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Tales of Mark

I didn't record his very last days, though visited for most of them...but it had become too private a time, and anyway he never gained consciousness again in my presence after his last goodbye. Only the occasional fluttering eyelid indicated any awareness. So he left during the freshest part of the morning yesterday, and now it behoves me to tell some stories of him:

Mark and the City of the Moon God
Mark's fascination with the roots of history, magic, the Golden Dawn etc, led him in time to the ancient city of Harran which was once an extraordinary centre of learning, a pagan place of star worshippers, complete with a huge temple to the Mesopotamian moon-god, Sin. Mark developed a theory that many of the tarot images had their beginnings as medieval talismans and amulets, which in turn originated in the hermetic mish-mash of teachings that flourished in the City of the Moon God. A quick jaunt around the web now will throw up all sorts of photographic connections between tarot archetypes like the Tower and the Moon, and the desolate remains of Harran; but as far as I know, Mark was one of the first to consider such possibities and journeyed to see it before tourism rediscovered the place, now more famous for its beehive houses. When asked what he thought of the ancient city, in all its rubble and lonely pillars where once stood the seven gates of the planets, he replied 'Yes, well...It's rather dusty.' As I understand it, he did not agree that the ruins of Harran were some kind of inspiration for the Tower card. He had a far more surprising candidate for that:

Mark and the Mountain of Lost Kings
Mark found his way to Mount Nemrut, the Hill of Nimrod. Now this thing is odd. The mountain is populated by very ancient statues of gods, kings, heroes etc, pretty much all or most of which are headless. Wiki sources describe the decapitations as deliberate vandalism, but Mark told us that local legends claimed the heads had been struck off by lightning. The heads weren't stolen or anything. They just lay around like discarded footballs. The strangeness of the landscape led him to interesting theories around the Lightning Struck Tower ,[Edited 10/07/15 courtesy of information from Gareth Medway, Mark told him of his theory that the Arabic for mountain, 'Tur,' might have at some point got muddled with the Italian for tower, 'Torre.'] also called the Maison Dieu (Not the House of God, but the God House) its connections with lightning and heads coming off, and the Tower of Babel. Nemrut is Nimrod, and Nimrod supposedly had the Tower of Babel built. But then Nimrod got blamed for a lot of things...as did Mark. We could never believe he didn't rescue one, not even one, stone head. But then, as he pointed out, getting it through customs might have proved a greater adventure than climbing the hill itself.

Mark, the Book of Tum-Tum, and the KGB
It probably wasn't the KGB. By the time Mark went teaching in Turkmenistan, the Russians had moved out, but apparently some kind of secret surveillance on foreigners continued. At the time, Mark was contacting us by means of email and occasional phone calls. He wasn't enjoying himself much so started to study the book of Tum-Tum Al Hindi, a possibly imaginary medieval gent thought to have created or passed on the 16 basic shapes used in Geomancy; his work may have linked to ancient Chinese forms of divination and definitely did to the manuscript known as the Picatrix. Now, it probably wasn't much of a life, listening in to Mark and his mates waffling on hopelessly about Alfonso the Wise, Harran, Nemrut, Chinese geomancy and the Picatrix, but the Book of Tum-Tum proved the last straw for the Turkmenistanese secret services.Baffled but taking no chances, they threw him out of the country for possibly being a spy, albeit too unintelligible to be charged on anything specific. Maybe the Book of TumTum was a code. Maybe Mark was the worst paid least coherent British Bond ever. Whatever it was, he was pretty much frogmarched out of the country, and came back to Britain with a decided air of being very cool indeed.

Mark and the Truth about Lucky Stars
So we sat in the pub, after the book launch, a little bunch of us from the old days, talking about luck and fate and Mark's life. One amongst us, a golden glittering lady of great heart, spoke of him thus:

'He was not, not ostensibly the luckiest of men,' she said. 'Not tall or handsome, no steady girlfriend or wife or family, no real business success, a shaky writing career... makes you think doesn't it? Where was his share of luck? Where was his fortunate star?'

Silence followed until, from the drunken gloom, the lugubrious voice of his best friend sounded. 'I had the misfortune to see him without his trousers once,' he intoned...
'He had the most massive cock I've ever seen.'

So there you have it. A gentleman,historian, scholar, author, magician, explorer travelling the lands of dust and age, trekking the mountains, deserts, heights and depths of knowledge...a teacher for years in Lahore, afterwards touring India and Pakistan, able to hold hordes of listeners rapt for hours ... all the time enabled with the accoutrements to leave his impoverished intellectual existence, and become a porn king.

Life; you wore it well my friend, despite all the hard years in what seems like a lunatic world, by turns beautiful and unjust, painful and hilarious.

Goodbye Mark X

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