She was born Gertrude Margaret Lowthian Bell. Acquired fame as Gertrude Bell.


She was the daughter of one of Britain’s wealthiest families. Shunned the life of a debutante. Such had nothing to do with her appearance. She was the loveliest of women. Slim. Luxuriant hair. Sultry in appearance. Always the lady, however.


Gertrude was Victorian era upper class. She became an upper class adventurer.


She never married. Enjoyed several painful love affairs.


One of Oxford’s most brilliant graduates, she distinguished herself over the years as a great mountaineer, an archaeologist, traveler, political officer, administrator, spy and mapper.


Prior to World War I, Gertrude traveled throughout the Middle East. She especially enjoyed the Syrian and Arabian deserts. Personally knew and became friends with many chieftains and sheiks, as well as tribe members.


Her first known relationship was with a British diplomat. Her father did not like him. That was the end of the acquaintance. During her pre-World War I Middle Eastern travels, she had an affair with a British officer. He was married. The affair did not last. She formed passionate attachments with chieftains, sheiks and certain Bedouin leaders over the years.


She was always the lady. She kept all romantic involvements under rigid formal restraint. She never forgot she was a member of the British upper class.


By the time World War I started, Gertrude was working with the British government. She was close to the highest ranking British official in the area. A gentleman named Cox. He became her benefactor in a sense.


At the same time, T. E. Lawrence, aka Lawrence of Arabia, was working for the British government in the Middle East. The world is familiar with Lawrence of Arabia because of the books he wrote re his exploits and the movie Lawrence of Arabia. Gertrude wrote no such books and the one movie concerning her exploits did not garner the attention the Lawrence of Arabia movie did.


Few know Gertrude Bell. Her renown is substantially less than that of Lawrence.


Their aims were united. An independent Arab state dependant on no one. In this regard, both Gertrude and Lawrence were deceived by British intelligence. The Brits wanted the Middle East for Great Britain. These still were the days of Britain’s desire to colonize the world.


The Ottomans controlled the area up to World War I. The Ottomans sided with Germany in the war. It was Bell and Lawrence who worked to turn the Arab tribes into friends of Britain and to fight for Britain. The problem was the Arabs thought they were fighting for their independence. In reality, they were unknowingly fighting for a deceptive Britain.


Gertrude was able to move freely between British occupied and German occupied areas. Each side loved her. She had friends among the Arabs tribes fighting against each other, also. All contributed to her success as a British spy.


It is said Gertrude was the brains behind Lawrence. The intimation being that Lawrence did not have the ability to plan and arrange for the Arab activity and cooperation required.


While Lawrence was prancing about in white flowing Arab attire, Gertrude dressed neatly in billowing muslin’s and the pencil cloche hats of jazz age Baghdad. Both used camels as the primary mode of travel during these times.


The military did not like her. She was a woman. She was sitting with the leadership and making decisions that they believed only men could make. She was the only woman in the leadership.


In reality, Gertrude was a man cloaked as a woman. She was making her way in a man’s world.


Several years after World War I, she was settled in Baghdad. The Arab women did not like her because she refused to wear a veil. The Arab men did not like her because she was a woman.


Winston Churchill was impressed with Gertrude’s abilities. He was British Colonial Secretary at the time. He gave her the responsibility to create borders for a modern Iraq. A gigantic task. No different than it is today.


Gertrude drew the required lines in the sand.


The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds hated each other. Had for thousands of years. During the most recent 300 years, the Sunni had been placed in the leadership role. The Shiites were considerably more in number. However, they were made subservient to the Sunni.


Gertrude made the mistake of following a similar plan in creating a new Iraq in 1920-21.


Iraqis did not get along then. They do not get along today in 2015. Iraq obviously not an easy society to successfully mold. There was an international consensus at the time that it was impossible to do. The same consensus exists today.


Never the less, Gertrude was praised and acclaimed for the modern Iraq she created. All kinds of awards were hers.


World War I was over. Her benefactor Cox was out of power in 1923. His loss of power meant that Gertrude was without power.


Gertrude took a new path in life. She opened a museum in Baghdad. The Baghdad Archaeological Museum. Also periodically made speeches in the Baghdad area.


She carried on a life in Baghdad consistent with that of her class. Did things she was unable to do while running around the desert on a camel for years. She played tennis, enjoyed afternoon teas and spent weekends in the country hunting partridge.


Over the years, she had received great acclaim. Besides awards, she was referred to as the Desert Queen, the uncrowned Queen of Iraq, a shaper of nations, and the female Lawrence of Arabia.


From 1923 to the time of her death on July 7, 1926, it was downhill for Gertrude. Illness and depression hit her hard. She died from an overdose of sleeping pills. Whether accidental or intentional has never been established.


There are many things that come to mind when thinking of Key West. One are chickens. They are part and parcel of Key West life.

The roosters chase the hens. Interestingly, the hens generally run from the roosters. However, the hens at some point do get caught. Otherwise Key West would have chickens no more.

Gestation is a mere 29 days. The chicken population replenishes itself easily. All over town, you can see mother hens walking along followed by a line of baby chicks. Sometimes the line is long. Other times, not too many chicks.

Nature interferes. Nature keeps the chicken population under control, though those who do not like the free roaming chickens may not believe it. Animals and cars are enemies of baby chicks. Vultures and hawks, also.

Years ago, I was sitting outside at the old Paradise Cafe enjoying Cuban toast and coffee. Mother hen and several chicks were walking down the sidewalk in front of me. Suddenly, I heard a loud swosh. I looked up. There was either a vulture or hawk on the way up with two baby chicks in its clutches.

Mother hen and the baby chicks had run each and every way when the swosh was heard. They reassembled. Mother hen in front and the baby chicks in a straight line behind her and continued on their way. The straight line two chicks less.

No one seemed concerned. Neither mother hen nor the remaining baby chicks.

The preceding is merely the prelude to today’s story re baby chicks.

We live a different life in Key West. Our value systems a bit different.

Over the weekend, two baby chicks fell into a water drain in the parking lot at the Southernmost Complex. Police were called. I assume two or more police cars showed up.

The police were able to extricate the two chicks. They were frightened, cold and wet. Loving hands took them to warm.

In those few minutes, the rescue of the baby chicks was the most important thing in Key West. Key West responded accordingly.

The baby chicks in the drain are comparable to the up north situation of the kitten in a tree who cannot get down. Firemen are called in that instance.

Wrote this week’s KONK Life column yesterday afternoon. Sent it off to the paper. The article is titled Gertrude Bell…..Desert Queen. The female Lawrence of Arabia. An interesting story.

Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying revolutionized sex so many years ago. The  “zipless fuck” came into being. Or was identified. Whatever, a great book. Has sold something like 20 million copies world wide.

Jong has written a new book. Fear of Dying. Addresses women in their senior years. Covers everything, including sex.

Jong lives in New York City. She did have a home also in Key West for years. Whether she still does, I could not ascertain. I never met the lady. Much to my sorrow. I did see her at various social gatherings. Never went up and engaged her in conversation, however.

Fear of Dying will be available for purchase beginning tomorrow.

I am meeting Tom and Fran for drinks at Tavern ‘n Town tonight. I look forward to it. Not merely the meeting. I never got out yesterday.

Today will be busy. The anti-gravity treadmill followed by a manicure. Research for tomorrow night’s blog talk radio show. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Then a fun evening with Tom and Fran.

Enjoy your day!


One of the lesser known Key West attractions is the Sheriff’s Animal Farm. A shame. The Farm should be a must on everyone’s agenda. Young and mature alike.

The animals are varied. Some I have not even heard of. Not the typical zoo nor zoo type operation. The Farm is run by the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. A deputy Sheriff in charge. Help provided by inmates.

The Farm is open only two Sundays per month. Today is one of those Sundays. From 1-3. The Farm is located on Stock Island. College Road just off U.S. 1.

There is no charge for admission. Donations appreciated.

There are so many dangers confronting society and government. Some must be dealt with. I am specifically referring this morning to Oath Keepers. A group 30,000 strong. Most former military people.

They were at Ferguson. Carrying guns. Doing whatever they wanted. Police avoided dealing with them.

They are the same group that defended the farmer in the 2014 Nevada stand off involving the Bureau of Land Management.

Oath Keepers announced in the past few days that they would protect Kim Davis from the Judge and U.S. Marshals. They planned on  having “boots on the ground” to prevent Davis from being arrested by U.S. Marshals. The group announced that Davis was under their protection stating the “Judge needs to be put on notice that his behavior is not going to be accepted and we’ll be there to stop it…..”

Not the way things should be done.

As a point of information, one of the most powerful persons in the United States is a federal district court judge. You don’t screw with them.

Fortunately, Davis’ attorney declined Oath Keeper’s offer of assistance.

Finished research re Gertrude Bell yesterday. Bell  known during her time as Queen of the Desert. She is frequently referred to today as the female Lawrence of Arabia.

I will be writing the column for KONK Life this afternoon.

Sloan here for a while in the afternoon. I have a new computer. She was helping me get everything on it.

I caught the last minute of the first half and the last three minutes of the second half of the Syracuse/Wake Forest game on TV. I was surprised it was being shown. It was on CBS.

Syracuse won 30-17. Can it be?

Living on a small island has a few negatives. One is rats. They used to be all over the place. The reason there were so many cats on the island. Almost every home had a cat.

There are few cats today. I read somewhere that iguanas have killed the cats. Apparently, rats do not scare iguanas.

One showed up dead in my home a few days ago. The smell was there. I could not find where it was coming from. The smell of a dead animal. Nor could Keith. Anna finally found the body. In a small closet under the stairs, the door off the kitchen. The rat apparently had come up from the crawl space under the house.

I am a coward at heart when it come to certain things. A rat, dead or alive, is one. It was Keith’s headache.

Keith removed the body yesterday. Washed the area down with Clorox.

The smell last night was Clorox. This morning, dead rat. The odor remains. There is a special odor item which will remove the rat smell completely. Keith’s headache. He will be at Home Depot today buying it.

There has not been a hurricane in the Keys for 10 years. Yet the biggest writer of insurance in the Keys, Citizens Property Insurance Co., wants to raise rates for wind damage. In 2013, the rates were raised 10.5 percent. In 2014, 8.1 percent.

Give us a break!

Bocce stats listed in the Sunday paper. We are alone in 2nd place with a 10-2 record. A good start! Actually, fantastic! May we continue to play well.

Enjoy your Sunday!