Marnova – of and from a wandering mind…

Marnova's musings on life, media and Mongolia

Archive for June 2009

A series of curious events

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OK.  So here we go.  The inevitable Michael Jackson mentionette.  It’s  been one of ‘those’ events – that most of use can count on one or two hands.  9/11, the deaths of Kurt Cobain and Princess Diana…where were you when you found out? 

Princess Diana’s death was a phenomena, the world went into mass mourning. On the morning of her funeral, I remember wandering the streets of London trying to find somewhere that was open to serve us breakfast. On 11th September 2001, I stepped off a train and arrived in Ulaanbaatar, Outer Mongolia to the news that a plane had flown into the Twin Towers and no further information for two weeks as I entered radio silence.  Twelve years on and the world is hyper-connected.  The news of Michael Jackson’s death took minutes to reach my desktop, before it reached blogs or news desks.  A few more minutes and the news was delivered to friends in bars, on army camps…along with millions of other people, I hit the refresh button on my internet browser repeatedly, looking for confirmation of the rumours, hoping that it would prove to be misinformation.  The sheer level of traffic took several high profile sites out.  And an hour later, there it was – confirmation on the BBC news website that Michael Jackson had died.

Now we’re in the calm before the storm, the stage where the media politely respect that a legend has passed on.  The very same lions that he was thrown to time and time again.  It’s only going to be a matter of a week or two before stories start coming out – people who weren’t ‘brave’ enough to speak out when he was alive.  Whether there will be any truth to their statements is neither here nor there, it will be a complete circus. 

I have no idea whether any of the famous news stories were true.  Maybe there is not smoke without fire.  Obviously, I don’t know him, I wasn’t part of his life, but the one thing I was sure of, was that anyone could see that Michael Jackson needed help and that there were warning signs for a long, long time.  Everytime I saw him and his increasingly disfigured face, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for this strange creature that only ever came across as bewildered, alone and desperately unhappy.  Very bittersweet.

Finally, Lisa Marie Presley has spoken out by posting on her Myspace about her marriage to Michael Jackson  It’s an interesting read.  It’s sad, but she feels extreme guilt, but I don’t think a single person could have been his saviour.  I think of him as another Judy Garland – a tragic child casualty of the entertainment industry.  No one can take away from him his awesome musical talent and the amazing legacy he has left the world.  Now, with the impending squirmish for dirt, his final layers of dignity will be stripped away.  I’ve only ever felt sorry for him, in life and now in death.  RIP MJ.


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June 30, 2009 at 2:55 pm


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Fifteen years ago, all you could see from my grandfather’s house was paddy fields. Now…



The rate of ‘progress’ over the border in China is phenomenal. The city sprang up during five years that I was absent and the sight of it took my breath away.

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June 12, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Young blue eyes

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OK OK.  It’s been an age.  I’m getting back on the old blog.

This morning two school kids got on the bus.  Upon closer inspection, I saw that they weren’t school kids, each wearing badges that said ‘Elder….and their surname’ above a quote from the bible.  It struck me as very ironic that children would be known as ‘Elders’.  I hadn’t had much contact with Mormon (Church of the Latter Day Saints) missionaries, the only other time being ten years prior.  

The blue eyed boy was new to town and was trying to understand why the internet was running so slowly, proclaiming that the computer was broken.  Sitting next to him at the only other internet PC in the province, I explained to him that the internet just ran that slowly in this particularly remote corner of Outer Mongolia.

I know it’s the Mormon way – to send their men on two-year missions when they come of age, but these boys looked scarcely 16.  I don’t know enough about the Mormon way of life or their beliefs to make any judgement.  I could only wonder how they could possibly spread the word and teach without any life experience themselves.  An awesome journey for them – I quite liked the idea of sending kids out into the world for a couple of years as a rite of passage, but how does it feel to be preached to by mere bairns? And what do nomads make of Mormon missionaries in places like Mongolia, where people have lived with Buddhist and Shamanist spritual beliefs for hundreds of  years?  Perhaps their age works for their organisation;  good emissaries with minds malleable to Joseph Smith’s word that they must spread.  Either way, I’m not sure if these earnest blue-eyed boys on the bus were here to convert the Bristolian massive, but they struggled somewhat with getting their suitcases onto the bus.  Probably packed by their  mothers, they could surely have done with their dads there to help them carry them.

Discussion on the  Church of the Latter Day Saints itself isn’t really my  bag.  There’s an interesting discussion at For anyone who knows me over in the real world too, I’ve set up a professional blog at – media related discussion and updates on my various projects over there.  More musings soon.

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June 11, 2009 at 11:29 am