What means this ‘every cloud has a silver lining’?

People use this expression a lot, and despite their best intentions, what does it really mean?

Perhaps, literally, it means that bad times are like dark clouds, blocking out the sun, but we can see the lights rays behind them, and that is the silver lining.  This seems to be the most common explanation.

Where did it originate?

It is said that John Milton used the phrase ‘silver lining’ in his ‘Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634, but it was not until much later, in Victorian England that it was expressed in more uplifting language in The Dublin Magazine in 1840, in the review of a novel, Marian; or, a Young Maid’s Fortunes.

But, figuratively, we like to think that in the event of something bad happening, there will always be something better to come from it.

It probably goes hand in hand with two other interesting expressions, things can’t get any worse, maybe because I’ve hit rock bottom.

Of course, in the first instance, you say things can’t get any worse, but they generally do, as in bad things happen in threes.

We tend to believe, for whatever reason, that if it has happened twice then it’ll happen again.  So, while we may think lightning never strikes twice in the same place, in fact, it has.  What are the odds it’ll happen to me?

Then, misfortunes never come singly, which tends to suggest that bad events or situations always come in groups.  That’s why when one person dies, it’s unfortunate, two people die, it prompts the notion that there will be another.

We always hope it doesn’t, but we are not necessarily surprised if it does.

In the second instance, rock bottom is said to be caused by poor lifestyle choices.  Can you go any lower, supposedly not, but…

There’s another saying which came out of an old movie I was watching one night, very late, and that was ‘he’s lower than a snake’s belly in a wagon rut’.

Wow!

Just saying.

To compound this line of thought, let’s add one more, ‘It never rains, it just pours’, with several variations on the wording, but the intent is the same and suggests that unfortunate events happen in quantity.

Sadly, it happens more often than not.

 

 

 

 

Past conversations with my cat – 41

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This is Chester. He had been shocked by my transformation into someone he least likely expected to find in his domain.

After a chastisement, I told him he could expect more shocks in the days to follow.

Why he asks. All I want is a peaceful life lying in the sun by the window, and no pesky mice to chase.

Sorry, I say. I’m playing roles for my next book. Trying to get the feel for the character.

A drunk, a fool, and a man who does household chores. You’re failed in all three, just in case you want to know what I think.

I don’t.

The cat doesn’t have a sense of humour, or if he does, I’m not seeing it.

I think you’ve got it wrong. Not a drunk, a man with physical disabilities, not a fool but a clown who’s lost his will to perform, and yes, I am the one who does the cooking and cleaning,

And who’s in charge of feeding you?  Anything else you care to add?

Looking good, keep up the good work, but how about fresh fish rather than that packet stuff.

Waiting, perhaps, for the robots to come to life – maybe?

It seems that we spend nearly as much time waiting as some of us do sleeping.  In fact, I’ve been known to be sleeping while waiting.

What is it in this era of mechanization and computerization that we still have to wait.  Is it the human element that is still holding us back?

But, hang on, isn’t it the human element that creates the mechanization and computerization?  Perhaps we are building in redundancy so that we are not replaced by the very things we are creating to make our lives easier?

We don’t have robots who can perform the same tasks as a GP doctor because we still need the human factor, and since one size does not fit all, no consultation can ever be fit into a specific time frame so there will always be waiting especially as the day wears on.

We cannot completely automate phone call answering except for the part where you are put in a queue and told your call is important and then you sit there listening to some awful music, seemingly forgotten

There will always be hundreds of calls in a queue for the most important services. or when you need an answer in a hurry, because only a few people are available to answer the phone.  Robots will not be able to answer calls either, because once again, only a real person can respond to the randomness of callers questions.

Artificial intelligence only works in science fiction.

Then there is the time we spend waiting at traffic lights, and then, even when the lights are with us, in traffic jams.  We are still stumped by trying to find an all-conquering answer to moving masses of people, either by the roads or by public transport.

The latter is all too frequently suffering delays and congestion due to the number of services needed and decaying networks and infrastructure, all of which is only going to get worse, with, of course, longer delays and more waiting.

Maybe the answer is to work from home but sadly the internet, that so-called answer to all our off-site networking, is not going to cope, and in fact, in this country, our latest update is a retrograde step on speed and availability, ie more waiting and less work.

Waiting, it seems, we are stuck with it whether we like it or not.  Good thing then our lives are longer.  But, if we delve into the mystery of longer lives now against what they were back when there was less waiting, maybe we still have the same amount of life, and the fact we’re living longer is negated by all the waiting.

I’m sure we didn’t have to wait very long for anything a hundred years ago.

Just saying.

Writing about writing a book – Day 18

It’s time to go back to working on Bill’s backstory now that we’ve filled in some of the gaps.

Like some TV shows and books, some of the action sometimes takes the form of flashbacks.

In Starburst, Bill has a complete backstory, of a time that he had mainly forced into the deep dark part of his memory, waiting for something or someone to trigger it.

This whole back story, from the moment he entered the war zone, to the moment his war ended, and those that participated throughout that time, will be in the form of flashbacks, the first of which is triggered by the painkiller Bill is given after being shot in the Aitcheson incident.

These flashbacks will not necessarily be in any sort of order, but I have been thinking about this part of the story and produced an outline of the sequences I will require, give or take.  There may be more, or less, depending on how the story progresses.

 

Part 1 – From arrival in the war zone to being assigned to Davenport’s squad

Being sent to, and the first patrol in Vietnam

Death and mayhem some months after sent to Vietnam

First meeting Barry in army mobile hospital

R and R in Saigon, with the first of the Vietnamese girls

Psychiatric help, time in the stockade

 

No soldier who trains for war, nor can they have a real idea what war is like, and certainly a war in the jungle, on the enemy’s terms.  Bill is like any other soldier, happy to go into service, but soon the reality, and death becomes apparent.

Endless rain, endless heat, endless and sometimes needless death, and a deep mistrust of those whom you are supposed to protect, start to work on the mind of a person young enough not to understand what is going on.

Then, when trying to blot out the memories of death, enemy and friend alike, something has to give.  Of course, the last place you want to end up in the stockade.

 

Part 2 – A lifeline, and a pass into the so-called Davenport Operation

Training as a spy?

Colonel, calling Bill into a briefing on the Davenport operation

Talking to the Commanding officer in Stockade, as a preliminary to Davenport service

 

Was Bill sent to the stockade because he committed an act of folly, or his incarceration a part of a much larger plan, a plan to have an inside man to report on Davenport?

It’s not the first time someone higher up the chain of command has had ideas of trying to find out what Davenport is doing, and where only rumors abound of his ‘interests’.  Agents had been sent in before, and those agents had disappeared.

Was Bill about to be the next, or was he just in the wrong place at the wrong time?

 

There is more, but I’m still working on it.

 

© Charles Heath 2015-2020

Writing about writing a book – Day 17

There is more, and it has been forming in my mind overnight after I read, and re-read yesterday’s work.

 

This operation was led by two ex American army lieutenants who had served in the Vietnam war and afterward searching for lost comrades.  The Colonel told me they had spent a few years looking for lost POW’s held in camps just over the border in Cambodia or Laos and had a good track record in the jungle.  He trusted them and said I could too.

I thought it odd he felt the need to reassure me.

He said they’d had marginal success, but my own impression was that they were ex CIA, gone rogue, and were part of the burgeoning drug trade that had sprung up during and after the war had ended.   For all that, I had also begun to suspect the Colonel had sold out and we were more about protecting the criminals rather than trying to catch them, and for me, that unquestioning obedience he demanded was beginning to slip.

They also had the look of men who had spent their time sampling the product, and as such were treading a fine line between sanity and insanity.  Still, at first, they didn’t seem all that different to us.

Thoroughly soaked, we made the camp on schedule, planned the attack, and carried it out.  Only there was no one there, it was empty, and had been for some time.  I turned to question the two ‘experts’.

Pity then I hadn’t noticed his partner coming up from behind.  If I had, my situation may have been very, very, different.

 

When I woke up, it was not in a nice warm or comfortable bed.  It was a dirt floor.  I looked up and realized I was in a hut.  Daytime, very hot, with sharp, bright shards of light leaking through the cracks in the wall and around the doorway.

My head was hurting, as was just about every other part of me, but a cursory examination showed nothing was broken.  Yet.

It took only a moment for clarity to return, and the realization we were prisoners.  Survivors from the group, the only survivors.

The other occupant, a soldier whom I only knew by his first name, Barry, stirred, and then rolled over.

“Where are we?” he asked.

‘In a hut.”

“Where?”

“Your guess is as good as mine.”

He groaned, and then tried to sit up, only to slowly sink back down again.  Perhaps he had tried harder to escape and paid a heavier price.

“This is not looking good,” he said.

“No.”  An understatement, I thought, but to my knowledge, this was the first time I’d heard they took prisoners.  Usually, everyone was summarily executed, and the bodies set up as an example to others.

I heard the sound of boots on gravel coming towards the hut, then, in an instant, the harsh light coming in, temporarily blinding me as the door was yanked open.

When my eyes adjusted I saw two bulky men holding machine guns standing behind another, a short Chinese, with a very familiar face.

Where?  When?

Then I remembered.  A week ago, in Hong Kong, at a hastily arranged meeting between Davenport and the police who were supposed to be helping us with information on a smuggling group known to be operating in the Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos area.  He was the Chinese liaison, connected with the Government.

Apparently not.

This was bad.  Very, very bad.

“Mr. Chandler.  So nice of you to join us.  Colonel Davenport and I are so disappointed in you.”

 

© Charles Heath 2015-2020

Conversations with my cat – 79

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This is Chester.  Now we’ve cleaned up the room there’s nowhere to hide.

That might just become a real problem for our furry friend.

The girls are on a mission, as we’ve set them a series of tasks in order to earn some pocket money during the school holidays.  And keep them out of mischief.

But, what does Chester think of all of this?

Not happy at all.

He was apprehensive at their arrival as he always is, and tries to hide away while they are here, but all that rummaging and boxes moving hither and thither, it’s not long before he comes out to see what’s happening.

The office is clean, the hiding spots are gone.  I watch him slink from spot to spot, the look of dismay lengthening.

This is wrong, he says, coming up and sitting at my feet.  You know I need to get away from time to time, spend some alone time to contemplate new ways to catch mice.

Right.

There were seven different spots where I know Chester hides away, and these are spots in cupboards and under beds, places that need cleaning and we can’t get to.

His ears prick up, hearing a noise from the other end of the house, and he’s off like the flash.  A few minutes later he’s back.  Another hiding spot is gone.

Absolutely not happy now.

“The Devil You Don’t”, be careful what you wish for

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John Pennington’s life is in the doldrums.  Looking for new opportunities, prevaricating about getting married, the only joy on the horizon was an upcoming visit to his grandmother in Sorrento, Italy.

Suddenly he is left at the check-in counter with a message on his phone telling him the marriage is off, and the relationship is over.

If only he hadn’t promised a friend he would do a favour for him in Rome.

At the first stop, Geneva, he has a chance encounter with Zoe, an intriguing woman who captures his imagination from the moment she boards the Savoire, and his life ventures into uncharted territory in more ways than one.

That ‘favour’ for his friend suddenly becomes a life-changing event, and when Zoe, the woman who he knows is too good to be true, reappears, danger and death follows.

Shot at, lied to, seduced, and drawn into a world where nothing is what it seems, John is dragged into an adrenaline-charged undertaking, where he may have been wiser to stay with the ‘devil you know’ rather than opt for the ‘devil you don’t’.

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