Valerie Yules Letters

February 15, 2013

A Peace Museum


The Peace Museum

Many countries have War Museums, but war does not stay in museums.

Peace Museums could glorify Peace.

   How?  Displays of civilisations, and Before and After  Displays of Lost Treasures, built up over hundreds of years and destroyed in brutal minutes. A child, nine months in the making and the short time of its little life, and the minute that destroys it.  Smiling countrysides and beautiful cities – and the desolate wastelands made of them The suffering of survivors. War is harder on the living than the dead. The other creatures that die when men fight.

What it is like in countries that do not know war.  That do not pay for  armies, and military research.  The many causes of war – and how they could   be removed.

See the delights of constructing, and creating. Little toddlers love to smash  towers that others set up – when they grow rightly, the greater pleasure can be to build towers ever more wonderful, but stopping before the pride that brought down Babel.  Nine-year-old boys love to scuffle, and join a mischievous gang, and revel in tales of blood – but as they becomes men, they can put away these sorts of childish things.

The Peace Museum would show how human energy can turn away from aggression, and if there is a Freudian Death instinct how even this might be turned to prevent killing and grief.

The stories and histories which live to warn us.  Gulliver’s little people, who fought over which end of an egg to cut first   An honour roll of real life Peace-makers, who made ‘Peace with Prosperity’ and not just a staving-off, and not those who ‘made a desert, and they call it peace,’ as Tacitus said of his Romans.  Stories from this honor roll would be studied in schools –  but not killed by exams.

The Black Lists of arms manufacturers and traders and similar war criminals, kept up to date.   Inventories of what poor countries pay for the arms that destroy them, and how they paid for them.

Music is playing in the Museum forecourts – “Where have all the flowers gone?“,  and the music that Beethoven composed as he was deafened by the siege of Vienna, and the laments that have arisen at so many times, in so many languages.

Peace blockbuilder films and documentaries go all over the world  to arouse appetites for Peace, with ‘Irene’ awards  more beautiful than Oscars.

Whom the gods destroy, they first make mad.  The people of Athens knew this saying. Their story too, would be in the Peace Museum, in hopes that we can stop our own madnesses.

One of the most mad of our ideas is that we would find peace and goodness boring.  Real peace and real goodness are not neutral and boring – they are at the opposite extreme to war and evil, and far more satisfying.


Write a Script for a Peace Block-builder Film


A Fijian full of dignity said on television that civil war in Fiji was possible; he said, it was probable, and his face was impassive.  He did not scream and howl, that those fair islands could be swept unnecessarily with ruin and suffering, and with modern weapons, might be made deserts.

When I was small, the Preacher would say, “I have set before you life and death, light and darkness; therefore choose life.”  The answer seemed obvious to a little child  – everyone would choose life.  Then when I was eight, Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, and I was shocked to find that in real life, not just in adventure stories, people would deliberately choose darkness.

The choice of darkness has spread so far.  When as an adult I worked (played) with children, we had a set of little toytown buildings, which in recent years included a blackened ruin.  Young children often chose the ruin first for their play, saying it was ‘more interesting’.  A salesman of these toytowns told me that they included the ruins because they were so popular.  Young teenagers will choose smoking or drugs or self-mutilation, taking the risks willingly.  And what is there that adults will not do, to destroy the world around them.

The Holocaust Museums around the world could contain many mansions, for Jews, gipsies, Armenians, American Indians, Cathars, Caribs, thousands of extinct peoples, and now every day more rooms are added as more innocents are slaughtered on the grounds of ethnicity for the sake of the space they take up. It is as if Death, hand in hand with injustice and crowding beyond resources, has sown dragon’s teeth broadcast over the world.

Many many countries have War Museums, but war does not stay in museums.

The Peace Museums that could be built would glorify Peace, and show how fair and fragile she is, and how much more beautiful and interesting than black destruction and red explosions and the ruins that they leave, silent except for vermin.

The Peace Museums would not be like the War Museums that show the business of war.  Instead, there would be displays of civilisations, Before and After.  There is a book  Lost Treasures of Europe.   There would be displays about so many lost treasures over the millennia,  destroyed for a brief brutal delight.   We would see a cathedral as it was hundreds of years in the building, and the ten minutes that smashed it, and the loss afterwards.  We would see a child, as it is nine amazing months in the making and the short time of its little life, and the minute that destroys it, and the grieving after it.    We would see smiling countrysides and beautiful cities and the desolate wastelands that have been made of them – and the remorse after, if any are left to feel remorse.   We would see the other creatures that  also die as we fight each other.  We would see how people suffered who survived.  War is harder on the living than the dead.

We would see what it is like in countries that do not know war. And how their disputes are resolved and how much peace depends upon justice.  What happens in countries that do not have to pay for standing armies, and what could happen if other countries could be saved from realistic fears that make military defence appear essential.   The Peace Museum would include examinations of the causes of war – and how they could have been and still could be removed.

We would see the delights of construction, and slow creation – and how children learn this delight.  It is the little toddlers’ pleasure first to smash he towers that others set up – but as they grow, in the normal way of things, the greater pleasure is in building towers ever more wonderful, short of the hubris that brought down Babel.  It is the nine-year-old boy’s delight to scuffle, and join a mischievous gang, and revel in tales of blood – but as he becomes a man, he can put away these childish things.  The Peace Museum would show how human energy can turn to other things than aggression, and if there is, as Freud came to think, a Death instinct, an urge of Thanatos, how even this might be turned to prevent killing.

There would be the stories and histories which live to warn us.  The little people that Gulliver met, who fought over which end of an egg to cut first – and how Gulliver could see how to stop that war.  An honour roll of real life Peace-makers, who made ‘Peace with Prosperity’ and not just a staving-off, and not those who ‘made a desert, and they call it peace,’ as Tacitus said of his Romans.   And the stories from this honor roll would be studied in schools, but not killed by exams.

There would be the Black Lists of arms manufacturers and traders and similar war criminals, kept up to date.   Inventories of what poor countries paid for the armaments that destroyed them, and how they paid for them.


There would be Peace blockbuilder films and documentaries, that would go all over the world to raise imagination about what can be done in place of strife, and to arouse appetites for Peace.  The ‘Irene’ awards would be more beautiful than Oscars.

There are 250 bible passages about peace.  How many, even among fundamentalists, know more than about a dozen?

In a Scots warning about the Last Judgement, the sinners cry, “Lord, Lord, we didna ken!  We did not know!” And the Lord replies, “Ye ken the noo.”  This too would be written up over the gate, together with, “All hope take with you, you who leave this place.”  The Peace Museum would be a chance to take up hope and resolution.

Imagination is the ability to consider what may be possible, in the real world, not only in fantasy.  On the TV screen, ruin, destruction and suffering are entertainment for voyeurs.  Through the living eye of imagination, we try to feel what these really would be like for our own selves,  and imagining further, imagine peace and pursue it.


February 4, 2013

Fantasy – A Christmas Wake

Filed under: humor, social problems, Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 2:07 am

A Christmas Wake

Social Messaging

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. No, that’s not right. It was Christmas Eve.

Hiras B. Nickelbury said, “Hmph!” and his hirelings went out and bought a Hmph for him. He did not want it. He wanted an Intercontinental Ballistic Missle Toe Scratcher, and he wanted it – not just now, because then the defence contract would be fulfilled too quickly and he wanted it to go on a few more years yet and then some. The Missile Toe itself was coming along nicely, always just a step or two ahead of the Scratcher, so that he had the equivalent of a nice little Billionaire’s Ping Pong going. At Blearstown he had the Missle Toe works, and all was nearly ready to test it on an Intercontinent – now where was an Intercontinent he could test it on? Somewhere where a good argument could be made that it had terrorists in caves or in the cooling systems . . At Smucksville he had the Scratcher, and it was all very well testing that on Little Missles, such as flying circles and crop hoaxers, but supposing it was found not to work? Better just to keep pedaling away nicely on that one, on the grounds that CIA agents kept feeding bits of Missle Toe code to enemies far across the world through evil agents. So the Scratcher had to be continually updated to keep up with what they thought up at Blearstown. Like a computer game it was . . in fact, there was a game about it in the shops right now, from the Nickelbury subsidiary, ScareyFutures. The kids might know what was going, on, but not realise what it meant. Nice touch.


The Muzak from the open door of the elevator wafted in, playing ‘Peace on earth and mercy mild, two for man and one for child . .’

Hiras purpled. How was he going to get downstairs if there was that sort of rap even within his own geodome, his own nerve-centre of his mighty octopoid businesses. No! Let’s have Valkyries – weren’t they a sort of vulture, girls with hats and feathers out the side?

There was an apologetic red burp from a light on his console. It was his electrectric seketeri, asking for the night off to go round the little town, singing at the doors, with a little lantern on a stick. It was what one did on Christmas Eve, said its blinking set of lights, the one night of the year, except for Anzac Day in Australia.

Anzac Day! Australia! That’s it! bellowed Nicklebury to himself. Isnt there a great dirty big nuclear desert in the middle of that place – isnt that where he could send off a Missle Toe to, and just pretend he was getting rid of a lotta toxic waste?

Nicklebury decided he would let his staff all go off home, after all. Let them disgrace themselves by putting foot on street and waving little lanterns on sticks. Let them see if they could have peace at home for kids of good will, and be awash with the paper wrappings around awkwardly shaped kiddies’ war machines. And when they were all gone, he, Hiras, would give himself his own Christmas present, the one thing that the supermarket Gift-Dobber would never have thought of. A Missle Toe Yippee! He’d let one off into SuperSpace, while everyone was busy stuffing themselves with MacPudd’n.

And when everyone and everything except himself had dared to go down the elevator to the tune of Bungle Hell It’s Just as Well, the company version that used to begin with Jingle until someone blundered with the sleigh-bells and some reindeer landed on the roof and fell down the security duct . . . The staff had tiptoed past him, in case he gave them a Non-Christmassy Greeting, but he had seen them going off and he had not cared.

Now he had the office, this great nerve centre of the great Death-is-Life Works, all to himself, except for the guards at every cornice and the dog-handlers in serried ranks on the roof, watching out for reindeer. The burgling alarms were disabled. All contact with the Black House was temporarily blunted with lead shields.

Hiras was a Lone and a Loof. He gurgled, as others might have gurgled when cameras were around to tape their foto-opportunities of triumf. He took a swig of Barnum’s Irish Blarney before settling down to go several better than the Three Wise Men who at that very moment might perhaps be trekking across that gindarichie desert where he . .


Something hit him, and he crashed to the emerald floor.


It was the Ghost of Sometime Past. It grabbed Hiras by the back-straps of his French dungarees and sped him to see the wonders of Ancient Civilisations. Its name was Ozymandias, and it was determined to make Hiras look upon its works.

It was like a free tour through a magnificent theme park. They started small, landing in an Arizona desert to see the Okipatchi ruins of a great civilisation, then swooped on south, diving under the human swamps around Mexico City to the buried remnants of a great civilisation, circling and dropping and puffing and whirling and whizzing around a Central American desert with the ruins of a Hutpah civilisation that nobody else had ever found or was likely to, and then down to the ruins of a Maya Civilisation and an Aztext civilisation and an Inca civilisation and a civilisation of Terra del Fuega, where fires burned day and night over its detritus.

They got pretty wet swooshing through Atlantis – now there were the ruins of a great civilisation all right, tumbled marble gods everywhere, swathed in octopi and sushi. Over to Africa . . Huge black civilisations of towering mud-bricks or obsidian set with diamonds – all gone. Table Rock at Cape-Town, with the dusty remnants of a great civilisation inside it, and She shrivelled to bits in a stone-blocked passage. Up under the Zambezi Falls, and great was the fall thereof, wushled the Ghost of Christmas Past, as Hiras tried to lean down to grasp at some of the open casks of great jewels set with skulls, in caves behind the torrents. Zimbabwe, Benin, Timbuktu, Thebes, the Pyramids, the Sphinxes, the layers upon layers of great civilisations covered with sand, stretching across the North African coast and around the Middle East, and over the new deserts of Afghanistan to Samarkand and the Gobi desert. The ruins of great civilisations lay under hills, barrows, jungles, tors, and the shallow seas of Europe, Japan and South East Asia. Hiras could hardly tell one from another.

‘And they rode on and further on,

and they rode in red blude to the knee

for all the blude that’s shed on erth

runs through the seas of the fer cuntrie.’

Hiras knew just what Tam Lin must have felt like. ‘Is there much more of this?’ he cried up to the Ghost that still flew on like a Doré engraving from the Old Testament. They flew over a valley of dry bones, that were more disturbing than anything because far down below they were a mass of re-articulating skeletons. ‘Can these dry bones just lie down and die?’ he asked. The Ghost whuffled. Christmas Past has more to show than this, he wheezed. ‘Come, I will show you more of the consequences of the battlefields of the world.’

There was hardly a square centimetre of level ground to be seen on the great curved globe down below that was not blood and bones. In triangular pyramidical piles were stone clubs and lances, tank traps and gurdgeons. Down from mountains fell avalanches of dead men with claymores and broken machetes. The whole creation was groaning with widows.

Hiras thought of what profits must have been made in the past by all those armourers and smithies, those manufacturers of chariots and route-march boots. All gone, and gone with them the civilisations, the great civilisations that they had so nobly protected.

‘Take me home, take me home, ‘ he pleaded. ‘I want to write myself a memo.’


Hiras had hardly made his memo for a History Subsidiary for his great armaments empire, to include a flow-chart for tribute branches from all great dead civilisations, when a cock crew far away on the nearest farm two States away. Immediately, the Ghost of Christmas Present whizzed in.

Hiras’ glutinous eyes momentarily unjelled. ‘A Christmas Present! I know just what I want! And I want it Now!’

‘I am indeed the Ghost of Christmas Present,’ trilled the ghost in the thrilling murmur of a sort of clockwork, ‘ I am Now! But I am Not. I am the great No. And I have come to fetch you as my brister fetched you last night – but – not quite – as – my – other relation – may – fetch – you – tomorrow !’

Hiras was always one for a free ride, so he agreeably lashed his buttons to the long swirly toga-tail of the Ghost of Christmas Present and prepared for more amazing horizontal bungee-jumping. But it was not so.

Instead, the Ghost of Christmas Present grabbed him, wrapped him tightly in ribbon with curly streamers – that at least, had some connection with Hiras’ first greedy expectations, and out into the stratosphere they went, and then just as quickly, down into the lower atmosphere of too much CO2 and demonic whiffs of nitric acid.

All around them came swirling packs of other Ghosts, each clutching a gift-wrapped Company President in its eagle claws. They swooped low over the surface of the earth. Hiras was terrified. Were they a bird? Were they a plane? Were they a superman? NO they were him, and at the mercy of all the surveillance rays, lasers, petards, and heat-detector missiles that bristled from the clouds as they passed over the United States of America. But none of these fearful engines seemed to care a hoot about him or his companion flight of CEOs. Unmarked, unspotted and unwrung, they dived under the clouds, and were still safe.

The only instruments of perception that could detect the flyers were human. They were children.

As they passed over the world, little children everywhere looked up with wonder, and raised their hands, and some laughed, and many pleaded. The laughing ones were riding little new plastic pedal bikes, or looking up from new electronic games bright with primary colors plus pink. The pleading ones were sitting amid floods, droughts, deserts, razor-wire, rubble, trash and patterned carpets set on looms for tiny hands. They sounded like mosquitoes from twenty metres up, but where there were intermittent bangs, there were also little screams. The fleets of Ghosts with their Christmas burdens wheeled and shimmied like schools of salmon used to do when the oceans were less trawled. And each CEO could see from time to time and place to place a hand rising as if out of quicksand, brandishing a silver sword labelled YOU HAVE DONE THIS. An there was a name on each sword, like Boeheed and Lockwing and Krustyl and Muppsie. And there would be a crater, or a tumble of cracked bricks, or fresh humps, and more children crying. Diseases were flying around, issuing out of plastic bags labelled TOP SECRET. Mudslides were pouring mixed with rain down hillsides, leaving only the cut stumps of trees whose rings showed their tragic lives, and children gathering sticks or bird-dung where no sticks or birds remained.

The tears were falling from the eyes of the CEOS as airborne they rose and fell on the thermal currents that the Ghosts of Christmas Presents travelled as on scenic railways of the air. The downward-falling tears hardened as they fell, and hit like bullets into the hearts of the children.

Seeing this, some of the CEOs wrenched their hands into their pockets above their hearts, and rained down dollar notes and cheques. These gathered speed, and hit the children below like brickbats.

‘Take me to Bethlehem!’ cried Hiras, forgetting that here too would be slaughter of innocents, and a surviving child that hardly anyone could hear or make sense of. Instead, he was transported above a country where what may have once been green was now khaki, in its own combat gear, its own camouflage, its own dried blood and dust. Out of the caves and out of the dry ground came arms without bodies, and the arms brandished swords, with his name on it. KILROY WAS HERE, said the signs, but the name did not read like KILROY however much that subterfuge was written on them.

No, no, cried Hiras. ‘There’s always been war and there always will be! I am not to blame for being what my destiny has determined, what my genes bend me to be! For serving my country, for being a bulti-billionaire! How was I to know that anyone would actually use those manacles, those spikes, those electric goads which have been so profitable to make! It was unthinkable!’

Torn with breezes he had never felt before, Hiras wilted in the grip of his daemon Ghost, and hung like a sausage tied in the middle while the implacable Ghost of Christmas Present mapped out his territory or terror.

So it was as they chased the sun around the globe, until even the sun fled their horizon, and the two landed, worn-out as pigeons, on the window-sill of MultiMurder Inc, one of his most profitable subsidiaries. Far up in the sky, the other CEOS were also being winged to their maleficent and profitable dove-cotes.


            Hiras was exhausted after having had such an eye-popping glimpse of the world’s misery. He did not feel like his dinner of X-rayed oysters and X-rated pate. He rang up one of his X-wives but the ansafone was not working, and he did not dare face any of his X-children after what he had seen of children that day. He lay down in his Eze-TweeZe capsule, thinking sleep would never come, but it did.

Tomorrow came. He was wondering what work he dare face after having seen all those children and bits of children. The Ghost of Tomorrow found him restless and resentful. “Come on now,’ said the Ghost, ‘You have to see what you have laid up for the wrath to come.”

Hiras had seen many blockbusters in his youth, and many realms of gold had been destroyed in noise and flames to delight young minds like his with horror. Cathartic it had been, for terror if not for pity. So he could do with seeing a bit of the wrath to come, after him let there be the deluge of brimstone and fire. It could pep him up, for looking at the balance sheets today.

The Ghost of Tomorrow was just as shady as the others, but more double-dealing. It stuck him in a rocket and said, ‘Now we’re off to see Planet Earth tomorrow.’ It counted down, and they were off in a puff of acrid smoke, while inside their rocket the Ghost and the man were equally weightless.

They landed – or was it re-landed – on Planet Earth. The Ghost blasted the door off and made a wind-tunnel for Hiras to reach down to the red ground. Its heat hit him through one boot and its cold through the other. The only thing that could be seen was the rocket itself with its landing gear, and the stars in a white sky, apart from small red -strewn rocks on red-brown grit as far as the eye could see. ‘Why, this is Mars!’ cried Hiras. ‘But some people said this place was Brighton Beach when they saw it on the telly. Is it – is it Brighton Beach then?’

As Hiras spoke , there was a little pouf, and out of one of the red pebbles a little green leaf was blown out and shattered, and the same happened to another red pebble, further away and more feebly.

‘Well, Brighton Beach is here somewhere,’ said the Ghost in a sort of chuckle, like a hen hiccupping during a fit of the giggles. ‘See what the notice says.’

There, as if they had landed on a comic strip, was a large notice stuck in a little pile of rocks. YOU HAVE DONE THIS.

All around was silence. It was very peaceful. ‘Never did like peace,’ said Hiras, crossly, but he was embarrassed all the same.

‘Well, you still have a choice,’ said the Ghost, ‘There’s still two sides to this question.’ It pushed Hiras back in the rocket, lit a fuse, clambered inside the door himself and slammed it, and pouf-bang, they were off through space again.

It seemed as if they were going through an aerial maze, and for all the twists and turns, coming back to the same place. When they landed, the Ghost opened a window, instead of a door.

Outside there were green meadows, and a stream, and a whole lot of black people having a picnic with a hamper and patterned rugs and red umbrellas. Birds sang in trees, corn was growing off left, and the sea with white sands was off right. There were little boats on the sea, catching fish. An informal line of all sorts of people of all colours came in from the wings and danced across at the front before them, happy as Larry.

‘Boring,’ said Hiras. The Ghost was so furious that it almost sent him back to Brown Tomorrow there and then.


The upshot was, well . .



Alas, you Ghosts of Christmas, where were you at Christmas 2014?





Poem – Then and Now

Filed under: climate, conservation, social problems, Uncategorized, verse — Tags: , , , — valerieyulesletters @ 12:56 am

Where stood the road and man

Stood once the plain and tree

A flowing river ran

Where now the cars fast flee

down that vast drain.


Each lampost was a branch

that hung with flowers and fruit

The fountain was alive

A lookout, not a water chute.

The tenements and lodging houses were

A place of habitat for balls of fur.


The clouds still look alive,

The man has breath

There’s air – it is not yet

A place of death

It does not illustrate

the future world in space

which may be more, or less,

than here, or then.

Blog at