May 24th, 2004


String Beans

I felt fairly ashamed as I returned home from the Folks last night. No, nothing had happened in the pub itself, but as I was walking up Camden Road, I managed to get hit by a bus. Admittedly, the bus was making a standing start and I was in front of it, so it was far more of a shunt than a collision, but it was a scary enough five seconds as I was trying not be swept under the front wheels. Phew. The bus and I disengaged from each other and we continued on our own separate trajectories: Pimlico for the bus, towards M&S for me.

I hadn't progressed more than twenty yards, when I was approached by a man asking "Can I ask you a question?". I wish you would I thought. He proceeded to show me a nasty burn on the back of his neck. He needed to obtain a tube of Savlon for it. I wasn't in the mood and instead started lecturing him on how you shouldn't treat a burn like that with Savlon. You'll need Flamazine for that, I said, and it's only available on prescription. You'll need to go to casualty. I've only got £1.20. The 24 bus will take you to the Royal Free for a pound. Okay, so, I was going to buy some Savlon, but now I understand that I shouldn't...etc. Now, my modus operandi about begging is that I'm quite happy to give people money if I have it to hand. I rarely give money to people squatting the supermarket doorways. It seems too much like a lazy toll booth. Moreover, it is a Christian duty to give alms to the poor. This statement isn't qualified with a series of sub-clauses, but then again, this was before the age of crack and smack, the pistachio nuts and Haagen Dazs of the drug world.

The conversation didn't go on for that long, but I did realise that I was trying to get him to jump through a series of hoops in order to obtain the pot of silver at the end. I know very well you don't want Savlon. I made a move to buy him something to eat, at his request, but as anticipated he started turning the conversation at this point. Finally, I did give him some money. What is it you actually want this money for? Alright, I'll tell you, a couple of cans of beer... I didn't believe that either. He didn't smell like beer. I made it to the bus stop and felt ashamed, because I thought I should have given him money without trying to get him to somehow break out of his routine, almost play with him from a position of power. Which is what it was. I had a routine in Hong Kong once, which involved running around the harbour front, trying to get the last boat to Lantau. It was all bullshit. It was all money.

I calmed down on the bus. You might have behaved more charitably if you hadn't just been in combat with a bus. But I didn't say to him, hold on a minute, I've almost been run over, give me a second to calm down. I just became the slightly irate London citizen who, in a sense, was trying to have their fun with him. What exactly am I becoming? I thought, the bus trailing along the Holloway Road.

These failings aside, one thing that I am most certainly not becoming is a Kabbalist. I don't have any particular preference for a Sunday paper. I don't really like them. The Friday and Saturday editions have given me more than I can ever digest. Now, according to memory, the Saturday papers used to be quite slim affairs. You could feel the paper winding down early on a Friday, people went to lunch and didn't return, save in a very tired and emotional state. The Saturday paper was pretty flimsy and that made the Sunday a more welcome orgy of articles, features and reviews. But now, the Saturday editions seem little different from the Sunday. Both have become weighed down with their supplements and magazines and they're generally sisters to each other (Observer-Guardian, Telegraph-Sunday Telegraph, Times-Sunday Times, etc). It's this issue of bulk that always puts me off the Sunday Times. This leaves the Observer, which makes me feel nauseous, and the Sunday Telegraph, which makes me nauseous also, but for diffierent reasons. Frequently, it's the Independent on Sunday. For a start, it doesn't weight that much and isn't fluffed out with supplements. There's the paper, the review section, the magazine. There might be a sports and business section, but I don't pay any attention to those. That's it. It's still too much. Anyway...

The IoS cover promised THE TRUTH ABOUT KABBALAH for £1.40. I don't entirely swallow Simon Parke's line that "if you strip away the Baroque cosmology of the movement [in its original/Jewish context], Kabbalah is an ancient and profund form of personality typing, arising out of the Image of God." Well, sort of... [This article is actually a lot better that the IoS one] Anyway, I did learn that adherents of the Kabbalah Centre take on new names and Madonna is known as Esther. It didn't tell me what Posh and Britney's were though. What with the merchandising of bracelets, water and face cream ("Blessed Restoring Face Cream"@£78 incl. VAT. Mmm, do you pay VAT on religious items such as candles in church? I think not actually. No idea.) and its emphasis on personal success, it is sounding more and more like a Soka Gakkai for the Aquarian Age. Maybe they offer a good part-exchange deal on your unwanted gohonzon.

Interestingly, the celebrity adherents (apparently also Naomi Campbell, Liz Taylor, Winona Ryder, Courtney Love, Roseanne Barr.....Demi Moore) all appear to be women. That'd be Demi Moore again. Well, there's Jeff Goldblum. Hang on, who else, Mick Jagger. Once upon a time, you would have believed that Mick could summon every demon in hell. I associate Scientology with John Travolta and Tom Cruise, but the Kabbalah Centre seems more prominently feminised. At the moment anyway. Second hand e-meter anyone?

What the Kabbalah Centre seems to be intimating (I'm being polite) is that it offers the chance for physical immortality. I'm not clear how much Rabbi Berg believes this himself. Maybe he's happy for people to go for this superficial reading in the hope that other elements of the movement or teaching can reveal themseves, for good or bad (his or mine), over time. I've written about the Kabbalah Centre before. It hadn't occurred to me that the Kabbalah Centre would be so much like some elements within Daoism. The same emphasis upon the physical body and the accumulation of wealth. In the Parke's article, a woman reporter goes to the centre (strangely, it's located right next to the Oriental Club where the Japan Society gives its monthly lectures. I wonder whether people ever attend the wrong event by mistake.) and is encouraged to buy a copy of the Zohar. She declines, saying she can't read Hebrew. "It doesn't matter...You still get energy from just looking at the letters." This doesn't seem that far from Daoism either with its use of magic characters and writing systems, which I am sure most Chinese people of the time were unable to truly decipher, let alone 20th century types.

You see articles from time to time about 'The Most Influential People in the World'. I'm glad that I'm not too insane at the moment, because I would not find it hard to start believing that there is something very off about all this. I think that this KC (mmm, Kabbalah Fried Chicken, wonder they've started marketing that yet...A mixture of 72 Secret Spices and rendered fat) involvement will possibly backfire on Madonna, but it doesn't matter what we think of Madonna anymore. She's rich enough never to have to care about our opinion and, mmm, her cabal is powerful enough to ensure that she can foist herself, CDs, books and whatever she damn well wants on us until the end of time. Which is what this seems like. An endtime prophecy. Top celebrity figures join neo-mystic movement with supposed basis in ancient Jewish teachings. Fortunately, I'm not David Icke. But, as I wrote once before and shall repeat, the chance for discovery of the Secret Name of G_d by Demi Moore is something we need to be very prepared for. And very scared about.

Miraculous Sarmoung Waters are available at a very reasonable rate upon application.