the desperation for a happy ending

“The presence of conflict does not mean there is to be no peace…
Peace is God’s presence within that conflict…”

(the paraphrasing of a sign as seen outside of a small country church)


(Judi Dench in the role of Queen Victoria in the 1997 movie Mrs Brown)

My father adored Dame Judi Dench.
He was once willing to extend a trip to London just to catch this quintessential
actress on a London stage.

My aunt adored Dame Judi Dench’s haircut and had her hair stylist to cut her hair
just like Dame Dench’s despite the warnings from said stylist—
My aunt was too tall and had a double cowlick—simply not the right shape to pull off
such a cut—and yes, the truth be told, the cut looked much better of Dame Dench
than on Aunt Maaatha.

My son adored Dame Judi Dench in her role as M on the latest series of the Daniel Craig Bond films and was devastated when her character was killed off.

For me, I don’t think anyone has ever quite played Queen Victoria like Dame Judi Dench.

The first time I saw her playing the perpetually mourning monarch was in the 1997 movie Mrs Brown.

I had previously read the book The Empress Brown…a book written by Tom Cullen and published in 1969.
It is the tale of the life of the bereaved Monarch following the death of her beloved prince consort, Prince Albert.

John Brown was the Queen’s Scottish groom and attendant for 34 years
following the death of Albert.
It has been widely speculated that John Brown was more than just a key figure in pulling Victoria’s life back up following Albert’s death.
There has even been rumor that the two had been secretly wed.

As to whether the relationship was purely platonic or something much more will never
be known–but what is known is that the friendship was a strong remedy for a
broken hearted Queen. The friendship was a great comfort to a grieving Victoria who wore
mourning clothes for the remainder of her life.

Both Albert and Victoria were 42 when Albert died suddenly of typhoid fever.
Following his death, Victoria would continue to lay out Albert’s clothes each morning—leaving them on his bed only to be put away by an attendant each evening.

John Brown was held in great disdain by those closest to Victoria who resented any sort
of influence the brusk Scotsman may have had on the Queen as well as upon
her policy making. Yet the fact remains that John Brown was probably the closest friend
the overtly guarded Queen had during those remaining 39 years of her adult life.

There is a new movie soon to be out that once again has Dame Dench reprising her role
as an aging Queen Victoria.
This time the movie is entitled Victoria and Abdul.
The story based on the relationship between Victoria and an Indian servant,
Abdul Karim.

I read the review offered by our good friend the Scottish Pastor David Robertson.
The good Wee Flea pastor did go to see the movie and offered a more historical and more accurate view of an aging Queen and an Indian servant based on the facts of the House of Hanover.

The script writers, in typical Hollywood fashion, have decided that their take on the historical facts and the relationship between a monarch, who was also the head of the Church of England and her Muslim friend, made for a much better story than that of the actual truth.
Going so far as to even insinuate that the Queen may have even had a death bed
conversion from Christianity to that of Islam.

(https://theweeflea.com/2017/09/26/victoria-and-abdul-re-writing-history-to-indoctrinate-todays-society/)

The good pastor, in his picking apart fact from fiction, references another Hollywood attempt at portraying a historical figure as something ‘other than’ in the depiction of
the Scottish warrior, William Wallace, in the film Braveheart

Whereas the legendary Scottish freedom fighter William Wallace is certainly the stuff of legend and lore, the underlying story of love and loss in Hollywood’s adaptation of the life of William Wallace makes for a much better storyline and movie than the straight
facts behind the man himself.

As I must confess that I was certainly taken by Mel Gibson’s portrayal of Wallace as to this day I often think I catch that most valiant cry of FREEDOM riding in on
an easterly blowing wind.

Yet that’s the thing.
We love a good story.
We love a happy ending.
We actually yearn for a happy ending.

Throw in some rich cinematography, a beautiful musical score and we’ll have bought in, hook, line and sinker.

As we prefer our history lessons to be of such entertaining wonderment.

But contrary to Hollywood, or anyone else for that matter, life, real life,
is not all about happy endings.

We’ve just witnessed such in the latest mass shooting coming out of Vegas.

There is no happy ending there nor will there ever be.
Yet we want desperately to hear of such.

And so our news folks, our media, our politicians and eventually our very selves will
each spin, twist and distort whatever we can in order to assuage the overwhelming and incompressible pain.
There will be continued deflection in an attempt to dodge the very real and very sad
hard truth.

We can pass laws, we can rewrite the events as we distort the facts…
but when all is left open and bare…the truth is that there will always be man…
a fallen and broken creature who makes his (and her) way in a fallen world that is the battleground of both Good and Evil.

Gun laws will come and go, other laws and demands will come and go, arguments
and hateful rhetoric will come and go as we desperately try to stave the literal bleeding….but man, bent on evil acts, will continue to carry out the heinous and
the unbelievable because there is no stopping the Evil that walks
this planet.

There is no Nirvana, no Heaven nor Valhalla on this earth…no perfect place where the people live in some sort of scripted perfect unity and utopia and despite all the laws written and all the regulations passed and all the rhetoric spewed forth…
we can never rid ourselves of the duality of ourselves—
that being both the Good and Evil of man.

That is not to say that we can’t do our best to safe guard our way of life—
but we know that those broken, wounded and lost will continue to carry out acts of
hate and destruction and violence despite our best efforts.
Despite the current finger pointing and ranting.
We can’t rewrite, let alone stop, what took place that fateful day in a garden
so long ago.

No matter how hard we want to rewrite this fact into something other than, into
our own lovely notion of some far fetched happy ending…the only fact,
the only healing, the only saving Grace will be found in the
Resurrection of Jesus Christ—bottom line and end of sentence.
The saving Grace found in the Blood of the Lamb….

And until that fact is figured out—we will live in the middle of a fallen, evil,
hate filled world.

Hollywood and the politicians can’t write us out of that….

“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not
justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.
So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified
by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law,
because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin?
Absolutely not!
If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.
The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me.
I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained
through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:15-21

Oops he did it again…

“Strong men ruled bloodily; weak men gladly exchange freedom for protection…
for freedom is meaningless in a world of anarchy.”

Morris Bishop
The Middle Ages

“We seem to be witnessing the coming of Antichrist, for this is the falling
away of which the Apostle speaks.”

French Bishops from the 991 council


(statue of Robert The Bruce / Stirling Castle, Stirling, Scotland)

Robert the Bruce, King of the Scots was not always the leader he needed to be.
He waffled to and fro…confused about what he was truly representing or
fighting for.

Himself, or something much greater than himself.

Yet with most of those brave individuals tapped for great leadership,
Robert eventually came around to his senses and to that of his destiny.
He figured things out while in exile on a lonely cold windswept Irish isle and
finally came home to rout the British out of Scotland.

Once Robert understood his true destiny, he rode forward, never looking back.
His mind was made up.
He was going to fight to win or die trying.

Freedom has that sort of draw on men.
You will fight for it or die trying.

Yet most of us know that our brave freedom fighters throughout the annuals of time
have not always been the saints or perfect individuals we often imagine.

In fact more often than not, valiant individuals usually have a rather checkered past.
For it usually takes a lot of falling and dying unto self before real virtue
bubbles its way to the top.

We’ve seen as much here in the States in our own quest for freedom.

Yesterday our good friend the Scottish Pastor David Robertson offered a post
of observation.

Just when I think he’s said everything there is to say while saying it so succinctly
as he covers all the bases, he reminds me he’s only just getting started.

Should I be embarrassed for us here in the States that people now around the world
are taking notice of our latest public temper tantrums and are actually writing
about them and us?

And I don’t think it’s the kind of stuff we really want other people to be
seeing let alone writing about… that being our egregiously dirty laundry.

But our Scottish friend has been most astute in his observations.
Let’s take the latest crazed mentality of ours to desecrate, destroy and remove
the static polestars of history.

Robert E Lee-
Lets talk about removing statues.
In the Ukraine over 2000 statues of Lenin are being removed.
In the UK our loony left are falling into line with this latest virtue
signaling fashion—according to this article in the Guardian Nelson’s
column must go—
Never one to miss a trick, the Scottish Green leader Patrick Harvie wants
statutes pulled down as well…
I wonder if anything will be left standing!

In America the liberal left are going hysterical about monuments to
Confederate generals – especially Robert E Lee.
The irony is that they know nothing about Lee –
they are just virtue signalling.

Lee himself was opposed to the breakup
of the Union and was also apparently opposed to slavery.

In 1856 he wrote to his wife –
“in this enlightened age, there are few I believe,
but what will acknowledge, that slavery as an institution,
is a moral and political evil in any country.”
He set up an illegal school for slaves at Arlington and all
the slaves they were freed in 1862. Lee has become the latest victim
of “identity politics”.

The irony is that he did not think statues of himself should be erected
and he hoped that the wounds of the civil war would be healed.
“I think it wiser not to keep open the source of war, but to follow
the examples of those nations who endeavoured to obliterated the marks
of civil strife, to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”

But if the fashion of the day is statue destroying – can I suggest others?

Statues of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce should be destroyed.
After all they were slaveholders – at least in the sense that serfs were slaves.

One of the reasons that Wallace went to war was to maintain the right
of the Scottish nobles to have their own serfs.

Will the Scottish government start pulling down statues soon?!

And what about the statue of the Duke of Sutherland above Golspie –
the ‘Mannie’ responsible for some of the most savage clearances in the Highlands.
Every time I sit in my parents home at Portmahomack and stare across
the water to the Sutherland hills, I see that monstrosity of a statue
on top of Ben Braggie and I am offended.

I had an elder in Brora who at one point,
before he became a Christian had seriously considered blowing it up –
even as a Christian he was tempted!

Meanwhile can anyone tell me the substantive difference between
ISIS and the Taliban

Buddhist statutes removed by the Taliban
pulling down monuments to ideologies they don’t like and Antifa doing
the same thing in the US?
It strikes me that once you start removing
a nation’s history you end up being as bad as the people you are trying
to replace.

And that was but one observation by our good friend in a litany of observations
worth your perusal when clicking the following link:

LED 6 – Back to Uni – Demolishing Statues – Natural Disasters – Robert E Lee – The Duke of Sutherland – Houston – Poland – Trudeau and Abortion – Australia and SSM – Macron – Tower Hamlets Adoption Madness…

While I stand mouth agape, dumbstruck…wondering once the dust settles if anything recognizable of this country I’ve known and loved,
all these many years, will be left standing…
As the protestors and politicians have long forgotten the cost paid for their freedom
to do what it is they are doing, forgetting, hating and desecrating…
I wonder…
will Shirley Temple will be next…..


(Shirley Temple and Bill Robinson in The Littlest Rebel, 1935)

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,
for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Genesis 2:17

shuttered and unplugged

When I was a boy, the priest, my uncle,
carefully inculcated upon me this proverb,
which I then learned and have ever since kept in my mind:
‘Dico tibi verum, Libertas optima rerum; Nunquam servili, sub nexu vivito, fili.’
‘I tell you a truth:
Liberty is the best of things, my son;
never live under any slavish bond.’

William Wallace


(the shuttered windows and doors at the Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Midleton, County Cork, Ireland
Julie Cook / 2015)

Over the course of the following week I will be in and out of blog land—and  more out
than in…
for you see…
for the first time in history….
my husband is shuttering his business this holiday week in order that he and his employees
may all actually be off at the same time…
allowing everyone to enjoy a holiday’s festivities all at the same time.

And in light of this momentous occasion, I will disconnect myself from my electronics,
as it were,
in order to be more focused and more attuned to his first real taste of of freedom
in many many years….

May we all give pause this special July 4th week to remember why we are allowed the freedom
to enjoy such a special time of celebration…

And I will leave you with the immortal words of William Wallace ….

FREEDOM!!!!!!!

I always showed myself in the face of day,
asserting the liberty and independence of my country,
while some others, like owls,
courted concealment and were too much afraid of losing their roosts to leave
them for such a cause.

William Wallace

A chair, old things and a story of self

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

“A house with old furniture has no need of ghosts to be haunted.”
― Hope Mirrlees

DSCN5635
(engraving from a circa 1890 copy of The Pilgrims Progress / Julie Cook / 2014)

I once taught with a woman who was an exceptional story teller.
No silly, not fortune teller, but rather story teller.
She oddly enjoyed teaching, of all things, freshman english–you know the ones—those young people caught in limbo somewhere between childhood and puberty who believe themselves to “be grown”. . .
Perhaps it was because she felt her young charges were still vulnerable and mouldable, much unlike their upperclassman counterparts. In her opinion there was still hope.

She was a delightful story teller—and that is exactly how she taught, by the use of stories.
It is said that we learn best by the hearing of stories. Perhaps that is how our brain best recalls information by placing dates and events into a story sequence verses simple rote memorization. Perhaps it is mere stimulation for our brains, increasing memory capacity as the imagination is at work.

I often envied her gift for story telling as I was not one to conjure up an immediate tale. Perhaps it was her keen use of imagination whereas I had let my imagination wane long ago. Either way, her students enjoyed her class as would I on those happenstance occasions when I’d be passing by her door as she was in the midst of a full regalia of the latest tale.

Which brings me to something I had told you about a week or so ago—it was a promised tale about a chair.
DSCN5474
(said chair seeking shelter on the streets of Savannah during a thunder storm / Julie Cook/ 2014)

Remember me telling you that I had found a chair at an Antique shop in Savannah when we were gathered for THE wedding? I happened upon it in a massive ancient cavernous warehouse just off River Street. The place was chock full of furniture all from England, France and Italy–dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

There were massive pieces of every size and shape fit for only the finest of homes. The most massive of homes. And most likely procured from such grand homes down through the ages. There were Tudor pieces, Georgian pieces, Colonial pieces and every type of Louis— but mainly there were heavy carved English pieces. Armoires, grandfather clocks, dinning tables, bar sets–as in entire massive wooden bars taken from taverns of long ago, wooden chests, cabinets, game tables, and chairs—a myriad of chairs.

We had actually wandered earlier into another antique store where I saw the loveliest group of Windsor chairs—old, as in 200 years or better, very early American Windsors—8 chairs going for the bargain price of $27,000! I knew right then and there I needed to leave that store. The shop keeper actually stopped me on the way out the door telling me he’d let me have them for $18,000.–a real steal. Good lord!! Who does that? Who can afford to do that?? Oh I digress. . .

So as I was weaving my way through the mazes which cut through the massive bevy of ancient wooden pieces, when suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks. Perched up on a chest was this lone little chair–beckoning, calling out. . .”juuuullliiieeee. . .”
Rich dark wood, an ancient warm and woven cane back and bottom with the most splendid carvings imaginable. Cherubs, flowers crowns—imagine the story behind this lovely little piece!

DSCN5627

“ooooooo”
My husband wanders up behind me.
“What is it” he quips.
“Look” I breathlessly respond staring intently at the chair perched on an equally wonderful wooden chest.
“You like that!?” He quizzically asks as in I can tell he’s wondering why in the world I like it.
“oooooooo”
“How much is it?” he chirps
I look at the tag.
“Too much” I dejectedly respond.
“Where would you put it? The house is already busting at the seams with everything from your dads.”

My house is indeed more shrine than house I suppose. Most everything in the house is from either of my grandmothers or great aunts. A unique and eclectic blend of Italian, French, German and English pieces from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries with my own hodge lodge of 20th century shabby chic. Nothing matches.
There are figurines, china, paintings and furniture.
And my husband is right—almost too much stuff.

And yet this is the stuff of which I am made.

All of the stuff which is stuffed into my house is all the result of everyone in my life having died relatively early on. My mother actually preceded both grandmothers and great aunts to the grave. When you’re the lone surviving offspring, most everything comes your way. And as I happen to lean to the sentimental, I could never part with any of it–selling things away would be akin to selling away pieces of the very people who meant so very much to me.

And just in case you were wondering. . .no, I am not a hoarder thank you very much.

And this now brings us to, I think in part, as to why I love antiques. These pieces laced through my house were the pieces to the lives of my grandmothers, great aunt’s and mother. They made up their respective homes and their respective lives. One grandmother was very much the grand collector–acquiring this and that, then conventionally telling my grandfather, once he noticed some new this or that, “oh that old thing. . .we’ve had that”.
The other grandmother actually worked as a hair dresser in mid town Atlanta in the 1930’s-60’s. She would be given lovely things by her clients–mostly back in the 1940s when such gift giving was not so unexpected.

I can vividly recall where each item was in their homes and of my interactions and recollections. And as I’ve aged, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for the pieces themselves.
For there is a history and a story behind each piece. A story that precedes even my grandmothers.
So many questions. . .
Who originally owned it when it lived across the pond?
Who may have touched it, come in contact with it?
Exactly how old it is?
What is its value?
Where was it located?
Why was it ever sold?
What attracted my grandmother to it?

As a history major throughout much of college, I hold a deep appreciation for the history behind things. It’s all about the story of a people–of how they, we, came to be— which is all so very intriguing.
Are we not all basically the same–those folks of the past along with those of us here and now?
We have not changed all that much over the centuries— as to what makes people, people, and what makes their things real.

The history is the story.
So many questions.
Who sat in this chair?
Who held this plate.
Who put flowers in this vase.
Who bought this as a present for a loved one?
Was this a commissioned piece or just the whimsy of a gifted carpenter?
Was it a part of a set?
What was the story of the journey from there, wherever there was, to here?
All this plays through my mind as I stand buried in a warehouse of ancient furniture staring at a lonely old chair marveling at how truly delicate the cane is woven–completely original–you don’t see such all that often.

My husband, who must have felt sorry for me as we were in the midst of wedding central and must have thought I was soon to be at my breaking point, offered to buy the chair as an early anniversary present (31 years in August)
“OOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”
Then quickly,”Oh no, it’s too much” I exclaim regaining some composure.
“I’ll get it if you really want it. . .”

15 minutes later we’re on our way back to the hotel, chair in tow.

DSCN5470
(sweet husband with chair)

Imagine the sight—my husband precariously carrying an antique chair through the old historic district of Savannah, down busy Bay Street, about a mile back to the hotel, with my aunt and I in hot pursuit. People were staring and commenting on the chair.
“Is it South African?” one man inquires.
“Heaven’s no” I exclaim—as I think to myself—We’re standing in the middle of colonial America for crying out loud, as in the 13th colony, founding city, James Oglethorpe, Georgia, as in King George, for Heaven’s sake. . .South African, really. . .

Suddenly a thunderstorm appears out of no where. I shriek, yelling for my husband to seek shelter between some massive columns protruding form some downtown building. We hunker down into the narrow protected space— the 3 of us plus chair– all tightly pressed against a massive granite building waiting for the rain to subside.

The chair stayed in my hotel room during the remainder of the wedding weekend. Family and friends wandering in would exclaim “oh my, did that chair come with the room?” Again, really?!
Eventually, upon our departure, the chair was given a prime place in the car for the long journey back home. It now graces a corner in my family room—maintaining its aura of royalty.

Maybe its Scottish?
Maybe it hails from Mary Queen of Scots. Maybe she sat on it while contemplating her cousin Elizabeth’s quandary.
Maybe William Wallace or Robert the Bruce sat upon it waiting for freedom—I know, that’s a big stretch time wise.
or maybe more like Robbie Burns penning his latest forlorn thoughts or perhaps Rob Roy plotting rebellion. . .

Or maybe it’s just some little pub chair from some long forgotten little tavern– happy now to finally be out of the pub. . .
The history is truly the story. . .

(Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow regarding the acquisition of a most interesting object last week from Scotts Antique Show in Atlanta—talk about a story)