Posts Tagged ‘Germany’
Autumn has come early in our neck of the woods. The cold spring and warm summer have created the perfect conditions to allow sugars to build up in leaves and help create early vibrant colours. Already one can see the makings of a riot of reds, yellows and browns in nearby woodlands, not to mention rich crops of ‘forest’ fruits. Leaves change colours in autumn as the trees produce less green chlorophyll in response to the shortening days and the photographers amongst our allotments gang are dusting down their equipment.
Left to its own devices nature is a wonderful spectacle. The pity is that man seems incapable of leaving it alone, and I am not for once referring to developers, pollution and the rest. It seems that many of us cannot resist the temptation to ‘humanise’ animals. The latest craze is to fit chickens out with “High Vis Chicken Jackets”. The new best-sellers are produced by Omlet, a company that specialises in fashion for the rapidly expanding domestic chicken market. Keeping chucks as pets is in vogue, and the new breed of pet-owners apparently wish to minimise dangers from traffic and foxes alike. Sheer lunacy. We codgers go to great lengths to ensure that our chickens are well protected and cared for but we never forget that they are chickens.
But today’s madness is not confined to people who regard dressing up animals as normal. We are reluctant to return to the issue of immigration, but the fact remains that this country is rapidly sliding into a major crisis whilst almost every leading politician hesitates to speak out for fear of being labelled a racist. Racism has nothing to do with it, the simple fact is that every service is becoming overwhelmed at a time when there is less and less funding to support it.
Supporters of EU membership would have us believe that it is only the Brits that see this as a problem. Last week a Harris survey covered the question of limiting EU migrant’s access to benefits and polls were held in Britain, France and Germany. Here no fewer than 83% backed restriction but the number expressing the same sentiment in the other major EU countries was not far behind at over 73%. The likelihood is that the potential influx of Bulgarians and Romanians – both denied access in France and Germany – just puts the UK reaction ahead.
Meanwhile the European Commission chooses to deny that there is any real problem. Last week, it published a report arguing that so-called benefits tourism was “neither widespread nor systematic”. On the contrary, the EU Commissioner, Laszlo Andor, insists that the UK welfare system is discriminatory and is bringing a legal action against our country to make it, as he sees it, fairer.
This despite the fact that the EU’s own report shows that there are now more than 600,000 “non-active EU migrants” living in the UK. In the same report the annual cost to the NHS alone is estimated at around £1.5 billion (the equivalent cost to France is just £3.4 million). We are one of a handful of countries in the EU that offer those out of work non-contributory cash payments. We also provide automatic assistance in the fields of health, child benefit and housing
Last Monday night the BBC 10 o’clock news broadcast an analysis of the Commission’s report. Mark Easton interviewed a small sample of Poles who insisted they did not know anyone who came to Britain exclusively for its benefits. Easton claimed that the government had failed to provide any evidence of benefit tourism – hardly surprising since under Labour no record was kept of claimant’s nationality.
The report was unbalanced and poorly researched. It was anything but objective and the air time given to an EU spokesman far exceeded that afforded to Theresa May. No one so much as addressed the question of what the 600,000 are living on if, as claimed, they are not drawing benefits. And no one mentioned that the EU report that claimed benefits tourism to be “very low” was prepared by two private consultancies who enjoy EU contracts to the value of £71million.
It is when one focuses in on a specific community that the extent of the deception becomes very clear. Between 2001 and 2011 Peterborough’s population rose by 27,570 to 183,631, mostly as a result of migration. Forecasts of people registering with a GP – a more immediate indicator of growth – predict an even bigger rise in population, with Peterborough swelling to 215,000 by 2021. Migrants and their children are expected to account for a substantial proportion of the increase. Peterborough Hospital is now attempting to cope with volumes in excess of its capacity and the schools are overwhelmed to the extent that an extra £1.5 million has been granted by the Department for Education to cope with problems resulting from language and capacity.
Yesterday a national newspaper conducted interviews with people leaving a Peterborugh Jobcentre. Typical response was that of Hansi from Slovakia, and Alena, a Czech Roma. They receive £110 a week in Jobseeker’s Allowance , as well as child benefits for their two children. Hansi has not worked for six months since losing his casual job, neither has his partner. Hansi said; “I love England. When I am not working I can get benefits. Of course I want to stay”. There are a latge number if interviews on record, all tell broadly the same story. It is good that migrants love England, but can we really afford the massive cost that the EU and BBC insist is not incurred.
The danger is that the longer this situation is allowed to develop, and the denials of its very existence persist, the more likely it is that far-right lunatics will seek to exploit it. The EU, BBC and politicians alike are attempting to dismiss as non-existent the evidence that confronts many parts of the country on a daily basis.
Unless the British, French and German governments come together to force through border controls in the way that the vast majority of their citizens demand the break up of the EU is inevitable. Surely they should be centring their energies on barring immigration whilst devoting time and resources to improving the lot of the countries being deserted.
We realise that this is an over-simplification but to do nothing is no longer an option!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY; “Generally speaking, politicians are generally speaking!”….John Sergeant
Whilst the rest of the nation was this morning overwhelmed with excitement about the latest hirings and firings of Messrs Cameron and Miliband plus the news that the badger cull has proved a fiasco, we codgers devoted our morning to an argument about brooms. We can debate religion or politics without getting hot under the collar, but any mention of brooms turns our brew-time into a carbon-copy of Prime Minister’s Question Time.
A few weeks ago we decided that sweeping the paths around the hen-runs is taking up a disproportionate amount of our time. Catalogues were pored over as if they were the holy grail, and an order was placed for a dozen ‘Super Sweepers’. Super was not the adjective used by some of my pals when the crate was opened. Too bloody big was the general reaction and, since then, the gang has become divided between those who delight in clearing the width of a path in one stroke and those who bang on endlessly about their arthritis.
Leader of the anti-brigade is Albert. At weekends he leads the local Silver Prize Marching Band with a drum big enough to house Eric Pickles so one can only conclude that those who suffer from what he calls Arthur-it is should turn to drum-therapy. It is all very depressing, perhaps we should call for a judicial review,.
But when it comes to depressive influences brooms trail a long way behind economists. I often wonder what their Christmas parties are like – probably even less fun that a convocation of insurance loss adjusters. I say this having waded through an article in this weeks Spectator under the heading ‘Britannia uber alles’. I was enticed by the introductory blurb which prophesies that the UK economy will one day overtake Germany.
Being weary of attempting to follow the endless arguments put forward by Gorgeous George Osborne and his arch enemy Ed the Balls, I grasped at the apparent reassurance we all earnestly yearn for. It was only when I reached the conclusion that this transformation will only occur after 2050 that my enthusiasm waned somewhat.
Right now, Germany is by far the top European economy with a GDP of $3.6 trillion. France stands at $2.7 trillion, the UK at $2.2 trillion and Italy at $2.1 trillion. The next decade, we are told, will be much better for us. The Italian economy is forecast to shrink and France, with an annual growth rare of only 0.1% looks unlikely to hold on to second place. That leaves the Germans who are very good at making stuff. And there are a lot of them, 82 million compared with 62 million Brits.
Why is Britian expected to seize the crown? Because Germany is forecast to have a sharply declining population that, according to a report last year by the Population Reference Bureau, will be down to 64 million by 2050. By contrast the UK will by then house 80 million and, assuming that the Germans do not achieve miracles in productivity, hey presto we will be the economic giants of the EU.
When economists publish findings based on the equivalent of studying the entrails of sheep for many a month they always expect us to provide a standing ovation. That rarely happens because there are usually points of detail that hit us like a bucket of cold water. In this particular case there are two.
The first is that most if us will be dead before Cameron the younger crows triumphantly before promising an in/out EU referendum. The second is that this amazing change in our national fortunes is dependent on a population explosion capable of making our existing crowded roads and street look empty by comparison. The glorious day will only arrive in 2050, but between now and then we will spend more and more time in traffic jams and NHS waiting rooms. Restful maybe, but hardly conducive to the productivity of an ant colony.
Nothing could match this expert projection for its depressive effect. Well almost nothing, since news that Osborne is now the bookmaker’s favourite to replace our dear leader just about beats it!
Having plumbed the depths of economic stargazing I have concluded that studying brooms is a much happier preoccupation!
QUOTE OF THE DAY; “By 2030 the UK , if it manages to combine faster growth with better demographics, will overtake Germany. Every multinational will want a stake in the British market and migrants will flock here in ever greater numbers. If we do better than our neighbours, one day soon we’ll have something to celebrate!”…..Matthew Lynn.
Some years ago we met the cost of installing toilets in our allotments ‘shed’. Members spend a good deal of time working with the hens and veggie plots and the chore of heading for home to answer a call of nature had become burdensome. One member – yes, it was Albert – had taken to, as he put it, watering the cabbages, and something had to be done. We are far from prudish but most of us saw such behaviour as unacceptable.
It follows that we were less than impressed to learn that the England cricketers celebrated their Ashes win by urinating on the Oval wicket. It was inevitably the usual suspects, Broad and Pieterson, but soon after that bout of childishness the England captain was photographed thumbing a lift in a drunken state. Someone should remind these highly paid superstars that they are role models to millions of kids!
But such trivia is of little moment when compared to what is apparently about to take place in Syria. The signs are that we are about to join the Americans and French in defying the United Nations by becoming embroiled in conflict in response to the alleged presence, and use of, illegal weapons. It sounds eerily familiar doesn’t it?
It is not often we pay attention to the views of Vladimir Putin, but what he said to our dear leader yesterday does merit consideration. He apparently condemned the use of chemical weapons but urged that the UN weapons inspectors be given time to analyse properly the cause of the attack. But even as the inspectors were interviewing survivors and taking samples, the US, British and French governments were declaring that it was too little, too late. Again, a familiar stance.
No one believes other than that chemical weapons are obscene, although one cannot help wondering why Assad’s bombing of civilians is less so. But there is reason to question whether he instigated the latest outrage. Why would he do so on the eve of the UN inspection? Given that the so-called freedom fighters include al Qaeda terrorists is it not possible that they staged the massacre in an attempt to widen the conflict as a step toward creating an Islamist state ?
But either way, we surely have to ask ourselves what a missile strike will achieve. Military chiefs are notorious for exaggerating the accuracy of long-range weaponry. There is little doubt that civilians will be killed, not to mention the possibility that Assad will use them as human-shields. And what happens if the attacks fail to halt the bloodshed?
Once the Americans have declared their intention to restore order they will keep going until they supposedly do so. Having yet again posed as world-leaders, we will feel obliged to follow suit and, hey presto, we will once again be embroiled in an unwinnable war. Given the emasculation of our armed forces that will involve calling up reserves and British men and women will die whilst Germany and the rest watch from the side-lines.
Hopefully the Prime Minister will at least do what Blair failed to do by seeking a vote in the House of Commons. No one there will deny that the suffering in Syria must be ended, but many will urge that action is delayed until the Inspectors have reported. It is only then that there is a chance of the Russians and Chinese supporting UN action. That would be a very different scenario and Assad would find himself isolated and potentially overwhelmed.
It is not often that we codgers see the massed ranks of MPs as our only hope. Today we do!
THOUGHT FOR TODAY ; ” Unless all is lost, better jaw-jaw than war-war”…Winston Churchill
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!