Alternative Facts

Look at that face! How could Kerry tell an alternative fact?


I have been known to tell a few… Then I had to go to confession and tell the priest, “Father, forgive me for my sins. When Nana wasn’t looking I ate two spoonfuls of soft brown sugar out of the pantry”. I think I got an ‘our father’ and a few ‘hail marys’ for that one and looking back wondered how the nice priest managed not to laugh. The bad priest was all fire and brimstone and that’s not an alternative fact. In our household, it was a sin to steal food unless you had asked. The only exception was the fruit bowl and one December I ended up with hives at the doctor’s office because I ate a full bowl of clementines at once. God just decided to leave out the middle-man and punish me directly.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if priests were able to write funny little books about what children say in confessional? The adult version could outsell 50 shades of Gray and even the Bible… (I am visibly cringing as I write this, looking out for the bolt of lightning). As I got older, I stopped going to confession because there were too many sins. My mum said to me once, about boyfriend #4, “Are you having sex with him?” “NO!” was my outraged alternative fact. I don’t know why I lied told that fact since she caught me and was just curious. My GP asked me if I really needed the Pill for my heavy periods or was I having sex – my red face gave the game away. God has since punished me with a dodgy hoo-haa, a mental illness and myriad other health issues…

I had stopped watching the news for a while when I was feeling blue but now I actively enjoy watching Sean Spicer get angry as he tries to defend alternative facts. He seems to magically transmogrify into Melissa McCarthy and I keep waiting for him to start pushing the podium into the press corp. That girl needs an Oscar for that skit – how did she look so much like him? Even he laughed when asked about it. What sins has he committed to get that job???

People from Scotland rarely mention an appalling fact about our ILLUSTRIOUS LEADER. His mother was born on one of our outer islands where the residents were almost exclusively from a strict Protestant cult faith. If you did anything other than read the Bible and attend church on the Sabbath, you were shunned. Curiously all the Catholics and Protestants lived on separate islands – you can’t make this stuff up. Perhaps Mama Trump left for America because she couldn’t stand the restrictions but I imagine she is twirling in her grave about the various alternative facts. It is important for you to note that the population comes from a very small gene pool… That might explain many things – limited vocabulary, short attention span and generally daftness.

Here is a little puzzle for you – am I telling alternative facts below?

Our FANTASTIC, AMAZING President is going to make American white great again. We will have a TERRIFIC wall through ecologically fragile areas to protect us from the NASTY Mexicans who have made our lives miserable. Global warming is just a story – let’s open up all our coal mines and use even more fossil fuels. Why don’t we build a pipeline carrying CANADIAN fossil fuels and build more GREAT refineries on the gulf coast? They are so lucky to have close proximity to a FANTASTIC Cancer Center in Houston and we can all use it because we will have an AMAZING health care system. Finally, I am so grateful that our cabinet is full of old wise white MEN, some with TERRIFIC links to Russia.

God knows how many novenas I will have to say for those whopper alternative facts… PLEASE make my day with a comment. I will respond in the style of Sean Spicer (castigation or obsequiousness).

Remembrance Day 2016

Respect, kindness, love

Respect, kindness, love

I have been traveling immediately after the recent election so have been blissfully unaware of the fall out. I do feel fear because loose talk is dangerous in this volatile world. Diplomacy is so underrated and yet probably saves hundreds of thousands of lives. Sometimes on this day, I remember an ancestor who fought in wars. My great great grandfather was a Civil War medic on the Confederate side – I can only imagine how awful his job was. My father in law spent the whole war in a prisoner of war camp in eastern Germany.

This week we need to focus on the future and being optimistic. We were living in Cairo when the second Gulf War broke out. I had a lovely neighbor, an elderly Egyptian man who walked to the mosque in his pajamas every day. He always greeted me warmly in Arabic which I returned with a smile. A couple of days after the war broke out with dire warnings about weapons of mass destruction (‘loose talk’?) and Koranic music came blasting out of the old man’s house, directly across from ours. I was outraged that this nice old man could be mean to the westerners in the street – especially ME!

After a day of tears and indignation, I realized that the old man had died and this was normal for an Egyptian wake/funeral. Gosh, I felt bad and stupid, in my deplorable basket villa…🏡 I lit some candles in Tulsa, Oklahoma this week and one of them was for him and all the fallen. My father in law was a Pacifist despite his experience and never hated the German people. He probably even forgave his captors as he was a religious man.

Let’s hope and pray that our military are used for defense and not for an unnecessary war. Having said that, I wish that NATO would help Syria and Iraq. Those poor people did not deserve this. I received great kindness and respect in the Muslim world, from North Africa to the Middle East and the Far East. If I can live in a third world country in the middle of an unnecessary war, then I am sure that we can all move forward in the spirit of forgiveness and peace.☮🗽☪

The strange man at the bar…

State Liquor Store #1 Salt Lake City

State Liquor Store #1
Salt Lake City

This is the beginning of my series of travelogues about Salt Lake City. I bet you weren’t expecting that title or the headline photograph! I have many beautiful photographs of the city and temple so worry not. I thought I would give you a funny story for the Sabbath.

Kerry in front of the Temple, SLC

Kerry in front of the Temple, SLC


So, I arrived in Salt Lake City and took my hotel shuttle from the airport. Joining me were a flight crew (my hotel was full of them) and the lady pilot told me I had a lucky escape from the airline that wanted to interview me for a flight attendant job. It is always nice to start a vacation with a bit of gossip! My hotel was across the road from the Sheraton (President Obama stayed there on a state visit) but it was also right next to State Liquor Store No. 1, along with most of the other hotels. I have been to State Liquor Store No. 4, in Moab and they look like stores from the Soviet era. Barely functional with many bottles of alcohol; they stock many shelves of quarter bottles which gives you an indication that it is a illicit pleasure.

For anyone that doesn’t know, Salt Lake City is the capital city of Utah and the majority religion is Latter Day Saints or Mormonism (they don’t like that term so much). Additionally, my family is half Catholic and half Mormon with a few atheists and ‘lapsed’ thrown in for fun. I went into State Liquor Store No. 1 and as in Moab, felt like a very bad girl leaving with my brown bag and quarter bottle of vodka! It’s slightly ironic that I couldn’t find caffeine free coke given that caffeine and alcohol are forbidden in the Mormon Church. Now that I think about it, the State Liquor store in Egypt was just the same but you had to get a permit to use it.

On my first afternoon, I went straight to the Temple and Catholic Cathedral – much more about that later. I walked everywhere and noticed there were both panhandlers and mentally ill people who were obviously homeless. As I walked the short distance from the Convention Center to my hotel, I was approached by many of them. They were very polite, “You are beautiful. Can I have some money?” One young black man, who was not homeless, approached me and asked me if he could ‘show me around the city’… Despite having visited many dangerous places (and lived in them), I had a feeling of unease in one of the safest cities in the US.

With slight trepidation, I walked a couple of blocks from my hotel to a Vegan bar to eat dinner and have an (illicit) drink. The place seemed funky and modern and at the hostess’s suggestion I sat at the bar. It didn’t have the friendly feel of a place in Texas nor were they unfriendly. I had just started my meal when a very well dressed man came in, stood directly behind my bar stool and ordered a shot of bourbon. The barman urged him to take a seat and I said “hello” since he was in my personal space. He threw back the shot, put cash on the counter and left. Shortly afterwards two young men and a woman came in, I moved along one seat so that they could sit together but like the first man, they just stood and started ordering shots of Jagermeister and tequila.

I couldn’t help but stare in fascination at them tossing these shots back while still standing. The young man closest to me thanked me for moving along. I said, “You know, even in Texas, we don’t drink like that”. He started laughing and said that they were at a Mormon wedding just around the corner where no alcohol was served. Then I started laughing because I have been to a family wedding with no alcohol. For some reason, he asked me if he looked Mormon because he had left the church. In my head, I was thinking, ‘You couldn’t look more Mormon if you had a big M tattooed on your forehead’ but slightly more tactfully said, “You look very clean cut and wholesome”. Then he said to me, “Did you see a man in a brown suit, earlier?” I said, “Yes, he was drinking like you”. It turned out that he was the Minister at that wedding. How bad can a wedding be if even the Minister has to sneak out for a shot of bourbon?? At least I had the good grace to wait until my Mormon family wedding was over before heading to a wine bar…😇

More Salt Lake City stories to follow.

Eagle Gate Monument Salt Lake City

Eagle Gate Monument
Salt Lake City

Christmas in Egypt

Happy New Year

Christmas was different in Egypt, for all sorts of reasons. At the time we were there it was close to Ramadan on two consecutive years. Ramadan is celebrated on the ninth month of the Muslim year and their calendar is different from our Roman one. Muslims have to fast from sunrise to sunset. Each country celebrates this religious event in a different way but in Egypt it was party central. As soon as sun set everyone crowded restaurants, ate delicious meals at home and stayed up all hours. We all dreaded the festival because, quite naturally, everyone was a tad grumpy while fasting. They had also eaten too much and slept too little making the driving more chaotic than usual.

Most households light little blue glass Ramadan lanterns which were hung from balconies. As it was approaching Christmas it gave Cairo a festive feel. We lived on the edge of the city at that time, close to the desert, and on a cold winter night you could see the stars so brightly in the sky. It was endlessly fascinating because we were in a different position of the world, as was our view of the constellations. There is a large minority of Coptic Christians who are believed to be the original Christians. They have their own Pope who I had the privilege of seeing at the airport. They celebrate Christianity in a more Orthodox manner and Christmas Day is on January 7th. So we had three festivals one after the other – it was a wonder the country functioned…

One crisp cool night, I remember looking up at the stars and thinking how close we were to the place of Jesus’ birth. Did it look, smell and sound similar? It was as close as I was going to get to the Holy Land as your passport could not have both Israeli and Middle-Eastern stamps on it. My husband had two separate passports to travel on for work. The desert has a magical feel, especially in the winter. It can reach almost freezing but warms up dramatically during the day. You can easily image djinns or genies as the westerners say. Our Egyptian friend who was a strict Muslim still believed in djinns and thought to them with some fear. In general Egyptians were superstitious especially if they were Bedouin and many were.

One Christmas party I met an Algerian lady who was very pretty with brown eyes and blonde hair. Her brown eyes came from her French Algerian mother but her blonde hair came from her blonde, blue eyed Berber farther. Apparently it is quite common – Vikings, I assume? I would have loved to have visited Algeria and Berber villages but it was just too dangerous especially in the middle of the Gulf War. Most of the expats left Cairo desperately at Christmas time to have some normality at home but we had nowhere to go and the flights were expensive. It was really quite nice spending the holidays in such an exotic place.

One more opportunity to market my book –Letters from Cairo by Kerry Duncan.

Please don’t hate Muslims

istanbul abu dhabi 259

As soon as the attacks in Paris occurred, I knew there would be a backlash not just against ISIS but all Muslims. Surely the world must realize that the majority of Muslims are peaceful with no wish to harm anyone? As one Parisian Muslim said yesterday on CNN, “These people are not Muslims – they are going to hell”. You can misinterpret any ancient religious text – from the Old Testament to the Book of Mormon. The Old Testament reflected the violence of the times – an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. In biblical times it was common for men to take more than one wife to protect a widowed sister-in-law because so many men died in battles. I did not meet one polygamist in Egypt despite the law allowing you to have four wives that must be treated equally. Some of the Koran’s texts are archaic but it is still just a general moral code, like the Bible and the Torah.

To get some perspective, if you ever, even unwittingly, supported one of the ‘Irish’ groups in the US who were funneling money to the IRA, in the 70s and 80s, then you may have unintentionally reduced the quality of my and my family’s life. One time when I was staying in a relative’s home in southern Ireland, the house shook to when a bomb went off in Northern Ireland more than 50 miles away. I know that the IRA, and likely the Loyalist Protestant faction, were smuggling drugs, guns and other illicit substances across the border to fund their terrorism. I have to share some guilt in this. When I was a teenager, a neighbor’s son, who was at school with me, was rumored to have joined the IRA. He was probably disenfranchised, lived in over-crowded public housing and was the minority religion in a Protestant city. That said, he was streamed, like me, to study medicine or law so the world was his oyster with public funding available for university study. Perhaps I should have told a teacher or someone else in authority but I was too frightened to say anything. In any case, I had no evidence of his activities other than the information was from a very reliable source. His parents used to play Irish rebel songs at full blast in the back yard just to annoy the Protestant neighbors – we felt horribly stuck in the middle.

I suppose what I am saying is – did you hate all Irish Catholics or Irish Protestants when the IRA/Loyalist terrorism was at its height? What about the Kennedys? When terrorism rears its ugly head, we need to be vigilant, sensible but keep perspective. One decade it was Christians, the other Muslims and yet another, people of no faith. Bottom line – you have to be a bad person to take the life of an innocent for whatever cause you believe in.

Ben Carson is the Mayor

Courtesy of the Smithsonian

I have had one of those days and am sitting here with my glass of cheap wine and ready to vent. So get ready! I don’t mean to offend anyone but I am not going to beat around the bush anymore. Not only will I always vote Democrat, even if (or especially if) Amy Schumer was running for President but I am a SOCIALIST. There I said it and I live in Texas. I think you know what kind of character I am going to be on Walking Dead week. Having grown up in Scotland despite my US roots, we have no problems with the word socialist. I was brought up Catholic so social justice in woven deep into my DNA. You shouldn’t be allowed to remain in the Catholic Church and be a multi-millionaire – it goes against all our teachings. You should be spending it on loaves and fishes to feed everyone. Oh….I’m on a roll now!

Back to the title, what the heck is wrong with Ben Carson. He gives me the creeps and sends shivers up my spine. For somebody who was an amazing surgeon he has some very strange ideas. It’s ironic that he didn’t think a Muslim could be a president but his own religion, 7th Day Adventist, may cause him ethical problems in abiding by our constitution. Gay marriage is legal whether you like it or not. He is a bit like the Mayor in Walking Dead. At first you think he is charming and so reasonable but then you realize that he is very scary, really scary. Why doesn’t he open his eyes? Ben, not the Mayor.

Even worse, he is making Donald Trump look reasonable and that’s really annoying me. I would like to knock Donald over the head with one of his stupid bricks that he is going to build the wall with, along the border with Mexico and Texas. Perhaps we could encase him in the wall? We could throw tomatoes at him from both Texas and Mexico. Has he looked at a map recently – how the hell could you build a wall along our gigantic border?

Back to Ben, I wish his poor mother had hit him with the hammer that he purported to hit her with, back in the day. Even if he has been saved by Jesus, do you really want a President that ever attempted to hit his mother with a hammer.

You have no idea how much better that feels – thanks for listening and I will be here all week.

I am in love with Pope Francis

Courtesy of Martin Schultz, Flickr

Courtesy of Martin Schultz, Flickr


To quote Donald Trump (and I never thought I would do that), “Look at that face!” but I mean it in a good way. Pope Francis’s goodness just glows from his gently smiling face. I know it is not okay to be ‘in love’ with Pope Francis but I feel a bit like a dizzy teenage fan of a film star. Before he chose Francis as his Papal name – excellent choice, by the way, as St. Francis is my favorite animal loving saint – his name was Jorge and he loved to tango. I don’t know about other ladies but that’s enough for me… Handsome, too. No wonder those nuns adore him.

On a more serious note, I love what he does and says. Telling Congress what they should do was a pretty ballsy move, too (somehow that feels like I just used the wrong word). I think I have mentioned before that I am an Ethnic Catholic to borrow a phrase from Anne Rice, the vampire author. It is so deeply ingrained in my upbringing that, although I angrily left the church as a teenager because I felt it was corrupt and hypocritical, I still feel like a Roman Catholic. I am not sure that I believe in a higher power but in times of sadness I am drawn to prayer. My Mum’s favorite saint was St Jude who is the patron saint of Hopeless Cases – perfect for her and me. I miss the ritual of a mass and the smell of incense but I also miss the Arabic call to prayer so perhaps I am just a spiritual person.

Pope Francis personifies, to me, what a Pope should be. Compassionate, forthright and joyful. It is as though he sprinkles Catholic fairy dust wherever he goes. A colleague said to me today, “He is almost enough to make you become Catholic” which is high praise indeed. I certainly don’t agree with everything he believes in but given his age and the status of the church he is a wonderful breath of fresh air. His message that resonates most with me is that we should not be so greedy. Greed is not good, no matter what Gordon Gekko says. Sharing is beautiful and as the Scots say, “There are no pockets in a shroud”.