Monthly Archives: March 2009

Memories

Most of you will be to young, or to foreign, to remember the last years of the Major government. Even for many Conservative supporters we knew that, how ever wrong it could be, we had to lose the election. Our party had lost its way and was engulfed by scandal after scandal.

What made it worse was the opposition we making political capital of what a bunch of self-interested, money grabbing and self obsessed non entities were had in the party. Even the “Grey Man” himself was recognised for being a less than enspiring leader.

So they got their butts kicked and were replaced by New Labour – a better choice of name would have been Conservative-lite. Bliar came into office promising a new style of politics without the sleeze that had gone before. Britain would be a new country built on ethical policies and inclusive policies that would herald a new dawn. WE’d be financially and morally better off than ever before.

What we got was a liar as PM, the same old policies that let accountants, bankers and tax avoiders do whatever they wanted. With the Private Finance Initiative we had privitisation and unaccounted for debt spending. We’d enter two conflicts that no one understood and are still going on today. 

No we have a PM who, like Major, makes his predecessor look like a political messiah. As bad as Bliar was at least he had a personality. The one we have today has the personality of a dead fish – apologies to dead fish everywhere.

Recently he has been pedaling this vision of him as the Saviour of The World. He has all the answers to the current financial crisis that he, though he won’t admit, has done as much as others to create. Remember how he’s been telling us that where he has led all others are following and copying his policies.

Now, with this week’s G20 meeting looming, we find that every major country is set to refuse his notion of a new fiscal stimulus. Berlin have already leaked the final press release submitted by the Great Saviour. They France, Spain and most other countries say that this is the wrong thing to do.

Warren Buffet the current financial guru has said that the UK are likely to end up needing a bail-out from the Interantional Monetary Fund to survive. For those who remember the last Labour government in the mid to late 70’s will remember the sight of our Chancellor, Dennis Healy, going cap in hand to the IMF for loan after loan.

 This was not a great time for Britain’s standing in the world. It took Thatcher to restore pride in Britain. No matter what you think of her, at least she achieved that.

Now we have a leader whose own ego will not allow him to see that he is destroying our country and selling future generations into servitude to pay off his borrowing – fiscal prudency, my a***? Even the Governor of the Bank of England has said that the country can’t afford to borrow more. For a srving Governor to come out against government policy is almost unheard of.

Day of Fun

We had some very good news today but someone else will tell you about that.

Today has been “Stroppy Boy’s Day of Fun”. We collected him from swimming and took him into town to buy his belated birthday presents. We had lunch at Frankie & Benny’s and then came home, his choice. He is currently watching From Russia With Love and then Quantum of Solace later.

 

History Today:

 193: Emperor Pertinax is assassinated by the Praetorian Guard.

1854: France and Britain join the Ottoman Empire in the Crimean War to halt Russian expansion. It was one of those glorious follies that Britain specialises in.

1930: Kemal Attaturk announces that Constantinople is to renamed Istanbul, as part of his campaign to form a secularised Turkish state.

1939: Madrid surrenders to General Franco and brings an end to the Spanish Civil War. The Facsit Falange Party will rule until 1975.

1969: Former president General Dwight D. Eisenhower dies at the age of 78.

1979: Prime Minister James Callaghan loses a vote of confidence in the House of Commons and is forced to call a General Election. Guess who won?

1990: Jesse Owens is posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal by President Bush (the not as dumb as the other one).

Up In Smoke

This is an excerpt from an article on the BBC site http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7963119.stm

Despite the opposition, the Cremation Society bought land near Woking in Surrey where it built its first crematorium in 1878, successfully testing the furnace on the body of a horse.

It was to be the last cremation for some time. Local inhabitants protested to the home secretary, who banned the use of the new building on the grounds that cremation could be used to destroy evidence of murder before a body could be properly examined.

The breakthrough for the pro-cremation lobby came through the unlikely figure of a druid who was also a strict vegetarian, anti-vivisectionist and advocate of free love.

At the age of 83 Dr William Price, who practised medicine in Glamorgan, fathered a child from his housekeeper, naming the boy Jesus Christ Price.

The child lived just five days and, in true druidical custom, Dr Price constructed a pyre at the rear of his house, donned his robes and burned the body.

The act horrified the good chapel-going population of his village and Dr Price was arrested and subsequently tried at Cardiff Assizes before Sir James Stephen.

The judgement, that cremation was not illegal provided that no nuisance was caused, opened the way for cremation to become enshrined in law although there was still much opposition to overcome.

 

History Today:

1305: A Spider is crowned King of the Scots and will eventually lead them to victory of the English, after observing a Robert the Bruce (an early Australian) spinning a yarn in a cave.

1655: Christian Huygens discovers Satan’s largest moon, Titan. (This is written exactly as I found it). 

1807: Slavery is abolished in the British Empire – a cinema just outside Hackney – after the parliamentary bill is given Royal Assent.

1821: Greece delares independence from the Ottoman they kept at the end of the bed.

1918: Belarus declares independence from the Soviet Union – that went well.

1957: Germany, France, Benelux sign the Treaty of Rome, establishing the European Economic Union – 2 former facist states amd their whipping boys.

1969: John & Yoko begin their honeymoon with a “bed-in for peace”. They invite the world press to spend a week watching them sing and talk about peace. 

1975: King Faisal is shot by his nephew Prince Faisal. He was succeeded by his half-brother Crown Prince Khalid.

1994: The last American troops are withdrawn from Somalia, ending a largely unsuccessful mission. However it did give us a great film from Ridley Scott.

This story was on the BBC website’s magazine section today http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7955846.stm. It is an article on how scientists of a Quantum Physics bent reconsile their scientific belief and the acceptance of a G(g)od or not.

As a committed non-scientific person I have no problem in reconciling my faith and science. I can actually find no problem in accepting that God created the world and that Charles Darwin was partially right on the Evolution of species; just wrong on man evolving from monkies or any other cross species evolution. I know that science is wrong on this because they have still not found the missing links between fish and reptiles, reptiles and birds, and animals and man.

What always makes me laugh is that aome cannot accept belief in God because of the “lack of proof” but accept Evolution with question even though it also has so many unproven elements. Yet, if you point this out to them, they accuse you of being an unreasonable and medieval in outlook.

Why is it that Christians, Jews and Muslims are so  backward, yet science is accepted as indisputable fact?

 

History Today:

1603: ‘Good Queen Bess’ dies and is succeeded by James VI of Scotland, the son of Mary Queen of Scots. Thus the thrones of England and Scotland are united. So the reign of Tudor ends and Stuart begins.

1944: The ‘Great Escape’ from Stalag Luft III, at Sagan (now Zagan in Poland). Of the 79 who escape, 50 are killed after recapture.

1958: Pelvis Presley is drafted into the US Army.

1973: Pink Floyd release Dark Side of The Moon.

1976: President Isobel Peron is deposed in a bloodless coup in Argentina.

1978: The Amoco Cadiz splits up off the French coast in strong winds causing the largest oil slick of its time.

1989: The Exxon Valdiz rund aground off the coast of Alaska, releasing  11 million tonnes of crude oil. Bit of a coincidence that.

1999: NATO begins bombing Serb troops in Kosovo, where they are killing ethnic Albanians. NATO greatest accomplishment is the destruction of more than half of the Serb’s armoured forces – until they find out most of the tanks etc were fakes.

History Today

1708: James Francis Edward Stuart, “The Great Pretender” to the English & Scottish thrones, fails to land at the Firth of Forth.  

1848: The John Wickliffe arrives at Dundin with the first settlers, thus founding New Zealand. Why did they have to teach them how to play rugby?

1919: Benito Mussolini founds the Italian Facist Movement, a model for far right parties throughout Europe. If only people realised that there was actually nothing to back up the bluster. Though he did make the trains run on time.

1933: The German Reichstag passes the Enabling Act, allowing Adolf Hitler to rule by decree as dictator. I hope Gordian Braun doesn’t get any ideas.

1970: Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia, in Beijing, announces a united front of communist forces to fight the new Cambodian government of Lon Nol.

1981: In an attempt to prevent the spread of foot and mouth in Britain, the government bans the tranportation of all Smudgies in the  Isle of Wight and southern Hampshire.

2001: The first inhabited space station, Mir, is destroyed at it hits the earth’s atmosphere. 

2006: Norman Kember, the kidnapped British peace activist, is freed after coalition forces mount a successful raid to free him. Now that’s ironic!

Religious Writing?

Today I have been sermonising again. The Little Chapel That Could had asked me to take their morning service for Mother’s Day. Considering the congregation of 5 women over the age of 50 – most over 75 – it is always an enjoyable experience; you come away feeling appreciated.  I have already been asked to bring my diary to book up for next year.

Today they asked me how I prepared my sermons, as they enjoy them so much. I had to be honest and say that I sit with my laptop and pray for guidance. So far it works as the words then flow. I sometimes have an idea but not always the bones or flesh until I sit down to write.

I’ve discovered that my writing has returned to the same method as when I was writing stories for my O level English. Then someone would give me a title, or theme, and a few hours later I’d have quite a few pages done. For someone reason the plot and story would all come out in one fluid hit. I never learnt about structure  or preparing a synopsis to work with.

I’m glad about this as it means that I learnt how to right short stories with impact, rather than long, developed fiction. People tell me that, if i put my mind to it, I could probably write a book. PersonallyI know my own limitations and understand that it would not be very good as fiction. Maybe I could write a book about music, film or history but I don’t really have the time or patience to do that. If I did then I know that I’ve to spend a long time researching as I hate “cut and paste” books – any half wit can copy someone else’s interviews and put poor link sentences in to pretend that they have “created” something of their own. 

What I am glad about is that writing sermons has reawakened my love of writing. They perform an intellectual exercise that helps awaken my mind. Who knows, when I get some time, I may try the odd short story again, just to see if I can do.

 

History Today:

1765: The British parliament introduces the Stamp Act, a tax on American documents that ignites revolution. Seems fair to me though. These colonials are so ungrateful.

1895: The Lumiere brothers stage the first public showing of a motion picture usinf film projection in Paris. 2 days later the first porn theatre opened and the sale of dirty macs increased by 500%. (Some of this maybe untrue – I’m not sure as I wasn’t there.)

1945: The League of Arab States is formed. Unfortunately this wasn’t a Pan-Arabic football league but an alliance to with the aim of achieving complete independence from the colonial powers.

1956: Martin Luther King Jr is convicted of organising an illegal boycott by black passengers of buses in Alabama.

1965: Bob Dylan releases Bringing It All Back Home, his first album featuring electric instruments. That worked wonders for his career with everyone but woolly hat wearing, bearded, ale with twigs in drinking, nut jobs. You know who you are…..

1974: The Equal Rights Agreement is passed by the US Senate, but in the following years fails to be ratified by all the states. See how liberal these former colonials are? Land of liberty? My a***!

2004: Sheikh Ahmed Yassin , the spiritual leader of Palastinian militant group Hamas, is killed by an Israeli air strike. Sometimes 2 bombs do not make a right – maybe they do in this case though. They who live by the bomb will die by the bomb, to paraphase someone famous.

2006: Basque separatist group ETA, sounds like a female blues/jazz singer, announces a permament ceasefire.

Today I Have….

Done very few of the things I planned to. I have however:

Removed a disemboweled rat baby from the catroom

Had a relaxing bath, and fell asleep

Watched very little rugby but am watching the Wales/Ireland match as I write this

I also need to write a sermon ready for tomorrow’s preach, visit a friend and not forget to  collect the wife from the railway station

 

History Today:

1556: The first Protestant Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, is burnt at the steak stake for heresy. Queen Mary’s attempt at winning hearts and minds isn’t going well.

1804: Napoleon introduces a new legal code to France, known as the “Napoleon Code”. It is a much better read than the Da Vinci Code. which is a pile of steaming manure on the world of literature.

1918: General Erich Ludendorff launches his huge spring offensive on the Western Front. Reinforced by troops from the, now peaceful, Eastern Front it is Germany’s gamble to break the allies before the Americans arrive in force. After initial successes it is halted and finally exhausts the German army. The initial attack begins the Second Battle of the Somme.

1960: 72 people are killed by South African police at the township of Sharpeville. They had been protesting at the introduction of identity cards. 

1963: Alcatraz prison closes.

1965: The Civil Rights Movement begins a march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital Montgomery. 3200 demonstrators are led by Martin Luther King Jr.

1991: The Conservative government abolishes the Poll tax. There was much rejoicing in Poland, until someone corrected their spelling.

1999: Old Hairy Knees dies. Ernie Wise left us to renew his partnership with Eric Morecombe. Hopefully heaven is a much happier place for it.

Today in Hysteria

I have begun reading the new No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency book. It is the same mix of gentle humour, detective story, social commentary and  walk through Botswanan life as all the others. It is a book that gives you a warm glow of satisfaction that, in soem corner of our modern world, there is somewhere that clings to the “old” values and where life is slower, enjoyed and where globalisation is yet to hit.

This is what Dan Brown, and many other writers, should be forced to read to learn how a story should be written, characters expanded and plot crafted. If we had a few more writers of this calibre literature would be in  much better state.

 

Hysteria Today:

1831: The first recorded bank robbery in American history takes place at the City Bank in New York. A few hundred years later and it is the Citibank doing the robbing.

1861: The first Taranaki War ends in New Zealand.

1916: The first American air combat mission takes place as aircraft fly in support of troops battling Pancho Villa.

1932: The Sydney Harbour Bridge is formally opened.

1945: General Friedrich Fromm is killed for his part in the July Plot against Hitler.

1949: The People’s Council of the Soviet Zone of Occipation approve a constitution, a precursor to the formation of East Germany – a land where women look and sound like men and men run and hide.

1982: A group of wandering Argentines land on the Falkland Island and plant their country’s flag.

Hysterectomy Today

624 : Mohammed defeats his Meccan opponents at the Battle of Badr.

1762: The first St Patrick’s Day parade is held in New York city by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.

1805: The Kingdom of Italy is founded by Napoleon.

1861: Italy is unified into a single kingdom by a nationalist biscuit, with Victor Emmanuel as king.

1921: Marie Stopes opens the first clinic to advise women about birth control in Holloway, North London.

1984: The annual Varsity Boat Race is postponed by a day after the Cambridge crew sinks after hitting a barge prior to the start.

1992: A car bomb explodes outside the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, killing 29 people.

2003: Britain and the US abandon their attempts to gain UN backing for the invasion of Iraq. They were only going to do it if the UN agreed – liar, liar, pants on fire.

What Goes Up

may not necessarily come down in the same ondition.

Do you remember the British Airways 777  that landed 1000ft short of the main runway at Heathrow in January 2008? What about the Delta Airline flight that had similar fault occur 32000ft over Atlanta the following November?

You may have read last week’s press coverage of the 2 reports released – one by the Americans and one by the British. What you may have also heard was the difference in tone between the 2 reports. The US report said that another incident could happen at any time. The Brits just said that Rolls Royce had to solve the problems as soon as possible.

The 777 is a replacement for the 747 in terms of range but only requires 2 engines. Therefore it’s routing means that it has to be within 90 minutes of an airport for its entire flight. Many of these aircraft are routed over the Artic – the cold, white bit at the top, inhabited by Polar Bears, Killer Whales, Seals, idiots (sorry Inuits) and idiots on treks to the North Pole in their Y fronts or by party balloons. 

It may not have escaped your attention that the Artic is very, very cold – even with global warming – during the winter. So the fault in the Heat Exchange must be a worrying problem for someone. Not for our British Air Accident Board though. They don’t like to make a drama out of a crisis.

The airlines refuse to ground the aircraft until the fault is resolved – at current estimates in 12-18 months time. This would cost them to much money in lost revenue. However what this means is that should another 777 have an “incident” then they leave themselves open to massive compensation claims.

BA have announced that they will not tell passsengers whether or not the 777 they fly will have (un)safe Rolls Royce Trent engines or the uneffected GE90 engines. According to BA this is not possible for them to do – even though which aircraft are and aren’t absolutely safe.

Personally I would play safe and  book with another airline not operating 777’s on that route or can guarantee using only GE90 engines. Is it worth spending another hundred or so knowing that you will have a much better chance of arriving   landing safely.

If you don’t believe that Trents are a problem then let me just say that Rolls have issued at least 3 notices for part changes in the past few months – these are circulated to the airlines and made known in the trade press. As I much as I believe in supporting British industry, for something this serious I would sooner buy foreign.

 

History What Did ‘appen:

1190: People in York celebrate a special event – St. Pogrom’s Day – by massacring 150 Jews.

1660: The Long Parliament dissolves itself.

1802: The military academy at West Point, New York is founded.

1872: The first FA Cup Final is played between Wanderers and Royal Engineers at the Kennington Oval. Wanderers are the winners.

1926: Robert H. Goddard successfully launches the world’s first liquid fuelled rocket at Auburn, Massachusetts. This helped to give reality to man’s dreams of reaching the stars – though Charlie Chaplin did complain at this intrusion on his privvy.

1953: Marshal Tito, of Yugoslavia, becomes the first Communist head of state to visit Britain.

1968: US troops slaughter between 200 & 500 unarmed villages at My Lai in South Vietnam.

1976: Harold Wilson unexpectedly resigns as Prime Minister. It may have been to do with Alzheimers  – or because of his holidays on the Sciliy Isles every year.

1978: Aldo Moro, a former Italian Prime Minister, is kidnapped by the Red Brigade in Rome. He is later murdered.

1988: Sadaam Hussein’s forces mount a chemical attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja, killing about 5000 people.