So far 2018 has not been a ‘good year’ in terms of getting letters published in my favourite newspaper. Could it be that I have chosen to opine about the wrong subjects or that my contributions are simply not up to publication standards. Feel free to judge for yourself and comment accordingly……………………….
NATO & BREXIT
Gill Westcott (Letter 25 Jul) that the on-going Brexit negotiations are “weakening NATO” – why? NATO and the EU are entirely separate bodies that both face differing threats. NATO however is bedevilled by two real threats. First is the unwillingness of many Members to pay their dues; second, is the extraordinary proposal to form a European Army. The latter is likely to weaken NATO’s resolve as well as offering another opportunity for certain Members to backslide on paying for defence. Flowing from all this is that the USA and Canada might well decide they have had enough of propping up NATO.
Sqn Ldr Riley should worry not about missing the BBC’s coverage of The Open since it was absolutely dire. Overlayed with loud music, so much of the coverage was dedicated to highlights of the previous days, flashbacks to earlier times, biopics of certain players and low-grade animations to introduce short briefings on various holes that coverage of play proved to be very limited. I fear the BBC regards golf as a minority sport which is a pity since such a philosophy works against interesting the young in the game.
A Chief Constable states that offering anonymity to an alleged offender would impede justice through the limitations on the freedom of the Press that, in turn, would discourage sex abuse victims from speaking out. There is surely a yawning gap between revealing the name of a suspect on the one hand while, on the other, employing helicopters and long lens cameras to pry into someone’s home. Most fair minded people were, I believe, horrified at the BBC’s prurient coverage in Sir Cliff’s case. It might also be recalled that the publicised allegations levelled at Field Marshal The Lord Bramall, Harvey Proctor and Leon Brittan caused untold misery to both them and their immediate families. The dangers of early revelations is that it both subtly transcends the principle of being guilty until proved innocent and whips up public emotions that are reminiscent of the lynch mob mentality of the Wild West days.
ORDER NOT TO FIRE
Perhaps inadvertently, Ken Cotton (DT 18 Jul) highlights a problem the Royal Artillery grappled with until the mid-1960s. So that the Observer could control the fire to suit the enemy’s movement, there existed an executive instruction of “Fire By Order” that meant the guns should not fire until “Fire” had subsequently been ordered. Sad to say that too often the Guns fired before the “By Order” caveat had sunk in. The solution was to change the order to “At My Command”.
The UK is becoming increasingly obsessed with the requirement to demonstrate that she is an inclusive, multi-racial and equal opportunities society – almost so obsessive as to reach the point of self-flagellation. Yet, looking at the panoramic photograph (ST Page 13) of President Macron escorted down the Champs-Élysées by hundreds of police and military, it can be observed that all the faces are white! Perhaps, it is time to recognise that the UK is not doing too badly in the arena of social inclusion and to stop berating ourselves.
Margaret Thatcher’s Final Years
Sir John Major’s recollections of Lady Thatcher’s state of mind in her final years seem to be at odds with many who knew her during that time, including Michael Edwards. Is Sir John suffering from early signs of memory loss – selective or otherwise?
Trump & The Queen
Although President Trump may not be everyone’s favourite politician, it might be suggested that we need to maintain some sense of balance about visitors to the UK. In suggesting that the Queen should not meet the President are we forgetting who she has been obliged to meet in the past? Red carpet treatment has previously been accorded to President Xi Jinping of the PRC, the Late President Nicolae Ceaușescu of Romania and potentates from certain Middle East countries, all of whose human rights records are surely much worse than those of President Trump.
The NHS recently sent me a letter informing me that I would be receiving another one in the next few days.
Irritations about the modern use/misuse of English probably embrace three elements: Inexplicable changes in pronunciations; misuse of words; misspelling; and using ‘clever’ words unnecessarily (a trick much favoured by so called professional CV writers). Examples are offered in sequence: Skedule, temporaaaaarrry (both much favoured by the modern BBC); using fulsome as a compliment which it is not or appraise when apprise is meant; Field Marshall rather than the correct Field Marshal; and apprise when told or informed would do perfectly well. Of course, the modern world is also full of proffesionals and Company Principles who offer complementary tickets to corporate events!
The High Street
A few years back there was an excellent regional Department Store chain that stood out from the competition since it actually trained its Staff. The problem with that model was that, particularly on IT/Tech matters, many customers went to their local branch to get briefed on the best buy before heading to a cheaper outlet to place the resultant order. Little surprise therefore that the said chain went into liquidation. It would be nice to think that, in the interests of both competitive parity and customer satisfaction, all outlets should be required properly to train their Staff.
Hunks On Horses
Poldark’s preference for small horses to create the illusion that he is a big hunk of a man is nothing new. In the 1950s leading ladies playing opposite the diminutive Alan Ladd used to stand in a trench allowing him to tower of them; further deceptions, included reducing the size of door frames when he was passing through.
Democracy at work
Michel Barnier says Brussels does not “want to negotiate “with Britain and further states “it is the decision of the British to leave the Union that has created the problem”. His failure to understand the democratic process and the will of the people, is symptomatic of EU politicians and bureaucrats. Having revealed their true anti-democratic colours, it is beyond my understanding that many still want the UK to remain in the EU.
Bath v Shower
In theory John Roberts is correct in that having a shower has a number of advantages over taking a bath. The problem is that modern showers are often so complicated to operate that running a bath can offer a quicker option. Indeed, in a recent stay in a London hotel I had to ask Reception for help but alas the shower proved too complicated for the staff member to get it to work.
Habits of Speech
In addition to the observations already made on linguistic changes, the following are offered: Back story (history); intestinal fortitude (guts); customers (passengers); female actors (actresses); and at this moment in time (now). It is dispiriting to note that there is a general tendency to use two or more words as a substitute for a, hitherto, absolutely clear single one. All that said, more worrisome perhaps, is the growth of inane announcements on public transport: It’s slippery when wet; In hot weather – carry a water bottle; If unwell get off at the next station; Hang on when the bus is moving. Perhaps such offerings reflect a fear of litigation.
Today a Radio 4 Woman’s Hour interviewee made reference to a female actor. The challenge of being linguistically politically correct continues apace and, presumably, we must now adjust our language to embrace such terms as female waiters and female barpersons, after all why use one word when two will do?