Murky Waters

Do you remember when that statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down? You must have, it was surely the high point of the Bush-Blair war in Iraq. The day that they thought, “It’s all downhill from here.” Little did they know.

Well, the same thing happened in the UK at the weekend. In Bristol, only about fifty miles from me, the bronze statue of a prominent slave trader was pulled down and dumped in the harbour.

I can understand that what a slave trader might have done is so repulsive that someone might want to pull their statue down. I share their repulsion. Many statues in the UK are related to our infamous history. I don’t buy the argument that it is destroying property. Whose property? Especially bronze, melt it down and use that for something useful. But I think there is a better way.

The point is, do you want people to be reminded of the past, to be aware of the past, or not? It worries me that while the present generation might well find the statue repugnant, by destroying something, there is a danger that future generations will not even know about slavery. If anything, add a commentary to make the link even more apparent.

Absolutely, these statues were first erected as celebrations, but I prefer to think of them now as reminders.

Murphy’s Law

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), apt.

A few weeks ago, our Prime Minister promised the UK a world-beating Track and Trace app in the fight against COVID-19. With a straight face. I suspect many UK citizens would have settled for an ordinary app, just one which worked.

What better introduction to another world-beating UK project, the Advanced Passenger Train (APT).

This was a project which ran between 1969 and 1985 and which, ultimately, did not deliver. The goal was simple – to build a faster train and to reduce journey times. One did not necessarily guarantee the other – railways in the UK tend to have lots of twists and turns, so the “win” would be maintaining a decent speed as the train went through these curves. Enter the Advanced Passenger Train, a new design which relied on tilting the train as it travelled, and used a new gas turbine propulsion system. To name but a few.

I think it is important not to be too derogatory to the train. Much of its design has been copied successfully in the years since the project. The government wished to see a return on its investment and the train was pressed into service in 1979. Basically, anything that could go wrong, did. Although the kinks were quietly ironed out in the next five years, the writing was on the wall, and the project canned in 1985.

Total cost to the UK taxpayer was estimated at just £50 million – that’s about half the budget required to develop a car, at around the same time. Not to mention, a car is less complicated.

Britain’s answer to France’s TGV -nearly!


For those of you who are wedded to the Classic Editor, here is a type of block I found in the Block Editor:



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Windrush Day

It is a good opportunity to mention Windrush Day.

For those of you who don’t know, after the Second Warld War, the UK was short of manpower, and so sent out a call to its colonies for workers. At that time, many of the islands in the Caribbean were still British colonies, and the Caribbean sent boatloads of people over to work to help the UK recover.

The first such boat, carrying 1,027 people, was the MV Empire Windrush, and it landed at Tilbury, just outside of London, on 22 June 1948. At the time, official documentation was often overlooked.

This, and subsequent boats, often carried nurses, to work in our newly-formed NHS (formed 1 January 1948), plus people destined for jobs which British people did not want to do, like driving buses. Other occupations included coal mining and steel manufacturing.

These immigrants, though helping the economy, were met with hostility in many quarters of the indigenous population, discrimination was rife, but almost accepted. There were white communities, there were black communities, and never the twain… By the time I came along, there wasn’t so much hostility as ignorance. Because Liverpool was a port, one or two black people had been settled there for years, and the name Windrush was nothing more than an answer to a quiz question. Black people were there in our society, simple as that.

Fast-forward to the 2010s. The UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, was under lots of pressure about immigration. In fact, one of the reasons for Brexit was because one of the fundamental cornerstones of the EU is freedom of movement. The pressure was so much that he instructed his then Home Secretary, a certain Theresa May, to crack down. Being largely undocumented in the first place, descendants of the Windrush became prime targets. Note that we were talking fifty-sixty years later, so two or three generations down the line.

The press got hold of the story. There was public outrage, that people who had given up everything in order to answer the call, had been treated so shabbily. There then followed exposés about immigration in general, and how people had been prevented from working, prevented even from renting, because they lacked the correct documentation.

Windrush Day was introduced in 2018 by the UK government – the same government which had carried out the deportations. It would be nice to think that they had learned their lesson but actually, they just got found out, that’s all. Ironically, the Prime Minister who unveiled the day was a certain Theresa May.

Indeed, if you search on the internet for Windrush Day, the first few hits you will find are propaganda sites by the UK government, aimed at telling the world how progressive we are. My Jamaican friends know different.

Tick Tock Tuesday (9 June 2020) – Gloria Estefan

I thought I’d create a new challenge. It is a challenge primarily for me, because I’m new to this platform, and because you don’t really know me yet, nor I you. As my name suggests, I am recovering from a stroke, and I like to push myself in all kinds of little ways… including getting to know the Wonderful World of WordPress. Although this is something I will be doing, I invite you, if this idea takes your fancy, to play along with me and share with me some of your own selections.

My plan is: each Tuesday, until I run dry, I shall post some piece of art with which I have some connection – which has helped to mould me, which makes me tick. Okay, a piece of art is a bit vague – it might be a piece of music, a movie, a book, a painting, or ???? – so my phrasiology is deliberate. It might be anything – I will play this post by ear, so I’m not sure what I’ll think of each week. And, I’ll keep posting on the theme weekly until I run out of ideas.

My rules? Well, I’m not big on rules! My choice will be something with which I feel a connection. That’ll be the important thing, just having some kind of fleeting affection for something probably won’t be enough, unless I’m using my choice as an example of something bigger.

It will be one choice per week – I’m aware that long posts can be quite onerous to read, and I’m in no hurry to complete this so if I have two ideas, I’ll probably hold the second until the next week.

In that same vein, I’ve created this block as a Reusable Block, which I intend repeating for every post on this theme. The block ends with a full-width separator, so if you want to skip ahead each week it doesn’t really matter.

I probably won’t post any lyrics, or any kind of analysis – if you like my choice, the information will be out there for you. But I will try to briefly explain why I feel a connection to my choice, just to try and enhance readers’ understanding of what makes me tick.

I will tag my posts TTT and I will go looking for other posts with that tag. If you’d like to join in, please do the same, or comment, or pingback to this post, and feel free to reproduce my graphic. Lastly, I look forward to reading about what makes you tick.

It’s funny, actually, because the artist I am presenting today, I don’t really listen to any more. But I don’t want to ignore that I have pretty much every one of her albums from that mid-Eighties to mid-Nineties period. So, I feel she deserves some recognition today.

I followed Gloria Estefan from her Miani Sound Machine days right through her solo career. She raised my awareness, too, just why she ended up in Miami in the first place, why she left Cuba.

I loved the liveliness of Latin music, especially as she popified it. Most of all, however, I loved her native Spanish tracks. They came along later – I guess that by then, she was so successful, she could record anything she fancied.

And it was maybe a premonition, because I ended up just upstate in Tampa just a few years later. For a European, I found America to be very new, but I liked Tampa and the old Spanish district of Ybor City. I wasn’t in Tampa for long – the place I was working was undergoing rapid change and what was here one minute was gone the next. But Ybor sticks in my mind and Gloria’s music today reminds me of that.