Archive for June 2012
As I am a proud child of the Second World War, I take great solace in the unveiling, in two days time, of the long-overdue Salute to the 55, 573 members of R.A.F. Bomber Command who did not live to return, with the unveiling of the Memorial in Green Park. As an Englishman, I care nothing for the calls and speeches which attempt to denigrate the sacrifice of those young lives whilst serving their Country as foolish, spiteful and even inhuman. We sent those men and boys out for a purpose, to kill the enemy, and to destroy the Nazi war machine, the support structures and the Nazi supporters. The same supporters, never forget, who cheered and saluted their great Fuhrer in the innumerable rallies and marches where that same Adolf Hitler had so foolishly promised that their Third Reich would last for a thousand years.
Winston Churchill, in one of the very few of his actions which deserve censure, pointedly omitted any mention of the sacrifice of the thousands of lives lost by Bomber Command during the War, seemingly motivated by the speeches and writings of the ‘Chattering Classes’, of the Liberals and the Churchmen who just thought we mustn’t be nasty to the people who, just a few short years before, had attempted to annihilate whole cities in the United Kingdom with the very same means as they now denigrated. Ask the people of Coventry if retribution should be stayed, because a particular city was less than useful to the German war effort, and hear their responses. Ask the people who lived through the bombs which hit Jarrow, Liverpool, Birmingham and dozens of other ‘targets of opportunity’ of the Luftwaffe why we should perhaps not have bombed a single place in Germany? I know what their answer would be. Why didn’t we drop more bombs, more often; in memory of those who died, and of the sacrifice of innocents like the 600 who died in a single attack on a school in London’s East End.
Salute to the men who flew, those who died; and those who came back, exhausted. Salute to the men who guided them, who serviced and repaired those Lancasters and Halifaxes, and watched as they began to roll down those runways, heavy with death for the enemy.
Acknowledgement to the BBMF and Bomber Command Memorial Appeal
I glanced at the latest Internet craze, which is NeverSeconds, a Blog from a young schoolgirl who lives in Argyll. Seems that this enterprising young lady had decided to become a journalist, and therefore thought she needed writing practice; so wrote about her school dinners, including photographs. Her initial efforts were seen by a few, then more, until her photos of soggy croquettes and a stodgy piece of pizza went viral around the world. An unfortunate juxtaposition of a headline alongside a photo of young Martha caused the Council to ban her taking photographs of her food on School property. The reverse came within twenty-four hours as a torrent of abuse and comment landed foursquare on top of the Council.
So, all’s well that ends well? Not really, because I read some of Martha Payne’s blog postings, and you can see, within one small section of that unspoilt young lady’s prose, an underlying fear of the dead hand of officialdom, of legalistic bully-boys, of an autocratic elite who uses the Law to defend what they believe is theirs to control. She was maybe guided to write the words which she wrote by an adult, such as a teacher or her father, but the facts remain, she qualified her writing to avoid the possibility of upsetting or offending a group which should, in my own opinion, should not even be in existence.
The line which young Martha wrote, including the title was :-
If you think I have spelt Olympics wrong I haven’t! The word Olympics is copyrighted so the school would get a fine if we used it.
…in a veritable bed of thorns.
I wonder which thoughts were upmost in the mind of Aung San Suu Kyi as she rose to address both members of the House of Commons and of the Lords’ yesterday?
Was she thinking of the words of her speech, which of course were obviously benign both in intent and delivery, or was she thinking, as I do, to question her very position amongst the politicians and other members of the ‘great and good’ who flocked to see this small icon of true Democracy.
Was she actually thinking, “What am I doing here in the very centre of this den of thieves, liars, prostitutes, perjurers and criminals?”
p.s. Wasn’t the music good!
I have been privileged to Post as a guest on ATW, David’s blog for a few years now. Some of my posts have been received with bile and acrimony, one has even been withdrawn because I was blogging about something I have neither great knowledge of, nor sympathy with; namely Sport, and more importantly Olympic Sports: but on the whole my posts have been received by the ATW community of readers with a keen eye for detail, some amusement at some of my stances, and, in the main, consideration, respect and tolerance.
During these many blog postings, the extent of knowledge about my private life has always been controlled by myself. I have stated that I live in Durham City, but that is all. You are aware that I have three adult kids, along with three grandsons, all of whom I am inordinately proud; but apart from a very small number of photos, the wider world knows nothing of my family, or its circumstances apart from what they choose to display. That is how it should be, because my two sons each have their own families and their own lives to control. But more and more, our lives; in this most intrusive of digital ages, are becoming like as an open book.
Firstly, some statistics. In August last year, Facebook was closing in on one billion subscribers. That is an astonishing number; 1,000,000,000.00. True, most of this huge number comprise millions of small ‘circles’ of ‘friends’, although it beats me that a measure of your own ‘popularity’ is to check whether a certain number of people who have probably not only never met you, but live elsewhere upon this planet, have clicked on, or asked to be, your friend. As an elderly, but still both alert and mentally active man, I just don’t see the point! Perhaps the billion ‘friends’ would number less if they ever learned that they were viewed as ‘meat on the table’ for a bunch of cynical marketing men whose sole purpose in funding the immenseServer Farms necessary to organise and corral all these people’s details is so they can target them with adverts for goods and services. Needless to state I am not on Facebook, nor will I ever be. Everyone else can do as they please, but I not only have enough real friends, but I don’t wish the whole world to know what I am doing every second of the day.
Google is approximately the same as Facebook, not in what it does but in its targeted adverts on gmail as well as on every page of ‘search results’ produced by its huge computer networks. At least Google is being honest, or as honest as they will ever admit to, with their statement that adverts can and will be ‘tailored’ to the individual consumer, but they have only just been made to ‘come clean’ over the hoovering up of personal data through unprotected WI-Fi systems on thousands of British and American homes. If they weren’t going to use it, why on earth did they specifically trawl for it while sending their camera cars out for ‘Street View’?
Apple is planning to send camera-equipped planes and satellites over you, wherever you may be, and photograph you in 3-D, whether you like it or not. Those high-grade images will be available world-wide, and just imagine what use say, a local British council will do when, by use of this free gadgetry, they establish that you have built an extension, a conservatory or a swimming pool without planning permission? I should think that Charles Farr would be having serial wet dreams at the very thought of having that sort of information at his Departmental finger-tips. This Coalition Govt’s plans for an intrusive array of spy systems which would make the Chinese blink at its all-encompassing width do not sit well from a bunch which stated that they would be reducing State intrusion into our private lives.
So, as from this morning, with regard to the snoopers and especially to Charles Farr, I am going ‘incognito’ whilst on the web, and will be adding such words as ‘nuclear’, terrorist, bomb, plutonium, allah akhbar, 72 virgins, jihad, etc. to every e-mail I send, so that when Echelon is triggered, my data, along with all the other totally irrelevant messages, will fill up the data farms far quicker than David Cameron or Theresa may could ever imagine! If you wish, you too can be invisible; click the spanner on Chrome, then go to ‘Incognito window’ and you are, to all intents and purposes, invisible! Same thing is available on IE9, or whatever browser you use.
One of the foremost pivotal points in the history of Great Britain was the semi-miraculous recovery of 338,226 British and Free French soldiers from the beaches, moles and bombed and smoking piers of Dunkirk harbour in late May and early June 1940 . The leaders of a stricken Britain had attempted, hopelessly they thought; to rescue the shattered remnants of a beaten British Expeditionary Force before they were either killed or made prisoner of the Nazi Wehrmacht. Under orders, two French Divisions remained behind to cover the evacuation, they were all either taken prisoner or killed. The hundreds of small ships, cabin cruisers, skiffs, launches, even a lumbering Thames barge, they were all marshalled by the Royal Navy; some came crewed by owners, many had volunteers at their helms. They came from all over, they motored across the Channel, guided by the larger
The soldiers, those tens of thousands of desperate men of a beaten B.E.F., saw a strange sight as they climbed over the Dunkirk dunes. They saw long lines of patient soldiers which stretched out over the shallow waters, ending at a point which was established by the simple measurement of how deep a man’s body could be immersed in water before he lost his footing and floated away. There the small ships sailed in, loaded their human cargo, most of whom still carried their weaponry, which was then ferried out to the larger ships which stood in deeper water. When they were loaded, the larger ships headed for Dover and freedom, the ‘Small Ships’ returned to find more and ever more from those long, wet, patient lines of soldiers. Destroyers came to moor at the harbour piers to rescue even more of those men who thought that they had been forgotten, some of those same destroyers were sunk by German bombs, but more survived and made that perilous trip. The ‘Small Ships’ made history in those nine days; nine days which transformed a defeat into the strangest of victories. Some of those same ‘Small Ships’ were themselves destroyed, but most made it back to England’s shores, the same as those soldiers; to fight again and eventually to hear the solemn words of victory after the signing of the Surrender documents at Luneberg Heath.
Strange, is it not, that not one of the Celebrities and Staff Announcers alike, of the BBC coverage of the Jubilee Pageant, could not even remember what these ‘Small Ships’ achieved when Her Majesty was still a young woman; could not even remember what they had done! Jubilee ‘sick bags’? Yes; but the true Heroines of Dunkirk? Never a sound!
Some time ago, I posted upon the fatuous and puerile suggestion, made by an alleged ‘Tory’ Housing Minister, Grant Shapps, that the Government was proposing that ‘the elderly’ amongst us, who live and have lived in large houses, should be ‘encouraged’ to give up their homes, which of course come with lots of empty bedroom space; so that the ‘underprivileged’ amongst us might gain access to those same large houses and all those empty bedrooms.
Notice the calls by Community Secretary Eric Pickles that ‘Granny Flats’ should be freed from Council Tax so that self-contained ‘annexes’ could be filled by elderly relatives (who are of course literally begging to move in with their reluctant families), and the then-empty houses could be either re-let to the ‘hordes’, or sold off to the newly-buoyant property market?
To my cynical mind, Labour’s Hilary Benn has got it about half right by stating that it is all Tory ‘spin’, as Granny Flats are exempt from Council Tax anyway, if the occupant is over sixty-five, but I fear that this announcement is yet another step along the winding road towards ‘Compulsory Purchase’ of large homes from single people whose only crime is that they have lived longer than their dead husband or wife!
Call themselves F****ing Tories! They all need a short dose of Mme DeFarge’s medicine, and I would volunteer my services to sharpen the blade!