund mountains turned to mud and for a long, terrible while, I found myself trapped in a dank, Afghan remake of The Wages of Fear, and if you've seen that movie, you'll know how bad it sucked to be there with those trucks filled with spent ammunition and dying people, stripping gears, running out of gas and sliding backwards into the deepening sludge, engines churning helplessly all day and night, every day while the rest of us tried to wedge anything we had beneath the straining wheels for traction.
We lost one of the trucks over a cliff and buried the folk on board at sunrise.
The light seems sharper and clearer at that altitude and the colors of the grave diggers scarves stood out vividly against the snow. I remember I was listening to Wagner, Overture to Tristan and Isolde when my Walkman finally gave up the ghost.
Mr. Horn's legs had started to rot and there were literally vultures following us, hopping from rock to rock which is never a good thing. Then the sun faded behind the clouds and the rain set in...
We thought if we could just make it to the top of the mountains we'd be alright, even if we had to do it on our own, on foot, but when we finally made it to the summit, the tribal militia who controlled the border were less than happy to see us. We had lost our friends and supporters in the guerilla party just as I had lost my passport and I.D. with our discarded backpacks. There had been a party of bullets going on around us at the time, and if I had paused even for a split second to retrieve my documents, we would have been beef jerky.
Instead we were placed under de facto arrest at the border and held in a mud-walled garrison. While the rain hammered down, Mr. Horn slipped steadily into a coma and the company medic argued with the stern-faced men who held us, arguing for our lives, I realized later. At one point, I was marched out into the courtyard. At first I thought I was being taken for a piss call, but then I saw my escort were picking up their guns. And again the nameless medic intervened on our behalf, arguing with the local commander in a dialect I couldn't hope to comprehend.
Immo Horn with Dr. Nasir who saved his legs
We were bundled into the back of another truck and by the next afternoon, the sun had come out and we had made it all the way back across the tribal territories to the Red Cross Hospital in Peshawar. Unfortunately, the Swiss doctors in charge were already overloaded with casualties from the Jallallabad action and refused to admit Mr. Horn, accusing us of being mercenaries. In the end, the Afghan surgeons at the Red Crescent hospital cleaned his wounds and removed the pieces of shrapnel still lodged within him. While they did the cutting, I wandered down the dusty trunk road and caught sight of a KFC outlet where I ordered a Coke and rejoined the West.
Mr. Horn still has those pieces of shrapnel on display, the closest thing to a medal you can expect in our line of work. That shambollic hospital was like something from Gone With the Wind, the ranks of the maimed and the burned flowing out across the surrounding fields, on stretchers, cots or blankets, makeshift tents improvised from sodden patouks. It was here that Trix Worrell, the writer of For Queen and Country and the television sitcom Desmond's, finally caught up with me. He had been tasked by Paul Trijbits to bring me back to London so that they could close the deal on Hardware.
At first I was loathe to abandon the country that become an adopted homeland. The sight of burned or limbless children tends to stir strange emotions in the hearts of even the worst of us, even heathens like myself. And there was unfinished business.
Carlos was still missing, presumed dead and it now transpired that he had been less than straightforward in his initial dealings, having helped himself to a large sum of money from a West London property magnate before leaving town, apparently with the intention of closing one of those illicit transactions that Frontier Province is famous for. Now Carlos was gone, the deal that none of the rest of us even knew existed had fallen through and the big cheese in Fulham wanted his money back.
There was another small catch. Although miraculously our backpacks were later retrieved from the battlefield and returned by the Hezb, who must have carried them clear over the Kashkund mountains along with my maps, notebooks and several remaining cans of film, the one thing that conspicuously failed to turn up with them was my passport, which at the time I assumed to have been filched by my otherwise impeccably honest cadres. And getting back to River City without ID proved to be a bit of a head-scratcher.
In the end, it was my ex-girlfriend, Kate, who managed to get through to a line in the Hezbi-Islami party political office in University Town and persuaded me to give up my plans to return to the mountains with a shipment of Polio and Smallpox vaccine from one of the medical charities. It was at the time of The Satanic Verses. There was a fatwah on Salman Rushdie's head and the British consulate in Peshawar had been just been firebombed. I managed to get Mr. Horn flown out from Peshawar along with the surviving exposed stock before making my way overland to Islamabad to find diplomatic representation. I was arrested by Pakistani police the moment I arrived in the capital, and only survived by repeating the phrase "Call my consul" until someone finally did.
A kind man, named vice-consul Pete Roffey, got me out of the slammer and helped me trade what I knew about the massacre in Ningrahar Province for a fresh passport. That was the first time I was ever debriefed by Western intelligence and I told them all I knew, which was quite a lot even though I didn't realize it at the time.
I made it to Karachi, then Abu Dabi, then Istanbul and hence to London, where Kate met me at Heathrow. It was raining and she looked pale and unhappy. She told me she didn't want to hear about it, not one word. We drove back to the flat in Kennington in silence and when I finally walked into my lounge I found there were people waiting for me there, adults, folk from a firm called 'Brigade Security'. Apparently, their boss wanted his money, either that or they were going to feed me to the dogs. I recall one of my favourite LP's playing on the stereo somewhere in the background.
In the end, Paul Trijbits got Brigade Security off my back, paid the outstanding and saved my worthless ass and saved Mr. Horn too, who lay all the while quietly going to pieces in a backroom because the NHS wouldn't admit him and his girlfriend didn't want to saddle herself with a gimp. Even a stoic one. In return, I traded Paul the underlying rights to Hardware and he let me live under a table in the production office while we got the beast up and running. For a while, I was half-convinced I was dead and living in some other world that barely resembled the one we had left behind. I can remember the sound of the one that got us, totally different from all the other incoming. The soundless white flash that followed like a freeze frame. Then slowly I realized I was out of luck and we were alive after all...
A hack from the Sunday Times later wrote that I had "adopted late eighties grunge style clothing and hygiene" during the shoot, but believe me, I looked that way because I was sleeping on the floor and didn't have two beans at the time.
Somewhere in the middle of it Carlos turned up, still alive too and looking a little sheepish about it. He said he'd been pinned down by enemy fire but the long and the short of it was he'd left us to die, getting back to the advance position only few days later when he arranged for the return of our personal effects. We shook hands on it but there was bad blood between us and he never looked me squarely in the eye again.
The journey had shaken Carlos and changed him somehow. While he might not have fitted in on Wall Street, he knew in his heart he could never be an Afghan. He tempered his faith and traded on his talents as a fixer and veteran of the Jihad to become a stringer for the networks, covering the fall of the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia. Either which way, it was the 90's, and no-one cared about Afghanistan any more than they cared about low-budget British Sci-Fi horror movies. We drifted apart, found new girlfriends, new obsessions, new wars, but none of them seemed to satisfy. Carlos got Mogadishu and I lit out for Haiti and got with the Voodoo. I think we both caught a dose of Rwanda, but received it on separate channels.
There were still times when I was convinced I had been killed by that rocket but those thoughts came less frequently now and by the summer of 1998, things were starting to look up for Carlos too. His family had decided not to disinherit him and he had finally gotten engaged to the love of his life. He had just gotten back from a trip to Kenya when al-Qaeda detonated a truck bomb outside the US embassy in downtown Nairobi. The blast killed 213 people. Many victims were vaporized or buried alive by rubble from the embassy or a nearby multistory office block that collapsed like a house of cards.
President Clinton ordered a punitive missile strike on Afghanistan and Sudan, although the news took second billing to the first day of Monica Lewinsky's notorious testimony. Hillary Clinton looked the camera straight down the lens and told the world: "We're victims of a massive right wing conspiracy!" People laughed, but she was right.
Travelling under an assumed name, Carlos retraced his steps to Peshawar and a few days later was arrested and detained by the ISI, the Pakistani military police, while trying to cross the Afghan border. He was interrogated and on release succeeded in reaching a hospital in Miram Shah, where he made contact with survivors of the missile strike on Sheik Osama's camp. Some believe the information he became party to at that time placed his life in danger. Following the attack, the Sheik had posted a $20,000 bounty on the head of any American found in the area and Carlos was carrying a sat phone, which men like bin Laden knew would allow the CIA to get an accurate fix on the bearer whenever it was switched on.
Somehow Carlos made it back alive.
He booked into a room at Dean's Hotel in Peshawar, Room 304, a far swankier set of digs that he could have afforded back in the day. The first thing he did was call his fiancee. Then he had a shower and a hot meal before phoning a producer named Leslie Cockburn at CBS television. He had a story to tell. A big story. Miss Cockburn thought the situation through but by the time the network tried to call back approximately an hour later, there was no-one left to answer. When hotel staff forced the door, they found Carlos seated upright next to the telephone table, stone-cold dead, the butt of a Marlboro Red clenched between his lips, burned right down to its filter, the ash resting in his lap.
An empty syringe was apparently found near his body. No actual drugs. No makings. Just a needle. My passport was retrieved from his personal effects, having been removed from my bag back in 1989 after we abandoned our packs at the advance position. My stolen identity, one last puzzling detail amidst the clutter of camera equipment, cigarette cartons, gaffer tape, five grand in cash, the sat 'phone and a bunch of happy snaps of the one-time Wall Street trader posing with his Afghan buddies, intended presumably as a way of befriending any militias he encountered along the road.
At the funeral in River City, we sang "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord", and readers quoted from Byron and Kipling. Later, an official wake was held at the London stock exchange. Monitors above the urinals showed a continuous tickertape crawl of shifting figures while Ted Coppel from Nightline stood in front of another screen in an adjoining reception area, this one showing images culled from our documentary Voice of the Moon, and we listened as he eulogized Carlos Mavroleon for his role in "alerting the world to the situation in Afghanistan". I sat near the back with Mr. Horn and his wife Deborah, taking advantage of the cocktail snacks and joking about how that would be the only time we'd get to hear someone from the networks say something nice about our untransmitted footage. Mr. Horn said nothing. He had not only recovered the full use of his legs but in the interim had become an accomplished ballroom dancer. He remains a strong walker to this day. And of course the world was so f***ng unalerted it isn't funny.
The police claimed Carlos died from a self-administered heroin overdose. An autopsy was never conducted and those who tried to ask questions about the affair were gently but firmly warned away. We tried to keep the story alive for a while and sent out treatments and one pagers to every television station we could think of, but it was the 90's, the economy was booming and no-one wanted to know about that sort of thing. I still have copies of those treatments on file and even now, they seem a little paranoid in their far-fetched assumption that regardless of whether or not Carlos was assassinated, he seemed to have been on the brink of blowing the whistle on the misappropriation of American and Saudi money to create a terrorist movement apparently hellbent on starting World War 3, if not by training up militants to destabilize Kashmir, then by some other means.
Nuclear War was just so passé in the 90's, not something that real adults felt the need to waste their time on. Some nutty right-wing theorist in the States had apparently decided that history was dead and no longer an active process worth losing sleep over. For a while, I thought about trying to write a book but my agent succeeded in talking me out of it.
By 2001, the millennium bug had proved a wash and it had all become just one more 'conspiracy theory' parked on the same shelf as David Icke and his reptilloids. Producers would roll their eyes or sneak snide glances at their P.A.'s, shutters coming down before you even had time to spit out the A-word. "Ohhh, Richard! You and your little Afghan friends! I mean, it's just not the real world, is it?" sighed an industry maven who shall remain nameless. "Look around you!" She shook her head, gesturing at the brightly lit Soho bistro before us. "This is the real world!"
But it wasn't...
By the time the first aeroplane hit the World Trade Center, my mother was being treated for cancer and I was already feeling pretty brought down by the assassination of Ahmed Shah Massood some 24 hours previously. Massood, who I never met on account of my alliance with the Hezb, was a hero of the guerilla war and had stood as the lone opponent of the Taliban, a giant amongst men, the country's natural leader and only real hope.
The suicide camera crew had made their appointment through his press agent and although they were reportedly carrying British passports, their identities were never publically established. Clearly someone knew that after years of being willfully ignored by the West, Massood's role was about to become a crucial one, so he was surgically removed by outside parties working to a detailed game plan. Apparently, Massood recognized one of his killers as they entered the room, either that or he suffered a belated premonition, yelling for the guards to "Get them out of here! Get these men out of here..."
Accordingly, the bomb (which was hidden in the camera) was detonated in the doorway before the phony journalists could enter the office, atomizing the press agent and mortally wounding the guerilla leader, who is rumored to have lingered on for a day or so before giving up the struggle. Shortly afterwards, Abdul Haq was betrayed and murdered, and his brother, Abdul Qadir, gunned down on the streets of Kabul in what was dismissed in the press as a minor skirmish between rival opium barons. Either way, the countries natural leaders were being rapidly expunged.
As those images of the burning towers flickered across the monitors in the silent transit lounge, I endured a sense of helpless deja-vu, of being forced to watch something unfolding that could and should have been averted. That was the day I met Maggie Moor, who, like myself, was on her way home from a film festival in Germany and had made it as far as Frankfurt before the sky fell in. Maggie occupies a special place in my heart because she was the first person to listen to me. It's an old story, but by dint of her proximity at the time, she was the first to hear it in a post-9/11 environment and it no longer sounded like gobbledy-gook. As they say in that 'America' song, "SANDMAN", all the planes had been grounded and unable to make it back to the States. Miss Moor did the only thing she could. As soon as she got to a working telephone, she told the operator to connect her to CIA headquarters at Langley, who set up the meeting with 'James' at Grosvenor Square.
I told my story over again and 'James' took notes. He consistently misspelled the Afghan names, couldn't tell the difference between Engineer Machmud and Ahmed Shah Massood, and seemed baffled by the plethora of rival clans and parties, having merged them in his mind into a single indistinct foreign other. If the CIA said it was impossible to infiltrate Al-Qaeda, then who was I to say that some Greek guy whose name he couldn't pronounce had succeeded where the company had failed, relying instead on information retrieved at a distance by either the Pakistani ISI or satellites and drones, whose lookdown systems are scarcely more sophisticated than those Russian Migs that failed to kill us back in '89.
Maggie was no beginner at this game. She supplements her occasional earnings as an actress by moonlighting as a process server for the oldest private investigation agency in Manhattan, a company run by an elderly Jewish gentleman and former Mossad agent, who claims to have been amongst those responsible for tracking down the terrorists in the Black September affair. She could tell 'James' wasn't taking us seriously, and refused to part with any maps, notebooks, charts or coordinates without the promise of protection or reward.
That was the last straw. Narrowing his piggy Ivy Leaguer eyes, 'James' fixed her with a look as if she were so far beneath him she belonged not to a different gender but some other taxomic group entirely. "How does that make you people feel, huh? Trying to profit out of World War Three?" Shaking his head, he pushed back his chair, drawing the line under my second debriefing.
World War Three.
He said it. Not me. But it had an nice old-fashioned 80's ring about it.
We tried to tell ourselves that anything we knew was probably old news anyway, and that there were responsible adults in charge now but by the time the Allies got 'round to bombing all those places, 'James' couldn't pronounce the folk they were looking for, and they had melted like ghosts into the mountains, into the sea of the people. The company insisted they were on the case and had the situation by the tail, but when I saw they had put 'feared warlord' and 'northern alliance' commander Hazrat Ali in charge of the Tora Bora operation my heart sank further.
For a couple of weeks, Afghanistan was all the rage and there was a brief run on our footage, mostly for stock shots to illustrate the prehistory of the war. We were the only human beings to have ever taken movie cameras into the Hindu Kush, which held some small curiosity for the video generation, who seemed surprised by the light and color. I was tapped by Sonja, "The Stinger Girl", to come up with a piece for a fundraising dinner thrown by the "Afghan World Foundation", a dodgy charity headed by Hamid Karzai. She slyly hinted that she had friends in the Academy and if I cooperated, they could get a belated nomination for our still untransmitted documentary.
I played along in the hope of getting myself embedded with US forces in Kabul. There was a rumor Bush would be attending the bash in Beverly Hills and I became frightened they might try to force me to shake his hand. But the Iraq war was in the wind and just like that, Afghanistan dropped out of the media as if it had never existed. I think it was a deliberate policy decision by the administration to not mention the A-word in public and they didn't after that, not for many years. The last thing anyone wanted were camera crews actually covering the situation as it developed on the ground and the fundraiser was duly cancelled. For some reason, I got to shake Kissinger's hand instead, quite by accident, the two of us just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Later I was driven by Don Stroud's brother, Charlie, to a meeting with my anonymous sponsors in a penthouse in Century City, where we waited for a while in an atrium decorated by archeological plunder from around the world, Roman City Gods and original poster artwork by Milos Manara for an unproduced Fellini project Journey to Tulun, before being told by my patrons that I had "performed a great service to the people of Afghanistan", and presented with a free mug, the only real profit I got to see on the war apart from a one way ticket back to River City, my plans for shooting a companion to Voice of the Moon from an American perspective, The Eye of the Sun, unrealized beyond a few short sequences and sketches for sequences.
In the past, there had been times when myself and Mr. Horn imagined we might be under surveillance but we usually shrugged it off as transient paranoia, like the nagging suspicion we might in fact be dead all along but after 9/11, the intrusions became too persistent to be ignored. Electronic eavesdropping in the UK is routinely carried out by a computer named Eschelon, which logs on to key words and word combinations to harvest the digital raw material (known as 'towrope') for more comprehensive searches carried out by GCHQ Cheltenham. For a while myself and Mr. Horn were able to follow the futile hunt for bin Laden simply by the buzz words, whatever combination of those names no-one ever seemed to bother taking down, that would set off the unmistakable clicking and switching that signaled whether we were warm or cold in our assumptions. Sometimes the background noise was so overbearing that we literally had to shout above it to make ourselves heard.
The earliest incursion on Lauri's site seems to have been around September 2005, and curiously the hits peaked at key moments such as the weeks prior to the theft of Ms. Moor's laptop or my bank account being inexplicably frozen the day before Xmas (Thank you, Gordon! I really appreciated that! Like I'm funding a terrorist movement on my income!). In fact, our pals at wakko.whs.mil seem to have really taken a shine to the latest draft of Ground Zero, and even downloaded and mass-copied the Hardware soundtrack, though I can't help grinning at the thought of "This is what you want, This is what you get" finding its natural home at the Pentagon. Cheeky, when you consider Murdoch won't let me use my own music on the site, forcing me to make do with The Terminator theme instead. But that's a lousy war for ya...
It's not that we haven't tried to tell the powers that be everything we know, but if our attempts to 'alert the world' failed, it was because the world didn't want to hear, not because we had any desire or reason to keep what little we knew secret. Instead, my ability to travel freely has been restricted, my reputation questioned and my credit rating flatlined. In the end, Voice of the Moon crept into release as a freebie in the Dust Devil box put out by Subversive Cinema, although it has yet to appear in any form in Europe or the wider world.
I changed agents and have started hesitantly trying to write about the subject. With the Iraq war spiraling towards its inevitable conclusion, even the New York Times is suggesting maybe we should withdraw, throw in the towel and bring the boys home. What no-one seems to apprehend is that once you've embarked on this sort of kill spree, you can't just call it off and expect the barbarian hordes to put down their guns and go home just because our side is losing. That's not how wars work.
The Soviet Union collapsed within a year of withdrawing from Afghanistan. Same deal with the British Empire after the fall of Kabul. And how long can we continue to support Karzai or shore up Musharraf when the man has one foot on a banana peel and the other on a rollerskate? And when he falls, will we finally discover we have created the nightmare scenario we sought initially to avoid, a fundamentalist state gifted with nuclear capability because unlike Iraq, our 'allies' in Pakistan really do have weapons of mass destruction. With Russia rearming rapidly and China demonstrating its satellite smashing ability to lay claim to the 'high frontier' and switch off our ICBM's before they even leave the silos, the prospects of nuclear war never seemed more likely or less inviting.
For a while, I thought the trail had gone completely cold but it's oddly comforting to know Big Brother is still watching after all. Still taking notes.
All I can say is try to get the spelling right this time.
Over the years there have been various attempts to portray Carlos as a hero, a man who died trying to warn the world of a clear and present danger, but there was just something about him that didn't quite fit the George Clooney shaped hole they tried to force him into. To believe he was murdered is almost reassuring, compared to the notion that he might have been able to single-handedly stop the War on Terror from happening if he hadn't stuck that needle in his arm before making the crucial 'phone call.
You can see him in Voice of the Moon, laughing on the back of that bony, black horse. It was warm in the sun, still going towards the war, artillery fire like thunder beyond the hills and it all still ahead of us. One of my compadres, Abu Zarqawi, who was recently killed in Iraq after developing a dismaying penchant for separating civilian workers from their heads and e-mailing them home, said he often wished he'd died back that day because his soul would have made it to heaven a whole lot faster.
Funny thing is, I think I know what he means.
I've been debating the wisdom of posting this blog and what it's consequences might be. The rain stopped and I was wandering down Ladbroke Grove, thinking the mess through when I heard a bicycle bell and turned to recognize one of my former associates, Mark Pilkington, who used to write a column in The Guardian. When he asked how I was doing, I shrugged and mumbled something about the Pentagon raiding my site and how I was thinking of posting an open letter to them. Mark sighed, "Well, I'm sure it's no different from what everyone else on this planet goes through every single day of their lives."
And just like that he was off, riding on the edge of a patch of July sunlight.
And I thought what I wouldn't give for that to be true.
Carlos wrote: "In the midst of carnage you will see the utter evil and the supreme good side by side..."
Most of us long for the kind of clarity you find in battle but only rarely in so-called 'everyday life'. The privilege of experiencing those extremes stretches our hearts or souls, so that afterwards, there is something left inside us, a void we can never hope to fill.
And of course there's more. Notebook after notebook, but I don't have the time, energy or inclination to input it so if you gentlemen who run the world want the details you can drop by any time. I'm generally home.
I'm alone at this keyboard, bare foot and unarmed and I ain't afraid of a single dog man one of you.
******THIS IS RICHARD STANLEY, THE LAST FREE MAN IN WEST LONDON, SIGNING OFF*******