Saturday, 2 May 2009

Ghurka home?

I've held off on the debate about immigration rules for Gurkha troops. However, I suspect that the Brown-beaters have now boarded the bus to Outrage City as the story allows them lineage beyond any likely to be generated by the right or wrong of the actual immigration rights debate.

In my time I was stationed in close proximity to Gurkha troops. I was in a military police unit that was 85% Gurkha troops. I undertook a number of investigations involving them. I cannot say there was anything different about them in their make-up. They seemed to have a similar ratio of good and bad. Fat and thin. Good parents and not very efficient parents. So - nothing unusual there. They had officers who would not accept that Gurkhas could or would do anything wrong and saw them as paragons of virtue; this level of support was far in excess of that normally experienced with British officers and their British troops. There has been much said about the level of bravery in action. Our current troubles have demonstrated that bravery in other Nationals and Regiments is far more common than might be imagined. I do tend to think that there is a level of amok higher amongst Gurkha troops than others. My analysis of citations (In the old Indian Army) (Modern times but not complete) does suggest that they tend to rush into situations that are desperate.

They were recruited under terms that got them out of Nepal and into the British army. Their terms of service differed from British soldiers. There was no promise of resettlement in UK at the end of their period of service. Their pension was less on the basis that the cost of living in Nepal allowed them a commensurate life style to British pensioners for less. Now, there are a number who wish to retire here. I can see no reason why they should receive any special treatment. They were fully aware what they were getting into. Maybe they see it as unfair that they should have risked their lives in our service. They were fully aware what they were getting into. They may think that living in UK is their right. They knew what etc. etc. I can sympathise with their wish to leave Nepal but why here? There are considerable Gurkha communities in Hong Kong and in Brunei that they could join. There is talk of a debt of gratitude - where does this end? Think of those who supported the British cause in the colonies we have now surrendered - are we not grateful to them?

No - I think we have gone soft in our modern times. Do they have grounds for coming here? Yes, but individually no more than any other immigrant.

Of course I love you. Now go to sleep

There are a real mass of reasons that I find this law report amusing. A wife of seven years standing handcuffs herself to her husband in order to gain more of his attention. As the survivor of more than 50 years of marriage, I cannot see her reason for such desperate measures. Then, when he attempts to free himself, she attacks him so violently he has to call for police assistance. She ended up in court.

The reporter than inserts this observation " It seems unlikely the marriage can be saved." Well, he does seem to be very perceptive there. Another small giggle comes from his name - Gary Slapper. Shame the story was not about a wayward wife aka old slapper.

Mind you - he was somewhat lucky with the handcuffs.

Parents who care

There seems to be no depths to which human beings will not sink. The initial set of events - the death of the boy Peter - was horrific but the same man has now been found guilty of even worse behaviour.
The girl was not identified and there has been no disclosure of her parent's identity. I would conclude that she was a sister of the boy we now know as Peter. His mother, the partner of the killer and rapist, has been found guilty of a lesser charge connected with the sequence of the multiple rapes.

We will hear repeated calls for the crucifixion of the social care workers who are already in the Hall of Blame for Peter's death. That is understandable at first take but it does seem they were trying to brush out floor waters with a rake. The work load we have had disclosed must surely mitigate against even half-way protection. A phrase I have found telling was 'Social workers do not kill children'. For all we can know, the workers may well have had events on their work load where the risks were more apparent and gave priority to these. In the case of Peter and, in my conclusion, his violated sister, there would be no parental suspicion as to what was going on in a house of horrors but I see these events as another example of where we are in parenting. We have all forms of swift communication and surveillance but still failed these two kids. Punishment of the two involved here will do little to correct this - those involved right now in child abuse and neglect will just say 'they won't catch me' and continue their evil ways.

Just a small image of what I mean - how did the parents allow this to happen? Why did the photographer or bystanders not intervene? It may seem amusing but it illustrates just what I mean by negligent parenting.

Lost for ever?

The media today is re-focussing in the little girl Madeline McCann. It is the second anniversary of her disappearance. We have seen a computer-generated update of the initial Missing Person photograph. As a media cynic ('there is nothing they will not do to increase sales'), I have the idea that if the parents had not initiated this fresh outburst of activity, then the Media would have. We do not seem to hear whether anyone has counselled them that the child has been murdered; I think it would be a kindness for some scientific exposure of this possibility.
There is a perception amongst investigators that abducted children are murdered with a very short time of their being taken. This is summed up as " Seventy-four percent of children who are kidnapped and later found murdered are killed within the first three hours after being taken, and 99 percent are killed within the first 24 hours". Note this is related to 'found murdered' and not to the totality of abductions, This finding is supported by other statistics that the prime reason for he children being taken is sexual gratification and once used in this manner, the child is an embarrassment to the abductor.
As the parent of four children, one of whom was lost due to cancer, I cannot imagine how it would effect me to have this 74% theory explained and confirmed, Equally, I cannot think how I could live the rest of my life not knowing what had happened. I have my doubts about what is described as the process of closure.The alternative is so horrific that I think there should be some procedure put into operation to at least offer this to parents and family. It would need the most careful handling - I think of the term 'being cruel to be kind'

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Another swan sings.

Just back from an overnighter in London. Down yesterday on the train, a 40 minute meeting with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and then on the town prior to train home today.

Just as I have already had my final ever long haul air flight and my final ever European holiday, this marked the last of my trips to London. It was just too much stress on the old body. My back gives in quite quickly carrying anything like an overnight bag and a few files. The actual travel is OK so I suppose I might make a lightweight run. The meeting was some contingency planning that SoS wanted to make regarding the publication by Lord Saville of his Inquiry findings of events of Bloody Sunday on 30 January 1972.

I was there when the thing went off at Londonderry and ran the first immediate investigation so it would be nice to be in at the death. Others at the meeting included three Generals and a very senior MOD official. And me. How a humble WOI got dragged into that sort of body, I'll never know. I have nothing to be afraid of but it seems our meeting was to debate just what needed to be done if there were any problems with the cover of anonymity given to many of the military witnesses should Saville attribute blame.

Seeing it might be the Final Night of John's Proms, I decided to make a bit of a night of it. The very first posh restaurant I went to was in 1942 when my father took me to a business lunch at Veerasawamy's Restaurant in Regent Street. I know not why - he was not one given to acknowledging fatherly treats. I was obviously impressed as it became a favourite watering hole for me as I progressed through courting and into marriage. During my time in the Army, we went there whenever we returned from foreign climes. Although it was an Indian restaurant it bore little resemblence to any such establishment of today. Possibly the best description would be to liken it to a Government resthouse in pre-Merdeka Malaya. It was the burra sahibs version of Indian eating. The food was vaguely Home Counties English with added spices. None of that curry stuff that the natives eat dontcherknow! Such dishes were available but were not the foremost items on the menu. Right from my first visual memory it had a sort of run down, faded charm. The staff were very discreet but one's glass was kept topped up and dishes came and went in an almost discreet manner.

Well, it has been sold by the Veeraswamy family who ran it since 1926. The new brooms have refurbished it. No red flock wallpaper-style; the idea seems to represent the spread of the cuisine from North to Southern India. Very opulent decoration without very much OTT features.

So, this was the setting for my final experience of London dining. I invited my daughter and an Internet friend I'd not met other than over the ether. She brought her man but, even as a host, I have to say that my night was made wonderful by Caroline's bringing my grand-daughter Liberty along as a totally unexpected surprise. Liberty is a mid-teenager going on 25'ish and is so bright that she sparkles. She was in no way fazed by being in a party of oldies and held her own in conversation. And wine drinking! We did the usual thing of ordering a wide assortment of personal choices but robbing each other's dishes. It was a wonderful few hours that went by all too soon.

So, as the retreat from Empire progressed with many milestones, I've touched another milepost in my retreat. Sad I'll not see it's inside again but warm memories of some very very fine times are still with me. Last night was the cap put back on the bottle. I can live with that.

Sunday, 26 April 2009

My Away Day

Getting ready for a pilgrimage to London tomorrow. I was invited to meet the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in advance of the publication by Lord Saville of his report on the Bloody Sunday inquiry. Having been there when it all went off, I thought I should get in on the final act less one; hopefully I'll live to see the final story. The MOD are picking up all my expenses including travel and overnight accommodation which is nice of them. I will feel like an illegal immigrant getting all that from the Government!

It will give me the opportunity to make my own trial of the latest electronic wizardry with my Touch toy. I have bought some Wi time and will see how I get on on the train, in the hotel and in the street.

Dinner is laid on with Caroline and a friend from Facebook.

Report on the whole thing comes later