Francis’ Family in Tianamen Square
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Lao Tzu.
Our journey nearly faltered at the first step. In the comfortable Titan chauffeur-driven Mercedes beside Ioan and Anita, we sat in a motorway jam. We were going to miss our flight. However, thanks to the mobile phone and the responsive Titan employee, Jo Kavanagh, we were re-booked on an Emirates flight via Dubai and we would arrive only a few hours later than originally planned.
During the trip, I was about to experience so many new superlatives, greatest, biggest, longest and the door to door journey time of 32.5 hours was the longest I had ever undertaken. We arrived in the Landmark hotel at 00.30 on Saturday 13 October in the company of the most helpful guide, Yang Zhen Xiong, who preferred his “English” name of Francis. Continue reading “Beijing to Chongqing”
Michel Barnier must be under as much pressure as Prime Minister May….
The first ever referendum related to an electoral procedure. It was ordered by the General Court of Massachusetts in 1641. It was embodied in an order passed on June 2, which set forth that “The freemen were growing to so great a multitude as will be overburdensome to the country, ” and “the way of proxies is found subject to many miscarriages.” The Court proposed, subject “to the advice and consent of the freemen,” that “every ten freemen,” in each town, should “choose one to be sent to the Court (of Elections) with power to make election for all the rest.” The order provided that the Deputies should “carry the copy hereof to the several towns and to make returns at the next Court, what the minds of the freemen are herein, that the Court may proceed accordingly.”
As there is no evidence that the proposed plan of voting by tens was ever tried, it would appear that “the minds of the freemen” were adverse to it. However, no return of the votes can now be found.
It marked the way for referenda.
Continue reading “Referenda and the ‘People’s Vote’ on the Final Brexit Plan”
A few patches of blue, snatches of a flowery design and plain white triangular pennants fluttered and flew in the light breeze, transforming the garden into an oasis of happiness.
As the English summer climbs to the August Bank Holiday it’s high water mark, families up and down the land prepare for a final outdoor celebration, a christening party, a twenty-first, a silly dressing-up party, a wild music rave and in this case, a premature 40th birthday party. Daily examinations of the weather forecast had pointed to a sunny and calm day, but it was only a window in an otherwise dull, cool and wet jet stream.
Continue reading “A Birthday Party”
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.”