Saturday, 22 October 2016

England Awake!

England awake! The Russkies are here, their navy manned by men with snow on their boots is off our shores just now. The last time their Baltic fleet headed East; back in late 1904, when they arrived off China in 1905 the Japanese navy blew them out of the water. Now they are headed for Syria with only what is left of the US Navy to inflict any damage.

Before they got out of the North Sea in 1904 under the impression that the Japanese Navy was waiting for them; communications were not so good then, they sank two English fishing trawlers out of Hull. Mercifully thanks to the great and good of the EU this is not likely to happen, we do not fish these days.

As they pass we have the services of the voluntary RNLI lifeboats to rely on, mostly. They will fish out any wobbly Russian sailors who fall overboard after the vodka ration and are unused to being at sea. Some may jump overboard to join all those refugees anxious for benefits and needing advice as to the nearest nightlife.

There is claimed to be a Dragon Destroyer, apart from a couple of border control boats with limited distances, that may "shadow" them.  That is, unless it gets choppy off the Scillies or rough in the Bay of Biscay. In any case it cannot go far, the ECHR about to rule that active servicemen with pets must be allowed time off for reasons of first, animal rights and secondly, human rights.

What will happen off Syria is an interesting question. What we should have firmly in our minds that all those people with all that military hardware are prone to hitting the wrong targets and often inflicting self damage. So the USA does not have only the Russians to fear, "Hit the button" Hillary could soon send half her navy to the bottom by accident.

Back in '05 many other things were happening. In Odessa there was that business with the Battleship Potemkin and in St. Petersburg, The Winter Palace. The Kaiser went to Morocco and upset the French. In France a research psychologist named Alfred Binet, wanting to outdo the Freudians, claimed that intelligence in humans might be most easily be measured by mental agility tests rather than by traditional education and examination notably in the classics.

Back in December '04 the "Missionary Of The Empire", Unionist Joseph Chamberlain, the Harriet Harman of the day, they are related, went to the East End to persuade the masses who were enthusiastic to his cause, thousands of them attending. They cheered his demands for curbs on immigration from Europe which he asserted was responsible for crime and disease.

Meanwhile, between Baker Street and Uxbridge the Metropolitan Railway had introduced electric trains and salivating dogs had won a Nobel Prize for Ivan Pavlov.

The big news was the play "Peter Pan, The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up".  Nowadays, they go into politics.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Molar Panels

As a child medic's came to my school to check us over regularly.  They were looking for Tuberculosis (TB or Consumption) in the time before antibiotics. They were neurotic about this and my school was labelled high risk because of migrants fleeing the London Blitz.

If diagnosed you were banged up either in the local Open Air Residential School for as long as it took or an isolation ward if serious. My teeth were checked for signs of this or that. When selected for a secondary school education, another check including my teeth, the advanced thinking local authority having health as a priority before the NHS was created. There were later checks.

When conscripted for the Army, everything was checked, I spare you the details. This happened again when posted out of the UK, twice more and then later before demob' for all of us. The Army was neurotic about Venereal Disease, STI or STD nowadays, especially syphilis, there was a lot of it about, including the Tertiary form. The Secret files I read during boring duty weekends were fascinating in their accounts of the relevant issues.

In London afterwards the reported roundups of street sex workers for medical checks by The Met' Police were said to be triggered by yet another Tory minister having caught a dose of something nasty. These involved mouth checks due to their curious habits. See the 1959 Butler Street Offences Act.

For my first job, another set of checks, for later jobs more checks.  Along with this toothy experience were at least a dozen dentists here and there prodding and searching about and then endlessly reminding me it was time for another go.

In later life there has been an interesting selection of hospitals, all of which wanted to examine the anatomy on an extensive basis, including teeth. If I could have claimed to be a refugee child interested only in slave or sex trafficking, terrorism, gang warfare, death to the infidels and such like, it would have been a lot easier.

In the present furore it seems to have been forgotten that many cases of young migrants will be obviously children. Equally it ought be obvious that some are not. The cases needing a check will be the rather fewer marginal ones and those where there is cause for doubt.

But and it is a very big but, there is the far more difficult question of many people coming from high risk areas in which there are serious health issues, including diseases that we have been desperate to eliminate in the past, especially where new forms have developed.

Such as drug resistant TB.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Old Habits Die Hard

There has been comment recently about Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and elsewhere. The form it has taken relates to how things are now, but there is nothing new about this. It would take a long post to go through it all from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century.  Then the Tsar's of Russia expelling populations with the effect on other countries that in many towns in Britain had the effect of sparking resentment and antipathy.

After this came the relatively recent history since the First World War. When Britain came away from the Versailles Conference and treaties with the Mandate for Palestine there may have been rapture in the chapels and valleys of Lloyd George's Wales that Jerusalem was now cared for by the wise and just UK.  The reality was very different.

Wikipedia has an article on this, Mandatory Palestine if you have the time to read this long and complicated article. To fully grasp it will need many clicks on a lot of the links. Twenty five years after LG's triumph at the negotiating tables we fully realised the scale and nature of the disaster he had visited on us in the late 1940's.

For my generation of conscript soldiers, Palestine, along with Malaya (then the Straits Settlements) and Korea were at the top of list for being the worst places to be sent to. Other Middle East locations were also highly placed. Yet we all knew about what had happened in Germany.

I recall early in 1945 going to see a comedy film only to be faced with the Pathe news from Belsen-Bergen. It was 11 Armd Div that arrived there and I can imagine what they had to deal with.  A few years later I was with 7 Armd Div and the location and nearby garrison were in our area. Indeed the 4th Hussars were there, Churchill's regiment of which he was the honorary Colonel in Chief.

Yet various forms of Anti Semitism were common enough in Britain.  Only months after the end of the war I was at a variety hall when on came a comic for his usual routine replete with Jewish jokes. Did it ever occur to him to change the routine? Did it not occur to the management to haul him off?

The Suez Crisis of 1956 was part and parcel of the troubles we took on ourselves in the Middle East. Mercifully, I was not there but I did see the military files. My mate, the General Officer Commanding, who had commanded a Parachute Brigade at Arnhem in 1944 had visits from Montgomery, his old mate, and Hugh Stockwell who had drawn the short straw of being the British Commander having done time in Palestine not long before. My experience is that what was in writing and what they said to each other were quite different things, but Stockwell had the politicians and the gung ho French to deal with.

A few years later a friend, good honours degree and a fine teacher was advised that because he was a Jew, apart from a handful of areas in London and a couple of towns he had no chance of being a Head or Deputy. From the school I attended the few Jewish pupils went into traditional medical etc. work but none could expect jobs say, with the local authority or in some areas of professional work.

So what has happened in the last half century? Perhaps there  a couple of decades when this was relegated or began to be forgotten and even the BBC cut out the Anti Semitism routines in its comedy shows. Now it is back for a simple reason. In a way we are recreating the old Palestine problem in our own back yard.

For some 160 years or more we have been involved with the Middle East and elsewhere and seemed to have learned nothing. It was inevitable that encouraging large scale Muslim movement to come to the UK would bring with it a new cultural dimension and revive an old one, Anti Semitism.

As soon as enough had the vote we would have politicians and others for whom Anti Semitism would become necessary in their personal interest.

And did those feet in ancient time..........

Friday, 14 October 2016

Nonsense Of Identity

If, according to the BBC, the Scottish National Party is represented by a gorilla, see Kumbuka above, the London Zoo escapee; perhaps wanting to be at the concert at the Wigmore Hall, then which political parties are the primate species below?

Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and UKIP are the choices.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Sing A Song Of Soccer

Looking for something completely different, came up with the news that Nottingham will mark the centenary of the death of Herbert Kilpin, a founder, possibly the key man, of the AC Milan football club, one of the greats of Europe.

Given the British upper classes fascination with Italy and its culture I assumed that he would be one of those or at least the younger son of a clergyman, wrong again.

It was not the case. In fact he was of humble origins. He was born in a butcher's shop, his father, Edward, being the butcher, before becoming a leading footballer, perhaps a high protein diet might have helped.

From the same patches as his family a more recent football personality has emerged, Gary Lineker. It is only an outside chance of a any connection, although some of that name were around the same place at the same time.

Before become a butcher, Edward was listed as an Ag. Lab., that is an agricultural labourer, as I have said the holy grail of ancestry.  Moreover his wife, married 1854, Sarah Smith, was the daughter of an Ag. Lab.

The Kilpin's were sons of the soil and no doubt proud of it. Edward was born in Stoke Goldington in Buckinghamshire of a local yeoman family.  The Smith's were from Baggrave in Leicestershire, not far from Lineker's Thurmaston.

And now Herbert Kilpin is buried among the good and the great of Milan and of Italian music, culture and thought.

Did he ever have tickets for La Scala?  If he was at the disaster of the world premiere of "Madama Butterfly" on 17 February 1904 he might have been given more applause than the opera.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Not The Way To Do It

Tuesday 8th November cannot come soon enough.  The real issue is how did Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton become the two major candidates for the Presidency of the USA?

The USA is a major state with hundreds of millions in population including some of the best brains in the world and also some of the most able and skilled. Is this the best it's proud democracy can do?

It is more Charlie Chaplin than Alexander Hamilton. Something is badly wrong. There are other candidates, but the way the US system works in they have little chance of success or even having any impact.

What catches the eye are that so many are over 60. And the old shall inherit the earth?

Vote Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn.

Monday, 10 October 2016

How To Break An Economy

Looking back at the last couple of decades and more one of my regular questions about the state and nature of the UK economy is what happened to the UK Mittelstand? That is all the middling, smaller and upcoming companies that are necessary to the future and for a healthy balance in the economy.

This is what happened to so many of them.  This longish article on the subject of the extent and purpose of the destructive raiding of ordinary businesses  by RBS tells the basic story.  But RBS was not alone.  Most big banks were doing this as were others in the financial sector to one degree or another.

Essentially, for some forty or so years now the way the State sector has been run and the way the private sector has been governed and regulated has been relentlessly in favour of the limited number of big financial firms close to the politicians and with revolving doors with the civil service.

In the meantime we are being told that two thirds of the jobs that will be available in twenty to thirty year's time have not been created yet.

The way the UK is and is going they will not be created at all.