Sunday, 29 November 2009
Following on from my post about dad, this is another one about The Home Guard.
The unit throughout the war was controlled by the regular army, who looked upon them as a bunch of old idiots.
Nevertheless orders would be issued from High Command to effect certain actions!
On one occasion Dad's unit was told to lay a communications line from Hitchin to Stevenage, a distance of about six miles.
Dad's commanding officer, who was very similar to Captain Mainwaring, said to the High Command, 'No problem, when are you sending the cable to do the job?'
'Don't be stupid Captain, use your imagination!'.
So, Corporal John Holmes,( My Dad ) and a squad of aged commandos raided the local post office depot in the middle of the night and stole six miles of cable.
Before the event Dad blacked up with boot polish in his mum's kitchen and she said,'what are you doing son?'.' Can't tell you mum, it's a matter of national security!'.
So the upshot was that the military got six miles of communication cable laid and the post office had a problem with their inventory.
The local police were called in to investigate, but since most of them were in the Home Guard, they were stumped as to who might have perpetrated the crime!
A little bit of this kind of behaviour today might help our World.
Saturday, 28 November 2009
My old Dad is 87 now and lives with me since my Mum died 6 years ago.
He's at that time of life where he spends much of his time reflecting on the past and those of you with elderly relatives will know that they can be somewhat repetitive.
However it is always good to be patient at these times because every now and then he comes out with some little gems.
Dad was born in 1922 in Kensington, which is in West London, his father had been an officer in The Durham Light Infantry during the Great War and was invalided out after the Battle of Passchendaele.
At the age of about six the family moved to Stevenage in Hertfordshire, at the time a small market town on the Great North Road.
At the age of eight Dad had a fall which resulted in him experiencing severe pain.
He was taken to the doctors and after many tests, it was established that he had tuberculosis of the bone and he was despatched to an infirmary in Stamford, Middlesex for what would turn out to be a series of operations over a four year period.
At the time TB was a killer and it was fortunate that it was not in his lungs.
The little laddie grew up fast in that institution, suffering not only personal physical pain, but emotional stress from the loss of friends who were in hospital with him.
He has recounted to me one particularly bad six month period when he was in plaster from his chest to his ankles.
The diseased bone was in his right hip and so a hole was cut in the plaster so that each morning the nurse could put an aluminium spike in the wound, to break up the puss.
This was done every day for six months, without the aid of any pain killer.
The old fella has a permanent tan since in those days they believed the best cure was fresh air, and so he was pushed outside in his bed irrespective of the weather.
In the end they stopped the spread of the disease by grafting bone from his shin into his hip and as a result he has no joint on the right side and his leg is four inches shorter.
All his life he has steadfastly refused to accept disability and he can be more than a little short with people who moan about pain!
During the Second World War he joined a thing called the Home Guard and if any of you have ever seen a BBC comedy series called Dad's Army, the old boy says it was just like that!
He has told me some very funny stories of that time, including one involving the Australian Army.
At the outset of hostilities the Australian Army Pay Corp were billeted at his local golf club and many was the time that Dad played golf with these fellas.
He says they would carry their golf clubs but also have a golf trolley to carry the beer!
One day a sergeant scored a hole in one and that was the end of the round, they had a party in the clubhouse that lasted a week!
Another time Dad was standing guard duty on the top of a water tower close by the main railwayline from London to Edinburgh.
A table was welded onto the top of the tower which had an engraved map of the local terrain as well as profiles of German aircraft.
One night Dad was on duty when a plane appeared from the South and checking the profiles he realised it was a German Ju88.
Armed with his trusty First World War Canadian Ross rifle, he started taking pot shots as the plane was heading towards him.
As it passed, he received a burst of cannon fire, puncturing the water tower, which made him bounce up and down.
To this day he believes the German gunner was simply saying,' don't be a bloody idiot!'
There are many more tales from his younger days that I am collating and I will relate them to you over the coming months.
Friday, 27 November 2009
The working week has finished and now we are about to embark on the weekend.
I am at home listening to Brazilian music with a fine glass of wine and a cigarette.
What are you doing?
Our masters will be doing the same and contemplating what new laws they might introduce to ensure we continue to perform in a way that meets their requirements.
Democracy requires that you control people by fear, so the press will tell us that Islamism is our current danger and watch out because Sharia law could be introduced.
Oh! please,does anyone seriously think that this is going to happen!
Wouldn't it be nice if we had a government that said we are going to repeal laws for the next term in office.
Over 3000 new laws have been passed since the criminal Blair came to power.
Remove laws and let people live and take responsibility for their lives!
Freedom requires that politicians do not interfere in anything that we do!
Thursday, 26 November 2009
This is a beautiful World and it is being screwed up by politicians and institutions, that are only interested in serving their own needs.
A bunch of self serving scientists and bureaucrats are in Copenhagen trying to create the next level of ' thou shalt behave' Global legislation.
These people are financed by organisations that directly benefit from creating an apocalyptic
view of the World.
Sure Global warming is probably taking place, but only the dogma of modern science would say that humankind is responsible.
These very same scientists will tell you that the Earth has gone through many such cycles in it's history.Some of which have happened very rapidly.
The very arrogance of science, to suggest that we can cure the problem, as if the World was some machine that they controlled!
Science denies the existence of spirituality, which will result in it's ultimate failure.
The universe will determine the future of our World, which is well beyond the comprehension of our narrow minded scientists.
You do not need to be of a religious persuasion to work out that we are not in tune with nature and that we are abusing the Globe.
The Greenies protest about this and that. Essentially there are too many people using up resources of the Planet.
Each country needs a smaller population and more focus should be on skills that help societies survive.
We need practical skills, spirituality, arts, engineering, mathematics, as was true in ancient times.
We do not need accountants, lawyers, pr consultants, marketing folk, politicians et al.
Old fashioned trades will be what is required in the new age, if man is to survive and rebuild civilisation, because the system is about to collapse.
Those who take the World forward will be those who have already given up a material way of life.
Those who still live with materialism are already dead.
I titled this post ' An Angry Man ' simply because I believe humanity has not yet woken to the fundamental changes we are going through.
The television generation is in danger of dying in the same way that biblical societies collapsed when Noah was asked to build his Ark.
Monday, 23 November 2009
This post will have an Anglocentric bent, but I believe the principles still apply in other Western Countries.
I read the other day, that a couple were turned down in their application to adopt a small child, on the basis that they were white and the kiddy was black.
What kind of politically correct madness denies a child a loving home simply because of a colour difference?
This bairn is living in an institution, which by definition will not be capable of providing the most fundamental need of a child, which is love.
Love has no colour and if politicians truly believed in diversity then surely the best way to achieve it would be by ignoring ethnicity.
Would black couples in England, desperate for a child, turn down the opportunity to adopt a white baby, if it was offered to them? I don't think so.
What is more important? Political correctness or a child living in a happy home.
In Britain it seems ok for foster parents to look after kids of different ethnic backgrounds, but not acceptable for them to adopt these kiddies.
To me this is just another form of institutional racism.
I can remember when a couple I know who fostered kids, had a brother and sister from Ethiopia.
The little girl would have been about four years old and would always insist on sitting on my knee at my local cricket club and never stop talking!
She was the most beautiful little girl and very happy with here foster parents who under the law had no chance of actually adopting her.
Not only was this tragic, it was criminal!
Some faceless bureaucrat would say she needs to be with people of her own culture.
Total crap, at that age she needs love and security. When she is an adult she can investigate her origins and make up her own mind about these issues.
When she sat on my knee, she didn't look at me as a white man, but simply as a friend who enjoyed her company.
I started this post by saying ' what is going on?'. In my view the West has lost it's spirituality and is hide bound by rules and regulations which are devoid of humanity.
Children just want to be loved and we could all learn something from them, because they don't see colour!
Sunday, 22 November 2009
Well Maria Manuela Gomes has gone back to Belem today for four months and this old fart is on his own for a wee while.
She's gone home to see her old mum, another Maria, to spend time in the humid heat of Amazonia, on a series of flights that mean she won't be home until 1 o'clock lunchtime on Monday.
Poor lass will be starved of a cigarette in all that time because the airline industry says it's bad for your health.
Well we all know that,but let's get real, it really means their cleaning bills are less.
If governments really want to stop people smoking, they would ban it, but they don't do they!
Why? Because they want the tax.
Corrupt politicians across the World pontificate on this subject because the unelected health facists give them the ammunition.
We live in a World where these creeps profess a belief in democracy but institute laws that target groups who either don't support their party or have no political clout.
Real freedom is no longer to be found in western countries, they are now little more than places
controlled by petty bureaucrats and lawyers.
So to get back to Manuela, tomorrow she will be home in a country, whist not perfect, does not persecute it's citizens who want a bloody cigarette in a bar!
Saturday, 21 November 2009
Phillip von Hohenheim, better known to the World today as Paracelsus, was born in Switzerland in 1493, the son of a physician and chemist.
He commenced his University education at the age of 16, initially at the University of Basel and later completing his Doctorate at the University of Ferrara.
With an insatiable thirst for knowledge, he became a travelling physician, working his way through France,Spain,Germany,Sweden,Russia and Hungary.
Paracelsus was steeped in Hermetic, Neo-Platonic and Pythagorean philosophy and as was common at the time amongst physicians, he was a practising Astrologer.
An experimental practitioner, he was always seeking new ways to treat disease, which sometimes brought him into conflict with accepted methodologies and authorities, both academic and religious.
Often considered arrogant in the way he expressed his views, he lasted less than a year in the Chair of Medicine at the University of Basel, before being run out of town!
Resuming his travels, in pursuit of ancient and hidden knowledge he journeyed throughout Europe, Asia Minor and Africa.
The result of these journeys and the knowledge he acquired, culminated in the publication of 'The Great Surgery Book', the first editions of which appeared in 1536, helping to restore his reputation throughout Europe.
In his lifetime he used Alchemical practises more for experimentation on chemical and mineral elements than for personal development.
Paracelsus believed in treating the whole being, body and spirit as you would expect in a follower of Hermetic philosophies.
He was the first to suggest that many diseases of the human body were caused by outside agents, created the use of Laudanum, an opiate tincture, used up until Victorian times as a pain reliever.
Today he is considered the father of Toxocology and is quoted as saying,' all things are poisonous and nothing is without poison, only the dose permits something not to be poisonous'.
Modern holistic medical practitioners owe much to the early work of Paracelsus and some would go even further by stating that he initiated the foundations of what would become medicine as we recognise it today. Another three centuries would have to pass before this happened.
What Paracelsus can still teach us today across a wide range of sciences is this. Knowledge is universal and in nature is not narrowed down into specialist fields.
For truly great advances in the understanding of the universe and man's place in it, scientists of many disciplines need to cooperate and collaborate.
A simple example might be the discipline of archaeology which steadfastly refuses to engage with other disciplines which might disagree with pet theories, these being archaeo-astronomy,
geology and anthropology.
These sciences all working together in an open minded way, might yet discover that human civilisation is much older than current convention suggests.
This is merely one example amongst many where the high priests of science will consider anyone not conforming to their view of the World is a heretic, an experience Paracelsus new only too well.
He left this World in 1541 at the age of 47.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Born in Nuncargate, Nottinghamshire on 14th November 1904, to a working class family, Harold left school at the ripe old age of 14, to commence work in the mines.
His father like every miner I have ever known, didn't want his son to go down the pit.
Fortunately, from a young age he showed an aptitude for cricket, playing initially for his village side and showing an ability with both bat and ball.
At the age of eighteen he trialed for Nottinghanshire County Cricket Club and was offered a professional contract.
In those days cricket was very much a two tier game in England, with control and captaincy of clubs invariably run by the upper classes.
Harold would have found it perfectly normal to have to call his captain,sir!
He rapidly built a reputation as not only a very fast bowler, but also a very accurate one.
His compatriot at Nottingham was Frank Tyson an equally fearsome bowler, who later said that attempts to measure the speed of Harold's bowling varied between 90 and 130 mph, which if tested today would make him the fastest bowler, the World has ever known!
He is best known for bowling in Australia during the notorious Bodyline Tour of 1932, under the captaincy of Douglas Jardine.
He was ordered by his captain to bowl a thing called 'leg theory' ,which was not only very dangerous for batsmen, but devastated the Australian batting order.
Leg Theory works on the basis of aiming for the batsman and not the wicket, considered at the time not to be sporting.
Harold is reported as saying,'When you have 50,000 Aussies shouting at you, you know you've got 'em worried!'.
On returning to England, the political fallout of the tour had the governing body of the game insisting he write a letter of apology.
This he refused to do, on the basis that strategy was the captain's decision.
Jardine, a toff, was never asked to apologise.
As a result Harold was never selected to play for his country again and finished his county career at the outbreak of war in 1939.
Ironically he and his wife emigrated to Australia, a country that didn't look down on him for being a working class lad, where he lived quietly in New South Wales.
Tuesday, 17 November 2009
She was old before her time, but I always knew her for the love she expressed.
Long white hair, right down her back, which each morning, she would brush and then plait.
She had no teeth when I first knew her and would suck barley sugars on her gums, which always made me laugh!
She would giggle that her little grandson found this funny.
An old lady who brought up six children in a two up two down Victorian terraced house, with no bathroom and only an outside toilet.
When I stayed with her, she would wash me in an old tin bath in front of the fire, before going off to bed.
She never owned a washing machine and only ever had a cold tap in the scullery, cooked on a primitive gas cooker, yet her children were always well fed and went to school in clean clothes.
Here name was Florence, but everybody called her Flo.
Never once did she complain about her life, even when she was put in a local asylum for a week because she had had a diabetic fit.
She was the most beautiful woman I have ever known.
Monday, 16 November 2009
Many of you will have heard of the Special Air Service, probably from your television screens in 1981, when units of the Regiment freed hostages from the Iranian Embassy in London.
The event was televised worldwide, much to the chagrin of the Regiment.
This unit, never comprising more than 500 men, has since it's inception wished to remain in the shadows.
Founded in North Africa by Major David Stirling, it has a history of causing significant damage wherever it operates, using the minimum number of men to cause the maximum carnage.
It works to eliminate problems that conventional military operations struggle to do.
Typically working in teams of four these men will be tasked with surveillance, sabotage, hostage recovery, counter insurgency and assassination.
SAS selection is one of the hardest processes that a member of the British Armed Forces can go through, since you have to be a member of an existing unit even to apply.
Unlike American Special Forces, where upper body strength is important, with the Regiment, the focus is on endurance.
The SAS is also looking for intelligence, an ability to learn languages and initiative.
Conventional military skills are an expected given, but you will also learn how to withstand torture, live off the land and work with native peoples.
The Regiment as it is commonly called in the British Army, has seen action in North Africa, France, Italy, Germany, Borneo, Malaya, Oman, Northern Ireland, Falklands, Colombia, Iraq, Afghanistan and places the Ministry of Defence do not want us to know about.
During a coup in the West African Republic of The Gambia, in the 1980's, the deposed President asked for British help.
He was sent a Major and Sergeant from 22 SAS, who with the aid of Senegalise Paratroopers, ousted the insurgents within a week.
Today this unit operates in Afghanistan, often behind enemy lines, in a surveillance role, calling in strikes on targets manned by the Taliban.
At least one man in each unit will be fluent in the local language and another will be a medic who will help local people.
Tonight, when you lie in bed, think about these highly trained soldiers who risk their lives while we sleep, they are discreet in what they do and their deeds are invariably not publicised for many years after the event.
Their Regimental motto is ' Who Dares Wins '.
It doesn't take me to tell you that millions of words have been written on this secret brotherhood of warrior monks, however for this post I want to focus on the mystery surrounding their early years.
The Knights Templar were initiated in Southern France in the year 1113, by one Hugues de Payen and sometime between 1118 and 1120 he journeyed to the Holy Land with eight other knights.
There he met Baldwin II King of the Frankish Kingdom of Jerusalem and proposed that his new order should protect pilgrims visiting the Holy sites of Palestine.
Quite what persuaded Baldwin to agree to this and provide them with extensive quarters on the Temple Mount, in the Al Aqsa Mosque, is not known.
For nine years these nine knights never left the Temple Mount, but busied themselves digging underneath it.
Conventional wisdom states that in these early years they struggled to recruit new members because of the austerity of their Order.
Their fortunes began to change in the year 1127 when the Abbot, Bernard of Clairvaux, wrote the rules of their order, modelling them on his own, The Cistercians.
Highly regarded throughout Christendom for his canonical knowledge, Bernard later wrote to Hugues de Payen, extolling the virtues of the new Order.
This not only opened the floodgates of new recruits from the Nobility, but also for donations of land and valuables, which would lead to The Knights Templar becoming the wealthiest body in Christendom.
About this time the original nine knights completed their searches beneath the Temple Mount.
The mystery that arises, is this, what did they find? Was it treasure, the mysterious Baphomet, thought to be a preserved human head or was it documentation?
Whatever it was, shortly afterwards the Order was given unprecedented power by the then Pope.
They were to be exclusively accountable to the Pope, which made them more powerful than any Monarch in Christendom.
Did they discover something which would shake the very foundations of the Roman Church, which at all costs had to be kept secret.
I will leave you with this thought. During their time in the Outremer they absorbed much knowledge from both Judaism and Islam.
One school of thought suggests that their long term plan was to instigate the unification of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
If this was the case then they must have found something that could unite these faiths, an intriguing thought indeed!
Sunday, 15 November 2009
I've just met a very nice lady at Blogcatalog, called Lor, who is a bit of an expert on the subject of aliens and has got me thinking, purely in a mischievous way you understand.
Just suppose a spaceship landed at lunchtime in Alnwick.
Well of course all hell would break loose, there aren't that many parking spaces in the town at the best of times!
The door of the craft opens and out steps this strange looking bi-ped, clad in a shimmering skin tight costume.
The locals are naturally horrified! Can't the BBC film somewhere else?
In perfect English he says,' Greetings Earthlings', Oh God and the scripts crap too!
Up steps Sergeant Mallaburn of Her Majesty's Constabulary.
' Good afternoon sir, very nice costume, now about the spaceship, I'm afraid you can't park it here sir, it's causing an obstruction'.
' Look into my eyes Earthling'.
' Now now sir, you can't catch me with that one, I am a British police officer and by definition a uni- cellular organism that's not responsive to hypnosis'.
' Either you move the spaceship or I will be forced to ask you to accompany me to the Station!'.
With this the alien looks to the heavens, returns to his ship and buggers off!
So when the day finally arrives when the World is invaded, they will probably give England a miss, we can't take anything seriously!
Well it seems at long last an American Academic has discovered the reason behind declining male fertility in developed countries!
Dr De-Kun Li of Stanford University says,' I would like to advise couples trying for a baby, to reduce their exposure to electro-magnetic fields'.
Our modern World,with it's array of electronic gadgetry, is to blame.
This seems to mean chaps, that sadly your days of vacuuming around the house, are numbered!
Now I know that you will all be sadden by this news, but in the interests of your fertility, you will just have to make sacrifices.
Your dear lady will need to start pulling her weight and stop going off to football games with the girls.
So put your feet up and rest those cherished balls or buy a lead cod-piece!
Friday, 13 November 2009
One of my favourite pastimes is enjoying a pint or two in my local pub, The George.
Having travelled to many parts of the World, including North America,Europe,The Gulf States,Singapore and Australia, there is nothing quite like an English pub.
Some of these hostelries are ancient indeed and have always been the hubs of their communities, satisfying the need of the working man to imbibe on the way home from work.
In Alnwick, to service the needs of a thirsty population of some 8000 souls, we have fifteen pubs, not many, I hear you say, but we get by, nonetheless!
Most countries around the World drink a substance we refer to as lager, which is usually served so cold it gives your stomach frostbite!
This stuff appears not to have any noticeable flavour other than a kind of metally taste that reminds me of new fillings!
In the British Isles and I will include Ireland here, you can by draught bitter, which is hand pulled from a beer engine and thus contains no gas, is a warm brown colour and is full of flavour.
I might add that it is served generally at around room temperature and you don't need many of these before you lose control of your bottom jaw!
There are literally hundreds of different brews, all with their own distinct taste.
So getting back to the point, in this country our social life tends to revolve around the pub, rather than in our homes.
The pub is a great leveller, where people from all walks of life congregate and thus it is a microcosm of our little island.
We discuss politics, music, sport, work, sex( although the English are hardly experts on this subject! ), tell irreverent stories and basically put the World to rights.
Every pub has it's philosopher who has an answer for everything, yeh that's him in the corner, the boring bastard!
Towards the latter half of the evening the language degenerates into pure Pre-Shakespearian Anglo-Saxon.
At the finish, a merry time, having been had by all, we wend our circuitous route home and live to fight another day!
Thursday, 12 November 2009
Today Simon is enraged!
This morning I went into my local W H Smith book store, part of a publicly quoted company.
So angry was I, that I tried to contact the company's corporate website, but to no avail, these executives hide behind layers of departments designed to deflect customer dissatisfaction.
Not deterred, I sent an open letter to The Daily Mail newspaper, the text of which follows:
WH Smith plc
Dear Mr Clarke,
I had occasion to go into your store in Alnwick today. In the course of my browsing for Christmas presents, I came across, what purports to be a game for all the family, during the festive season.
It goes by the name of Pass the Bomb!
What kind of crass idiot do you employ, who considers this to be a good idea, when people and soldiers around the world are being mutilated and killed by such devices.
Since it appears impossible to e.mail you direct, I am using this conduit to contact you.
At the very least I would suggest that you remove this product from sale and issue a statement apologising to families who have suffered the effects of bomb attacks.
I would ask you all to express your indignation at a company that sees fit to make profit from such a product.
Tuesday, 10 November 2009
For those of you new to this subject, I will try to outline what I mean by a Mystery School.
They in essence were schools that initiated people into the mysteries and wonders of nature, including dimensions that science today only suspect, exist.
In both Ancient Greece and Egypt, they were dedicated to the Esoteric Arts, and in the case of Egypt, tended to be focused almost exclusively on the Priesthood and the Royal House.
For the Greeks however access to this ancient and secret knowledge was available to all including slaves and latterly the Romans.
The greatest and most famous of all the Greek Mystery Schools was at Eleusis, approximately fourteen miles from Athens.
Eleusis was dedicated to the Goddess Demeter mother of agriculture and vegetation.
A ceremony took place once a year conducted by an hereditary priesthood known as the Eumolpedie.
It is known that anything up to three thousand people at a time attended initiation, involving a procession through sacred Athens, leading to purification in the sea and being sprinkled with pigs blood.
Having partaken of food and drink including a brew made from barley specifically grown, that contained a fungus with hallucinogenic properties, they were then lead to a sacred grove, where, the High Priest, through incantations, would tell them of the illusory nature of their existence and that this life was merely a dream.
The rites that followed, mirrored the growing season, from the planting of seed, nurturing of crops and ultimately the harvest. To divulge the secrets of the mysteries was punishable with death.
The initiated came away from the experience elated in the knowledge that their spirit was immortal.
The Mystery Schools of which there were a significant number were shut down with the advent of state sponsored Christianity and presented as works of Satan.
The good news is that similar beliefs are still held today by adherents of Esoteric thought and of course by native peoples around the world.
A wisdom that is at last coming out of the shadows!
Monday, 9 November 2009
When I was a lad, I lived in a small village in Hertfordshire, called Pirton and as you know, when you remember your childhood, it was always sunny.
We lived in a fourteenth century thatched cottage where the back garden was bounded by the village pond.
I remember it as being quite large since there were thirteen weeping willow trees overhanging the pond.
Come rain or shine, my days were always spent outside.
My best mate was called Pete and he and I used to disappear off into the Pegston Hills on our bikes, each with a bag of sandwiches and pop that our Mums had prepared for us.
Racing down country lanes devoid of cars, lying face upwards in cornfields listening to the skylarks that flew so high, you couldn't see them.
Digging for fossils in an old disused quarry.
Our bags always contained our Observers books, little pocket sized volumes on subjects like native bird species, butterflies and wild flowers.
The hills around the village were of chalk and grazed by sheep, with the woods being mainly of beech.
For sport we used to go scrumping, nicking ( Stealing ) apples from the Vicar's orchard, I'm quite sure he new what we were up to, but we never got caught.
In those days every village had it's characters and ours was an old man called Will, who in his seventies had never been further than the local market town of Hitchin, just five miles away.
The village lads used to tease him, but he was a crack shot with a catapult and would invariably hit them on the backside as they were running away!
Of course you would never tell your parents, otherwise you'd get another crack when you got home!
On Saturday mornings Mum would give me a half crown to go and by some fresh bread from the bakery, it was so hot I had to run all the way home because I could hardly hold it and I can still taste that wonderful flavour that only truly fresh bread has.
Later in life I read Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee, evoking his childhood in the Westcountry and all the memories came flooding back.
The richness of childhood before the advent of technology is something I feel privileged to have experienced, sadly it is lost to the young today.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
Today I witnessed an old soldier lay a flower on the the grave of a friend who died on the beaches of Normandy in 1944.
I struggle to write this post, my eyes are full of tears, for a man who has lost his friend.
Today after all these years, he can still reflect on the comradeship they had together, the dignity that this old man showed, in expressing his love, for his friend makes it very difficult for me to write this post.
What can I say, soldiers of any nation are required to do their duty, but it is their comrades,friends and families who truly understand their sacrifice and we all cry for them.
Let us hope that one day war will be history.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Slavery has been the scourge of humanity since the dawn of time and we are all familiar with the mass transportation of Africans across the Atlantic for the better part of two hundred and fifty years.
Some estimates say that as many as 15 million Africans were transported in that time to North and South America and the Caribbean.
It wasn't until 1807, after 20 years of campaigning that Britain outlawed the importation of slaves to it's colonies and even then the Slavery Abolition Act was not passed into law until 1833.
What is less well known is that a similar trade had been going on at the same time in North Africa, operating along the coast, from as far East as modern day Libya to the Atlantic coast of Morocco, at the time commonly called The Barbary Coast.
From the early 1600's to August 1816, an estimated 1.25 million European Christians were abducted by Barbary pirates.
Operating out of three main centres, Tunis, Algiers and the port of Sale on the Moroccan Atlantic coast, they targeted merchant shipping, fishing fleets and coastal villages.
In the case of the latter records show that on occasion they took whole communities.
Spain suffered the most, not only because of it's proximity to Africa but also in revenge for the expulsion of Muslims after the victories of Ferdinand and Isabella.
In England the coastal villages of Cornwall suffered repeated attacks.
The Corsairs, as they were referred to even captured Icelanders and Americans, all to disappear into the slave markets of North Africa.
Surviving testimonies make harrowing reading, with forced conversion to Islam, the norm.
Those who resisted usually only lasted about six months and in the case of women a matter of weeks.
The Apostates, as they were referred to in Europe were those who succumbed under torture and new that their governments would do nothing to recover them because of their conversion.
Probably one of the most detailed accounts concerns a Cornishman called Thomas Pellow, who was captured when his uncle's merchantman was overrun in the English Channel.
Thomas was eleven years old at the time and along with the rest of the crew was taken to Sale in Morocco, where he suffered six months of hell in the slave pens, before being brought into the service of the son of Sultan Moulay Ismail.
In order to force Thomas to convert to Islam, his new owner subjected him to sustained bouts of torture using a method called the Bastinado, where the boys feet were strapped together and the soles repeatedly beaten with wood.
It is a testament to his character that it took nearly six months before the boy succumbed to this torment.
He was held in captivity suffering many privations for twenty three years, before he finally managed to escape on an Irish merchantman and at long last make his way back home to Penryn in Cornwall.His homecoming makes emotional reading, for his parents were still alive.
Europe seemed totally incapable of dealing with this trade and it wasn't until August 1816, when Admiral Edward Pellew arrived off the coast of Algiers, with a Royal Navy Squadron.
He gave the Dey of Algiers 24 hours to release all slaves and cease the trade forever or he would turn his guns on the city.
Needless to say the Dey refused and thus Admiral Pellew reduced the city to rubble and destroyed the entire Corsair fleet.
The operation took little more than a day, and at the end of which the Dey surrendered unconditionally, releasing the slaves and revoking slavery forever.
Once news of this spread along the coast, all other centres of the trade complied, thus ending the trade in Christians.
It is interesting to note that Admiral Pellew was a direct descendant of the Thomas Pellow who made it back to Cornwall some seventy years earlier.
In the final analysis it would still take Britain another 17 years to outlaw slavery in the Empire and a civil war in America to obliterate the obscenity of human bondage in that country.
Sadly we have still not removed this crime from the World, the United Nations estimates that there are still some 27 million people on the planet living in some form of servitude.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
This one will make you laugh!
In England tonight, we celebrate what is referred to as Guy Fawkes Night, by lighting bonfires and letting off fireworks.
Just in time the Gunpowder Plot was uncovered, with Guy Fawkes about to let off a huge amount of explosives under the Houses of Parliament, when members were sitting.
What a horrible thought!
The little darlings would have been blown to smithereens, which of course was unacceptable, when being perpetrated by Catholics!
So, Guy and his accessories received the sharp end of an axe.
Of course the irony of this, is the state of politics today and the avarice of the present Members of Parliament.
Concerned with their expenses, fancy lifestyles and second mortgages, whilst our young people are dying in Afghanistan.
Every time a coffin comes home from there, every politician should be forced to attend the arrival ceremony and explain themselves.
I thought you would find that funny!
From today's press you will probably note that your CIA ex-station chief, in Italy was convicted in abstentia, together with 23 of his chums, for the kidnap and torture of Abu Omar.
Whilst Mr Omar may be in Western terms, called a militant Islamist, your actions suggest that you had no real evidence against the man, other than that he was expressing his views, which he is perfectly entitled to do, in a democracy.
You then took him from a US Airforce Base in Italy, to Cairo, where he was subjected to sustained bouts of torture, which if I am correct is forbidden under the United States Constitution.
These actions were supervised by one Robert Seldon Lady, whom your administration refuses to give up to Italian Authorities, to serve his time for these criminal activities.
Mr Omar, served four years in Egyptian confinement and was finally released without charge.
Freedom, sir, comes at a price. That freedom must be offered to all, including those who do not agree with you.
Your aggressive stance in the Middle East is the legacy you leave ordinary people around the World, who suffer terror attacks and bombings.
Let us hope your successor will realise that military action and inaction on Palestine are no longer acceptable to the vast majority of Global citizens.
When your time comes, George, you will have some very serious explaining to do!
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
For those of you who don't know, I live in a small market town in North Northumberland, called Alnwick.
It is the ancestral seat of the Percy family who live in a bloody great castle, just around the corner from my modest front door.
I am just recovering from the news that Her Grace the Duchess of Northumberland has appointed a Disney trained Frenchman, as Chief Executive of both Alnwick Castle and the famous Alnwick Gardens.
This announcement has been greeted by local people, with a spontaneous burst of indifference, which won't phase the Duchess one iota!
This man, full of irritating enthusiasm,has stated that he wants to bring you the Alnwick Experience, by this stage you can imagine, my heart has vacated my bottom!
'I intend bringing the fantastic local history alive', says he!
Oh God! Bus loads of plastic tourists buying plastic souvenirs,watching plastic historical re-enactments, eating plastic food,all charged at obscene prices by an avaricious Duchess, who will be in Antibe while all this crap is going on!
No doubt this bloody man will be being paid twice the GDP of the entire town and want to hire us serfs as 'The Alnwick Experience' guides.
Well all I can say is, Your Grace, shove it where the sun never shines!
Deep in the forests of Southern Nepal, lives a young man called Ram Bahadur Bomjon, a Buddhist adept who for the last six years, since he was 11 years old, has been meditating.
He is rarely seen and indeed a police investigation was undertaken after he disappeared on one of his forays into the jungle.
At one time he sat for ten months under a tree without taking food or water!
Now modern science would dismiss these claims as being impossible, however film crews and journalists who have visited him, talk of lengthy periods when he did not partake of food or drink.
Whilst in a state of meditation, he has in essence left his body, leaving barely a trace of vital signs.
Some of his followers believe that he is the re-incarnation of the Lord Buddha, however most say that this cannot be so, since the Buddha achieved Nirvanha, a state of enlightenment where re-incarnation is no longer necessary.
Still others believe he is Maitreya Bodhisattva, the predicted successor to the Lord Buddha.
Bomjon, as he is known, says he is meditating for the World, to save us from anger, greed and violence.
Will a seventeen year old lad from Nepal be able to save us from ourselves?
He says he has a further six years of meditation ahead of him, to complete his work.
We can only live in hope that he succeeds!
Monday, 2 November 2009
Having recently visited the blog of my Aussie friend Al, I have become motivated to address the strange question of being English.
Those of you not from this Sceptred Isle, will have differing views on your personal experience of the English whether through literature, music, humour, war, marriage, education or invention.
I would suggest that we are an oddball people, who as the Americans would say,punched above their weight on the World stage for quite along time.
We view ourselves as different from other peoples, not in a superior way, just different.
I believe the origins of this go way back into the dim mysteries of our past.
Over the centuries waves of people have come from mainland Europe to live here, most of them trying to escape some form of persecution.
This has created an island race who are fiercely independent, with a great mistrust of Europe, and rightly so, our graveyards are full of young men sent to fight vicious European wars.
We now find ourselves dominated by two European nations who over the centuries have caused us alot of grief, namely the French and the Germans.
Even our country's name can be confusing! To some we are Great Britain, to others The United Kingdom.
Some would have us break up the Union with Scotland and Wales, and whilst we like to banter about our fellow Britons, it has served us well to remain united.
We are in a phase of what I would call navel watching, we have given up our Empire, joined a political union with countries who have only had democracy in our terms for the last ten minutes and find ourselves a little uncertain as to the way forward.
However the English have a long history, built on our ability to adapt and change.
I strongly believe that we must forge our own destiny and no longer continue to implement US foreign policy, which invariably is not in the interests of our people.
We have many friends in the World who have been dismayed by our lack of independent thinking, and they are right, our history shows that by taking our own route, we achieve more for England and other peoples when we stick to our principles.
A recent good example, was the quelling of the civil war in Sierra Leone, an ex-colony where the local people welcomed our soldiers in restoring peace and security.
This is what we are good at, we have fought oppression both at home and abroad for 1000 years!
I still believe that my people have something to offer the World, that is good.
Sunday, 1 November 2009
Prior to the Roman invasion of Britain, the religious life of the Celtic tribes was centred around a highly educated elite, called The Druids.
The word itself is thought to derive from a combination of the Greek word Drus, meaning oak and the Indo-European wid, meaning wisdom.
They were tasked with caring for the spiritual life of the tribe, interpreting the law and almost certainly medicine.
Tacitus, the Roman historian recorded that they worshipped oak trees and practised human sacrifice, but this is more likely the propaganda of the victors, since no evidence exists to support such a claim.
Certainly they revered the oak and their religious rites took place in Sacred Oak Groves. They also prized mistletoe, a parasitic plant of the oak.
Kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas may be a remnant of some long lost Druidic ritual.
The Druids were highly educated and their laws and rituals had to be memorised during the course of becoming a priest, involving a secretive heiratic alphabet called Ogham, the meaning of which is lost to us today.
They new Greek and by some it is thought that Pythagoras visited them before establishing his own Mystery School.Certainly the Ancient Greeks had great respect for their wisdom.
Their teachings included the immortality of the spirit and the transmigration of the soul.
Roman Legions annihilated them on The Isle of Anglesey in North Wales shortly after crushing the revolt by Queen Boudicca of the Iceni tribe.
Another historical example of the wisdom of the ancients crushed by a jackboot!