One Of The Many – Lest We Forget

Wilfred Owen was 21 when the war broke out. Although he had failed to win a scholarship to university, he was
very intelligent and cultured.

Owen was not horrified or elated by the outbreak of war, although during 1914, he became more aware of the human sacrifice involved and was filled with confusion.

In the second week of January, one of the worst in memory, he led his platoon into the Battle of the Somme. He wrote to his mother every week and described what he had been through:

“Those fifty hours were the agony of my happy life… I nearly broke down and let myself drown in the water that was now rising slowly above my knees. In the Platoon on my left, the sentries over the dug-out were blown to nothing”.

In the middle of March, Owen fell through a shell-hole into a cellar and was trapped in the dark for three days, suffering from nausea and concussion. He spent a fortnight in hospital before rejoining his battalion and becoming involved in fierce fighting. At one stage he was blown out of the trench in which he was taking cover from an artillery bombardment which had already dismembered an officer in the neighbouring trench.

He escaped uninjured, but these trials by fire had taken their toll on his mind, and on May 1st, he was seen by his Commanding Officer to be behaving strangely. He was ordered to report to the Battalion Medical Officer who found him to be shaky and with a confused memory. He was eventually diagnosed as having neurasthenia (shell shock) and was invalided back to England and then to Craiglockhart War hospital near Edinburgh.

Apart from his joining the army, no other event had so much influence over Owen as meeting Siegfried Sassoon at Craiglockhart. Owen read the published poetry of Sassoon for the first time at the hospital. He introduced himself, and so began a close friendship and literary partnership which would create some of the finest poetry of the war. Owen’s most famous poems were written from this time until he left the hospital.

Owen relived his most traumatic memories every night through the form of obsessive nightmares. Under Sassoon’s direction, he began to write about these memories in poetry. His poems recreated the miserable conditions and constant stress with which the soldiers lived – the mud, rats, barbed wire, lice, fleas, corpses, blood and constant shelling. He also gave graphic descriptions of the effects of poison gas.

In one of his most famous poems “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” he asked angrily “what passing-bells for these who die as cattle?”, reflecting the fact that the soldiers were simply little more than machine gun fodder, lines of them killed instantly as they went over the top.
Owen wrote for an entire generation of young men killed or horribly wounded in a four year war. In one poem “Disabled,” he wrote about the thousands of young men who dreamed of glory and triumph and joined the army with all the others in the factory, or on their street, or at a football match, where recruiting drives were often made.

Owen is the most famous of all the war poets as he succeeded in portraying the reality of the war – the boredom, the helplessness, the horror and above all, the futility of it – without losing his artistic poise, or allowing bitterness to creep into his work.

Wilfred Owen returned to the front in 1918 and was awarded the military cross for bravery for capturing a German machine gun. He never received it as he was killed early on the morning of 4th November 1918, seven days before the armistice.

Dulce Et Decorum Est (“it is sweet and honorable…”,)
ByWilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

King Power to face Thailand Court

The company which owns Leicester City and funded their rise to become the 2015 16 Premier League champions is to face multimillion-pound corruption charges in Thailand. A judge at the central court for corruption and misconduct cases ruled at a hearing on Monday that criminal allegations presented in July should go ahead against King Power, the cash-rich company owned and run by the Leicester chairman, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, and his son Aiyawatt.

King Power is accused of having corruptly short-changed the Thai government of 14bn baht (£327m), its agreed share from the company’s lucrative duty-free monopoly at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport.

The lawsuit, filed by Charnchai Issarasenarak, the former deputy chairman of a government anti-corruption subcommittee, alleges King Power and one of its executives colluded with airport employees to pay the government only a 3% slice of the duty-free revenues. The original 2006 grant to King Power of the franchise, at one of the world’s busier airports, required 15% of the income to be paid to the government, according to the charges.

Another rich and corrupt man dies in a rich mans toy. How many hospitals, schools, social security and living wages could we have without these people.

THE LAST POST

THE LAST POST – by Daniel Powell

As the clock strikes eight at the Menin Gate in Ypres every evening, its arch resonates to the familiar somber sound of the last post. Yet the most grave prospect that echoes from the bugler’s call is that just as its remembrance of the ‘war to end all wars’ at this iconic location is never the last, the conflicts will continue too.

This commemoration for the casualties of the First World War has been conducted at Ypres daily since 1928; the only interruption being the years of German occupation during the Second World War, when the service was relocated to Britain. Here, the armistice of 11th November and conflicts since are remembered annually with the traditional wearing of artificial red poppies produced and sold by the British Legion to raise funds for armed forces veterans and their dependents. The symbol was adopted from the USA where Moina Michael began wearing one of silk on her lapel in 1918 to remember the war dead, inspired by John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.

Initially the British poppy’s centre bore the words ‘Haig Fund’, eponymous for the Field Marshall. In 1926 The Legion refused the No More War Movement’s proposal that the centre bear the words ‘No More War’, though it was replaced with ‘Poppy Appeal’ in 1994. The Co-Operative Women’s Guild began producing an alternative white peace poppy in 1933, with the idea of remembering casualties from all wars and a hope for their end. The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) has since continued this practice. The British Legion has no objection to white poppies, or any group expressing its views: “We see no conflict in wearing the red poppy alongside the white poppy. We do ask that the items are not offered alongside each other however as this would confuse the public.”

Last October, the Daily Telegraph reported that former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan Colonel Richard Kemp had expressed indignation at a decision made by the NUT (National Union of Teachers) who had endorsed the selling of white poppies alongside red ones in schools. Kemp opined that although it is permissible for schools to allow the discussion of different political perspectives, they should not be “indoctrinating children with a left wing political agenda.”

The story gives pause for consideration. The wearing of a white poppy is not explicitly a left-wing agenda; granted, perhaps a majority of wearers may tend towards left-wing views, but either way, the symbol itself is simply an acknowledgement that many people have died in wars, some of whom apparently did so defending the right for others to have the freedom of expression – something the Colonel now wishes to deny if he is adamant that children should not be given the option wear a white poppy. Given that these supposedly dangerous ideological symbols produced by the officially secular PPU are yet supported by Quakers and Anglicans, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that the NUT decision endangers “indoctrinating” children with a Christian agenda – but presumably that would not sound quite menacing enough for the Colonel’s own agenda, which is to discredit the white poppy movement. Kemp evidently believes that characterising the white poppy as “left-wing” gives the sufficient air of peril to invoke the stern opposition of right-minded patriots across the nation.
The accusation that patriotism is absent from the politics of those who regard themselves as left-leaning is an old one.
George Orwell once wrote “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings.” Whilst Orwell was wont to lend himself to a degree of hyperbole, his opinion is clear: too many on the left are hesitant to embrace the idea of nationhood. The reason is perhaps made clearer in his review of Hitler’s Mein Kampf: “The Socialist who finds his children playing with soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won’t do.”

Other commentators have rebutted of the charge. Tony Benn, who surely fits into the mould of Orwell’s quintessential English leftist intellectual, was keen to make the point that on the contrary, the values of socialism are inherently patriotic. The emphasis on collectivism, unity, the historical struggle for fairer distribution of wealth plus better working and living conditions for all are natural patriotic aims; that socialists argue for such things but reject what they see as jingoistic foreign policy is no contradiction. Benn often provided a personal anecdote to reinforce the point, telling of a conversation he had with a fellow serviceman on a troop-ship during the Second World War. If all of these vast resources galvanised by Britain’s wartime planned economy could be created for the purpose of killing Germans, asked his comrade, why could they not be utilised for building more schools, homes, and hospitals?

Simple as the question may be, the question was answered in 1945 when Labour’s landslide was followed by mass investment in the sort of infrastructure Benn’s interlocutor spoke of. Many who lived through this period spoke of a new optimism for the “Spirit of ’45” as the Ken Loach documentary is titled. Today, in the midst of a resurgence of democratic socialist politics, some speak nostalgically of this era citing Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee as a premier whose legacy should be aspired to. However, if Attlee represents the sort of politics Colonel Kemp worries the N.U.T. seeks to “indoctrinate” children with, then let us consider. Attlee was a member of the wartime coalition cabinet; although his quiet, studious personality was far from the ‘bulldog’ caricature of Churchill, Attlee was also responsible for guiding a fully militarised Britain through that most costly war. Granted, it will be argued this conflict had to be fought – and its status as a paradigmatic ‘just war’ is reflected when it is cited as a reason why everyone must wear a red poppy on Remembrance Day, even if reservations about British involvements in other conflicts are warranted. Nevertheless, admiration for the achievements of his Labour government must not be tempered by amnesia. It was under Attlee that Britain entered NATO and the Malayan and Korean Wars. During a cabinet meeting in October 1946 Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin said of the atomic bomb: “We’ve got to have this thing over here whatever it costs.. We’ve got to have the bloody Union Jack on top of it.”

Democratic socialism’s history cannot be wholly separated from militarism. Nor should it be forgotten that trade unionists, socialists, and communists travelled to Spain to fight Franco’s fascism during the civil war there, under the banner of the International Brigades. Those Brigaders are emulated today by leftist British volunteers who have travelled to Syria to fight against Daesh (ISIL) for the International Freedom Battalion of the Kurdish YPG, who are the armed forces of Rojava, an autonomous zone carving itself out with progressive values of feminist equality, ecology and Democratic Confederalism which had its roots in Marxist-Leninism.

Leftist politics are not necessarily pacifistic; they contain a long tradition of protests and confrontations with the far-right, some of which have been immortalised in history such as the Battle of Cable Street in 1936. Indeed, the revolutionary aspect of Marxism is de facto linked to upheavals that necessitate violent overthrow of tyranny and subsequent redistribution of wealth. However – this is not to say that all left-wing politics are necessarily connected to violence, of course. A glance at movements such as the CND and Stop the War show a strong left-wing presence; though as with the white poppy movement itself, they are not explicitly left-wing and nor do all subscribers to such movements necessarily commit themselves to absolute pacifism. The PPU’s white poppy manifesto proposes that all casualties of war be remembered. When representative Symon Hill was invited onto Good Morning Britain to debate with Colonel Kemp, presenter Ben Shepard attempted to corner Hill by suggesting that remembrance of all casualties includes members of ISIS. Hill countered that the point of the white poppy was primarily to remember the vast numbers of civilian casualties of wars internationally, since the red poppy represents members of Britain’s Armed Forces only.

Given these considerations, we should question Colonel Kemp’s consternations. Avowedly right-wing, he writes for the Sun, Express, Mail plus the far-right website Breitbart. In his criticism of the NUT’s endorsement of the white poppy, a key target of his vitriol is likely the most prominent leftist figurehead of our time, Jeremy Corbyn, who appears in Kemp’s crosshairs as former vice-chair of CND and longtime critic of aggressive foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2016 Corbyn was forced to recant on a suggestion that he might wear a white poppy alongside a red one on Remembrance Day, and his visits to the Cenotaph have provoked ire from much of the right-wing leaning press (thus almost all of it.) Bizarre criticisms emerged that he had not bowed correctly at the Cenotaph or was dressed in the wrong suit, a groundhog day throwback to Michael Foot’s ‘donkey jacket’ moment in 1981. Cobyn’s opponents attempted to force into the national narrative that his leanings (no pun intended) were dangerously pacifistic. This was reflected during the BBC’s pre-election special during which several members of the public did their utmost to barrack him into pledging a 100% commitment to launching a nuclear strike; not so. On the other hand, Theresa May responded with a shameless “Yes” when asked in the Commons by the SNP’s George Kerevan “Are you prepared to authorise a nuclear strike that could kill hundreds of thousands of men, women and children?”

The Tabloid press has made much of Corbyn’s positions on politics and conflict; they wax and wane between false extremities: He is hard-left, a Communist! – (shock!) No wait, he is an anti-Semite, a Nazi – (horror!) Also he’s a terrorist – (gasp!) nay, even worse, a pacifist! – (even worse!) One of the most disgraceful attempts to smear Corbyn came on Remembrance Day 2016, when both the Sun and Mail ran online stories featuring a photograph purportedly showing the Labour leader ‘dancing a jig’ on his way to the Cenotaph. It soon emerged that the photographer had selected a frame that had simply captured him in the middle of making an emphatic gesture to a friend whilst walking. That friend was former constituent George Durack, who has remained close to Corbyn since successfully nominating him to run as a candidate for the seat of Islington North, which he has been MP for since 1983. Mr.Durack, who was then active with the Communication Workers Union, is also a 93 year-old Normandy veteran who partook in the liberation of Belsen concentration camp. The Sun and Mail had callously cropped Mr.Durack out of the photograph and reinvented it as a completely false story, attempting once more to defame Corbyn as behaving disrespectfully on his way to the Cenotaph; truly lower than gutter press.

The poppy as symbol of support for veterans of Britain’s long war in Afghanistan is somewhat ingloriously ironic given the factor the opium trade plays in that conflict. Prior to the invasion of 2001, the Taliban had outlawed the growing of poppies and cultivation had fallen to a record low of 8,000 hectares; following the US-led invasion it surged massively and stands at over 200,000 hectares, some of which is guarded by British troops. It is not only foreign policy executed in distant regions such as Helmand that has caused rejection of social pressure to wear a red poppy.

On Remembrance Sunday 2014, footballers across Britain wore red poppies in commemoration. One Wigan player’s refusal to wear the symbol caused a controversy that led him to pen an open letter of explanation. Countering claims that he was disgracing those who sacrificed themselves for Britain in its most perilous hours, James McClean said he had complete respect for those who fought and died in both world wars, yet: “the poppy is used to remember victims of other conflicts since 1945 and this is where the problem starts for me.” McClean continued: “For people from the North of Ireland such as myself, and specifically those in Derry, scene of the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre, the poppy has come to mean something very different.. when you come from Creggan like myself or the Bogside, Brandywell, every person still lives in the shadow of one of the darkest days in Ireland’s history – even if, like me, you were born nearly 20 years after the event. For me to wear a poppy would be as much a gesture of disrespect for the innocent people who lost their lives in the Troubles – and Bloody Sunday especially – as I have in the past been accused of disrespecting the victims of WWI and WWII. It would be seen as an act of disrespect to those people; to my people.”

In 2016, the international football governing body FIFA fined all four UK home nation teams for wearing the red poppies, deeming them ‘political symbols.’ After much outcry, compromise has now been reached by which the symbol may be worn if both teams plus the organiser at a match agree. This year, England have permission to wear the symbol in their match against Germany the evening before Remembrance day.

Not all opponents of the red poppy symbol are benign pacifists; as the clock struck 11.00 in Kensington on Remembrance Day 2010, the two-minute silence was broken by chants of “British soldiers burn in hell” from protestors belonging to a group named Muslims against Crusades, (MAC) who simultaneously set two large plastic red poppies ablaze. They were then challenged by members of the English Defence League (EDL) including its leader Tommy Robinson, who was subsequently arrested along with others from both sides of a clash which saw one policeman hospitalised for head injuries (received from the EDL leader.) The MAC was banned just prior to the following year’s Remembrance Day. Some months prior they had held a funeral prayer for Osama Bin Laden outside the US embassy upon the occasion of his death, and were reportedly planning a protest named ‘Hell for Heroes’, a spin on the Help for Heroes charity that raises funds for veterans. The EDL leader has since left the group, citing concerns that it was a vehicle for far-right extremism, though he has frequently espoused such views and believes that it is not just Salafist-type extremism that is problematic, but Islam per se. The EDL continues to organise rallies, which are often countered by Anti-Fascist protestors in physical confrontations. In the wake of the Westminster bridge terror attack in 2017, leftist and anti-fascist British volunteers for the Kurdish YPG’s International Freedom Battalion fighting Daesh (ISIL) in Syria released a statement that included the dry remark “For all the sound and fury, we don’t remember seeing anyone from Britain First, EDL, UKIP, or their like, by our side in battle,” and added “the only way to defeat the Islamic State, and groups like it, is with ordinary, moderate Muslims on side.”
The highest irony of Colonel Kemp’s charge that the NUT is attempting to “indoctrinate” children with the white poppy is that the British Army actively advertises in schools, including to under-16 year olds with a view to recruiting them as trained killers ready for deployment to war zones where they may be expected to take lives or sacrifice their own for whatever agenda Queen and Country asks of them – even if the war they find themselves embroiled in is one that not only may be viewed as immoral and faces mass domestic opposition here, but is ruled as illegal under international law. It is for similar reasons that some here hesitate to wear a red poppy – lest the gesture be interpreted as an implicit acceptance that all of Britain’s military exploits fit the conditions for jus ad bellum, the just war.

As the Peace Pledge Union has highlighted, the U.K. government has spent over £45m promoting militarism in schools, with Armed Forces visits targeting the poorest areas. Sixth form scholarships are offered in exchange for a commitment to join. In endorsing the presence of white poppies in schools, the NUT is simply offering children the chance to make their own decisions on how to remember the casualties of war, be that by wearing either poppy, neither, or both.

The white poppy as peace symbol is also remembrance that however ambitious such goals may be, a gradual de-escalation of aggressive foreign policy, nuclear disarmament and the halting of malignant arms trading should be the ethical standards to strive for. Taking some bold first steps can lead to wonderful things in the long run. Progress towards such a future may seem a distant utopia, but perhaps only as incomprehensible that the humble seed grows to become a beautiful flower, whatever the colour the petals.

Iceland’s Christmas TV ad has been banned for being ‘too political’

Iceland is known for its range of frozen foods – including Gregg’s steak bakes, which are a true delight – but the supermarket has been making headlines for reasons entirely unrelated to food.
It turns out that Iceland’s Christmas advert won’t be airing on television this year because it’s “too political”. Bet you didn’t expect that.
The supermarket has failed to win over regulators with their short film Rang-tan, which tells the story of rainforest deforestation caused by palm production.
In a time when Christmas adverts are fiercely competitive with multi-million pound budgets, Iceland’s offering won’t be aired alongside the likes of Aldi’s savage Kevin the Carrot and Pascal the Parsnip and Asda’s yuletide clip.
It also means that less people will be aware of the shocking deforestation in South East Asia, which devastates the habitat of orangutans.
In the cartoon, a young girl and is accompanied by an adorable orangutan who becomes distressed when he finds a hair product bottle containing palm oil. He’s haunted by flashbacks to diggers tearing through forests and destroying his homeland.

OXFORD APARTHEID

A ‘class war’ has erupted in a quiet street in Oxford after the council only resurfaced the ‘posh’ end of the road. Residents have been up in arms after the fresh tarmac was laid up to a spot where a wall once divided council houses from the rich. The long street is split into two ends – the wealthy Wentworth Road at one and the more down at heel Aldrich Road at the other.

The tarmac stops where a wall once divided the rich from the poor A vandal turned social activist spray-painted ‘Class War’ in bright block capitals at the dividing line (The developer who built the road and the estate in 1934 put up a brick wall to keep them apart – and even put spikes on top of it. Following a row with Oxford City Council the wall was taken down 60 years ago.

The neighbourhood was given a stark reminder of this divisive time when workers only repaired the historically middle class end. Now a vandal turned social activist has spray-painted the words ‘class war’ in bright block capitals at the border line. Naomi Langlais, who lives Aldrich Road, said: ‘It was around April or May time that they decided the ‘middle class’ side deserved to be resurfaced. The fresh tarmac is split between the wealthy Wentworth Road at one and the more down at heel Aldrich Road at the other (Residents have often joked about there being a ‘class war’ on the road ‘So we waited patiently for our end to be resurfaced too and thought it was just taking time as they had run out of money or something.

‘But we soon realised it was just the one end they were doing, apparently we should put up with potholes and uneven surfacing.’ She said neighbours have long joked about ‘class war’ on the street, adding: ‘We have not moved on at all – now we have a visual divide but much less obvious one.’ The mum-of-four said: ‘It is just so weird it stops at the exact spot that used to occupy the wall, half way down the road. ‘The resurfacing is desperately needed on our end as well. A brick wall with spikes used to divide the rich from the poor on the road ( ‘It does make you feel second class and it is no longer a council estate, people have paid a lot of money for houses this end.

’ A plaque now sits on the house which neighboured the wall, and reads: ‘Here stood one of the two Cutteslowe Walls erected 1934 and finally demolished on March 9, 1959.’ Oxford City Council said the only reason that its services company only resurfaced one side of the divide was that the two streets – Wentworth and Aldrich – are still classed as separate roads. A spokesman for the city council said: ‘Oxford Direct Services resurfaced Wentworth Road earlier this year.

UK – EU Impacts and Considerations of Brexit

Trade in both goods and services between the UK and EU27 is very substantial: €306 billion of exports of goods by the EU27 to the UK, versus €184 billion of imports, and thus a large surplus of account of goods alone (all data here and below for 2015). In terms of % shares of GDP, the EU27’s exports to the UK amount to 2.5% of GDP, whereas the UK’s exports to the EU27 amount to 7.5% of its GDP. Transatlantic trade of goods is only about 20 % larger than trade across the channel.

For services the amounts are also large: €94 billion of exports by the EU27 to the UK, versus €122 billion of imports, and thus a surplus in this case for the UK (although here the statistics are not so reliable, with big differences seen in the ‘mirror data’ for the same items collected by the EU27, which would cancel the UK’s surplus).

For both goods and services the degrees of dependence in % of GDP on the UK market is much higher for the smaller EU member states that have close ties to the UK of historical character and/or geographic proximity (Ireland, Cyprus, Malta, Belgium, Netherlands).

Foreign direct investments (FDI) are very large on both sides. The EU27’s stock of FDI in the UK is estimated at €985 billion, or 8.3% of its GDP, while the UK’s investment in the EU27 total a little less in value at €683 billion but this is a much bigger in relations to its GDP (26.6%). However, there are indications that a significant proportion, maybe about one half, of this FDI represent financial operations whose purpose is to optimise tax liabilities of multinational corporations.

The number of EU27 citizens living in the UK at the end of 2016 is estimated at 3.35 million. The largest number are workers (2,002,000), compared to pensioners (223,000) and the unemployed (102,000). The number of UK citizens living in EU 27 countries is substantially less: 1,217,000, of which 400,000 are pensioners, with remainder being workers and their dependent families, and students.

Regarding the UK’s withdrawal, it is likely to leave a ‘hole’ of about €9 billion annually, which might be offset to some extent by a continuing contribution by the UK if it were agreed to secure a high degree or market access, or from tariff revenues if the relationship would be based just on WTO membership terms. There is a question also of other ‘legacy costs’, which as of now however are neither defined nor quantified beyond speculative remarks in the range of the order of €20-40 billion

Stay Warm, Stay Well

Indoor temperature can have a dramatic effect on health, especially in elderly people and those in poor general health.

18-240C, is the recommended temperature range - usually 210C in the main living area and 180C in bedrooms, although up to 240C for people who are housebound or those with greatly reduced mobility. At these temperatures there is little risk to sedentary, healthy people.

Below 160C, there is a diminished resistance to respiratory infections. Below 120C, blood pressure and viscosity (thickness) increases which may lead to blood clots and a higher risk of heart attacks and circulatory disorders.

Below 90C, after 2 or more hours, the deep body temperature falls and hypothermia may result, although approximately only 1% of deaths are due to this condition.

A Portrait of Failure

200 years ago in the 1800’s people were aiding the poor by giving their children money to buy food to avoid starvation, and others simply welcomed the cheap labour.

Today in 2018 we don’t teach our children any work or independence skills and we have FOOD BANKS distributing food to avoid adult and child starvation.

Is this progress?

Has Government been asleep, have political parties all failed and merely taken the Nations pay and lined their collective nests.

Talk of course is cheap and there is no shortage of that.

However its results that count and here all parties are abject failures there are NON.

The Grasshopper Mind

A modern curse by no means, with roots in times past and a rebirth in the austerity of modern times particularly, but not solely in politics. The Grasshopper Mind unable to concentrate on any single subject for long and is quick to leap from one place to another with very little thought process in between.

Naïve grasshopper and indecisive minds never knowing exactly when to stop chirping it suits politicians who never seem to tire of pontification without achieving something . . . . . anything other than a mess and of course a considerable salary and let’s not forget expenses.

The problem of course is the absence of common sense, not a strong suite at Oxford or Cambridge teaching it is decidedly poor. This together with lack of job experience or any real-world skills means that the Blue Bloods of yesteryear will have descendants in a safe job with minimal responsibility just like days of old.

The civil service meantime preserves lots of little personal empires with a plethora of knighthoods for doing so and advising politicians of all parties what not to say publicly and protect their parties manifesto making sure that the changing of the political guard at general election time is controlled and orderly.

2018, a year we need to focus our minds and dispose of Grasshopper Mind thinking by planning realistic aims and goals to achieve, how radical is that? Where and when was the last time that happened? Set a goal for real change to benefit the people and country call a spade a spade and succeed.

The Miner’s Strike 84/85

 

 

The Best Year and Worst Year of my life!
A year I learned so much about life and people, a year that changed me irrevocably.
I would like to write my story of that year, a miner’s wife with two small children, however, I cannot.
All that is left is the emotions, with small tableaux of memories attached, around them. Like an old,
abandoned jigsaw with many pieces missing.
I was totally behind the strike. My husband was a ‘face worker’ (at Park Mill, Clayton West).
He earned good money for a working class man, earned being the operative word. It was a dangerous
job and he often came home injured with cuts and bruises, stitches in his head or bandages on his
legs. However, he was always at work the next shift whatever his injuries! I used to have nightmares
about him being seriously injured or even killed at work.

The over whelming emotions throughout that year was mainly of hurt and anger. Up to March 1984
I had, had a very happy life, a loving family, no tragedies; I’d never had a lot, but had never been
without anything. Then all of a sudden I, WE my family, were being vilified by the media. Some of
the headlines in the newspapers were heart breaking, “Let Them Eat Grass”, is the one that has
stuck in my mind! I was deeply hurt and shocked, that these men who worked so hard and put their
lives on the line every day, were being made to look like greedy, grasping enemies of the state,
instead of men, fighting for their jobs and their communities.
I ‘hated’ Thatcher with a vengeance. I have never hated anyone before or since! It obviously ran
deep because I am ashamed to say that when she died a couple of years ago, I felt Joy! That worried
me! So yes that year I learned what it felt like to be an outcast of our society: Colored, Asian, Jew,
Queer, Prozzie, Miner!!! We need scapegoats don’t we!

There were only six mining families in our village. I always felt we were really lucky to not live in a
mining village at this time. Every second of every day, the strike overshadowed everything. Families
torn apart, the picket lines and the scabs. Brothers fighting brothers, Fathers and sons separated
by their desperate decisions.

One day every week, (Tuesday ?) I would go (to Skelmanthorpe ?) to pick up 6 food parcels and
deliver them to the other families in our village. Sometimes I would give a hand to pack some up but
I was rarely needed. Solidarity and togetherness are what I remember from those experiences.

Then was the time I needed winter coats for the kids. I was told I would be able to get some from
Kirklees all I had to do was apply. So I did! The children got a navy blue Parka each, for which I was
very grateful. But I felt ashamed, going cap in hand for handouts to the work house, was what it felt
like!

One day about half way through the strike, someone knocked on our door. I went to answer it and
there stood a person who I knew, but not very well. He had a big box of groceries in his hands. He
just gave them to me and walked back up the drive. I wept and wept. The kindness he had shown
was over whelming. It was sorely needed and I will never forget them for that.

Other kindnesses occurred. I once found an envelope with my name on, at the back of the church I
went to most Sundays. Inside was a ten pound note. Not a small amount in those days! I never found
out who left it there for me, but again the thought behind it as much as the money was very
welcome.

A pub in Halifax threw a Christmas party for Miner’s Children. My two loved it! Sandwiches, Jelly
and ice-cream, games and a present from Santa. But again it was the thought behind it that kept me
going.

I haven’t mentioned my husband. He was very quiet, spent time with the children and kept himself
to himself. I knew it was extremely hard for him. He was a worker and it affected his confidence and
self-esteem. A week before the strike finished, my husband went back to work! I understood why,
however, that was the beginning of the end for us because I just could not forgive him for that!

Ten years later we were divorced!
Gillian Davies 18/02/2018