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Shakespeare wrote of the Seven Ages of Man...Infancy, Childhood, Adolescence, Early Maturity, Later Maturity, Old Age and one foot in the grave the other on a banana skin.
More by luck than judgement I have survived the first five and am currently being dragged towards the sixth, albeit under heavy protest, hurling abuse.
Sadly, ageing is not optional and save by evil chance will happen EVEN TO YOU….
“As you are now,
So once were we.
As we are now,
So shall ye be.”
In the following articles and short videos, I will seek to forewarn and therefore forearm those of you yet to reach my age of decrepitude and for those who have, invite you to join me in open rebellion and to fight back.
As a cradle republican (note the small “r”) I was agog with indifference to the Windsor family wedding on Saturday last.
I have nothing against them as individuals but plenty against the institution of Monarchy and a sycophantic aristocracy. I feel insulted that my offspring- and yours- however intelligent, wise, respectful and charitable they might become, will never be deemed good enough to head the state they serve.
Robert Burns had similar thoughts in his great 1795 poem, “Is there for honest poverty”. (Excuse the broad Scots but a translation into received English will do justice to neither the poem nor its author).
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.
What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.
Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.
A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.
Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.
THE British National Party is now in the same state of health as the Monty Python parrot
Although it had been dying on its perch for quite some time, the death rattle came on Friday morning when it was announced that its last councillor in office would not be standing for re-election. The BNP is extinct. It is no more.
Well I remember my shock and revulsion back in 1993 when their first councillor was elected,
to their peak year in 2006 with 33 councillors and strong showings in over 80 other wards. Sure that their time had come, this ill managed party promulgated its racist message of hate across the land….
“Ideology: Euroscepticism, White nationalism, Ethnic nationalism, Right-wing populism, Ultranationalism, British Fascism
Political position: Far-right politics”
[Source BNP website]
Before we are told that the BNP’s demise was due to some left wing elitist plot…. It was not! Ordinary people campaigned against the BNP in elections the length and breadth of Britain, working with local parties, trade unions, faith leaders, the Mirror, and others. Lots of our work was crowd funded from tens of thousands of supporters. An incredible number of leaflets and newspapers were got out in the campaigns. All in all, it was a truly grassroots effort by ordinary people repelled by racism.
We can take real pride in what everyone did to take the BNP from hundreds of thousands of votes and dozens of councillors to today, fading away with the announcement that their last councillor isn't even standing again.
HOWEVER, it is truly a case of “one down, more to follow.” The far right is still alive under its stone and is ready to crawl out onto the streets and spread its pernicious lies on the internet.
When you see articles hiding under the Union Flag and from, for example, “Britain
First,” “English Defence League” etc., remember the words of Dr. Johnson, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel” and your ABC….
Having written this article, I stopped and paused. Could hundreds and thousands of Britons have been so stupid and ignorant of their own national history, as to vote for a party whose core beliefs were “White nationalism, Ethnic nationalism, Right-wing populism, Ultra-nationalism, British Fascism with a political position so far to the right traditional politics?”
What do these “patriots” imagine the Second World War to have been all about? National survival certainly but above all to eradicate such beliefs as those of the BNP that led to the mass murder of 6 million people perceived as being different from “everybody else”?
SCOTLAND IN CRISIS!
The approach of World Cup soccer is a reminder of the story behind this photograph.
We were staying up in Oban back in the day when Scotland were due to play Holland in a previous World Cup qualifier. If they lost, they were out!
THE TARTAN TAVERN
Fascinated by the extras left over from "Braveheart" I followed the "See You Jimmy" hats and saltire-painted faces into my favourite bar, less interested in watching the match than watching them watching the match.
Having eventually fought my way to a pint of "the heavy," and knowing England were about to kick off against Germany, I could not resist asking the landlord if there was any chance of watching it. He eyed me with total incredulity..."Do you want to see these bastards burn down my pub?" Perhaps not.
A ROSE AND A TULIP AMONG BLUEBELLS
I made my English way to a discrete table only to be joined by a guy wearing an Orange scarf and bobble hat. He was Dutch! Mmm. a flame in a powder magazine?
"Flower of Scotland" was given a rapturous if inebriated rendition. The whistle went to the sound of the fearsome battle cries that had scared many a redcoat by loch and by glen.
However, this initial enthusiasm slowly subsided, for as the match went on, the Dutch proved themselves to be mfar superior. Their 60 minute winner was greeted with a stony silence by everyone... except that is, my companion, who insisted on shouting his joy and waving his scarf above his head.
The final whistle went. A huge local drained his pint and rumbled over to our table. "Not good," I thought, reaching for a heavy glass ash tray as a potential means of defence. He extended a huge paw to my orange-clad friend and....insisted on shaking his hand..."Och awa’ mon. Yer deserved tae win. Yer team were the better side!" It was fortunate that his gesture was met with nods of friendly agreement all around the bar. At that moment the result from Wembley was announced..."England 5 Germany 0".
THE PHOTOGRAPH AND THE PIPES
I made my excuses and left. Outside the pub, I took my photograph. I doubt if even the 1746 defeat at Culloden could have been greeted with deeper and more obvious body language.
At that precise moment, and I swear this is true...down in the town and to mark Scotland's exit from the world cup , a lone piper struck up a Lament!