Beware – Satire

Oh my followers, beware the great Trump. For he has declared upon the Twitter that he has “great and unmatched wisdom”, and that he will “destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey” and that he has done so before.

How will our American brethren celebrate their Thanksgiving feast after the Turkey economy is destroyed?

It is time for us all to rise up with the cry “Gobble-gobble-gobble” and defeat the infidel.

“9/11”: 11th September 2001

There has been a lot of talk on social media about “where you were on 9/11”.
On 11th September 2001 (to give it the correct date), I was in Satu Mare, at the north-west corner of Rumania. We were about two hours ahead of most of Europe and therefore in time zones about nine hours before the USA

After work I walked from the factory to my hotel and turned on the TV. The only English language programme was CNN news, and I was just in time to see the second aircraft strike the World Trade Center buildings.
Shocked, I called home. Sure enough, everyone was glued to the TV, although it was mid-afternoon in the UK. I watched CNN for the rest of the evening, despite the affliction of the soviet era combined hot water/heating system that could not be adjusted, except by hanging one’s head out of the window for temporary relief.

Very soon I received the company-wide “no-fly” instruction.
I was now stranded in a town that felt like something from the late 1950s, with just two flights per week to Budapest in Hungary and a similar train service via Ukraine to Budapest. I had “enjoyed” during the previous week the same greasy lamb stew every day in the Managers’ dining room. I had observed that even senior managers were paid weekly, in cash. My hotel wanted cash payment rather than the company-preferred Amex.

My Irish colleague and I started to search for alternative ways home, probably via train.

Fortunately after two days the flight ban was lifted. Just in time for the local flight to Budapest. At the local airport they had moved the security scanning equipment into the entrance lobby/car park area. They clearly had no idea what to do. My Psion organiser was temporarily confiscated as “computer equipment”, but my laptop computer passed without comment. The chap before me had his nail clippers taken away, but in the duty-free shop aferwards one could buy a Swiss Army Knife.

And so, our travel passed without any major incident, but with a few bizarre situations.

As it turned out, this was so much easier than the problems caused by the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, when I was stranded in Wrotslaw, Poland and booked to be in Italy four days later. But that’s another, and much longer, story.


An item on the local TV news today covered a special tribute from a 70 year old son to his dad on his 100th birthday.

Apparently Dad was entitled to 6 medals for his service in WW2 but declined them at the end of the war because he did not want to be reminded of his wartime experiences, the friends he had lost and the sights he had seen.

For his 100th birthday, the son had the “missing” medals minted and awarded to his dad as a special tribute.

How bloody insensitive can you get? 

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is real and possibly forever.  Resurrecting bad memories after 70 years is not likely to help.

What can help is a donation to , the charity that strives to help those who struggle with their memories of war.

A D-Day remembrance for all combatants

Last week our radio, TV and podcasts were full of the D-Day 75th anniversary events.  From a British perspective, how many covered the German remembrance?  Almost none, that’s how many.  There was coverage on the BBC Radio 4 “Today” programme, but that’s all that I could find.

We celebrate our heroes and all our veterans.  Most of them were conscript soldiers, just as the enemy were.  Both sides suffered; men on both sides were killed and suffered horrific injuries, both physical and mental.  I find it heartening that men who could not talk to their own generation or their immediate family about the traumatic events can now open up to their grandchildren and to the media, and can find friendships with the men on the other side who endured those days.  As they come to the evening of their lives, I believe that the importance of remembrance of the sacrifice of young men and women is high on their priorities.

And let us not forget in our national commemorations all the other nations involved in D-Day and the Normandy campaign.  For example, there were Poles fighting on both sides in Normandy.  My own late father-in-law was an unwilling Polish conscript in the Wehrmacht for most of the War, and ended up serving with the Polish army in exile in Great Britain.  I only found out most of his story at his funeral.


As an aside It’s odd to think that I have to thank two of the most evil men in history for my wife.  Her father was a Pole escaping Hitler.  Her mother was a Latvian escaping Stalin.  They were both welcomed, or at least accepted, into Britain.



Parliamentary Etiquette

One thing that I do enjoy when listening to British parliamentary debates is the formalised speech.  Sometimes the best insults may be concealed behind the eloquence of the most fluent in this form of English.

It is archaic, but it has its own charm.  For example, in the House of Commons, one never refers to the House of Lords (the regulatory, or “upper” chamber of parliament), but to “Another Place”.

The Speaker of the House will call members to speak by name, but in all other circumstances, and by other members they are referred to as: e.g.”The Minister” or “The (Honourable) Member for Little Podlington and Sparrowbridge”, or if they happen to be on the same side, one can get away with: “My Honourable Friend”.

Apart from anything else, it’s a great test of memory when there are 650 people to remember together with their official titles if appropriate and the constituency they represent.

A classic example of the pedantry is a frequent declamation from the Speaker:
“Order! The Honourable Gentleman must not shout from a sedentary position.”, which can be interpreted as “Oy, you – shut your mouth and wait your turn.”

A wonderful example today of a minor rebuke by Mr. Speaker Bercow:
“We welcome the honourable member for X to the chamber, and we hope that she has sufficiently recovered her breath to ask her scheduled question”.
Or in other words: “You’re late, and you missed your turn.”

And you thought Chaucer and Shakespeare were difficult to understand?

By the way, I think that Mr. Speaker Bercow is looking very fatigued after the last two days of chairing parliamentary debates about “Brexit” that remind me of the old computer game “Lemmings”.   Instead of building bridges, our MPs have started digging holes in different directions and neither side now has enough bridge builders to get anyone out of the hole.


2018 Politics

The USA has in the past year revelled in isolationist policies, probably to the detriment of the rest of the world.  Hello USA.  There is a “rest of the world”, and it isn’t ALL anti-USA, but the proportion may be growing.

On the other hand the UK has agonised about its actual policies, trying to decide whether to be isolationist, semi-isolationist, semi-integrated, totally integrated or something in between.  

At home I listen to the news and analysis thereof.  I have decided that actually watching TV news is about 20% informative and 80% time wasted.

I wonder if the USA has an adequate system of regulation against the accidental election of an idiot to control so many national governmental institutions.  The USA of course has a defined constitution, amended over time to be highly detailed, but possibly still inadequate.   Any writer of rules must know that one cannot pre-regulate every possible situation.

I also wonder of the UK system of government is too tightly bound, in that nothing can actually be changed until sufficient elected members consider that there will otherwise be a catastrophe, and then it is referred to another, un-elected, group, many of whom are more experienced and less reliant on public opinion, to rationalise the decisions of those who are.  The UK famously has no written constitution, but law is based on expanding precedent.  Parliament has its own rules, sometimes outside general law.

Meanwhile, the Chinese appear to be the bogeymen for the USA, whereas Russia is the UK’s current nasty, with the EU as the focus of current attention.

Happy 2019 everyone.  I expect more of the same.

How would we cope without the internet?

There has been a massive failure in access to the internet through the O2 network today.

I know that I am relying on the very same technology that just failed us today in order to distribute this message, but is this not a warning about our reliance on constant access to the internet to be able to run our lives nowadays?

Maybe it’s time t wake up and check the alternatives, if there still are any…