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Bloodless Revolution 2018

Michael’s Musings

     On the day before EU Referendum voting day (Jun 23) I wrote to someone from my distant past to say that I had written my last word about the Referendum. He challenged me and said that I’d be back next day (or thereabouts), but he was wrong. I’ve waited for more than two months and in my quiet moments ‘ah’ve bin thinkin’.


     I don’t feel guilty about thinking any more than I feel guilty for not spending the same amount of time to watch Wimbledon, European Cup football, the Olympics or now, the return of Premier League football to our voyeurvision screens. Aaaargh! Each to his own. Personally, I subscribe to the Henry Ford school of thought on exercise (and I suppose that includes all sport). He opined that “Those who are fit don’t need to exercise, and those who aren’t, shouldn’t.”  That’s me and no denying it.

There is no denying either that our Olympians are f-i-t, (Ooooh, aren’t they, though but?) talented, young, and beautiful to watch and I applaud every one of them. But in our house we’ve lost the TV remote control which means I can’t mute adverts or screaming commentators, or swap channels without getting up and walking across the room to fiddle with buttons. So I spent most of the Olympics period doing my own thing, also known as cogitating.

     I can’t help but notice that my rambling letter during early August didn’t set the world on fire. (I’m talking about the letter-thingy I wrote and posted as a booklet to a select few people). One or two folks did share their comments but most said nothing, so I don’t know what they thought. But that’s OK . . . for the time being.  Was it something I said, I wonder? Maybe my thoughts weren’t sufficiently interesting. Not to worry. I shall continue to ruminate, cogitate and, maybe, to write again from time to time.

Or, maybe, you just need one of these?

     One thing that I did think would attract comment was my supposed stance on rights and privileges. Nobody took issue with that. Since writing that piece I’ve given it more thought and concluded that there must be other “right’s” (beyond the right to remain silent) which aren’t given fair airing.

For example, how about the right we have to walk the highways and byways of our land peaceably and without fear of hostile interference? Do my readers agree that all of us have that right?

Is it applicable regardless of gender?

Is it applicable regardless of skin colour?

Is it applicable regardless of dress style?

Even for female Muslims

     And if someone should interrupt my peaceful perambulation with hostility, what are my rights? Apparently I have no right other than the right to run away. Or I can smile warmly and say something like ‘Bless you, my child’ and afterwards report the event, but to whom? And ALWAYS after the event when the damage has been done already!

     What I’m not allowed to do is carry a weapon, even if I have no intention of using it other than in my own defence if attacked. It seems that a weapon – any weapon – is construed as an offensive weapon if someone has it about his person in public, whether or not it is used. Seemingly, it can’t ever be a defensive weapon. I disagree but I’ll leave you with that thought.

 “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government”

George Washington

Does this mean that we in UK are not a free people?

     I’ve been thinking some more and I have a few extra things to say. Here goes:

Our Father/God/Jehovah/Allah in Heaven

May your name be honoured (as in ‘not taken lightly or in vain’)

Allow your Kingdom to come here on earth

And grant also your will to be done here on earth just as it is in Heaven, because we’re making a mess of things right now and have done so for quite a while.

Give us today the food we need – in Africa, in the Middle East and Asia – in fact, everywhere that our global conglomerates are allowing people to starve while the rest feast. (There must be something we can do to help you with that one).

(This next bit is a bit worrying, I have to admit)

Forgive us the wrongs we have done, in the same way that we forgive the wrongs done to us. But, please, I’ll need a little time to get that right before you do your bit.

Please don’t try us or test us beyond what we’re able to bear, and remember that some of us bruise easily.

Finally, keep us safe from ourselves and from the Evil One.

If you will do all this we will do our level best to give you the credit – even though I’m still a bit worried about not always forgiving and still wanting to be forgiven.

Is it a deal? So be it.

1. “Education is the best economic policy there is.” – Tony Blair

2. “Education is a system of imposed ignorance.” ―  Noam Chomsky

     I don’t recall my teachers telling us about everyday things like ‘what is a mortgage’ although we did get a lesson one afternoon on compound interest!  I had to leave school before I found out about mortgages. I DO remember my teachers talking about Pythagoras’ Theorem – and I can still recite it – but I don’t think I’ve had occasion to use it once during the last 60 years. On that basis I wonder which of the two descriptions – ‘best economic policy there is’ and ‘system of imposed ignorance’ - comes under the genuine heading of ‘education’? I tend to the view that it is a system of imposed ignorance, especially when co-ordinated centrally.

Of course we don’t.

     Since writing my first open booklet/letter we, in England and Wales, have enjoyed August Bank Holiday – the last official Bank Holiday before Christmas. The weather was ‘iffy’, which means we had some sun, some rain and quite a bit of cloud but not enough to prevent the English Civil War Society from re-enacting a battle between King Charles’ Cavaliers and Oliver Cromwell’s parliamentarians (Roundheads) on Bury Field Common here in Newport Pagnell. The Royalists won that battle, by the way. But the Parliamentarians came back at ‘em.

It was quite a spectacle. “Its aim is to bring to life the town’s significant role in the Civil War in an entertaining and educational way”, said the blurb.

     The cannons roared; the muskets banged; the cavalry charged; the drums rolled and smoke billowed everywhere. For a generation of those who crave endless entertainment, it was entertaining. But as a serious history lesson (Lessons? On a Bank Holiday?) it lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.

     I don’t think of myself as a pacifist but I leaned that way on Saturday. War isn’t glorious or glamorous. It’s dirty, inhuman and wrong. But there is nothing new under the sun and I won’t change things by wringing my hands and bemoaning them. (Correction: war is very human. As a species we seem incapable of resolving our differences without it. Even then we don’t resolve things, we simply smother them. Nobody trusts politicians very much but there is no getting away from the fact that you have to pay attention to a man with a gun.) And I am not beguiled by the annual Edinburgh Military Tattoo, either.

     Through the wonder of YouTube I watched Dr David Starkey’s broadcast about the relevance of Magna Carta. He isn’t my favourite historian, by any means, but I add nothing to my story and learn nothing new by ignoring him.

     The preamble blurb said: “We take our liberties for granted. They seem absolute and untouchable. But they are the result of a series of violent struggles fought over 800 years that, at times, have threatened to tear our society apart. On the frontline was a document originally inked on animal skin - Magna Carta.

     Distinguished constitutional historian David Starkey looks at the origins of the Great Charter, created in 1215 to check the abuses of King John - and how it nearly died at birth. He explores its subsequent deployment, its contribution to making everyone - even the monarch - subject to the rule of law, and how this quintessentially English document migrated to the North American colonies (and Australia and New Zealand and Canada) and eventually became the foundation of the US constitution.

     Magna Carta has become a universal symbol of individual freedom against the tyranny of the state, but with ever-tightening government control on our lives, is it time to resurrect it?”

Just as the programme ended I received a Skype call from a dear lady in Sri Lanka who, in another life, had worked as my secretary when we were based in Dubai. At that time her husband was Sri Lankan Tea Commissioner to the Gulf.

     We hadn’t spoken for some months so ‘what-are-you-doing’ type chatter was the order of the day. “I’m immersed in reading about Magna Carta”, I said. Imagine my surprise when she told me that her daughter, a barrister living in Knightsbridge, is married to a direct descendent of Peter FitzHerbert, one of the original signatories to Magna Carta! Well, strike me down – again.

     (Peter FitzHerbert, Baron of Barnstable in Devonshire, the honour of which he obtained from King John with fifteen knight's fees, part of the lands of William de Braose, and he was made Governor of Pickering Castle in Yorkshire, and Sheriff of that county by the same monarch. This Peter was one of the barons named in Magna Carta and, by his signature, fourth in rank amongst the barons. ~ Burke's A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Commoners of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. IV, 1838 edition, p. 728.)

Well, hush ma mowf.

     I bought a book this month and all the indications are that I shall have read it at least once by the end of next month. It is entitled: DEMOCRACY DEFINED: The Manifesto by Kenn D’Oudney. The book was recommended by a fellow advocate for the Rule of Law and I’m recommending it to you. It is available via Amazon ISBN 978-1-902848-24-2 and it is w-a-a-a-y better than Strictly Come Dancing.

     Finally, this month we visited Yorkshire to attend the annual dinner in Bridlington of 158 Squadron Association (Bomber Command), the squadron in which Karen’s father served as a pilot 70-odd years ago. He was one of the 851 in the squadron who didn’t return.

     Dinner was splendid. Guests included a contingent from Canada who had flown over from far-away Vancouver BC just to participate in the remembrances and fellowship. The Association lost its President earlier this year, ex-Squadron Leader Herbert Mottershead MBE, DFC. He won his DFC after his plane was bombed accidentally by one of his own squadron but despite this he managed to limp back to Lissett and saved the lives of his 7-man crew in the process. He was awarded the MBE for his service to 158 Squadron Association.

     Church parade next morning was held in the grounds of Lissett village church, St James, which is a Grade II listed building and houses the oldest dated bell in England, dated 1254. (I say ‘in the grounds’ because the church itself is too small for the attendance that this event attracts). The church also stands right next to the airfield that was home-base for 158 Squadron all those years ago. The final mission left the airbase on 25 April 1945.

     158 squadron war memorial stands on the roadside beside the old airfield.To top everything a WW2 Lancaster bomber performed 3 low level circles fly-past over Bridlington bay later on Sunday afternoon.

Truly, it was a ‘lest we forget’ occasion.

     I’m in danger of outstaying my welcome so I shall draw this to a close with one last reflection. In the film “Jaws” there is a scene in which Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss) is speaking to Larry Vaughn (Murray Hamilton): Hooper: “Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine, an eating machine. It's really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that's all.”

Not so very different to some people I’ve met along the way.

Until next time!