Celebrate!

I sat at my computer at midnight of the day the UK signed The Lisbon Treaty feeling desolate. There was nothing in the news about it. No one talked about it. There were no protests, no complaints. Nada. It seemed to me to be a secret act by the then Labour government. It happened by stealth.

We gave our country away. And we allowed it without a murmer!

European integration is the process of industrial, political, legal, economic, social and cultural integration of states wholly or partially in Europe or nearby. European integration has primarily come about through the European Union and its policies.

Wikipedia The Lisbon Treaty

Labour did that. The Lisbon Treaty was not about co-operation. It was about integration.

And most people were unaware of the seriousness of that day…..

I never thought we would ever get ourselves back. We’d been subsumed.

So I’m very glad that tonight, at eleven o clock, I will be sitting in front of my computer all these years later and be savouring our exit by Brexit.

Celebrate this historical moment!

Bringing the Standard Home

I wrote this family history twenty years ago. Someone might be interested in reading it. It was about how my British ancestors coped in Africa and remained British and proud of it despite great suffering.

Bringing the Standard Home

“In the 1820’s, just after the Napoleonic War, Britain gained the Cape from the Dutch. England was seething with war veterans making trouble in every town and village, itching for something to do. Because of mass unemployment and a small problem on the Eastern Cape Frontier of Xhosa raids into now British territory, the British Government came up with a cunning plan. Offer a farm to the restless and unemployed and ship them out to the Eastern Cape. This would kill two birds with one stone – it would reduce unemployment in the home country – and make a nice filling in the middle of the Dutch/Xhosa sandwich that would, hopefully, buffer the activities of the marauding Xhosas that threatened Cape settlements, Britain’s war booty.

Well, They were right. The new settlers did become the filling in the sandwich – a dangerous place. That’s how my ancestors arrived in South Africa. The fact that they survived long enough to produce any progeny is a miracle in itself – but I have brought the standard home again that they so bravely took out and am here to prove that some of them – many of them – most of them – survived. I, as a representative of our 1820 family have ‘come home’ to Britain.

None of the new settlers were farmers in any way at all. The first few months they lived in army issue tents listening to the roar of lions in the night and by day they learned to avoid elephants and venomous snakes. For this alone they should have been awarded medals. Their ignorance of farming, and paucity of support, financial or educational, from Britain caused them to plant their crops upside down, too deep, too shallow, too thick, too thin, too exposed to the vicissitudes of African weather. They had no idea about animal slaughter, hunting, husbandry – or the tropical diseases that attacked their population at various times. And there was no recourse to hospitals, nurses or doctors – even when the Xhosa attacked.

They were victims of Government Policy.

One Christmas when great, great, great Grandmother had just prepared the most British feast of roast fowl, roast potatoes, vegetables, “plum” pudding and custard, the neighbour rode over to warn them that the Xhosa were about to flow down over them and they must get to the nearest fort pronto. Great, great, great grandfather loaded the wagon speedily and called for the family – but great, great, great grandmother was missing. They found her in the kitchen packing all the cooking pots with the Christmas dinner she had so lovingly prepared. “They can have the house, they can have the farm – but they can’t have our Christmas dinner!” she is reported to have snapped.

The Dutch farmers observed the newcomers’ farming activities with amusement. Their stupidity might have set the underlying scorn of “being British” in the Boer mind that came to the fore during the Boer War, when another of my ancestors arrived in South Africa.

My grandfather, Harry, was only fifteen. He’d run away from home in Somerset where it is accepted his father was not at all kind to his children. When Harry arrived in Trafalgar Square and reported to the army-recruiting officer sitting at the table at one end, the officer asked him his age. “Fifteen.” announced Harry. “Too young.” said the officer. “You have to be sixteen.” Without blinking, he looked at the child and said “If it were your birthday today, and you went round the square and you happened to turn sixteen on the way, you’d be the right age.” Harry took the hint and being a quick-witted lad, he arrived back at the table where the officer looked at him as if he was a total stranger. “Age?” he asked. “Sixteen.” said Harry and found himself in the army.

The ship voyage was so protracted that by the time he saw the outline of Table Mountain looming over Cape Town, the Boer war had ended. There was nothing much “back home” so Harry stayed on when given the choice.

My ancestors were very proud of their contribution to South Africa. Not only did their standard fly on all Government buildings until 1961 when the Boers eventually won the Boer War and declared South Africa a Republic, but they brought in the normal British Colonial order, built roads, bridges, hospitals, institutions and encouraged industry and businesses. Harry’s was never successful so perhaps we should leave him out. He went into hardware like his Dad but the profits were small and the hours long. Bankruptcy finally got him in the Great Depression. But by that time he had another calling – the Salvation Army.

It was in The Army (a different kind now) that he had met my grandmother. They worked tirelessly in the slums on the Cape Flats. My Nan had had faith in God and life after death because of miracles she’d seen in the slums. One night she was doing a deathbed watch at the side of an old man, dying. Suddenly, she saw a tendril of wispy light withdrawing itself from his forehead, which she had been bathing with a cloth. It slowly detached itself and wafted up, very slowly, like a smoky plume to the darkened ceiling of the little hovel. It hung there for a few moments, gathering itself together, and was gone. She was convinced she had watched the soul leaving the body – it gave her faith – for life. I think Grandpa and Grandma learned more working in the slums than they taught.

My other grandparents were school chums from the Isle of Wight. Grandpa had married someone else though, and immigrated to Natal. When his new wife died very soon after their arrival, he wrote home to grandma offering her marriage and a ticket out. Surprisingly she accepted.

The fabric woven in the minds of my ancestors’ children was always about Britain and “home”. We practised all the British traditions on all the traditional days – roast stuffed turkey, Christmas ham, puddings with flaming haloes, bread and brandy sauces, custards, mulled wine; Father Christmas in a red woollen suit and artificial beard, trees with lights and glass baubles And this in temperatures of 100 degrees in the shade. Easter bunnies hid chocolate eggs in the garden – and, my best – we celebrated Guy Fawkes night with wondrous fireworks and burning the home made Guy on a bonfire. We read all the Enid Blyton books (even when she fell into educational dis-favour – what do educators know about child delight?) Arthur Ransome, Beatrix Potter and above all, every word of A.A. Milne.

We could quote reams of rhymes and asked “What IS the matter with Mary Jane?” when one of the children was truculent – or the Emperor’s Rhyme when someone didn’t know their arithmetic tables.

Winnie the Pooh wasn’t the only Winnie we followed. When Winston Churchill died we collected in little groups to listen to the subdued voice of the commentator describing the funeral procession on the wireless. He was a symbol to us of Britain’s Finest Hour – the war.

Uncle Ernest (named after Shackleton) was shot in the shoulder in the war. Our eyes used to dilate in horror listening to him describing the maggot treatment he underwent. The clock in my Nan’s house stopped at exactly the moment the shrapnel entered – that’s what she said, anyway. And Uncle Morris had been a prisoner of war and he had made the most elegant pair of shoes out of bread, which stood on our mantlepiece – the ladies high heeled shoes on one side and the gents shoes on the other.

I grew up in a place nicknamed “the last Outpost of the British Empire” because of its very Britishness. We were that Britishness. I used to stand under the statue of Queen Victoria and study the intricate decoration of her gown and the orb and sceptre in her hands. She seemed so regal. I used to admire the green copper dome of the old Parliament Buildings. It seemed so solid, standing there. These experiences introduced me to a feeling of pride in my history and the idea that my ancestors had struggled and worked in the past so that I could have a future better than theirs.

The clock that stood on my Nan’s mantelpiece is now on mine – I brought it back to its home – to England. My ancestors took it out in 1820 as part of their very special luggage for their African adventure. I wonder if it stood in the corner of the tent as they listened to the sounds of the bush or if it stayed packed in a trunk waiting for their first wattle and daub home to be built? It seems far too elegant for that. Sometime soon after they arrived someone shot a small buck and the back of the dried hooves were stuffed with silk as a pincushion. The little hooves were placed on top of the clock. It became a family tradition that they should never be separated –– and they never have.”

But when we arrived back in England, twenty plus years ago, feeling proudly British, I discovered my pride was in something very old fashioned, not real. No one in Britain seemed proud of Britain. Britain was ruled by the European Union. Britain was blamed for colonialism, for abusing their colonies, for being proud, for imposing Britishness on the world. For being white.

Britain was multicultural, not white. It seemed to despise its own culture in veneration of others. And respect every other culture except its own. To one so proud of one’s ancestors, this attitude of self denigration is painful. No matter what culture you are, being British is something to be proud of. It is desired by so many, appreciated by too few.

On Friday, the whole country will be bringing the standard home. The Union Jack will fly again. We will become a proper, independent country once more.

Maybe now, we can be proud of our nationality, no matter where we came from, no matter what our ancestors did, or even, in spite of what they did.

Britain will be a sovereign nation once again. And its my home.

Long live Britain. I’m proud to be here.

And proud of the British people, who voted LEAVE.

There are always frightful people that don’t like something. The war is over

Really, humans are frightful.

Some people don’t want celebration for Brexit.

Well, stuff them. I’m celebrating.

There are always frightful people disapproving of something; smoking, drinking, eating, life style, religion, gender, history, human rights, climate, meat eaters, vegans, men.

Do I want Big Ben to chime?

Hell yes.

It chimed at New Year didn’t it?

Do I want church bells to ring out?

Hell yes.

They rang on victory day at the end of World Wars One and Two.

The United Kingdom will be celebrating it’s release from the European Union which was Hitler’s big idea anyway.

Do I want Sovereignty for my country?

Hell yes.

Do I want a feeling of optimism and hope?

Hell yes.

Do I want to be in party mode on February 1st? Could we all practise being happy instead of being frightful?

Hell yes.

The Battle of Brexit is over. And no matter how people voted, everyone should be celebrating the end of the war.

Dear Emirates staff at Dubai airport

I feel very sorry for you, Emirates, that the airport got flooded on Friday night 10th January 2020.

I understand how staff in Dubai could not get to the airport because the city was flooded too. But that was Friday, by Saturday someone might have rowed themselves, or jet skii’d to the actual airport from the city.

I comprehend why, as a hub to many different countries, the flooding cocked up flights for thousands of people.

Management at Dubai airport should have anticipated and prepared for the fact that the airport would get flooded with people too. Where were your emergency plans?

Thousands of people. No staff.

There were passengers standing for fourteen hours, waiting in a queue being served by two people. TWO people. TWO.

No food.

No seating.

No planes.

No information.

No hotels.

No assistance.

In fact, thousands of people are still there. Many are in hotels, waiting, waiting, waiting to come home.

My family flew on Saturday evening. Like the other thousands, they missed their connection to the UK. They were not booked on, nor given any information via email as Emirates promised on their website, but stood for fourteen hours, trying to get to the counter to book themselves on, find a hotel, or get ANY information at all.

With only two people behind the desk trying to cope with the crowd, standing for fourteen hours, might be called passenger abuse. It was bedlam. It was hell.

Management, you should have been there!

Once someone handed out cupcakes and water.

My grandchildren had no food except that for over twenty four hours. They lay down on the floor to try to sleep while they waited interminably unable to leave the queue in case they lost their place, or themselves amidst the teeming crowds.

Eventually, at the counter, they were given a flight for Wednesday, and booked into a hotel. Their first food was at four in the morning twenty nine hours since their last meal.

The staff at the counter at Dubai Emirates, are not to blame. Where the hell were their helpers? Where was management? Where were the people who actually RUN the place. Why did they not roll up their sleeves and do work too? Where were YOU, Emirates big nobs?

This whole debacle has not been reported in our press in the UK, even though the BBC knows. They chose to report on something ‘safe’.

I think the staff behind the Emirates counter at Dubai, should give the management a kick up the arse.

They might try this foot which belongs to my daughter after standing in their queue for fourteen hours. But the trouble is, it’s still attached to my daughter who is stuck in Dubai till Wednesday, an overnight journey, that is taking four days instead.

To err is human

I am now old. I am not going to kid myself that ‘I’m as young as I feel’. I feel old. I know I’m old because in nearly every news item, event, tragedy or happening, I remember a news item, event, tragedy or happening that has occurred on this strange planet before it.

The actual details may be different, but the broad strokes are the same.

I remember that all countries, in a war situation, have shot down their own planes. Or shot, or executed their own citizens. Or innocents.

I remember America and Russia, quite recently, have shot down passenger planes by accident. And admitted to it.

And Governments throughout time, have devised purposeful tragedies to manipulate world history but that is not what I write about here.

Even Royal figures must, on some level, want to just be ordinary people, or a different kind of celebrity swimming in a different celebrity pond, or live somewhere else. Or take control of their own unhappiness to correct it. Or reinvent themselves.

In insignificant, ordinary ways, I have metaphorically shot things down by accident, injured feelings, changed other peoples lives in error. And I longed to leave the country in which I lived, when disatisfaction made me steer my own life to come ‘home’.

I recognise the feelings of passion, fear, guilt, shame, rage, regret, longing and helplessness that humans experience. I do, because I’m human too.

Humans can be foolish and inadvertently get themselves involved in floods, fire, terrorism, pollution, mass slaughter, slander, infamy, sex scandals, trials, bankruptcy, accidents, lies, murder, violence, triumph and failure, suicide, depression. It matters not what. It cycles through time.

It’s called History.

It’s called Tragedy.

We are all involved in it.

To err is human, but to forgive our collective foolishness is more difficult.

Environmental Tobacco Smoke Links 

I am archiving this fantastic collection of links here with thanks to Frank and Walt.

Frank Davis

Waltc sent me these useful links:

ENVIRONMENTAL TOBACCO SMOKE 

EXPOSURE: 

1) “Mainstream and Environmental Tobacco Smoke,” Gori, Mantel; Reg Toxicol Pharmacol, 1991 

Table 2 shows that from 1,170 to 1 million cigarettes would have to be simultaneously smoked in a small sealed unventilated chamber to reach OSHA’s level of possible harm if breathed for 10 straight hours. 

http://www.prevention.ch/20465909330950.pdf 

See also: “Toxic Toxicology,” Littlewood, Fennel, National Toxicology Program, 1999 

http://www.forces.org/evidence/download/ntp915c.pdf 

2) “Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke in sixteen cities in the United States as determined by personal breathing zone air sampling,” Jenkins et al, J. Expo Anal Environ Epid, 1996, 

” Exposures of typical [nonsmoking]subjects to nicotine in the workplace were 30-60% of those estimated by OSHA and 15-20% of those estimated by OSHA for the most highly exposed workers.” As confirmed by a biological marker (cotinine) “total daily nicotine exposure in smokers’ homes [16 hrs/day] was 6.8 ug/m3 and total…

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