We sat, nervously, waiting for the big event to happen.
The midwife was a wonderful example of her profession; large-bosoms, with a smile for us both, she oozed confidence. She lived at the other end of the crescent. She was at Oxford, our modest terraced house was at Cambridge Gardens.
It was a blissful day. Now, with the passage of years, it has become idyllic. My wife, Sue, looked radiant if apprehensive. She’d chosen to have the midwife come to our house. It was the right decision. She was relaxed and the midwife was our neighbour.
I was at home. This often felt like a rare event. Newly promoted I wanted to make an impression but really I would grab any opportunity to work overtime. As Sue never worked during those early days of motherhood it was clearly my job to be the bread-winner. I doubled my pay with overtime, often at the most inconvenient times.
Not today. I was at home.
The midwife stood up. ‘I think it’s time we went up upstairs,’ she said, ‘can you make us a cup of tea.’
Nervously I went to the kitchen, and made tea. How long did that take? It seemed like moments.
Racing upstairs with the tea tray I was greeted by the wonderful sight of my new daughter snuggled against my wife’s chest. Magical.
I don’t remember any baby cries. Kate (really Katherine Louise) seemed very content to be in our world, her new world.
Sue had made a crib, covering the wicker-work with soft cloth. New bed linen, all hand-made, waited for the new occupant.
What can you say when looking at your newly-born child? It’s a miracle of nature. Sue was exhausted but radiant.
Eventually it was decided to let Kate go to sleep. What a moment to remember as I picked up this precious bundle and lowered her into the crib. Her small hand grasped mine. Absolute perfection.
Our diverse democracy is now leaving the European Union, after 47 years. Our governments have never been really happy in this club yet for nearly fifty years we have avoided war in Europe. That must mean something after centuries of conflict. Our present Prime Minister was elected, with an increased majority, largely on the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’.
His stated aim now is to bring the two broad factions of the country together. One for, one against remaining in the EU. As usual with Boris there’s no clear plan to achieve his stated intention.
Ever eager to please I have a plan. One small caveat before it is revealed and that is that Dominic Cummings be sacked. He has dubious links with Russia, is far too arrogant, and, in my opinion, looks Machiavellian.
Cummings has designs to change, notably the BBC. This institution may be in need of change, but not by Cummings. It is top-heavy and cumbersome and carries too many staff, some of whom get paid far too much. It lacks a clear vision but with a few tweaks could be a perfect vehicle for Boris to use.
We all know the BBC. Most of the world knows the BBC. It’s a great marketing device which is precisely why it should not stoop to the archaic advertising-revenue system of support. That immediately hampers its freedom.
To support the BBC we must insist that all major sporting events are covered by the BBC. That need not prevent other stations from broadcasting the same material – indeed the BBC could also sell their own content. A careful look at some TV channels will reveal that is already common practice, although usually old content. We have a national broadcaster – let’s use it effectively, and openly state how much cash is made.
That it must retain its independence is obvious, and perhaps a panel of populace could be chosen to oversee that function. The present system is not powerful enough.
The next year will be interesting. I’m no lover of bureaucrats but the EU also could be improved. Maybe, one day, we will be allowed to return.
For now we face the threat from the USA that seems intent on making us a lackey-state, if not the 51st State of the Union.
That just seemed amusing this morning. It doesn’t apply to me now, I’m not married.
Most of the world is in lock-down. Strange that government leaders should be prepared to throw away their income, and therefore their power. I love to hear government ministers tell us they are going to award money to a project. They don’t have any money of their own, that comes from various forms of taxation.
I’m not sure about the democratic process. At least with Vlad the Impala you knew where you stood (often in morbid fear). With democracy, as we have allowed it to develop we have lost all power of persuasion.
We vote for a candidate who suddenly appears as ‘our candidate’. My present MP had never been to my county before being selected. She was seen as a ‘safe pair of hands’ by central office, and her resume matched Margaret Thatcher’s.
A better way is to live ‘off piste’. Don’t ever allow the bureaucratic system to realise you exist. I suspect this is the way for many folk. The CEO of a successful company can do that quite easily. All their expenses can be eased out of the company income. A salary can be turned into spending money.
Amazingly our governments allow the CEOs of large corporations to get away with the plunder. Company HQ are normally hidden away, often in a tropical paradise. Company accounts are manipulated. All is quiet. I wonder why?
Having heard the Tory rhetoric for many years about Tory “back to basics” family values and their revulsion towards unmarried mothers, the romanticising of Boris Johnson’s behaviour by the British media and tories smacks of hypocrisy (to say the least). In fact Johnson’s history of radical selfishness, duplicity and betrayal towards his wife and children should have us all very worried indeed For any who are unaware of this man’s sleazy past, be aware that it makes for unpleasant reading.
We cannot even begin to guess how many casual flings and one night stands he has engaged in, but here is the gist of his career with women.
Johnson’s first wife was Allegra Mostyn-Owen whom he married in 1987 after they met at Oxford. The marriage ended when he had an affair with Marina Wheeler who gave birth to the first of the couple’s four children just five weeks after they married in 1993.
After their marriage Johnson then conducted a four year affair with Petronella Wyatt while he was editor of The Spectator and she was one of his columnists. MS Wyatt subsequently disclosed that she had an abortion and that she also suffered a miscarriage.Mr Johnson initially responded to allegations of their affair by stating that it was an “inverted pyramid of piffle”.
In spite of his assertions he was forced to resign as shadow arts minister and party vice-chairman in 2004 by the Tory leader Michael Howard for his lack of honesty about the affair, with a Tory spokesman stating that it was an issue of “personal morality”.
Far from learning from his mistakes and regardless of the pain and humiliation he heaped on his wife who was openly deeply distressed and furious with him, he began yet another sexual relationship with Anna Fazackerley, a journalist on the Times Educational Supplement. Contemporaries state that the affair with Ms Fazakerley actually overlapped with the affair with Ms Wyatt.
Undeterred Mr Johnson then fathered another child with arts consultant Helen Macintyre, once again leaving his wife profoundly distressed and humiliated. Details of the affair with Ms Macintryre were disclosed after Ms Macintyre lost a three-year legal fight to prevent the the press naming Johnson as the father of her daughter. The Appeal Court also heard that Ms Macintyre’s daughter was alleged to be the second child conceived as a result of Boris’s extra-marital affairs.
Lawyers for the Daily Mail argued it was in the public interest to reveal Mr Johnson’s extra-marital affairs and children because it “went to the issue of recklessness and whether on that account he was fit for public office”.
(The same Daily Mail currently eulogising the birth of this latest child with the headline, “Beaming Boris Johnson looks every inch the proud father as he’s pictured hours after leaving bedside of fiancée Carrie Symonds and newborn son to return to tackling Britain’s Covid crisis in No 10.”)
In 2018 his long-suffering wife had had enough after 25 years of being with the serial philanderer as the affair with another worker from his office came to light (Carrie Symonds) and the couple’s intention to divorce was announced.
Marina Johnson was subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer which required surgery twice in 2019 while her husband simply abandoned her and the couple’s four children. He added insult to injury by announcing his latest lover’s pregnancy and their engagement three days after the death of his wife’s mother.
His ex-wife was reported as being devastated and his children furious. Not being one of those leopards that changes its spots he also began a liaison with American Jennifer Arcuri who described herself as “heartbroken” by his treatment of her.
Let’s not ignore the facts of this man’s history in the face of the media’s current lionising of the supremely selfish and compassionless PM. This is the level of honesty and morality he employs in his personal life towards people he allegedly cares for. Imagine what he would be willing to do to us if he thought it was in his personal interests to do so.
God help us all.
I must admit that I’m not the author of most of this piece, but the facts, as stated, are widely known.
There is no reason why the citizens of this country should have to put up with this outrageous behaviour by a man who purports to be our leading citizen.
It is reported that he does not work weekends, that he missed five Cobra meetings. Is he fit to do the job?
He was not born in this country, his family has no real connection with this country. He can claim to have gone to Eton, a noted private school. Where the funds to pay for that education is not immediately apparent.
Despite the worried looks on the faces of government ministers at daily press conferences nobody really knows. Certainly not the variety of medical experts standing alongside the minister. None inspire confidence.
Although the Chief Nurse is very attractive.
The present strategy seems intent on stopping our under-funded NHS from being unable to cope. It’s like everyone gathering around the stable to rescue horses with the building on fire. Action now being taken is insufficient to cover the weaknesses that have been allowed to develop over the last decade. It’s a divisive form of conservatism.
We are now struggling to flatten the curve. 800 people a day dying is better than 1,000. Politicians seize upon statistical trends as if they are gospel. They are not. The only statistics we are given deal with those collated at hospitals. Many more are probably dying at home, in care homes or on the streets.
What happens when the death rate falls to 50% of the maximum? That still means thousands of people will suffer.
Hospital staff have few weapons to fight viral infections. Care and love are not always enough. Corona viruses have been known about for years. Coronavirus 2019 may be slightly different as it is easily transmitted from person to person. There is no effective remedy, other than the body’s natural reactions.
Changes will have to be made. Reserves of equipment, such as face masks, coveralls, and respirators are needed. Incidentally so are body bags and coffins. Just in time supply is not always appropriate, particularly as global supply systems are far too slow to react. Chancellors of Exchequer will try to resist.
Entrepreneurs, like Bill Gates, jump in to spend tax-deductible money. There’s a moral dilemma that allows one man, or a group, to make billions from a product, especially when they play no real part in its production. Merely because investors put money into an enterprise should not allow them to take precedence over workers, for example.
The assumption is that once the death rate slows below its peak all will be well. Why knows? Even so how and when do we restart?
Spain is planning to ease restrictions. We shall see if this works. It will still be a long haul to get back to what once we had. That is a highly unstable strategy.
Should we try to recover? Our economic structures are in need of reform. There will be resistance. Big commerce will resist. We really need the regrowth of small local industry. At its simplest it shows that globalisation does not work,in all caeses. A form of community liaison is urgently required. Convincing the masses that they can ignore large corporations will need societal change akin to the French revolution. Time will tell to see if people can see the advantages of community cooperation.
Where is Dominic Cumming, an architect of the early disastrous policy?
Some would suggest, and as yet we have no proof, that Harry has, at last returned the Royal Family to the British. The Hanoverian link has been broken.
Whether that is true depends upon a DNA test, and despite all the rumours no proof that Harry is the legitimate offspring of the heir to the throne has ever been given. Plenty of bluster. No proof.
Someone could surely pick up a glass, or some object containing a DNA sample and have that examined. In a very British way eyes have been closed, and its all been tucked away, and not spoken about.
We live in changing times. Our sovereign is coming to the end of her superb reign. We like having a monarch. Imagine President Blair or some other tainted politician being the supreme authority, even if powerless.
Prince Charles is to be admired. He’s worked tirelessly for decades. He was forced, in many ways, to reject the love of his life. This he did, and that didn’t work out too well. At least we got an heir and a spare.
That potential King has now produced his own heirs. His brother, Harry, has slipped down the pecking order. He faces a life of representing our monarch for the rest of his life. He will be the best man,never the groom.
Couple to that his choice of partner. Meghan is a forthright young woman. She lacks the quiet sophistication of her sister-in-law, who will go on to become a consort we will all admire. The Duchess of Sussex has a past that will reverberate. She’s done little that any other exuberant young woman would not have done, but our press and media have decided she is persona non grata, and besides Harry is a nice bloke, but lacks the gravitas needed of a senior royal. That just means he will not put up with any nonsense. He will speak his mind.
This is all very modern. The United Kingdom is now in danger of fragmenting. Our glamour is tarnished. A frightening error has meant we will be thrown out of a cosy club where we have been happy enough for a long time. Our Queen Victoria produced children who sat on the thrones, usually as consort, of all the major sovereignties of Europe. That gave us power, so did our domination of about a third of the world. The European Union has been a suitable substitute, and it has kept the peace in Europe for nearly 80 years.
That may change. Europe is starting to shift. Dangerously it is moving to the right. At the same time a new social revolution is now starting. Work will no longer be the glue that held down the majority of the population. Automation, in all its forms, will takeover from the peasantry. We are already noticing that we have too many people in this world. That needs to be solved.
The USA believes it is the dominant force in the world. That is increasingly being questioned. China is acquiring control through acquisition not conquest. India is raising its head. Russia has increasing influence in the Middle East, and could well dominate Turkey to create a new power band across the heartland of the world. The USA has plundered and been increasingly arrogant. How much longer the world will tolerate this teenage upstart will be interesting to watch.
The United Kingdom faces a difficult time. Our new Prime Minister was born in the USA of Turkish parentage. He has no real allegiance to our country, except through attendance at a posh school. He appears at this stage to be relishing power. Whether that will prove satisfactory only time will tell.
The Elizabeth Tower is the face of the British Houses of Parliament. It houses the clock, which faces out to the world on four faces, and contains the bells which chime, the largest is known as Big Ben. The Tower was known as Big Ben until 2012 when it was renamed Elizabeth to honour the 60-year reign of our monarch.
That’s all about to change as the tower is being completely restored. The original cost was £29 million, that has now crept p to £61 million, no doubt thanks to the vigilance of the quantity surveyors (QS) on the project. As I was once a QS I can only applaud their determination, as a tax-payer I remain doubtful.
Started in 2017 it is nearing completion in 2020. The scaffolding is slowly being removed. Once complete we shall see several changes. Plenty of gold leaf, black paint removed by a tasteful blue. The new colour scheme brings the Tower back to its original state, with over 14 layers of black paint removed.
Restoring has meant undertaking key internal and external conservation and refurbishment works, including waterproofing and addressing severe condensation problems as well as modernising the building to improve standards in safety, access and visitor and workspace facilities. The project includes:
Work to prevent the clock mechanism from failing, as it is currently in a chronic state.
Addressing urgent problems caused by decay to the fabric of the building, both internally and externally.
Health & safety and fire safety improvements, including installation of a lift.
Enhanced energy efficiency through modern lighting of the tower face and other measures.
1289-90 The first clock tower was erected in New Palace Yard. It had one dial and a bell
1367 The early clock tower was replaced with a new tower and clock. This was the first public chiming clock in England.
1699 The clock tower had fallen into disrepair. Its bell was sent to St Paul’s Cathedral but broke en route
1707 The medieval clock tower was pulled down and a sun dial put up in its place
1716 The bell from the clock tower was recast
and later hung in the South West Tower of St Paul’s Cathedral. If Big
Ben is ever unable to strike, the bell in St Paul’s is heard instead
1834 The Palace of Westminster was almost completely destroyed by fire.
1840 Construction of the new Palace of
Westminster began. Architect, Charles Barry won the commission to design
the new palace and included a clock tower in his final designs.
1843 Construction began on the Clock Tower. Foundation stone was laid.
1846 A competition was held to decide who should
build the clock. The Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy was the referee.
Stipulations for the clocks accuracy meant it took seven years before
the designs were finalised.
1852 John Dent was appointed to build the clock
to the designs of Edmund Beckett Denison. This was the same year that
the new Palace of Westminster, designed by architect Sir Charles Barry
with the assistance of Augustus Welby Pugin, was opened by Queen
Victoria at the State Opening.
1854 The clock mechanism was completed.
1856 The first ‘Big Ben’ bell was cast at
Warners of Norton near Stockton-on-Tees, the bell was originally to be
called ‘Royal Victoria’.
1857 The first ‘Big Ben’ developed a four foot
(1.2m) crack during testing and was condemned. Warners, the bell’s
manufacturer, and Edmund Beckett Denison, designer of the Great Clock,
clashed over who was responsible for the damage.
1858 In April, the second ‘Big Ben’ was cast by
the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in East London. It was transported to New
Palace Yard on a carriage drawn by 16 white horses and raised to the
1859 The Great Clock started ticking on 31 May
and the Great Bell’s strikes were heard for the first time on 11 July.
Later that year, Big Ben was found to be fractured in two places. While a
solution was sought, Big Ben remained silent with the largest quarter
bell striking the hourly chime.
1863 At the suggestion of Sir George Airy, the
Astronomer Royal, Big Ben was turned by an eighth and the hammer size
was reduced thus allowing Big Ben to strike the hours once more. A
telegraphic link to the Greenwich Observatory was installed to check the
accuracy of the time keeping.
1923 BBC Radio first broadcast Big Ben’s chimes to the United Kingdom on New Year’s Eve.
1932 Big Ben’s strikes broadcast internationally
for the first time by the Empire Service (later the World Service) as
part of King George V’s Christmas broadcast.
1939 From this date until April 1945, the clock
dials remained in darkness to comply with blackout regulations during
the Second World War.
1945 The clock dials were re-illuminated when the wartime blackout regulations were lifted.
1976 In the middle of the night on the 5 August,
a mechanical failure caused serious damage to the Great Clock. The
pendulum weights spiralled out of control down the weight shaft and the
clock mechanism exploded. Big Ben was silenced for nearly nine months.
The repairs were completed in time for the bells to ring out to mark the
occasion of Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee visit to Westminster
Hall in May 1977.
2007 Big Ben and the quarter bells were silenced
from 11 August to 1 October while the Great Clock underwent essential
2009 Big Ben celebrated its 150th anniversary with a year of events and activities.
2012 The Clock Tower was renamed the Elizabeth Tower to honour Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.
This location assumes that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom. Whatever place is chosen it will help us all to move the centre of power out of London. After all Canberra became Australia’s capital once all the indigenous folk had been removed. Think of the housing possibilities, and the reduced risk of running into Al Jemal.
Fortunately I’ve been given free rein to say whatever I like. At least that’s the way it is at present, it’s likely to change. I remember George Orwell, a visionary, whose works should now be taken very seriously. His book, 1984, may have been premature but it is finding its time now.
Rather than moaning on about what is wrong it’s time to broaden horizons; to think outside the box!
Let’s make a start; Nation State
Why are we geographically restricted? It makes little sense, particularly now that we have people moving all around the globe. There are 166 different languages spoken in parts of London. Why does geography play such an important place in our lives?
The Nation State has become an irrelevance. It is little more than a system of control.
In England, which is where I live, we have first past the post elections. In my county, in East Anglia, everyone is biased, so we always get the same political party in charge. That party is so arrogant that we now have an MP who had never been to my county before she was selected. Her CV (resume) was very similar to Margaret Thatcher, so she was liked. It must have been a paper sift because she has achieved very little for us, although she now holds a Cabinet post.
The Nation State is a means of control.
Our democratic system is no better. Of recent years boundaries have been changed. The excuse was to bring them all to the same population size. Untrue. It was to give the ruling party a better chance of winning.
To make a start why can’t we choose which government to follow.? Even in Europe it is not too difficult to acquire citizenship. Belgium is probably the easiest but other countries do very well.
Elsewhere Russia is the easiest with Peru coming second. As a precaution why not apply for an e-residency in Estonia. For just 199 Euros you can start an Estonian company. No need to live there, although it is very pleasant, especially in summer.
Scotland are looking like a good choice (it is a bit cold for an East Anglian). The Northern Irish problem could be solved if the Protestants moved back to Scotland, as that’s where most came from.
Wales could also become independent. That would save money, as Wales is encouraged by government, probably to prevent revolts. Since the coal industry was taken apart by Thatcher Wales has been given state-run jobs; such as vehicle licensing. It keeps their heads down at desks.
These suggestions are just a start. Our aim should be World Citizenship. That needs to be taken very slowly. Too many cushy sinecures will be at risk.
I’ve made a decision. I shall abandon politics. Instead I will take a philosophical approach to life. Look forward to a perfect society. There’s much to discuss. Why do we have nation states? Alternatives to capitalism. Is monotheism preferable? Population reduction. War or peace. Equality in economics. Saving homo sapiens (the planet will survive – it is us that needs to worry).
There will be much more if I last that long.
It is now clear, after a lifetime of trying to influence events, that I have failed. That’s OK, as I have tried.
Instead it will be fruitful to look outside the box. To stay constrained means that I will always be reacting to the ideas and actions of others. That’s not helped my soul.