Friday, 13th – again.  Is it just me or does it just feel as though the 13th always falls on a Friday?  Am I superstitious?  No, I wouldn’t say so but then, again, why tempt fate?  If there’s a ladder in my way, then I will walk round it.  The thought of breaking a mirror terrifies me, the mere concept of a further seven years’ bad luck too much to bear!  Oh, and when – as a baby of 12 weeks – Manny was in hospital with a raging urinary tract infection, I asked them to move his cot from Berth 13.  Not superstitious at all, then!  I, actually, heard on the radio this morning that houses laying claim to the number 13 can sell for as much as £5k less than others in the street.  How stupid are we?

Asked the backstory to the Israel – Hamas war, one could be forgiven for feeling just that, for the history is nothing if not complicated but, as ever, it may be reduced to a fight for territory.  Age old.  I used to think the Palestinians were the hard done by in the fight over the Gaza Strip – and, perhaps they are, being displaced following WWII when – in need of a home for the Jews (mostly Eastern European, post Nazi persecution) – Israel was born, declaring independence on the 14th May, 1948.  Prior to that, the region was historically called Palestine.  Originally, it was planned to divide the area between the Arabs and the Jews but, never executed, in the ensuing war of 1948 between Israel and the neighbouring Arab States, Israel further extended its territory to 77% of the former Palestine, expelling over half of the Arab population.  Jordan and Egypt controlled the remaining 23% of the region, assigned by Resolution 181 to the Arab State.  Then came the war of 1967, when Israel occupied said region – the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – prompting a further exodus of Palestinians estimated at half a million.

The Question of Palestine, United Nations.

Endeavouring to educate myself, the above source is definitely helpful.  It does seem, however, that Israel has been the protagonist in the ongoing conflict, at least until the emergence of Hamas, the militant Islamic Resistance Movement – a terrorist organisation – in 2007?  Still not confident in my knowledge!  Even listening to Jeremy Vile – sorry, Vine – today, a lady phoned in – clearly educated – confessing her ignorance on the subject and requesting a synopsis.  Typically, he had one of his so-called ‘experts’ to hand but even she was reluctant to answer the question as to goodies and baddies – and that is the eternally important question!  Of course, it is a given that terrorist groups pose no such quandry but, on looking at the bigger picture …

Greed, territory, religion, terrorist groups …  How far we have come from the Garden of Eden!  So far that the human capacity for evil is, seemingly, without bounds.  Beheading innocent civilians – women and babies – before chucking them into bags; filming such atrocities before posting said videos to their social media accounts for their families to see …  Beyond comprehension.  Beyond words.  Is there any other species capable of such darkness?  Was it ever thus?  In which case, who can question the existence of Satan?  If one is to believe that God gifted us the power of freewill and, therefore, we are responsible for our choices, is the potential for good and evil in each and every one of us?  Good and bad, perhaps, but not evil.  That is another level.  For my part, I believe some people are just born evil.  Not a question of choice, they just are.  Take Jimmy Savile, to name but one.

The Reckoning.  The BBC four-part dramatisation of the life and crimes of a master manipulator, evil to the core, who used his fame and popularity to prey on the young, innocent – and infirm!  At the height of his popularity when I was growing up in the Seventies, I remember Pop absolutely detested Jimmy Savile – his track suits, long hair, brash gold jewellery, ludicrous vernacular and the characteristic fat cigar – but he presented Top of the Pops and Jim’ll Fix It and it was just a persona after all …  A consultant psychiatrist, in hindsight, Pop saw through the act – not so sure about Rolf Harris!  Of course, Savile’s popularity ensured he was the golden goose of the BBC and, therefore, untouchable.  Mixing with Royalty, no less, he moved in circles which, ironically, protected him, his charity work proving the ultimate ruse.  In plain sight.  How many knew?  How many turned a blind eye?  They have blood on their hands …  It is difficult to watch because it does, now, seem so obvious, Steve Coogan’s portrayal being scarily uncanny.  However, probably the most interesting part is Savile’s un-nerving relationship with his mother, whom he calls The Duchess.  An afterthought following six older siblings, he is obsessed with making her take notice of him and determined to win her pride.  She, however – brilliantly played by Gemma Jones – never connected with her youngest son and, intuitively, worried that there was a sinister side to him.  Thankfully for her, she died without knowing the truth.  He, meanwhile, kept a vigil beside her open coffin for five days following her death!  Therein lies the key, surely?  Hitler, too, was devoted to his mother – or should that be obsessed?  Then, again, so was Elvis …  So much for theories!

From small screen to big.  Closer to home, Becca sent me into a further spiral the other day with the news that the New Picture House in St Andrews has been targeted by Tiger Woods and Justin Timberlake as the second potential venue for their new business venture – a sports bar complete with golf simulators, duckpin bowling (?) and darts which will, also, be screening sporting events.  First New York, then St Andrews?  Makes perfect sense.  Bus them in from Dundee, Newcastle, the lot!  Built in 1930, the New Picture House has been there forever.  Beloved by generations, it is positively ingrained in my childhood.  As a little girl, I saw Mary Poppins there, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Sound of Music, for goodness sake, when an old lady fell down the stairs, just as the hills were coming alive, and Pop had to leave and take her to hospital.  I remember it well …  Then there’s the story I love to recall of my friend Morag and I going to see Watership Down when the reel was the wrong way round and they showed the end before the beginning!  They can’t turn that bastion of the past into a brash, characterless complex for the drunk and debauched.  They can’t!  It is only in the last couple of years that I have been coaxed back to the big screen experience having discovered the VIP seats of Screen One – sufficiently distanced from the rest of humanity and its popcorn – complete with a glass of wine!  Now, if the hideous Tiger Woods and his equally hideous sidekick, Justin Timberlake (match made in heaven) get their way, however, I shall be stripped of my newfound joy and resigned to a life without Tom on the big screen!  A notion too upsetting to contemplate …

I always deserve the best treatment because I never put up with any other.’

Jane Austen, Emma.

This is Trish, signing off.