Old Van, Old Flag – What’s the Problem?

House with flags

Something wrong?

Emily Thornberry has resigned her post as shadow minister as a result of posting this picture in a tweet. Many in the Labour Party are shocked. What a disgrace!

But what is the problem with the picture? It shows a house with the flag of Saint George draped over the windows. It shows a white van. Which of these is disgraceful? Is it the proximity of the flag to the van, implying that Saint George was a white van driver? It is a picture with no comment attached.

It is a picture of how it is. The occupier has every right to fly his flags on his house. His white van is only one of the myriad white vans delivering stuff all over the country and enabling people to ply their trade. Some say it is snobbish. I think it is just how it is.

The occupier is not shy about proclaiming his views (and showing his flags) so I can’t see any problem about causing offence. What is the problem with the Labour Party? I have recently joined the party after a lifetime of voting Labour. I’m not anti Labour but I do question what the politicians are focussing on. There are lots of problems to be sorted out and there are lots of voters who need to be persuaded that Labour recognises what is important.

Flags and white vans? Some people have too much time on their hands.


Who is in The Driving Seat Now?

a driverless car

No steering wheel?

It is reported that driverless cars will be allowed on UK roads next year. Many people are expressing concerns about safety. Mind you, the old story goes that the most dangerous component in a car is the nut behind the wheel, so perhaps removing that will prove to be no bad thing.

Years ago I read about traffic polls taken of cars crossing the Oakland bridge in San Fransisco. Chrating the number of occupants by year it showed that as time went on the number of occupants was steadily reducing as more people bought their own cars and became drivers rather than passengers. The statistics showed that if the trend continued, before the end of thetwentieth century one in four cars would be crossing the bridge with nobody in it. That was a fair joke back then but now it seems to be coming true. How are we taking the news?

I started off by saying that some people were expressing concern. Of course, most people don’t seem to be concerned. Why should that be? Perhaps we hav become accustomed to things proceeding without human control. Who sits and stares through the window on the washing machine to make sure that the clothes are being cleaned properly? We have become relaxed about lack of control. Our political systems seem to have gone the same way. The recent economic crash which the world is still trying to recover from showed that those who were supposed to be regulating the financial systems were doing nothing of the kind.

Policies in the UK just seem to go in a random, haphazard fashion. Take our outlook on homosexuality. In the recent past such things were deemed illegal and people could be prosecuted for behaviour that was deemed indecent. All that changed and the world became a more tolerant place. Now it is becoming illegal hold an opposite view. If you don’t believe that homosexual behaviour is acceptable you can lose your job. One intolerance has been replaced by another. Who is steering this place?

We seem to have a government in the UK where things just drift along from one crisis to the next; a bit like a learner driver who hasn’t got the hang of steering and manages to bash every car parked along the street as he passes. People might see a computer driven car as a much safer option than anything driven by our politicians.

No steering wheel? Well, what’s the point?

Remembering D-Day?

The 6th of June is remembered as D-Day, the day that allied forces forced a landing in Normandy that helped chande history – for the better. The media is full of D-Day. Newspapers are full of it, television replies with a barrage of interviews, film and re-enactments. This is seventy years on.

A few years ago I ment an old veteran in Dunbar. He claimed he was the oldest surviving veteran of the landings. I have no reason to disbelieve him. He told me about the celebrations of the sixtieth anniversary. He was one of a group of veterans who were taken to France to take part in the ceremonials. They were greeted by the world leaders. He recalled that the British leader responded to one of the veteran’s jokes as though he had been insulted. “No sense of humour”, the veteran concluded.

A politician would regard such a ceremony as above humour. It would be spoiled by trivia. The soldier might not agree. If they took the war too seriously they might never have survived. Dark humour helped many soldiers cope with the horrors they experienced on the beaches and beyond. It is the soldiers, after all, who are the only ones who can remember D-Day. They were there and experienced it. Those of us who were born after the war have only experienced the movies and they could not possibly convey the horrors, even if they tried.

How did soldiers cope with their experiences? The truth is many did not. Many veterans carried on with apparently normal lives after the war but nobody knew of the nightmares that blighted their lives. Some turned to the bottle. I had an uncle who had drink problems. He never spoke of the war but recently I learned he had been at Dunkirk and had fought his way from the Normandy beaches into Germany. How can we possibly understand the effects of war when we don’t know what really went on?I knew one man who flew Spitfires over France. His family didn’t see any significance in that. They knew little of what he did or saw.

The heroes of the European war were ordinary men. They went back to their ordinary jobs after the war and nobody really knew what it was like. They carried the effects into those ordinary lives and that has shaped our society in a subtle way. Some went into politics and had gained the wisdom to avoid wars where possible. Today we have politicians who only experienced war through the eyes of Hollywood. Is that why we have marched into so many conflicts in this new century?

If we want to remember wars then let it be a memory of the evil that is war and try to avoid it. The pomp and celebrations are all a bit late now. Let’s hope there are no plans for 2024.