Sunday, 31 July 2016

England Expects

Poor old Boris Johnson has not been greeted well by the foreigners for whom he is supposed to act as Foreign Secretary in our government.  It has long been the case that the reality of the Foreign Office is that it is there for them to tell the Brit's what to do. They say he is unsuited to this task.

But there just might be something in the genes that may give him help.  Normally, when posting on matters relating to family history I like to be sure of the lines and basics but in the case of Bojo, perhaps some speculation could go a long way.  After all Bojo himself is not averse to a little embroidery of his life story.

It arises from that grand old English name Scattergood turning up.  Really, you could not invent a better one.  If James Fawcett and Edith Annie Scattergood are in there then it can be very interesting.  Who needs aristocracy and the more doubtful members of the Royals when you have a family like this?

Bojo, as we know is and has been big on property.  Indeed, he has upset many by permitting swathes of central London to be replaced by skyscrapers built and financed by his chums.  All those lovely old brick built streets, where did the bricks go or more to the point where did they come from?

Because we have Scattergood brick makers.  Admittedly, the bricks of late 18th and early 19th Century London were very likely to have come from the many south east sources and perhaps only specialist types from elsewhere.  But Bojo's brick makers were West Midlands.

This history tells us  about those of Shropshire and is a full account of the industry and trade in those parts.  Down in West Bromwich the way they were made and traded would be much the same.  So were Bojo's people moulders or pushers?  I think we should be told, you know a man by his trade.

So if you are tempted to chuck a brick at Bojo, at least try to source an antique one of the period.  He might be fussy about these things.  But to move on to the further shores of speculation.  What other Scattergood men were at least in his family connections although not direct ancestors?

Two of my ports of call in such cases is to go to the Waterloo Medal Roll and the Trafalgar Roll.  It is my view that during the wars against Napoleon the proportion of the male population who served one way or another was comparable with the First and Second World Wars.  Also, the primary sources often tell a different story from the later histories.

At Waterloo in 1815 an Edward Scattergood was with the 52nd Regiment of Foot which was brigaded with the 95th (see Sharpe's Rifles of TV) and put Boney's Middle Guard to the bayonet.  Then there were a John and a Thomas in the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Foot Guards who were at the Hougoumont Farm defence, a critical phase of the battle.  If any men did for Bonaparte, they did.

Earlier there was the William Scattergood at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  Not just at the battle but a red coated Royal Marine Private in the thick of it on deck or in the rigging of the flagship HMS Victory.  He survived, being discharged in 1816.  So in those portraits of the death of Nelson, those in red coats are the Marines, could one have been William?

When Ms May discusses how to handle the French with Bojo, she might remind him that England expects every man to do his duty.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Truth PFI And Scarcity

For many it will be a case of telling us what we know or think already, but have been suspect because this seems to be an extreme view.  Surely, it could not be true to the extent claimed and could it be really possible on this scale?

Post Truth Politics is the title in this article from the LSE by Nicholas Allen and Sarah Birch saying bluntly that we have a debasement of standards in public life which is possibly beyond control and now all we can expect from our leaders and their assistants.

The disaster of Greek debt is dealt with in a pungent summary in The Slog web site of John Ward, who has been tracking this for years.  It is clear that the IMF were so busy being best friends with the EU and German banks that what happened to the Greeks was of little concern.

One major problem of today is that so much of what we are told etc. comes to us on high impact TV and other media sources.  There are still older forms, such as radio or print forms, but as our leaders are well aware the visual beats the verbal.

One difference is that we have the web and a variety of sources to look at, albeit with variable reliability or level of content.  But you need the time to do this and then to cross check and analyse.  Not many people have this time.

Then there is what they choose to tell us.  This blog has already mentioned Tracey Crouch, Sports Minister who is anxious to tell us about her plans for football etc. plus the odd grant money that finds its way into her patch for this or that.

She does not mention that in her local Medway Maritime Hospital, apparently, last year 12,000 patients were treated in the corridors.  This hospital, that specialises in cancer, along with its neighbouring ones, is in deep financial trouble.

The reasons lie with the previous Tory, Coalition and Labour Governments and their Private Financial Initiative, PFI, contracts that are crippling the budgets of so many hospitals, schools and others.

Introduced to keep spending out of the government figures and claiming partnership with private finance the terms given away have huge costs in the long term, way beyond cost of building or ordinary interest charges, that are borne by the hospitals, schools and others.

The National Health Service is rapidly becoming a major debt crisis area for which there are no right answers, all the options have serious down sides.  But our politicians are interested only in the short term, the here and now and what money they can claim to have gained for their constituencies.

Instead of spending hundreds of billions on projects which promise little return and greater liabilities a sane truthful government would be putting all PFI under the cosh, rewriting the terms to pay off the lenders at affordable rates, however important or well connected they are, and replacing the debt liabilities by state loans.

In the cases where the PFI deals are outrageous this could mean some financial operators taking a hit and writing off debt in cases where the hospital or school is effectively broke.  It would certainly be a difficult business that would cause complaints never mind that it will demand funds that politicians want for populist projects of far less priority.

It might have the biggest problem of them all and the greatest impediment, that the truth might have to be told whether we like it or not.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Questions Of Politics

Over there, over there, in their coming Presidential Election we have a 70 year old up against a 69 year old; both have a man in the late 50's as their candidates for Vice President.

Each hopes to be the one who will swear the Oath of Office in 2017 for a four year term and maybe, in time, a second one as well.

In the USA it is the convention for people elected to the highest positions to appoint more senior and experienced people as their key subordinates to guide them through the maze of DC politics and administration.

Will it be the case this time round?

One thing is for sure, and that is the National Center for Creative Aging in Washington DC should be doing good business, see www creativeaging dot org for more information.

Government of the pensioners, by the pensioners, for the pensioners?

The right to bear zimmer frames?

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Suez At Sixty Years

Guido Fawkes web site points to Vernon Bognador in the "Telegraph" who reminds us that is now exactly sixty years ago since The Suez Crisis moved into top gear with all the later consequences.

Not least a Prime Minister lost because of the bungling (what? another one?) but because it marked the change that had taken place in the UK's role in the world.

The theme of his article is not to rehearse the past but to say that in the ensuing decades we have still not found a real answer to the question of what to do with a rogue or demented dictator, especially in the Middle East, where there has been a good many of them.

With the end of the Pax Britannica and the waywardness of the Pax Americana and lost hope of a Pax UN there have been many attempts to deal with these dictators.  One would like to think good and bad but in reality it has been bad and worse.

For me the Suez Crisis is not something from way back history, it is still living memory.  One thing I recall is being with groups of reservists, former regular soldiers who after service were contracted to a number of years on the reserve.

They had no wish to be recalled leaving jobs, families and financial commitments to sort out another mess in the Middle East.  They like many others in the Army, regarded the Suez venture as a bad business.  National Servicemen due for demob' were facing delays and extension of service in some cases.

The surprise was that more mutinies did not occur, but perhaps the rigour of discipline and the potential penalties deterred most of us.  The military prisons of Bielefeld, Colchester and Shepton Mallet were no place to spend your younger years and few emerged from them with their sanity intact.

This post from last November 24th on this blog has a lot to say about it all.  One aspect that is not there nor referred to in most discussions is that at the time the politicians were still in the shadow of the Iran Crisis of 1951, the nationalisation of oil by Iran and centred on the refinery of Abadan.

In the election of October 1951 when the Tories took over from Labour, this was a major issue.  Despite Labour polling their highest vote ever the Tories won by a slender margin of seats. So when Prime Minister Eden was faced by President Nasser of Egypt and his nationalisation plans for the Suez Canal it was seen as critical.

What the present government may be faced with that might come out of the blue on the Middle East is hard to predict.  How well they might respond or how badly is the question.  If the past is any guide there is only one answer, another debacle.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Nanny Takes A Penalty Shot

Well, that didn't take long did it?  After England's soccer team went out of the European Championship, it was likely that in the media wail-fest that followed, politics would soon intrude.  So Tracey Crouch, Sports Minister, qualified FA coach with a junior girls team to worry about has pulled on her boots and stuck them into the Football Association.

The FA down the years has taken money from the state to help with this and that and are now in hock to it.  When Tracey says jump the FA Council will jump, all the inefficient etc. 124 of them.  It means that football in England could become part of the Department for Media, Arts, Culture, Sport, Introspective Activities and anything else that can't be found a better home.

It will be state run and that means The Nanny State.  But what sort of Nanny?  There are many on offer from the works of fiction and drama.  Choosing one for Tracey and her Department, the prospect is bad, I refer to the ultimate Nanny.

It is the one from the TV series "Count Duckula" see Wikipedia for the full mad story line.  Given the mix of Tracey, Theresa, Hammond etc. making the decisions this is the most likely result.  Wikipedia says of her, picture above:

Nanny, is Duckula's nanny, as well as housekeeper. She is an extremely large (in the episode "Alps-A-Daisy," it's revealed she's seven feet tall) and clumsy hen, possessing incredible strength and inevitably messing up whatever task she is set to do.

She has a blind spot regarding doors, and often crashes through a door without opening it first, or (more commonly) walks right through the wall, especially a few feet off from the door's position. Not surprisingly, she is the one who mistakes ketchup for blood in Duckula's current resurrection. In the episode "Prime-Time Duck" her real name is revealed to be Amnesia.

She is supremely unintelligent, and completely unreliable. She is devoted to her "Ducky-boos," as she calls Duckula, and has a deep maternal affection for him, although her clumsiness often inadvertently causes him harm. A recurring gag is her inability to understand what people around her are talking about.

End of quote, so there it is, the future of English football or at best the most rational one possible.  Certainly, the organisation of the FA at present does reflect a past era, but is it still a useful body that deals well enough with its basic functions.

The media and the vast majority of people however are only concerned with the England football team.  If this could be separated out just what else needs change?  So could the FA  reform itself?  Does it really need to be government run or does this reflect current PC and such obsessions of modernity?

If it does become a state agency and retains full control over the England team, then football in England will become unpredictable, a mess, a never ending saga of government waste, cupidity and stupidity like just about everything our present administrations do.

Those recalling the days of the Soviet Union and its communist satellites will recall that sports persons commonly held military rank in the officer classes and were assisted by other agencies of the state, notably the government science laboratories.  They were the high old days of communist achievement.

Whether the England team win their games or not, will as ever, depend on the players and who is coaching them, or rather how good and well organised the opposition are and these days they all seem to be getting better.  England are just another team in a global sport.

Assuming of course, that the choice of players isn't done by the media advisers in Downing Street looking for a spin story or two to keep Rupert happy.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Meeting People

The past can be a surprising place in many ways.  The Guardian has been running stories about people who were in a place somewhere or with someone that was significant at the time.  The theme is that this was something you did not think was likely.

This story from 1945 caught my eye.  It is of an 18 year old young lady from England meeting Joseph Stalin, who ruled the Soviet Union, at the Potsdam Conference in Berlin.  It is such a simple story in many ways, that in itself is a surprise.  Yet she was present at one of the major turning points of history.

But stop and think, this young lady, I repeat all of 18 years, was one of six secretarial staff who were with Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the Potsdam Conference with Stalin and President Truman of the USA.

It is not only that she had to be good at her job, she had to be in the one of the very best at the time with the capability and experience to keep at the work and the expertise to cope with the need for the highest standards.

This seems unusual, but in this period there were a great many people in their late teens across the labour force and in the armed services doing responsible and demanding jobs entailing ability, skills and intelligence for whom university was regarded as unnecessary, in fact an irrelevance.

When our politicians went on about education, education, education they failed to look at either the economic opportunity cost or the realities of employment etc. that were involved in the major expansion of higher education.

It was a "noble idea" that now wastes years of peoples' lives, has denied the labour market of key labour and has created a political monster which saps our resources, has never ending demands for extra money and whose influence is ever more destructive.

Time to cull the colleges and universities?

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Getting In Gear

Today is the last day of the French Annual Festival of Exhibitionists, Fruitcakes and assorted Deranged Persons from across Europe.  They come in their thousands to be there and enjoy unlimited access to TV coverage now beamed around the world.

Thrown into this mix of anarchy and idiocy are around a couple of hundred men on bicycles to give a focus for the various activities.  During the festival they cycle over two thousand miles or so (albeit in kilometres) up hill and down dale, in and out of towns and sometimes around in circles.

This is The Tour de France, designated a sport, and is marketed as the leading cycle race of the world, if not the oldest.  The winner is deemed to be the man who takes the least time to cover the distance, modified by various time bonuses, penalties for infringements of the rules, where the crashes occur and other sundries that might occur to The Jury.

There are other major prizes.  One is for the man who gets up mountains best, another for who sprints best, another for the best young rider and another for the most "aggressive rider", that is the one who attacks the course most rather than his fellow riders, although the difference is not always clear.

The administration and organisation of this is all very French, which is not a compliment.  But it can make compulsive viewing.  What is a delight is the extensive showing of the countryside and the terrain.  Often just turn the sound off and watch the pretty pictures for a restful TV hour or so.

The trouble is when the TV is on key points in the ride of the day and all the Festival followers congregate to get in the way, run alongside the riders, make for the cameras, howl and rage and generally behave like the mob enjoying an afternoon with Madame Guillotine.  This is not civilisation as we know it, Jacques.

Having toddled around France a time or two, what intrigues me are the Festival followers etc. who manage to turn up each day on screen.  At one time, back in the 80's they were limited in number, now there are hordes of them.  It must take immense time, effort, cost and trouble to do this.  Those with the very large motorised caravans will have made a major investment.

It is a sobering thought, although I doubt whether many of them are sober.  When does the Premier League football start?

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Revising The Past

In "The Spectator", Richard Ingrams, sometime editor of "Private Eye" and later the "Oldie" has an article titled "Ted Heath: Still A Surly Man Of Mystery", reminding us of the political career of Edward Heath.

He was Conservative Prime Minister and rival to Harold Wilson winning the 1970 election but taking his chance in February 1974 in the face of a miners' strike was left with a hung Parliament.  A second 1974 election in October delivered Harold Wilson back into office.

In 1975 after declaring his intention to carry on as Leader he was challenged by Margaret Thatcher for leadership of the party and lost, going into a grumpy retirement where his contributions to politics did little to enhance his reputation or standing.

Then and since, whatever Tory policies might have been I regarded him as a walking disaster area.  As I was in a senior job at the time, picking up the pieces of his government decisions and changes out there in the real world was a nightmare, never mind the fact we were living in a mining area.

Consequently, in the decades since I have gone along happily with all the criticisms and the stories of his bad temper, arrogance and boorish conduct to the point of unpleasantness.  At this length of time it is difficult enough to change a view of the facts, let alone long held opinions.

This is prompted by realising that Heath and I were around the same place at the same time in 1940-1941.  It was Liverpool, I was a child staying with family, he was an officer of the Royal Artillery in charge of some Heavy Anti-Aircraft Artillery in the area during that period of the Blitz.

My aunt lived a few yards from a main trunk road into Liverpool close to the junctions with other roads and rail links all serving the docks.  She had a group of artillery emplacements a stone's throw away, I knew, as a child I liked throwing stones.  I still have vivid memories of the thunder of the guns in the night.

Later Heath went on to the Normandy landings, a very difficult and dangerous phase for the artillery, a major target for the Germans.  The sheer business of being in action and constantly on the move was difficult enough, being always at risk did not make it easier.   He went on to be in Germany until it surrendered and then for a  little while after, involved in clearing up the mess.

A few years later, in my time during peace, I had to do with the Artillery in all our divisional capers.  Also, I played on the garrison cricket team with Brigadier David Block, Commander Royal Artillery, my task was to stay in while he made the runs.

What was Heath actually like as a young man before the Army, the information is slight?  Were those personality traits there before, if so were they milder in form, or did they arise from his war time service and the long periods in action.

I know that if Liverpool was bad, Hamburg and other German towns were worse, let alone the trail of devastation the Artillery caused as they moved on from Normandy to The Elbe.  At one time, Heath had to be the officer at the execution of a soldier following a court martial.  How did all this affect him?

It is better to avoid the various medical and technical words for those things which we know far more about today that in the past.  But, it is possible that Heath in his personality was "damaged goods" in a way which was not understood then, especially given his status and prominence in politics.

It was the chances and chaos of politics that enabled him to become leader of the Conservative and so Prime Minister when we became fed up with Wilson.  It may well be that Heath was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But it is possible, perhaps, now to understand better why.

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Empire Strikes Back

Sometimes the views of an apparent outsider can be more to the point than those of the insiders.  In Zero Hedge, Professor Jayati Ghosh of New Delhi gives an imperious over view of the European Union.

It is a little long but readable and clear being written in the direct and structured English that has been lost to the us in the West.

What happens next is the basic question he asks; the answers to which seem to escape most and almost all of those at present engaged in the relevant debates in Europe and the USA.

He concludes:

The European Union as it exists today is unstable and probably unsustainable. But it will be tragic indeed if it collapses under the weight of its own contradictions only to yield to the petty and xenophobic forms of national neoliberalism that are currently the most forceful alternative to neoliberal economic integration.

What Europe and the world require are more internationalist alternatives based on popular sovereignty, solidarity, the improvement of workers’ conditions and the rights of citizens. Sadly, at this time there are only very few voices making such demands.


If the EU and Brussels become too much of a problem for the more stable and developed world, perhaps India might help to resolve matters by sending in The Yellow Boys, that is the 1st Bengal Lancers, once Skinner's Horse, to take over Berlaymont.

Skinner was of Scots-Indian parentage and a formidable soldier and general.  Perhaps it would be the only way today for the UK or the Scots to make an effective impact in Europe.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Warm Words

The hot and sticky weather coinciding with a busy spell does not make for a good temper or considering things coolly.  It might result in a rant that is wrong or something that on careful consideration and a modicum of research was better not said.

So a link will have to do and the one chosen is interesting.  It is George Monbiot in the Guardian, who again, you may like or hate him, at least he writes clearly.  This one is about the environment and what he feels are the insanities of the present.

It is also about short termism at its worst, the present scale of lobbying at its worst and some of the unintended consequences at their worst.  The picture above is Renoir's "Pont Aven", we camped there once.

Try not to get hot and bothered if you read it.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Friends And Neighbours

Born before the air raids of Madrid and Guernica and a child of the Blitz and the nuclear age my memories and experience have left me with many uncertainties.  So the latest debates about Trident and its missiles are nothing new.

After the Army,  where I handled high security files in a key field formation, I was in London for the high days and clamour of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.  At my place of study when CND paraded only a handful of us were not among them.  We did our best to maintain the bar takings in their absence.

Consequently, the present debate about Trident is one that I have mixed feelings about, not least, I wonder, how much of my taxes have gone to keep it going.  Is it a necessity?  Is it needed to claim a place at the table of Great Powers?  Is it past its time?  Or is it a large long established job creation project?

This week the debate has been muddled up with the status of the Leader of the Opposition and the vote to be taken about whether Jeremy Corbyn should be replaced.  In the picture above he is on his feet in the House of Commons but what is interesting to me, at least, is that Dennis Skinner is at his left hand.

Around four decades ago, I recall an occasion in a former stately home in South Yorkshire when the great and good of the Labour Trade Unions and Left had come together for a conference.  Claiming trade union status, of a sort, I had turned up and blagged my way in for the good free food and hospitality.

At one stage the talk shifted to whether the then Labour Government could be "persuaded" to agree to nuclear disarmament.  The only other person in the place who said nowt and kept his head down was Roy Mason, in The Cabinet at the time.  Times, it seems, do not change.

Dennis was for banning and total disarmament, a prophet before his time.  In the UK we are almost there for total, apart from Trident, and he has had little to do with it.  It is not owed to the Left or to the humanity first groups, it is down to the short termism, financial operations and the wishful thinking of our politicians.

It is said we might need to keep Trident because we have little or nothing else to call on.  But as for times changing the relevant questions might.  One is who is to be nuked?  Are we still talking Russia, or are there others who could be on the target list?

Brussels?  Berlin?  Beijing?  Baghdad?

Monday, 18 July 2016

Singing For My Supper

That inimitable pop group "The Scaffold" had a major hit with the song "Lily The Pink", long ago when I used to polish my shoes, wind up the clocks and watch, and wear a tie.

Another one was "Thank You Very Much", a satirical piece which was well received by the younger proletarian classes at the time.

One of the mysteries left to posterity was the question of what exactly was "The Aintree Iron" of the lyric which has excited much debate, notably in the pages of The Guardian, and many contrasting opinions.

Here is the song at two and a half minutes.  But I know Aintree well and once lived adjacent to the racecourse, where in 1937 the then Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth gave me a wave, as King George and she passed our house on their way to The Grand National.

The answer is a simple one, especially if you know the railway layouts at the time.

Disused Railway Stations has the answer, as you might expect.

Is there much going on out there at the moment?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Growing Pains

Could we have sympathy for poor old Jeremy Corbyn?  There he was, one of the younger generation of Old Age Pensioners, being active and keeping up with his interests, the allotment and the affairs of his local Allotment Society.  He had a job as a back bench MP, but could leave it mostly to other people and did not need to fill up his diary with tiresome and unwanted business.

But by one of those errors pensioners are prone to make, trying to help or do a favour, he allowed his name to go forward for election as Leader of the Labour Party.  He was assured that he was only there to make up the numbers and allow an unloved disregarded minority a voice and perhaps a chance to tip a critical balance.

But those doing the voting, did not just see what seemed to be a benign old chap doing his best, which in reality wasn't much, but also a person who ideas chimed with their own.  His beliefs are those of Morgan Kavanagh as rewritten and edited by his old house mate Karl Marx to fit the new changing economic and industrial age of the later 19th Century.

So Jeremy suddenly found himself with a full diary, with scarcely space for caring for his growing brussels sprouts, having to contend with the mass media in full cry and stand up on TV facing not  statesmen or thinkers but politicians who were skilled trained PR men who would stop at nothing to push their financial interests.

Worse still was that behind him were ranks of so-called Labour Members of Parliament, Blairites who disliked and distrusted him even more that the PR professionals he was up against.  In many ways they were more Tory than the Tories and it is signal that the new Tory Prime Minister is almost one of them in any case.

So just at the time when he might have been able to smote the Tories hip and thigh, as Kavanagh might have said, this lot of niggardly neoliberals are forcing another leadership ballot on the Party causing doubt and confusion all round.  Who will stand and who will win is open to opinion and your favourite bias.

For Jeremy as he longs for his leeks and lettuce is seems possible that he could win again, when perhaps he really wants to lose, but the sort of person he would lose to is probably the last person he would want to lead the Party.

Who would be a politician?

Friday, 15 July 2016

Turning The Pages

One pleasure from modern TV is that it is possible to watch series etc. from long ago.  Some stand the test of time, some do not, but on the whole they are not as gruesome and in your face than the typical shows of today.  Even better they are a lot less noisy and flashy without constant two second shots, allow long takes and are a good deal more subtle.

At present there is an intriguing pairing from different channels to watch.  ITV Encore have been running the original "Brideshead Revisited" from 1981 based on the book by Evelyn Waugh while Yesterday are treating us to the "Jeeves and Wooster" filmed a little later as a compilation from the works of P.G. Wodehouse.

While they both deal with the highest level of the class strata and are similar in period, they are apart in their character.  BR is serious and in depth with some comic moments, J&W is farce. up to a point, Lord Copper.  It seems impossible to compare and contrast.

They are works of fiction, written for what would be hoped large numbers of readers so there have to be many complexities in the plots, relationships, events, mistakes, misunderstandings and backgrounds to fill out the stories and keep the reader wanting to know.

Despite the differences it is tempting to try to relate them.  Is Tuppy Glossop of J&W, the overweight hare brained bungler, leading light of The Drones Club, who is constantly in trouble related to "Boy Mulcaster" the loud, offensive and serially stupid fat Viscount, leading light of the much less civilised Bullingdon Club, of BR?  At a pinch you could swap them and with a little editing it would do.

A key person in BR is Sebastian Flyte the second son, so not the heir of Lord Marchmain.  He becomes a serious alcoholic and the tragedy of his life is at the centre of the novel.  But in J&W, Bertie Wooster seems to shift almost as much of the drink as Sebastian, clearly out of his skull quite often, but never regarded as an alcoholic.

Perhaps Waugh might have given Sebastian what so many younger sons of major peers were given, a safe Conservative seat in the House of Commons.  In that case he might have been married off to PGW's bossy Honoria Glossop whose medical father Sir Roderick might have cured him of his troubles allowing him to progress to The Cabinet.

On the other hand, Bertie might have been packed off by PGW to a clinic somewhere allowing the story line to be early version of all the hospital, doctor etc. tales we have today which command the TV channels.  Bertie straying into an operating theatre and being mistaken for a leading surgical urologist could have been a lot of fun.

There are a great many possibilities of mixing the two, too many for this post.  However, the reality of the lives of the two authors does have major contrasts.  Waugh lived from 1903 to 1966 and PGW from 1881 to 1975, so they were not of the same generation.

PGW did not serve in the First World War because of his eyesight and during it was in the USA where he continued to spend much time but finishing up in France in the 30's for tax reasons.

He was not entirely of this world or of Britain and failed to get out of France in time.  He was caught by the Germans in 1940 whose use of him led to him being accused of treason by many people, although it never came to court.  So after the Second War he went to and stayed in the USA.  On the other hand Waugh, too young for the First War, volunteered for the Second and was commissioned.

It is said that while doing his duty and willing to fight he was not a good subordinate and a much worse superior whose men had a strong dislike of him and might cheerfully have shot him.  He seemed to have a lot of changes of branches of the Army and Marines.

But it gave him a rich fund of material for his later writing.  Who can forget Apthorpe's Thunderbox?  It is all a very long time ago.

On the other hand Rudyard Kipling used an Imperial Typewriter.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Down The Pan

Flabbergasted, I was considering a post "At The Going Down Of The Bullingdon", assuming their members were out of government when I learned that the Club's Chief Inspector of Sanitary Facilities, Boris Johnson, is to be Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.

The immediate question is how many wars and where we shall now embark on and whether he does really manage to reclaim our long lost thirteen American colonies.  At least his Gulf and corporate chums will be happy and our remaining colonies can look forward to a skyscraper future.

Is anyone taking bets?  Because if you are the game is rigged.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Music To The Ears

As Cameron turned away and into 10 Downing Street after his latest announcement he was heard to hum a tune.  Classic FM have put up a version of it as a lush fantasy for cello and piano.

It is here and is a decent piece of composition despite the iffy origins.

This could have been an option from Julie Andrews at less than two minutes and is happy.

But the tear jerker is this at three minutes, where it all does end sadly.

On the conservativehome dot com web site of 12th July, Paul Goodman has a post titled "May - A Joe Chamberlain In Kitten Heels?"  There are times when I feel that writers ought to try a little more research and this is one of them.  To link him to the new Prime Minister, Theresa May is a case in point.

Joseph Chamberlain was a major politician of the late 19th and early 20th Century who went from Liberal to Liberal Unionist to Conservative.  On 30th July 2012, under the title of "Harriet's Little Secret" in this blog it was pointed out that Harriet Harman was closely related to this Joseph.  Does Paul Goodman see May as a latter day Harman?

Chamberlain was a radical reformer, fervent leading Imperialist and a major political figure of his time, divisive, difficult and not easy to predict.  The shivers to the spine feature of his agricultural policy, to redistribute land to the rural working population was titled "Three Acres And A Cow".

It may have seemed a splendid election winning idea at the time but if it had been enacted would have resulted in a great deal of the UK agriculture becoming what was essentially subsistence farming at a time of rapidly increasing population.

In this period a problem was that much of UK agriculture had not kept up with change and the great landed estates were often seen more as locations for field sports than increasing crop yields and quality and the source of the rentals needed to maintain the aristocrats life styles.

Chamberlain was born before Queen Victoria came to the throne and died a month before World War One began.  He is a man from another era, doubtless with some qualities, but not one that can safely be compared with any politician of today.

In fact given the world as it is and has been it is difficult to think of any major figure from the past who could be used as a benchmark, and that includes Mrs. Thatcher.

We could have as well as May and Sturgeon, Ms. Eagle leading together in politics, like a hell-broth boil and bubble?

Was it Verdi who set Macbeth as an opera?  It would be in keeping with recent events. Now that really is a serious three minutes.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Ban The Bible

My personal Philistinism, if you can call it that, is not taking certain propositions on trust in matters relating to the arts.  But something has turned up; that is dug up, by archaeologists in Palestine that suggest that the Philistines of old were quite a civilised and decent bunch.

The Seattle Times has a short succinct article on the discovery at Ashkelon of hundreds of remains of the Philistine people which on examination in detail will tell more.  It is said that they were non-Semitic and originated as migrants from across the sea to the North and were diverse from the settled tribes of Palestine of the time.

The famous story is that of David and Goliath, a Philistine, and we have long been taught to admire and applaud the courage and ability of David to do him down by tactical thinking.

Many men since have been called David, although not all have turned out to be quite as admirable.  The findings, however, do call into question the story line we have been given in The Bible.  Indeed, we seem to have anti-migrant racism.

The picture above is of The Annals of The Bible owed to Archbishop James Ussher, see in full in the Wikipedia entry who dated the creation of the world to 22 October 4004 BC. This has been disputed; "experts" called "scientists" and such who are best ignored.

How can this be dealt with?  According to our deeply correct leading universities of today there is only one answer.  That is to ban The Bible and related literature that is sympathetic to it.  A real public statement could be made by the universities burning their books.

They could chuck a few bishops on the fires as well to make the point.

And So It Begins

The engineer in the family sent me the link below.  It means simply that you ain't seen nothing yet and much more is still to come.

It is a long article but if you have the time and inclination is well worth the read, it might explain the P45 you are about to get.

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Sport for All

Sport, there's a lot of it about.  The Tour de France, today in Andorra, finished the stage in very heavy rain and rivers of water on the roads.  Geraint Evans, when interviewed said it was great and reminded him of Wales; but it kept  the riders cooler than usual for which they are grateful.

Andy Murray, this very minute has just beaten Milos Raonic to win the Wimbledon men's title, even his mum is smiling.  As the game finished earlier than it might perhaps Cameron and Sturgeon from the Royal Box could be asked to put in quick set or two to decide on the state of the Union.

In the meantime all true Brit's later can watch the final of the soccer European Championship without a care in the world, all the UK teams being out.  Wales did very well, it must have been the rain, and Northern Ireland, along with the Republic decently.  England fouled up, almost literally, and the Scots have become independent of football.

Tonight it is France v Portugal, and in the 2000 Competition they met in the semi-final in Brussels and we were there.  A family member had put in for a competition for tickets but as neither England nor other UK teams were involved and he was busy when he won tickets he let us have them.

It was a good game between two skilled and evenly matched teams.  It went to extra time and almost at the very end there was a major incident.  Thierry Henry going through had the ball pushed away by the Portuguese goalkeeper and fell over him.

After a brief delay the referee awarded a penalty and all hell broke loose as the Portuguese mobbed the referee and their supporters in the crowd bayed their disagreement and became disagreeable.  We were just behind that goal and felt it was a very harsh decision, but this happens.  After some time order was restored and Zidane scored from the penalty to win the game.

Because of the long time for the trip, no overnight stay, there was a change of coach driver on the way back, the fresh one having been in a motorway lodge.  When he came on the bus he told us he had watched the TV coverage and what the penalty had been for and it wasn't the Henry trip.  The Assistant Referee on the sideline was possibly the only person in the stadium to see it and it was the TV that confirmed it.

The goalkeeper had pushed the ball out but it was picked up by the French winger, Wiltord, who ran on and shot at goal.  The ball had clipped the hand of a defender to hit the side netting.  This had happened with four or five seconds and everyone in the stadium had missed it.  We were about a dozen yards behind the goal and also did not see the flick of the ball off the hand.

Technology has moved on as well as TV coverage, but the lesson then was that you cannot always believe what you think you see.  It also taught me that having spent some 20 hours or so on a trip to see a football match, it might just have been better to watch the TV.  At least we would not have been in the middle of a riot.

Back to politics, if the Conservative May v Leadsom thing was decided by say 15 frames of snooker it would be better.  It would draw a bigger audience and be more voter friendly.  As for Labour, perhaps the Monty Python fish slapping, see youtube for a few seconds,  but Knur and Spel, picture above, might be a more serious way to go about it.

Sport, you can't get away from it.