Can We Keep Growing?

plastic pollution

 

 

Our seas are filled with plastic which degrades so slowly it is ingested into the marine food chain

 

 

 

500 years ago, Martin Luther demanded changes from the Catholic Church when he hammered his ninety-five theses onto the doors of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg.

300 years ago, grand, but distant from the people, diplomacy formed the quadruple alliance of powers (The Holy Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, and the Kingdom of France) and launched the War of the Quadruple Alliance against Spain

100 years ago women won the right to vote.

Significant events. The long-established church was challenged. The grand powers moved armies and navies like pieces on a chessboard without reference to the people, and all the people are heard through the ballot box.

Power, which was centralised in the hands of the church and in grand governments, has descended to the everyone. In 2018 how should we use it? Continue reading “Can We Keep Growing?”

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The Teesdale Affair

teesdales2

‘From nowhere, Special Constables arrived…

Chapter One

An Easter Day in London

Early in 1907, a month after my seventh birthday, our new coalman asked my mother, Matilda Morton, to walk out with him. She was no beauty. Drudgery had worn that out of her and given her a hardness totally in keeping with the battle she waged to keep our family afloat. Washing, ironing, and folding, day in day out, a penny here, penny hap’ney there. But it all added up, and she kept going through thick and thin, for poverty stalked us, waiting for any mishap.

Throughout the winter, the widower John Sutcliff flattered Mum. He was persistent. Twice, I heard him ask her out after sliding a bag of clunky black coal noisily into the bunker in the backyard. On one occasion, Mum, with her arms deep in the copper wringing out the washing, her black hair awry beneath her plain brown headscarf, told him, ‘Be off with you John Sutcliff, can’t you see I’m busy.’

One night, lying in bed, I heard Gran and Mum talking downstairs. Continue reading “The Teesdale Affair”

Return to Chelyabinsk

chelyabinsk train

Up the gradient, it puffed furiously, belching black smoke into the blinding whiteness of the snowy surroundings.

Igor Pavlovich Radiorksy’s death in a car accident on a Moscow road marks an ominous start for Peter (Petya) Cuthbert as Head of Operations of Goldberg Bank’s Russian subsidiary. Quickly, he discovers that the computer problems at the bank run deep and perhaps Radiorksy’s death was not accidental. Things are compounded when the head of the payments section is found dead. And are the newly promoted chairman, a young Kazakh and the ravishing Tatiana Sholokova all they appear to be? Pressure from headquarters in New York and demands from a major client mean a trip a fifteen hundred miles east of Moscow to Chelyabinsk for Peter Cuthbert and the new chairman with fateful consequences.

All the opening quotations are attributed to Adam Smith (1723-90). He was an eighteenth century Scottish economist, a philosopher, an author, and a key figure during the Scottish Enlightenment.

Read Chapter one here

Continue reading “Return to Chelyabinsk”

The Catalan Referendum – The Impasse

europe in the 1800s

The European Political Map Before the Unification Movements of Germany and Italy

Doesn’t the path of history look obvious when viewed through the lens of time? A hundred years ago the actions and subsequent reactions of states or politicians seem obvious. Events which so troubled our forefathers are taught by the simplicity of a needlewoman’s thread and as the embroidery becomes a tapestry and we see the pattern so clearly that even the simplest student can follow it.

But look into the future and the clear patterns distort, the threads tangle. After hundreds of years of association and unification, do we face, in Europe today, the first cuckoo of the spring of disunion? Continue reading “The Catalan Referendum – The Impasse”

Letters from Kolentawezi Jail

air mail letter

‘More than kisses, letters mingle souls’ ~J Donne

It was hot. It was always hot near the equator. Watson paused over the paper before deciding how to start the letter. The crude pen felt slippery in his sticky hand. He dipped it in the bottle of black sludge, supposedly ink. Would this be his last chance? Would it solve his problem? With a bold stroke from a hand powered by a hopeful heart, the squeaky nib wrote:

‘Dear President Olanta,’ he had always started with ‘Dear’ even though sometimes people were not necessarily ‘Dear’.

‘Sir, I am not guilty of the murder of Honest Nyrere. I plead with you to take a look at the case. I have never used a gun and so my fingerprints could not have been on the weapon found at the scene of the crime as the prosecution claimed. I was sleeping in my apartment two miles away at the time of the murder. The police arrested me on the evidence of a man, Alfred Chimbonza, who owes me money, a lot of money, 40,000 licugi although he’ll deny it of course. He is lying.

I am a too-easy target. Please help me.

Yours truly, Peter Watson.

Kolentawezi Jail’ Continue reading “Letters from Kolentawezi Jail”

Haverfordwest

Haverfordwest

      “It’s my town now, warts and all.”

Haverfordwest is a long name for a town,

It’s as though you’d need directions

To find the place without a frown

Of despair. It has aged connections

With Eleanor of Castile, Edward’s wife

Who liked the place and bought the castle.

There was some dispute, some strife

But the King’s the King – so no big hassle.

Her holiday home, opulent and grand,

O’erlooked a priory, all Dominican,

That skirted the river and it’s sandy strand.

Black they wore, but now it’s an inn again

On Castle Square abutting Victoria Place,

Built in 1839, for estate agents and banks.

By Owen’s Bridge – it made a packet- gave him grace

To rise above the humble throng and join the ranks

Of noble gentry fine and dandy. The old quay

Stands neglected today, no Bristol trade

Comes its way, no French wines tariff-free

Arrive. It’s long gone away, weighed

No more on the iron scales of duty.

The river’s a trickle in these dry days

Only the incoming tide could allow any booty

To come ashore on concrete cracked and crazed

Before the modern council building ersatz

Bastion of the county. It stands so stark,

Slate-grey conical roofs sit like witches’ hats

On towers of primrose yellow beside a park.

It’s my town now, warts and all.

The brass belfry-bell of St Mary’s says with zest –

For Cromwell never shattered that hall –

‘I do my best for Haverfordwest.’

What the Media Missed

david-goliath

…David Corbyn took on and felled Goliath May.

On 14 June, George Monbiot wrote an article in The Guardian: ‘The biggest losers? Not the Tories but the media who missed the story’.

Yes, if you live, like the media, in a hall of mirrors, you will only reflect not detect. Speaking with like minded people will yield no new insights.

The 2017 election was truly amazing. Labour had been in internal chaos merely months ago. The party was so weak that even the there-will-be-no-election Theresa May decided to call one to “strengthen her hand” in the upcoming Brexit talks. Few people had seen a greater Conservative lead in the polls. They stood on 44% on 17 April 2017; Labour on 24%. The outcome a forgone conclusion predicted the media.

But in the intervening seven weeks, the party which had been in chaos reared up like a Kraken from the deep and shocked everyone. The legendary creature that resembled a giant squid destroyed ships. Well, it destroyed her ladyship all right. Continue reading “What the Media Missed”