JFK – The Guiding Light of My Youth

It’s fifty years ago tonight, I still remember it vividly. I was sitting watching TV with my Grandfather. The newsflash came on – a shooting in Dallas – President Kennedy has been shot.

Then the news that he was dead. How could this be? He was a hero to us teenagers. He challenged us to be better and to look to the service of others. Why would anyone kill him?

That was the end of my innocence. I saw the world differently; there are evil people there – in our own societies – not just behind the Iron Curtain. I saw this video and felt I had to share it. It encapsulates some of the things I feel about Kennedy and the effects of Faith.

Please share this with others you think would reflect on those events – is it really fifty years?

Is Big Brother Watching You?

The saga of governments snooping into our private lives continues. Did the Americans listen in to Angela Merkel’s mobile ‘phone calls? Are they listening in on Pope Francis? Is my cyber life an open book to GCHQ?

Scary Guy?
Scary Guy?

What is it that bothers so much about the spooks? I think it is the hangover of 1984. Not the year – the book by George Orwell. Orwell paints a picture of post war Britain. Everyone is spied on by ‘Big Brother’. Thinking the wrong thoughts will result in being sent to Room 101. Not the TV programme with Frank Skinner, a terrible place where you are confronted by your worst fear; the fear that lurks in the back of your brain, buried so deep you are not aware of it. That could be Frank Skinner for all I know, but, unlikely.

Oh No! Arrgh. Not that!
Oh No! Arrgh. Not that!

Do you begin to see the extent of the problem? 1984 permeates our culture so deeply, tv programmes named from it etc, that it has become our secret fear. A change of image is needed. Why should Big Brother be a frightening image? Why not a helpful big brother?

The Big Brother we would all love.
The Big Brother we would all love.

What about a big brother like Uncle Buck – remember him, the John Candy character from the film? If the security services are monitoring all our communications they could make themselves useful. When they are monitoring my telephone calls they could intercept calls from sellers of PPI claims, double glazing, kitchen makeovers and boiler room scams. They could warn them off in a way that only James Bond and his buddies can do – licence to kill!

Never call this number again - or else!
Never call this number again – or else!

They could provide a downloadable plug in for Windows, Mac OS etc that puts a big red button on your desktop. Anytime you have a problem just push the button.

Push for help
Push for help

“Big Brother here – what’s the problem?”

“I can’t remember the password for my WordPress account!”

“Hold on I can tell you, or better still, I’ll type it in for you”

Problem solved. Now that’s a big Brother we all want and need. If they know all this stuff about us then they should make themselves useful. We would all be much happier if we could instantly call on MI5 to help us out. Just think; dementia would cease to be a problem.

Walk into a room, can’t remember why you are there? – Push the red button. “Big Brother, why did I come in here?”

“You are looking for your reading glasses. They are in the top drawer of your bedside unit.”

“Thank you Big Brother”

Hell, they could even become proactive. What’s wrong with getting a message from Big Brother telling you that your supply of red wine is getting dangerously low and, since the weather will be bad in the next 24 hours, you could find yourself dangerously sober?

Come on ‘M’, a change of image is required. Where’s my big red button?

Qualified or Unqualified – That is the Question


Nick Clegg has raised doubts about the government’s policy on free schools. He has suggested that teachers in these schools should be qualified. The government argues that this would cut out many talented, but unqualified, teachers. What are the merits of the argument?
Bringing in talented, inspiring people to schools sounds like a good idea. People have all sorts of experience and talents to bring as the Tories have long suggested. Remember the suggestion they made that failed bankers would make great teachers? I also recall the suggestion that troops being made redundant from the forces would bring discipline, loyalty and, perhaps skills in killing people.

I could teach economics?

Job for an ex banker?

But surely, if this is a valid argument, it should apply elsewhere too. People with flair and a desire to serve could be brought in to other professions. There are thousands of young men with vast experience of the court system who could be brought in as barristers. They have long experience of defending themselves in court with such brilliant defences such as “It was not me.”, “I was somewhere else at the time.” or “I found the goods lying in the street and I did not know they were stolen”.

Who needs qualified gas fitters?

Who needs qualified gas fitters?

We could go beyond that. The shortage of doctors, especially at weekends, could be solved by bringing in volunteers with some experience of first aid. Why should gas fitters need a special qualification? All you need is the ability to use a spanner and a blowlamp. Why should truck drivers need a special license? Lots of unemployed teenagers can drive cars without a license at all, let them have a go at a truck.
Can we see any good examples of unqualified people in a responsible job? How are they doing? Well we need look no further than the government itself. We have ministers of education with no education qualifications or experience and they are bringing lots of new ideas. Ministers, even prime ministers and Chancellors of the Exchequer have, and need, no qualification. Look at the great job they are doing.
Education statistics show that education standards in England and Wales have not fallen to the bottom of world rankings, not quite. Our economy is booming? – well, it will be soon, we are told, despite the deficit growing rather than falling.
So judge for yourself. Is Nick correct in demanding qualified staff or is the government showing us a vision of things to come?
I have one question, though. Why has it taken so long for Nick to notice this absurdity?

Badgers and Goalposts – What’s going on?

According to the BBC the badger cull has not been going to plan as a result of some devious moves by the badgers.


Badger (Photo credit: Tatterdemalion!) just incase you’re not sure.

The marksmen have failed to meet their targets (gettit?) because the badgers have been moving the goalposts. I must admit I was a little puzzled by this statement. I thought the marksmen were going to shoot the badgers, so what has that to do with goalposts? Then I realised

goalposts – shoot

See any badgers?

See any badgers?

The marksmen wern’t using rifles to hit the wee fellows; they were using footballs! When the badgers wandered between the goalposts they would ‘shoot’ and kill the badger stone dead with a football. Now I don’t know how many goals our players score these days but it seems to me that’s going to take a long time.

Then, of course, the badgers, being no fools, decided to move the goalposts. Well, wouldn’t you? I certainly was not aware that badgers could move goalposts, but they have survived a long time, goals or no goals. What have the government said about it?

Wild animals I tell you!

Wild animals I tell you!

Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, complained that the badgers were ‘wild animals’. I suppose that’s true but then he should have thought of that before he started the cull. I don’t know what they are going to do now, perhaps issue the marksmen with rifles? I just hope the badgers don’t respond in kind this time.

Have the government scored an own-goal with this? Well it wouldn’t be the first time.