That really was the Last Post

I don’t know how or why, but I was labouring under the impression that one more First  World War veteran remained to outlive Harry Patch and Henry Allingham.

But no, that’s it.

There’s no-one left to give their first-hand account of what it was really like to fight for your country then.

That’s another piece of history that’s now gone straight from a living oral tradition to one that will now have to be recreated with words and pictures.

Sure, we’re better off than we ever have been in terms of recording the lives and words of the millions of ordinary people who have helped to shape our world, but nothing will ever beat being able to ask someone face to face about their life and experiences.

It was inevitable that this would happen but not any less sad for that and it’s an unavoidable fact that one day we’ll be saying farewell to the last Second World War veteran in just the same way.

The best way to honour them all is to remember what they were fighting against and strive to make sure that we don’t have to fight against it again.

Now, that’s a real legacy.

Another good ‘un gone…

Harry Patch 1898 – 2009

Britain’s oldest man and oldest survivor of the First World War, Henry Allingham sadly died last week.

Now, all too soon, it’s his comrade Harry Patch’s turn.

Briefly an unwilling successor to Henry, Harry died today aged 111 and was a veteran of Passchendaele amongst other WWI battles.

Another sad day when we remember those who served to preserve our freedom.

Let’s hope we stay worthy of what people like Henry and Harry helped to protect.

There’s no place like Homebase

It’s been all go here at Shark Towers over the last two months or so getting DIY and decorating shit done before the house’s eventual sale later this year.

The whole of the back elevation has been primped and preened from the ridge tiles right down to the back doorstep – every piece of woodwork has been repainted or revarnished, the dodgy pointing in some places has been sorted out and it’s looking great.

If you’d come here a month ago and stood still long enough, you’d have either got a paintbrush up your arse or some mortar slapped in your mouth hole.

But it hasn’t stopped there.

Oh no.

The dining room and kitchen have been redecorated, with new carpet laid in the former and I’ve started tiling the area around the cooker in the latter.

We had to nip out this morning to get some more tile adhesive/grout so popped into Homebase as it was fairly near Maplins where I wanted to go to get a double charge socket for the car.

As we were driving to Homebase from Maplins the sky grew blacker abd blacker, there was a terrific display of forked lightning and then it started to piss down by the bucketload.

You know when you have to put the windscreen wipers on at double-speed?

The rain was that heavy.

Anyway, we got to Homebase, waited in the car a few minutes whilst it eased off slightly and then went in the store.

As Mrs Shark is a sufferer of Meniere’s Disease and is often very unsteady on her feet we used her permit to park in a disabled space right outside the exit door which is usually used as an entrance too.

Well, we went in, bought the tile goo, paid and went to go out of the exit but our way was barred by a Homebase munchkin who told us we’d have to go out via the entrance door as the rain had driven in through the exit door and made the floor a bit wet.

‘You can’t go out that way, the floor’s wet.’

‘But we’re parked just outside there.’ (pointing)

‘Sorry, the floor’s wet and you might slip on it.’

Well, in deference to Mrs Shark, who occasionally finds my arguing with officious shitheads a bit irksome, we went out of the entrance.

However, I was then treated to a mini-rant from her in which she went on about how we were all adults, could manage to negotiate a slippery floor and that did she really need some tit looking after her welfare.

I agreed.

Not because it was wise to – we don’t operate like that, thank Christ – but because it was true.

Surely an adult can decide whether or not a wet floor represents a hazard and then choose whether to accept that risk or not?

No doubt the Homebase management had run a quick risk assessment after thinking that some over-litigious cuntbiscuit might sue if they slipped over and bumped their elbow, but it still doesn’t address the real issue – that our opportunities to think for ourselves are being rapidly diminished by an over-cautious, over-protective and over-bearing society that impinges on the personal liberties of its citizens by denying them such opportunities on an increasing basis.

Next time if it’s raining when I visit Homebase I shall take crampons with me, put them on and tell the cockend barring the exit door to fuck all the way off.

Malloch-Brown…

is a lying twat.

Or so it would appear…

MPs’ expenses – now they want sympathy

Nadine Dorries – troughing cunt

The BBC radio documentary ‘The MPs’ Story‘ aired on Monday.

Some of those interviewed seem to have seen this as an opportunity to gain some sympathy from the public, but they’re not getting any from this taxpayer.

Nadine Dorries had something to say (there’s a BIG fucking surprise) and she’s even blogged about it here.

I was very proud of my daughter who became upset during the interview and I regretted letting her contribute, but really, she was just one of hundreds of children and families who were all experiencing the exact same feelings and emotion.

The heartstring tugging was continued by that well-known Tory blogger Iain Dale :

Earlier today Radio 4 broadcast a half hour programme on the MP expenses scandal. It is a close look at the effect the scandal had on MPs and their families. Among others, it features Nadine Dorries, Ann Cryer, Denis MacShane and Andrew George. Nadine’s daughter breaks down in tears when discussing the effect it all had on her, and Nadine openly discusses the fact that she has thought about standing down. She has also blogged about the programme HERE.

I suspect that many people will have an adverse reaction to the programme and accuse the MPs of shedding crocodile tears and think they deserved all they got. Many did. But several of the MPs featured in this programme were clearly driven to the edge of reason by what happened.

For fuck’s sake, Iain, how far up Dorries’ arse are you prepared to stick your fucking tongue?

Dale even comments on his own blog entry when he finds his readers are rather less than sympathetic or not quite as enamoured of the taste of Mad Nad’s duodenum quite as much as he is:

You are all writing as if all were as guilty as each other. If that were true I’d have more sympathy with what you are all writing. The fact is that some MPs deserved all they got, and others didn’t. Andrew George, who features in this programme, I would venture to suggest is one who was traduced with very little reason. Don’t tarr them all with the same brush – that’s all I am saying.

Yes, Iain baby, but they were all complicit in covering up the troughing that was going on – ergo, they are all guilty.

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I really couldn’t give a fuck about any of the greedy troughing cunts or their families.

They still don’t fucking get it and any shit they’ve brought down on their families should be regarded as no different from that inflicted on his family by any career criminal.

The overwhelming fucking pity of all this is that none of the fuckers seem to be paying for their crimes.

A few thousand quid given back here and there and that makes it all right as far as they’re concerned.

It doesn’t, you weasel-felching motherfuckers and let’s hope you get that message loud and fucking clear come the General Election.

If this doesn’t get sorted then, it’ll be lamppost and piano wire time come about 2012…

Cunts.

Total eclipse 1999

For spectacular displays that can really mindfuck you, Nature surely takes some beating.

One such awe-inspiring demonstration of Man’s insignficance and powerlessness took place earlier today in the form of a total solar eclipse.

The 2009 eclipse was unfortunately not visible from this country but, with the benefit of modern technology, people can still experience part at least of its magnificence without actually having experienced it first-hand.

I was fortunate to see the 1999 eclipse and, since blogging back then was merely a young Guido’s wet dream I’m going to blog about it 10 years later.

We were in France on a caravan holiday with my brother-in-law and his wife and we’d gone specifically to see the eclipse as the band of totality lay across Northern France, whereas in the UK it only just clipped Cornwall.

We went for 2 weeks and spent the first one in the Dordogne on a very friendly site where I got an unofficial ‘job’ as interpreter for the owner – a long story which involved an irate Brit scraping the roof of his camper van on some overhanging branches.

We headed north-east as the day of the eclipse got nearer and the night before realised that as all the campsites were booked solid – we were idiots not to pre-book – we’d have to pitch the caravan in an aire de repos, which was somewhere in the Somme region.

It was a very basic aire with parking and a small toilet block.

The toilets were truly disgusting – French public toilets are rarely 5* facilities – but at least there was room to park…

I seem to remember that the eclipse was due at about 6am so we settled down for the night ready to get up early.

I couldn’t sleep – partly due to sheer excitement but also due to the sleeping arrangements. Mrs Shark and myself had been sleeping in the awning previously but this time we were sleeping in a caravan berth and they really aren’t to my liking.

I got up about 1am, grabbed plenty of cigarettes and headed outside to wait for the dawn.

Whilst I was trying to sleep a Swiss guy had arrived in the mean time and had erected a massive camera tripod on the dunny roof.

He spoke no English and I spoke no Swiss-type German so we chatted as best we could in French for the next 4 hours or so and he shared his coffee with me and, as he smoked, we shared my cigarettes.

We were both eyeing up the cloud cover and wondering if we’d actually see the bloody eclipse but as the time approached the clouds actually rolled back as it started.

As the eclipse approached totality everything went quiet – the 150 or so people who had either stayed at or pulled in to the aire de repos, the birds which had been singing away, everything.

There was a strange light that was unlike any other sort of half light I’ve experienced – more like an absence of light than darkness if you see what I mean – which seemed to leech the colour from everything so it looked like colourised monochrome.

The Sun itself was eventually covered by the moon and we got to see the ‘diamond ring’ effect.

Above all, there was this feeling almost as if time was standing still and everything you knew that was around you had ground to a halt.

Then the sun emerged again gradually and as it got lighter the birds started singing again and everything seemed to come back from a strange place.

As everything gradually fell back into place, people started talking about what they’d seen and heard and felt and with the eventual reappearance of the whole of the disc of the sun it was clear that it was all over and that we’d seen something amazing that not everybody gets to see.

Amazing, to be sure, but above all rather humbling and a reminder, to me at least, that even though you knew the sun was going to appear again when it disappeared behind the moon that for a brief few seconds you realised how important that ball of energy in the sky really was.

I captured the whole thing on video tape and I watched it the other day.

Not quite the same, but still pretty powerful stuff 10 years later.

As for Cornwall’s view of it – a total disaster with far too much cloud cover…

More stupid ideas – #301978 in a series of fucking millions of the bastards

Fuck me….

Patients should pay up to £20 to see their GP if the ailing NHS is to survive, a leading think-tank has claimed.

The charge would make people think twice about visiting the doctor, reducing unnecessary appointments and easing pressure on the health service, it was suggested.

The Social Market Foundation – an independent think-tank including financial experts and cross-party MPs – made the controversial proposals in a report published yesterday.

It suggested that only the poorest people in society should be entitled to free treatment to avoid inefficiency and called for prescription charges to be introduced for all pensioners.

The £7.20 prescription free is currently waived for the over-60s.

What about some of the poorest people in society who are pensioners?

And still the tattoo’d, Stella-swilling, work-dodging  neds will get all the free stuff.

Fuck me again….

An estimated 450,000 failed asylum seekers in Britain are currently denied free treatment on the NHS.

However, a joint review of the policy by the Department of Health and the Home Office ruled that up to 20,000 would now be allowed free health care, including children and those who

would “otherwise be destitute”, or could not return home “through no fault of their own”.

What about pensioners who are old “through no fault of their own”?

And more to the point, who are the cunts who think all this shit up in the first place?

They should all be rounded up and slaughtered.

Gordon Brown – he has dogs but he’s still barking

Gordon Brown – he’s a fucking useless cunt

This beleagured country gets more like some pre-glaznost Iron Curtain client state by the fucking minute.

First of all, an outgoing Foreign Office minister Lord Malloch-Brown says there aren’t enough helicoptors in Afghanistan

Today Lord Malloch-Brown, a former deputy secretary general of the UN who is due to leave the Government at the end of the week, appeared to confirm General Dannatt’s fears, saying: “We definitely don’t have enough helicopters.”

He told the Daily Telegraph. “When you have these modern operations and insurgent strikes what you need, above all else, is mobility.”

Then he does a complete volte face and says there are enough:

“It is important that I clarify the comments that are reported in today’s Daily Telegraph.

“On the issue of helicopters in Afghanistan, I was making the point – as the prime minister and commanders on the ground have also done – that while there are without doubt sufficient resources in place for current operations, we should always do what we can to make more available on the frontline.”

Meanwhile, our esteemed PM Gordon ‘Fuckwit’ Brown enters the fray and comments thusly:

“For the operation we are doing at the moment we have the helicopters that we need,” Mr Brown told a news conference.

This is yet another example of Brown’s control freakery and demonstrates that when it comes to listening to advice from those appointed and paid really bloody well to do so, Brown will do what Brown wants to do and he’ll force those who disagree with him to recant their questioning of his almighty omniscience.

It’s just like me calling in a plumber because I have a problem with my piping (oo-er) and then paying him for advice which I then subsequently ignore.

I mean, what is the motherfucking point?

Why not just crown Fucking Brown King and have done with it?

But what really got me was the sub-Orwellian way in which Brown described Malloch-Brown’s initial statement and subsequent retraction.

The PM said the minister had “corrected any misrepresentation” of his comments.

‘Misrepresentation’?

It seems pretty clear what Malloch-Brown said.

Let’s hear it again:

We definitely don’t have enough helicopters.

You really couldn’t be any fucking clearer than that.

And who exactly misrepresented what Malloch-Brown said?

The Telegraph interview leaves little room for doubt that Malloch-Brown was being very critical of the government:

“We definitely don’t have enough helicopters. When you have these modern operations and insurgent strikes what you need, above all else, is mobility.”

In a damaging admission, he also said that the public had not been properly warned by the Government over what was going on in Afghanistan. He took partial responsibility for this.

He said: “We didn’t do a good job a month ago of warning the British public that we and the Americans were going on the offensive in Helmand. This is a new operation; the whole purpose is to win control. These deaths have happened … after we chose to go on the offensive.”

Lord Malloch-Brown also suggested that the Taliban may have to contribute to a future Afghan government for there to be peace in the region.

It’s not as if he was praising proceedings and, in an unguarded moment,  just let a casual remark slip out that was ambiguous in some way, is it?

So, you can’t accuse the Tory MSM of spinning what a Labour government minister said.

I wonder what was said to Malloch-Brown by one of Brown’s lackeys.

Brown, of course, denies having a word in Malloch-Brown’s shell-like:

Mr Brown said he had not “personally talked to Lord Malloch Brown” before the statement was issued.

Malloch-Brown comes out of all this looking like a total limpdick – which he is.

So when are we going to get someone with some real bollocks standing up to that cuntjob at Number 10?

I’m not going to wrap this article up with any sort of snappy/clever/insightful conclusion.

All I’m going to say is that Gordon Brown is a fucking useless cunt.

Any shit-for-brains moron who thinks otherwise is requested – politely – to fuck off and stick their genitalia in a vat of boiling pus.

It’ll fucking hurt and it’ll also stop them reproducing.

God for Harry

A couple of weeks ago I read Bernard Cornwell’s latest novel – ‘Azincourt’.

(Not a typo – it’s the French spelling of Agincourt.)

It was certainly stirring stuff, and whilst it will never win the Booker Prize (and I’ve enjoyed nothing I’ve read that ever did win it – so maybe that’s no bad thing) it certainly had plenty of blood and guts action.

I enjoyed it very much in fact and shall re-read the same author’s Grail trilogy, which also has an archer as hero.

I’ve since managed to find this:

It’s a non-fiction account of the events leading up to the Battle of Agincourt, the main players and the military campaign that culminated in the battle itself, and so far, whilst it’s obviously much drier than the novel, is a riveting read which fills in much of the background to events in the novel.

It’s interesting to note that with all the talk of an English Parliament and the re-emergence of patriotism and nationalism, many of the archers who were the crucial element in the English victory were in fact Welsh and that the longbow they used was originally Welsh in origin.

It just goes to show that in matters nationalistic, things aren’t quite as simple as they first appear…

*We pass very close by Azincourt quite often when we’re driving in France and one day I will go and see the battlefield – not, I gather, that there’s much to see. Like many such places, it’s a fairly anonymous piece of land only made remarkable by what went on there many years ago.

The Last Post for Henry Allingham


Henry Allingham 1896 – 2009

Nearly 30 years ago I had the privilege of being asked to play guitar in the house band for a drama documentary describing the life of local World War One veteran Hawtin Munday.

It was called ‘Days of Pride’ and there’s a rather good site here all about the local area and Hawtin’s war experiences which inspired the original performances. The words of Hawtin himself are well worth listening to.

It was an amazing experience – days and days of rehearsals then 6 performances over one week and you got to work with some really great people, some of whom became good friends and remain so to this day.

The last performance was honoured with Hawtin’s presence and it was an extremely emotional experience when he spoke at the end of the show.

Now, alas, Hawtin is no longer with us, and likewise Henry Allingham – Britain’s oldest man and also one of only three living British WW1 veterans.

Inevitably, the day will soon come when there will be nobody left who can remember the courage and horror of what was intended to be ‘the war to end all wars’.

The emptiness and error of that description is demonstrated all too clearly by the fact that today many of our servicemen are coming home from the fighting in Afghanistan in body bags.

I’m not going to concern myself with the pros and cons of staying in Afghanistan – just that Henry, Hawtin and the soldiers who have died this past week and the many thousands of others before them, deserve our respect, honour and thanks and leave us with a duty to learn from them anything that can make this world a better place in which to live.

We must never forget them.