Friday, 7 September 2012

Goin' down South...

Brighton Beach nuns!

“What makes earth feel like hell is our expectation that it should feel like heaven.” 
(Chuck Palahniuk) 

Across the world's most popular religions, folklore and mythologies, hell has traditionally been seen as an underworld of relentless retribution, exclusion and damnation. Religions with a cyclic tradition often depict hell as an intermediary state between incarnations or levels of recovery; even then, generally located below the earth's exterior surface, with entrances from The Land of the Living. The modern English word "hell" derives from the Old English "hel / helle"; around 750AD, this referred to a netherworld for the dead. An Anglo Saxon variation translates as something hidden, covered up, buried. The Norse Pagans feared a being named "Hel", described as the ruler of their underworld; a place of banishment for all women and some men! In Greek mythology, the underworld of Hades included a deep abyss, a place of torment and torture. Islam warns of pits of extreme ice and deadly cold as well as the eternally fiery ones. Chinese folklore tells of an unfathomable maze incorporating eighteen levels of underworld and pits of filth. The Native American and Inuit cultures also feature terrible netherworlds; with deepening levels of despair and ever more tortuous routes, including flesh-ripping winds and rivers of blood. You get the (not very pretty) picture.
Within Judaism, hell has been depicted as not entirely physical; it has often been compared to the most intense feeling of shame and isolation. The Roman Catholic Church will define hell as "a state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed." My own Dad, in contrast to Monsieur Sartre on his bookshelves, told me that hell was being kept from others, those you loved, as well as being excluded by God. Yet through Dante, Milton and Blake, there is the persistence of the "fall" of beings, the terrible descent, the claustrophobic enclosure; in vivid contrast to the rise skywards to God and the heavens, the freedom of flight and the summit of enlightenment. Little wonder then that many Irish people and other rural folk in Britain and the United States used euphemisms such as "going down" or "heading south" when referring to the fate of Bad People. When I was a very little girl in (whisper it) sarf London, I'm sure I had a notion that sinners were headed somewhere beyond Margate.
Barely a couple of years ago, "South" for me was that hemisphere beneath the Southern Cross constellation, principally my beloved Australia. Called to think about it more deeply, The South would also refer to Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas: places oozing with the blues, with country, with bourbon, hot sauce and hugs; places I have only romanticised about and still long to visit. Those dreams are still very vivid, but these days "going back down south", from whatever angle, means coming home to rusty, glinting little Brighton. Yes, it is indeed geographically somewhat beyond Margate.
Thank you to my dear friend Tom, husband of the equally lovely Ellen, for sending me this joke while Brighton has a late burst of sunshine! Tom isn't as well as he should be or will be at the moment, but nothing deters a saucy sense of humour! Thanks also for the excuse to play Kings of Leon on this blog...
(Much love to both of you. I'll see you soon; get the broccoli in x)

A couple decided to go to south to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.
Because of their schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel together. So, the husband flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.
The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in the email address and sent the email without realising...
Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston , a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. The widow decided to check her email for messages from friends and family. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted.
The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the message on the computer screen:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: July 19, 2012
I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you're allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in.
Everything's ready for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was!

P. S. Sure is freaking hot down here!!!!

Photo: Gigi, album

"You can all go to hell; I shall go to Texas."
(David Crockett)

"Back Down South"  Kings of Leon
"If you're going through hell, keep going."
(Winston Churchill)

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