Banjo Player’s Brother – full text with notes on passive

The Banjo Player’s Brother

an interactive story by Mark White copyright Mark White 2009

Grammar Focus

(relative clauses, passive  voice, conditionals, present perfect continuous tense, past perfect tense, idioms and cliches, embedded questions, word families, ed/ing adjectives, participle phrases, parallel phrases, deixis, authorial voice)



1. Louisiana
2. The Robbery
3. The Prison Break
4. The Flight out of America
5. The Trade Mission
6.  The Mystery of the Missing Cult Members
7.  The Bolivian Veal Sausage Scandal
8.  The CIA Cover-up and the Balsa Wood Boat
9. The Charismatic Religious Cult Leader in Vanuatu
10. The Conversation on the Beach and the Embassy Cocktail Party
11. Kiwi Secret Agent,  Sean Connery and the Plot to Kill L. Ron Hubbard



Student A read the text one sentence at a time
Student B say “Uh-huh” if you understand, one more time or “What does ___ mean?” if you don’t, and answer the question, if it is a question. Pay attention to the distinction between a question and a statement. Stop at any point in the story and chat, discuss tangents, or express your own thoughts, opinions and feelings.


Down in New Orleans many years ago a young African American woman gave birth to twins. What were they named? The woman died in childbirth but the twin boys survived though they were separated at birth and sent to two different orphanages. Where were the orphanages located? Eventually the boys were both adopted but they were raised in different homes and neither of them knew of the existence of the other. Why were they not told that they were twins?

One of the boys was raised by an extremely wealthy family. The other one was fostered by a simple working family. Would the wealthy family necessarily have provided the best education for their foster child? Were the boys raised in the city or in the countryside? One of the boys was taught to play the banjo. Was the other one given any musical instruction? Were either of them taught to play the piano? What kind of musical education were you given?

The banjo player grew up and graduated high school. Was he awarded any prizes at his high school graduation ceremony? He was inducted into the military and sent to war in the Middle East. Was he drafted or did he volunteer? Are people who voluntarily join the military attracted by monetary incentives? The banjo player came back and got a job in New Orleans. Where was he employed and what was his job description? The young banjo player got romantically involved with a local artist and led a happy life.

The other brother was drawn into a life of crime. He became involved with a gang and robbed banks for a living. How many banks are robbed every day in the United States? Are ATM thefts treated by the courts in the same way as other bank robberies? Should they be regarded as less serious? What proportion of robberies are armed robberies? What proportion of arrested suspects are charged? What percentage of them are tried? How many of them are found guilty? How many of them are actually innocent? Is the jury system just? Are all legal systems imperfect?

Of the two brothers, one of them was raised in an atmosphere of love and affection. Was he given everything that he desired? The other one was not loved and nurtured much. He was exploited and abused. Was he abused physically? Was he sexually abused?  As the two brothers grew up, they were confronted with different obstacles and faced with different challenges. Were either of them handicapped by physical disabilities of any type? They were given different opportunities to do different things and they did not turn out exactly the same. One of them became a banjo player. The other one became the owner of a banjo case, which contained a gun, which he used to earn his living as an armed robber.

If you were informed that you had a twin that you did not know about, would you want to meet up with that brother or sister? Would it make a difference if it was a brother or a sister?

Should people who have not been given a decent upbringing be held responsible for mistakes that they make later in life? What is the cutoff point at which a person should be held responsible for his or her actions, in terms of age? In the debate over whether a greater influence is exerted by environment or innate psychological character, where do you stand? Has the polarization of the argument into ‘nature’ OR ‘nurture’ oversimplified the issue?

Are people who have studied music more or less inclined to commit bank robberies than people who have not been given any musical instruction? Could the introduction of free piano lessons for all children be a solution to all of the social and economic problems, which the United States is beset by at the current moment? Is your country plagued by social inequality and injustice? What other problems beset your country? Have you ever been given the opportunity to handle a banjo? How are the strings on a banjo adjusted? How is a banjo tuned? Is it tuned in the same way that a guitar is tuned?

1. Louisiana

It is a hot sweaty day in New Orleans. A large woman in a long flowing dress is crossing the street. She is carrying an artist’s easel under one arm and a bag under the other arm. What is in the bag? A painting is strapped to the easel. It is a portrait of a man. Does the woman usually paint portraits?

The woman is on the way to her studio. She is going to meet her lover. Is the painting, that the woman is carrying under her arm, an oil? Are the man, who is depicted in the portrait and the man, who she is going to meet, the same person?

The woman’s lover is a banjo player. Have you ever held a banjo in your hands and plucked at the strings? Have you ever strummed a guitar?

There is a man standing on the corner. He has just got off the bus. How long has he been standing on the corner? The man is wearing a colourful shirt and he is carrying a musical instrument case. Does the case that the man is carrying contain a musical instrument?

The man who is standing on the corner bears an uncanny resemblance to the man who the woman is going to meet. When she sees the man who is standing on the corner, she thinks that it is the man who she is going to meet. She goes up to him and she says something to him. What is it that she says to him?

The man ignores her as if he has not heard what she has said. The woman repeats what she said. Does she say exactly the same thing again or does she change the words a little? The man looks at her and tells he to go away. He says that he does not know her. He tells her to go away and quit bothering him. If somebody who you did not know came up to you in the street and started to talk to you, would you ignore her or tell her to go away or what?

The woman thinks that the man who is standing on the corner is the same person as the man who she is going to meet in her studio. She wants to know what the man is doing standing on the corner ignoring her when he is supposed to be meeting her in five minutes. She loses her temper when he refuses to talk to her. Would you lose your temper if a person who you were in a romantic relationship with refused to talk to you? The woman gets even angrier when the man tells her to get lost. Would you become irritated if somebody told you to get lost?

The woman insists that the man who is standing on the corner talk to her. She is sure that he is just pretending not to recognise her and she is getting angrier and angrier. Suddenly she starts to shout. Would you shout at a friend if he or she pretended not to recognise you?

The man who is standing on the corner turns and glares at the woman. A couple of passersby stop and stare at the two of them. The man turns and looks at the people who are staring at him and the woman. He asks them what the hell they are looking at. Do the two people hurry quickly on or stand up for their right to be in the street and look at whatever is in front of their eyes. If a guy in the street asked you what you were staring at, would you defend your right to look at anything you like in a public place or would you walk quickly away?

Suddenly a car turns the corner and pulls over to the kerb. The man who is standing on the corner walks quickly away from the woman who is holding the easel and the painting and hurries towards the car that has pulled over to the kerb. Does the woman who is holding the painting follow the man? Does she call out to him? Are the onlookers still in earshot? Are they still in sight?

The man who is carrying the musical instrument case gets into the car. There are two other men in the car. One of them is sitting in the front. The other one is sitting in the back. Is the one who is sitting in the back sitting behind the driver or behind the front passenger seat? The car drives off. The man who is holding the musical instrument case and sitting in the front passenger seat says something. Does he say it to the man who is driving or to the man who is sitting in the back seat? What is it that he says?

Meanwhile on the street corner, the woman who is holding the painting and the easel continues on her way. She heads for her studio. When she arrives, the man who she is expecting to meet, has already arrived. He is sitting in her studio plucking the strings of his banjo. He is also wearing a colourful shirt although it does not have exactly the same pattern as the shirt that the man on the street corner was wearing. Is the shirt that the man in the studio is wearing the same colour as the shirt that the man on the corner was wearing?

The woman, who is an artist, accuses the man who is playing the banjo of ignoring her. The man, who is her lover, denies having ignored her. He says he has been sitting in the studio for ages, which he has. How long has he been sitting in the studio? How long has he been playing the banjo? He tries to find out why the woman who he loves is so furious. Why is she angry?

The man who plays the banjo is not able to get the woman who paints to calm down. She starts to shout at him and he leaves. He wanders the streets. He is upset. Why is he upset? He goes into a bar that he has never been to before. He sits in the corner and starts to drink heavily. The barman tries to talk to him but he is unwilling to talk to anybody. How come he doesn’t want to talk to anybody?

Meanwhile back at the studio the woman, who is the lover of the man who is sitting in the bar getting wasted, is painting. Is the painting that she is working on the same as the one that she was carrying through the street earlier in the day? Does it cross her mind that the man who she saw in the street might not have been the man who is her lover and that she might have been mistaken?

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2. The Robbery

It is late in the afternoon in a dimly lit bar in a quiet part of New Orleans. A group of drinkers are sitting on barstools at the bar. How long have they been sitting there? A few other customers are playing slot machines in the corner. Do the guys who are sitting at the bar know the guys who are playing the slot machines? Does the barman know all the guys who are playing slot machines?

Suddenly two men rush in and hold the place up. One of the men is holding a pistol. The other man is holding a sawn-off shotgun. The man who is holding the shot-gun is wearing a colourful shirt. What does the man who is holding the pistol have on?

The man who is holding the sawn-off shotgun points it at the customers, who are playing the slot machines and tells them to put their hands up. The man who is holding the pistol tells the drinkers who are sitting at the bar to get over into the corner with the people who are playing the slot machines. Then he points the pistol at the guy who is working behind the bar and he tells him to empty the till. Does the guy who is working behind the bar empty the till immediately?

Suddenly there is a loud noise. The shotgun has gone off. The man who is wearing the colourful shirt has fired it accidentally. He has fired it into the crowd of drinkers who are standing with their hands up. Many of them are injured.

The guy who is holding the pistol asks the guy who is holding the shotgun what happened. The guy who is holding the shotgun says that it went off accidentally. One of the men who has been shot is lying on the floor. He has been shot in the stomach. Another man is slumped against the wall. Where has he been shot?

Three other people have been hit with pellets from the shotgun. One of them is leaning on a slot machine, one of them is sitting on the floor and one of them is still standing. Where have they been hit? Another man has tripped and fallen onto the floor. Has he been shot? How many people have been hurt altogether? Has anybody been killed?

The barman has stopped emptying the till. Suddenly the guy who is holding the pistol loses his cool. He starts to shoot at everybody. Then he grabs the money from the till but he spills most of it on the floor. The two robbers run out. A third man is waiting in the getaway car. The two robbers jump in and drive off.

A few minutes later the cops turn up and soon after an ambulance arrives. Then a journalist turns up. One of the cops interviews one of the survivors. What does the survivor tell the police officer?

The police get descriptions of the robbers and they start to comb the town looking for suspects. Two of them go into a bar where they find a man wearing a colourful shirt, sitting in a corner with a banjo case at his feet. He is completely blotto. The cops assume the man wearing the colourful shirt is the same guy as the man who held up the bar with the sawn-off shotgun. The suspect is arrested and taken in. Is he beaten up? Is he given anything to eat?

The banjo player is thrown into a cell, where a couple of other prisoners are lounging on bunks. How many of them, and what are they accused of? Have any of them been charged?

Later that night the banjo player is questioned by two police officers. How long is he questioned for? Is he given access to a lawyer? Do the cops play “good cop, bad cop”? After questioning the man is thrown into the cell again and locked up. The following day there is a line-up. Several suspects are paraded before one of the survivors. The banjo player is identified as one of the guilty men. He is taken away and he is charged. He is not granted bail. How long is it before he is tried?

The day of the trial arrives. The banjo player is taken to the courtroom. He is led in. Who is he led in by? Is he handcuffed? He is taken to the dock. He is given the oath. What is the oath? Does he put his hand on the bible while he is swearing to tell the truth?

The charge is read. What exactly is the accused charged with? A jury is selected. What is the composition of the jury? The prosecutor’s case is heard by the judge. Several witnesses are called to the witness stand. How many witnesses are called?

Later on the case for the defense is presented. Are any witnesses for the defense called? The prisoner wants to see his lover and ask her to be his alibi but she has left town. She has gone to the countryside to paint. Would she be able to provide an alibi for the banjo player?

After all of the evidence has been heard, the jury withdraws. How long does it take to reach a verdict? The banjo player is found guilty of murder. The following day he is sentenced. What prison term is he given? After the sentence is read, the man is led away. He is put into a prison van and he is transported to the State prison. Is it located in the city? Are prisons usually located in urban areas?

At the State Penitentiary, the man is told to strip. He is searched. Is his head shaved? What colour uniform is he given? After he has been inducted the man is shown to his cell. He is locked up with another man. What has the other man been found guilty of? Is he an innocent man? The banjo player is an innocent man. He languishes in his cell. How often is he fed? How often is he allowed to exercise? Is he allowed visitors?

3. The Prison Break (passives, conditionals, phrasal verbs, idioms, relative clauses)

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Two guys are sitting in a prison cell. Are they in for armed robbery? If you were given a life sentence would you try to escape? In the next cell, two other inmates are doing time as well. One of them, who happens to be a banjo player, has been convicted of murder and given a life sentence. He is actually an innocent man and the whole thing is a case of mistaken identity. The other one is in for murder as well. He is in for murdering the pedophile, who kidnapped and assaulted his daughter and several other children in his neighborhood church group. If you were the judge, what sentence would you have given him?

Meanwhile in another part of the state, an armed robber, who bears an uncanny resemblance to the imprisoned banjo player, is feeling remorseful. If you were an armed robber who had killed people, would you feel remorse? The robber has started attending a local church. How long has he been attending it? He believes that he has been saved. He has repented all of his sins.  He has seen the light and he has become a committed Christian. He thinks that atheists will be burned in hell. What is an atheist? Have you ever met anybody who believes that people who do not believe in God will be burned in hell? The ex-robber becomes a leader of his local church group. He does a lot of community work and he is praised by the local minister. His name is mentioned around the community and he is spoken of highly by community leaders. He is invited to join a local conservative political group. Is he charged any money for the privilege of joining?

While the ex-armed robber is rising to prominence in his community, the man who is being punished for his crime, is languishing in a cell. Would you feel like giving up if you found yourself in a situation like that? Do you believe that one should never give up? The banjo picker is popular among the other inmates because he can lift their spirits with his music but unfortunately he is not allowed to play his banjo. How would you feel if you were able to play a musical instrument but were not allowed to touch one? How would you react to a situation where you owned one but were not given the privilege of touching it except on special occasions? One of these, such special occasions, when the banjo picker who is in jail for murder is allowed to actually play his instrument, is coming up. Thanksgiving is approaching and traditionally the Governor is lenient to the cons around that day. Sometimes prisoners are even pardoned on that day. If you were imprisoned for a crime that you did not commit, would you try to appeal the conviction or accept your lot and serve your time? Would the routine of prison life appeal to you in a strange way? If you did not have to worry about when to eat and when to go to sleep and when to get up, would it be strangely comforting to you to have all of those decisions taken out of your hands? Would you be prepared to work as a prison guard? Is prison a punishment or a place of punishment?

The banjo picker who is in for life cannot take it any more. He longs for freedom. He is tired of being locked up. How long has he been locked up? He decides to bust out. He has been asked to play his banjo at the concert on Thanksgiving. Routine will be relaxed on the big day and there will be lots of opportunities for him to make a break for it. Would you make a break for it, if you were in his situation? Will the concert be attended by people from outside the prison? The banjo player’s cellmate is not interested in doing a runner with him. He is prepared to serve his time and wait for an appeal to come through.  Would you be the type to serve your time and wait for an appeal to come through or would the lure of freedom be so strong that you felt that you had to make a break for it?

While the banjo player plans his escape, the armed robber, who has converted and joined the local church, has been attending political rallies. He has joined a political party. He has met a lot of people and he has been invited to run as a candidate in the next election. Is he likely to be elected? How come? The new candidate is given access to large amounts of money. He is flown to other parts of the country and he is introduced to important people in the party. Is he asked his opinion on abortion? Is he asked his opinion on involvement in overseas wars? Is he invited to give his views on the crisis in the Middle East? Is he made privy to any party secrets? Is he introduced to people in the gun lobby? The day of the election approaches. Huge political rallies are held. They are attended by thousands of people. Speeches are given. Promises are made. A speech is delivered by the new candidate, who looks like the banjo player. Is it well received?

Meanwhile in the prison where the banjo player is being held, the big day rolls around. It is Thanksgiving. The inmates are given a special meal with turkey and roast vegetables. Are they allowed to consume alcohol? Are they granted extra tobacco privileges? Some ballet dancers are brought into the jail to perform for the inmates. Music is played and dances are performed. Which ballet is performed? The banjo picker performs with some other prisoners and then slips backstage and mingles with the ballet dancers who have been hired to entertain the inmates and raise their level of cultural awareness. Can crime be prevented by raising the general level of education and social awareness? Is crime caused by poverty? The anguished banjo player makes his run for freedom. He dresses as a ballerina and escapes by hiding himself and leaving on a bus with the other performers. Why is the bus not searched as it leaves the prison? It drives out of the prison but suddenly breaks down one and a half miles away. How many kilometers are there in a mile? The passengers on the bus are ordered to get off by the driver. The banjo-playing ballerina emerges from the bus and finds himself in a car-park outside a shopping mall. A political rally is taking place. He wanders towards the stage feeling dazed at his newfound freedom. Suddenly he finds himself staring at a man who looks exactly like him. The man is addressing a political rally. If you came upon a person who resembled you in every respect would you feel impelled to talk to him? Has the bus been fixed? Has the prison escape been noticed by the authorities?

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4. The Flight out of America (passives, relative clauses, conditionals, pres perfect )

A banjo player, who is dressed as a ballet dancer, has just escaped from prison. He is at a political rally. He has just been confronted with the sight of a man who bears an uncanny resemblance to him. Would you feel dazed and confused if that happened to you? Feeling dazed and confused he allows the crowd to push him this way and that. He allows himself to be drawn along by the throng. He lets things happen. Are you the kind of person who lets things happen or do you try to control your own destiny? He lets things flow. Are you the type to let things flow or do you try to have a hand in controlling things?

Suddenly he finds himself at some kind of party and somebody hands him a drink. He knocks it back and he is handed another one. If you knock them back one after the other, do you get wasted? If you get wasted, do you experience a dramatic personality change or do you pretty much remain the same person, however much you drink? As the party winds down, the banjo player, who is an escaped convict, picks up a coat and puts it on over his ballerina costume. He makes his way out of there and finding some loose change in the pocket of the coat, gets a bus across town and heads for his girlfriend’s studio. When he gets there he finds that the window has been left open. He climbs in and looks around. There are pictures on the wall but they have not been worked on in ages. There is a bed but it has not been slept in for some time. There is milk in the fridge. Has it gone off? There is bread on a table. Has it gone moldy? What other signs are there that the studio has not been occupied for some time?

The guy, who is still in love with his girlfriend, though he has not seen her for some time, lies down on the couch. He really misses her. Is he being hunted by the police? Has his escape been noticed? He does not know what to do next? Does he think of giving himself up? Would you turn yourself in, if you were him? The banjo player dozes off and dreams that he is being cradled in the arms of his lover.

Suddenly there is a knock at the door. Somebody enters. It is the artist’s sister. She is happy to see the banjo player. She has always like him, because he is basically a good man. She tells him that her sister has joined a weird religious cult and gone to Bolivia. Where is Bolivia located? She, the artist, thinks that the world is going to end in 2012. The sea level is going to rise and the world is going to be flooded. The cult members are going to survive in the high country in the Andes. If you thought that the world was going to end, would you try to survive or accept your fate?

The banjo player wonders what to do. Finally he decides to call an old buddy from the military, who owes him one. The guy helps him to get a fake passport. What name does he take? How much money is required to do something like that? Is a visa required to enter Bolivia? The banjo player manages to borrow some money and he flies to La Paz. Is La Paz located on the coast or in the mountains? Is Bolivia landlocked? Which countries is it bordered by? The girlfriend’s sister has given the banjo player the address of the religious commune, which she has moved to. Why is it located in the mountains?

While the escaped banjo player who is carrying a fake passport is flying over central America, the man who looks like him is running for office back in Louisiana. On what date is the election held? He is elected and he becomes a politician. If you were elected to political office, would you be easily corrupted? The politician is approached by a man, who represents a large construction corporation. The man who represents the construction corporation tries to bribe the politician. Are politicians easily bribed? The corporate representative wants the politician to help further the corporation’s interests in South America.

The plane, which is carrying the banjo player, lands in La Paz. He goes through customs and immigration and he spends a night in a hotel. Is the hotel reasonably priced? The next day he takes a bus out of the city and into the highlands. Is his bag loaded onto the roof? Is he given a window seat? Is he allowed to sit on the roof of the bus? The bus travels for a whole day then the man spends the night in a provincial city. The next day his journey is delayed. The bus has broken down. How long does it take for it to be repaired? Does the mechanic have to wait for parts to be sent from La Paz?

A few days later the banjo player manages to reach the area of the weird religious cult. He hikes up into the mountains where the cult’s headquarters has been constructed. He finds a village, which has been constructed of stone. Has dry stone construction been used? He sleeps in the village that night. Is he asked for any money? Is he treated well?

The next day he walks into the commune. He is reunited with his girlfriend. She has married another member of the group. How long has she been living there? How long has she been co-habiting with her new partner? She is not happy to see the banjo player. She thinks that he is a liar and a thief and a murderer. The two of them argue. She tells him that she is married now. He tells her that the marriage is not recognized in the US. She says that it does not matter. He begs her to come away with him. Are foreign marriages recognized in the US? Are foreign university degrees recognized in the US?

The guy is invited by the cult leader to stay in a large communal building. That night food is shared and songs are sung. Are any drugs taken? The principles of the cult are explained to the banjo player. Ancient prophecies are revealed to him. Is he invited to participate in any ceremonies? Is he invited to join the group? Is he given a comfortable place to sleep?

Meanwhile back in the US, a politician has agreed to represent the interests of a US construction company in Bolivia. A flight to Bolivia is booked. Is it paid for by the US government or the construction corporation?

5. The Trade Mission (passives, conditional, relative clauses)

A plane flies from Miami to La Paz. Three US politicians are aboard. How long have they been in office? What kind of food are they given? Are they served any drinks? Are they briefed on the local political and economic situation en route? Are they briefed on the local culture? Are they given any lessons in Bolivian Spanish? Are they told anything about the language and culture of the place? They are on a trade mission.

If you were a politician, would you try to learn about the local culture when you were on overseas trips or do you think you would be too busy to do that? Are all of the politicians required to show their passports at immigration? Are any of their bags examined by customs? What colour are the uniforms that are worn by the customs officials? Are the uniforms that are worn by the customs officials the same colour as the ones that are worn by the immigration officials?

The trade mission is met by an official from the US embassy. Are they taken to the embassy or to a hotel? How are they entertained that night? The following day the politicians are met by a delegation from the Bolivian Water Board. There is a problem with water in Bolivia. The infrastructure is not well-developed and the water is contaminated. The Bolivian government needs help from the American government to increase the efficiency of the water supply system. This is just one of a number of infrastructure projects that the Bolivian government needs help with.

The US officials meet with various Bolivian public officials. They brief them on the aid, which can be made available to them by the US government. All the talks are successful. Are any of the Bolivian public officials given any bribes for political favors by the US trade delegation?

One of the US politicians bears an uncanny resemblance to another American who lives in Bolivia. The US politician flies out of La Paz after three days but the other American, who happens to be an escaped convict, remains there. What crime was the escaped convict convicted of?

The escaped convict, who happens to be a banjo player, is living in a village high up in the mountains. He has come to Bolivia to track down his missing girlfriend, who happens to be a very talented artist. The girlfriend, who has joined a weird religious cult, which teaches that the world is going to end in three years, has married the leader of the cult.

The banjo player, who has followed his girlfriend down to Bolivia, has tried to persuade her to come away with him but she has refused. He has been kicked out of the community and he has been forced to live in an abandoned shack in a village, which is located a day’s walk below the isolated spot where the religious community has made its headquarters. Has he been allowed to go back to the community to visit his ex-partner?

The banjo player has run out of money. Has he been offered any help by the indigenous people, who live in the village below the isolated religious community? Has he been forced to go hungry? Have you ever been forced to go hungry?

The banjo player is taken care of by some indigenous people. He learns some of their language, which is called Quechua. He is told that he should stay away from the place, where the religious community is located, because the whole area is inhabited by the ghosts of the ancient people from that region. The place is haunted. Is your house haunted? If you lived in a haunted house, would you make friends with the ghost or try to get rid of it?

The American banjo player, who does not own a banjo at the moment finally decides to go into the city. He has no money so he is forced to walk for several days, and then he is picked up by some farmers in a truck. He has learned a lot of Spanish by now and he is able to have a basic conversation with the farmers. They are cattle farmers. How many of them are there and how long have they been raising cattle?

After traveling for a week the banjo player, who is getting pretty good at Spanish by now, has made it to the capital. He walks into town. The farmers have given him some new clothes and some money. He goes into a hotel. He books a room. How much is he charged for the room? He goes to a restaurant. He is given a menu. He orders some food. Is his Spanish easily understood by the waiter?

After his meal the banjo player goes for a stroll. He is walking down the street when he is suddenly jumped by a couple of guys. He has been mistaken for a US politician who bears an uncanny resemblance to him. He is kidnapped. He is taken to a room in a quiet part of the city. He is tied up and he is locked in the room. What is he tied up with? Is he gagged? Is he given adequate food and water? Is he threatened or treated badly in any way?

The banjo player is held to ransom. Some local criminals think that he is a US politician. He has been mistaken for one of the members of the US trade mission that recently visited the city. A ransom note is delivered to the US embassy. How much money is requested? The guy’s photo is taken. Is the photo put in an envelope with the note?

Meanwhile in the US, a politician who recently visited Bolivia is contacted. He is told that somebody to whom he bears an uncanny resemblance has been kidnapped and held to ransom.  If one of your family members was kidnapped, would you pay the ransom? The US embassy refuses to pay the ransom. The criminals decide to kill their victim. Do you think the banjo player is going to get shot or stabbed or thrown off a cliff? Do you think he is going to be released? Have you ever been involved in a kidnapping? Have you ever been involved in an act of piracy? Have you ever committed a crime?

6. The Mystery of the Missing Cult Members (passives, mixed conditional, relative clauses, embedded questions, use of semi-colon, parallel phrases)

A planeload of journalists is making its way from Los Angeles to La Paz. Do you imagine that they would all be equipped with lap-tops, mobile phones and voice recorders? Simultaneously another flight also laden with media people is winging its way south from Miami. How many hours apart are the ETAs of the two flights, which originate in the United States?

The journalists have come to Bolivia to cover an astonishing event high in the Andes. The entire population of a remote mountain community run by a weird religious cult has disappeared. All of the members of the community have vanished into thin air. Some say they have been kidnapped. How many people are kidnapped a year in Mexico? Some say they have been murdered and their bodies have been concealed or burned. If you were in a situation where you had to conceal a body, would you burn it or bury it or what? Others say the missing members of the cult have been teleported into another dimension. If length, breadth and width are the first three dimensions, what would the fourth dimension be? Do you accept the possibility that there might be other worlds or other dimensions with other beings in them who exist simultaneously with us and around us but we cannot see them and we cannot be seen by them?

A kidnapped American banjo player is being held by an obscure terrorist group, which has nothing to do with the weird religious cult. Is he bound and gagged? The kidnappers have been negotiating with the US government. Have they been negotiating with a high level official or a mid level official or a low level official? They have been trying to persuade the US official that they have kidnapped a US congressman. The problem is that the congressman has not been kidnapped. What is the reason for this situation where the two parties involved are acting on the basis of different versions of what the facts are?

The banjo player learns that the members of the religious commune have disappeared. They include the woman who he loves; the woman who left him; the woman who happens to be the only person who can clear his name by providing an alibi for him so he can get a retrial. Do you think he is ever going to manage to clear his name? Is he disheartened by his predicament? Is he down-cast?

The entire military of Bolivia and the police force of La Paz are scouring the city and the countryside in search of the missing cult members. The people who are holding the banjo player are spooked by all this activity. One member after another gets cold feet and slips off. Finally the banjo player is left alone with one kidnapper. Is the man a perverted character who takes delight in the suffering of others? Are you the type of person who derives enjoyment from observing the misfortune of others? I should hope not.

The sadistic kidnapper goes outside of the room where the banjo player is being held. Does he leave the room because he wants to use the water closet? The banjo player, who is sitting on the bed, jumps up and leaps through the window. His hands are bound but his legs are free. Is he blindfolded? He falls six stories.

The banjo player’s fall is broken by a canopy over the entrance to the hotel where his kidnappers are holed up. He is hardly hurt at all. He just has a few minor scrapes. Are his hands cut and bruised? He finds himself standing staring face to face at a tall thin woman with dark wavy hair. They stare at each other but they do not say anything.

A security guard calls out. The banjo player does not want to be recaptured by his kidnappers. He does not want to be captured by the police either. He is a wanted man in the US. He is an escaped con. Is he worried that he will be extradited to the US where he will forced to stand trial for escaping from lawful custody? Would he be sent back to the US if he was arrested?

Suddenly the tall thin woman with the dark wavy hair smiles. It is very nice of you to “drop in,” she says. This is a double entendre. Are plays-on-words like this used much in your mother tongue? The woman’s smile is infectious. The banjo player feels compelled to smile back at her. He is surrounded by yelling people. Two kidnappers run through the hotel lobby. They are being chased by police officers and a security guard. Are the security guards armed? What are the police armed with? Some soldiers enter the foyer. The banjo player stands aside. The woman unties his hands. The soldiers pass by. The banjo player stares at the woman. He asks her to help him. Has she ever been asked for help by a stranger before? The woman is not Bolivian. She is Australian. Would you help a stranger in a foreign country in a situation like this?

The woman has a four-wheel drive outside the hotel. She explains to the banjo player that she is an astronomer. She is working at a telescope in a remote area high in the mountains. She has been sent into the city to get supplies. What sort of supplies has she been asked to pick up? Has she been able to source everything that she needs? The banjo player and the astronomer drive out of “the city of peace” and head up into the hills. The road climbs higher and higher and becomes more and more precarious. Do they stop at any little places on the way? Are they required to make a refueling stop? As they drive they talk. They get on wonderfully well. Does it seem like there might be the possibility of a romantic involvement?

As the couple drive into the night there is an announcement on the radio. It seems that the cult members have been murdered. Some bodies have been located. Have they been tampered with or mutilated in any way? The banjo player reflects on his relationship with the artist who has probably been murdered. She is his only chance to clear his name.

7. The Bolivian Veal Sausage Scandal

Over the next few days a Bolivian veal sausage scandal emerges in the US newspapers. What are veal sausages made of? It seems that a series of gruesome murders have taken place and the bodies of the victims have been minced and mixed with veal and chicken to create a very tasty and extremely popular mixed veal sausage which has made huge inroads into the delicatessen and fine foods market all across the country. Which is more nutritious, veal sausage or Camembert cheese?

The man behind the scandal is the manager of a chain of import stores, who also happens to be the leader of the mysterious religious cult, whose members have gone missing in Bolivia. Is all the food that is imported into the US inspected by customs officials to ensure that it is fit for human consumption? It is feared that the sadistic cult leader who has murdered all of his followers is still at large and hiding in the Andes. Is the cult leader supposed to have committed all these murders single-handedly or is he supposed to have had the assistance of some accomplices? The Bolivian military and police continue to scour the countryside in search of the fugitive. Are they assisted by US special forces? Are they provided with helicopter support by the US Navy?

Meanwhile in Washington the US congressman who is responsible for trade to Bolivia is being grilled. Has he been called before a house committee? The member of congress, who happens to bear an uncanny resemblance to a certain banjo player who is trapped in Bolivia, is being asked what he knows about the veal sausage industry. Have the veal sausages been advertised as Bolivia’s national dish? Is Wal-mart involved in any way? Is the research and Planning Division of MacDonald’s involved? Have any Bolivian veal products been trialed by McDonald’s? Just what exactly is veal? A Latin American cultural expert has been called before a house committee and has testified that veal is not commonly consumed in the Andes. Is veal eaten in La Paz? Where is it commonly eaten? Is it milk-fed or grain-fed?

The US congressman who is responsible for trade to Bolivia has a lot on his plate. Does he have more than he can handle on his plate? The Bolivian water board has just been privatized. It has become a wholly owned subsidiary of an originally American multinational corporation, which goes by the name of Bechtel. Is Bechtel based in San Francisco? What industries have been privatized in your country? A public company has been set up and it has been listed on the stock exchange. Where is the stock exchange of Bolivia located? The price of water has been increased. Is the water properly filtered before it is made available for human consumption? Is any fluoride added? Is the water in your hometown fluoridated? In some areas the price of water has been doubled. In other areas it has been tripled. Are there any areas in which it has been quadrupled? A new pipeline has been constructed. Has the construction of the pipeline provided jobs for local people or have foreign experts from overseas construction companies been flown in to carry out the project? Local peasants have not been considered in the deal. Have they been consulted at all? Terrorists have attacked the pipeline. How are the terrorists armed? Have they been given any assistance by the Russians or the Chinese or the Arabs? What is a terrorist? Has the pipeline been damaged? Supply to some areas has been cut off. Has supply to the capital been cut off?

The US congressman has been sent to Bolivia again. Reports that he has been kidnapped have been replaced by reports that he has escaped. Is he confused by the whole thing? Does he have any inkling that somewhere in the world there is somebody who looks just like him?

Meanwhile up in the mountains a tall thin woman with dark wavy hair and her companion, a fugitive banjo player who speaks Quechua, are arriving at the site of a very large telescope. The woman is involved in a project, which is attempting to understand the nature of “dark matter”? What the hell is “dark matter”?

The banjo player and the Australian astronomer with dark wavy hair have been discussing the disappearance of the cult members. They have also been talking about the existence of dark matter. Has dark matter been proven to exist? The woman with the dark wavy hair is an astronomer. The banjo player wonders if she is also an astrologer. He wonders if there is any clue to our origins and our destinations in the map, which the sky presents us. Is the sky really a map of our destiny or is that just a stupid metaphor, which has no bearing on reality? Are all the events in our lives pre-destined? Are some of the events in our lives pre-destined? Are horoscopes made up by sadists?

The banjo player has spent time in the community with the cult members. He has been told that the world is going to end in 2012, when the Mayan calendar finishes. Does he think that the ending of the world is merely the ending of one cycle and the beginning of a new cycle? Do you think our destiny is set out in great cycles or do you believe that all of time is just one long series of random events? Are time and space connected?

The tall thin woman with the dark wavy hair, who happens to be an Australian astronomer, who is researching dark matter and the banjo player with the penchant for philosophical inquiry who happens to be a fugitive from the law are weary after their long journey and their deep discussion. They devour a meal of pork and potatoes and then they shower and fall asleep on bunk beds in the women’s quarters. How many astronomers are housed in the observatory complex? How long has research been going on here? Why has the Andes been chosen as the best location for this type of research? Are the astronomer and the banjo player attracted to each other?

8. The CIA Cover-Up and the Balsa Wood Boat

In a secret room in the US embassy in La Paz, a US congressman is being briefed. Is the room nicely decorated? He is being told that the Bolivian veal sausage scandal is a hoax. Have you been to South America or eaten any veal in the last ten days? The congressman is being told that the hoax was perpetrated in order to conceal the real facts. Is that an oxymoron? Has the reputation of veal been tarnished forever? Is the congressman a moron? Are the Morons a religious cult, which has its headquarters in Pennsylvania?

The sausage scandal is a CIA cover-up, which has been organized to hide the real facts. Are sausages and salami filled with the same stuff? The real facts are, that the Bolivian religious cult murders have been perpetrated by its leader, who is a rogue CIA agent. The CIA are looking for their rogue agent. They are trying to hide the fact that one of their agents killed several hundred people.

Anyway the murders have been carried out by the religious cult leader, who happens to be a former CIA agent, who has turned on his old employer and become an international terrorist and now a mass murderer.  The congressman is being told this, because he actually knows the cult leader. He is actually an acquaintance of this mass murderer who is now being hunted down by American intelligence agents.

The congressman and the former CIA agent turned religious cult leader and then mass murderer are high school friends. Were thy educated at the same university? They have known each other for many years although they have lost touch in the last decade. Has either of them married in the intervening time? The congressman is asked to work with the CIA. Is he easily persuaded? Is he offered money? Would you be easily persuaded to turn in a former comrade?

If the religious cult leader knew the politician’s face, why didn’t he say anything when he met the banjo player, who is a dead ringer for the politician?
Could it be that religious cult leader did note the similarity of the banjo player to his old school friend, but he thought it unremarkable and he did not mention it to anyone? Do you tend to spontaneously blurt out things that you notice without thinking or are you more inclined to keep your observations to yourself?

The congressman is going to assist the CIA in their investigations. Are they going to be assisted by his wife as well? Is she going to be let in on the details of the veal sausage scandal? Is it safe to eat veal or not? The Director of the CIA wants to catch the rogue agent and eliminate him. Does he want him dealt with lawfully and imprisoned for his crimes if found guilty? Has he reached the point of being prepared to break the law to catch the rogue agent? Is US law routinely broken by the CIA? Are CIA operations usually carried out beyond the boundaries of the jurisdiction of US law? The politician agrees to give full co-operation to the CIA. He is flown back to the States soon after. What happens to the water pipeline in Bolivia? Is the politician being told the whole truth by the CIA?

Meanwhile high up in the Andes, the banjo player, who is a dead ringer for the congressman, of whom we have just been speaking, is peering up the eyepiece of a very large telescope. Is dark matter able to be seen with the naked eye? Is it able to be seen with a very large telescope? Are astrology and astronomy linked? How are they connected?

The banjo player has struck up a friendship with the other astronomers at the observatory in the mountains. He has been loaned a banjo by one. How long has it been since that particular instrument has been played? One of the astronomers is a Swede, whose contract is coming to an end. Is he descended from a long line of Vikings? The Swede is going to embark on an ambitious project at the completion of his time in the mountain observatory. He is going to attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean on a balsa wood boat. Where is balsa wood found? Is it grown commercially? What is it used for?

The Swede is trying to prove that the indigenous people of South America were sea travelers who visited Polynesia. Where is Polynesia located? Is New Zealand included in the term ‘Polynesian’? The banjo player is offered a place on the balsa boat that is going to sail across the Pacific. If you were given an opportunity like that, would you take it?

Meanwhile back in the US it has been leaked to the media that the Bolivian veal scandal was a CIA cover-up. The whole thing was a hoax. There has never been anything wrong with Bolivian veal. People will still not eat it however. It seems that its reputation has been badly tarnished. Is the stain indelible?

All five hundred and seventy two members of the religious cult are still missing. Have any dead bodies been recovered? Where might the religious cult leader be hiding out? Do you think anybody has really been killed? Can the CIA be trusted? Can the US government be trusted? Can any government be trusted? Is it true to say that politicians are not generally to be trusted? Why do you think it is that many people are inclined to say that politicians are not to be trusted?

The banjo player has a dilemma. He is not sure about his feelings for the Australian astronomer. Are some of us destined to meet at certain times in our lives? He is unsure whether he should cross the Pacific with the Swede or stay in the Andes with the Australian. What would you do? Do the banjo player’s thoughts ever turn to his ex-girlfriend who is an artist? Is she still teamed up with the religious cult leader? Has the Australian astrologer ever been married? How many times have you been married?

9. The Charismatic Religious Cult Leader in Vanuatu

On a small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a religious cult leader and his five hundred and seventy two followers are building a village. They are building the village on the highlands at the centre of the island. Are the coastal areas going to be inundated by rising seas?

The religious cult leader has a handsome face with a receding hair-line. Does he have piercing eyes? Are his teeth decayed? Is the skin around his eyes wrinkled? The leader’s hut is at the centre of the village. Is it a thatched hut? It is inhabited by himself and his partner, an American artist, who used to be in a relationship with a certain banjo player. Is monogamy generally practiced in the community?

The members of the cult want to know why they have been taken to this remote Pacific island. They have been woken in the middle of the night then they have all been told to get on a private jet and they have been taken in groups to a larger airport and then on to this remote island, which is situated not far from Vanuatu. What currency is used in Vanuatu? What languages are spoken? What ethnic group or groups is the population composed of?

The cult leader explains that the CIA has been corrupted. It has been infiltrated by foreign spies and corrupting outside interests. Has it been infiltrated by Al Qaeda? The Director of the CIA plans to assassinate the President of the United States. Powerful economic interests plan to install a military government. Will elections be abolished? Will civil rights be suspended? Will segregation of blacks and whites be re-introduced? Will slavery be re-introduced? Will Muslims be persecuted?

The cult leader explains, that he is employed by the CIA and he has realized, that the organization had been infiltrated and corrupted and that his life is in danger. Has an attempt already been made on his life? He has fled the community in Bolivia and moved to this remote location. Has the move been detected by the CIA? Are all his movements being monitored on Google Earth? All of his followers have been brought with him for their own protection. Have they been given time to pack any belongings? Have they been given plenty to eat and drink?

Over the coming months the community is re-established in this remote Pacific island location. How many houses are constructed? Is a theatre and meditation hall built? What kinds of crops are planted? Are any cattle imported? What other food is produced? Is much seafood caught? Are any dietary restrictions imposed on the community for religious reasons?

The charismatic cult leader travels secretly to the US on his private jet several times and confers with his allies in high places. A coup is about to be staged in the land of the free. Is the US President going to be assassinated? Is democracy going to be wiped out? Is the flag going to be burned? Are the American people going to be enslaved? Are the American people already enslaved?

Meanwhile in Washington a US congressman is being awakened night after night by recurring nightmares. Is he awakened several times in a night? Is his wife disturbed? He is being tortured by memories from his criminal past. He used to be a bank robber and a murderer. Now he has repented all of his sins and turned over a new leaf. Has he been converted to one of the evangelical churches? Does he know that someone has been sent to prison for his crimes? How would you feel if somebody else was sent to prison for a crime that had been committed by you? How often is the congressman contacted by the CIA? Is he ever called by the President?

When is the CIA plan to assassinate the US President going to be carried out? Are veal sausages still being sold in the US? Has the price of water in Bolivia been lowered? Has the company that bought the right to control all water pipelines in Bolivia been nationalized? Should essential service industries be privatized? Should banks be nationalized?

One day on the beach of a tropical island near Vanuatu, a boat is sighted. How many masts is it rigged with? Is it constructed entirely of balsa wood? The boat is carrying several adventurers. Most of them are Swedes but one of them is an American banjo player. Several hours later the boat is beached on the island. It is dragged up the beach by the sailors and anchored to a coconut tree. Are a lot of coconuts found on the island? The sailors wander into the inland part of the island and meet the members of a religious community. Everybody is engaged in meditation. The captain of the sailors and the leader of the religious cult suddenly see each other. They rush up to each other and they embrace each other. Are embraces commonly exchanged on meeting in your country?

The captain of the Swedish sailors is actually a member of the religious cult as well. He has been in contact with the cult leader the whole time. Have they been able to contact each other telepathically? Has the Swede been guided to the island by a GPS device? Has he been tracked by the CIA? Do you believe the CIA ever really would stage a coup and assassinate the US President? Which US Presidents have been assassinated? Have you heard about the coup that was attempted by Prescott Bush?

Is the Australian astronomer still engaged in research at the remote astronomical observatory far up in the Andes? Is she romantically interested in the banjo player? The banjo player meets his ex-girlfriend, the artist from New Orleans. She has not been murdered by the cult leader. Nobody has been murdered. Has anybody been turned into veal sausage? Is veal produced in your country? Is it commonly eaten? How is it prepared?

10. The Conversation on the Beach and the Embassy Cocktail Party

A tall thin African American in a colourful shirt is sitting on the beach of a Pacific island near Vanuatu. A banjo is cradled in his arms. Has the seat of his pants been dampened from sitting on the wet sand? Are his clothes worn? Is he clean-shaven or bearded? The banjo player is engaged in a heated discussion with his ex-lover, who is an artist.

The woman is being asked to cast her mind back. She is being requested to try to remember things that happened several years ago. She is being told to try to remember the day she had an argument with her boyfriend in her studio. Is she able to remember the fatal moment on the street corner when she saw the guy who bore an uncanny resemblance to her lover? Does she believe that her ex is not guilty of the crime for which he was imprisoned? Is she prepared to try to help him clear his name?

The woman feels like she is never going to be able to get rid of this man. She is happy in her new relationship. She thought she would never have to see the banjo player again. Why does he keep turning up in her life again and again? Are their paths destined to cross? Are their destinies entwined? Are they meant for each other? Should things have turned out differently?

Meanwhile in Washington the congressman who is the exact double of the beleaguered banjo player is preparing to make a trip to Bolivia. The offices of the American water company in La Paz have been ransacked by rebels. How are rebels different from terrorists? Have any of the employees of the US company been injured? Have any Americans been kidnapped or taken hostage? The congressman is being sent to negotiate on the part of US interests. Basically the US water company will be represented by him.

This same company was once run by the vice president of the US. Are political and business interests closely linked in your country? Why is it undesirable to have close links between business and political interests? Is it inevitable that political leaders will be chosen from the business community?

Just before the congressman flies to La Paz he is contacted by the CIA and told to meet an agent in Bolivia for a briefing. The man who he is supposed to meet is a New Zealander. Is New Zealand situated anywhere near Vanuatu?

The congressman flies to Bolivia and meets with representatives of the government to discuss the water pipeline issue. Is the problem resolved? Later that night he goes to a cocktail party at the US embassy. Is wine served? Are any local dancing girls invited? Are dancing girls usually invited to parties and events including political meetings in your country? Do you think that all public meetings should begin with a display of dancing? Do you think that dancing should be taught to all children? Is there anywhere that you know of where dancing is outlawed?

At the cocktail party the congressman is introduced to a group of wives of politicians. Is he invited to dance by any of them? Is he bored by their company or enchanted? Later on he gets into a conversation with a group of businessmen.

One of them is a mild mannered textile trader who works for the last woolen garment manufacturing company in New Zealand. Are all the clothes, that are worn in New Zealand now, produced in China? His company is manufacturing and marketing a range of sexy woolen underwear with male, female and unisex lines. The name of the product is ‘Sheepies’. The slogan is: “It is cold. Are you wearing your sheepies?” Has the product been well received in Japan? How has it been received in Korea? Has it been marketed in Russia?

After midnight the party warms up. Does everybody get toasted? At one point the congressman is drawn into a conversation about different codes of football with the Kiwi woolen garment manufacturer. Is the topic of football often brought up by the New Zealander? Are New Zealanders generally obsessed with rugby union? Are the All Blacks worshiped like gods in the Land of the Long White Cloud?

The US trade rep and the Kiwi sexy wooly undergarment rep go outside for a cigar on the balcony? Is smoking prohibited in all government buildings under federal law? The Kiwi and the Yank find a quiet spot. Who are the cigars provided by? Who are they lit by? Is the smoking of tobacco prohibited in restaurants?

The kiwi wooly underwear salesman reveals that he is actually a New Zealand secret agent who is working for the New Zealand secret service. Is the congressman surprised to meet his contact in this way? The New Zealander, whose code name is W7, explains that his government is worried about an influx of conventional weapons to the Pacific area. Is the New Zealand government also worried about an influx of nuclear weapons to the Pacific area?

The New Zealand secret agent explains that Chinese weapons manufacturers are sourcing new markets in the Pacific. Are US markets being encroached on? These weapons are being purchased by independence and secessionist groups in various Pacific islands and also by organized crime and militant political interests in New Zealand and Australia. Are there any independence or secessionist groups in French Polynesia?

The influx of Chinese made weapons to the area is considered to be a major threat to regional security. Considered by whom? Both the New Zealand and Australian governments are extremely concerned that society will be destabilized. Is the US government concerned? How is the Chinese government concerned? Meanwhile on an island near Vanuatu a banjo player is being grilled by his ex and in an observatory high up in the Andes, an Australian astronomer is dreaming of the banjo player.

11. Kiwi Agent Sean Connery and the Plot to Kill L. Ron Hubbard

A US congressman is standing on the balcony of the US embassy in La Paz discussing codes of football with a Kiwi secret agent who is disguised as the representative of a company that markets sexy wooly underwear. What are they smoking? What kind of tobacco products are commonly smoked in your circle? Are their cigars made in Cuba? The New Zealander has just revealed himself. He has just revealed who he is. His name is Sean Connery.

The congressman and the New Zealander are suddenly joined by the local CIA operative. He reveals that the rogue CIA agent, who happens to be a religious cult leader and also the owner of a chain of stores that imports veal sausages to the United States and European Union, is also an arms dealer in Vanuatu. How long has the religious cult leader been involved in the veal sausage business? Are his so-called veal sausages really made of a mixture of alpaca and lama with a little pork? Is he really involved in the arms business? Is an arms race an effective way of offsetting a conflict? Are drug dealing and arms dealing connected?

Agent W7, who goes under the name of Sean Connery, has been summoned to Bolivia to meet the congressman and liaise with him in preparation for the hazardous mission that they are about to be sent on. When will they be sent? Will they be sent to Vanuatu? Will they be paid danger money? They are going to try to eliminate the rogue CIA agent, who is codenamed L. Ron Hubbard by the CIA. Under what circumstances is the taking of another human being’s life excused by law?

At that same moment on a small island near Vanuatu, the religious cult leader, who is known as L. Ron Hubbard by the CIA, is engaged in an intense conversation with his friend and lieutenant, a Swedish astronomer and adventurer who has just crossed the Pacific on a balsa wood boat. Is their conversation being monitored by the CIA? Has the KGB been replaced by the CIA as the classic modern “big brother ” figure? Ron and the Swede are discussing the fact that they have just received intelligence that the plot to assassinate the President of the United States will be carried out soon. Has the President been warned that the Secret Service and the CIA have been infiltrated by elements that are hostile to the forces of freedom and democracy?

Meanwhile down on the beach a banjo player is arguing with his ex. Are they seated on a blanket? How long have they been arguing? He is begging her to help him clear his name but the woman will not be persuaded. Why will she not be persuaded? At that very moment a CIA satellite far out in space is making use of sophisticated digital video technology to monitor their activity. Is the woman’s mobile phone being activated without her knowledge in order to eavesdrop on their conversation?

The CIA have designated code names for the people who they are monitoring. The banjo player is known as Marlon Brando. The artist with whom he once had a relationship is known as Angelina Jolie. Is the astronomical observatory in the Andes being used to help the CIA conduct surveillance activities by satellite? Is the Australian astronomer a CIA operative?

Not long after the small island near Vanuatu is raided by a contingent of US special forces. Are they accompanied by agent W7? The cult leader, who is referred to as “Ron” is captured. The Swedish adventurer who is referred to by the CIA as “Thor Heyerdahl”, is not apprehended. He manages to escape. Is he born away on his balsa wood boat?

The banjo player, who is referred to by the CIA as Marlon Brando, is taken in. He is flown to Guantanamo Bay, where he is locked in a cell. Is he put in solitary confinement? Is he water-boarded? Is simulated drowning commonly used as an interrogation technique in your country? Is Marlon given access to legal counsel? Is he given any religious texts to use as toilet paper? Is he forced to engage in any kind of sexual activity? Is he humiliated in any other way?

While he is incarcerated, the banjo player, who is now known as Marlon, is confronted by his long lost brother, the congressman. Is the congressman flown in on an unmarked CIA plane? Nobody knows that Marlon and the congressman are twins. The congressman has been code-named Denzel Washington. Does he bear any resemblance to Denzel Washington in real life?

The congressman and the CIA interrogators are puzzled by the strange resemblance that the banjo player bears to the congressman. Has a case like this ever been encountered by the agency before? They come to the conclusion that Marlon has had plastic surgery to make him look like the congressman. Is plastic surgery commonly used to beautify the face and body in your society?

They think it is a part of a plot to assassinate the congressman. They put the congressman in protective custody. After he has been confronted by the sight of the man, who looks like him and realizes the lengths people will go to, to get him, the congressman has a nervous breakdown. He throws himself on the altar at his local church and weeps. Does he confess his crimes to the members of his church?

The banjo player is tortured by CIA agents. During one particularly cruel session he is accidentally killed. He becomes aware of the fact that he is floating above his body and then he is led through a long tunnel by an angelic being. Is he led towards a very bright light? His whole life flashes before him as if in a movie. Is he moved to tears by this? The banjo player floats up to heaven. He is met by St Peter at the pearly gates. Is St Peter bearded?


A recently deceased banjo player has just arrived in heaven. Has his whole life been flashed before him as if in a movie? He has had a difficult life and he has been subjected to a lot of suffering. Is it inevitable that all people will be subjected to suffering in life?

St Peter is explaining to the banjo player that it has all been a terrible mistake. He was supposed to have had a quiet life. Was he supposed to have died in his sleep? He was not supposed to have learned to play the banjo. He was supposed to have married and raised a family and lived quietly and happily. Was he supposed to have become a grandfather? Unfortunately there was a mix-up early in his life and this changed everything. Are mistakes made in heaven as well as on earth?

The banjo player’s brother was supposed to have learned to play the banjo. How are the strings connected to a banjo? His banjo-playing ability was supposed to have given him the resilience to deal with many difficulties in life and overcome many obstacles. How is the soul connected to the body? Unfortunately without the resilience of the banjo to support him, the brother was not equal to his task. Was he inclined to give up when the going got tough? He was led into a life of crime and although he became a congressman despite this, he was weak and nervous and not equal to the tasks, which he was called upon to perform. What tasks was he called upon to perform? He was eventually corrupted by the evil Director of the CIA and became a part of the plot to assassinate the president of the USA. Why are political leaders assassinated? Is it inevitable that good men will be murdered?

Is it plausible to you that that a whole course of events could have been changed because the wrong brother learned to play the banjo?

From his vantage point in heaven the banjo player gazes at life on earth. He sees the cult leader in his cell. When will he be released? He sees the Swedish explorer on his boat. When will land be sighted? He sees the artist who used to be his lover. Is she also imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay? Can ‘Gitmo’ be compared to Gulag Archipelago and Siberia? Would you feel ashamed to live in a land where justice was a game?

The banjo player also sees agent W7. He has quit his job and returned to New Zealand, where he has become a shearer. Are sheep shorn by hand or machine? Are sheepies still in fashion?

The banjo player sees the Australian astronomer gazing up at the heavens from her observatory in Bolivia. Is she dressed in sheepies? He is aware of a strong attraction to her. He longs for her and she longs for him.  He suddenly realizes that she is going to be his mother.

One night he stares at the woman and from his star in heaven he shines down her telescope and enters her being and soon after she becomes pregnant. Is the entry made through her eye? Is it an immaculate conception? At what point does the soul enter the body? Is the body occupied by the soul before conception? Is the body occupied by the soul at the moment of conception? Is the term ‘occupy’ a clumsy way to describe the relationship between the body and the soul? Is the moment of conception the same as the moment of physical sex? Might the universe be constructed in such a way that the body is entered by the soul before or after the moment of physical or sexual conception? Should pregnant mothers go to graveyards to get souls for their babies? Are ghosts just disembodied souls?

The banjo player knows that the President of the United States will be assassinated. On what day will the assassination take place? Is the President going to be assassinated by the banjo player’s brother? He knows that the world will be cast into a dark era of war and uncertainty. Will America become involved in a conflict with Russia or China?

The banjo player has decided to incarnate again as a human being to help. Is incarnating again straight away a good idea? He wants to do something good in life. He wants to do something worthwhile. He wants to force his body to obey his soul. He wants to create heaven on earth. Will his dreams be realized? Will all people one day be judged by the content of their character rather than the colour of their skin? Will all the hands of all the children on earth one day be joined in brotherhood and sisterhood? Can being taught to express oneself through music have a profound effect on the quality of life on earth? Are all human beings angels, who have been incarnated many times before and will be reincarnated many times again until enlightenment is finally achieved?

Who is going to be the banjo player’s father? We know who is going to be the banjo player’s mother. Who is going to be the banjo player’s friend?

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