Walking along the eastern shoreline of the Hamble estuary near Warsash today, we noticed an extraordinarily high number of cuttlebones. My photo below shows eleven which I collected over about 100 metres of tideline. I think I could have collected 50 at least during our 1-2 mile walk.
So there seems to be an unusually high population of cuttlefish around the Solent. Or at least, at the moment, a large number of cuttlefish around there are dying and shedding their cuttlebones.
Cuttlefish are extraordinarily-looking animals (see above). It is quite something to imagine all the cuttlefish which were the previous owners of all the cuttlebones we saw today.
On Thursday, Liberal Democrat Voice reported that Chris Rennard was elected to represent the party’s House of Lords group on the Federal Executive. Since then, there has been strong disquiet, to put it mildly, and efforts have been going on to collect the necessary number of signatures to call a special party conference.
I went to see the movie “Steve Jobs” this evening.
I didn’t really like it. One does like to have a little bit of entertainment when one goes to the movies. Apart from the last two minutes, which provide a little emotional resolution, this is a rather unsettling film.
Perhaps it should be, because of its subject.
If your idea of fun is to watch the run-ups to several product launches, then this is the film for you. If you are suffering withdrawal symptoms, after the end of West Wing, and hanker after people walking through corridors talking quickly (Aaron Sorkin, who created West Wing, wrote the screenplay for Steve Jobs), then this is for you. If you want your visits to the cinema to be like going to see the dentist, then this is for you.
I am happy to accept that this film may well accurately depict its subject and display his human relationships in garish detail.
I’m left with one conclusion. We don’t have much time on this planet. Above all, we should try to be nice to people we come across.
…Of course we now have the leader of the opposition who says quite openly he would never press the nuclear button. Does that worry you?
GENERAL SIR NICHOLAS HOUGHTON:
Well it … it would worry me if that, er, thought was translated into power as it were because …
So if he wins, he’s a problem?
GENERAL SIR NICHOLAS HOUGHTON:
Well there’s a couple of hurdles to cross before we get to that.
GENERAL SIR NICHOLAS HOUGHTON:
But the reason I say this – and it’s not based on a personal thing at all, it’s purely based on the credibility of deterrence. The whole thing about deterrence rests on the credibility of its use. When people say you’re never going to use the deterrent, what I say is you use the deterrent you know every second of every minute of every day and the purpose of the deterrent is that you don’t have to use it because you successfully deter.
I find it very worry that the serving Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces is saying publicly that (paraphrasing slightly) he “would worry” if the leader of the opposition gets into power as Prime Minister. In fact I find that absolutely staggering. It is redolent of military coups. This officer has no place whatsoever casting general doubts on the capability of the leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition to hold prime ministerial office.
But there is another reason why defence chiefs should not open their mouths on TV in such a way.
They sound like total idiots, and do not have the ability or the position to follow up their statements with sustained argument. Because they are not politicians.
In other words, Sir Nicolas will be safely back at his desk counting warheads when the rest of us are asking “Who the heck are you trying to deter? – Brezhnev died 33 years ago and the Soviet Union died 24 years ago.”
Embed from Getty ImagesAs we approach the end of Armistice Day, it is, perhaps, appropriate to remember the tune most associated with military memorials, The Last Post.
The BBC produce some superb radio documentaries. They have surpassed themselves with “The Last Post” presented by Alwyn W Turner. It tells the story of the tune and describes its extraordinarily wide use, often at national and international occasions and including at the funerals of Sir Winston Churchill and IRA man Bobby Sands. He also mentions the American equivalent, “Taps”, which was played at the funeral of John F Kennedy. Continue reading →
Here below is some fascinating reading. First, a letter which David Cameron sent to the Conservative leader of Oxfordshire County Council (bearing in mind the PM’s constituency of Witney is in Oxfordshire) and then the reply he got.
Via, it seems, a somewhat incautious researcher or adviser, Mr Cameron reveals an extraordinary ignorance of local government finance, coupled with remarkable arrogance. Continue reading →
The photo montage above shows Suvla Bay during the campaigning in the First World War, alongside the present-day scene there
As we approach Remembrance Sunday, my thoughts this year are particularly focussed on the Gallipoli campaign. We’re at the one hundredth anniversary of that invasion attempt, which took place from April 25th 1915 to January 9th 1916.
Comedian Hugh Dennis has produced an excellent BBC programme called “In search of Great Uncle Frank” which explains the campaign very well, through a visit to Suvla Bay (in present-day Turkey) scene of much of the carnage, to retrace the steps of his Great Uncle Frank, who died during the action.
Tens of thousands of young people died in the battles. They came from the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, India and France.
As well as providing an excellent narrative of the events, Hugh Dennis provides, in the programme (which can still be listened to on BBC iPlayer here) an interesting historical perspective.
I was particularly touched by the interview with an old Turkish woman. She said she was not angry about the invasion and that the Turkish regard all the soldiers who died in the campaign, from whatever nation they came, as “Sons of Turkey”. They became our sons when they died here, she said. This was an attitude, she said, encouraged by the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.
It seems to me that such a forgiving, human approach to remembrance is much needed.
I declare an interest in that my grandfather, C.H.Walter of the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars, was fortunate enough to survive the Suvla Bay landing with his horse, Susie. Sadly, many of his comrades-in-arms did not.
My eldest brother, James, recently visited Suvla Bay, and has taken a great interest in the events there of 1915-1916.
Once again I remember, with gratitude, this year that I’ve been fortunate enough not to be “called up” and have enjoyed the freedom to express myself on things like this blog, unlike millions who have had their lives cut short by the horror of war.