Saturday, 16 July 2005
Who knows - maybe even the farmers will be a little bit happy despite the rumours of hard times ahead. The talk of hill farmers being heavily pressed is bad news. They are the guys who really know how to bully the land into production through the jaws of the sheep. If they go, we will be left with large swathes of the land doing nothing. Dept. for the Eradication of Farming Anywhere seem to think the hills will be taken over by vast queues of black, Asian and multi-ethnic people fighting to roam at will, so, that will be another concept of the wonders of multi-racial Britain down and round the pan.
Don't know about you dear Reader, but the world seems dull after the media overload of last week. We were being - sorry about this - bombarded from all sides with news that was horrible in content but almost unique to us here on our "precious stone set in the silver sea, this sceptered isle". It started to have a fascination all it's own when many were shown what goes on in some of the darker spots behind curtains drawn all day and night. Slightly less precious I think although, thank the Lord, still sceptered. For a while, even the unlikely happenings in the soap-operas seemed normal run of the mill events. It is sobering to think that in a number of places around the world, actions such as the attacks on our transport system are quite commonplace, everyday events.
Friday, 15 July 2005
We may yet have to face further cowardly attacks on innocent citizens. Were I a terrorist (or, as the BBC avers - a bomber) I would save my efforts and go elsewhere. The 'We Are Not Afraid' banners said it all. It was as much this spirit of resistence as it was respect that impressed me.
Another source of pride has been the police investigation. Evidence sought was prioritised and the work of the CCTV viewers was amply rewarded. There may be criticism about the lack of warning; and that is not a matter for right now anyway, but the enquiry officers may rightly hold their heads high. The simple image of our Queen will be with me for a long time. With her, showing solidarity in this manner is inherited from her parents who were fastidious about showing themselves during the Blitz period of the last war. No shall we, should we, faffing around as there was at the time of Diana's demise. As a Brit it is not in my background to be too demonstrative but right now I'm very proud to be one.
Respect and sympathy to those who have to live on in the absence of loved ones who have gone before to join the Great Majority.
Thursday, 14 July 2005
Terror on the dole By David Cohen, Evening Standard 20 April 2004
Four young British Muslims in their twenties - a social worker, an IT
specialist, a security guard and a financial adviser - occupy a table at a
fast-food chicken restaurant in Luton. Perched on their plastic chairs, wolfing
down their dinner, they seem just ordinary young men. Yet out of their mouths
pour heated words of revolution.
"As far as I'm concerned, when they bomb
London, the bigger the better," says Abdul Haq, the social worker. "I know it's
going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like
Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."
"Pass the brown sauce,
brother," says Abu Malaahim, the IT specialist, devouring his chicken and chips.
"I agree with you, brother," says Abu Yusuf, the earnest-looking financial
adviser sitting opposite. "I would like to see the Mujahideen coming into London
and killing thousands, whether with nuclear weapons or germ warfare. And if they
need a safehouse, they can stay in mine - and if they need some fertiliser [for
a bomb], I'll tell them where to get it."
His friend, Abu Musa, the security
guard, smiles radiantly. "It will be a day of joy for me," he adds, speaking
with a slight lisp.
As they talk, a man with a bushy beard, dressed in a
jacket emblazoned with the word "Jihad", stands and watches over them, handing
around cups of steaming hot coffee. His real name is Ishtiaq Alamgir, but he
goes by his adopted name, Sayful Islam, meaning "Sword of Islam". He is the
24-year-old leader of the Luton branch of al-Muhajiroun, an extremist Muslim
group with about 800 members countrywide, who regard Osama bin Laden as their
Until recently, nobody took the fanatical beliefs of al-Muhajiroun too
seriously, believing that a British-based group so brazenly "out there" could
not be involved in something as "underground" as terrorism. The group is led by
the exiled Saudi, Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad, from his base in north London.
Yesterday, in a magazine article, Bakri warned that several radical groups are
poised to strike in London.
For all its inflammatory rhetoric, al-Muhajiroun
has never been linked to actual violence. Yet, with the discovery last month of
half-a-tonne of ammonium nitrate fertiliser - the same explosive ingredient used
in the Bali and Turkey terror attacks - and with the arrest of eight young
British Muslims in London and the South-East, including six in Luton, extremist
groups such as al-Muhajiroun are under the spotlight like never before.
Detectives fear that the "enemy within", the homegrown extremists leading
apparently normal lives in suburbia, now pose the greatest threat to security in
Britain. Sayful and his friends fit this "homegrown" profile: three were born
here, two came as young children from Pakistan; all were educated in local Luton
schools; and they grew up in families of full employment - one of their fathers
is a retired local businessman, two are engineers, and two worked in the local
Vauxhall car plant.
The question is: how worried should we be? Is
al-Muhajiroun nothing more than a repository for disaffected Muslim youths who
have adopted an extreme interpretation of Islam - perhaps to cock a snook at the
white establishment - but who are essentially posturing? Or does the group also
perform a more sinister function, sucking in alienated young men and
brainwashing the more impressionable into becoming future suicide bombers?
Although none of the arrested Muslims - aged 17 to 32 - appear to be current
al-Muhajiroun members, rumours have circulated of informal links to the group.
Moreover, parents of the arrested men have spoken anxiously of the "radicalising
influence" of al-Muhajiroun militants who " corrupt" their children at mosques.
Nowhere has this public confrontation between radicals and moderates been
more apparent than in Luton, which has the highest density of Muslims in the
South-East - 28,000 out of a total population of 140,000 - and has long been
regarded as a hotbed of extremism.
Sayful Islam, for one, is particularly
proud of his contribution to Luton's hardline reputation. His exploits include
covering the town with " Magnificent 19" posters glorifying the 11 September
suicide bombers. "When I joined al-Muhajiroun four years ago, there were five
local members," he says. "Now there are more than 50 and hundreds more support
The strange thing is that four years ago, Sayful Islam was a jeans-clad
student completing his degree in business economics at Middlesex University in
Hendon, north London.
The son of a British Rail engineer who came to this
country from Pakistan, Sayful grew up in a moderate, middle-class Muslim family
in Luton. At the local Denbigh High School, he is remembered as one of the
smartest kids, and was selected to attend a science masterclass at Cambridge
University. He would go on to marry, have two children and find work as an
accountant for the Inland Revenue in Luton. He was thoroughly uninterested in
THEN he met Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammad at a local event. Within
two years, he had swapped his decently paid job as an accountant for an unpaid
one as a political agitator. What turned him into an extremist? And how far is
he prepared to go to achieve his aims?
Prior to seeing the group at the
fastfood restaurant, Sayful meets me at his semi-detached rented home in Bury
Park, Luton's Muslim neighbourhood. He no longer works, even though he is
able-bodied, he admits, preferring instead to claim housing benefit and
jobseeker's allowance. He smiles sheepishly and says the irony is not lost on
him that the British state is supporting him financially, even as he plots to
"I made a decision that I wanted to follow what Islam really
said," Sayful begins, sitting on his sofa in his thowb (a traditional robe) and
bare feet. "I went to listen to all the local imams, but I found their portrayal
of Islam was too secularised. When I heard Sheikh Omar [the leader] of
al-Muhajiroun speak, it was pure Islam, with no compromise. I found that
"At the same time," continues Sayful, "wars were happening in
Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya, Afghanistan. People were being oppressed simply
because they were Muslim. Although I had never experienced racism in the UK, it
opened the eyes of a lot of Muslims, including mine."
But it was the events
of 11 September that crystallised Sayful's worldview. "When I watched those
planes go into the Twin Towers, I felt elated," he says. "That magnificent
action split the world into two camps: you were either with Islam and al Qaeda,
or with the enemy. I decided to quit my job and commit myself full-time to
al-Muhajiroun." Now he does not consider himself British. "I am a Muslim living
in Britain, and I give my allegiance only to Allah."
According to Sayful,
the aim of al-Muhajiroun ("the immigrants") is nothing less than Khilafah - "the
worldwide domination of Islam". The way to achieve this, he says, is by Jihad,
led by Bin Laden. "I support him 100 per cent."
Does that support extend to
violent acts of terrorism in the UK?
"Yes," he replies, unequivocally. "When
a bomb attack happens here, I won't be against it, even if it kills my own
children. Islam is clear: Muslims living in lands that are occupied have the
right to attack their invaders.
"Britain became a legitimate target when it
sent troops to Iraq. But it is against Islam for me to engage personally in acts
of terrorism in the UK because I live here. According to Islam, I have a
covenant of security with the UK, as long as they allow us Muslims to live here
HE USES the phrase "covenant of security" constantly. He attempts
to explain. "If we want to engage in terrorism, we would have to leave the
country," he says. "It is against Islam to do otherwise." Such a course of
action, he says, he is not prepared to undertake. This is why, Sayful claims, it
is consistent, and not cowardly, for him to espouse the rhetoric of terrorism,
the "martyrdom-operations", while simultaneouslylimiting himself to
nonviolentactions such as leafletting outside Luton town hall.
He denies any
link between al-Muhajiroun and the Muslims arrested in the recent police raids.
But, as I later discover at the fastfood restaurant, not everyone attaching
themselves, however loosely, to al-Muhajiroun draws the same line. Two members
of the group - Abu Yusuf, the financial adviser, and Abu Musa, the security
guard - scorn al-Muhajiroun as "too moderate".
"I am freelance," says Abu
Yusuf, fixing me with his piercing brown eyes. What does that mean? I ask.
"The difference between us and those two," interjects Abu Malaahim, pointing
to Musa and Yusuf, "is that us lot do a verbal thing, [but] those brothers
actually want to do a physical thing."
Referring to the latest truce offered
by Bin Laden, and Britain's scathing rejection of it, Abu Malaahim adds: "He
tried to make a peace deal. When terrorism happens, you will only have
yourselves to blame."
How far are you prepared to go? I ask.
to know how far I will go," says Abu Musa, his high-pitched lisp rising an
octave. "When Allah said in the Koran 'kill and be killed', that's what I want.
I want a martyr operation, where I kill my enemy."
Are you saying, I probe,
that you are looking to kill people yourself ? "Yes," Abu Musa says, "to kill
and to be killed." He emphasises each word.
What's stopped you doing it? "As
you know from watching the news," intones Abu Yusuf, "there are brothers who do
leave the country and do it." He is referring to the four Muslims from Luton who
died fighting for the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the two British Muslims, said
to have had ties to al-Muhajiroun, who last April left to become suicide bombers
in Israel. "In-shallah [ Godwilling], there will be a time to go."
hard to know whether Musa and Yusuf are deadly serious or just pumped full of
misguided, youthful bravado. Though I see coldness - even ruthlessness - in
their eyes, I sense no malice. Both young men agree, perhaps foolishly, to be
quoted using their real names, though they decline photographs - thus
illustrating their uncertainty of which way to jump.
president of the Islamic Cultural Society, the largest of the 14 mosques in
Luton, dismisses al-Muhajiroun as "verbal diarrhoea".
"They are an extreme
Right-wing group - the Muslim version of the BNP," he says disdainfully. "They
think Muslims should dominate, just like the BNP thinks whites should dominate.
They use Islam as a vehicle to promote their distorted beliefs, particularly to
unemployed young bloods who are vulnerable."
ALTHOUGH unemployment in Luton
is just six per cent, the rate among Muslim youths is estimated at 25 per cent.
"They are no more representative of our Muslim community than the BNP are of the
Sulaiman insists that Sayful Islam and his crew are not
welcome at the mosque. He cannot prevent them praying there, but he will never
give them a platform. "I've told Sayful to bugger off and ejected him many
times," he says brusquely. "Even Sayful's father, who I know well, thinks his
son has been brainwashed."
But Sayful and his friends laugh at the idea that
they are local pariahs. "The mosques say one thing to the public, and something
else to us. Let's just say that the face you see and the face we see are two
different faces," says Abdul Haq. "Believe me," adds Musa, "behind closed doors,
there are no moderate Muslims."
They also mock the idea that they are
attracted to al-Muhajiroun because they have suffered alienation from white
society. "Do we look like scum?" they ask. "Do we look illiterate?"
call for the bill, Abu Malaahim flicks open his 3G mobile phone and, with a
satisfied grin, displays the image, downloaded from the internet, of an American
Humvee burning in Iraq.
Abu Yusuf says: "That's nothing. I downloaded the
picture of the four burnt Americans hanging from the bridge." It's oneupmanship,
Sayful, the only married one in the group, prepares to
go home to his wife and children. Before he departs, he says he has a message to
"I want to warn that the police raids - if repeated - could create
a bad situation.
"Islam is not like Christianity, where they turn the other
cheek. If they raid our homes, it could lead to the covenant of security being
"Islam allows us to retaliate. That would include" - he tugs his
"Jihad" coat tight against the night air - "by violent means."
If I were to have serious sexist remark intentions there would be more of this sort of thing
There’s a big plasma screen in this hospital emergency room that’s used as a
tracking board, and the PC it’s attached to is in a nearby closet. An ER nurse
watches as IT pilot fish pulls the mouse through the doorway to adjust the
active window on the screen. “We didn’t know that the mouse cord could stretch that far,” nurse tells fish. “Whenever we want to use the mouse, we’ve used two people -- one moving the mouse blindly, the other yelling ‘right,’ ‘left,’ ‘up’ or ‘down.’ ” Comes from here.
Yes- I know the nurse might have been a male. Still, this is enough explanation from me. Sorry if I 've taken a gentle comment as something that merits all the above and, yes, sometimes I am thin-skinned. "If you prick me, do I not bleed?" as the man said (no insult to those of the Hebrew faith)
Whilst it is own-up time, I'd better admit that I sometimes say things which might be - in these modern times - racist or even bigoted. What I am not is mealy-mouthed about it.
Wednesday, 13 July 2005
My head and cap were to be main feature of the shot.
They should occupy the bottom left hand corner of the frame
The head and cap should be almost life size
No buildings should appear in the background. Water and trees only
I set the camera up in wide angle. I stood Norma where I wanted her to be. I put the camera in her hand with the lens pointing outwards. I then told her to go for it.
Ten minutes later I am still posing waiting for OK. I got fed up thinking I must not have heard OK. As I move Norma squeaks that I moved while the picture was being taken. What you see is how she responded to my brief and instructions.
Women - only good for childbirth!
Had the photo worked it would have been captioned 'Forward my Panzer Korps'
What is worthy of debate is the way they attained their nationality. Being born in a country does not make children representative of their birth-place any more than kittens born in a laundry basket are dirty socks. This is where the ‘do they play cricket’ test comes into play. British nationality is something to be earned and not dished out to the progeny of any woman who can drag her distended belly ashore at Dover. There must be proper assimilation into the British culture and way of life. Maintaining a, say, Pakistani life style in the middle of Manchester will only ensure that the characteristics merge and we have some sort of mongrel that is neither Pakistani nor English. The deaths of the bombers emphasise that they had no idea of the English attitude that suicide is wrong. We, the British, are mostly surprised that they thought their deaths would influence anything or anyone.
All this said, what happened does require reasoned thought and action. Just exactly why did they think they needed to do anything? Were they influenced by some older and more evil master? Did they form their own opinion that what they did was the only course of action open to them? If Iraq was the root of things, we need to get some better propaganda out into the public mind. Even – heavens forefend – admit that it was a genuine mistake. My own experience is that, in the end, terrorists win. Kenya. Cuba. Rhodesia. Northern Ireland. Aden – the list is long. They may not get all they want but they make gains. The government realises it cannot defeat terror without taking such extreme measures as will lose it popular support. The terrorists admit that they will never defeat the armed forces against them. They negotiate and both sides compromise. That must be our agenda. What is the position that both sides can accept. Formalise it. Implement it. And then get on with living together – if needs be, even in mutual distrust that does not degenerate to conflict. There are far better things to do than carry bombs about or opening fire ‘to defend one’s self or comrades’.
There is an interesting point of view here.
This is supposed to be a semi-serious personality test. I've been through a few of these on management etc. courses and they all seem to say much the same. There's a link at the bottom if you have this sort of morbid interest.
-- Personality Disorder Test --
-- Personality Disorder Information --
Tuesday, 12 July 2005
I mentioned a young woman a couple of days ago with hope she would have an answer quickly. Yvonne has now been informed that her partner did in fact die on the bus.
BBC are reported to have edited some reports where they spoke about 'terrorists'. Said it was too emotive a word and they have susbstituted 'bombers' Let us hope that when they come to deal with the final reporting they will be accurate and refer to 'Islamic fundamentalist murderers' This adjustment of history can be a bad thing. We saw what happened when the false story about Himmler got into the National Archives. The BBC has made some very good history programmes (especially the ones about the 39-45 War and Auschweitz). These used film from those times. The validity of any programme about this period may be corrupted by this attention to what is considered to be political correctness. Words mean what they say. If someone causes terror - they are a terrorist. OK, they did it with bombs so they become terrorist bombers. What is so difficult about that?
They speak to me.
Telling me to say inappropriate things.
At unsuitable times.
I was in the Mojave Desert branch of Morrisons today. Checking out the very large eggs to ensure that all six in the box were unbroken. Alongside me, similarly engaged, was a lady who I took to be somewhat older than me. Very elegant in general manner, handkerchief/Liberty/Tana lawn cotton shirtwaist dress, sensible shoes, pearl necklace. I had a bad box, she replaced two boxes. As she started to move away I said, “Better times when the little girl assistant in Liptons checked things” She smiled and answered, “You are showing your age” My inner voice said out loud, “I’d show my bum if it got me better service” She burst into giggles, tapped me on the arm and toddled off. Doubtless the bridge club will hear of it tonight.
I used to play bridge when I had a brain. It was consigned to ‘used’ as I got fed up with the post-mortem after every hand and I came to the conclusion that the attraction was the debate and chat. Same thing put me off golf. I was taken to a very posh club as part of some corporate hostility day. I lasted as far as the sixth hole before I was forced to declare that an old whore wound was being aggravated by the swinging. There was no way I could have continued listening to the faux compliments and debate on shots taken. I don’t think I could ever get into something played in what I considered to be a quasi-religious manner. The only time I took part in team sports involved rowing and cycling. Both very much spit and sawdust activities where the post-race festivities are confined to wine, women and song.
Monday, 11 July 2005
Sunday, 10 July 2005
Don't quite know what temperature we have got to but it is certainly quite hot. There is a lot of cloud here right now so the sun is not too hard to bear. I went to the picnic area for a paddle and pointy nose had prolonged bout of swimming so that is us two sorted. Next item on the agenda is a long soak in a tepid bath with book and gin and tonic - lots of ice, no lemon.
Now the semi-hysteria of the bombing has died down a bit the papers are worth reading again so it looks as if we have again, with our indominatable spirit, triumphed over evil. Let us hope we do not have to do it again.