Thursday, 9 June 2022

Reflection from a year or so go that is still relevant

Apart from being engulfed by the CV-19 pandemic we are now caught in the maelstrom of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and all the protests initially caused by the murder of (black) George Floyd by a (white) policeman Derek Chauvin. The protest movement appears to have taken on a life of its own and in a few instances has been subverted by people more interested in rioting and looting than by those trying to right a great wrong.
Nevertheless the vast majority of the protesters are focussed on righting the wrongs of the past and those that are still happening today in many (all?) countries across the globe.
One of the symbols of the protests has been focussed on removing statues and place/street names honouring people who were slave traders. It has been pointed out that some of the slavers did many philanthropic acts; this is countered by so did Jimmy Savile but we don't erect statues to him. It should of course be pointed out that what Jimmy Savile was illegal whereas slavery was, at that time legal (still abhorrent and an affront to any decent human being). Slavery might now be illegal but if anyone believes that it is abolished they have not being paying attention to events around the globe.
So this leads onto the question of should we judge the past by the standards of today? There are thousands if not millions of people who were punished for committing acts that were illegal at the time but which are legal today. Homosexual acts spring to mind; over the centuries may people were imprisoned for carrying out these. Some have been posthumously pardoned, Alan Turing springs to mind. He did break the law and was cruelly punished. Should he have been and should all the others that were similarly barbarically treated be pardoned? They knew that what they were doing was illegal at that time and were caught and punished. In some cases the cruel incarceration gave rise to great art, De Profundis and the Ballad of Reading Gaol are two works by Oscar Wilde that spring to mind.
Many people were transported to Australia for committing acts that today would warrant no more than a slap on the wrist at the local magistrates court. Turing and some 50,000 others including Wilde have been pardoned, but this doesn't ease the pain and degradation that they suffered at the time.
Cecil Rhodes is now coming under attack and there are increasing cries for his statue to be removed from where is is sited in Oxford. Oriel College decided not to remove the statue in High Street in 2016 and said the figure "was a reminder of the complexity of history and of the legacies of colonialism".What will happen today is anyones guess, although if I were a betting man I would bet that it will be removed.
So how should we judge the past and how we should we teach it? How many today are taught about the Tolpuddle Martyrs? Their great bravery helped lay down the foundations of the trade union movement and the great reforms in working practices that are still prevalent today, although under constant threat. The present is built on the past for good or ill. We most certainly should not forget it or else we will be destined to repeat it.

Friday, 29 April 2022

Why we played (Rugby that is)

 When the battle scars have faded

And the truth becomes a lie

And the weekend smell of liniment
Could almost make you cry.
When the last rucks well behind you
And the man that ran now walks
It doesn’t matter who you are
The mirror sometimes talks
Have a good hard look old son!
The melons not that great
The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways
Used to be dead straight
You’re an advert for arthritis
You’re a thoroughbred gone lame
Then you ask yourself the question
Why the hell you played the game?
Was there logic in the head knocks?
In the corks and in the cuts?
Did common sense get pushed aside?
By manliness and guts?
Do you sometimes sit and wonder
Why your time would often pass
In a tangled mess of bodies
With your head up someone’s......?
With a thumb hooked up your nostril
Scratching gently on your brain
And an overgrown Neanderthal
Rejoicing in your pain!
Mate – you must recall the jersey
That was shredded into rags
Then the soothing sting of Dettol
On a back engraved with tags!
It’s almost worth admitting
Though with some degree of shame
That your wife was right in asking
Why the hell you played the game?
Why you’d always rock home legless
Like a cow on roller skates
After drinking at the clubhouse
With your low down drunken mates
Then you’d wake up – check your wallet
Not a solitary coin
Drink Berocca by the bucket
Throw an ice pack on your groin
Copping Sunday morning sermons
About boozers being losers
While you limped like Quasimodo
With a half a thousand bruises!
Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain
And curse Sambuca’s name
Would always pose the question
Why the hell you played the game!
And yet with every wound re-opened
As you grimly reminisce it
Comes the most compelling feeling yet
God, you bloody miss it!
From the first time that you laced a boot
And tightened every stud
That virus known as rugby
Has been living in your blood
When you dreamt it when you played it
All the rest took second fiddle
Now you’re standing on the sideline
But your hearts still in the middle
And no matter where you travel
You can take it as expected
There will always be a breed of people
Hopelessly infected
If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him
Like a gravitating force
With a common understanding
And a beer or three, of course
And as you stand there telling lies
Like it was yesterday old friend
You’ll know that if you had the chance
You’d do it all again
You see – that’s the thing with rugby
It will always be the same
And that, I guarantee
Is why the hell you played the game!
By Rupert McCall
Credit: Sutton & Epsom Bs

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

The Prime Minister must go

     The number of times that we have changed PM during wars:

                                                            May be an image of text that says "The changed PM four times in the war in Afghanistan in the Iraq War in the Gulf War in the Korean War in the Second World War in the First World War in the Second Boer War d-in the Second Opium War in the Crimean War twice in the Peninsular War"

and these were wars in which we were fighting rather than supporting.

Thursday, 31 March 2022


 One old lady wants to go outside. Her cries grow ever more plaintive: “I need some fresh air, help me.” Then, more urgently: “I’m dying! Let me out!” The carers are endlessly patient: “We’re doing the medicine round, Edna. You’ll have to wait a minute.” She’s just been out for a cigarette, but is restless again.

I reflect that this will be me, if I end up in a care home. Driven mad by the sweltering rooms, frustrated by the combination lock on the door. Just before I leave, Edna is taken outside in a wheelchair and I pass her on the patio sitting alone, clattering a table to be let back in. She doesn’t want to be inside or outside. She wants the freedom, which infirmity has stolen, to choose.

Thursday, 24 March 2022

What has happened to Putin?

 What has happened to Putin? Why has he flipped? The major question of the day is how can he withdraw Russian forces without losing his job/head?

Both Sir John Sawyers, former head of MI6 and Donald Trump who met Putin on several occasions agree that he has changed from a strong, rational leader with a deep sense of Russia and its proper place in the world to an irrational leader doing very strange things. It is reported that Tump thought that the massing of Russian forces on the Ukrainian border was a negotiating tactic and one that he could see the sense of.
Something within Putin has changed over the last two years; what is it? We need to understand Putin so that he can be persuaded to withdraw his forces whilst appearing to have gained something.
If he cannot do that then he will say and more and more innocent lives on both sides will be wasted.

Sunday, 13 March 2022

What happens to former dictators? Where does Putin go?

The reason for asking this is that sooner or later, and I hope that it is sooner,  we have to start thinking about the end-game of the war in the Ukraine. From what I have read Putin is stubborn and can be brutal. He will not voluntarily give up on the course of action that he has started. I suspect that currently the chances of a "palace coup" in Russia and replacing him are very slim; particularly if he feels that he has no where to go, no escape route apart from death.

In the seventies I took a Diploma in Management Studies. I still remember the module on negotiations. One of the key points was to see things through the eyes of the people that you were negotiating with and to leave them with some "wiggle room" so that they have a positive view of the end result. As a supplier you can screw a customer just the once, as he will never come back. Work out a settlement that he is happy with and you have repeat business. Similarly from the customers perspective if you have a good supplier who makes what your business needs you want the supplier to remain in business to keep on supplying you.

What does Putin really want? If we do not understand this we have no hope of any settlement. I am not saying give him what he wants, but we need to understand what motivated him to start the conflict. If the conflict does not end in some form of negotiated settlement then there are, as I see it three possible outcomes:

  1. Putin keeps shelling and bombing Ukraine and its cities until they are completely uninhabitable. Then he takes them in a somewhat Pyrrhic victory.
  2. The war keeps going for many years with the Ukrainians/Russians living in a state pf perpetual conflict.
  3. We slowly but surely drift into a major global conflict that engulfs us all.
There are some that say that World War 2 was a result of the punitive damages that were imposed on Germany at the end of the First War. Somehow Putin has to be persuaded that ending the conflict is in his best interests, that he has a way out. A mighty difficult task but if we do not succeed we are doomed to years of conflict and suffering.

Tuesday, 1 March 2022

Request from the Chief Rabbi in the Ukraine

 The Chief Rabbi of Ukraine has asked for Christians to recite the following verses of Psalm 31 aloud.

Psalm 31 21-24
21 Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said, “I am cut off from your sight!” Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help.
23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he repays in full.
24. Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.