Napolean Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David
What`s the time Mr Wolf?
Suffused with a comforting aroma of lavender and loose leaf tea, my dear old and now long gone Grandma was as kind and loving and gentle and as reassuring as only Grandmas can be. She could also, when necessary, become absolutely bloody terrifying.
Like many women of her generation, having lost brothers in the First World War and watched sons march off to the Second World War, she was never likely to tolerate the random slapstick buffoonery of little five-year-old me. A genius at contradiction, her word was unbreakable law and she would defend her “own” against any threat real or imagined. It seems that of her many grandchildren, I was something of a favourite. I have no idea why I should be so blessed but it was always a treat to stay with Grandma as she made the best bread and butter pudding in the world and had a piano in the parlour. For years, I thought the phrase “you little buggeroo” was a term of affection that only applied to me and when Grandma said it was bedtime it was definitely bedtime. (more…)
Today, the beginning of the First World War will be marked with solemn remembrance of the soldiers who fell and the civilians who perished; there is little point in commemorating the 1918 Armistice.
On 3 August 1914, the then Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey delivered a rousing speech intended to prepare the nation for war. Filled with tub-thumping patriotism extolling honour and courage and sacrifice, the Viscount Grey of Fallodon`s call to arms displayed the time-honoured and continuing skill of a politician to say one thing and know the exact opposite. On the evening before war was declared, safely in the privacy of the Foreign Office, Sir Edward Grey is reported to have looked out of the window at the gathering dusk and said; “The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time.”
Now that his time has long gone, the lamps are still going out and not just all over Europe but all over the planet. The only light in this terrible history are candles lit to the memories of lives lost in Guernica, Coventry, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Hanoi, Halabja, Basra, Vukovar, Kosovo and so many other attacks on civilian populations. (more…)
Banksy via streetartutopia.com
In these dark and perilous hours, my thoughts and prayers are with my fellow British citizens as we face the most grievous emergency to ever threaten the very existence of our proud and free nation.
Hoards of organised criminals, terrorists, perverts and Trade Unionists are openly conspiring to send each other pictures of sodding cats and are communicating via comments about TV programmes that nobody else is watching. It is vital that we remain vigilant against this unspeakable plot and happily wave goodbye to civil liberties justifiably sacrificed on the sacred alter of national security. In David Cameron we have a leader who is at last courageous enough steam roller emergency legislation to allow government free access to every snippet of electronic communication without the unnecessary delay of allowing elected MPs to actually debate or even read the DRIP bill. (more…)
In slightly less than 364 days, polling stations across the United Kingdom will open for business in the great general election of 2015. We can be certain of this thanks to the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 which, for the first time, ensures power for five whole years. Previously, parliament could only be dissolved by Royal Prerogative on the advice of the Prime Minister under the Septennial Act 1715 and its 1911 amendment. The coalition changed all that. The result is that we now have a government that failed to secure a mandate and regardless of the damage it is doing, is almost impossible to remove until May 7 2015.
In slightly less than 13 days, polling stations will open for voting in local and European elections. Usually, this exercise of the democratic right to elected representation results in something less than a stampede but this year might just be different. (more…)
The really nice thing about December is that the festive season offers various opportunities to indulge in activities collectively described as “traditional”. The requirement to eat too much, drink too much and then argue with your nearest and dearest is compulsory. Being completely baffled by the Dr Who Christmas Special is as traditional as watching the Queen read a script and the traditional January salutation “did you have a nice Christmas?” is gradually being transmogrified into “so, you survived Christmas then”.
Sadly, in these enlightened times, very few of us still paint ourselves blue and jump over open fires to celebrate the winter solstice. Fewer still slaughter a sacrificial goat in the traditional hope of keeping sabre-toothed tigers away or to encourage the return of the warm shiny thing that travels across the big blue thing just above our heads. Tradition, like language, is constantly evolving and it is a blessing that buying enough food and drink to last until doomsday because the shops are shut for a day is not further complicated by the need to purchase those hard to find gifts such as frankincense and myrrh. Gold and lamb chops, however, continue to retain their traditional charm. What better way to celebrate the birth of the saviour of humanity than the gift of an already time-limited obsolete gadget, a bottle of scotch and the onset of obesity. (more…)