Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
Several of us headed off in the van yesterday to collect some chicken coops. Being nincompoops we travelled back in the rush hour, and boy did we regret it. The motorway was jam-packed, the service stations resembled a Lady Gaga concert. The country is seizing up was our rather gloomy prognosis, as we spent forever crawling behind a van bearing the inaccurate boast that “We never slow down on customer service”.
And it is not just grumpy old men that watch despairingly as our roads, our hospitals, our rail services, our sewage and water supplies et al, are becoming ever more inundated. In our angrier moments we blame the cuts, the politicians, the banks and every other curse that comes to mind. But the reason for it all is quite simple, our population is rocketing past the levels at which a small island’s infrstructure can cope.
The latest projections from the Office of National Statistics predict that by 2043 Britain will be the most populous country in Europe. Our population will have swollen to 74 million, outstripping France and Germany. The landmark figure of 70 million is expected to be reached within 16 years. In fact over the next decade the population will increase by the equivalent of a city the size of Leeds every year. The official estimate is that the number of people in the UK will grow by 491,000 every year through to 2020, the fastest sustained growth for 50 years.
Sir Andrew Green, chairman of the Migration Watch UK, tells us what we already sense. “These figures conirm that the UKs dramatic rise in population will continue unabated”. He added that “two thirds of the increase is due to immigration and as people return home this evening crammed into public transport and on congested roads, they could well ask where all of these people are going to fit”. Indeed they may!
The one-third that isn’t due to immigration relates to the fact that we are all living longer. At the end of last year there were 1.4 million aged 85 and over, this is forecast to double by 2035 and the number of over-95s will quadruple. Nothing we can do about that except be thankful to the NHS.
It follows that immigration must be reduced, or even stopped. The irony is that anyone saying that is immediately accused of being racist. In fact the unchecked flood of people entering the UK is giving succour to vermin such as the BNP. The issue has nothing to do with race, it has everything to do with the obvious fact that the place is full beyond its capacity.
Damian Green, the Immigration Minister, in commenting on the projections, said yesterday that “there is more to do to bring net migration to the order of tens of thousands per year and ensure migration which benefits the UK”. He is right to try because, as we have learned recently the world population is itself set to rocket. But – and it is a very big but – so long as we are party to the EU open doors policy the government remains powerless to stop the flow of immigration from within its borders.
Right now we are seeing the fallacy of the one-club EU approach. Perhaps not surprisingly, Germany and France are unhappy at the thought of constantly bailing out smaller and more economically-fragile countries over which they have no budgetry control. Thanks largely to Grumpy Gordon we are not in the Euro. However we are an obvious destination for people in the countries insufficiently resourced to cope with the recession, and they are pouring in. Ultimately that damages not only this country but the ones being deserted by skilled workers.
On Monday half of David Cameron’s MPs refused to support his denial of an EU referendum. Since then various Conservatives who supported the prime minister have warned that they will not do so next time, amongst them was the Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith. He knows that the clock is ticking on the cost of population explosion, not just on services but on their costs plus those of pensions and benefits.
By contrast Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband continue to ridicule any worries about over-population. Perhaps they would like to tell us just how many they believe we can accomodate without bringing about a total collapse!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S MIDWEEK QUIZ; 1. Ray Parker Jr. 2. Bolton 3. Twelve 4. Pigs 5. Pain 6. Switzerland 7. In the morning 8. Overload 9. President Marcos 10. A lie detector.
A book just out is an instant hit with a lot of the members of the allotment hut. For any book to arouse interest in the land of the ferrets is unusual, for a three-day old to be already thumb-marked is remarkable indeed. Even the Lady Gaga CD has been turned down, as Jack and Harry say told you so to attentive ears. They are our ‘vets’ (as in old soldiers, not ferret-healers) and for many a year whenever the media launches into the anniversay of the Blitz, Battle of Britain, VE day and the rest they always grumble that the mass demobolisation of 1945 has been wiped from the record. Most of us imagine that was surely a wonderful time of homecoming, parties and the joy of together-again lovers, but it wasn’t at all like that!
The book is called ‘Demobbed; Coming Home After the Second World War’ and is the result of extensive research by Alan Allport, an expert on the War and currently a lecturer at Prineton University. The author has accessed a wide range of archives including the Imperial War Museum, British Film Institute, Public Record Office and the British Library Newspaper records. He has also talked to ex-servicemen and relatives of some who are no longer with us.
As a prologue the author recalls the story of Private Cyril Patmore of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. In his belongings the Metriopolitan Police found a letter from his wife Kathleen. She was expecting the baby of an Italian prisoner of war and had written to beg forgiveness and to plead that, for the sake of their children, the couple resume their previously happy marriage on his return in 1945. There was no reconciliation. On August 4th 1945 Patmore stabbed his heavily pregnant wife to death in their house on Greenhill Road in London. At his subsequent trial his charge was changed to manslaughter at the behest of the jury, a decision that Mr Justice Charles was not happy with. He was worried that ‘the law of the jungle’ was creeping in to English justice. There were more such cases.
Of all the changes that the end of the long war would bring, the greatest was the return of the men that fought it. On VE day over five million Britons were in uniform and nine out of ten were men. Most had been in the army, navy or air force since 1941. Millions were abroad, a vast expatriate community of exiles scattered haphazardly from Norway to the Kenyan highlands to the fringes of Antartica. Over a quarter of a million had been continuously overseas for more than five years and even the ‘lucky’ ones who spent time in the UK were invaraibly billeted far from every formerly familiar face. These were not professional warriors and now that Germany and Japan were defeated the short-term citizen soldiers wanted to get home and to resume their apprenticeships, careers, love affairs or family life.
It was never going to be easy and historians express no surprise at what actually happened. Men were taken indiscriminately from office, factory, farm or school and were trained in the methods of modern warfare. They were sent off to fight and to kill, watched comrades die, and were then returned to a by now unfamiliar land as if they had just returned from holiday. Many were changed dramatically as people and even more were horrified at what they saw when they returned to the country they hadn’t seen for many years. Ex-POW George Millar spoke of ‘the awe that puts pink lenses before the eyes of the returning soldier ‘ falling from his eyes when he saw “a stinking stain of shoddiness, cheapness, graspingness and meanness”.
Many men grumbled that their wives had lost interest in them, many wives complained that the opposite applied. In reality many were unable to become resigned to starting all over. Yes, everyone agreed that servicemen had done their duty and suffered for it, but the civilian population too had gone through six years of gruelling war and, like many of the troops, were physically and mentally exhausted. One result was a more than tenfold rise in the number of divorce petitions; at the nation’s supposedly greatest, most longed for moment of reunion the family as a concept seemd to be on the point of collapse.
Historian David Kynaston has recently dealt in part with this subject. He talks of a “widespread sense of disenchantment” and adds that it was ironic that a society which had held together so well for six years of total war seemed to be “coming apart at the seams” at the time of victory. It didn’t of course, but the mood of vague dissatisfaction did prove to be a point of departure for a protracted sense of national decline throughout the next half-century.
I have always known from my pals the extent to which mass demobolisation proved anything but the dream of calendars crossed off year upon year. What the troops had been up to was unknown but the deeds, or misdeeds, of their wives and former sweethearts were quickly apparent. Then there was the resentment against men who had stayed in civilian ranks and benefited financially. And homes had become shabby. And American troops had been generous. It isn’t hard to picture what happened and it isn’t hard to imagine that formerly peaceful men now trained in the art of violence were a recipe for trouble.
I won’t go on for fear of spoiling your enjoyment should you decide to invest seven quid in the detailed and thought-provoking book. Suffice to say any understanding of the real World War demands it. When you read the wide range of works available on the war and its joyful outcome it is easy to build a mental picture of soldiers returning to a welcoming wonderland of yearned for joy. They didn’t and, sad though that is, it is good to know what really happened. Alan Allport has made a huge contribution to what we understand about the war that almost saw our freedom destroyed for ever.
POLICE WARNING SOUNDS RIGHT!
Police chiefs yesterday warned of an inability to handle the widespead public unrest that may well follow the announcement of draconian cuts so gleefully heralded by George Osborne and company. If the police numbers are to be slashed by 40,000 as many forecast the warning is likely to be an accurate one. Even at this late hour a rethink sees sensible.
But the again the Osborne team seems anything but sensible. Yesterday I saw what looked like a twelve year old called Alexander, who it seems is a Lib Dem minister, trotting out yet again the old tale about the economic crisis being all the fault of the Labour government. Everyone knows that it was a worldwide collapse caused by the banks. Yes, the previous government was wasteful but to keep on with childish political point scoring is less than helpful and if the coalition is to have any hope of selling its line that we are all in this together it should gag Master Alexander forthwith.
DO PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT, HOWEVER BRIEF ! EARLY ON IN THE SITE’S LIFE I GAINED GREAT PLEASURE FROM THE INTERACTION WHICH HAS DRIED UP. IT SHOULDN’T TAKE A MINUTE AND YOUR DETAILS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED. MANY THANKS!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Turkey 2. Ayatollah Khomeini
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who played a gangster called Devlin in ‘Performance’? 2. Which Prime Minister’s wife published a book of poems in 1970?
I have often read of this G20 summit or that but it is only now that I understand what the G20 Club really is. Having researched the organisation that regularly draws in the vast majority of world leaders my conclusion is that G20 is the ultimate con-trick, one that props up the wealthy financiers and hammers those already on the economic floor.
I am not referring here to such as the children living in abject poverty in shanty homes in Manila for they, and countless millions like them across the world, are not given so much as a moment’s thought. I refer instead to the poor and marginalised across Europe about whom the EU human rights commissioner, Thomas Hammarberg, has issued a cry for help. His report identifes 150 million of the EU’s total population of 800 million as living below the poverty line. He clearly feels, as so many of us do, a sense of impotence born of an acceptance that the only hope is to follow the lead of financial experts. But who translates the supposed expertise into action?
The answer is the G20 Club. What is it? As part of its coverage of last week’s summit in Toronto the Canadian newspaper ‘Globe and Mail’ published an explanation. It seems that the whole idea was conceived back in 1999 during a meeting between Canada’s then Finance Minister, Paul Martin, and his US opposite number, Lawrence Summers. That in itself is interesting since Summers was then playing a key role in creating the conditions for this economic crisis, allowing a wave of bank consolidations and refusing to regulate derivatives. The two men wanted to expand the G7 Club but only to selected countries. They lacked a piece of foolscap and sketched out their framework for a new world order on the back of a manilla envelope. Thus was born the G20!
No surprise then that from day one G20 tended to view the world economy though Banker’s eyes. And nothing has chnaged as one realises when examining the outcome of last week’s gathering. The final communique includes no penalties for the Banks or in respect of financial transactions. Yet it instructs governments to slash their deficits in half by 2013. This is massive. With the elitist world of finance left to pursue its reckless and self-opinionated indulgence the burden will fall on such as students who will see their public educations deteriorate as their fees rise, pensioners who will lose hard-earned benefits, public sector workers who will lose their jobs… the list goes on and on. Only one section of the populations covered by the G20 leaders will bear the pain.
And how did things reach this state? Largely because when the G20 met in London in 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, it failed to agree on any significant method of regulating the financial sector .Instead we had empty rhetoric and an agreement to pour trillions of dollars and pounds in public money into the world banks as a means of propping them up. And even now there is total resistence to any serious action in regard to the financial sector which, despite having received enough public money to float a million recoveries, is still failing to advance loans or to stimulate economies. And, in the case of many Banks, is stiill recording record profits and paying equally large bonuses. At the Toronto summit the Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, convinced the rest that it would be unfair to punish the Banks since not all of them erred . But there were no concerns about the lack of fairness in punishing millions who were blameless and whose lives will be destroyed by droconian measures.
Whilst few of us undestand the machinations of G20, millions are already crying enough is enough in countries such as Germany, France, Spain and Greece. And the protests are not, as they are often portrayed in the media, simply mindless selfishness. Many of the demonstrations are demanding a financial transaction tax and one on pollution. In other words people are sensing that those that caused this collapse are continuing on theirnlucrative path whilst the mass of the population is to carry the burden unaided. And of course some suspect that such a crisis enables governments such as the UK to introduce policies such as a reduction in state services to proceed under an apparent rationale of no alternative.
Naomi Klein, the author of ”The Shock Doctrine; The Rise of Disaster Capitalism’ has pointed out that the G20 has none of the legitimacy of the United Nations and has suggested that since it is lumbering all of us with a huge bill for a crisis we had no hand in creating we should take a cue from Martin and Summers. We should , Naomi says, write on the back of their envelope ‘Return to Sender’.
I guess that in reality there is little any individual can do about what is really the greatest con-trick of all time. The revelation that the so often quoted G20 is little more than a institution of apologists for the bankers and financiers increases the sense of injustice that builds with each new announcement of cuts in services on which so many depend.
It is a hot day and we codgers are ill at ease. First we have to face up to the Dr Who finale and then, less than 24 hours later comes the big one. It would be nice to enlist the Doctor’s gift of time travel to take us back to that magical year when at 4.45pm on July 1966, Kenneth Wolstenholme uttered words destined to survive the passage of years.
None of today’s England squad was even born then and Fabio was just knee high to a grasshopper but I remember it vividly. I was watching the Final on my in-law’s 12 inch screen and England were a goal ahead. The referee blew for a free-kick but the crowd mistook the signal and raced on to the pitch. ‘There are people on the pitch, they think it’s all over’ cried Kenneth. As he said the words Hurst scored again and we all leapt into the air as the commentator screamed ‘it is now!’
The very fact of spectators being free to run on to the playing area tells a lot about the times in which we lived then. Football hooliganism had not yet arrived and security concerns were almost unknown. England was managed by a posh Englishman, Sir Alf Ramsay, and captained by Bobby Moore, a leader and performer sublime. And the players were paid little more than the better paid fans.
Of course football reflects the age it serves and 1966 was a relatively quiet year on the national and international stage. It followed a year of great sorrow and drama. Sir Winston Churchill died at the age of 90 and Dr Martin Luther King was assasinated. The Beatles received Honours from the Queen and the world’s first microwave oven hit the headlines. By contrast 1966 produced few events of sufficient magnitude to detract from the 4-2 World Cup triumph. There were some other highlights however including the death of Walt Disney and the debut of Star Trek. Oh yes and Frank Sinatra married Mia Farrow, thirty years his junior.
I remember the great match in all its detail with one exception. I can recall nothing of the referee which presumably means that he had a good match. Tomorrow’s 2010 replay against Germany will be in the hands of Uruguayan Jorge Larrionda who drew a great deal of criticism after his previous assignment, Australia versus Serbia. He failed to spot a hand-ball offence by Tim Cahill in the penalty area. But he has my vote, having listed animal breeding as his hobby. Ferret-breeders of the world must unite!
One suspects that tomorrow’s encounter will be a close-run thing. The German team is less experienced than our own but it has youth on its side. A penalty shoot-out would surprise no one. But given two teams so closly matched the referee could be key. But we should hold our tongues rather as Ron Atkinson once did. He is on record as saying ‘I never comment on referees and I’m not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat’.
Whatever the outcome tomorrow, one hopes that the media will resist at long last the temptation to use one of the two extremes. If England win they will be the finest men ever to leave these shores and worth every million. Should they lose they will be failed prima donnas not worth paying in shirt buttons. There is no scope in our tabloids for anything in between and the additional pressure they engender is surely worth a goal start to the opposition.
The probability is that England will win tomorrow but that still leaves a good deal to be done before we match that magical day of 1966. I and my fellow ferret men are wearing union-jack undershorts, what more can a fellow do!
Those of us who dwell in a small circle of ferret-breeders tend to imagine that the whole world thinks as we do. But they don’t. At least I hope not, for our collective morale is down right now. Perhaps we are taking all the doom and gloom pouring forth from young Osborne and friends too much to heart but some of our number are already talking of subsiding on walnut pie and potato peelings with Spam as our weekly treat.
Perhaps the plan on high is to frighten us all to death thus reducing at a stroke the burden on the NHS. That seems to be the only service that is not to be reduced to one man and a ferret for over the past few days we have read of cuts to the armed forces, police, social services and just about everything else. But then, we console ourselves, we are all in this together. Wrong!
If in fact everyone was noticeably tightening their belts it would be much easier to buy into the idea of volunteers stepping into every breach whilst the good ship Britain righted itself in the economic gale. But day after day anyone with an enquiring eye can spot the most incredible extravagence on the part of those on the bridge. Ah yes, we are told, but they have the message. Wrong again!
The national watchdog that has the ultimate respnsibility for ensuring that public money is being handled in a manner that Scrooge would have applauded is the National Audit Office. If we received public funds they could descend on our allotment shed and pass censorious judgement on the purchases made for tea bags, biscuits and a 12 inch TV. But who monitors them?
The government’s example setter has spent more than £80 million pounds refurbising its central London offices over the past two years. The art deco offices are in Vicroria and sport marble flooring and leather sofas. Some £2.33 million was spent on furniture alone. Why such offices need to be in high-cost central London is anyone’s guess and why the place couldn’t be kitted out utility style another.
Margaret Hodge, the former Labour Minister, says that she is taken aback. She adds that we have to look at the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisations responsible for scrutinising others. She is right but one cannot resist asking why she didn’t notice this when in office. The answer of course is that every top government organisation has been allowed to spend money as if there were no tomorrow. Which indeed there won’t be if someone doesn’t recognise quickly that the people will become more and more resistant to cuts if those at the top continue to behave as if they live on another planet.
All of which is why we can only look to an Italian to bring a ray of sunshine into our grumpy and resentful souls. Sadly even he is not beyond examination in the lolly stakes for ever since the lack-lustre draw with the good old USA some of our ferreters have started to bang on about the £6 million we put in his pay packet. Of course all that will go away if we triumph and, Capello-wise. all will be well.
But right now he faces a moral dilemma of his own making. He, and he alone, surprised many by selecting Rob Green ahead of the experienced James or on-form Hart. The lot of a keeper is not a happy one. If he makes a mistake, something a forward can do a dozen times without making a Tabloid headline, all hell is let loose. And boy did Rob make one!
But surely Capello must now select him at least one more time for to do otherwise would be to destroy his professional career not to mention his confidence. If it was a mistake to play him that was not his fault. If Capello drops him instantly he is of course also admitting that he himself showed poor judgement. Then again Capello is not good enough to manage Mancester United.
However, something tells me that all will be well. Fabio will not publicly crucify someone he trusted above all others just days ago and Englend will dispose of Algeria and Slovenia as an angry man swats a fly. It will be upward and onward toward Germany. And we can make Franz Beckenbouer eat his cutting comments about our heroes/villains (the choice remains open).
It would however be pure madness to be doubly optimistic and expect that our fat- cats will decide to share our pain in the real world from which only Capello can release us!