A very personal view of a very personal problem

When one trawls through the website of Plymouth College, the first thing which catches your eye is the news that this Independent School had four pupils competing in the Olympics, one of whom, Ruta Meilutyte, won Gold for Lithuania; and another was a certain Tom Daley, winning a Bronze Medal for the United Kingdom. The website, however, does not delve deeply into the history behind Tom’s presence at Plymouth, nor of the deeply-personal bullying he experienced at his previous school Eggbucklands ‘Community College’, where he was threatened with having his legs broken, primarily because he was well-known as a diver and athlete. I have to admit that I watched the progress of the diving contest at the Olympics, as I was mildly interested in the progress of the British representative, Tom Daley; mainly because of the fact that this young man overcame the bullies, and went on to win a Medal.

The very concept of bullying is the domination of the weak by the more powerful. In the terms understood by millions of kids, it is the imposition of a deliberate terror for the sheer gratification of the larger or more aggressive person who wants, above all, to dominate and to terrorize. The attitude of the British education authorities in modern times is worrying in the extreme, as they insist that the perpetrators of the bullying be “talked to”, and “counseled”, and that all concerned must “understand” that bullying is wrong!

When I was a youngster in an English grammar school, I was smaller in stature than most of my school class being only four foot ten inches tall when I was fourteen; growing to five foot ten by the age of eighteen, as I received my growth later in life than most. So the ATW reader might understand that I was a natural target not, as one might guess, for my fellow classmates, but for a minority of the teachers, as they surmised I was less likely to answer back. I was regularly humiliated in front of the class, and also subjected to a denigrating regime of minor physical abuse. This abuse culminated in my being knocked unconscious because I opened my desk before the teacher had left the classroom, thus “insulting” the teacher in question! He jumped back across the classroom, caught me with the side of his hand and knocked me clean out of my seat and crashing into a cupboard door at the side of the room! I was unconscious for maybe two or three minutes. The form master was informed, but apart from establishing that I could walk and talk when I regained consciousness, nothing much was done! The reader must understand that, as there were very few limits on this side of the teachers’ activities, they tended to express themselves physically rather than verbally!

My travails were ended very shortly afterwards when my father, who learned of my problems at school, visited the school and came to my class when this teacher was present. My Dad, who was not that tall, but was well-built and extremely strong, just caught the teacher’s tie and pulled his head down level with my Dad’s; and explained that if he (the teacher) ever hit me again, there would be immediate and violent retribution! No histrionics, no attempt to “understand”, just a solid promise that the teacher in question would regret ever laying either a word or a fist upon his son again! Needless to say, for the rest of my time at school, I was left severely alone.

At one time in my engineering career, I was in charge of an installation project on a South African gold mine, and I used to travel down with the rest in the shaft cages to the six thousand feet level. One of the men travelling with us was an Afrikaner, an immensely strong man and an ex-wrestler. A man of limited intelligence, he used to amuse himself by grabbing his victim from behind, and squeezing their chests between his arms. As one of his victims was a friend of mine, a small wiry Welshman who really was in pain from this Neanderthal attack, I moved up, told this clown to stop and “Pick on someone his own size, strength and mental capacity!” He stopped his attack, only to become semi-hysterical with anger at some ‘Redneck Englishman’ who dared to tell him what to do, and that he would smash me into the dust of the shaft entrance, as we were now out of the cage.

I faced him, and said quietly that he might well beat me down, but I would break him in civil court, I would break him in criminal court, and that he would never work down a goldmine again! He backed away, but was in tears of anger and frustration as his friends led him away, To the best of my knowledge, he never assaulted anyone in “fun” again!

My stance regarding bullies and bullying is plain; the only thing which bullies respect is physical violence, and the stronger the retaliation, the better! All bullies are cowards, and it is only by facing down a bully, whether it be a single schoolboy armed with his fists, or a country armed with sophisticated weaponry, that they will realize that they are faced  with superior force and the will to use that force, and will cease their depredations!

Red is the new Rainbow colour

The Marikana Hoe-Down.

To the left is a kraal or camp of some sorts. The miners were driven towards there by earlier water cannons and rubber bullets. Once against the kraal fence, the Nyala armoured vehicles boxed them in with a funnel formation to the right. A vehicle laying concertina razor wire encircled them.

It is very clear from the footage available, especially the full Al Jazeera version, which was found to be the most helpful out of them all, that the police shot tear gas behind the miners and opened up with rubber bullets to drive the miners like a herd of lambs to the proverbial slaughter. The Al Jazeera reporter said that she could see how the police were boxing the miners in between razor wire and armoured vehicles and driving them like animals to their slaughter. Remember that this woman was probably never military trained, but it was so clear to her what the police was doing.

A miner then returned fire with a 9mm pistol that they probably took off a policemen they killed earlier in the week. This appears to be their only fire-arm they had.

Most of the available footage only shows the part where the miners appear to burst towards the police in what the media made look like an attack.

In fact the miners, armed with makeshift spears, were trying to escape from the teargas and the rubber bullets hitting them from behind.

When they burst through the “spout of the funnel” the police waiting for them in the skirmish line mowed them down with automatic weapons, pistols and shotguns and the media made it look like an attack on the police, when in fact it was a well coordinated cold blooded Police Turkey Shoot.

What really happened on the 16th of August 2012?

The man who changed British history.

I have posted before on censorship, but rarely have we seen a more obnoxious attempt at censorship than that displayed by the Press Complaints Commission in their blanket ‘instruction’ to all the editors of British newspapers; that they should refrain from publishing any picture of Prince Harry which featured him nude in a Las Vegas hotel room with an equally-naked young woman.

The whole idea of self-regulation of the Press, itself a slightly paranoid idea, stems from the perceived belief that ‘they’, that is the ‘Establishment’, knows what is best for the mob, knows what we should be allowed to read and knows, instinctively; how much, or indeed how little should be allowed onto the headlines and newsprint of our national newspapers.

In 1936, a Scots journalist, bent upon a routine Royal Story about a hospital opening ceremony, discovered that King Edward VIII, previously set to open a grand new infirmary at Forrester Hill, but then suddenly deemed to be ‘too busy’; was actually at an Aberdeen railway station meeting his very good friend, the twice-divorced Wallis Simpson. The journalist, Alex Dexter, together with the Aberdeen station master, met and greeted Mrs. Simpson before she was ushered out of the station. Parked at the entrance was a large black Humber saloon, and from the rear of this vehicle stepped the King, who greeted Mrs. Simpson, along with her two companions, and then left the station at speed with the divorcée and her friends in the car. This unknown Scot wrote his story, contacted his editor, and persuaded him that his ‘scoop’ was worthy of an airing in print, and after the news broke across the British Isles that their King, supposedly ‘too busy’ to open a new infirmary, was actually meeting his twice-divorced lover; the blocks were torn away from the newspapers conspiracy of silence about the ‘playboy King’, and the British public finally learned that their King was planning to marry a divorcée. Very soon afterwards, Prime Minister Baldwin commented upon the strange liaison, as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury, well-known as one who disliked the louche and easy-going image of the new King. The British public also learned that news of this liaison had been available for months on all American and European publications.

The Abdication, and the ensuing Coronation of a good man, King George VI, did much to cement and steady the Government and the Nation, but it should never, ever be forgotten that we very nearly had a man on the British Throne who liked Hitler and all his pomp and glory, a man who wished to rule as ‘He would wish to rule’ and ignore all convention of the times. Let us also not forget that the British Establishment, in that Year of Our Lord 1936, did not have the Internet to deal with, or a rambunctious set of Tabloid newspapers who hold reverence for very few things; but instead a complaisant bunch of newspaper editors who knew, instinctively, what we should, and of course should not; be allowed to know or see!

..Because their lips are moving!

It is a certain truth that, in order to guarantee failure to a project, an idea or even a belief; one must import the voices of politicians who wish to place their ownership of aforementioned idea firmly before the public (and of course, voters) gaze.

If anyone believes that they can jump higher, run faster, row more vigorously than their fellow athletes, they will have had that belief for a long time. Some might even state that the impetus to do better is in their genetic make-up. Speaking purely personally, I don’t believe I have a competitive molecule in my entire D.N.A system, and whilst many might try to compete in a multitude of endeavours, without the basic genetic make-up which pushes them further than mere mortals; I just don’t comprehend that drive at all. In short, Sport, and sporting endeavours, and more exactly watching sports, bores me stiff. But I can understand that I am in a miniscule minority, especially when it comes to major sporting activities such as the Olympics.

My late brother, who was himself the sports fanatic in our household, said as much one day after he asked me if I had watched some (to him) very important World Cup match. When I replied that I had in fact been watching a documentary on the African Fish Eagle, his reply was to the effect that ‘I had no soul’!  But that’s just me!

However, I commenced this small diatribe with regard to politicians trying to muscle in on anything which they believe will give them leverage, or votes, or both. So it is with all the tiny-minded so-called  leaders, or would-be leaders, of our various political parties. We watch as Mr. Slippery himself, our unlamented Prime Minister, welcomes the victorious Mohammed Farah into his ‘hunger summit’ in Downing Street. As I have never met M. Farah, nor am I likely to, all I could give him are these words of warning when he listens to David Cameron; ‘Always get everything down in writing; every promise, every theory, every extravagant guarantee; whether it be about sport in general, or the supposed hunger in the Sahel region of Africa’. Then, when disappointment arises, as surely it will, because all politicians use people, and then discard them if they are inconvenient, he can point to the words he wrote down when those extravagant promises were made; and be able to call our slippery Prime Minister a liar to his face. Next we watch Ed Miliband as he makes a complete fool of himself next to two students as he prepared to lie to several thousand voters in Corby. Someone should have reminded our Ed that that type of gesture is frowned upon by the Party he professes to lead. And of course there is Nick Clegg, who has won new praise for winning the title, against strong opposition; of Britain’s most Untrustworthy Political Leader.

As with athletics, or rowing, or any other of the multitude of sports highlit in the past fortnight, I hope to remind you, dear reader, that they are only in politicians’ eyes, because of the hope that some of the glory, or the soundness of the individual athlete’s campaigns, rubs off onto the shoulders of the politician in question. Having watched with a cynical eye for many years the antics of our political class as they once more prove that, as a class, they are amongst the most untrustworthy in the Universe, I trust that all of our athletes come away from the brief encounters with politicians whilst using the same gesture; which of course is wiping their hands to get rid of the slime!

Now you see it……

… and then you don’t.

Watched the EDF advert on the box? All about how EDF is supplying Low-Carbon Electricity to all the Olympic Games sites and Activities? Just another Corporate blurb about how aware they are about the things which they believe we should be concerned about.

But if you gaze very very carefully at the base of the screen, in very small print, you will in fact see those who actually pay for the advert telling you the truth; which of course is that all the Electricity supplied to the Games actually comes courtesy of the National Grid, and not the silly, stupid, over-priced and underperforming wind turbines that they refer to as the so-called Low Carbon Electricity in their lying bloody adverts.

Great(er) Expectations!

Cast your minds back four years to the Olympics in Beijing. The Great Britain team, along with their supporters, were actually stunned to note that they had started winning medals. Bronzes, Silvers and finally Golds were being marked up to the most unlikely victor on the Planet. Used to the news that we were coming a gallant fifth, or worse, in sports and activities which we had invented, suddenly we were actually winning; or at least in the medals! From being a perennial no-hoper, especially in the Medal tables, Great Britain actually came fourth.

So what happens then? Suddenly, the boasts, the predictions, the headlines, all commenced emerging, and it was just like we something we had all seen and heard before. A full Century ago, a British politician saw votes, and more, in allowing the Royal Navy to equip itself with the latest Dreadnought battlecruiser, so as to establish parity with the resurgent German Navy; just across the North Seas. You can check the headlines in the newspapers; “We want eight, and we won’t wait!” So fast forward to this week, and a Sport England headline stating that 85 (eighty-five) medals was a number the Team GB should easily make was fast becoming a nightmare for the officials who had poured over £300 million in to the various sports bodies.

Apart from the simple truth that the Olympics is now a hell of along way away from the principles supported by Baron De Coubertin, is anyone really envisaging the ‘nightmare’ scenario that we, as a Nation, aren’t all that good at sporting activities? Can we honestly state that the very sight of a marshalled and machine-stamped product such as that 16 year-old Chinese swimmer is something we would wish to see inflicted upon any British child?

It is a very, very rare time when I am more than in full agreement with any BBC broadcaster, but for my money, Lynne Truss had it just about right, the medal target should have been FOUR, and anything else is and should be, a bonus for the whole country, not a disaster. After all, it is only a game!