Roger M. Kaye
A retired physicist reinvented as thriller novels writer

Political economy – with thanks to Mark Twain

First, my thanks to anyone who has been curious enough to read this strangely-titled piece, I hope you will not be disappointed.

While putting the finishing touches to my latest novel, I was reminded of Mark Twain’s essay on Political Economy. It’s a very intellectual piece and he uses many big words. But, after the first few lines he’s interrupted by a knock at his door. Twain finds a man selling lightning rods. Although he is annoyed at the interruption, he doesn’t want to let the salesman know that he is clueless about lightning rods. The salesman keeps interrupting with suggestions for more and more lightning rods on the roof, on the fence, on the barn. Twain, anxious to get on with his Political Economy, agrees to everything.

The next day, of course, there is a storm and the house is struck by lightning 764 times in 40 minutes. The lightning stops only when there is absolutely no more electricity left in the clouds above.

Unlike Mark Twain, there was no salesman; I was interrupted by Breaking News – another report on Sky News about the UK’s poster boy, Jeremy Corbyn. The reporter managed to slip in the (not unusual on Sky News) lies about Israel. I threw a few things at the TV and got back to writing my novel; the hero, Len Palmer, was in big trouble.

I had hardly put pen to paper, figuratively speaking, I do use a computer, when a news alert popped up – yet another flaming kite from Gaza.

I left Len Palmer stuck down a diamond mine and remembered, with a little help from Google, what a famous man had once said:

“War is cruelty and you cannot refine it. We are not only fighting hostile armies, but a hostile people, and must make young and old, rich and poor, feel the hard hand of war. We cannot change the hearts of those people of the South, but we can make war so terrible…make them so sick of war that generations would pass before they would again appeal to it.”

We have a number of politicians who might be thinking along these lines and not a few who would be horrified at the idea. But, in fact the “South” in question is not Gaza but the Confederate States of America, and these sentiments were voiced by General William Tecumseh Sherman during the American Civil War. I wonder how the US would react if we followed General Sherman’s advice; it worked well for him, they even named a battle tank after him.

By now, Len Palmer was getting desperate. I had just returned to the difficult task of getting him back out of the mine when the Daily Telegraph called for my attention.

“Building thousands of new homes on ‘historically priceless’ D-Day heroes’ airfield is an insult”. Andrewsfield was the first airfield built in England by the US Air Force during the Second World War. This, now unused, patch of grass is under threat by a proposal by the local council to build 10,000 new homes.

“It is an important monument to the airmen who helped us in our darkest hour and it should be preserved for future generations.” said one of the leaders of the campaign to stop the plan.

I, for one, look forward to the day when Tel Nof Air Force base, no longer needed in an Israel at peace with her neighbours, becomes a major housing development to house the many new immigrants fleeing European anti-Semitism. I am sure our brave pilots would be delighted to see young families with small children playing on what used to be a runway for weapons of death and destruction. For my part, I would be happy to see each house fitted with its own lightning rod!

About the Author
The author has been living in Rehovot since making Aliya in 1970. A retired physicist, he divides his time between writing adventure novels, getting his sometimes unorthodox views on the world into print, and working in his garden. An enthusiastic skier and world traveller, the author has visited many countries. His first novels "Snow Job - a Len Palmer Mystery" and "Not My Job – a Second Len Palmer Mystery" are published for Amazon Kindle. The author is currently working on the third Len Palmer Mystery - "Do Your Job".