GUYANA: Short Stories: Words – By Geoff Burrowes

Words – Geoff Burrowes

I love words! Words can weave magic, as in the case of geniuses like William Shakespeare or Winston Churchill, Ian Macdonald or Godfrey Chin but also, terribly, words in the hands of monsters like Hitler or Stalin can cause untold horror and destruction!

I remember, when I was young reading “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”, which was fascinating and later reading two books by the same author which were borderline fantasy. I can’t remember the names of either book but I remember the writing which was magical! It was like a puff of smoke which quickly dissipated in the breeze but the memory of which stayed with the reader. I’m sorry I can’t explain it better than that! True artistry!     

That is probably why I love reading. When I was in my teens I came upon the books of Edgar Rice Burroughs. He has since been criticised for the imperialistic views inherent in his writing. Very true! But I was not interested in his political views but in the scope of his imagination and in the wonderful descriptions  of his plots; his Tarzan swinging through the trees, fighting fearsome apes and leading his tribesmen on raids into enemy territory; lost kingdoms, over the mountains and evil Europeans  using vile tactics to achieve their foul ends.

I loved Zane Grey’s Westerns, PC Westerman’s sea stories, “Treasure Island” and others by Robert Louis Stevenson. Dick Francis’ racing tales and Louis Lamour’s action stories of the pioneers and cowboys  of the American West. I thoroughly enjoy Tom Clancy’s stories of Jack Ryan and David Baldacci’s thrillers with skilfully drawn characters! Harlan Coben and Michael Connoly are writers who my wife’s friend Dolores Croth introduced me to some years ago and whose books I have enjoyed reading ever since!

All of these authors have the gift of weaving tales that captivate me and make me want to read the next page and regret when the book is finished. I have a doctor who scoffed at one of the books I was reading and said something to the effect that you didn’t have to think when you were reading that author’s  books. I don’t want to have to think about deeper meanings – I enjoy authors whose descriptive powers are such that I find myself caught up in the author’s fantasy and I will follow him gladly on to the next page. I love reading but I don’t have to be informed or enlightened by the author’s depth of knowledge or his or her painstaking research. Although I’m sure that the authors I’ve mentioned do a lot of research of their own!

The list of the authors I enjoy would not be complete without the mention of Bernard Cornwell who has written well researched fiction on a number of fascinating subjects. His heroes include boys growing up in challenging situations in countries as far apart as Australia and South Africa. He has also written a series of Adventures about a fictional character called Ulrecht a Saxon warrior whose fate is inextricably connected with a fictional English king , Alfred the great, of Wessex. He has also written a series about a young man’s adventures when he gets caught up in the American Civil War, against his better judgement.

I encourage anyone who has a spare hour or two to travel to your nearest Public Library, find books that you enjoy reading and devour them from start to finish. And yes, read until you find books you enjoy be they fiction or political tomes, biographies, history, mathematics it doesn’t matter, you will be richly rewarded. When you are as captivated by words as I am, you will thank me.

You’re welcome!

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  • Bernard  On 05/27/2022 at 7:05 am

    “I love words! Words can weave magic, as in the case of geniuses like William Shakespeare or Winston Churchill, Ian Macdonald or Godfrey Chin but also, terribly, words in the hands of monsters like Hitler or Stalin can cause untold horror and destruction!”, Geoff Burrowes.

    Winston Churchill should be excluded from your list of “geniuses”.

    Perhaps if you had read a little more, you may have learned what an evil monster Winston Churchill was, not unlike Hitler or Stalin.

    Not only was Churchill a vile monster, he was also a vicious racist. He particularly hated Indians whom he described as “a beastly people with a beastly religion “. He especially hated Gandhi and wished he was tied to the ground and trampled by elephants.

    During the War, as famine raged in West Bengal, Churchill deliberately withheld shipments of wheat headed to the stricken areas (which he diverted to military warehouses in the Balkans for later use by British soldiers) as emaciated bodies littered the streets of Bengal.

    Churchill also forced thousands of Kenyans to concentration camps, from the fertile highlands, to make way for British expatriates to settle in and enjoy the good life. I could go on with more examples, but I wish to keep it brief.

    Thus, you should perhaps read a little more, Mr Burrowes, before you foolishly lump the monster Churchill into the category of geniuses.

    • baileyff  On 05/27/2022 at 2:03 pm

      “Thus, you should perhaps read a little more, Mr Burrowes, before you foolishly lump the monster Churchill into the category of geniuses.”
      That’s what wrong with this world Bernard. People like yourself always ready to cruelly beat each other down instead of discussing differences with civility. I’m sure you could have said that with less daggers. Mr. Burrowes had a difference of opinion and you came at him with no mercy. I found your comments, whether true or not, rather insulting. Try a peaceful approach next time and more people may respect you.
      The point of the article was, to sum it up, reading in general opens your mind and lets you explore and dream while you learn. You took one name and decided to batter Mr. Burrowes for mentioning it. Shame on you.

      • Bernard  On 05/27/2022 at 9:17 pm

        Let me sincerely remind you all, including the patronizing and the uninformed that you don’t need to be a genius to understand that history was often written by the conqueror, and not the conquered, by unfettered international criminals and plunderers, and not the by the ones they brutally exploited and dehumanized for centuries.

        Commiserations if you did not know what a genocidal, psychopathic, cold-blooded monster Winston Churchill was. Learn the (true) facts!

        To put such a maniac on a pedestal as some kind of a war hero (or genius in any respect) is a cruel insult to the millions of victims of his insatiable appetite for blood.

        Just ask the survivors of the eastern German city of Dresden whose forbears suffered a most horrific death when Churchill fire-bombed it and sucked all the oxygen out of buildings in which they desperately fled to seek shelter in vain.

        No one should, wittingly or unwittingly, associate such a monster with any kind of accolade, respect or reference. Period!

        What we all sometimes unsuspectingly read in history books may not necessarily represent what exactly happened. Open your eyes and exercise your imagination. You owe it to yourself !

        I firmly stand by my commentary and make no apology for it. All statues and monuments erected everywhere to honour Winston Churchill should be taken down to respect the memory of the millions of his victims all over the world, just as is happening all over the world as we speak.

        Let me also remind you that Winston Churchill, in collaboration with Dwight Eisenhower, orchestrated a coup d’état in our British Guiana in October 1953, removed a democratically-elected government, jailed its leaders, and installed one of their own to run the country for years, all in the guise of warding off Marxism in America’s backyard.

        Hundreds of British soldiers were stationed all over the country. The HMS Superb was deployed in the operation.

        And, finally, you don’t need me to remind you that the British were in our land pilfering our natural precious resources whilst mercilessly exploiting our ancestors.

  • Peggy  On 05/27/2022 at 1:22 pm

    Wow. Bernard. Thanks for the enlightenment. I have read several books featuring Churchill and/or Clementine but they all paint a shiny picture. Any book recommendation to show the other side?
    Anyways, I can agree with Geoff that the fella was quite an orator despite what ugliness spewed from his mouth. He was masterful with words and therein lies his genius.

    • Bernard  On 05/28/2022 at 1:58 am

      “Any book recommendation to show the other side?” Peggy.

      Hello Peggy, thanks for your inquiry. I would recommend you read “Inglorious Empire “ by Dr Shashi Tharoor, an Indian diplomat and politician. Cheers.

  • detow  On 05/27/2022 at 1:45 pm

    I agree with Mr. Burrowes’ take on reading and would, like him, encourage reading whatever we can get our hands on. However, what we take away from what we read is entirely up to us. My take on Churchill is that he was as good/ bad as his advisers. He was just the rubber stamp. So be it.

  • wally n  On 05/27/2022 at 7:03 pm

    Is there any truth that Gandhi slept with young virgins as a test, if true does that make him a lesser man? It is an academic discussion, why are people surprised at flaws in any human being, remove the microscope, see the bigger picture/story clearer, and let he without sin, throw the first drawers.

  • Frank Ewing-  On 05/28/2022 at 5:42 pm

    I thoroughly enjoy the short stories of Geoff Burrowes and look forward to his honest and sincere reminiscings, of B.G be it the magical fantasy of corner cake-shops or the raw reality of fires in GT. He writes from his personal memories of his experiences, not mine or yours or anyone else’s and that is why I respect his opinions, views whatever they may be. He has now chosen to write about more abstract topics such as “friends” in his last story and now he has addressed a more challenging and complex topic, “words”. True, words can create images of magical fantasy or the reality of horror, destruction and despair. It can leave one with a picture of “genius” or “monster”….depending on the view one wishes to perceive..

    Words provide a means of communication of one’s thoughts . They can be expressed through a vocal medium which addresses the audio sensory system of the recipient or through a written (scriptural) medium of “pen & ink”..Of course there are or can be embellishments to either medium to create emphasis adjustments (points of view) depending on the intent of the sender. Not the least of which is the use of signs or “signaling”… we are all familiar with the “single finger salute”.

    I find Geoff’s short story on “words” a pleasant reminder of the use of words as a means of communication and an appreciation for extended reading, something that seems to be lacking in today’s curriculum…I am reminded of an old quoth, (paraphrased)…
    ” Boys, flying kites, haul in their winged birds…
    …you can’t do that with words…”

    Frank Ewing-Chow

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