Archive for the ‘Family’ Category


I have always been the patriotic sort, I love my home, my Englishness. I have worn and adorned my motorcycle with the cross of St George, the flag of England. My daughter challenged me, ‘Why have you got a racist flag on your bike?’

I explained patiently that the cross is more than an emblem of English thugishness, that it was the proud declaration of English heritage, Henry V and all that. Empire and two world wars, well maybe these are examples of English Thugishness in themselves. Scientific achievements, Art and great engineering. The flag was something to be proud of. 

I have now succumbed. After the Euro 2016 debacle, the Brexit vote which took all Englishness away from the emblem. Let me explain why.

In about 8000 BC Mesolithic hunter gatherers walked from Europe across the land bridge of Doggerland. The ice continued to melt eventually stranding the continental tribes people in what has become Britain. It seems, so far as has thus been proved via archaeology, that there was no settled population at the time of the severing of physical links with the continent. So, forgetting the evidence that every single one of us come from Africa, more recently we were all sausage eaters, garlic crunchers or whatever other disrespectful epithet comes to mind.


I am also aware of the arrival of the ‘Beaker People’ in these Islands. One, the Amesbury Archer, at least was so well thought of by ‘locals’ that they buried him close to Stonehenge. Another foreigner accepted by these Islands, and respected.
‘The latest tests on the Amesbury Archer, whose grave astonished archaeologists last year with the richness of its contents, show he was originally from the Alps region, probably Switzerland, Austria or Germany. The tests also show that the gold hair tresses found in the grave are the earliest gold objects found in Britain.’ (Wessex Archaeology Online)

In the years around 75 BC it seems that my home county was taken over by the Atrebates, a tribe of Celtic and German stock arriving from the continent.

55BC the first Roman Invasion, which would have undertaken by peoples from across the Roman Empire as soldiers, tradesmen, slaves, families and visitors. At this time the DNA of Britain must have contained traces of every other country in the then known world. 

Just after the end of the first Roman incursion a Celtic tribe, the Regnenses arrived on these shores under the leadership of Commius. His grandson Cogidubnus is probably the person who had the Palace at Fishbourne built and was an ally of Rome and welcomed them for the second ‘Invasion’.


Fishbourne Palace

Following the departure of Rome for the second time, the Picts became a problem, the Angles and Saxons were invited to settle and assist the country. There appears to have been no violent takeover by the Angles and Saxons, more a peaceful co-existence and development of a merging culture.


Then Vikings, Danes and ultimately French Normans (who were Vikings really). 


By 1066 therefore this country could not claim to be made up of one peoples. Truly the British were mongrels. A mix of stock from across Europe, the Mediterranean and beyond.

Further waves of French, Dutch then arrived with others from Europe. The Romani originiating in South Asia arrived in the 16th Century.

Peoples of the Indian sub continent began arriving as a result of the exploitation of the East India Company (founded in 1600). Many of those arriving from India way settled and took local wives. The first London Indian Restaurant was founded in 1810 by Sake Dean Mahomed a captain of the East India Company. His restaurant was called the Hindoostane Coffee House and he is also credited as the person introducing shampoo and therapeutic massage to Britain.


Sake Dean Mohamed

The 18th Century saw the continued migration of peoples to and from the UK. Africans, Indians and others. Following the war of independence 1100 black loyalist soldiers came to Britain, they were badly treated by those they had fought to protect / assist.


‘Thomas Peters: slave, millwright, soldier…and politician. His voyage from slavery to freedom began when he was kidnapped from Africa and sold into slavery; at the onset of the American revolution, he seized the opportunity to reclaim his freedom fighting with British forces. A talented craftsman, he became a leader of men on the fields of battle. The war’s conclusion found him traveling once again, hoping to redeem the British promise of freedom in Nova Scotia. In the 1780s and 1790s, the former sergeant found himself fighting in unfamiliar territory: the world of British politics. From New Brunswick to London, he tirelessly pursued freedom and justice for his community. He would help found the country Sierra Leone.’

The 19th century saw a substantial population of Germans arrive on these shores, then Russian Jews.

I find it strange that a land of mongrels, who in the past have welcomed ‘jonny foreigner’ and provided comfort and succour in times of need, has turned it’s back on the nations of their forefathers. 

So where am I left with my Englishness? I had thought, King Alfred and Wessex, that’s an answer. I will display Alfreds wyvern. I looked on line, the red Dragon is Celtic apparently. There is a discussion in some places as to whether Alfred used a gold or white wyvern. The white wyvern has been taken to the heart of WASPish organisations.


 I am left, I think looking for an emblem used by Commius (was he a red under the bed?) or the flag of Sussex. Of course the golden martletts on a blue field is a relatively new invention having been first used in 1622 by John Speed in his atlas, Theatrum Imperii Maganae Britanniae. 


On the 8th May 1945 the war in Europe came to an end. VJ day was celebrated in August of that year. I have no first-hand knowledge of these events not being born until 1957. I was born three years after rationing ended in Britain although the effects of the war continued well into the 80’s so far as the dairy industry were concerned.Britain joined the European Community in 1973. At the time I was living at home with my parents and brother. We were a small family, living in a small home. Times were tough, there was little money to support the family even though both of my parents worked hard. But I felt loved and safe and cared for.

My memories of life, pre 1973, are smoky coal fires, a coke hot water boiler, the winter of 1962-63, shortages of everything, dark days, even in milder winters scraping ice from the inside of my bedroom window. Grey men in grey clothing happy but poor. Support from neighbours, even for the old and cantankerous Mrs White who lived next door.

Produce was scarce, fruit and veg poor quality unless it was home grown. Cheap cuts like Oxtail from the butcher. Local shops of questionable cleanliness selling bread, greengrocery, butchery and sweets. Sweets, but not as they would be recognised today.

Things did not improve overnight. But slowly, incrementally, my family’s lot improved. Wages rose, the family became better off. There was more to eat both in quantity and variety. Little luxuries became affordable. We were able to buy a car to go with the van my father used for work, we even got a telephone. We all learned to answer the telephone, ‘Horsham 61618’. As a family we had entered the modern era.

By 1975, the time of the referendum, I was a soldier. I was serving in Germany as part of the occupying British Army of the Rhine. I felt no animosity from our German cousins. I also served in Belgium and France with trips to Holland. Nothing from the population but friendly intercourse. Convivial sharing of food, wine, stories. Things seemed, to me at least, to be normal. Normal that is except for the ever present threat of annihilation from the Communist Block, which really meant the Soviet Union. We all lived under this threat. Some people chose to ignore what the potential was, this was not an option for me and my comrades.

When I returned home after my discharge, things were so much improved in these United Kingdoms. I accept that I am a soft Southerner. I have no links to t’North save by Marriage. I have no knowledge of the hardships of pit life, working in cotton mills, hill farming and the like. I do have experience of factory working, building work, small holding and small business life. It is true that our close connection caused ‘issues’. Increased paperwork blamed by the UK government on Europe. The disappearance of bent cucumbers and bananas. But life was good.

From a personal point of view, there was increased opportunity for me, if I was prepared to work I could be what I wanted to be. My father always saw this as a betrayal of his way of life I think. Certainly when I was born, when I left school, there could have been no thought of university. No thought of a gap year. No thought of travel. No thought of any kind of trade except building. There was no social mobility. I felt like Ronnie Corbett in the famous TW3 sketch with Ronnie Barker and John Cleese. Stuck in a rut. The only difference being I was not satisfied to accept my lot.

I have seen my parents and friends standard of living grow. Friends from school who stayed in trade, seized their opportunities and live a fulfilling life of a higher standard than any of us had any right to hope for. There were some who fell by the wayside. I met the brother of a boy I was at school with. ‘Paddy’ was always a person I shied away from. However, from living in the poorest part of town, coming from a troubled family, in his late 20’s he had done well for himself. Sadly Cancer took him but even weeks before his death he was fulfilling his stand up bookings. I saw him in an Indian restaurant he was joking and a pleasure to spend time with.

Paddy’s brother, that I was at school with, was a painter and decorator. He was less well off than Paddy, he made money but drank it away. My point is that people do have choices. Those people from my past that I remain in contact with have largely seized their opportunities. They have made a good life and have a standard of living that could not have been dreamed of in 1970. Some fell by the wayside but they were handicapped, not by their upbringing or their neighbours but by their own deficiencies.

My own immediate family, all working class people, born into a time of social stagnation, were released by the opportunities created by this country within a broader Europe. I have witnessed the breakdown of rigid social order which I admit began in the sixties, but was assisted greatly by the introduction of a more European way of thinking. Both of my children are successful in different ways. I am proud of my son, he chose not to indulge in further education and has made a good life for himself. My daughter is an academic, she is able to make her own choices. I honestly believe without the influence of Europe she would not be able to live the life she does.

I have always thought of myself as English first and European second. I have revelled in the company of a variety of people from a number of backgrounds. The cross pollination of ideas and beliefs is stimulating and enriching. My friend Salim said to me the day after the referendum, that he was scared. He said that our country is the only country where people are free to practice their own beliefs, religion and are able to express their sexuality without fear. He wondered if this would change.

I too have concerns. Concerns that this country may descend once more to the xenophobic land of the late sixties early seventies. Gangs of WASP’s rampaging the streets fighting anybody they thought might not be pure bred English. That in itself is an oxymoron. We are all out of Africa, by way of the Middle East and Europe.

I have always felt at home in Belgium and Germany. As this country plummets toward isolation my thoughts turn to whether a small flat in Berlin might be a nice place to spend my latter years. A little place in Brugge perhaps, or Dieppe or Lake Garda.

 

 


Strange, I have always liked Johnny Cash, no that’s not strange. I have seen in him concert, I have listened to his music but without really thinking. San Quentin made me think, with one or two other tracks but I never understood the significance of Big John being called the man in black. Earlier I wrote a post and used Wanted Man as a media insert. This got me thinking about Johnny’s music. I You Tubed him and have just listened to

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2Gp2LtiGWs&feature=endscreen&NR=1

He says in 3.02 what I haven’t been able to say in thousands of words, I feel inadequate, in awe and grateful.

Miss you John


Said Pickle to her Pa I’m going West with John
To drive around America, you know I’ve worked quite hard
We’re going in a few weeks I thought I would come home
To save my money not spent on rent and food just so that we can go

Pa and Ma then feed the child (and her boyfriend too)
They are a delight to have at home, a laugh a smile … a moan
Comes the day, ‘Do you need some cash?”
No thanks Ma we’ve saved and saved we’ve got enough we’re sure

First week down, not a sound, the ‘phone lies quiet, idle
second week starts the silence grows, I do hope there OK
Second mid week ‘phone springs to life, ‘Of cash we have run out’
Just three hundred will do the trick paid in today, that’s right.

Another day, passes by, the ‘phone rings once again
We forgot the airport transfer Thursday, could you put 50 in?
A dreadful day for Ma and Pa not chance to bank the cash,
It’s all fine there is no rush Pickle said we have got cash

That evening at 11 am the Pickle calls once more
Explain our sin oh dear oh dear they’ve only ten bucks more
Her ‘phone is took she knows not when you can’t call me anymore
John’s phone doesn’t work so we are stuffed we cannot make a call

This morning’s plans gone up in smoke to bank I wend once more
No sleep last night concern for her and for John did they eat at all,
On her return we are going away Ma Pa and Pickle too, our cash we’d saved
For our holiday, now spent in Californ i a rather than in Suffolk!


Following on from my post here:

     https://fromthepigpen.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/business-greed/

I have just been informed that the Police Service that I work for, we can no longer say Force due to its negative connotations, saved £22 million by the end of 2011/2012, a term vague by design I believe. Apparently the service will save another 8 million by the end of this financial year. In total the service in this area have to save £50 million by 2015. So from April 2013 until April 2015 the service needs to save a further £20 million.

In order to achieve this it seems that 400 Officers and 450 support staff will have to go.

We are told that the second phase of the operation to save money, yes it has an operational name and a team to match, is not just about saving money. Yes, that’s right, my Chief Constable has said so. Just because he earns £145,000 (November 2011) does not mean that he can treat his constables like idiots. This phase is apparently about modernising, with less money to cost less money at the same time as saving £20 million. But, of course, it is not all about saving money.

The chief opines that by 2015 ‘… we will look and feel like a very different organisation.’ He goes on to say that he cannot describe the plans in detail, probably because the May fairy hasn’t told him what they will be yet.

I CAN envisage our service in 2015. There will be fewer Police Officers. There will be fewer Police Stations. The Police Stations that do exist will be open for fewer hours. There will be less staff to manage ‘front offices’, custody and scene’s of crime officers.

We will modernise. That probably means another set of computer programmes that cost the earth, do not talk to other system’s within this service never mind those with common borders. No maintenance contract being taken out to save money so no updates provided. A change of personal equipment, different baton’s, … again. In all probability Cheaper handcuffs and less training in Home Office Approved Techniques for restraint.

To shed the 400 officers it is likely that the older more experienced officers will be shed because they are expensive, being at the top of the pay scale. The experience will be gone. The officers will, in all likelihood, be shed because they cannot complete the soon to be introduced fitness tests. I can run all day, I cannot complete the ‘shuttle’ run because this requires constant turning and after an active life my knees don’t like the strain. My job does not entail chasing people. I am a detective. Unlike Chief Superintendent Boyd (‘Waking the Dead’) Inspector Frost and many other TV Detectives, in the last 7 years I have not had to run after someone. I have arrested people, interviewed them, investigated serious crime and never once had to break a sweat. Some would say that is what experience does for you.

I joined the Police at a time when they were recruiting more mature people because there were so many youngsters ‘in the job’. Now, as a cost cutting exercise the more mature among us are likely to be targeted for removal. My pension has been worked for. I have paid 11% of my salary into the scheme. As a consequence of the contribution, in the early years, my family suffered financial hardship. Now, if I continue to work until I am 60, which the government will allow me to do, I will be forced to accept reduced benefits for increased contributions.

If the government do not want me to continue being a Police Officer, pay me off. I have already previously blogged about where money can be found. To the good people of England I would say, do you want a Police Service comprised of students, or would you like some experienced people. I appreciate experience does not equate to good, but new does equate to mistakes. Mistakes lead to wrongful convictions and wrongful acquittals.

April …

Posted: April 19, 2012 in Family
Tags: , , , ,

The days are supposed to get warmer and brighter as we head toward May. The sun breaks through the April showery clouds as it should, but the air remains autumnal cool.

My garden is growing, the trees throwing their first leaves toward the available light in hope of warmth to stimulate better growth. Everything though, is slow. Berberis Dadwinii is showered with deep yellow blossom tucked into a shady nook. North facing Clematis has flower buds, promising a show later.

My veg is pretty weak although quinoa is growing well. Broad beans and peas have also shown some vigour while onion is pretty weedy.

Wild garlic leaves made into a paste with pine nuts salt and lemon juice, thanks for the idea hedvig

http://hedvigmurray.co.uk/category/foraging/

An unexpected pleasure is the need for an open fire, the evenings indoors are chilly but not cold, perfect excuse for a fire. The rain hurls itself at the window intent on forcing an entry, the heat of the fire crackles in the quiet gathering gloom. There is no place we would rather be, The One, Pickle and me.


Why do people believe we all want to share their children. Recently I travelled on a cross channel ferry. There almost constant announcements for parents to keep their children calm. The sea was not calm. The announcer said the sea was very rough. Children were not kept calm by their parents. They were not even kept near their parents. Parents were specifically asked to their little darlings making a lot of noise. Rather than have the inconvenience of complying with this request, it seems mums dad allowed their ill behaved issue run around screaming. My children never did. Why should someone else’s little Jasper or Jimima be allowed to behave like some recently decade bedlam inmate. Presumably, in these days of free expression it is bad parenting to stop a child screaming at the very top of its lungs whilst running like some latter day Billy Whizz.

On the other hand the French children sat quietly and drew or read or spoke to parents. One particular Littlehampton darling sat in front of mother / carer/ keeper crying and whining about the world knows what, while said keeper read a book totally ignoring child. Four hours never seemed so long.

And here’s another thing. It’s rough, going outside is prohibited. An English retired ‘gentleman ‘ thinks this is ridiculous. ‘I’m going for a fag.’ Forty minutes later he’s back complaining he couldn’t get outside for his gasper. He was irritated that no exception could be made for him. They should have let him have his fag. If he had been swept overboard it may have cheered his missus up!