The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

05 September
Comments Off on STARTING SCHOOL…1945..

STARTING SCHOOL…1945..

All those youngsters and nervous parents heading for reception class this week took me back to my own reception experience in 1945 at my London County Council primary school at the top of Brixton Hill. We gathered with our mums (dads didn’t do schools in those days) on the pavement outside the school entrance. A teacher came into the playground and blew a whistle. Some of us left mum and went into the playground. My mum told me years later she was hurt because I didn’t look back!!
The teacher, a rather stern looking lady called Miss Bowker, marshalled us into a line then blew the whistle again. Mums prodded their kids into the playground. Some were tearful but Miss Bowker just pushed them into the line then marched us into the school, ignoring the waving mums.
I guess Miss B must have started teaching in 1910 because she eventually retired in 1950. She certainly was old school. English and arithmetic in the morning and, if we worked hard, arty crafty stuff in the afternoon.
She ruled us with a gimlet eye and, when necessary, a sharp look of disapproval which would quell any rebellious soul. My working class mum had taught me to read and write so I managed to bumble along quite well but many of my thirty nine fellow pupils were thrown into the deep end. But nobody left Miss B’s class unable to read or write.
When we did art we painted on sheets torn out of old telephone directories because there was a national shortage of paper…..which is why we had to fill every space in our copy books if we wanted to avoid Miss B’s ire…..
Wonder how she would fare in our more “caring” culture….lol…

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19 July
Comments Off on Why Was The BBC So Keen To Humiliate Sir Cliff Richard?

Why Was The BBC So Keen To Humiliate Sir Cliff Richard?

 

Very good news…..


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I suspect that some of the drivers of this escapade were

1. Police and BBC guilt over covering up the Jimmy Savile stuff for so long
2. Sir Cliff’s insistence that his sexuality is a private matter
3. Sir Cliff’s very unfashionable public stance as a Christian

Points 2 & 3 do not appear to fit easily into the world view of the 21st century BBC…..indeed the beeb seems positively antagonistic to such sentiments as discretion about sexuality and declarations of Christian faith.

Hence an almost fanatical determination to use the naming of Sir Cliff as a suspect in an underage sexual abuse investigation and the resultant police search as a golden opportunity to publicly humiliate the man.

Naturally the BBC and the rest of the media are bloviating about “press freedom” and “the public’s right to know.

Pure bollocks.

The BBC didn’t post the report discreetly on the TV equivalent of page 15 – it was not only given a front page splash but also subsequently entered for a “scoop of the year” competition. They probably saw it as an opportunity to humiliate someone whose slightly old fashioned views just didn’t resonate with their own “liberated”, progressive outlook.

Strangely my Facebook timeline (usually full of anti Trump, anti Brexit, pro Corbyn bloviations) is almost silent over the judge’s damning indictment. Imagine. however, the cacophony from certain quarters if it had been the Mail or The Sun “wot done it”….

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08 June
Comments Off on Bit of a nuisance – I’ve got cancer….

Bit of a nuisance – I’ve got cancer….

Well that was a bit of a nuisance. Got referred to East Surrey by GP at end of February. Consultant told me I had neck cancer (relatively rare, apparently) Went into Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead in April for an op. Big but neat scar on my neck and a bit knackered but still compos mentis. .

Just about to start second part of procedure – four weeks of radiotherapy

Keeping calm and carrying on…….

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07 February
Comments Off on FORGET THE SUFFRAGETTES…..IT WAS THE SUFFRAGISTS WHO WON THE VOTE FOR WOMEN

FORGET THE SUFFRAGETTES…..IT WAS THE SUFFRAGISTS WHO WON THE VOTE FOR WOMEN

 

 

WHEN THE LENS OF WISHFUL THINKING TURNS HISTORY INTO MYTH

 

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Much of the reporting about the centenary of the granting of votes to women has been strong on emotion and weak on historical facts. Most of the narrative has been about the “suffragettes” and their militancy, with various celebs and politicians decked out in purple, white and green, the WSPU (suffragette) colours.

In fact most of the heavy lifting for women’s suffrage was done by Millicent Fawcett’s “suffragists” (NUWSS) who favoured non violent campaigning. It could well be argued that it was the NUWSS effort that won the right to vote. Yet they (and their colours of red.white and green) have today been overshadowed by the Pankhursts and the suffragettes.

Curiously enough the NUWSS was a tad more left wing than the suffragettes. The WSPU abandoned action in 1914 and fully supported WW1. Although Fawcett also supported the war she had to be more circumspect because many of her members were pacifists. Nevertheless today even left wingers were decked out in purple white and green when they should have been red, white and green.

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Maybe the passionate grandstanding of the suffragettes has a greater resonance with 21st century culture than the equally determined but less theatrical behaviour of the suffragists. However, although the current commemorations focus, quite rightly, on women gaining the right to vote and the democrat in me celebrates that landmark, the historian in me does get irritated when facts get….massaged…..

“The failure of a second bill in 1867 led to the formation of the National Society for Women’s Suffrage in Manchester, gradually joined by numerous other branches around the country, which were united in 1897 in the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies. The suffragists of the NUWSS were many more in number than the militants who in 1903 set up the WSPU (Women’s Social and Political Union) and adopted direct militant action as tactics. By 1914 the NUWSS had 50,000 members, the WSPU 5,000. The NUWSS retained their focus on peaceful campaigning: petitioning, demonstrating, writing, speaking and teaching, organising and lobbying in favour of the vote. Many of them saw the violent tactics of the suffragettes as bringing the movement and the credibility of women as aspiring responsible members of political society into disrepute and compromising the female values which they argued were needed in government and society and which necessitated that women should have a vote.”

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30 November
Comments Off on The Faux Outrage Over Those Trump Tweets

The Faux Outrage Over Those Trump Tweets

 

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08 August
Comments Off on “Dunkirk” 1958 and 2017….Two Very Different Perspectives

“Dunkirk” 1958 and 2017….Two Very Different Perspectives

Having seen Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” I remembered that way back in my uni days in Leicester at the end of the 50s I had seen a film with the same title starring John Mills and Bernard Lee (actually it was made in 1958). I couldn’t recall much about it but fortunately it’s on Amazon Prime so a day or so later we watched it on Firestick.

Being nearly sixty years old, of course, some aspects of it are a tad dated. It’s in black and white, some of the scenes are obviously studio bound and the women are either cheerful cockneys or very middle class with cut glass accents. However, at 2 hrs 14 mins the director could take a broader brush approach and not only focus on the beaches (actually Camber Sands) but also set the scene by looking at the events which led up to the evacuation

The story was told through the eyes of three individuals. Bernard Lee (who later played M in the Bond films) was a cynical journalist, John Mills a resourceful army corporal and Richard Attenborough an English factory owner making a handsome living off the Army by manufacturing belt buckles.

Unlike the current film the 1958 production showed how during the period of the “phoney war” of the early months, when there was hardly any fighting most civilians felt disconnected from the war. Government and media were complacent and there was a feeling that, in Chamberlain’s fateful words “Hitler had missed the bus”. By the end of the film, as people flocked to welcome and help the soldiers successfully evacuated from Dunkirk the mood had changed. Many more in Britain felt part of the war.

The film also recognised the actions of the rearguard, those soldiers who were ordered to defend the perimeter to the last man and the last bullet in order to protect the men already on the beaches.

The first half of the film followed the civilians as they volunteered to take their small boats across to Dunkirk and John Mills leading his squad through the countryside to the beach. Thereafter the storyline was closer to the 2017 movie with some significant exceptions.

There was a small medical post in a bar by the front staffed by a handful of doctors and orderlies trying their best to cope under extreme pressure. Eventually the chief is sent orders to evacuate the walking wounded to the ships but to leave the most serious cases to await the German forces. Three volunteers are requested to stay behind with the patients and inevitably face being taken as POWs. They decide to draw lots and one of the three to draw the short straw, when asked his name straw gives a very common Jewish name. Nothing is said but the look on his face conveys a solemn message. If the film had been rooted in the First World War there would have no concern at being a Jewish POW. The 2017 production skirted such issues about the Germans… they were just a faceless “enemy” with no hint of darker forces.

In 1958 the film picked up on a moment when a simple service was held on the beach. Most soldiers of that time were not particularly religious but closeness to danger and death often makes men more conscious of their mortality and the scene showed many of the troops kneeling for the Lord’s Prayer. Maybe by 2017 the film makers felt uncomfortable with the notion of men kneeling in prayer….

We also know that on the beaches at the time there was a feeling that the Luftwaffe appeared to be having a free hand in the skies over Dunkirk without much opposition. In fact the RAF was working very hard further inland to deter enemy planes at quite considerable cost. Bur this didn’t stop many of the soldiers feeling angry that the “Brylcreem Boys” of the RAF had let them down. This was picked up in 1958 when John Mills had to step in when a RAF driver who had got them to the beach was threatened by other soldiers. By 2017 this had been airbrushed out.

But the most glaring omission in the recent movie was something picked up in the original film where, sat on the beach, John Mills describes the whole business as a mess and ask how on earth the Germans had managed to drive Britain to the very edge of defeat in such a short time. Bernard Lee blames it firmly on the “never again” reaction to the bloodshed and suffering of the ’14-’18 war. This had encouraged an ostrich like attitude to the rise of Nazi Germany. Lee said, laconically, that Germany had chosen guns before butter while British politicians and the public had chosen the other way around.

How could any film made in 2017, in the midst of the continuous hand-wringing built into the commemoration of the First World War, dare to even suggest that it was the motif of “never again” that had led to the slaughter of even more millions during WW2?

The 1958 “Dunkirk” came from another country. Almost every adult involved with the film would have been impacted by the 1940 evacuation. Many would have actually had experienced WW2 as soldiers or civilians. Even younger folk like myself would have had memories of family in uniform and stories about the Blitz. But now there is very little connection with those experiences at first hand.

Both films have their strengths and weaknesses. Both are, on balance, artistically sound. But both are also of their moment – and if you want to get closer to how people felt at the time then “Dunkirk” 1958 wins hands down.

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29 July
Comments Off on DUNKIRK – THE BATTLE OF THE PERIMETER

DUNKIRK – THE BATTLE OF THE PERIMETER

One thing not included in Dunkirk was the fact that an Anglo French rearguard held back German forces for long enough to ensure the evacuation from the beaches could take place at all. It meant that the retreat was not a rout. As the Duke of Wellington is alleged to have once said. “Any fool can win a battle but the best generals know when to retreat and when they do it they do it damned well”

Valuable time was gained from Hitler’s inexplicable ‘halt order’, which suspended the panzers’ advance for 2-3 crucial days, whilst the German tank forces were replenished. This gave the Allies the opportunity to set up strongpoints in key towns and villages such as Lille, La Bassée, St Venant, Festubert, La Paradis, Steenbecque, Hazebrouck, Cassel, Wormhout, Bergues, Ypres, Noordschote, Dixmuide, Veurne and Nieuwpoort. These strongpoints were manned by experienced troops of the British 2nd division and a variety of scratch units. For the most part, their orders were simple: ‘Fight to the last man and the last round’. The heroic sacrifice of these rearguard units and of the French 1st Army at Lille, allowed the bulk of the BEF and two French divisions to escape up the rapidly-shrinking corridor to Dunkirk

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29 July
Comments Off on DUNKIRK – THE FILM

DUNKIRK – THE FILM

Just saw Dunkirk….a brilliant film and a serious attempt to portray an event that has become deeply embedded in the British folk memory of WW2.
It’s also an unusual war film in the sense that dialogue is minimal and the emphasis is almost entirely on the visual. There are also very few “heroics”, indeed much of the film is understated and almost passive. There are bursts of violence but also a lot of the “waiting around” that often characterises military life.
Episodes of courage occur but we also see the panic and confusion that war films tend to underplay.
It’s also a film about men…there are a few women but they are peripheral to the narrative and very much in the background. A few decades ago there would have been the compulsory “love interest” of either wives at home or nurses aboard but moviemaking seems to be growing up.
Men die but there is very little blood or dismemberment. In fact the dead are just “there” either to be stepped over or pushed aside.
You do leave the cinema, however, grateful that that over 330,000 of these soldiers escaped to fight another day and, even more that you weren’t a man born in Britain between 1900 and 1922……

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11 May
Comments Off on Facebook Feminists Quite Happy To Call Theresa May The C Word…

Facebook Feminists Quite Happy To Call Theresa May The C Word…

Am I the only person whose Facebook timeline has uncovered posts from apparently well educated, middle class women (usually in their late 20s/early 30s) who regularly proclaim their feminist purity by railing against male misogyny yet who quite happily call Theresa May a b**** or a c***?  These are women who would prickle with resentment if you called them “love” or complimented them on the way they dressed. If you called them the c or b word they would go full metal discrimination. They stoutly defend Diane Abbott against any criticism by swiftly playing the sexist card yet they quite happily fling those words around when pontificating about the Conservative leader and do not smack any wrists when their male friends resort to similar name calling in the threads to their posts.

There is not a peep of protest.

Why?

It’s because the target of their ire is a) a right wing politician and b) she appears to be winning. Hence sisterhood goes out of the window and the claws are unleashed.

It happened to Margaret Thatcher and it also happened to Sarah Palin (even though she didn’t win)

If one were cruel it could be put down to hypocrisy. But since that sin is endemic on the left perhaps it is best filed under bad manners……

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10 May
Comments Off on Marie Le Pen Is Not Finished – She Has Only Just Begun…..

Marie Le Pen Is Not Finished – She Has Only Just Begun…..

The media and the punditocracy were having orgasms last weekend over the defeat of Marie Le Pen in the French Presidential election. “Crushed”, “landslide” were just two of the words used in celebration of her loss. Consigning MLP to the dustbin of history the hacks went on to gush over Emmanuel Macron, the young former Rothschild banker/civil servant who had “come from nowhere” to win the presidency.

Come from nowhere….lol….

Nobody “comes from nowhere” to win like that. Once it was clear that the traditional parties were persona non grata the French and EU political elites needed a package to sell to shore up their interests in the face of Le Pen’s nationalist and anti globalist rhetoric and the young photogenic former socialist banker fitted the bill perfectly.

What the media have failed to grasp is the fact that Le Pen knew that victory was very much a long shot. Her eyes have always been on 2022. What she needed from 2017 was legitimacy – and that she has gained in spades, firstly by coming a close second in the preliminary round despite having zero support from the official French media. Then, and this is of even greater significance, she gained the support of  over a third of those who voted. In other words a sizeable chunk of the electorate wanted her to lead France. This is something her father (and founder of the Front National) could never achieve. In 2002 Jean-Marie Le Pen won just 4.5m votes in the presidential run off – his daughter gained 11m. She did well with younger voters and women and easily outmatched Macron amongst the working class.

Marine Le Pen has broken out of the core rump of the FN faithful and become a major political figure and could lay claim to the mantle of the leader of the opposition to the Macron administration

She will now capitalise on this by restructuring and rebranding the FN into a broader political movement that can still sell the FN’s seductive fusion of right wing nationalism with left wing social policy but without the old vichyite trappings that always held her father back.

She reacted to her defeat with grace and dignity but vowed to carry on

I will be at the head of this fight to gather together all of those who choose France first.

For those who hope to think that Marine Le Pen is finished – she has only just begun….

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