Other Half and I have just arrived back in the South East after spending a month with friends and family in the South West. As many of you know, when in the South West we are usually perched on a cliff, overlooking the Bristol Channel. Broadband signal comes and go, 'phone signals disappear mid-conversation and often I [deliberately] go a few days without hearing or reading the news.
So when I do hear/catch up with upto date news it can sometimes seem far more stark and frightening than when in usual, everyday 'real life' mode when we hear new bulletins seemingly all day long. One morning Other Half woke me up by saying 'The Elephants are taking over'. Once we had sorted out that I hadn't got my hearing aids in place and he had actually said 'The Militants are taking over' and discussed sensibly what he had meant, we both agreed that the idea of Elephants taking over was a preferable option. By 'the Militants' he was ironically referring to speeches by Barack Obama and other 'World Leaders' calling for military intervention in various trouble spots world wide. In the month that 'celebrates' [rather than commemorates] the start of World War One this is truly ironical. We noticed too how the Israeli aggression against Gaza seemed to drop rapidly out of the news, to be replaced by stories of violence in Syria. Coincidence?
During the month we also heard that British citizens who leave the country to fight with the Jihadis in Syria and Iraq would not be allowed back into this country. Whilst having no sympathy with their views, I thought this was a dangerous decision for the government to take because it seemed to be the top of a slippery slope: once this move had been allowed for Jihadist sympathisers would it spread to others who did not agree with the government for other reasons? Nineteen Eighty Four and the thought police come to mind. The news later in the week that it is against international law to deny a country's citizens entry to that country was slightly reassuring.....
The news that parents who had taken a terminally ill child from the hospital which had been treating him to another country in the hope that there would be one more procedure which could help him, had been arrested and separated from their child, appalled us. The UK hospital, who had sadly done all they could to help the little boy, claim that he is now in danger and British police felt it had no other option but to issue a European arrest warrant. As it turns out when the little boy was taken from the hospital by his parents it appears they were not breaking the law and as he only has a few months to live the whole situation seems horrendous. Politicians are now saying the child and his parents should be reunited and such is the cynicism with which politicos are now viewed in this country it has been suggested that these are vote catching comments. How sad.
for the family's sake I hope this is resolved soon.*
* Since this was typed it has been announced that the European arrest warrant has been withdrawn by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Returning from the South West on Sunday the amount of police vehicles - motor bikes, people wagons, patrol cars [any unmarked cars could not, of course, be seen!] - travelling West on the other carriageway was remarkable. Presumably on the way to Newport for the NATO summit which opens later this week. Cordons are of course already in place in Newport [where a peace camp has already been set up] and Cardiff [where summit dinners are to take place]
Whilst the NATO summit is looming, another 'World Event' is also on the September calendar. The referendum on whether Scotland should be an independent country will take place on September 18th and the two sides seem to be rather nastier to each other than one would have expected. A good friend is in the 'No' camp and I have to say that the amount of insults he receives compared to the good sense of his comments would have me voting 'no' if I had a vote, although I already sympathise with the 'no' campaign anyway!] Since the Act of Union in 1707 was deemed to benefit both England [including Wales] and Scotland at the time there are obviously issues to be discussed after 300+ years - anomalies maybe seen on both sides like that fact that Scottish MPs can vote on English problems but not vice versa and the fact that the Scottish and English/Welsh legal systems are separate. But some of the screaming arguments that have taken place are surely counter-productive to the sort of reasoned logic that would be appreciated by the interested but unresolved voter? And the answer to whether or not Scotland can be included in the European community seems to differ according to which leader is questioned...... thus including this as a 'European community', if not a 'World' event.
This government has provided its citizens with many u-turns but this week a welcome one for dwellers along the Thames Estuary is the news that another of Boris Johnson's pipe dreams seems to be failing. This is of course his plans for an island airport for London in the Thames Estuary. Those of us who have lived along the estuary for any length of time [and in my case that adds up to more than 60 years] knew from the beginning that - excuse the pun - these ideas would not fly and you can read about my fears here . I daresay that Boris in his role as Mayor of London is annoyed about the upset to his plans, but as in another apparent volte face he has announced lately that he will stand for Parliament in the next election perhaps he will manage to get over his disappointment.
Catching up with facebook I was surprised - and pleased - at the number of people who were taking up the ice bucket challenge to raise money and awareness for various charities, mainly ALS/MND [see my effort here ] But underlining that is the feeling - as when there is any large charity push for money - that it should not be down to the kindness of strangers to pay for the things which governments, who seem to be able to find the money for weapons with which to wage war, claim they have not enough funds to pay.
The world may not have turned upside down in the past few weeks, but there have been times when it shivered a little on its axis. The Super Moon could be viewed in the second week of August and we saw it when travelling back from Swansea to Somerset with one of our grandsons in the back of our car. He was awed by the sight of the apparently massive moon travelling along the motorway next to us, its size and brightness giving off an aura of peace which our world badly needs.
I don't suppose it will surprise any of you that the photograph above is taken at Glastonbury Tor, Somerset. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
The World Turned Upside Down was originally a ballad written in the 1640s and for more information visit here.
The wonderful and talented Leon Rosselson wrote a song with the same title about the story of the Digger Commune of 1649. You can hear Billy Bragg singing it here or Roy Bailey here.
Marxist Historian Christopher Hill wrote a seminal book about the English Civil War in 1972 with this title.