look upon my walls, ye mighty, and despair

As I wrote my previous post about overseas holidays, tourism etc. it crossed my mind’s eye to write a piece about one of the lesser known; or rather less-well-publicised, areas of the British Isles, especially from a tourist perspective. I refer of course to the delightful City of Belfast, Capital of the fabled land across the water; otherwise titled the Province of Northern Ireland.

As we sit in our homes; in the villages, towns and cities of Wales and England, planning our lives in serenity, peace and comfort; not many people realise that certain differences exist in the planning regulations for people whose homes are on even two sides of the same back garden lane in that strange twisted City, filled with strange, mentally twisted people, in that strange, weirdly beautiful but sadly scarred Province called Northern Ireland.

For example, did you know that allowances must be made, when alterations or extensions to a house are planned, for the extra reinforced fencing which must be in place when the building work is completed; mainly because, if the fencing and added protection is missing, the house might well well be the target of a firebomb, pipe bomb or a rocket? Why the possible attacks? “Sure,” the owner might reply, “because my home abuts a ‘Peace Wall’, and there ain’t much ‘Peace’ around if it is not backed up with a thirty-foot high reinforced fence.”

This is the British City where, just fourteen years ago, parents and children had to literally run a gauntlet of spitting, jeering Loyalist gangs in order to gain access to their Primary School. Imagine, little girls sworn at, bullied and spat at, with rocks bouncing off the police vans brought hastily in to protect the little Catholic girls and their terrified parents as they ventured to walk in an area which was long termed ‘Ours’ by the Loyalist scum surrounding them: because they simply wanted to go to school!

The politicians from both sides of the Northern Irish divide might preen and smirk in front of the cameras, and the prancing from the murderous godfathers who sit for SinnFeinIRA is met by the equally lunatic dancing from the Unionist DUP and UUP politicians, spokespeople for the UVF and UDA gangsters, and you don’t hear too much condemnation of the ‘Walls’ from either side, mainly because the realists know that, ungainly the solution might be, at least it works, with the morons from either side prevented from easy access to the other, and are thus prevented from charging off the reservation, and causing mayhem amongst their enemies; who live just across the street.

So take the tour, ‘click’ on the thumbnails, and gaze in silent horror at the ‘Walls’, and then decide for yourself if you reckon the ‘Peace Process’ is spelled correctly, or is it just another political fudge with an uncertain sell-by date!






A man walks his dog on the Loyalist side of one of west Belfast's peace walls in this October 5, 1994 file photo. REUTERS/Crispin Rodwell

A man walks his dog on the Loyalist side of one of west Belfast’s peace walls in this October 5, 1994 file photo. REUTERS/Crispin Rodwell

and did you pack your AK-47 yourself, Sir?

I have often wondered why the time to either accomplish or publish certain ‘surveys’ is taken; as the results are so blindingly obvious. Most of the ‘commercial’ surveys are just self-congratulatory rubbish disguised as advert statistics viz. the efficacy of cosmetics, or personal health products; but occasionally we come across a ‘survey’ which defies the very definition of reality.

We are told that Travelzoo asked some 2000 British people who were considering holiday trips if they chose their holiday destination based on not only the possibility of sun, sand and booze, but also whether they might face death from a machine-gun attack (Islamic Tunisia); a night in the cells (Islamic Dubai in the event of drunkenly and/or openly screwing a female companion who was definitely not your wife); or swift deportation for taking your clothes off on a mountain top just to see if you can withstand the cold (Islamic Malaysia). Allied to the last charge for the naked morons was the belief that they had caused an earthquake by being uncaring of local tradition. Hell’s gates, what is the point of climbing a bloody mountain if you cannot strip down to your tighty-whities when you reach the summit?

Was the whole idea of this alleged ‘survey’ to expose the ludicrous stupidity of the average British tourist? When the very Internet is literally buzzing with Muslim killers in Paris, in America, in Egypt and in a dozen other spots where guaranteed sun is accompanied by the morning wailing from the muezzins leaning over their minarets; they had to actually ask if people had actively considered a risk? When will people just accept that the Muslim populations welcome Westerners for one thing, and one thing only: their cash. They respect dollars, pounds sterling, euros, roubles: they do not welcome, respect or indulge the bearers of that money. The lunacy of families traipsing thousands of miles to some ‘getaway place’ where they proceed to bake themselves to either red raw, or deep brown during the day, then eat and drink themselves stupidly insensible on an evening seems to be ingrained into the national psyche. and Travelzoo seriously expects these cousins to the average imbecile to have made their choices based upon an intelligent study of the local traditions?

There was a opinion piece published after the latest murders/killings/jihad attacks had occurred in Egypt, and this ‘travel-wise’ writer was pouring out his worries about how the locals ‘depended’ so much on the Western tourist footfall, and how devastating it would be if they never returned in large numbers.

For me, the very idea of a trip to Spain’s Benidorm or the Balearic hedonist-party is something just short of a swift visit to the Second, Third, Fourth and Seventh Circles of Dante’s Inferno on a Thompson’s 767; but that’s just me speaking. But the true peace of mind achieved by the innumerable visitors to the fleshpots of the Spanish beach resorts is from the other truth that there aren’t, as yet, a multitude of Muslims actually living there. I sometimes smile at the lunacies of a huge number of people all getting baked (in both senses of the word) in these places, but they are, to not coin a phrase, just like us. The visitors to the beaches of Magaluf, despite such dampeners on the lifestyle as the noted frozen cocktail bar below shuts reasonably early and there is minimal noise from the bar across the street.” don’t need to worry if the next footfall on the beach path belongs to some raving religious jihadi nut-case with a bad attitude and a loaded AK-47; the Guardia Civil has an impressive record with keeping the peace.

So, TravelZoo’s survey query to the would-be holidaymakers; was it helpful, demonstrative, or just plain daft? My own reply would simply be, the simple truth that most British holiday travel is booked on the basis of ‘cheap flights, lots of sun, cheap booze; but not many questions about what that amplified bloody singing in some foreign language is all about, especially as it wakes them up after they’ve just got to bed after a first-class piss-up!

and let them eat Cake!

Standing, as you do, on the Turkish shoreline beach, awaiting your family’s turn to embark on an expensive, dangerous, and truly futile voyage towards ‘Yurrup” otherwise known as the land of milk, honey and everlasting benefits; with the only bombing being those detonated by your Muslim compatriots perhaps unhappy with the present lack of deference towards the paeadophilic prophet!.

So, you reach the outer edges of Europe, you navigate the borders, the checkpoints, the panic-stricken Countries all too eager to get rid of you, and you end up in Austria, or even better, in Germany. but, fear not, the residents of Tunbridge Wells have taken up a collection for you, and you can choose between a china tea set, a ball-gown, or best and perhaps most appropriate of all: a Cake Stand.

and what Culture is that; exactly?

The total cost in lives, of the futile and senseless attack and occupation of Afghanistan, of American and British service personnel, is, in monetary terms, approaching $360 billions; and in terms of service personnel, over 2700 American and British have made the ultimate sacrifice, with thousands more wounded, physically and psychologically. We went in to remove the Taliban from power, as they gave succour, space and training facilities to the terrorists teams of Al Quaeda and of Usama bin Laden before, during and after 9/11. We won; but instead of establishing a ‘Islamic Democratic Republic’ which  is probably the first time such a lunatic title has actually been written down in earnest we should have simply said to the Afghans ‘Sort Yourselves Out’.

But, ignoring the history of Afghanistan, from the first invasion in 1839, through the retreat and massacre of Elphinstone’s Army in 1841, onwards through the Second (1879) and Third Afghan (1919) wars; and even after the Russian invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 1979, we in the West thought that we understood the Afghans; we thought that a mob of truly-corrupt religious nut-cases could be converted to a stable democracy, we thought they could be persuaded to accept Western ideals and moral standards. So we stayed, and fought, and bled: and eventually, we crept out.

But the standards we have set ourselves, of ordinary Western moral behaviour, are just foreign to the Afghan, corrupt and viciously immoral as they are. When a Staff Sergeant beat a corrupt Afghan Police captain for kidnapping and raping a young Afghani boy, the Staff Sergeant is listed for early removal from the Forces because he, and all Americans in country, were ordered to ‘look the other way’ because ‘it is part of their Culture’.

forty-five seconds of silence

I do not, often, praise or salute politicians; foreign or domestic for what they say. Usually, they say one thing, then do something completely different. In my lifetime I can count on the fingers of one hand the total number of political leaders and who have stuck to their political principles throughout their lives. I mention this number for the simple reason that those who are thus saluted  are so few. Margaret Thatcher; naturally. The name of Enoch Powell springs to my mind; a decent, honourable man whose political life was destroyed and denigrated because he spoke the plain, unvarnished truth. I do regret that I have to name the Labour Leader as one such individual, as Jeremy Corbyn ticks all the boxes. But I have to state that I do not praise or write about that strange, convoluted and unpackaged man, as many others more qualified than I are building their own opinions of the life-long Marxist; now Labour Leader: a Leader who has elevated to be his Shadow Chancellor a man who has stated that the likes of the terrorist Bobby Sands’ miserable life and death should be marked and acclaimed in Great Britain.

Instead, I write about a principled man, whose country, whose religion, whose very existence which, severally, individually and collectively, has been ignored, vilified, reviled, condemned and persecuted almost unto extinction. I refer to the Jews of Israel, and of their present political leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. You will, no doubt, have either read, watched or been made aware of the many political leaders who, in the past week, have pranced, strode or crawled up to the United Nations Assembly podium, to push ever more fanciful scare stories about the oncoming terror of Climate Change, or of how killing large numbers of one group of fanatics in Syria is a good thing, whilst the next speaker wishes to kill another group of madmen, both groups being opposed to the very existence of Syria’s Assad. The same United Nations which proved beyond all doubt that satire is dead by its election of Saudi Arabia to head the UN Human Rights council panel. Some, but not many newspapers or tv channels carried the words of Benjamin Netanyahu to their viewers or readers, not too many commentators even mentioned them, because that silence, that total lack of comment or even condemnation, speaks more volumes than the silence which was heard throughout the once-venerable pillars and walls of the United Nations during the Israeli’s speech.

Some might comment that you cannot hear a silence, but, folks, watch that YouTube clip, and you can hear, in those forty-five seconds where no-one spoke, no-one heckled, no-one seemed to wish to meet the accusatory stares of that single Jewish statesman and politician, except the grinning young woman who sat adjacent to the Afghanistan place-name on the Assembly floor; or hear, in that strange silence; the echoes of the screams or moans of those 6,000,000 Jews who perished in the multiple Camp gas chambers and the bullet-strewn pits such as Babi Yar, along with the roar of the Hamas rockets pounding the desert sands as they inch ever closer to Israel’s towns and cities.

The Israeli Prime Minister was talking about the ‘Deal of the Century’, where billions of sanction-held dollars will be released to a bunch of Iranian religious terror-supporting and -generating fundamentalists, because a Treaty was signed whereby Iran promises to be ‘a good guy’, and promises not to make any more fissionable uranium, and promises to make available for inspection which the UN atomic guys wish to see; (but none of this instant access routines, but access only after about a month’s delay) and please, pretty please; can we have our money now please?

Benjamin has a problem. Should he ask the Saudi’s for their help in refuelling the Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers as they make the 4,000 mile-long  return trek from Israel to Bushehr, Qom, Tehran and the other nuclear production and assembly sites, together with the supposedly nuclear-proofed uranium centrifuge sites buried in the mountains? Should he use two thirds of all Israel’s nuclear weaponry in a first strike? Or should he wait until the peace-loving Iranians are ready to throw their own home-made nukes at an Israel which has been left semi-defenceless by a Muslim-loving US President?

World semi-exclusive!

As a dedicated observer of the ludicrous ways of modern lives and times, I can now state, categorically, that a new definition for the term ‘DeeerJeezus!’ has made its way onto the pages of our national daily newspapers. 

Readers, I give you the real reason why this man absented himself from the ‘North Sea Country Club’ a.k.a. H.M. North Sea Camp Prison, and occupied a ‘luxury suite’ at the Cley Hall Hotel, which advertises itself as being conveniently located to enjoy Spalding’s Georgian historical town centre only 4 minutes’ walk, this fenland market town offers intriguing shops, restaurants and bars and the Springfield outlet village only minutes away.

Note the evidence of extreme intellect, the total shunning of popular digital technology for self-advertisement, the modest and self-effacing dress and manner of the woman behind Doug Ward’s need to absent himself from prison so urgently. It is rumoured, though these rumours remain unconfirmed, that she had commented  on the discussions in a learned paper which dissected lateral vibrations and damping techniques on bridge structures in London.

awardofcourtSome may say I am being unkind to the woman in the photograph, but, hey, she rings Douglas’ bells; and that, folks, is what makes it worth the 15 months extra sentence in an ordinary slammer.

Choccies; but not Booze!

So you are a Quaker, living life according to the strictures of your beliefs in the late 19th Century. You are also a member of a very successful Cadbury family which has made, marketed and perfected cocoa and chocolate products. To keep and allow for the welfare of your workforce, you build an entire village to house them; you allow for green spaces, shops, places of religion; but the one thing not allowed in your idea of the perfect work/life balance is alcohol.

So Bournville village has remained almost cast in aspic for the past 120-odd years; with every attempt at breaking the booze embargo defeated at the first step.

But times are hard in Bournville, as the Cadbury workforce has been whittled down after the Kraft take-over (that one where they piously stated there would be absolutely no redundancies, before firing half the staff in the next year), and the owner of the local shop has decided that one way to boost his flagging profits would be to commence selling the odd gallon of Stella, or the odd case of vodka to bereft and booze-starved locals, not many of which are actually Quakers themselves.

Now far be it from me to even comment upon another’s motives, or even beliefs; but his name is Kamal Sharma, his name and picture make me believe he is a Muslim, (basing this statement upon the ‘duck’ preposition; in that if it walks like a duck….etc) and didn’t we read something just t’other day about Muslims not being able to even touch a can of booze, never mind sell it?