The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

17 October
Comments Off on Not All Students Are Ashamed Of Our Military

Not All Students Are Ashamed Of Our Military

A 90 year old Marine veteran who served from 1947 until 1969 died in a care home a few days ago. It is a sad fact that many who survive to a ripe old age outlive their family and when they die their funerals are sparsely attended, usually just a handful of staff from their care home.

He faced a basic public burial but a local undertaker got in touch with the Royal British Legion, who launched a nationwide appeal for support for his funeral.

So when people heard about Marine Kerr’s death, especially so near to our own Remembrance Day, hundreds of them turned out to pay their respects and to honour his service.
There was a substantial presence from service men and women and veterans, local folk from in and around Shrewsbury including a group of teenagers from the local college.

Was a pleasure to be there, even though we didn’t know him it gave us all a chance to show our respects and how grateful we are for fighting for our country.

The words of these students, expressing their gratitude for the military service of those who either gave or risked their lives to protect future generations, stood in stark contrast with the academic “high flyers” of the Cambridge University Union who voted to reject the red poppy of Remembrance Day as “imperialist propaganda”

God Bless You, Marine Kerr. Rest in Peace and thank you for you service.

 

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11 October
Comments Off on By The 1930s Churchill Was Regarded As An Outdated Relic-Which Was Exactly Why He Was The Man For The Moment In 1940

By The 1930s Churchill Was Regarded As An Outdated Relic-Which Was Exactly Why He Was The Man For The Moment In 1940

This nonsense about Winston Churchill just shows how the lunatic fringe has moved into the mainstream. Ben Shapiro and Andrew Roberts have both forensically dismissed the claim that Churchill should not be regarded as a hero so I need not attempt to walk in their shoes but there are some points to be made arising from the “debate”

Even in the 1930s public opinion saw Churchill as an old fashioned figure, a relic of the Victorian/Edwardian era out of sync with modern attitudes. He had opposed votes for women, self government for India and helped break the General Strike of 1926. He believed in the Empire, hated Bolshevism and despised the League of Nations.
Within the Conservative Party he was seen as a relic and a troublemaker. Even as late as 1960 when, as a university student I helped campaign for the Tories in a council election I heard the local candidate use those very words about Churchill even when most of us saw him as the hero who saved our nation in 1940.

After Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933 he became almost a one man band constantly warning against the rise of German militarism and the need to re-arm. His warnings fell largely on deaf ears, not just from his fellow politicians but also the general public. My parents remembered vividly times in cinemas when the newsreels showed Churchill and there were cries or “warmonger” from the audience. Rumours swirled that he wanted war because he had shares in the armaments industry. He was a voice in the wilderness when he refused to acclaim Chamberlain for Munich.

Yet when the nation was awakened to the possibility of defeat in 1940, when many politicians and media figures were pushing for “terms” and Chamberlain sought to create a government of national unity the Labour Party refused to serve under anybody else except Churchill. When George VI unwillingly appointed him Prime Minsister the country largely fell in behind him…..beecause, at that moment of crisis, his old fashioned, outdated ideas of patriotism mirrored the public mood

“It is to wage war by sea, land, and air, war with all our minds and with all the strength that God gives us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crimes.”

For a country totally alone, weakened militarily and economically it was manifestly an irrational response. No “modern” politician would have dared used that phrase…..which was why Churchill was the only one who could say it with conviction.

Subsequently as a wartime PM his path was not always even. The latecomers from Washington and Moscow gradually took up the greater part of the burden. But without that moment in 1940 the “monstrous tyranny” could well have been secure in Europe even until this present day…..

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08 October
Comments Off on With The Kavanaugh Saga The Daily Telegraph Sank To A New Low

With The Kavanaugh Saga The Daily Telegraph Sank To A New Low

Like most of the “official” US media the UK Daily Telegraph covered the whole Kavanaugh saga in a manner so shallow and biased that at times I thought I was reading the Guardian. Very little was reported of the gaping holes in the allegations and the lack of evidence. Certain Democrat senators were presented as honest brokers without any suggestion that the process had been orchestrated. Even worse a veritable regiment of Polly Fillers were allowed imply that Kavanaugh’s accusers were telling the truth and the man himself was a sinister rapist…..no mention of the 75 former fellow students, girl friends or colleagues who vouchsafed for his character

Strangely the strong defence of Mr Kavanaugh by Sen Graham was hardly mentioned which was rather odd as until now, as a regular GOP critic of the president he was often wheeled out by the resident DT US team to provide ammunition against Trump.

And of course, the whole chorus was part of the sustained anti Trump agenda that has been carefully followed by the DT since the moment he announced his candidature in 2015 – magnified by the embarrassment and humiliation of the paper’s so called US “experts” who refused to even countenance the possibility of his victory.

I think the people who run the DT need to seriously address this issue of bias. By all means criticise Trump but please cut out the sneers about him and his family. Indeed it might even be possible to address the lack of balance by getting some input by folk like Don Surber, John Nolte or Candace Owens who could give an alternative perspective.

Or, of course, you could continue to be the cut and paste surrogates for the Washington Post or the NYT….

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05 October
Comments Off on JAZZ HANDS – COULD THEY BE JUST A TINY WEE BIT…..RACIST?

JAZZ HANDS – COULD THEY BE JUST A TINY WEE BIT…..RACIST?

Students at Manchester University have decided that applause and cheers create an unsafe environment for some people because it can be intimidating for students with autism, sensory issues or deafness.

Ms Khan, the union’s liberation and access officer, who proposed the motion at a recent meeting said clapping can “discourage” some from attending democratic events.
So-called “jazz hands”, she said, encouraged an “environment of respect”.
“I think a lot of the time, even in Parliamentary debates, I’ve seen that clapping, whooping, talking over each other, loud noises, encourages an atmosphere that is not as respectful as it could be,” she said.

 

 

But the pic of Emma Sone doing jazz hands did seem to stir a long forgotten memory buried way back in TV Past – The BBC’s Black and White Minstrel Show from the 1970s where white men in blackface danced and sang surrounded by a troupe of pretty white girls, recreating the long established tradition of American minstrel shows.

Although it initially attracted strong audience numbers the basic premise of the show, a stereotype of the child like black man, alternately jolly and sad but without any depth of intellect began to fit less comfortably with the times and in 1978 it was cancelled.

And if there was one image which characterised this patronising  of of the intellectually stunted black man it was this

 

A direct descendant of the nineteenth century image

 

So maybe those Manchester students might be a tad less comfortable if they were aware that they were perpetuating an action that could be considered demeaning to black people and just……racist….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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