Lay a whisper on my pillow

I have often wondered at the sheer naivete of the wider public; not only in Britain, but also certainly in the United States. A couple of examples springs to mind.

I quote the case of a seemingly switched-on woman who met this bloke on an internet dating site, ‘believed’ his story about his being a semi-retired but extremely wealthy businessman, and ended up handing all her savings over to his allegedly tender but capable care. I would only repeat the sage advice given by, amongst many others, Mark Carney, Bank of England governor who said, ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is’. If successful financial investment companies, hedge fund managers and the like seem content with small rates of increase in the funds under their control, why on earth would this man be so much more successful than them? Perhaps she saw a way in which she could increase her savings? We will never know for certain, but, for many gullible people, the fantasy reward seems to blank out their critical faculties. Possibly the only sensible thing this woman did was to go to the police, but it was far too late to get her cash back.

acosbyThe second episode for discussion comes to us from the Land of the Free, in the guise of the ‘outing’ of Bill Cosby as a serial sexual criminal and rapist, accused of using drugs to ensure compliance from his female victims, and silence by threats of ‘who would America believe?’. Now as to Cosby’s guilt or innocence, I, along with just about everyone else, just do not know. He has not been arrested, he has been tried and found guilty only at the bar of public perception, in newspapers, television and on the internet. The problem, both for Black America, and for America as an entity, is the simple fact that Bill Cosby, in his role as ‘Dr. Cliff Huxtable’ on the ‘Bill Cosby Show, had created a whole alternate reality as the perfect, human, fallible, but funny and totally believable Black American family. Sadly, the fiction became blurred with reality, and the whole idea of a stable, realistic family who also happened to be Black was spread across America as being true, instead of being the creation of a gang of scriptwriters working on vignettes from Bill Cosby’s stand-up comedy routines. Personally, I reckon Cosby to be a very funny guy, with a particular gift for making fun of real-life situations; but, and of course it is a big ‘but’, the commentariat are attempting to bring him down without the benefit of a trial. His silence condemns him, and, to watch a comedy icon brought low by the combination of that silence allied to the torrent of comment, accusations of rape and battery which cannot be considered in a court, as too much time has passed; is but another example of people believing the fiction, and then getting really p***ed off when confronted by reality!

3-score-&-ten; or 350?

I am now well past the old biblical longevity target of 3-score-years-and-ten, but hopefully remarking that most of my faculties are intact, if not all firing at 100%, such as my hearing. I state this because many striplings of forty or fifty years old consider a mop of silver hair to be one of the final signs of decay. My memory is sometimes faulty, but I get by. As you will possibly note from my writing, my critical faculties are still acute, and I am determined to keep speaking out for, hopefully, a long time yet.

So, accepting all that I have written today as credible, is it any way surprising that, after being asked, I state that I will not sign a petition asking the Saudi authorities for clemency on behalf of Karl Andree, a 74-year-old British subject who has lived in Saudi for over twenty-four years?

As an Englishman, and a British subject of Her Majesty, I obey the Law; all of the Law, not just the ones of which I approve. I do not drive laden with heavy booze, nor do I break the speed limit when driving; mainly because I would possibly lose my licence, and that, to me, would be a disaster. Similarly with a host of other Laws, Acts and myriad Regulations. Maybe I do not like them, possibly I am annoyed with my compliance with those Laws, but, because they are the Laws of my Country, I hold and obey them. I detest, beyond all measure, the abhorrent Same-Sex Marriage Act, and will always argue against it, but I have, unwillingly, to accept that a simpering clutch of homosexuals have been given civil approval for their ‘marriages’; because; unfortunately, that is now the Law!

So, when that 74 year-old Englishman is found to have broken Saudi’s strict laws against alcohol, he, along with the rest of us, must accept that he must face not only the already-completed years imprisonment, he must also face the possibility of the 350 lashes which accompanied the original sentence. Because that is the Law in Saudi Arabia!

George Formby he was not!

Our British Police Services Forces are, despite ferocious attempts to neuter them, still a fairly representative force for good. I accept that a great deal of politically correct damage has been, and is being, done to our Police, but there are still instances which mean that the basics and ethos of their service remains undimmed and unchanged. The pages of the Police Bravery Award are but a small sample of the actions of a Police Force where courage is demonstrated on a daily basis. I have not always been kind to our Police, but that acid has been pointed directly at the senior hierarchy, but very few times, and only justifiably so, at the lower ranks themselves.

So, I wish to salute a Police force whose members comport themselves with valour, a Sergeant who instinctively knows when a scrote should be chased and stopped, and a special mention for PC Daniel Ruffle, who actually ran the little clown over as he lay in the road, the thief having fallen out of the overturned Fiesta because he obviously was not wearing his seat belt. The special mention should, in my own view, be made for ensuring that the DNA of this  alleged ‘cheeky chappie’ did not further pollute the British genetic pool.

I’m with Katie!

Coming rather late to this one, as I have been rather busy.  We have all probably read by now of the death of Police Constable David Phillips, at the hands and wheels of a car-thief, now charged with murder; who preferred to swerve on to the traffic island where the policeman stood rather than drive over a ‘stinger strip’ laid on that road. Now there are two issues which spring to mind when discussing the wider story: one of the publicity-grabbing family’s reactions to the death of a husband and a father: the other concerning the reasons why it was an obvious choice of the killer to drive and aim his vehicle at the policeman, rather than to surrender or have his tyres shredded by the spiked strip.

First the family reaction, or as Miss Hopkins put it ‘The X-Factor video tape’ of the wider family, filmed and photographed when they had placed their very public acclaim, grief and sorrow to the watching world. I watched approximately fifteen seconds of this ‘tribute’ before turning to a channel which featured paint drying, as this was infinitely more acceptable than the outpouring of a ‘fantasy grief’ which, if anything, diminished both the man, and his service to his family, job and wider community. Yes, we accept that he was a family man; yes, he was taken in the most sudden and cruel fashion possible from their lives: but did the family have to accept the presence of fourteen microphones and innumerable cameras, to pass this message to a presumably avid world outside what should have been a very private moment of family grief? What was with the eleven family and friends gathered in front of the coffee table? It reminded me of a press conference about the illusions of climate change, and the terrors thereon; or some bunch of loons wailing about how the Palestinians were being hard done by, after due retribution had been ladled out by Israeli jets following yet another batch of Hamas-launched rockets falling on to Israeli territory. Following the press show, we were given a second episode as we were supposed to gain solace by seeing the grief-stricken widow carry her daughter to lay flowers at the scene of the policeman’s death. Why that, on top of everything else? Over the Top; it was worse than that, it was private family grief exported for public consumption, and that, folks, is just plain wrong!

The second part of my small and slowly-crafted diatribe concerns the 18-year-old killer, his actions, his motives, and what he will expect to receive from our so-called Justice system. His legal team, by their statements, are already laying the grounds for a choice of either ‘straight manslaughter’, or ‘manslaughter because of diminished responsibility’; and he will probably get away with that, because the Crown Prosecution Service is usually too keen to accept a lower plea because, if they press for ‘murder’ they will have to prove that this vicious scrote meant to kill the policeman! He will probably get a ten year sentence, meaning that he will be out in five years, with that same cocky grin plastered all over his face. In my day, He would have been faced with a slow walk to a painted grating, then a noose would be solemnly wrapped around his neck, and, ten seconds later and six feet longer; his neck humanely broken; we would have been rid of this specimen, unworthy of the title ‘human being’ as he had discarded any claim to that high status when he slammed his foot down on the accelerator before plowing into the body of P.C. David Phillips.

And, purely as an afterthought, but one I have examined before, what’s with all the flowers, bouquets, teddy bears and assorted toys left at the site of this killing? Sadness, sorrow; or just a desire to get your picture in the news cycle whilst proving that ‘you care? Balderdash!

where angels fear to tread

So she is a volunteer in an Ebola clinic in Sierra Leone. She is, by definition, a ‘do-gooder’. She feels ‘fulfilled’ by working in amongst the deadliest disease known to mankind. Then, by not obeying the rules, and by wearing a visor instead of a full set of goggles, presumably either for cosmetic or ‘feel-good’ motives; she receives a spray from the body fluids of an Ebola patient in her face, nose or eyes. Three days later, despite feeling ‘unwell’, she flew with thirty others to Heathrow via Casablanca, and onwards to Glasgow on an ordinary commercial flight. No quarantine precautions were either in place or contemplated for any Ebola team members!

So, this foolish woman, who knew that she was ill, goes out to restaurants, shops and life in general, before finally admitting she is ill, and is admitted to hospital; from whence she is flown down to a specialist hospital in London. She is gravely, life-threateningly ill, but, more through good luck than medical knowledge, recovers. But instead of living quietly, and rejoicing in her own good fortune, she visits a primary school, and shows kids how to try on an ebola suit, presumably to spread the word about how brave and ‘committed’ she is, or was, or could be. She also visits London to be given a ‘Pride of Britain’ award. Now I ask you; what the devil is anyone doing stating that she is brave, or proud, or anything else than a self-serving, self-promoting chancer? The people who should have been awarded the bloody Pride prize are the unsung people who nursed this stupid woman back to life in the first place!

And now she is back where she was before, in an Isolation Ward at the Royal Free, because a few strands of Ebola seems to have escaped the disinfection process, and she is liable to die, after all, despite being ‘brave’ and ‘committed’ and all the other feel-good phrases. Add to this the medical view of Dr Neuman who stated the chances of it being passed on to others were slim, but added: It has never happened, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Eventually, ideally, you would want to see anybody coming into contact with an ebola survivor, like pupils at Mossneuk School, being vaccinated for ebola. It is not the kind of virus you mess around with.’

…but I was just so very certain…..

A long time back in my life, I served as an Engineering Officer in the British Merchant Navy. That of course, was in a time when we had ships aplenty which were flagged British, flew the ‘Red Duster’, and in whose ships the Law was routinely observed. We had weekly Emergency drills, safety checks on all life-saving equipment and alarms, but the best safety of all was the fact that the Captain, along with all the senior Deck Officers, had literally been through the mill, earned and learned their way towards a safe departure coupled with a safe arrival. They studied the weather reports of expected storm, cyclone or hurricane, even in the days before true satellite surveillance gave such an advantage in weather forecasting: because what has happened before, will usually happen again.

I have been on the edge of Hurricane-force winds, with waves so high that you stand on the bridge of a tanker, and you look UP at the wave-crest as it moves towards the ship, then your view is totally obscured by the driving spray, as your 100,000-ton tanker is effortlessly carried up and over the crest, and then DOWN the other side, whilst preparing to meet yet another wave as it remorselessly gathers strength before your eyes. I have also sailed through the aftermath of a Far-East cyclone, when we were heading up from Kaoshiung harbour in Taiwan towards Japan, on the eastern side of the island. The cyclone had passed over Taiwan two days previously, and the swells were still mountainous, with over a quarter-mile between wave-crests. We were forced to turn back after the seas commenced breaking ‘green’ over the ship’s bow; and you just do not argue with the forces of nature such as this. We had to wait two more days, idling along, going nowhere; until the captain decided that we were safe to proceed.

So, you are the Captain of a general container-cargo ship named the El Faro, you are presumably under pressure from your owners to get your cargo from Jacksonville in Florida south-eastwards towards Puerto Rico. Your ship is stacked with containers four-high on the forrard-deck, which gives a slab-side which will act as a big sail in the event of high winds; but you ignore that fact; you have a ‘sailing plan’  to avoid a ‘Tropical Storm’ which had been battering The Bahamas: and that is your big mistake. This is Hurricane Season in the Carribbean, so that Storm turns into Hurricane Joaquin; and if you hear of a storm anywhere, you want to be somewhere else in a hurry. If you are in port, you double-up on the mooring lines; you definitely do not believe you are in control; if you do believe that; Mister, you are a fool and a danger to yourself and your crew; and despite the valediction from Obama, if your engine fails; you have just killed your crew, and committed suicide yourself!