Saturday, 24 July 2010

That Special Relationship Nonsense

Dave Cameron is quite right and quite wrong. He thinks we are the junior partner, the Americans know that we are their servants. The US Senate invited Jack Straw and two Scotch chaps to give evidence at a hearing, ie get a verbal pummelling, which they wisely refused. Note the attitude of our American Pardners on attending inquests etc. First rule of the American legal system is an American is always innocent if the other party ain't American.
I would like to see politicians account for their lobbying to secure the early release of convicted terrorist murderers in order to gain political and trade benefits. But would Prez Bill Clinton and the tormented soul of Ted Kennedy among many others turn up to answer questions on the 1997 Belfast Agreement and its prisoner release scheme? No, didn't think so either.
But just remember that almost as many people were killed during the Northern Irish Troubles by terrorists as died on 9 September 2001. And in which country were the Noraid collecting tins rattled?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

So That's Why They Were Called The Few

Photo creditTMWolf cc-by-sa-2.0

This is a P-40 Warhawk of the USAAC returning from a successful sortie (5 kills for this aircraft alone using only 20 rounds of ammunition) against 250 Lutwaffe Heinkel He-113s on 22 July 1940. The 20 Wings of fighters that America provided prevented Operation Seelowe after RAF aircraft had "their asses whupped."

Dave has said that in 1940 Britain was the junior party with America fighting the Nazis. While I appreciate that he may have been diplomatically, pouring oil on troubled waters to flatter our cousins across the "pond " in order to divert blame from the Jocks' release of the only person convicted of the Pan-Am Bombing* and the Great BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Leak (not the other one) which, thankfully, due to the efficacy of the newly-installed cap may actually have been the fault of American contractors, that crass statement from an Oxford PPE First would barely merit a D at GCSE.

Just like us, Americans like their myth of winning the Second World War, and in the Pacific, and Western Europe from July 1944 onwards they did indeed, In addition, America was the "Arsenal of Democracy" (and the Soviet Union) but only after bankrupting Britain by demanding cash for arms. Apprently, to get round the strict neutrality laws passed to satisfy isolationists and pro-Nazi Fenians, Lockheed Hudson patrol bombers had to be towed a short distance across the border to Canada by a horse. And how fortunate that Dave apparently knew nothing of the Tizard Mission of September 1940 that gifted America Britain's most advanced technology.

And of course Hollywood has always had Americans winning the war for, often unwilling and incompetent. Britons ever since Errol Flynn sorted things out in Burma (a big thank you from the 14th Army) and Ben Affleck taught Fighter Command to fly dirty in the Battle of Britain section of the dire Pearl Harbor ( why not Perl or Purl for consistency?)

In 1944, Chindits commanded by Brigadier Mike Calvert captured the important Burmese town of Mogaung from the Japanese. For political reasons, American General Stilwell's HQ credited the Nationalist Chinese. On hearing this, Calvert signalled that the Chindits had taken umbrage. Stilwell's staff officers scoured their maps for several hours in vain looking for somewhere called Umbrage.

So Dave, after you've given yourself and Sam a pat on the back for giving Obama a graffiti "artwork" why don't you read about the Battle of Britain on the brilliant Days of Glory blogexe?

*As the Pan-Am 747 was allegedly blown up in retaliation for the shooting down by an American Aegis-class cruiser of an Iranian airliner, it's always puzzled me why Libya picked up the murder contract when terrorism is about the only thing that just about every Middle-Eastern government can do themselves without hiring foreign contractors.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

The memorial to the most shameful former secret of WWI at the National Memorial Arboretum

The re-interment of the last unknown one of 250 Australian and British WWI soldiers in the new CWGC cemetery at Fromelles prompted mixed emotions in me. On the one hand, the knowledge that men who died for their countries were finally being given a dignified permanent resting place, was a positive thought, and one that the establishment and even the BBC in its recently adopted mawkish Dianification* of military casualties wanted the general public to feel. To feel, mind, not to think.

Because on the other hand, I thought "A New Cemetery For A New Century", the title of the exhibition at the IWM, was a bit Powerpointy. In addition, the constant repetition that the soldiers "went over the top even though they knew they would probably be killed", even though it was true made me uneasy. They went over the top because society had trained them to obey their superiors, because military training had reinforced that, and because they knew the full force of military law would be brought down on them if they refused an order on grounds of self-preservation. Remember, the Battle of Fromelles was a diversion from the Battle of the Somme in 1916, so those British soldiers, Australia never had conscription, wouldn't except in very small numbers, have been from the pre-war Regular Army or the volunteers (the "Pals")of the first few months of the war. They would have been conscripts. The First World War actually was a major reverse in a broad historical trend of individual freedom against the state dating from habeus corpus, the rights of juries, the Bill of Rights, the expansion of the electorate, trade union legislation, etc. With the Military Service Act of January 1916, free Englishmen reverted to serfs bound to their liege lord's bidding. And with the precedent established, the State has never let go its power over individuals. National Service was scrapped merely to save money and the Government has extended its power over us in other ways. War cemeteries are a way for the State to assuage its guilt for its crass errors and attenuate the anger of the bereaved, to build another layer of military myth of the glamour and noble sacrifice of war (the power to use violence being a fiercely protected sole prerogative of the State) to maintain the supply of willing recruits, and also a statement that Your Country Owns You, Even In Death. Think of President Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." should sent a shiver down the spine of everyone.

Because, according to the Daily Mail, this is how a proud State treats its soldiers even after nine years fighting in Afghanistan. "Nothing but the best for "Our Boys", whatever they need," is the cry from the Despatch Box. Snafu is the reality. Who should we be angry with? The Politicians? The Top Brass? Or ourselves for going along with the whole bloody charade?

* Where was the BBC when soldiers' coffins were returned from Northern Ireland as cargo on scheduled airline flights?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Top And Bottom

Side view of my happy place

Statutory Victim Lord Browne of Madingley claims that "Homophobia is rife in public life and gays are forced to hide their sexuality" in an article in today's Daily Mail.

This is the same Lord Browne who only escaped prosecution for perjury because, to quote wikipedia, "Mr Justice Eady, the presiding judge in the case, said he decided not to refer the matter to the Attorney General with regard to possible perjury charges, as disclosure in the judgement of Lord Browne's behaviour was "probably sufficient punishment"." And with one leap he was free. Richard North of EUReferendum was not amused by the noble lord, twice.

The Daily Telegraph publlished Browne's resignation statement in May 2007 when he said "For the past 41 years of my career at BP I have kept my private life separate from my business life. I have always regarded my sexuality as a personal matter, to be kept private." And then he published his memoirs in February 2010.

So are we right to assume that Browne has changed his stance on the pros and cons of having an individual's sexuality in the public domain in the meantime because he was appointed to head a government review into university tuition fees by Labour and improve Whitehall governance by The Coalition and is therefore now threatened and discriminated against by "homophobia" instead of preferring, like the vast majority of everyone of every persuasion not to continually bang on in public about their sexual preferences? Wow, He's had much harsher treatment than that dealt out to the perjurers Archer and Aitken who have been obviousy favoured by the establishment because of their overt heterosexuality. Remind me, was it duPont or BP that invented teflon? Whatever, working in oil for 41 years is bound to make someone a slippery customer.

A word in your shell-like, Your Grace. If you really want to experience a hard time at work, why not, as your first job, work for a openly homosexual boss who when asked, after the first week, how one was doing (i wanted to be a Mandarin then), replied without a hint of irony, sarcasm, or any other humour "Well, we've not had to make any adaptatations to the stairs." Nothing about the clear style and dry wit of my minutes or my blossoming administrative skills. There was I, hearing someone utterly smash my preconceptions that, a) gays were above averagely sensitive souls, and b) that possession of a congenital limp wouldn't affect the way I was treated in the Civil Service (that's what they said in the brochures). I realised then that I was wasting my time even trying there because I couldn't hide my limp in the closet. There was no privacy. And so began a downward spiral of low self-esteem, stress, stress-induced epilepsy, depression, low self esteem.

The course of my life has been a phugoid of such downs interspersed with recovering ups when I make very positive, almost aggressively so, fightbacks inspired by the example of my lifetime hero Douglas Bader. Once I have the bit between my teeth I can, I admit, be an arrogant, stubborn sod who wants to catch up with life at full rethrottle. I don't believe the world owes me a living or special treatment, just a clear few hundred yards to take off from where I'm the match of anyone. Give me that opportunity to stretch my wings and I reveal my inner semi-housetrained soft Labrador character (although dogs don't have wings of course so the simile needs a bit more polishing, but you get my drift).

However, many people feel threatened by someone struggling to ignore what they consider a disability and, perversely, blocked my attempts to gain equality on my terms. After a lifetime of rejection and isolation causing much sadness, I now don't mind having a "marmite personality" because the problem is with those people who turn their heads away in the street or assume, because I limp, I am mentally handicapped. How many sportspeople with gold medals and MBEs can regularly do the Times, Telegraph or Guardian crosswords in fifteen minutes? There, that's immediately put many of you off me for boasting I'm able to do something you can't! I "ran" in a House relay on a schools sports day because nobody else could be bothered to make up the team and I've banged my head on every steel pitprop on a trip down a coal mine.

Now, on my own, I'm coming back again (with the advantages of height and sun) for another try on my terms. Thank you, but they're not yours to take or leave.

So, how very dare Baron John Browne moan about the perceived woes of rich bastards like him and David Laws caught out by society? There is a telling phrase in his memoir, Beyond Business "I just could not bring myself to tell the truth."

Self-pitying multi-millionaire chairman. Bless!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

How To Annoy Market Research Callers

It was a trunk call

I had a telephone call this afternoon from an Indian-accented chap calling himself "David Lewis" who asked if I was Mr X as he wanted to do a short, one minute long, "Lifestyle Research" survey. I said that I charge £10 for charity to answer market research surveys and requested that his company made the donation to Help for Heroes.

"David Lewis" then said that I was a very cheap person for only asking for £10 as he would have demanded £1,000 or £2,500 and that I could have just said I wasn't interested. Let's hope the bloody nuisance gets trodden on by an elephant on his way home.

His number was 06468451876.

Gandhi and the Indian National Congress told us to "Quit India" and so we did on 15 August 1947. As far as I can tell, no part of the deal involved them following us back home or making unwanted phone calls to us.

PC David Rathband:Hero

From The Daily Mail with thanks and acknowledgement:

"Horrific picture that the shot PC wants you to see
HIS face a mask of blood, this is the heroic police officer shot at point-blank range by Raoul Moat.
The horrific photograph of PC David Rathband, 42, was taken shortly after he was gunned down while on patrol in his marked car.

Injured: PC David Rathband was shot in the face
He asked for it to be released to the public in the hope that it might help the hunt for the killer who shot him in cold blood. 'Catch the man responsible,' he told colleagues.
The PC was sitting in the driver's seat when Moat approached him from the passenger side and blasted him twice in the face and chest with a shotgun.
Despite his horrendous injuries the officer, who is married with two children, managed to radio his colleagues and raise the alarm. PC Rathband, who has been in the force for ten-andahalf years, remained in a critical but stable condition in Newcastle General Hospital last night.
The photograph, taken before he underwent surgery, shows him in intensive care, wires attached to his chest and stomach.
Surgical dressing patches a wound on his left shoulder, whilst further bandaging around his neck is clearly drenched in his blood.
His head leaning to one side, shrapnel wounds pepper his face as blood trickles down his chin and on to his chest.
PC Rathband was shot as he sat in his marked police car at the roundabout joining the A1 and the A69 at East Denton, in Newcastle, at 12.45am on Sunday.
Just 12 minutes earlier, his attacker had telephoned 999 to tell police he was going to shoot dead one of their officers.
Although the conversation lasted six minutes, Moat's position could not be traced.
PC Rathband, who has a son, Ashley, 16, and daughter, Mia, 12, with his wife Kath, was on static patrol duty when he was attacked.
Fifty minutes later, Moat called police again with the mocking message: 'Now are you taking me seriously?'
Temporary Chief Constable Sue Simm, who visited the officer in hospital yesterday, praised his 'extreme bravery'.
She said: ''Despite being seriously injured David demonstrated extreme bravery by alerting his colleagues and even managed to give fellow officers vital information about the incident which has proved invaluable.
'I have nothing but absolute admiration for David. He acted in the best traditions of the police service, showing outstanding bravery in what must have been a terrifying situation.
'At his request we are releasing a photograph of his injuries before he received treatment.' "
From the BBC with thanks and acknowledgement:
Pc David Rathband was seriously injured when he was shot in the face and chest as he was sitting in his patrol car in East Denton, near Newcastle.
Police have said the officer could lose the sight in both eyes.
[ ] Pc Rathband, a 42-year-old father of two, said: "I bear no malice towards the man who shot me, but now wish to move on with my life.

Reconstructive surgery

"My injuries are life changing. It will require significant adjustments in the future in all aspects of my life.
"I enjoy my job as a police officer and I am totally committed to serving the public.
"Although I face long-term treatment, I am determined to return to duty as a police officer."
PC Rathband has undergone facial reconstructive surgery at Newcastle General Hospital and is now off the critical list.
[ ]
Pc Rathband was shot the following day (4 July).
He said the officers who came to his aid had helped to save his life.
"I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has helped me, in particular those officers who came to my immediate aid at the scene and helped to save my life," he said.
"All the medical and nursing staff who have cared for me have been fantastic and I am indebted to them.
"I am grateful to all those officers from many forces who have helped me and my family during the last week and to my own shift of officers who have given me their full support.
"I am acutely aware of the impact events have had on many people and my thoughts are with them all, particularly the family of Chris Brown."
If, like me, you want to express your admiration of and gratitude for real heroes (though he would be the first to say he was just doing his job) like PC David Rathband please make a donation to the Police Dependants' Trust. Or, more directly:
"Anyone who wishes to send goodwill messages, cards and donations to PC David Rathband is asked to send these to the Northumbria Police Federation using the below contact details:
F.A.O PC David Rathband
11-14 Apex Business Village
NE23 7BF
Telephone: 01661 863490 Fax: 0191 250 2961
Website: http://www.norpolfeddotorgdotuk/" (To prevent spamming I've replaced . with dot ).
I wish PC Rathband and and his family a speedy recovery from his injuries and a happy future.

New Afghanistan Strategy?

Update the Gallipoli plans, hire an illusionist and set dressers, leave the lights and radio on, don't cancel the papers. Give the impression that nothing has changed.
* A French WWI "Quaker Cannon" made from paper.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Gordon Brown Portrait

Apparently, the House of Commons Shredding and Pissing Away Money Committee or something like it wanted a portrait of alleged former Prime Minister Gordon "Bonar Law" Brown. He refused, presumably for the same reason that bank robbers wear stockings on their heads. At least he won't need plastic surgery to complete the Witless Protection Scheme change of identity that he was granted in return for surrendering peacefully after the five day siege in 10 Downing Street following the recent election and appointment of LibDems to government.

Here's two pictures of our beloved leader that I did myself. I can't claim to be a proper artist because I haven't been paid for it with other people's money. I describe my style as mainstream talentless derivatism. Notice the absence of draughtmanship and any appreciation of colour and shadow.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Carbon Dioxide Is Good For You

You don't have to be a tree or a carbon trader to benefit from carbon dioxide. Apparently, an injection of CO2 under the skin "melts" away fat. There was I, thinking that we were all going to "roast to death" *because of CO2 and it now transpires that we will roast to death thin.

*according to the consensus of scientific opinion and shareholders in carbon-offset/renewable energy companies. Ironically, whitewash, a paint widely used for covering up stains, is a chemical reaction between calcium hydroxide (slaked lime) and carbon dioxide in the air.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Sunday, 4 July 2010

MPs Prepare For 40% Salary Cuts

Sources close to Westminster claim that a cross-Party group of MPs will press next week for an across-the-board reduction of 40% of their entire remuneration package. The cuts in salary, allowances and office costs would take MPs below the 40% income tax band for the first time since 1935. One of the group said "In times of national emergency, when we are all in the same boat as our constituents, it is only fair that even MPs bear some of the pain necessary to restore national finances to an even keel. It's not as if we are facing redundancies."

A closer source stated "Ha, right, I'll get back to you on that one, my taxi's waiting. Ha!"

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Sleeping Agent Claim Neither Confirmed Nor Denied

In the wake of the unmasking of the alleged Russian spy ring (it ought to have a name) in America, I contacted You Know What to reassure myself that the 44th US President didn't have a second job. I haven't received a reply yet but I'll keep you in the picture. (Usual place: St Giles Church notice board. If I've left a message in the agreed place there will be three drawing pins in the top left hand corner of the board). Isn't tradecraft fun? Would they actually tell me the truth? Where's George Smiley when you need him?