Posts Tagged ‘Obsession’
Today I am en route to Cambridge, there to deliver Christmas presents and to share some convivial company. At least that was the plan when we headed off at the crack of dawn!
Unfortunately we became entrapped in a motorway jam and at the moment have no idea as to its cause. After I had tired of watching the antics of a fellow traveller in a van proclaiming “We never stop” I escaped down the slip road into this rather dismal spot. The service station is packed to capacity and there is little sign of any festive cheer. Compared to some of the people trapped here my pal Albert, who is caring for my chickens, is a bundle of joy!
Why am I telling you this? The only logical reason is that I promised to publish the answers to yesterday’s quiz. But I have to confess that keying words to an anonymous audience has become something of an obsession. In days long gone I used to pen a column in a local newspaper and, from time to time, I did get to meet readers. The web is different. With the exception of a few friends who leave comments, one has no idea who is out there. Maybe the counter is wrong and there is no one at all, but that can’t be the case since I have on occasions received onslaughts from such diverse people as the Barmy Army and fans of Lady Gaga.
But it is all something of a disappointment. When I first started the blog I vaguely imagined that I would develop a network of people happy to debate the comings and goings of our mutual experience. As the count at the bottom of this blog shows I will soon have received my millionth ‘visit’, but like Santa my visitors never exchange so much as a word as the publish button sends daily messages into space.
Never mind, she-who-must-be-obeyed has demanded coffee so we are off to join the longest queue since Lloyd George sold honours. At least I have kept my promise to provide answers. But is there really anyone out there?
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S WEEKEND QUIZ; 1. Nancy Reagan 2. Kool and the Gang 3. The sun ( Bright area) 4. Geoffrey Rush 5. Sierra Leone 6. Devon 7. Sherry 8. 1982 9. Statue of Zeus 10. 15th
In every part of the country there are probably people like us who are scanning the headlines in near disbelief tinged with not a little fear. Now that the tinderbox has been ignited where will the conflagration reach, how will a nation so utterly unprotected cope? Hopefully the violent criminality will either fizzle out or be brought under control. But every angry deprived area has seen the spectacle of unchallenged looting and there are many who will be eager to grasp the opportunity to enrich themselves and to settle what they see as grievancies. If the rioting escalates and spreads there will be only one option; to call out the troops, always assuming that we have any to spare given our obsession with playing the role of world policeman.
I remember how close we came to that at the time of the riots triggered by Toxteth. I was then involved in negotiations with the Ministry of Defence over the supply of vehicles. At a working lunch one of the Generals said that he was awaiting the call with dread. If troops are employed, he said, we are then just a hairs breath away from their using arms, we are on the verge of revolution.
Who knows what the next few days will bring. What we do know is that right now many areas in London are beyond the control of the police. As one injured officer put it they are outnumbered, outmanoeuvered and exhausted. Units from across the country are being rushed to the capital from areas that may well need them, and all leave has been cancelled. But there are simply not enough officers to cover what is happening. The determination of this government to reduce police strength by 25 per cent stands exposed as the ultimate folly alongside its willingness to spent billions on Libya and Afghanistan, not to mention millions on aid for rich countries such as India.
But even if there were sufficient numbers there is still the question of leadership. Someone yesterday referred to what is happening as the second Battle of Britain. But it is a good deal worse in many respects. Then the enemy was an external one, our leadership was experienced and inspiring and there was unity of purpose. Today we have out-of-touch leaders in Downing Street, police chiefs who are more concerned with management speak and whole communities that are alienated, see the police as enemies and who have suffered from cuts to the few services of hope available to them.
Around the world there has been constant reporting of London’s slide into chaos. The New York Times front page today features a picture of a burned out store in Tottenham. A long piece included this summary; “Frustration in this impoverished neighbourhood, as in many other parts of Britain, has mounted as the government’s austerity budget has forced deep cuts in social services. At the same time , a widely held disdain for law enforcement here, where a large Afro-Caribbean population has felt singled out by the police for abuse, has only intensified through the drumbeat of scandal that has racked Scotland Yard in recent weeks”.
It is often said that the onlooker sees most of the game and, if we are honest, the piece sums up pretty accurately the situation that has developed. What we are seeing now has little to do with the protest that triggered it, woefully though that was handled by the authorities, it is a combination of pent up rage combined with criminality of the most violent kind.
Clearly the first task for the Prime Minister, who has at last abandoned his holiday, is the restoration of order and the prosecution of those arrested. But a wise government would recognise that actions based on what has happened are needed urgently. What should these be?
Firstly the plan to reduce police numbers further must be abandoned, in fact numbers must be increased significantly, meantime coverage of sporting events should be suspended. Cameron has announced that 16,000 officers will be on the streets tonight. That is totally inadequate especially since many of them have been bussed in from areas as far away as South Wales and will now be quite rightly entitled to rest days. Secondly, an imaginative leader for the Metropolitan Police must be found. Thirdly, the whole method of policing must be changed. Not one of the hundreds of officers rushed into Tottenham actually lives there. The concept of local policemen of a community living within it must be restored. Dialogue and mutual respect requires local presence and local knowledge.
And an immediate programme of local employment training initiatives must be introduced. Young alienated people must be engaged and involved in meaningful employment even if, initially, it only comprises work on improving the local environment. The funding? Discontinue our ruinous military operations abroad and confine aid to countries of real poverty. And the final action should surely be to open up youth detention centres, there have to be clear messages about real punishment.
Meantime a wise government would ensure that police and magistrates combine to produce early sentences for those already arrested. Our local paper reports that last week a man was jailed after threatening a shopkeeper and stealing goods. Each and every one of the low life now rioting is guilty of just that!
Even as I type it is becoming clear that what started as a protest in Tottenham is triggering looting and mayhem across the land. Gangs of louts are meeting up to attack and loot shops and to attack anyone who dares to obstruct them. They have received a loud and clear message; the police will not intervene and even should you be caught sentences are derisory.
Oh for the old and wise Churchill. He would have ordered ‘action this day’. But he is long gone and we should all pray that, just for once, the muppets in charge get it right. In 2009 David Cameron as opposition leader claimed that Britain was “broken”. It wasn’t right then, it isnt entirely right now but we are getting there for trust in politicians and the police has all but vanished.
Few of my pals on the allotment agree with what I have written. But they tend to be influenced by Albert, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Cpl Jones of Dad’s Army. His solution is to reform the Home Guard and issue bayonets. Somehow I prefer my own possible reactions.
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Kennedy 2. France 3. UK & Ireland 4. The Romanovs 5. Eton 6. Crimean War 7. Edmund Hilary 8. Hitler 9. 17 10. Ronald Reagan
The worst morning of the new ‘winter’ greeted us this morning as we arrived at the allotment. Yes, the sun was glaring from a blue sky but everything was frozen. All the chicken’s water containers were a block of ice and the stock of lettuces had turned as brown as Albert’s vest overnight despite being inside. Anyone seeking encouragement to try self-sufficiency would be ill-advised to seek inspiration right now from this gang of grumpy old men. It is on mornings such as these that buying eggs in Tesco boxes doesn’t seem quite so heinous. But at least a couple of our number were in high humour!
Bob and John are both rabid eurosceptics and have often reminded us forcefully of all the alleged shortcomings of the takeover of power by what they like to call faceless EU bureaucrats. When the news of the Irish bailout broke they were quick to remind us that the amount being handed over by Britain was equivalent to all the savings forecast to result from the cuts now decimating many of our public services. I recall John saying that maybe someone will now realise just how disastrous our membership is proving to be.
It seems that someone has. Yesterday the Daily Express became the first national newspaper to launch a ‘Get out of the EU’ campaign. Banner headlines on the front page of the Express suggest trouble for the coalition since, as it showed with its Diana obsession, this newspaper above all tends to be persistent and dogged. We may wrap our fish ‘n chips in yesterday’s edition but you can bet your muesli on those of the next weeks, even months, repeating the theme!
What interested me above all else was the identity of those who led the day-one attack. Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MEP and wants to see the UK out of the Union. It struck me as being a little like turkeys voting for Christmas but he is scathing in his condemnation of Brussels and all its works. He starts his assault by pointing out that the ‘Irish’ £7 billion is in addition to the £14 billion which we pay each year. For good measure he advises that there is now another £435 million to be found to help fund the increases which the EU people have decided to award themselves.
All that we knew, but his statistics on red tape are truly astounding. Internal market commissioner, Gunter Verheugen, has carried out a survey into the cost of regulation in the EU. He established the cost to be 600billion euros a year. If you then compare that with the European Commission’s own figures covering the advantages of membership you arrive at £120billion per year. In other words, Eurocrats themselves admit that the costs of the EU outweigh the benefits by five to one!
The other thing that surprised me was the information on trade with Europe. We currently have a £14.4billion deficit, in other words our purchases from EU countries exceed our sales to them. Amazingly Norway and Switzerland both sell around twice as much per head to the EU as we do. And they are thriving independent states outside the EU membership.
Philip Davies, Conservative MP for Shipley, is another supporter of the Express campaign. He warns that we may be obliged to pour billions into saving failing euro economies such as Greece and Portugal and he is angry at the threat to British democracy by what he calls “meddling Brussels bureeeaucracy”. Mr Davies and other MPs also point to the destruction of our laws and commonsense by the EU Convention on Human Rights and the destruction of immigration controls due to freedom of movement laws for EU citizens.
There is a great deal more and most of it is damning. Of course up to this point anyone questionning EU membership has been brushed aside and any thought of a referendum dismissed. One suspects that the decision by the Express may trigger a more difficult problem for the government. Presumably an equally great problem will be the fact that over one hundred Tory MPs are already declaring support, leaving ministers reliant on the support of the Lib Dems who believe not only that we should be in Europe but that we should embrace the euro too.
In this daily blog I really try to be even-handed but I am struggling on the EU for I genuinely don’t understand what the avantages of membership are supposed to be. And if MEPs don’t understand there is little chance of my enlightenment. Even my self understanding offers nothing. Part of me suggests greater strength in numbers but another part suggests that we are enduring hardship here and pouring money out across the channel. Occasionally I remind myself that some of my best mates are europeans but that clarifies nothing for they too regularly rail against the idea of a single European State. They may not have our advantage of the English Channel but they do have our sense of national identity.
There is only one way of resolving this massive issue and that is a referendum. One suspects that the reason for Blair and Brown denying us one was that they expecetd to lose it. But the will of the people should surely prevail and at the very least we would have a reasoned debate in which the case for staying in could be explained.
This is infinitely more important than the referendum planned for a change to our voting system. After all if our integration into Europe goes all the way we won’t need a voting system at all!
JUST HOW TOLERANT HAVE WE BECOME?
Guardian reporter Ghaith Abdul-Ahad has published a report on a visit he made to northern Afghanistan where he managed to gain access to a group of Taliban. He was taken to a secret location to meet the Taliban district chief who apparently acts as a sort of magistrate amongst the local population.
The reporter met a number of those engaged in the fight with American and British forces and was, to say the least, surprised to meet British citizens amongst them. One of the fighters was ” a burly bearded man with a hint of a London accent”. He admitted that he is a mini-cab driver in London and “makes good money there”. He said that he and other cabbies collect money for the jihad all year round and then travel over to join the fighting for three months of each year.
No surprise really but it does perhaps remind us not to be rude to our driver the next time we visit London! Remember that our Taliban cab drivers have human rights!
ENGLAND NEED A SWANN SONG!
It isn’t only Old Trafford that has rain. The second day of the first Ashes Test at Brisbane ended early due to a surfeit of the wet stuff. At least we nighthawks were able to go to bed!
Sdaly it was not another huge success story for our favourites and the most worrying feature for me was the ease with which the Aussies handled Swann. He could prove the real difference between these sides and we urgently need him to get into his spinning groove.
He has rightly been compared with Warne but so far has looked more like Phil Tufnell of sacred memory!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1 1976 2. Transkei
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which organisation proclaimed 1975-85 as the Decade for Women? 2.. The status of Sikkim changed in 1975. What did it become?