Thoughts from an active pensioner who is now somewhat past his Biblical "Use-by date"

"Why just be difficult, when with a little more effort you can be bloody impossible?"

Thursday 31 December 2015

Let the Bells Ring Out

Today is New Year's Eve and this evening the local bell ringers will gather at about 11:30pm to ring out the old year and ring in the new, a tradition which has been in place for centuries.

We will start ringing with the bells half-muffled, that is a leather pad will be fitted on one side of the clapper so that ringing the bells will produce the normal 'bright' sound on one stroke followed by the muffled sound on the other, almost like an echo. This is normally done when ringing for funerals or on such occasions as Armistice day and, as on this occasion, to mourn the passing of the old year. At a few minutes to the hour the ringing will stop so that someone can go up the tower and remove the muffles. Then at midnight the tenor bell ringer will ring the twelve strokes followed immediately by the rest of the bells, now free from their muffles, to welcome the new year.

The ringers usually manage to welcome in the new year with a small tot of something suitable along  with perhaps a mince pie before retiring to our homes.

I wish everyone a happy, safe and prosperous new year.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Foreign Aid and Refugees

We have had huge numbers of 'refugees' and 'asylum seekers' entering this country in the past few years. I use the inverted commas because I believe that few truly fit into either category and that the majority are economic migrants simply seeking a better life in this country. Cameron's one sensible move in this respect was to say that any quota of refugees that we accept must come directly from the refugee camps in the Middle East, in Jordan or in Lebanon. At least that way there is a better chance that they are genuine refugees.

The question which then needs to be asked is how the country is to pay the costs of these new arrivals. Information from Germany seems to indicate that in spite of claims made by many left wing commentators that these refugees are largely from the educated middle classes, practical experience shows that the majority are poorly educated and that many can't read and write. Hence the assumptions that they will be able to work in other than basic labouring type jobs is clearly incorrect.

So where does Foreign Aid come into the picture? I would argue that all the costs attributable to these refugees should be considered to be part of the Foreign Aid budget until such a time as the families become self supporting and taxpayers. It is just as much foreign aid supplying them with housing, benefits, education and medical facilities here in the UK as it would be if we spent the money in their countries of origin providing such facilities.

You have only to look at the huge numbers involved.
Take for example the Somali Community in this country. According to the ONS it has a collective unemployment rate of some 82%; the latest government figures, if you believe them, suggest there are some 104,000 Somalis in this country. Think of the cost; the job seekers allowance can be as much as £72 per week which will cost some £300 million, without taking into account child benefits and their housing costs. Add to that the costs of health, through the NHS, and education, through local councils, both of which will be, per capita, considerably higher than for British born residents and the the totals become unquantifiable, largely because no-one in government wants to do the calculation! Informed guesses suggest the overall cost of just this one community is probably in the region of £1.5 billion p.a.

Then we come to the 'Asian' community as it is called in media speak. Comprising essentially those from Pakistan and Bangladesh (countries which are not normally mentioned by name), there are considerably more in this Asian Community than in the Somali Community. It is said that the unemployment rate amongst non-UK born ethnic 'Asians' is again of a similar order and of those who are working, many are are collecting in-work benefits. No doubt these include the woman standing outside our local Waitrose 'selling' the Big Issue, although I've never actually seen anyone buy a copy. But presumably she claims to be working! I hesitate to even guess a figure for this group, but I would suggest is it several times as much as the Somali Community mentioned above.

To these must be added all the immigrants from places like Nigeria, Tunisia and other African countries as well as the Syrians and Turks. Whether we should count in addition all the East Europeans, particularly those from Romania and Bulgaria is arguable as they are from within the EU and should have been expected by the government when they agreed to allow freedom of movement!

The overseas aid budget is now set to rise to £16 billion per annum and if you try to do the maths, it seems reasonable that you might conclude that it would just about cover the cost of all these economic migrants arriving in this country. So at present we are paying, not only for foreign aid abroad, but also a similar sum in aid to support the ever rising tide of immigrants. I would suggest that this is not an amount that we can afford without significant cuts elsewhere or general tax increases.

It is interesting to note from 'The Local' that Germany is expecting to spend €17 billion (£12.7 billion) on refugees in 2016, double the figure for this year.

And don't get me onto our extra security and policing costs brought about by potential terrorists and other criminals hiding amongst these immigrants; Germany believes that probably one in sixty of the arrivals could be a terrorist. That, of course, is without our own home grown terrorists, two of whom were convicted today for planning a major suicide bombing in London.

I despair for the future of this country.

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Foreign Aid

Foreign aid continues to be a very controversial issue especially as aid seems to be given to many of the most corrupt countries in the world and to many who don't need it. Why should we give money to, say, India which is rich enough to have its own space programme?

I would argue that whilst there are good reasons for helping poorer countries, there are equally good reasons for restricting it to emergency aid following some natural disaster or similar unforeseen events. It should not be give so that, at the best, it simply becomes part of the national budget of the country concerned causing them to rely on this payment to run the country. At the worst, and not infrequently, it does not even end up being spent on the country, but ends up in the bank accounts of corrupt dictators and their cronies.

When it comes to the actual aid, there are therefore very good reasons why it should not be given in cash, but in goods and services. Wherever possible, any goods should be made in Britain, which in itself would provide a boost to our economy and industry. There should be limits on the type of goods being supplied; certainly no armaments or luxury goods. In addition, they should not be goods which are easily "sold on", which again would allow corrupt officials to pocket money. If the country wants any services, such as the construction of infrastructure in the form of roads, bridges, etc., these should be carried out by British Contractors under contract to the British Government. They would recruit and directly employ local labour, where appropriate, to carry out the work. They would bill the British Government in a similar manner to that which they would when employed on a UK project.

Finally, I would not allocate aid money to be administered by any of our major charities operating abroad; they seem to spend a far to large a proportion of their money on running the charity rather than on the causes that they are supporting. Reports of their staff flying to these countries and swanning around in Land Cruisers whilst staying in the best available hotels does little to increase one's faith that their funds are being well spent.

If the countries concerned don't like this approach, they should be simply told that we are offering these goods/services as a gift, if they don't want what we are offering, there are others that might.

Sunday 27 December 2015

Transgender children

According to an article in The Telegraph by the 'Chair' of a charity called 'Mermaid' which supports transgender children, some 80 children of primary school age in the UK are currently 'transitioning' from one sex to the other.
It is known that there are a very small number of children born who have incomplete or incorrectly formed sexual organs, but this article is not referring to these. The charity is supporting young children of one sex who 'believe' that they should be the other and are currently 'transitioning'.
There are a number of problems here; the main one being that there is no reason to believe that children have any idea of their sexuality prior to puberty. Another is that, having set up a charity to support such children, they need clients in order to justify their existence.

I had a sister who was forever moaning that she wished that she were a boy when she was at junior school. This seemed to be largely based on the belief that boys did far more exciting things from climbing trees, playing football to falling in the local stream whilst trying to catch frog spawn or tadpoles! This desire largely disappeared when she went to an all girls school at eleven and discovered there were girls sports such as hockey and netball as outlets for her energy.

Our elder daughter was very similar, she much preferred the toys owned by the young boy next door, and always wanted to join in boys' games and generally she was allowed to do so. Then she discovered another girl in her class was having tennis lessons and persuaded us to let her do the same, with the result that any idea of being a boy and becoming a footballer suddenly disappeared.

But had either my sister or daughter been asked at the age of, say six, whether they would like to become a boy, I'm sure that the answer would have been a definite 'yes'. One wonders how they would have felt by the age of fifteen if they'd been allowed to 'transition' to be boys as seems to be the current 'thing' if they 'identify' as a boy.

Another problem, I suspect, could be all these bright young things with shiny degrees from second-rate universities who have swallowed these trendy ideas and become social workers. What happens when they meet a child who wants to be the other sex and the parent says, as I would, "Don't be so damn stupid" or a more forceful equivalent. Would these social workers see them as children to be taken into care on the basis that they are being abused by their parents because  they refuse to go along with the child's beliefs?

We don't let children smoke, drink or get married until they are an appropriate age because it is generally accepted that they are not mature enough to make decisions on such matters. How can anyone the believe that a child as young as four years of age can decide on his/her sexuality?

Saturday 26 December 2015

'Far Right' or 'Patriotic'

The Daily Express refers today to the "Shocking march of the far-right across Europe as migration fears reach fever pitch".

I would agree that many people across Europe are concerned about the influx of immigrants, and I am amongst those people, but does this make us all 'far-right'? I certainly don't consider that I am far right, I consider that I am a patriot wishing to see my country protect itself against invaders, the majority of whom belong to a religion which preaches ideas which are totally alien to our way of life, and indeed alien to the way of life in most European countries.

Most people would agree there is a need to help genuine refugees from war and violence, but the majority of these invaders are simple economic migrants. We should no more accept them into our country than we should accept someone who decides to camp at the bottom of our garden whilst demanding entry to the house. We defend our personal property against intruders, the State should do likewise with our country.

In the absence of action by the established centralist politicians of all the major parties throughout Europe, who try to be all things to all people, is it surprising that groups of people are coming together to demand action? The leader of just one country within the EU is trying to do something. In Hungary, Viktor Orban, the prime minister, has closed the borders and started the construction of border fences. His view, which I feel is supported by many throughout Europe, is that he is not prepared to allow the mass entry of non-Christians into his country as it would destroy the Hungarian culture and way of live. The EU, of course, condemned this action and issued its usual threats whilst at the same time failing to offer any solution to the problem.

So these days then the media say "Far Right", I think "Patriot".

Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas

As one of the bell ringers at my local Parish Church, I will be going out just before eleven this evening to help to ring the bells for the Midnight Service.
The number of our local bell ringers is unfortunately getting less and we've only managed to get one new recruit during the past year but have lost three ringers who have moved away. All except our new lass are over sixty, and I'm certainly finding that I can no longer manage any of the heavier bells. With a bit of luck we'll manage to ring six of the eight bells for about half an hour, with a few breaks.
No lie in in the morning however, back to ring for the Christmas day service before we go to our younger daughter and family for Christmas Lunch

Here are two examples of ringing, the first being rung on the six bells of St. Lawrence Church, Abbots Langley.

The second, at the other end of the scale, on the twelve bells at Trinity Wall Street, NY on Jan 19, 2009, being a 10 minute clip of peal of Bristol Maximus rung by the St Paul's Cathedral Guild.

Twelve bell ringing is way beyond my range of skills, personally I prefer the sound of six or eight bells when I can hear the individual bells.

Happy Christmas.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

British Muslim Banned from the United States.

The morning news was all about a Muslim family of eleven people being banned from the US and certain sections of the media were full of instant condemnation and the local Labour MP penned an immediate missive to David Cameron demanding action as this hard-working family was being deprived of the pleasure of taking their children to Disneyland for the Christmas holiday.
My initial thought was that the US is a sovereign country and it is entirely up to them whom they let into the country and perhaps this might also be put down to what I would describe as the "Trump effect".
However, as the day wore on, people started to ask questions. First of all, it was revealed that the family consisted of the father, his brother and nine children. No  adult female was in the group. Then one wondered why a Muslim family should be going there anyway, surely such frivolities and music are banned by their religion. And why for Christmas, when we are frequently told that our Christmas celebrations can be offensive to many Muslims?
By the evening, it emerged that a Facebook page claiming links to radical Islamist groups was set up by someone who has lived at the family's postal address, although they claim that it has been set up by hackers.
The latest revelations are from the Daily Mail.
As I said, the US is a sovereign country and has the absolute right to refuse anyone entry; unlike the UK where we have to accept anyone with an EU passport, something that is given to most so-called refugees without question by some EU countries.