Easter Saturday

Easter Saturday always seems a bit of a gap or even a let down between Good Friday and Easter Day. It a bit like January and February after the excitement of Christmas and New Year…on a much smaller scale. I guess for practicing Christians is winding down and then winding up the the main event tomorrow.

I was listening to a radio programme today and there seemed to be a view that many of the ‘divisions’ in our society are being caused by Brexit and the decision that has been taken, as against it being a consequence (effect) of the ‘divisions’ that have progressively deteriorated over decades and no one has dealt with them. It only needs a simple glance and the main issues in the referendum to realise that.

There is also the view that we should have another national referendum to look at and decide on the Brexit ‘deal’. Can you imagine what that would look like, with thousands or possibly hundreds of thousands of issues and options being sent to every voter in U.K.? It would be total chaos. Look at the simple issues presented to us in 2016 and how they were ‘misunderstood’ by so many. If there has to be a vote on the deal, the options need to be debated in Parliament and they make the decision. That what they are paid for and should have done in dealing with the EU in the first place over the past 40 years…much like the ‘divisions’ mentioned above!

I have just finished watching a series in the Walter Presents part of Channel 4, called 13 Commandments. It was good and thought-provoking and it’s such a pity that the BBC can’t make programmes like this anymore.

Good Friday

I am what many people would, quite accurately, describe as a non-practising Christian. However I was brought up in a society that reflected mainly/many Christian values and broadly respected the ’10 commandments’ for example. I would assume that many people would align themselves with this ‘philosophy’, even though they don’t ‘go to church regularly’, as they use (or possibly abuse) the ‘church’ for baptisms, marriages and when it comes to dying and, I feel sure, would resort to ‘talking’ to a ‘higher authority’ when faced with trauma or something/events beyond their normal day-to-day lives.

One of the problems with the demise of the ‘established church’ in the U.K., is that politicians (supported by those that voted for them) have also eroded many other parts of our established systems (and even the so-called and much maligned establishment) and ‘infrastructure’ and, as a consequence, left us with very little to ‘lean on’ when we need it most. This also means, of course, that other ‘things’ have stepped into the ‘void’ including shallow alternatives (largely generated by the media) and other established but mis-aligned (with our culture and values as a nation) religions that have not evolved in parallel with the (our) so-called ‘enlightenment’ that we in the U.K. ‘discovered’ in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Some of these religions, of course, still exhibit and ‘push’ the very values that we moved on from (and began to leave behind with massive consequences and quite literally pain for virtually everyone) in the 16th century. In turn these religions more than amply provide the fertile ground for ‘recruits’ and internal national and international conflict, that we are increasingly beginning to see in the early 21st century. For many. if not most, there is increasingly little to fall back on in a world of unlimited choice.

It seems ironic that we now have more choice than at any time in the history of the human being, having destroyed so much that would have helped us to determine what was good or bad, right or wrong, affordable or not, sensible or stupid etc etc. Let’s face it, choosing and then buying a coffee in the high street is a challenge these days, so how can we now possibly cope with the more important decisions.

I woke up at dawn this morning…

Following on from my blog yesterday, a poem for Willie.

 

I woke up at dawn this morning 

Wondering what it was like, there in France 

To ‘go over the top’ in the darkness

And never to return to the dance.

 

woke up at dawn this morning 

And thought of my great uncle at war

He’d survived for so long, against all of the odds

So young and loving…and more.

 

I woke up at dawn this morning

One hundred years to the day

When ‘over the top’ he went, as required

Never to return to the fray.

 

I woke up at dawn this morning 

And thought long and hard of his duty

In hell on earth he struggled so hard

For King and Country, but no beauty.

 

I woke up at dawn this morning

And thought of his sacrifice

How truly remarkable it was for so many

And all such a ‘roll of the dice’.

 

I woke up at dawn this morning

Still in the warmth of my bed

And mused on his thoughts, on his last day on earth

Going round and round in his head.

 

I woke up at dawn this morning 

And prayed for his soul in that mud

And thanked the Almighty for what he had given 

In spilling, for us, his blood.

 

I woke up at dawn this morning 

And got on with my life, as you do

All praise to Willie for what you gave

For me to be here – thanks to you.

In Memoriam

Today would have been my dear mother’s 93rd birthday and it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the death of my great-uncle, who was killed at the age of 21 in Arras in France towards the end of World War I.

It seems that he had been back and forward to France to fight on more than occasion and this was to be his last trip. According to my grandmother (his sister) he was not well when he returned to the front and things were so bad that his mother (my great-grandmother) had to “iron out the lice from his kilt”. He was in the Royal Scots Fusiliers.

100 years seems a long time ago but, despite the fact that I had obviously not met “Willie”, as he was known, it seems more recent than that. I guess with all the ‘remembering’ of World War I in the last 4 years, it is to the forefront of all our memories. Funnily enough I woke up at dawn this morning and could not sleep, wondering what hell it must have been before ‘going over the top’, on what was to prove to be his last day on earth.

I have quite a few items relating to his youth and time in the army, all of which are moving. However the most notable are these. One is part of the postcard he sent to my great-grandmother (his mother) the previous year from France, one a photo of Willie and the other one of the items received ‘from the King’. All are extraordinary and heart-breaking…

Alexa

My wife and I were having an enjoyable and uninterrupted supper last evening and, in the process of having a fairly active discussion about some news or other item that was on BBC iPlayer, I used a word that is not, in current parlance, ‘politically correct’.

To our surprise and I suppose shock, our Amazon ‘Alexa’ suddenly said “this is not a polite word to say”. I should point out that I had not addressed Alexa in the usual fashion, or ordered it to extract some useful information about the weather or local travel news or to listen to BBC Radio 4 or to ask it to say something funny – it just spoke to us, unannounced and uninvited into our home!

It was very funny at the time and I mentioned this later on to one of my children and their first question was…”what was the word”? I explained that it was not ‘politically correct’ and that it was, possibly, not a word they would use, so I did not share it with them. I should point out, that it is not a word I would use outside my home either.

However it got me thinking and especially in the light of recent events concerning our apparent naivety about data harvesting via Facebook and other related issues. There is no way I ‘woke Alexa up’, as one does, so, I am left with the worrying thought that someone is listening to what is being said in my home, despite the supposed requirement to ‘open up’ this particular access to the internet.

Having heard what I said, then digested it, then formed an opinion (presumably based on that of Amazon people) and then responded with a ‘rap on my knuckles’ for saying it, where else has my ‘politically incorrect’ word gone now and what may happen as a consequence? This is all very interesting or perhaps even worrying, that the ‘privacy of my own home’ is not as sacrosanct or as under my control as I thought!

Antisemitism

Undoubtedly, antisemitism seems to be the issue of the day. Why is that?

It all seems to have come to a head because of the actions (or in this case inaction) of Jeremy Corbyn and the image that was, even to a blind man, antisemitic.

It’s amazing to me that in a country that has a Judeo-Christian heritage going back for many centuries and particularly following the atrocities of World War II (not to mention the treatment of the Jews by many European civilisations), that there are still people who have a problem with the Jews…and Israel.

To start with, Israel is a small democratic country that is entirely surrounded by many other countries with massively larger populations that have sworn to destroy it and, as a consequence, go to some considerable lengths to defend its own values and a (albeit relatively new) space on this planet. There seem to be too many people (and even Jews) spouting their views on Israel on the BBC and elsewhere, who have surprisingly limited knowledge and understanding about Israel.

Now we have the Jews. What have they ever done to offend or impose their way of life or values on anyone in the U.K. or elsewhere? In most cases, we dont even know they are Jews sitting next to us on the bus, or or the train. If only this could all be said of other religions that are ‘alien’ to our historic values and ideals and ‘wear their beliefs on their sleeves’.

I for one, certainly don’t understand and I don’t know anyone who knows anyone… … …who is antisemitic.

The issue that has brought this to a head for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party, may have been blown out of proportion, but he did do and say what he did in 2012 in relation to ‘that image’ and his unwillingness to provide an adequate rebuff to the accusations of antisemitism against him and the Labour Party, that are rife at the moment, probably says more about more about Palestine and his support for that, than any antisemitic stance. I was especially interested to see that the BBC showed ‘that image’ openly on a number of their programmes and wondered what would have happened (and what the reaction would have been in certain quarters) if there had been something similar shown, for example, about Islam or LGBT issues – I will leave you to decide!

It will be interesting to see what happens outside Parliament this evening when the Jewish community, who have patently had enough, gather to meet and stand their ground. I, for one, am with them all 100%…

The ‘democratic media’

Over recent years, I have noticed a significant increase in TV and radio programmes that have a ‘message’ for us. Whether it is The Archers (currently ‘pushing’ health, excessive drinking and ‘gay parenting’) or, say, Below The Surface (about the kidnapping of Danish citizens for ransom and ‘highlighting’ PTSD in the Danish army)…incidentally, the latter was postponed by the BBC last night, apparently out of respect to the events in France, despite continuing with programmes such as Troy, which featured far more potentially upsetting issues. Both these programmes are broadcast via the BBC (BBC Four and BBC Radio 4) and there are many many more examples from this monopoly media organisation which is funded by us. I find it very difficult to find any programme (especially from The BBC) that does not have one or more of these subliminal (or usually much more obvious) ‘messages’ that are often about minority issues. Try watching from now on with this particular ‘critical eye’.

Before anyone points out that, for example, The Archers has always done this, that is to some limited extent true, however, not on this scale and certainly not within the much wider flooding of our lives from all channels and all media providers. In any case, in the past, it has been more about ‘education’ than ‘brainwashing’.

Other issues are the disproportionate (to the population) airing of certain themes and scenarios. For example it is difficult to find anything that does not have some ‘arabic’ content or connection these days. Even programmes set in places far removed from the Middle East, have some sub-plot in or connected to an arabic country, communities or individuals, one recent example being 13 Commandments.

So my question is, who decides to ‘brainwash’ us with this ‘propaganda’ (especially within the BBC) and on what basis is there any democratic control or accountability? If our democratic government decided to put out a ‘public information broadcast’, then that is very different.