Bismark cleverly manipulated the words. He altered the Ems Telegram sent originally by Heinrich Abeken…
On 16 May 2018, the BBC television news finished with an unusual item. Perhaps, the producer was fed up with stories about the antics of Donald Trump, or the atrocities wrought on innocent populations by ISIS or the perennial BREXIT machinations by the British political elites. So Auntie or the Beeb, (or 2LO London calling, for older listeners) played a short sound clip and asked the viewers to identify it. The screen went white as the sound was played accompanied by a digital signature, a series of bars above and below a single line like some crazy barcoded xylophone.
It caught my attention and I listened ears back and alert for the sound. I heard the single word ‘Yearly.’ Continue reading “Yanny or Laurel – the death of the spoken word?”
Natalie Portman or Sarah Lane?
It’s all about perception, so they say.
We installed French windows in the downstairs lounge below our bedroom. But each morning, since early April, we have been awoken by loud tapping noises. What was it? The cat demanding that we should feed him now that the sun had risen. Someone throwing stones at our windows? Or was I hearing things? The repeated tapping annoyed and disturbed me and, worse, my wife. I couldn’t ignore it. Reluctantly, for now in retirement I am never one to rise early, I knew I had to find out the reason and that would involve getting up. At first, I was confused and could not understand what was happening. I got up and put on my dressing gown in a semi-comatose state without a clear or definite idea of how to solve the problem. I had a vague idea that somehow I must stop that damn noise. No sooner had I opened the door to the lounge than the explanation was clear. It was a case of double standards. Continue reading “Double Standards”
Peter saw the windmill from afar. It stuck up like a fat thumb. Its giant sails turned slowly.
Peter Cuthbert is 24, and completing his training at Battex, an international battery company. He is sent to Barbados urgently when the local General Manager, Mark Ramlogan, disappears. Set in 1970’s Barbados, Peter has the task of sorting out the battery factory but he becomes inexorably drawn into the case of Mark Ramlogan’s disappearance. He discovers Mark was not the straightforward electrical engineer he had claimed to be. Fast-paced action across the colourful isle of Barbados yields surprising results.
Chapter 1 Bridgetown, Barbados.
In January 1972, Mark Ramlogan felt pleased with himself. He had landed the position of General Manager of the Supreme Battery Company. His lively and confident personality convinced both his interviewers he could lead the company and his electrical engineering degree from Cave Hill University helped considerably. It testified to his serious engineering attributes. Coming from the same school as Grant, one of the interviewers, did not hinder him either. There was the briefest of discussions on salary. Mark accepted readily. His new salary and car allowance marked him out as one the better off Bajans. He had the island at his feet. He was twenty seven. Continue reading “The Supreme Battery Mystery”
Trotsky was effaced, in photos…
…. exiled in Paris, Lenin met the beautiful Inès Armand…
The recent poisoning of a former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and the murder, using radioactive polonium in his tea, of Alexander Litvinenko are stark reminders of the reach of the Russian state. In 2006, the British media had heart-wrenching pictures of the young handsome but bald Russian defector and former officer of the Russian FSB secret service lying in his bed connected by tubes and wires to machines which ultimately proved to be useless. Russia is a violent place with scant regard for democratic principles. The old USSR was born in the violence of peasant revolt and the devastating war with Germany in October 1917. Two charismatic leaders and orators, Leon Trotsky and Vladimir Lenin charmed and cajoled supporters and risked their lives to achieve a stupendous transformation of a centuries old empire into an egalitarian state. However, it was not without much bloodletting and subsequent events and history has not been equally kind to them.
Continue reading “Statutes of Lenin and the Disappearance of Trotsky.”
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?”
‘From nowhere, Special Constables arrived…
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”
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”