Saturday, 26 November 2011

'Tis said that everybody has a book inside them!

In my case it was a copy of the Beano, at the age of 6.  Fortunately the staples were well down and the doctors didn't have to perform invasive procedures.  Now you know why Readers Digest was printed smaller and with the glued spine, suitable for a more mature audience.

What drives people to write down their experiences, thoughts and desires?  Blogs that vary from the insightful to the inane:  "Had Pizza for lunch."  "Might go down the shops later!"  Basically, tweets without the size limit.

Is it fanciful to think that, had Blogs been available to earlier generations, we might have had glimpses into the minds of some of individuals who shaped our cultures and histories?

Albert Einstein:  Had some exciting ideas about the structure of the atom.  Early days - don't want to get things blown up out of all proportion!

Ludwig van Beethoven:  Feeling a bit restless today, maybe there's a storm coming.

Franz Schubert:  I really must get round to finishing my new Symphony!

Alexandros of Antioch:  Got a commission to sculpt a life-size Venus today.  Customer happy so long as it doesn't cost an arm and a leg!

Alexander the Great:  I'm told Asia Minor is nice at this time of year.

Any suggestions to what famous (or lesser-known) characters in history would have published?  If so, post a reply.  I'm afraid these days we have our Great and Good tweeting and blogging in greater numbers than ever.  The usual question, though, is not so much "What are they thinking?" as "What were they thinking?"  Hey ho!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

What a difference a character makes

As a newcomer to blogging, I can see how someone can get addicted to rambling on about odd subjects - I suppose that's what turns a single-posting BTwig into a real BLog.  And that got me thinking about a wonderful letter I saw published:

One individual's reaction to a certain fast-food-corporation's registering of the Mc prefix, thus separating the Real McCoy from those who are simply Coy, was to claim ownership of the letter 'e'.  He would make it available for personal and educational use free of charge, but otherwise any commercial use would attract a royalty of 0.001p per time.

My first reaction was to consider registering a proprietory interest in the B-prefix, but on reflection I would happily levy a fairly swinging charge on the use of the zero character for Bankers' bonuses, Lawyers' fees and MPs' expense claims, with a "rounding clause" to prevent the inevitable £9,999,999.99 that would creep in otherwise.  Not that all these are bad people - it's the 98% who give the rest a bad name!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Lest we forget ...

Quite a few youngsters were excited last Friday at the prospect of their digital clocks, at one instant of time, exhibiting 11:11:11, 11/11/11.  Just a little earlier than that, many people were anticipating another event.

A teenage cadet expressed it well:  that Remembrance Day 2011 was particularly poignant because, for the first time, there were no surviving participants from World War 1.  For those who survived, for those who lost their lives, for their families and friends this was The Great War, the "War to End All Wars".  But that wasn't the case - scarcely 21 years later the Madness started all over again.  Such things, and how they came about, need to be remembered.

Personal stories abound.  It's sobering to think of my grandfather, who served in the trenches of WW1.  He was hit by a shell blast and knocked unconscious.  He came around in a mass grave, about to be filled in.  With a broken jaw he could not call out, only blink his eyes.  Had an alert soldier not spotted this faint signal, in among so many dead bodies, he would not have been rescued.  Nor would my father have been born in 1922, nor would I nor, consequently, any of my children.  Not all had this kind of lucky escape.

But these wars were not caused by Peoples, one population against another.  The greed, selfishness and ineptitude of our collective Leaders leads to ordinary people being swept up with these greater events.

Just three weeks ago I attended the funeral of a long-time friend, a 90-year-old one-time member of the Waffen SS.  A teenage Ukrainian Partisan, he was captured by the Germans.  Accepting SS uniform was the only way of avoiding instant execution, but he deserted for Allied lines as soon as he could.  He and my father-in-law, who had been taken as forced labour by the Nazis, were good personal friends in recent years.

Then there is my late friend Josef, a member of the German Wehrmacht, who ended the war as a prisoner in France and later married a French/Polish Jewess who had survived a Concentration Camp.  They were married for nearly 60 years.

I was in the Netherlands on the 50th anniversary of the D-Day Landings.  Whereas the UK TV channels I saw that day were full of rather triumphalistic sentiments, Dutch TV was rather more thoughtful.  It looked at the stories of apprehensive Allied soldiers, running off landing craft into an uncertain fate AND the stories of equally frightened German defenders, many of whom died in similarly awful numbers.  Quite a balanced view from a country which suffered direct Nazi occupation.

Talk to any such persons and they will tell you what a BLOODY SILLY WAY (in every definition thereof) war is of settling disputes, and would seek any sensible alternative.  It is frightening to see some of our "Western Democratic Leaders" who have had no direct personal experience of such conflicts reaching for the war option, despite the urgings of their populations, as if being a Wartime Leader is some kind of badge of honour.  Or successions of Ministers assisting in the overseas sale of "Defence Equipment", or Arms Dealing as it really is!  Such weapons will either be used against us, our Service personnel or our contemporary allies at a future date, or used against those States' civilian populations.  And  they know it!

None of this is in any way to decry the real sacrifices made by Services personnel 90+, 60+ or just a few years ago, or even right now.  They deserve better than they are getting.  It is this which needs remembering.  While the Old Soldiers of WW1 are no longer with us, the Age of Lions led by Donkeys lives on.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Captain's Blog, Earthdate 2011.11.13

So this is it, my very first blog.  My wife believes that I should share my wit & wisdom with the outside world - either that, or she may no longer wish to suffer alone.

So, should I write about the competence or otherwise of the local Council, the irony of the authorities of St Paul's having legal difficulties with tent-dwellers (Paul of the Bible having been both a lawyer AND a tent-maker in his time) or the iniquities of the Press Barons ...   Nah - plenty of that elsewhere - plus, just like the Poor, the Idiots will always be with us and present plenty of future opportunities.  Most days, in fact.

Instead I will regale you with an account of taking my 14-year-old son to see a local rugby club match.  Going to school in South Wales, I was a slight lad.  As soon as the opportunity to choose distance running instead of rugby came, I went for it!  Not so much an antipathy towards rugby as a desire to survive!  I've always followed National games and was delighted to see Wales play so very well this year and, even when they lost, the team lost magnificently.

I digress, back to the match yesterday.  Hard-fought, with passion and commitment on both sides, the local team and one from the next county played very creditably.  The referee was from another town to ensure impartiality.  Just before half-time there was an accidental clash between two players, leaving both on the ground for some minutes and one still on crutches (but smiling) over an hour later.  So far, so good.

For the second half, the two of us went to stand just behind one touchline.  The touch judge (these days termed an "assistant referee") was not of the imported variety, and obviously held a very strong affiliation to the local team.  Notwithstanding his role as a neutral official, his shouts of "C'mon ref, are you f***ing blind?" and "Go on, f***ing smack 'im one!" formed every bit as much a part of the afternoon's entertainment as the play itself.  For the record my local team won by two points, but honours equal on both sides by my reckoning.

Before bidding adieu from the rugby match, let me quote from the official programme.  With regard to the visiting team:  [they visit] "for the first time in many a year, the last encounter being away during a wintry day when a frozen pitch forced all activities indoors.  Needless to say it was an enjoyable event".

So it shows that just "winning" isn't everything.  Maybe a lesson for our Politicians, Churchmen and Journalists after all!  But not the Lawyers or the Bankers - they're beyond redemption!