Into Deuteronomy – continuing my read through the Bible

So, I finished Numbers (absolutely no comments to add to the ones I wrote last week) and I made it mostly unscathed into Deuteronomy. This is basically a round up of the previous books by Moses. It’s interesting because he records it in the first person – “I said to you…” and so on. He reminds the people they have been presumptuous, behaving as if they are equal to God, and for this they have been punished. My feeling is that you could skip Leviticus and Numbers, and all the important parts would be covered in Deuteronomy.

The bits I especially like come in the first few chapters. There are some verses which I think are worth trying to remember – something solid for those rainy days, when it feels like life just is too much effort. They come in Chapter Four. One is about when the people will, in the future, go completely wrong, and start to push God out with other things. It says, “But from there you will seek the LORD your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Another is : “…you might know that the LORD is God; there is no other beside him.”

And I also like : “the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other.” As previously the people had only worshipped God, but had believed there were other, less important gods around too, this feels significant.

Then we have more laws. Some are very sensible – like that if you kill someone by mistake, there are places set aside as ‘safe havens’ where you can go to live, and no one is allowed to kill you in return. But if you leave there, the wronged party has every right to execute you. Makes sense to me. I can see that if someone killed my child by accident, they probably don’t deserve to die too, but if I saw them regularly, flaunting their freedom, I might well find that too difficult and decide to kill them.

There are also hygiene laws – like you should poop outside the camp and bury it afterwards. Not especially holy laws, but practical I guess.

However, many of the laws make no sense in today’s culture, and some even seem cruel. I need to do some research to properly understand this book.

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I am pleased to announce that JOANNA by Anne E Thompson is now available on Kindle. It should be available in whichever country you live in, and the UK link is below. If you could please write a review, that would be great.

The Story of Old Pafos

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They came on a Saturday, the sun baked stones giving as much heat as the low sun. There were five of them, their car old white and large, more a van than a car, as it clunked its way up the hill. They drove through the new town first, carefully, avoiding stray pedestrians and independent dogs, winding their way through narrow streets of flashing lights and the colourful tat that waited for inebriated tourists to buy.

The young man held the map. More of a boy than a man, only his willowy height and deep voice giving clues to his age. He swore loudly as they met yet another unmarked one way street, another road they couldn’t drive along. Finding the old town was difficult, more elusive than even the spelling, which changed from Paphos to Pafos on nearly every signpost. He directed them through ever narrow streets, almost touching the tiny painted houses on either side, heading first towards the sea, then doubling back, playing an elusive game of hide and seek, determined to win.

The other man bent towards the map, offering advice, pitching his own wits against the traitor roads and the misleading map. This man was older, though not significantly so. He was thicker set, with tanned skin and eyes that gave witness to Japanese ancestry. Together they solved problem after problem, directing the driver around taverns and shops and historic monuments, until at last the road, in defeat, allowed them to climb the hill, to leave the modern sea front, to approach the old town.

They climbed steadily higher, the buildings became less well loved, in need of paint and repair. The man-boy announced they had arrived, the driver, his father, began to search for somewhere to park. There was a sign, a large arrow, announcing the entrance to the municipal carpark. The father swung the car-van round, ready to angle through the narrow gap, realised in time that beyond the side of the building, in the dark shade, the sign pointed not to a slip road but to steps, steep and sheer. Steps that plummeted to who knows where. They laughed, the family, laughed. The wife praised her husband for stopping in time, looking into his face, noticing he had caught the sun and his eyes were very green. The girl leant into her tanned lover, she looked younger then her years, of fragile build, with a waterfall of brown hair. They thought it a joke, an oddity of a foreign town. They drove on, unperturbed.

The carpark lay below the town, curved roads leading to tree shaded spaces. Theirs was the only vehicle, which they considered to be lucky. The husband selected his space, the man-boy searched the map for where to walk, the mother pulled on her hat, the girl flicked her hair. They left the car, followed the winding path that led into town. They were alone.

It was still hot, the air muggy despite the low sun. An old car passed them, its engine loud in the silent street. A bald man was driving, a tiny headscarfed woman beside him. The family stepped onto narrow paths to allow them to pass, the father checking the map before leading them on. There were no signs, but they found the church easily enough. Before they reached it, they could hear singing, deep, male, chanting. The church sounded full, must contain the whole town they reasoned, wondering if today was special, a festival they didn’t know about, not one listed in their guide book. The road to the church was in need of repair, great pot holes caused them to watch their feet, to tread carefully. Which is why they didn’t see the eyes watching. And is how they saw the gun.

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It was lying in the road, right in front of the church, dust covered, old. The man-boy bent as though to retrieve it, cautioned by his father to not touch it, it was obviously a toy, probably germ-ridden, better left in the dust. The tanned man recognised the model, gave it a name, thought no more about it. They walked on. The gun lay, photographed but useless.

The father checked his map. Bored, the young couple and the boy wandered around the church. There was a wall lined street, covered in graffiti, the pictures clever, artistic, enticing. The girl posed in front of them. Became part of them.

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The father, following the map, had wandered down another street. His wife hastened to follow, warning him that the younger party had gone in the other direction, suggesting he should stop, let her go back for them. She was cross, irritated at his marching off, worried by their wandering, fearing the air was too hot for unnecessary walking. He stopped while she went back to the church, stood still, wondering which path to choose. She couldn’t shout, the worshippers in church would hear her. Instead she whistled, long and shrill, hoping the boy would recognise the sound from frequent dog walks. There was silence. Then, at last, a series of answering whistles, short and responsive, coming nearer.

The two young men rounded the corner. They were laughing, whistling, making too much noise for people outside an occupied church. She frowned at them, waved towards her husband, hurried back. They followed. It wasn’t until they had all arrived back, were peering at the map over the father’s shoulder, that she noticed the girl wasn’t with them, asked where she was. The boy shrugged, muttered about her not keeping up, being too interested by the graffiti, she knew where the car was, would find them later. The mother refused to move, said they should go back, her daughter would be cross, had wanted to see the market. She insisted they retrace their steps.

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Back they walked, over the broken road, past the gun. They still left it lying there, didn’t even notice it now. The singing inside the church continued, the sky heated the stones still hotter, they walked back down the painting lined street. The girl was gone.

A man cycled past, whistling between his teeth, a black cap pulled low over his face, the bike wheels rattling over the uneven street. The family paused. The boy was all for going on, repeating that his sister knew where the car was, she had probably found the market, it was too hot to keep walking. He checked his phone, tried to send a text, but there was no signal. The boyfriend offered to continue looking, checking the map, choosing a route that would join with the market place. He would find her, join the family there. If he failed, they would all meet at the car, drive around until they found her. A motorbike zoomed past. When it was quiet again, the father agreed. He took his son and wife, headed towards the market. The boyfriend rounded the corner behind them, was quickly out of sight.

The boy followed his parents. They were arguing, his mother unhappy at going ahead without her daughter, the father cross and hot. It was terribly hot. The road had deteriorated, was barely a road now. There were fences set up at odd angles to stop the cars. A great digger must have come in the night and removed all the tarmac. Drains stood up, waiting to trip them, stray bricks lay in the dust. The shops they passed were all shut, some with shutters closed, others with goods piled against the doors. As they moved further from the church the air became silent, only their footsteps could be heard as they picked their way along the dusty road.

They rounded a corner and the father lifted his hand, wanting to point to the restaurant he had selected for their dinner. Trip Advisor rating five stars. Hundreds of reviews. The restaurant was there. Empty chairs stacked on tables. Sunshades as closed as the door and windows. An old woman passed them, hurrying in the other direction, tiny, her headscarf pulled tight, face to the ground. They paused. No one would be eating in that restaurant. Not today. They walked on.

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The lack of people was beginning to bother them, but not badly. Not until they reached the market. The closed, shuttered, signs hanging limply, market. No people. No bustle. No local crafts spilling onto walkways. Empty. That was when they started to wonder. When irritation turned to unease. Not fear, it was too soon for that. But the weirdness could no longer be denied.

They waited for the girl and her boyfriend to meet them. Long minutes while the sun sent long rays into their eyes and their heads began to ache. The mother crossed the road, peered into a dark shop. Mannequins stared back. Their clothes were ancient, of the kind her own mother might have worn, their painted faces stared back at her. She turned, called to her son, told him to come and see. He arrived reluctantly, laughed when he saw where she was pointing. Lifted his phone for a photograph, turned to call his father. His father was gone.

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They walked together, mother and son. A taxi passed them, the driver an old man with his cap pulled low over his face, but they didn’t notice. They were scanning the streets, calling for the man, for the girl, for the boyfriend. An old woman in an orange dress appeared on a balcony, screamed back at them in an unknown language, was ushered back inside by a man, probably her son. Then nothing. No answering calls, no whistles, no footsteps.

They had no map but they decided they could find the car park, because that is where they all must be waiting. The mother tried to feel angry, to be cross that her husband had again wandered away, that her daughter hadn’t bothered to find them, that the boyfriend hadn’t kept to the plan. But some part of her stopped the anger, whispered that this wasn’t what had happened, gave her heart a faster beat, made something flutter within her.

They headed towards the cliff edge, looked down over the new town below them, the bay, the coast. They knew they needed to turn left, past the grounded boat way out at sea, past the map on the large wooden board, down the slope to the carpark. They passed a family, sitting in the evening heat. An old woman with her headscarf pulled low, sat on a wooden chair, a bald man sat next to her, his cap on his knee. They walked on, eyes watched their backs as they reached the end of the lane, turned left, towards the car park.

The car sat in its space. The carpark was still empty. No other cars. No other people. There was a low stone building, public toilets. The mother said she needed to use them, would just be a minute, the boy could wait outside, then they would decide what to do. He watched his mother disappear into the gloom, pulled out his phone. Still no signal. He waited. He was patient for longer than necessary, then began to call, to ask if she was alright, if she would be much longer. She never answered. Panic began to rise and he pushed open the door, peered into the gloom. No cubicle doors met his gaze, no sinks, no smell of human waste. Just a room. An empty room. No mother.

He gave a cry, leapt back. His mind was a flurry of snowflakes, a blizzard of ideas whirling round, uncatchable. No phone signal, no car keys, no weapon. The gun. They had seen a gun, dismissed it as a toy. Perhaps it wasn’t, perhaps it would save him.

Back up the winding pathway, back along the narrow street, back towards the chanting church, watching his footing, careful over the uneven surface. The gun was gone. Of course it was. Only the imprint of it remained, scarring the dust. All was still, all was silent except for the singing, those chanting voices within the stone church walls. Voices meant people. People who could help, who could explain, who would tell him it was alright, he was imagining things, his family was in a cafe somewhere, sipping cocktails and laughing at his lateness.

He climbed the steps, passed the iron bench, stood for a moment outside the great wooden doors. He didn’t see the mannequins that had walked, stiff legged after him, their old fashioned clothes fluttering in the breeze. He did not see their painted eyes watching him. Their silly painted mouths curve into smiles.

He pressed into the door, leant his weight against it. The door creaked open. Cold air seeped out. The pews were empty. The sound of many voices singing swelled towards him from speakers hung from chains on the ancient beams. The church was empty. Another sound came to him, a noise from behind. He slowly turned…….
#

It was a Wednesday when the family came. Two young children with their barely old enough parents, taking a break from the beach, searching for the market in the old town. The children, a girl and a boy, skipped beside their mother, oblivious to the heat. They found a space in the crowded carpark and followed the narrow path that wound up to the town. The pavement was old, patterned pebbles worn smooth by many feet over time. They strolled past the old church, as it gave silent shade to the pretty street. Passed shops beckoning them inside with air conditioning and cold drinks. Jostling with other tourists as they entered the market. Lace and leather goods hung from racks and were stacked on shelves. Bright cotton clothing swayed in the breeze of fans, cheerful shopkeepers smiled as they passed. There was turkish delight, and jars of olives and purses studded with beads. They wandered around, telling the children not to touch, the mother buying trinkets, the father checking his watch, suggesting they found a cafe before they drove back to the new town.

They left the market and the crowds, found a narrow street, saw the awning of a cafe, people sitting in the shade. They walked towards it, passing shops that the man ignored but the woman peered in. She was surprised by the mannequins. Some were very old fashioned, wore the sort of clothes her granny might have worn. Others were more modern. There were a couple of female models, one painted to look older than the other,which was very slim with long brown hair. There were also three men. They modelled casual summer clothing and were different sizes. She noticed that one had been painted to look vaguely foreign, a slightly Asian slant to his eyes. Another seemed almost to watch her with his green painted eyes. Then her husband called, and her daughter tugged at her to hurry, and she walked on to the cafe. Her drink was wonderfully cold.

Rome

Rome.

Anne E Thompson

APPRENTICE AUTHOR

Main menu

Rome

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A Trip to Rome

Excerpts from a Family Diary

August 2011 Saturday: 4:15 am, taxi arrived. Juan in a panic because had planned to get up at 3:30 but hadn’t.
At Gatwick airport, saw a young child with a bottle. James informed me this is very bad and the child clearly has attachment issues. He knows this because he watches ‘Super Nanny’. (Do all teenaged boys watch that??)
In security check we got sent to a faster line. Mike remarked that they obviously weren’t checking properly. Luckily no one heard.
Nice breakfast at EAT. Juan gave economics lecture over strength of Euro. James announced he had promised to text his girlfriend every day but had no phone credit.

     Good flight, taxi to Hotel Genio (booked through Citalia.) Quite small but a good position.
Pizza/pasta lunch. Walked around.
Hotel is right next to Piazza de Nevona, which is a totally brilliant square with fountains, artists, etc. Saw an old man pretending to sing opera while miming to a hidden CD. Very funny. Gave him some money just because he made me laugh.
Had a quick look at some Roman stuff. Quite warm.

     Dinner at brilliant restaurant, very rustic. (Old Bear, Via dei Gigli d’Oro 3) Had a litre of sangria. Played cards while waiting for meal to arrive. Extremely sleepy. Nice dinner. David and Mike ate loads of bread so they were happy. James spilt drinks. Twice.

Sunday: Up early. Lovely breakfast on roof terrace, looking across Rome. I had pineapple juice (which I hate) and warm milk (which I hate.) Need to learn some Italian.

   Walked across a bridge and along river. Beautiful. Read guide book and tried to plan rest of week (Tues vatican, Wed colossium, breakfast at 7……we’ll see.)

   Walked to St Peter’s Square. Watched the Pope on a big screen. He gave benediction in lots of languages (quite impressive.) It was hot but sort of nice. Saw that square was built over original Roman race track, which is where they crucified St Peter. That felt strangely significant.

   Found a restaurant. We waited there with drinks while David ran back to hotel to collect Juan (who had declined Pope trip.) Nice lunch.

   Back to hotel. Nap.Boys in our room while their air con is fixed.

   Tea on roof terrace. Boys collected Subway and we bought drinks and fruit from a Spar. Mike threw a grape and hit a pigeon.

    Walked to Spanish Steps. Very pretty but crowded. James took photos of his feet. (Why?)

    Went back to square. Nice music, lights, stalls.

     James rescued a little girl’s toy from a building works (she was just standing there crying.) Then there were flashing lights and sirens and the police arrived. David told James he was going to be arrested (they did check where he’d been, so maybe he triggered an alarm.)

   Back to hotel. We went to bed. Becky and Mike went to a bar. Probably be kidnapped.

  Monday: Up at 7:00. Met James, Juan and Mike for breakfast. Walked to Garibaldi statue but didn’t find it. Ended up in a botanical garden. Was deserted and very run down. Highlight was giant bamboo and some ducks crossing the road.

  Wrote postcards. Subway lunch.

   Went to ‘Time Machine’, a historical cinema. But they’d had a power cut.

   Walked to Trevi fountain. Very crowded. Amazing little church behind it, full of angels, paintings, gilt, candles.

    Ice cream in Navonna Square. Wandered around.

   Dinner: Tried to go back to same restaurant but it was shut. Walked up a street of cafes, each one had people outside trying to entice you in. One woman said they had a special deal – starter, pasta or pizza plus a drink for 11 euros. Went inside. When we came to order, she said that deal was only for lunch times. When I ordered a glass of red wine, she said the wine in the menu wasn’t very nice, she would open a special bottle for me. Suspected price was going to spiral upwards. We left.
Ate in a friendly but hot cafe in same street. Portions were quite small for the boys, but nice food. David drank shots while paying.

   Walked around. Rome very romantic at night. Bought David a hat and the boys some silk ties.

    Tues: All awake for 8am breakfast so could get an early start for vatican. Long queues. People pushing in, so boys made a long line and blocked them (embarrassing but effective.)

    St Peter’s church felt more like a museum than a church. Too many tourists taking photos. No music. No candles.

    Couldn’t get into Sistene chapel because need to pre book for mornings. Boys didn’t climb tower due to very long queues.

    Pizza for lunch.

    Went to Sistene Chapel. Extremely long line of hot people shuffling through narrow corridors. Some amazing art en route but rather tempered by need for fresh air and water. Chapel itself was smaller than expected. Brilliant art but did feel very like cattle herded into a pen. Escaped after about an hour.

   Kids drank from a fountain in a random square. Will probably die.

    Ate at Hard Rock Cafe. Fun. Also cheaper than most places in Rome!
When Mike realised drink refills were free, he drank loads. Eventually waitress dumped two jugs on the table and disappeared (to weep.)

    Wed: Breakfast 8am, then taxi to colossium. Managed to avoid massive queues by David going to info desk and then paying for an audio tour, which then allows you to walk straight in without buying a separate entrance ticket.
Outside, there were men dressed as gladiators. They persuaded people to have their photo taken with them, then charged them 5 euros EACH! Some people were cross and argued, but most people just paid. Lucrative scam.
Colossium interesting. It’s less preserved/restored than the one in Verona but could see underneath the chambers. Could imagine all the terrible and wonderful things that had happened there.

    MacDonalds lunch. Ice creams and cards on the roof.

   Restaurant dinner.

    Thus: 10am, walked to Piazza del Popolo with Becky, Mike and James. Saw two matching churches.
Had coffee and milkshakes in a bakery.
Rose seller offered a rose to Becky.
Saw Augustus’ tomb, all fenced off.
Passed a cool fountain that was a wall of water.

    Subway lunch on roof. The boys were given a free one because they have been such good customers!

     Went to ‘Time Machine’. It’s a 5D cinema. Was very Italian – a really good idea, nice to look at, but it doesn’t quite work. Whole cinema had to stop because someone felt travel sick.

     Walked to Hard Rock Cafe. Got same grumpy waitress as last time. I ordered a salad, which was disappointing because the boiled egg had obviously been cut up a while ago and was very dry. The chicken had pink bits. Then I realised that the lettuce was dirty and had bugs in it. Showed David (fly was still crawling.) He checked his salad and found a caterpillar. Didn’t seem to deter boys from eating.
Manager arrived and apologised, offered me a free dessert. I only wanted a coffee. This then was dumped in front of me by grumpy waitress in a very chipped cup! The bill arrived, minus my food and 25% off rest. David asked for his food to be removed too (he carried the caterpillar to the desk to ask!)

   Pleasant walk back to hotel.

    Fri: David and I walked to Garibaldi statue – we found it this time. Good views.

    Pizza lunch next to Pantheon. Looked round.

    Ice cream in ‘our’ square.

    Dinner at Old Bear again. Another good meal.

    Sat: Taxi to airport.

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    Please note:Some names have been changed to protect the identity of the people concerned. Actually, only one name has been changed (absolutely no idea why.)

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