In politics nothing is contemptible

This morning we heard of the re-interment in St. Petersburg of the mortal remains of the last Tsar’s mother Empress Maria Fyodorovna, who died in exile in Denmark.

Few weeks back, came across my copy of The Summers Day is Done by an author named Robert Tyler Stevens. I first read it about thirty years ago, but it was as fresh and as good as the day I first read it! The novel is based around the friendship and love between an English Intelligence agent and the eldest daughter of the Tsar Nicholas of Russia. The theme is of a man held back by traditions of class, status and position from declaring his love for the daughter of the most powerful man in Russia, but is also a total denunciation of the barbarous depths into which the revolution of the Russian people was driven! A popular cause was subverted by the Bolsheviks, and the slaughter of the whole Imperial Family, the direct result of the seizure of power by such as Lenin, Trotsky and of course, Stalin, was the straw which ended the war between the White and Red armies, as the figureheads for the White forces had been murdered!

The one passage which always stays with me comes near the end of the book, where the Englishman and his Cossack allies learn of the murders, and goes:-

“The lesson to be learned, but which we refuse to learn, is that they are all the same, heroes of revolutions. The fact that we refuse to learn, that there are always some of us who will give help, comfort and bread to the violent ones, means that the children of Nicholas died in vain!”

When the so-called Good Friday agreement was signed, the more thoughtful newspapers forecast that it was not enough, but the politicians, headed of course by Blair, brushed the objections aside; the murderers were freed, and the terrorists entered into Government! I hold no admiration for the Rev. Ian Paisley, for he is the epitome of everything which is intransigent and one-sided within the Northern Irish equation, but the man spoke the truth, in that until the IRA was disarmed, and all weapons held by that evil organisation were taken up, they did not deserve to sit in the halls of democracy! The cease-fire still holds, the devolved Assembly remains suspended, but the killers are still sitting ready, with their Semtex and Armalites within easy reach. The one thing which this Labour Government forgot is that if you treat with terrorists, you must always remember who you are talking to, and any idea that things can be sorted out after the event should have been discarded about two seconds after the idea was born!

The flesh-eaters gather for the feast!

The Indian sect known as Parsees, have a ritual in death, in that they used to routinely expose their dead on a open space so that the vultures would feed and devour the corpse in a matter of hours, leaving nothing at all! Problem is, due to the routine dosing of cattle with a powerful drug named Diclenofac, which is anti-inflammatory and also a veterinary pain-killer, the vultures have been dying off in their thousands, and so sending the Parsee community in urgent search for an alternative drug.

To gain some idea of the effect of these huge flesh-eating birds gathering for the feast, below is a good photograph of such a gathering! N.B. The vultures are all to the rear!

The long and the Short of it…..

I visit an American military blogging site regularly, and the best post for a while is linked to this:-

Most Surreal Moment – Watching Marines arrive at my detention facility and unload a truck load of flex-cuffed midgets. 26 to be exact. I had put the word out earlier in the day to the Marines in Fallujah that we were looking for Bad Guy X, who was described as a midget. Little did I know that Fallujah was home to a small community of midgets, who banded together for support since they were considered as social outcasts. The Marines were anxious to get back to the midget colony to bring in the rest of the midget suspects, but I called off the search, figuring Bad Guy X was long gone on his short legs after seeing his companions rounded up by the giant infidels!

Book and Author review

We in this United Kingdom are particularly close to the source of all reading material, both from a technical viewpoint, and from an imaginative outlook as well! William Caxton didn’t invent the printing press, but published the first printed book in English, ‘Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres’, and we hold some of the finest authors and lyricists in the entire world as primarily British. From the first country song summer is a-cummin in, through the glories of Shakespeare, Bacon and Marlowe, the finely drawn family portraits of Austen, the social commentaries of Dickens to the multitude of writers extant today, we have a veritable harvest from which to inform or relax within, for there are few things better than a good book to rest both mind and body!

Writing from my own aspect, I would like to draw your mind’s eye towards some of my own favourites such as the political and social writer Howard Spring, and his commentary on ambition named ‘Fame is the Spur; the Yorkshire industrial and mining chronicles of Thomas Armstrong, the modern political/action epics of Tom Clancy, the naval ‘Hornblower’ classics of C.S. Forrester, the action novels of Gerald Seymour , inclusive of possibly the best detailed novel about a long-range sniper ever written, the early books of Alastair Mclean, ( the later ones were rubbish!); three novels by an American named Ellis K Meacham, in the spirit of ‘how not to do things’ Jeffrey Archer, the novel, “The Killer Angels, from Michael Shaara, an American novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner; and finally, my own literary hero, the books of Nevil Shute. The last named, to my mind was truly the modern giant of literature, but largely forgotten these days in favour of contemporary writers with less than one percent of his talent. His was the magic of painting, in a few sparse lines and paragraphs, a growing picture of a story which would reside in the reader’s mind, to carry that same reader along the path which was painted, and to conclude that story and painting in such a way as to ensure that the reader was always wanting more! I make no apology for my liking for this Englishman, as his writings gave me the spur to try and produce my own. His early training as an aeronautical engineer, so vividly described in “Slide Rule” gave him the grounding from which sprang his masterpieces such as “Round the Bend” and “Trustee from the Toolroom”, and the world is the lesser place for his passing in 1960.

Whichever book you pluck from the shelves, whether to buy or borrow, be it a new book from a new author, or an old favourite to be re-visited, is always an adventure in mind and memory! Please note that I specifically do not say that my choices are those which everyone should follow, or use, or even adhere to; simply that the printed word is truly vast, and to read is to enhance your very being!

There’s many a slip……..

The first seven years after my twenty-first birthday were spent as an engineer officer in the British Merchant Navy. Those were the days when we had more than five ferries and a yacht on the register. (but I digress) As with just about every ship which has ever sailed after the introduction of steampower, the engineer complement worked hard, played harder, and always moaned about their lot, and our specific moan was about the service provided by the cooks and stewards on board our medium-sized rust heap. They, in our opinion, were the laziest bunch ever to ship out on any ship in the fleet, and they continued to cultivate this image.

The holiest time on board any ship is ‘‘Smoko’’, which translates as twenty minutes up from the engine-room up to the duty messroom for coffee, biscuits, smokes and gossip. Dirty overalls and boots were allowed in the duty mess, whereas uniforms only were required in the mess. With our Second Engineer to work with, no ‘‘smoko; was extended, nor was any attempt made to do so, as he was a hard man, and brooked no dissent. The arrangement was therefore made that I would be allowed up five minutes early, so as to ensure that the galley crew had done their bit, and the coffee etc. was ready for consumption.

I duly arrived up top, poked my head through the galley door, and asked the galley boy, busy washing up, “Coffee ready?”

“There’’s a pot heating up on the back range plate,” came the reply. I waltzed across, grabbed the full silver-plated pot and brought it back through to the duty mess, then got the cups, saucers, sugar, milk, biscuits, all out and ready to go, then sat back, lit up a smoke and contemplated our run ashore that evening. As we were docked in Piraeus, Athens port, it was going to be, as ever, liquid. I poured out a cup of coffee, added milk, and sugar and idly stirred it as the other lads came charging up from the engine room for the blessed ‘‘smoko’’ rest time. Simply because I knew it would be hot, I took a cautious sip from my cup, and was immediately aware of the vilest taste possible on my tongue. I spat out the few drops I had sipped, shouted, “”Don’’t drink that coffee, it’’s awful,”” pushed past all the lads who were trying to pile into the duty mess, rushed in to the galley and washed my mouth out at least ten times before that horrible taste subsided.

The second cook watched this frantic activity with interest, “”Whassamatter, Leccy?””

“That bloody coffee is ’’effing awful, Harry, you gotta do better than that!” I replied, through the mouth washing.

“We haven’’t put the coffee out yet, Leccy!” came the calm reply.

“Course you have, the pot was on the back range. The galley boy pointed it out.”

“Er, no, Leccy; We were cleaning that pot out because it was badly stained and starting to ruin the coffee. Hope you didn’t swallow any of that, That was Caustic Soda! “

Suffer the little children to come unto me

I wrote a piece on an early blog about immigration, and through the research which I carried out I learnt the truth of our very own Migrant Scandal! But this one isn’t about people trying to get in, it’s about children being sent out! This scandal which is still only vaguely known about in Britain, the scandal being the literal thousands of children, placed in care, mainly in Catholic and Anglican Churches, Local Council and Barnardo’s private care homes, whose lives were changed completely by their being sent to Australia, Rhodesia, Canada and New Zealand! Now these children were not orphans, far from it, many were the subject of court orders due to family breakdowns, some from family illnesses, the usual strife which happens to many families in this country. But what happened to them was just as bad as kidnap! The church groups, some Catholic, some Anglican, connived with the Government and took it upon themselves to judge that the families from where these vulnerable youngsters had been removed were not fit to raise families, and so the decision was made, without recourse to any legal framework whatsoever, to consign hundreds of these children to journeys sometimes to the other side of the world, to be placed sometimes with foster families, many with farming families, and some with religious-run homes allied to churches.

The fate of these children, unknown for decades, was diabolical in both it’s intent and it’s execution. As was stated in Parliament “”It is now a matter of public record that this organisation [the Catholic Church] and its agencies deceived us and deceived our parents. It is also a matter of public record that they contravened the immigration laws of Australia. For their own ulterior motives they took the law into their own hands believing that they knew what was best for us and for our parents” One unwilling migrant stated “ 87% of all children from Catholic agencies came to Australia without the consent of their parents. 96% of those sent had one or both parents alive … Canon Flint, the Superintendent of the Father Hudson Home claimed that the children had been orphaned. This is patently untrue.”

The fact that there were many children in care homes in Britain is without doubt, but the fact that their ‘export’ was done with financial motives in mind is also indisputable! “They cost too much to keep,” was the assertion of one Select Committee report pointed out that they were costing more than anticipated. The position of the government was simple, the Colonies needed more white people, there was a plentiful supply in the care homes, and the places they were being sent to were all either in the care of religion groups, or carefully chosen foster families. Given the present day cases of peadophile priests which have come out in America, Ireland and England, there could not have been a worse decision. As one elderly migrant explained “England deserted us children in the most cruellest fashion in our biggest hour of need. A former child migrant wrote listing numerous mental, physical and sexual outrages against him, particularly at Bindoon, an institution run by the Christian Brothers in Western Australia. He wrote: “I am reminded of these experiences everyday of my life, however hard I try, I simply cannot forget” The enquiry, held by the House of Lords, concluded and printed in 1998, was wide-ranging in it’s scope, but limited in it’s actions, mainly ‘hoping’ that these unfortunate people were given respite from their search for their forebears, and that a fund be set up to allow for their passages back to Britain if they wished to seek their relatives!

I contacted my M.P., in an attempt to establish what steps were ultimately taken to help the thousands of people who were legally kidnapped from British soil, and sent far away without their parents, brothers or sisters being made aware that they were even still alive! As far as can be ascertained, less than three hundred British citizens made the tearful return trip to the land of their birth, to be re-united with loved ones whom they had never known existed!

Pauses, scratches head in disbelief!

Some time back read about the skater who planned an attack upon her rival in order to shut her out of the skating team for the Olympics, and also about some cheerleaders ‘Mom’ who had hired a ‘hit-man’ to kill her daughter’s rival’s mother, so that the distraught rival would falter, and drop off the cheerleading squad! So, fair enough, it’s a combination of America, and  sports and popularity and earning potential!

But I reckon we Brits have got them all beaten, with a story about a Jersey pony class showjumping event which was crippled due to the ponies having been DOPED!

2996…………When we too were carefree!

The drive for this post came from a regular visit made to Blackfive, a Military Blogger based in America, where I first saw and promptly signed up for this task. The post gave some small detail of the work required of two thousand, nine hundred and ninety-six (2996) bloggers each to write about a randomly-assigned person who was murdered by the fanatical scum who masqueraded as human beings in order to board the four jets which ploughed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a remote field in Pennysylvania.

Joanne Rubino was 45 years old when she took her final journey towards her daily job with Marsh & Mclennan in the World Trade Centre complex in downtown Manhattan. We cannot know how she died, whether she perished in the first conflagration, or whether she tried to escape by ascending towards the roof; such is sheer speculation. We do know that she died as a casualty in a world-wide war waged by ruthless, fanatical, shadowy figures who hide behind outlandish names, and wide-eyed fools who are swayed by inflammatory rhetoric posing as calls from a religion! We don’t know if she was afraid, or brave as death approached; as ordinary humans, such things are sensibly hidden from us. We can but surmise of this lady’s fate, and of her passing; simply put she was one of nearly three thousand who’s lives were summarily snuffed out as a candle flame might dissappear in a momentary gust of wind!

The true reasons why the hi-jackers aimed their jet-powered weapons at the Pentagon, at the highest towers which loomed over Manhattan and where United Flight 93 raced into the ground are many, stupid and in the end, self-defeating! Envy must be high in that sorry list, as well as jealousy, but how could anyone be envious of Joanne Rubino? She lived with her ailing mother, she worked in Manhattan, she was not rich, or famous, or distinguished by huge achievements or accomplishments. She was sufficiently aware of her privileged status as an American that she gave away her scarf to a homeless person because they needed it more than she did! Her memory is enshrined in her family’s thoughts, as well as the collective memorials of her employer and the many listings dedicated to the tragedy of September 11th 2001!

The lists stretch the imagination, the two thousand nine hundred and ninety-six victims almost too large to comprehend; the photo and video montages catch your breath, the sheer physical toll taken out of the Manhattan skyline partly give some estimate of the true disaster which hit New York on that fateful morning, but, imagine, dear reader, if you can, the simple figure of Joanne Rubino who sits, smiling, for a photograph; and then imagine her………………………………………………………………NOT!

Top Secret!

Imagine if you can a Great Britain and Northern Ireland today which stands four-square at the top of the computer industries of the world. Imagine a manufacturing industry based in a real ‘Silicon Glen’ which furnished some thirty percent of the world’s hardware, and another fifteen percent spewing out of an overcrowded M4 corridor. The planning authorities have just approved a request for the largest factory in the world which will be solely devoted to the manufacture of superfast S.D.R.A.M. memory chips sited on the shores of Lough Neagh, and the software industries of Wales and the Republic of Ireland are just now noticing the arrival of a newcomer based in Seattle, but aren’t unduly worried as they have got a lock on the operating systems of a good ninety percent of the installed computers. FlowerPower Limited has just revealed it’s year-end results, which make the family-owned company the most profitable in the entire Western world, and the Treasury, basking in the twentieth straight year of double digit growth, has reduced the standard rate of Income Tax to just above seven percent!

PipeDream? Possibly! Never Happen? Not Really!

We had a head start on everyone, including the Americans, through the work of the code-breakers and builders of Bletchley Park; we made the first functioning (then) super-computer in 1943, and lead the world in the development of Information Technology! We gave the world a headstart in the use of valve-based computing power in the exploitation of the “Collossus” computer, developed by Alan Turing, the mathematical genius, operational some four years ahead of the similar American ‘ENIAC’ long lauded by the Americans (naturally) as the true birth of the computer. When World War Two ended, we had a core of some ten thousand skilled scientific, mathematical and technical people who were used to doing the impossible; the Post Office engineer Tommy Flowers had built both the ‘bombes’ which were the backbone of the ‘Enigma’ code-breaking efforts against the U-Boat offensive in the Atlantic, and ‘Colossus’ itself, based wholly on the designs inspired by the fantastically-agile mind of Alan Turing!

We had everything, and we threw it all away, in a mess of government cock-ups, civil service plotting and a deeply-censorious dislike of homosexuals, of which Turing was one! Despite the vast array of talent, nothing was built on the foundations of the Bletchley Park work until the Ferranti computers arrived in the late Forties, while Turing was being squeezed out of all computing works because someone in M.I.5 had decreed that no ‘queer’ was to be involved in ‘Secret’ works, despite being, to all intents, the father of the code-breaking computer industry! He committed suicide on 7th June 1954, after being subjected to a year of ‘chemical castration’ as part of his sentence for a homosexual affair. Apart from the code-breakers of G.C.H.Q., nothing was saved from Bletchley, and the ‘Collossus’ machines were individually smashed apart, for some strange, bureaucratic purpose no doubt!

I hold no admiration for either the homosexual cause, or indeed for homosexuals, or, as they prefer, the ‘Gay’ culture; although to be perfectly honest I have never noticed much gaiety around their ilk. But just imagine, if you can, what this country could and indeed should have achieved if this true genius had been left alone, and this country of ours had grasped all the knowledge it held, and allowed it’s dissemination instead of classifying everything “Top Secret”?

The only correct and proper response!

I’d like to rouse a large, loud cheer to a member of the Catholic Hierarchy in Scotland, namely Glasgow Archbishop Mario Conti for his principled stance and leadership in his comments on the truly disgraceful case where Glasgow firemen were disciplined because they refused to hand out safety leaflets during a Gay Pride March in the city.

We find ourselves in a fine pickle if ordinary men cannot keep close to their consciences, and avoid what they might well deem to be areas or actions which offend against those same consciences!