Saturday, 7 January 2023

The Harry and Meghan Saga

 I have desperately being trying to avoid the Harry/Meghan soap opera. But with publication of Harry's book "Spare" it is impossible as it seems to fill every type of media and all the news broadcasts..

One of the (many)things that puzzles me is why Harry felt the need to talk about what he did in Afghanistan, particularly saying how many people he killed. I was born in 1947 and my dad, like many of his generation, fought in the war. Again like many of his contemporaries he had many stories to tell - but none of them had anything to do with fighting. Walking through Blackwell tunnel at night to visit my mum in the Mile End Hospital following her massive leg injuries in an air-raid - dad was at Biggin Hill at the time. Playing "international rugby" for the Shetlands v the Orkneys! A guards drill instructor trying to teach him to change step whilst marking time, he was at an RAF OCTU in Devon at the time. Having his first Chinese Meal (in India)… the list goes on. But never anything about fighting. Whenver I asked him anything about what he really did regards fighting he adroitly changed the subject. All of my friends dad's did the same. According to the stories you would have thought that the war was one long holiday camp interspersed with trips abroad- we all know that the reality was very different. But they never spoke about it.
So why did Harry feel the need to tell? I guess that we will never know why, but in my book it diminishes him.

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Is it just the Arabs that we don’t like, or perhaps just some Arabs?

 I am not sure when I have heard so much cant and hypocrisy over anything as the hot air and virtue signalling that is taking place over the Football World Cup which is taking place in Qatar. Let me begin by making my position clear.


It should not be taking place in Qatar. 


There is no doubt in my mind that it is only as a result of industrial scale bribery and corruption that it is taking place in such a hot country in the middle of the football season in many leagues across the world. There is also no doubt that several thousand people died constructing the stadia and that the living conditions of the construction workers was and is appalling.

However, the argument now seems to be focussed on the treatment of those who are LGBT+. We seem to be quite happy to deal “normally” with other countries whose position on LGBT+ is similar to Qatar. According to Human Rights Watch, as reported on the BBC website: , there are 69 countries that have repressive LGBT+ legislation. These include many African countries and some Asian and other countries. We seem quite happy to play Pakistan at cricket and LGBT+ legislation doesn’t get a mention.


Some American states still have anti-gay legislation on their statue books. The US Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional although one Supreme Court Justice has said that the ruling should be looked at again!


So why are we so “hot & bothered” about the LGBT+ issues at this event, whilst we let other events pass by without notice? COP27 has just taken place in Eygpt. Contemporary Egyptian law does not explicitly criminalize same-sex sexual acts. Instead, the state uses several morality provisions for the de facto criminalization of homosexual conduct. Any behaviour, or the expression of any idea that is deemed to be immoral, scandalous or offensive to the teachings of a recognized religious leader may be prosecuted using these provisions. These public morality and public order laws have been used against LGBT people, in addition to the supporters of LGBT-reform.

Perhaps it is just some Arabs that we don't like?

Monday, 12 September 2022

Constitutional Monarchy - Time for a Change?

Following the death of Her Queen Elizabeth and the accession to the throne of her son Charles there have been calls, in some quarters, that an hereditary monarchy, albeit a Constitutional Monarchy, is an anachronism in the 21st century and should be replaced  by an elected president. Some  calls, such as that from the Irish hobgoblins known as Jedward are frankly risible. Then there are the demented ravings from some North American harpies. Some are more reasoned and deserve some careful thought; but what I have not seen is a comprehensive proposal suggesting what alternative form of government is proposed. It is as if we simply replace the hereditary monarchy with an elected president and keep everything else the same. Yet if events of the last few days have shown us anything they have shown how the monarchy is woven into the fabric of our parliamentary democracy. You cannot simply change one part of it without having to change how the rest of it works.

There are some key questions that need answering. Do we go for something like the American system where the president is all powerful or a symbolic head of state as in Ireland?

If a symbolic head of state then how are they chosen? (Personally I would exclude any person who has held elected pubic office). If we go with an elected all powerful president is the election for her/him held at the same time as parliamentary elections? What happens if we get a Labour President and a Conservative House of Commons (or vice-versa)? If we have an elected Head of State logic would dictate that the House of Lords should be an elected body not based on hereditary peerages and the munificence of the prime minister. When would these elections be held? Should the whole of the House of Lords be elected in one fell swoop or say one third every two years? What power would they hold over the HofC?
If my memory is correct despite most Australians favouring repulicanism the last Australian referendum on who should be head of state instead of the Queen/King fell because they could not agree on an alternative. 

There will probably only be one chance to change things in my lifetime (aged 75 next birthday) so whatever is proposed needs to be well detailed and well thought out. I shall not be holding my breath

The times they are a changin'

 Since I last posted we have had the resignation of Prime Minister Johnson. The unedifying spectacle of a seven week campaign for the Conservative Party to elect a new leader. The queen appointing Liz Truss as Prime Minister followed swiftly by the demise of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Charles, Prince of Wales appointed King Charles III. 

As a country we now await the funeral of the late Queen and, no doubt in about a year or so, the coronation of the King. Meanwhile we in the midst of a major energy crisis, a cost of living crisis, an environmental crisis and the "non-war" in Ukraine rumbles on.

I am not sure how many shopping days until Christmas, but I suspect that it will be bleak for many.

Wednesday, 13 July 2022

Rugby is Doomed

I love the game, spent many happy hours playing it, some not so happy hours in A&E, and even more very happy hours in the bar talking about it!!! The older I get the better I was, although truth be told I wasn't that good. But I loved playing it, as did thousands of others, and we all have a bond of friendship whenever we meet irrespective of our actual standard of play.
So why do I say that the game is doomed? This article, to me sums up all that is wrong with the game. It talks about attracting spectators, trying to attract increaed funding. I would rather they focussed on attracting more players. Of filling the void by schools not playing the game. I would like others to have the same fun that I had. But the administrators of the sport seem to have abandoned the grass roots game.
Personally I think that the sport is losing out by this relentless focus on the top level. Sport is to be played not to be used as a money making machine.
I guess that I am just an old has-been stuck in a time-warp hankering after the "good old days". Still I cannot help but feel that young people are missing out on something that was good - I am simply glad that I was a part of it.

Tuesday, 12 July 2022

Is Racism still alive and kicking in the UK?

Taking my life into my hands - Would Sir Mo Farah have been treated the same if he had been Joe Ordinary from Somalia?

What happened to him was awful, horrendous, we do not have words to describe what he went through.
The sad reality is that thousands endured the same horror as he did, but I sady suspect that they wee treated differently once the facts were known!

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.