Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Why all the fuss?

I see that the home secretary has come under fierce criticism for the comments that he made about refugees/economic migrants -click here.

He is only stating what is international law - refugees should seek sanctuary in the first safe country that they reach. So is France not safe?

Sunday, 30 December 2018

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Migration and the NHS

With the threat of reduced migration to the UK I see that the NHS is saying that we will not have enough medical staff. Am I the only person that believes that is wrong to base our recruitment policy on "stealing" staff from other countries? Particularly when many of the staff come from developing countries who need the staff to look after their own populations. 
If people wish to move to another country that is up to them, but to base recruitment policies on using migrant labour seems wrong. We should train more people in the UK - and if NHS staff were paid a decent wage then maybe there would not be a retention issue

Friday, 14 December 2018

Letter From America No 3

Another the letters that I wrote when we were living in the US. It certainly brings back memories.

phone:408 323 9624
6 May 2000

      I just thought that I would send out one more general letter before we return home to England on May 27th for the event of the year - Andrew marrying Gaew. We have been fairly active the last few weeks. A couple of weeks before Easter we went to stay at Monterey to see our friends Pat and Laura. I first met Pat through Scouting a couple of years ago and we have become good
friends. We had a most enjoyable weekend, spending several hours in Monterey Aquarium which is the best that I have been to. Helena had to do a school project on Marine Biology and this was the ideal place to carry out her research. Pat has had a cabin built in Utah some ground that he owns. I imagined some rustic style place, when we saw the photos it was somewhat
different - apart from the master bedroom, four bedrooms for his married children, girls and boys dorms for his grandchildren it has a couple of guest
bedrooms and an assortment of lounges and day rooms. It is more like a small hotel than a "cabin"!
      I did another 10 km road race on Palm Sunday. I was quicker than my first effort a few weeks previous so the training is working. It was still very slow and I still have weight to lose. It never gets easier as you
get older!
      We went to the Vigil Mass on Easter Saturday where we witnessed nine people received into the Catholic Church. A couple were baptised - in a "walk in font" which was slightly different to the way I have seen things done in the UK. The service lasted a couple of hours, as it did not seem like it you will gather that it was interesting and enjoyable. Easter day saw Julia
and I going for a short walk in Quicksilver Park where we saw plenty of wildlife including hawks and other game birds. We will be exploring this park some more.
      On Easter Monday we took off for a few days holiday. We drove up the Northern Coast as far as Crescent City (about 380 miles) then across into Orgeon and inland to Crater Lake. We came home down the middle of the
state via the Lava Beds and Burney falls. The highlights were:
      - the wonderful coastline where cliffs and trees seem to tumble into the sea. One minute we were driving along beaches with a big rolling surf, then we were 1500 ft high in the hills.
      - Fort Ross which is an old (early 1800s) fort built by the Russians on the coast from which they used to go Sea Otter hunting and grow crops to send to Alaska which they then owned.
      - The Redwood Forests especially the Avenue of the Giants. This is a 30 mile drive through 300 ft high Redwoods. Some of the forests were so dense that they reminded Helena of the rain forests in Uganda. We went for some hikes in this glorious country.
      - Crater Lake, this in the remains of a volcano. We were 7000 ft up looking down to the lake which was 1000 ft below us, the lake is six miles in diameter and the most fabulous shade of blue. It is mind blowing, we were standing on 15 ft of snow whilst we were enjoying this. They get 50 ft of snow per year and the winter lasts nine months so the park rangers told us!
      - climbing and caving in the lava tubes by the lave beds. These tubes were formed by lava as it made its way to the surface. We spent a good two hours caving which was great fun - Julia did stop after a while to leave Helena and I to carry on.
      - Burney Falls which are relatively small, just 170 ft but very lovely. We also saw two bald eagles nesting, I took some photos but you can barely make them out as the nest was a few hundred yards away across a lake, I wished that I had a really good telephoto lens, never mind.
      The only disappointment was that we could not get to Mount Shasta or to see the volcanic sulphur pools as the roads were still closed due to snow. We saw Mt. Shasta, it dominates the skyline for miles. It would be fun to climb, "only" 12500 ft, but I suspect that apart from in mid-July you would need all the proper snow climbing gear. It really was a great trip in a part of California that is not often visited by us "foreigner". it is far too good to leave to the Americans.
      Currently we have our niece Nicola staying with us for a few days. She was doing an exchange university year in Vancouver in the UK she was at Glasgow University. She is enroute for LA then Mexico to meet up with friends. It would be good to be young again - never mind, we are getting around a fair bit ourselves. We took Nicola to see some of the sights in San Francisco and around San Jose. I hope that she enjoys her trip, I suspect that she is glad of the break as she only finished her finals last week.
      We are all fit and well, Julia did have a kidney infection - the antibiotics seem to have knocked it on the head. Helena is doing well at school, she is costing us a fortune as she insists on growing so very
few of the clothes that she came over with fit her. Work is going well and I am enjoying it. We hope that if we don't see you at the wedding we do catch up with you when we are in the UK. We will be home from the 28th May (its a night flight on the 27th) until the 10th June.
      We hope that life is treating you as you deserve, all the best.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Mellish Christmas Letter 2018

I guess that it is time to put finger to keyboard and recount the 2018 family adventures. The best Christmas present of 2017 arrived four days after Christmas – Georgia Rose Reynard Mellish, a sister to Henry.
With Granny!

Proud parents, Lawrie and Emma

As some of you know from posts on Facebook and my Blog I was not suitable for an Alzheimer’s drug trial due to not having the propensity for developing excess Beta-Amyloid in the brain. The research company Re:cognition contacted me to ask if I would be willing to go for genetic testing. There is a link between the APOE4 gene and Alzheimer’s and they want to monitor people who have this gene to see if they develop Alzheimer’s. So I had a DNA and later got the results.
Basically we all have the APOE gene and there are three versions of this APOE2, APOE3 and APOE4 (I do not know what happened to APOE1!!). If you have a single copy of APOE4 the genetic risk of getting Alzheimer’s increases by 25%, if you have two copies it increases by 55%). Understand that with genetic risk factors it does not mean that you will get the disease and if your genetic risk is 0% you can still get it - it is just one of the factors that can cause it.
Anyway the result of my test shows that I have the APOE3 gene (not the APOE4) so that genetic risk is 0% in my case. It also means that my children cannot get the APOE4 gene from me - so they cannot have two copies of the gene as you can only get one copy (max) from each of your parents.
So that is good news, it doesn't mean that I cannot get Alzheimer’s but the chances are considerably reduced. I can of course get another form of dementia - but so far so good!

In March the family gathered together to celebrate the 40th birthdays of Andrew and Gaew. They treated us to a great family meal and we all gathered for Sunday lunch at our place the following day
Back row Andrew and David
Hélèna, Emma and Sam holding Georgia
Julia, Henry, Gaew and GOM (Grumpy Old Man Barry)

Back stage visit to Twickers, a 70th birthday present to me
from Billie my God-Daughter

In May my 70thbirthday celebrations continued with my “Supercar” driving day, the present from the children. It was great fun although getting out of the GT40 was not easy!

Early June saw us having Tea on the Thames – a 70thbirthday present from friends of ours.

Later in June saw Julia and I jetting off to Bali – it was our 70thbirthday present to ourselves. It was a long flight – about 17 hours in the air but a great place to visit. We had a fabulous time although the weather was playing up – rain despite it being the “dry season”.
Our own plunge pool
Dining in our private cocoon

Present from our first hotel

Stunning scenery
View from the breakfast table
Fabulous places to visit

Life could be tough

The next few months were somewhat dominated by a very painful varicose ulcer on Julia’s leg. She was in considerable pain which necessitated a morphine patch – the pain went but she then felt nauseous all the time. Sometimes you just cannot win! Thanks to the Tissue Viability Nurse the ulcer healed, but Julia is waiting to hear from the hospital as she needs laser surgery on her left leg. This somewhat restricted our trips to the lodge in Devon as Julia was unable to sit in a car for four hours plus.

In October Julia celebrated her “coming of an age”! The family all came down for a birthday lunch. Andrew and Gaew took us both out on the day of her birthday and late in October we spent a few days in Norfolk with her twin sister and husband. 
Henry helping to blow out the candle
Friends joined us after the family meal
Andrew and Gaew treated us to dinner on the great day itself

Almost inevitably there was the passing of some friends and relatives. Particularly poignant was the death of Angela, wife of my college friend Pat. They were due to come to England this year, they live in Australia, but sadly never made it. Angela was at college with Julia so we had been friends for fifty years. 
Alec, husband of my cousin Maureen sadly died in October. We could not attend his funeral as we were away on holiday. I am so glad that we were able to spend a couple of days with them both just before last Christmas. We shared a bottle of champagne and had a great time laughing and talking, a good way to remember a lovely man. 

We hope that you had a good 2018 without too many aches and pains. Wishing you all the best for 2019 along with good health, prosperity, and happiness

Happy Christmas

Love, Hugs and Prayers

Barry and Julia

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Homily by Fr Frank Daly

At the 11 hour on the 11 day of the 11 month, exactly one hundred years ago today, at this precise moment, the guns fell silent. And in that silence the hope was born that this so-called ‘war to end all wars’ would never happen again, that the hubris, pride and arrogance that caused it would never resurface and that the 20 million lives lost would not be for nothing.
"This act of remembrance which we gather for every year has of course a special poignancy today – it is something we must do, wear our poppies, gather in silence – and for many of us the reasons are personal, as we commemorate members of our own families who are among those countless dead. And so the guns fell silent – only they didn’t, and they haven’t and they aren’t.
That same cynicism of cigar-smoking, brandy swilling generals that sent thousands of men over the top like cannon fodder to instant and painful death without any thought of who they were, their families and where they came from is still alive and well today.
"My sister in the ministry, Rev. Angela, wrote in the Hinckley Times this week that in remembrance today we not only remember their sacrifice but all the times we got it wrong. We must remember our own mistakes if we are to move forward.
"Those mistakes are still being made, that pride and hubris still exists, internationally, nationally and personally. Our country which prides itself on its sense of honour and justice has in many ways shamed their memory.
"Much of our economy is enhanced by the arms industry which makes over 7 billion pounds every year from the sale of weapons to countries often of dubious integrity. Trillions of pounds are spent on the creation of a weapons system that could destroy the whole planet in a week. How can we lament the effects of war if we are profiting from the sale of the means of promoting it? How can we pray for peace when we are producing the very means of destroying it?
"This is the greatest hypocrisy. We have also created a so-called ‘hostile environment’ to actively prevent those who are feeling the effects of war today, the butchering of their families, the destruction of their homes, fleeing for their very lives, from finding safety and asylum here, because we feel they are just ‘migrants’ and a drain on our economy.
"I ask you, how many of you standing here in front of me today have actually met a refugee face to face and listened to their story? How can we make judgments about them when we have never met them? How can we turn them away when they have escaped the very thing we are commemorating today?
"The words read to us by the Rev. Dimitri were chosen specially for today from the very earliest days of the Christian Church: “where do these wars and battles between you begin?”, asks the apostle James.
“Isn’t it precisely in the desires fighting within you? You want something and you can’t have it so you are prepared to kill to get it” We have developed what we might call a ‘culture of entitlement’ which tells us that we can and must have anything we want whenever we want it, even if it is at the expense of others. Every angry word, every selfish thought or action has shamed the memory of these men who sought no more than to serve, a thought becoming increasingly alien to our thinking.
"Every complaint, every outrage or outburst, every time we blind ourselves to the sufferings of others with an over concern for our own profit and welfare, we dishonour those who gave so much so that we could be free from all of this. We can only honour their dying by our living, and we do so by rooting out every drop of self-interest within us so that we can open our hearts and minds to others and live peacefully and justly with them.

"The Christian faith which frames the lives of so many of us, tells us that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to the world’s salvation – the gospel of peace, reconciliation and forgiveness, the gospel of putting others before ourselves even at great cost, as did he who gave away his whole life so that the world could be saved from itself.

"This is the message of truth for all times - you find your life only when you have lost it for others – a message that is more appropriate and necessary today than it ever has been. No amount of flag waving, poppy-wearing, wreath laying, or all too brief moments of silence can ever truly honour their memory, when deep down our own needs and interests remain of paramount importance.
"It is only in the way we shape our lives today, allow our thinking to be changed, our hearts to be touched and our attitudes to be transformed, that we can create any lasting memorial to them. We can only honour their dying in our living, which surely will be our pledge to them today and for ever."

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Sir Philip Green

He may not be the most likeable of people, although it is hard to judge never having met him. But his public persona is rather naff. However he is innocent until proven guilty.

Sadly wealthy and powerful people have manipulated the judicial process ever since there was one. As I understand it several people, mainly/all women have received sums of money from him in return for which they signed NDAs. The Telegraph was going to report this and Sir Philip took out a temporary court injunction to prevent this. A full hearing is due to take place "soon". Lord Hain revealed this fact and Sir Philip's name as the man behind this using Parliamentary Privilege in order to get round the injunction. So as I understand it there are two points in question - the use of NDAs and the use of parliamentary privilege. 

Many of us have signed NDAs, the ultimate one which I have signed is the Official Secrets one. But I have signed many customer ones when commercially sensitive information was disclosed to me. I also signed one when I left my last employer and this covered the terms of my termination agreement. It would appear that NDAs are also being used when people make allegations and they are "bought off" with sums of money and they promise to say anything more. Who is the "guilty" person in these cases probably varies. I can understand an innocent person succumbing to paying out rather than be tried by the media! I can also understand someone raising a legitimate complaint being bought off as it is so much easier than fighting expensive lawyers and a court case. Should this type of NDA be made illegal? Probably easier said than done as no matter how careful the wording of the law there will always be a clever lawyer who will find a way to get round it. 

To move to the issue of Lord Hain and his revelation in the Lords. Should he have done this? Is the fact that it was Sir Philip behind it all relevant? Personally, on balance, I think Lord Hain was wrong. But the cat is out of the bag and who knows where it will run.