Friday, May 27, 2011

The Golden Penny

A penny for your thoughts! I’ve often wondered about the meaning of the ancient idiom; if my thoughts are really that cheap. Would I really sell them for that amount to disclose to my mum that I played hanky panky with our neighbour’s daughter as a teenager, or own up to my elder sister to being responsible for the rapid depletion of her Mills and Boon collection just to impress the object of my affection at the time? Never mind the more serious thought of coup plots, impending adulterous affairs and births of million dollar enterprises. Then again, lurking behind every idiom and proverb is some sliver of truth, and this I have sought to make sense of in this post. After many agonising days of soul searching, I finally found the clue to breaking the code to ascertaining the true value of the basest/cheapest thought hiding in plain sight; the penny’s age.

Good week everyone! One of the channels I love to watch the most on our local cable network is the Crime channel. The material there is so fascinating; the different motives people have for killing their loved ones, colleagues, strangers, range from lust for money to mercy killing and fits of rage or jealousy. Of particular relevance to this post is a documentary I watched about the British great train robbery which took place in the sixties. I’m not quite sure of how much was stolen by the robbers but I think it was in the region of three million pounds sterling. What I did find out in the course of the documentary was that after the robbers shared their loot equally, each one ended up with the sum of approximately two hundred and fifty thousand pounds each; an equivalence of three million pounds of this day’s currency. This means that the value of the pound sterling is approximately twelve times what it is today. You’re probably wondering where I’m going with this but please just bear with me for just a moment. My father bought a house in Liverpool in the sixties for about fifteen hundred pounds. Today houses in that borough go for prices that range from a hundred thousand to a hundred and fifty thousand pounds sterling. So, for the sake of greed, even though the house is his no more, I would say that the value of the pound as regards the real estate market has to date increased a hundred fold. My extensive research has shown that the origin of the topical idiom lies somewhere in the sixteenth century.

This is where arithmetic and interest come in. Since a penny is a hundredth of a pound, it is safe to say that a penny in the sixties would be worth a pound sterling in Liverpool and twelve pence in the general areas of England. Shoot me if you want to but I will say my piece ‘cause this is my spot. If then, in the past fifty years, the value of the penny has increased by between 1200% and approximately 10000%,by how much value has the penny increased in the past five hundred years, given the idiom’s inception in the sixteenth century? It is at this point that my mathematical prowess begins to falter so I’ll hazard a rough estimate and add two zeroes to come up with a value ranging between a hundred and twenty pence and a thousand pence. In other words, the value of the basest human thought ranges between one pound twenty pence and ten pounds sterling in today's currency! Quite elementary my dear Watson!

In conclusion, I hereby call for an advocacy for the amendment to the idiom “a penny for your thoughts” to “to what currency value are you amenable to exchanging your thoughts”. This, I feel, will sustain this venerable idiom for millennia to come, on account of its ability to seamlessly pass through currency borders, and its ability to blend with whatever inflation rates that may exist in our increasingly global world. Just a thought, and I’m giving it away for free! Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May the 18th

A great week to everybody! It’s my birthday today and I’m on a high – and I haven’t even had any coffee or coke (cola!) yet. Ah, if I try that one, I’d probably splatter my brains on the ceiling from jumping up and down! Right now I’m, as I write this, listening to the classic seventies of James Brown, Aretha and it’s not helping me any ‘cause I can’t sit still. Something tells me I’m not in the right mood; I should be reflective, brooding over all the things I am yet to accomplish but should have. Frieda says I am in unusually high spirits today, claims my last two birthdays were very hard on her because I was very testy and moody and that I almost bit her head off at every turn. What could be more absurd? Me, gripe and moan and whinge?! Then how come I can’t remember anything and only she can. Abeg, go and sit down, finder of storms where there aren’t any! Goes to show I have a godly and childlike mind and don’t bear grudges or remember past sins and such like. On a serious note though, I’ve been wondering about the road that lies ahead of me in the next fifty years, or if my Good Father decides to cut my journey short for a one on one rendezvous, what will be in store for me. More and more frequently, a dream I had many, many many years ago, at age seventeen, keeps coming back to me.

For some months before the dream, I had been contemplating my life in general; whether I wanted to live a ‘boring’ structured and orderly long life, or whether I wanted to live a fast, free, dangerous adrenaline fuelled life and die young at say, thirty five. The latter seemed a lot more attractive because the thought of growing old and decrepit after years of toiling didn’t seem the most attractive way to take a bow off the stage. All I’d have to do was live life on the edge, and crash and die romantically like James Dean did on the fast lane. That fateful night I spoke of, I slept and had the first of many unusual dreams.

I’m not sure what it was I was doing in my dream but knowing what I usually like to do in my dreams, I was probably playing some romantic hero, trying to save some damsel in distress, maybe to make up for what I don’t usually do in real life. What I do remember, however, is that I was suddenly caught up in a whoosh and I found myself hovering somewhere in space with an endless star studded velvety blanket all around me. I wasn’t however really interested in the stupefying splendour all around me as I was instinctively aware of another presence about me. It didn’t inspire me with fear; it was a presence I recognised instantly and it also seemed to cocoon me from the extreme sphere of nothingness, cold and weightlessness that surrounded me. I somehow felt as safe as a baby in his mother’s womb and yet it felt like I was waiting for something to happen. It did, in a voice.

It wasn’t a deep rumble, or a harsh crack of a whip. It was gentle, like my inner thoughts that are always whispering, except that, unlike my thoughts, this one was soothing and made a lot of sense. It said, “I’ve brought you out here for a reason. Look out there in front of you. What do you see?” I looked, and a really beautiful round orb the size of a large marble, the blue glow around it shimmering bluer than all the fires the brightest sapphire could ever muster. “That’s the earth.” I ventured. “Good. Now look all around you and tell me what you see?” I looked around me. “The universe?” “You are correct. It said. “Now look further, look to see if you can find where the universe ends.” I looked and looked but there seemed to be no end to the dark mass. “It doesn’t seem to end.” I said, waiting for what was to come next. “You are correct again. Now look at the earth again and compare its size with the size of the universe all around you.” “The earth’s size is overwhelmingly insignificant in comparison to the universe’s size”. “Gooood. You see that earth that is so small and can be squashed at any time? That is your life as it is now. The universe that never ever ends is your life that you will live when you leave the shell you are living in now.

The little earth you see in front of you is the most important gift I have given you because it is what you do on that earth that will determine the kind of life you will live in this universe that never ends. The earth is your school of study, where you will study. If you pass the examination afterwards you will go down one path, but if you fail, you will go down another. Whatever the case may be, you will never die; you are of Me, a spirit, you can never die so be very careful with the choices you make on earth. For your gift I have given you time, so you can use the period to accomplish all you need to do to invest in your future afterwards. The little suffering in that little earth is a microcosm of the eternal suffering that lies afterwards while the little pleasures in the same earth is also a microcosm of the eternal pleasures that lie beyond it. Note however that the experiences that lie in the different eternal paths are undiluted and pure; they will neither mix nor intersperse with one another. I enjoin you to use my gifts well; if you pass, you will spend the rest of your endless life in bliss but if you fail, you will spend the rest of your endless life in anguish. if you know how to pound, you’ll pound the food in the mortar. If you don’t know how to pound, you'll smash your knees with the pestle.” And then I woke up.

I don’t know what may happen tomorrow, and I do feel somewhat bashful about sharing this with everyone as I don’t like coming across as a ‘sipiri spiri’ (bible basher) person. Then again one main reason I opened up this blog was to share my thoughts and experiences to those who care to read them. Feel free to make of it what you will. Phew! Now that’s outta di way, I can go back to answering all those delicious hearfelt messages on my blackberry and fb! Oh, and someone promised me a very good dinner of semovita and stockfish and snail infested bitterleaf soup! “Be still my rumbling belly!” Have a great week everyone!