Saturday, 10 January 2009

Little Norm - RIP

Rare nowadays that my life ties in with events in the wider world but I had a most unwelcome contact this morning. I was reading through one of my forum where the humour is rude and raw and suddenly came across a news report from a Dallas newspaper.
May seem strange that I have referred to a 16 stone man of 6'4" as Little Norm. His father was of the same stamp and also a Norman so he was Big Norm. We served together in Benghazi, Northern Ireland and Hong Kong so my son grew up alongside Little Norm. After retirement, Big Norm went to America with his then wife who we visited and met up again with Little Norm and his wife. They were a lovely couple and it was clear that he had settled so very well into his life with Dallas Police.
The Big and Little bit was appropriate in matters other than just size. Big Norm was totally fearless and had two gallantry medals to prove it. He had the gift of relating to those with whom he came into what I suppose one must call confrontation and solved many hot spots with a rough quip and ready tongue. His own upbringing had been hard and Little Norm was treated fair but with no molly-coddling. It was reflected in his growing up in the mould of his father. Now that mould is broken.
It is a shitty world.

Friday, 9 January 2009


Our home is like the A & E area of some TV medical soap. Norma has bronchitis and I am still suffering from the virus thingy. We move around like zombies or cold blooded animals who have given up coping with low temperatures. We must be using all our water rate in drinks to try and keep some moisture in fevered bodies. Both on penicillin - God bless Alexander Fleming all those years ago. I think I am a strong supporter of the Atheists bus - He is not making himself evident to me right now.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Question Time

Ignoring my normal reservations about the meme yesterday was quite amusing over and above the diversion into things on which I do not normally ponder. I thought I might alter Gemmak's format slightly (lese majesty!) and extend it a bit.
Firstly, I've drawn up a set of questions (below) so that those who play know what they are getting into and to allow some comparisions of responses to the same queries. Individuals can go for as few or as many as they wish.
Again, I realise that the way we have done this in the past bars those who have Internet access but no blog. (If you want a damned fine blog all set up and ready to go, check out Gemmak's page). To get round this, I'm issuing email to likely suspects and have stuck this proposal on my Facebook group. (The shame of it - admitting membership. Blame my granddaughter) They, and others, can respond using the Comment section of this particular posting.
So - here come the questions. 1 2 3 Go!

Questions choice

When suggesting innovation or change, assume your recommendation will be implemented.

 1           If you could change one piece of legislation, national or inter-national,              what would it be and why? Would you just kill it or amend it?

2        If able to remove all mention of one individual from all media, who would it be and why? I have already done Simon Cowell, Bruce Forsyth and Michael Winner.

3        What has been your most memorable meal and why? Was it the food, the company, the occasion celebrated or – what?

4        You may go on vacation to anywhere you choose. Where, why and with whom?

5          Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Do you believe that? If so, why do     we have appeal courts?

6           Girl friends or dogs – which are the most loyal and loving?

7           If doing good resulted in personal danger or inconvenience, would you still try?

8          Who had the most influence on you during your growing up period? Mother, father or A.N. Other. Why?

9       What will you do tomorrow that you would not have done this time last week?

10       In your life to date, which were the best of times? Why?

11       Burial, cremation, leave body to science?

12       What on earth made you buy THAT dress/pair of trousers?

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


Not normally one for Social Interaction; you know, those memes that ask intrusive questions that are then visible to the whole Internet World. My normal answer is, 'Sod off and don't be so nosey!' However, the individual who posed the challenge this time is someone who, from experience, I can totally trust and with who I feel comfortable. She did what she suggests - that is good enough for me. In her own words

I did this a few years back but I thought another go might be fun. This version comes via Mr Nighttime and it works like this;

If you want to be 'interviewed on your blog' drop me a mail or a comment and I will mail you five questions, you answer them in a blog post and send me the link. I think originally the rules said to mail the originator the reply as well as post it but just a link seems simpler."

My questions

1. You have the opportunity to donate a large sum to a charity, which charity would it be and why?

No great problem here. I've made that decision already. It would be the charity Help for Heroes (H4H). They raise funds for injured servicemen. Injured in mind or body. Instead of complaining about the dark, H4H aims to light a candle. It is no secret that the attention given to our wounded and harmed is sadly lacking. There used to be a formally accepted idea of a Military Covenant. Because there are few other jobs where the ultimate sacrifice is part of the Job Description, the authorities undertook to be especially caring to members of HM Forces. Unfortunately, for reasons I will not detail here, the Covenant has been broken. H4H fills the gap. And does it very well.

2. If you could choose to meet one person from history who would it be and what would you say to them?

Tough one. I have made three or four choices but when it comes to the 'what would I say', I realise that there is a need to connect with others to maybe check the answers given or to add another dimension. So, the just one is a buggeration. Another complication is 'where does the talking lead to?' Salome was a consideration! Having once been in what is now called 'a relationship' (at the time, it was known as 'shacked up') with a quite famous Lebanese belly-dancer it would be nice to meet an originator of that art form.

As a former soldier, my aim would be directed towards military men. Air Marshall Arthur Harris was the founder of the World War II strategy of massive air power being used on civilian targets with a view to fomenting dissent between enemy civilians and the German authority. There has been ferocious argument about both the tactic and its effectiveness. Whatever, it was a massive change from the concept of honourable war - if one can attach that word to war anyway. I would want to know his own explanation and assessment. The idea of bombing a nation into submission is outmoded - despite ongoing events right now.

If Harris was 'unavailable for comment', set me up for Cromwell or Wellington or Rommel.

3. Would you back the underdog even if you knew you couldn’t win?

Having been an underdog on numerous occasions, it would be a natural reaction. Apart from that, I am a confirmed adrenalin junky and the impulse in fight or run conditions that adrenaline creates has always been to fight. Regardless of the prospects of winning. When I come to think of it, the prospect of losing has never come into the debate so I suppose the support of the underdog is not so meritorious as it may seem. More self-serving.

4. You are a fire-fighter, you rescue an individual from certain death, risking your own life in the process only to discover the person you rescued, far from being grateful, is angry and abusive toward you because they set the fire in an attempt at suicide. In the knowledge that arson is a criminal offence but also that this person is very disturbed, do you report your knowledge to the authorities or not?

Instant answer - yes. I do not subscribe to the belief that all suicides are selfish but I do expect that those who choose this route out do it with some discretion and not involve third parties. I cannot think that the risk to my life would be of great consideration; it's adrenaline generating as well as being an opportunity to put into practice what I had been taught. All professionals welcome that.

I have written instant answer. I have to say that I might just as likely give him a forceful punch on the nose!

5. If you could have changed your profession what would you have made the change too and why?

More quibbling! I have changed my profession. I was a soldier for 23'ish years and then worked as a civilian Facilities Manager for 23'ish years. Both of them were totally fulfilling. Had I been able to soldier on for the 46 or so years of my working life, I would have done so. More than willingly. Even now, I refer to myself as a 'former soldier' and do not think in terms of being an 'ex-soldier'. It is like a vaccination mark - once it has 'taken', it never leaves you.

The role of a Facilities Manager did not exist when I entered the employment world. Indeed, I was in on the very start of it in UK working with one of the major players. Here again, it was something I would have been able to do for that 46 years. No two days were the same. That adrenaline injection is always in the background. One is responsible for a number of office buildings. The systems within that building that sustain life and support the work of the other occupants. The premises' efficiency and safety of the occupants and visitors. Responding to emergencies and planning works. Writing, presenting and adhering to Budgets. Inter-personal relationships.

So, no. I would not have changed. Mind you, I do think of myself as a ex-Facilities Manager so that suggests where the love lay.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Reversal of the train

Satire. But there is that grain of truth .................

A Swiss man paralysed five years ago in a skiing accident has chosen to end his life early in the UK after shunning the local suicide clinic a few minutes drive from his home. ‘I want to end my life,’ said Max Friedland today, ‘but I don’t want to actually commit suicide. Which is why I have chosen a routine minor operation in an NHS hospital.’

Friedland, has an appointment in February at a London hospital for the removal of a benign mole on his back. ‘I am hoping that this short overnight stay coupled with the surgery will be enough for me to contract one of the many viruses present in NHS hospitals, C Diff, Norovirus, MRSA, I don’t mind as long as death is quick and relatively pain free.’

Yes but ......

Article in today's Grauniad refers to something that has been exasperating me for some while.

This -
As Cameron's Conservatives become more trenchant in their criticism of what Cameron termed " Labour's debt crisis", the edict has gone out that Tories must not appear to revel in the political opportunities provided by the downturn. And the media-savvy Conservative leader knows that audiences will turn away from a negative message. They want to hear some good news.
That may well be true but what I want is some sign that he has worked out the consequences of his silence. If his forecasts are right about just what troubles Brown is storing up down the road then the sooner he does something to bring about a change, the better. The government must be brought to face an election. Then we will see just how the public see Brown's policies. If they support them, then everyone in any position of influence should sign up with the programme and get on with it. I used to be the simpleton who thought the task of the Opposition was to oppose but Dave has changed that. By just acquiescing with Brown he is, and will be, as guilty as NuLabour of the consequences. If something is wrong, it must be exposed and brought to an end. Tantamount to commenting on Gary Glitter that it is a matter for him and the parents of the kids.

Funny old paper that Grauniad. In the same issue they have comment on Cameron's style from Pretty Polly.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Buddha Basics

I've mentioned somewhere on here about my Buddhist Retreat. A long week-end in an atmosphere conducive to learning by instruction and learning by observation of the inmates of the Retreat centre. Being a pedant, I have problems with religion but if I were to consider changing this, I would try to be a Buddhist.

I read something today which sums it up for me. See what you think. For those who do not 'do' links, here is an extract.

When I first started reading about the Buddha's life, I was disappointed to learn that the existence of God was one of the subjects on which he declined to make a definitive comment. At the time, this seemed to me either rather unfair or something of a cop-out – surely this was exactly the kind of topic that an awakened being should pronounce upon, for the benefit of all. However, after the last couple of years of amusing but unproductive pantomime debate ("oh yes he does, oh no he doesn't"), I am beginning to get a sense of how not answering may well have been an enlightened response.

Pressed further, the Buddha is said to have explained that dwelling on such a question is not conducive to the elimination of suffering, which was the sole purpose of his teaching. He asked whether, if we had been shot with a poisoned arrow, we would want to know who had fired it, why, and what type of bow was used, before deciding to have it removed? "If the person who was shot were to seek the answers to all these questions," he told the monk Malunkyaputta, "he would be dead before he found them." Touché.

The tussle over God is marginally more entertaining than getting shot, but the protracted diversion created by its war of words could nevertheless be more of a hindrance than a help. Not only has the stream of agitated comment brought us no closer to finding an answer, it hasn't even enabled us to formulate agreed terms for the question. Part of what makes the argument so comical is how the concept of "God" onto which atheists project is rarely the same as the one defended by believers. Part of what makes it tragic is how, at the extremes, each party insists that their denial of what they think the opposition believes is enough to make them correct, to the point of misrepresenting the traditions they seek to uphold.