Posted in History

The Few – Our proud history, how dare he knock it

Those who can, do.   Those who can’t teach about it.   Those who really can’t try to change history.

Never must that have been more true.

How dare a historian called Anthony Cumming, from the safety and comfort of his twenty-first century life with all its modern equipment and luxury, suggest that the Battle of Britain pilots couldn’t even shoot straight!   He says they were poorly trained and ineffective in combat.

He says that the history of the Battle should be re-assessed  –  that it was not the great triumph that we all celebrate and that Winston Churchill so memorably marked when he called those who took part “The Few”.

Ronald Scrase, a veteran of the Battle, now in his eighties and with a proud chest full of medals, including the DFC, says that’s not how he remembers it, nor how those who lost their lives would have seen it.   But he says he’s not angry, just thinks Mr Cumming’s claims are laughable.

Well, I’ve got two things to say to Mr Cumming.

1.   We won the Battle.   Hitler turned back from the Channel coast and did not try to invade again.

2.  I wonder how he would have got on flying an impossible number of hours, tired, losing friends and colleagues every time the Squadron went up.   I suspect he might have changed his view.

Posted in England and the English, Politics

Time for the English to demand their own Parliament

Newspapers and blogs today are full of stuff about an English Parliament or an English Grand Committee.   Malcolm Rifkind has made a major speech in which he suggests an English Grand Committee of Parliament with English Members of Parliament only sitting and voting on matters which only concern England, and it looks as though the Party may be backing the idea.

As an interim measure, an English Grand Committee is a good idea, but we should be aiming for an English Parliament.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is made up of four countries:- England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.   The last three of these have a recognized identity, culture, nationalism and, importantly, their own legislature, whether it be called Assembly or Parliament, which determines domestic matters.

The fourth, England, does not have its own legislature.   That must mean we are an oppressed, discriminated against minority!   Our domestic matters are determined by a Government made up largely of Scots, and voted for by Members of the UK Parliament representing Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland constituencies.

Let’s look at a hypothetical case:-  prescription charges.   The national legislatures in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland could decide to abolish charges and allow free prescriptions.   Then UK MPs from those three countries could consider a similar measure for England, and could vote against abolition of charges, against the wishes of the English people and the English MPs, thereby putting the English at yet another disadvantage.

As an aside, why is it that Scottish, Welsh and Irish culture and traditions, however nationalistic, are considered charming and an important part of the country’s life and history, whereas in England such things are castigated as nastily xenophobic?

Another extremely important point on this subject is that we must oppose any suggestion of regionalized Parliaments or Assemblies.   If Labour feels that public opinion is so strong they must do something, it is likely they would opt for Parliaments for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Regional Assemblies for the various parts of England.   This is quite unacceptable and illogical.   Scotland has regions, Strathclyde being a case in point, but there was no suggestion there should be anything other than a national Parliament. 

England, too, must have a national Parliament.   There must be Parliaments for each of the four nation states of the United Kingdom.

Posted in England and the English

Just a thought

Just a thought  –  but isn’t it strange that we, here in England, are the proud possessors of the Greenwich Meridian;  that Greenwich Mean Time was chosen to be the central point for calculating time right across the world;  but that so many British people want to ditch it to “bring us in line with Europe”.  

I’m so sick of that idea.   Why is it always us who have to change?   whether it be time, metric measurements, or euro currencies.

The reason given, of course, is it aids cross border business.   On that basis, perhaps we ought to come into line with America and change our clocks by seven hours.   And don’t forget there are several time zones in one country when you look at the big ones, like America.

The other reason given is road safety regarding dark afternoons.   But if you don’t have dark afternoons, you’ll have dark mornings.

Anyway, back to my original point.   Let’s be proud of GMT, and stick to it.

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m back

I’m back, and what a week  –  well eleven days  –  it’s been.   Once I could watch the telly and read the papers, I was longing to blog.

The reams of written instructions sent in advance by the private hospital sternly said “No laptops” and indeed “No mobiles”.   On arrival, there was a folder of info on the table rather like the one found in hotel bedrooms.   That boasted proudly that they offer complimentary wifi!   What’s more the nurses quietly advised that one had a mobile available to make the call saying one was ready to go home, because the bedroom telephones were charged at hotel rates.

Operation went OK  –  the great thing being that one is completely oblivious and the two consultants clearly knew their stuff.   Afterwards was another story with five days when even swallowing a tiny drop of water was so difficult and hurt, how it hurt.

The nurses were great, caring and pleasant.    Although I guess the staff nurse who removed the clips from the wound before I came home thought I was a baby, but then I told her I was a coward about these things.  

Back home, all I can say is thank goodness for Mr Tesco’s delivery service and for the pharmacy who I persuaded to deliver my tablets.

It’s twenty years since my last operation.   I’d like to think it will be twenty more at least before I need another.

Posted in Uncategorized

‘Bye for now

Will not be blogging for a few days as I go into hospital tonight for an operation.

When I’m back home, I shall not be able to do much else, so will really be able to concentrate on posting lots of rants and prejudices!

Posted in Uncategorized

A completely inconsequential post about a Fly

Today a spider has constructed a truly beautiful web outside my window, quite close to the glass.  

I think it is the most complete, traditional shaped spider’s web that I have ever seen.   The spider was big, with a huge round body.

It was not long before a small insect and two houseflies were caught in the web.

And then the spider came along and carefully, painstakingly, slowly enveloped one of the flies.   As it wrapped the fly so that it disappeared into a white cocoon, its shape became unrecognizable.   Then the spider left it and went away.

And all the time as I watched this taking place a chill came over me.   It was like watching one of those sci-fi films where the aliens cocoon the earthmen and store them away.

Posted in News

Muslim medical students want to pick and choose who they will treat

What an eye opener in The Sunday Times today. 

The story is that Muslim medical students are refusing to attend lectures or answer examination questions on alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases because they claim it offends their religious beliefs.   What’s more some of them have refused to treat patients of the opposite sex and have been prepared to fail their final exams rather than carry out a basic non-intrusive examination of a female patient.

Can this be true? you ask.   Yes, the story is backed up by the British Medical Association and the General Medical Council, who should know.   (Incidentally, they both stress they do not approve of such actions  –  I should think so too.)

Just to be fair, (and I don’t often say that), we are told that many Islamic scholars see all this as a step too far, and actually say these Muslim students are reneging on their professional responsibilities.

And to his credit, the BMC’s spokesman said that “prejudicing treatment on the grounds of patients’ gender or their responsibility for their condition would run counter to the most basic principles of ethical medical practice.”

Now I have no problem with these Muslim medical students feeling as they do  –  that’s their privilege.   But I do have a problem with their expecting to qualify and practice as doctors in this country, and with the fact that they are accepting their training from us.

If they were allowed to get away with this, women and girls could be denied treatment in a male GP’s surgery;  likewise females could arrive in a hospital’s accident and emergency department only to find a male doctor would not treat them  –  and delays cost lives.   A young girl who had inadvisedly had unprotected sex could find herself denied the morning after pill.   A person of either gender who had, through no fault of their own, contracted a sexually-transmitted disease could be left to suffer, as could someone whose hard drinking looked like leading to liver disease.   

This story comes hard on the heels of others about Muslim Sainsbury checkout operators being allowed to refuse to handle alcohol purchases on religious grounds, and to refuse to sell the morning after pill to customers.   Boots staff are also permitted to refuse to sell the pill on ethical grounds.

All of these things are legal in our country.   All of these concessions mean more work for some other member of staff.   Do we really want to turn Britain into a quasi-muslim fundamentalist country?   If non-muslims refused to sell/treat muslims there would pretty quickly be a referral to whatever the racial equality body happened to be called at the time.

There’s a very simple way out for the medical students and the checkout operators  –  get a different job.