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Category Archives: In The News

Destructive Anger Destroys

Over the past few days we’ve witnessed more and more global unrest and calls for changes along with recognition of how the black community has been systematically treated. The death of George Floyd, along with far too many other coloured people, in the USA is a tragic, horrific thing, but it has lit a fireball that might yet engulf thousands of more lives. It was a wrong action by that officer, others were wrong around him, that caused a death; and there have been similar actions by other officers in the past. Thankfully very very few in the UK compared to some educated countries, but nowhere is immune.

The Black Lives Matter movement has a wish (not using the word agenda, it has connotations) and in the twenty first century, forward thinking, prosperous West, you’d think we’d be able to get it right more than wrong.

Watching the marches, the protests, the taking the knee, it is a commendable grand gesture but how does it teach, enlighten or instruct. I am fully aware that these events contain a few hell bent on chaos and destruction and a few more who get polluted by the mob mentality, but I am yet to understand how defacing buildings, statues, plinths, memorials will teach, enlighten or educate.

Where do I learn the other side of the story without being branded a racist, a privileged white b*itch, or such like, or being shouted at “you’ll never understand coz you’re not black”. Violence, rage, destruction, aggressive language etc will not help change minds, or teach a better way, it will fuel the old assumptions and stereotypes. It will instil fear and anxiety.

There was a particular image that enraged me to utter gutteral wanton disgust … it made me so angry I wished true, long term harm upon another person. Here is that image.

This is the Cenotaph. It stands in Whitehall, London. There are only three words on it “The Glorious Dead” and we see someone trying to set fire to the Union flag. The Cenotaph is a memorial to all those who died in the World Wars, all those who enlisted, all those who volunteered, all those hundreds of thousands who were conscripted, from ALL nations of the Commonwealth (last time I checked that warmly, willingly, includes ethnic minorities). For the millions who fought, suffered, were injured, who died, defending and protecting many rights and freedoms people so quickly abuse today. This person saw fit to trample and abuse that – my cynical sarcastic mind wants to ask “Is it because the Portland stone is too white?”

So what will the consequences be, for me ….. Well, I’ll be blunt and honest, it will scare me. What if as I go to enter a door and don’t stop to let the ethnic person go first, am I about to be called racist. If I hold the door to let the ethnic person go first, am I exerting my white privilege. If I enquire for explanation or understanding about an opinion or action, am I being confrontational. I fully realise that not everyone is carrying that hair triggered chip on the shoulder but because so many do, how do I avoid getting snapped at, or flattened with a knee at my neck.

Dear World, I myself alone have no control on what happened during the past two-three hundred plus years or more. In that, I am powerless. I can only be responsible for my personal actions of the past five decades (and a smidge bit, very slim but more). I hope I have always been equally respectful and friendly to everyone I have ever encountered, for that is the best I can do.

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2020 in In The News, Life, people

 

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The Rot Set In

How are you? How are you managing in these trying of time? Have you started avoiding the news and social media reporting? Are you feeling the need to contact that friend in your phone book you haven’t seen or spoken to in decades? Have you tackled that oft put off job?

Day one-hundred-fifth-something of being at home for me … it feels like the rot has set in, I could twiddle some yarn, I should get to reading that book, I would feel better if I tackled a task or two but ……….. no excuse nor reason, just the arse cannot be bothered. I usually quarantine myself during winter, after all if there’s no need to go out in the yucky weather there’s less chance of catching cold which evolves to chest infections. The pandemic timing extended that, cancelled BFF’s visit and the high jinks we were planning, means an additional three+ months have been added.

I’ve had two letters regarding my health condition and CoVid19, one on behalf of my GP from the Clinical Commissioning Group stating I am “likely to feel unwell”, so that’s reassuring, unwell sounds light, like a hay fever sniffle. But the letter from the Neuromuscular Advisory Unit has said I am at “high risk of serious illness”, that sounds rather worrying, conjures images of tubes and machine beeps. I cannot get out, so I’m not at greater risk and my carers are diligent with their precautions.

I’ve enjoyed the access viewing, things like the Thursday night National Theatre productions being streamed on YouTube, I’d never be able to attend in person, so this opportunity has been relished. I’ve been totally engrossed in all of them, marvelling at the staging, the acting, the imagination, seeing productions I heard of but never seen, like Treasure Island, One Man Two G’vnrs, Frankenstein, Twelfth Night, Jane Ayre, Anthony & Cleopatra, Street Car Named Desire, next week The House. There has been the Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Jesus Christ Superstar was outstanding. Various orchestras and musicians have been producing videos of performances, some quarantine themed, changing the words of known songs, some of performing classical pieces without the pomp and ceremony of the venues. Of course the small children or small pets interrupting has been amusing.

When this is over, what will we take away from it? There will always be selfish idiots, there will always be negative attacking media, there will always be unreported acts of kindness.

I sense a general mood change as I watch/listen to the vox poluli… an undertone of resentment and slight anger. Maybe it is the media bias but the consensus seems to be that Joe Ordinary doesn’t want his kids to go back to school but does want the pub to open … people jump in their car and drive to the beach and are shocked and surprised that five hundred or more had the exact same idea … persons in positions of knowledge and authority flout the rules and ignore the old time lead by example ethos.

As the aftermath of WW2 did for Churchill, will the aftermath do for Boris … will any politician or party truly be trusted and reliable in an era of PR and popularity over substance and commitment. Will I get out of my hovel this side of Christmas!!

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2020 in General, In The News, Life

 

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CoVid-19

Well here we all are, being all cosy and shut in, some are out and about doing their essential duties and a huge THANK YOU to them all. It was been interesting watching the tv reports, media articles and social media reaction. Soo, what do we think of it so far.

Quick run down of the media v chief medical advisor advice. Official advice on the symptoms is …

  • Fever
  • Persistent dry cough

According to the media symptoms are

  • Loss of sense of smell
  • Loss of sense of taste
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach and intestine issues
  • Breathlessness
  • Headache
  • A dozen other unsubstantiated drivel 🙄

Then we have the behaviour versus the rules. Officially we have been told

  • Only go out to buy food or get medicines
  • Travel to/from work if it’s essential
  • Short exercise (maintaining social distance)

But what are people ‘actually’ doing? The majority seem to be able to follow the appropriate guidelines but, as ever, there is a selfish element in our society that ignored, flouted and even blatantly acting ridiculously.

There are horror stories of gangs gathering, of people spitting, of people acing out, punching, attacking anyone who crosses their actions. People have been selfishly stockpiling food and loo rolls, actively yanking out of others hands or filling three, four trolleys of items. It’s not actions driven by fear but by selfish greed, either to resell at hiked prices or do be smug.

AS FOR ME ….. I’m okay, I self isolate in January, February and March because I want to socially distance from the usual coughs and colds, so it’s just being extended. My Carers complete the four daily visits and I’ve been assured that as in most need I am a priority for continued care. I’ve enough in the cupboard to get me to my grocery delivery (might get a bit odd next weekend) but depending what they bring and whether I can book another slot *shrug* but Carers, neighbours and family have offered to shop.

Sadly, broken heartedly, brought to tears, my BFF has had to cancel her visit but she has rebooked for June. I hope some of these restrictions can be reduced before then.

When this is all over …. I am definitely having that bumper British breakfast delivered by a local diner – delayed deserved birthday bonanza.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2020 in In The News, Life, people

 

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Review – Hunters

It’s been a while since I wrote a review, after binge watching this series I thought I’d put digits to keys.

WARNING. :: This series is not for the faint hearted, it is highly explicit in language, violence, sex, torture and gore, if you are alright with that sort of thing then it is a very watchable series.

PREMISE :: Shortly after WW2 there was another kind of battle, who could claim the highest intelligent scientific and medical minds for their country. Thousands of former card carrying or oppressed into Nazi-ism people were given opportunities to relocate around the globe, some to the U.K., a high number to Argentina and other South American countries but the biggest tussle was between the USSR and the USA.

This brought much conflict in the USA as the nation had also become a refuge for many thousands of Jews, who either fled Europe or survived the atrocities. Known as Operation Paperclip, many Germanic scientists were instrumental in the space program, as well as thousands living peaceful lives as doctors, teachers, business leaders, bankers, police officials, government agency personnel etc.

Across time these hiders would be discovered, or recognised and attempts would be made to bring them to war crime justice, but the politics often meant they were just spirited away to another part of America.

THE SERIES :: A very affluent Jew puts together a rag bag of people to hunt down these villains, the torturers of the Death Camps and administer a little retribution of their own. Centering around the young teen Jonah, whose Safta (Grandma) was shot by a Nazi when she threatened to uncovered his truth, he is taught the horror and truth by those connected to those haunting names of Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen and how it is right and relevant for his generation to keep up the fight. But it is not that straightforward, everyone has their secrets, their own reasons and motives for working together. The biggest being that potentially a fourth Reich could rise and take over the largest democratic country, from the inside, with help from those in South America (and an enigmatic leader with eyebrow raising connection).

THE DELIVERY :: I didn’t really ‘get’ into the style of delivery until the third episode. In general I found the whole thing frustrating and gripping, straightforward and complicated, over exaggerated and subtle, far fetched and plausible, thought provoking and fanciful, and list of contradictions. Other reviewers have labelled these contradictions as Tarantino-esque and that’s a deserved description.

The interspersed stories of Meyer (Jewish Nazi Hunter leader) and Ruth (Jonah’s Safta and Meyers true love) during their time in the death camp, and others cleverly connects the past with the present, which for this series is 1977 New York.

THE ENDING :: Hmm, without giving too much away, the ending was equally satisfying and not so. I don’t know if this was written as a one series drama or whether it was written with a potential second or spin off, let’s just say that door is slightly ajar.

There were some excellent plot twists, confessions and character actions. There were also some very annoying confusions, I’ve no idea why the Vietnam Vet was kidnapped and taken to the Argentinian hub of the uprising, other than to reveal a twist. I’ve no clue about the English catholic Jew nun (don’t ask, I’m not sure either) her story, motive, truth.

Over all it was worth the watch and I would watch a second series.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2020 in Films, In The News, Review

 

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To License or Not To License…

I’ve been following the ‘debate’ on Twitter about the possible scraping of the BBC License Fee and making the BBC a subscription service. It’s been quite interesting weeding through the ignorant crap to find the intelligent comment. I have always felt that many people (myself included) don’t really know how far and where all the tendrils extend but I have also felt that like with any non-commercial cantered organisation, it is likely over staffed and mildly inefficient and archaic in its ways – and I think this is so with the BBC.

How people access their media entertainment has vastly changed, the style, genre and quality of media has dramatically changed – not all for the better. Statistics and research shows that the under 30’s are not sitting watching tv in general, or the BBC in particular, live as it airs but tending to pick and choose via the iPlayer on their smart tv’s and mobile devices. But they are still accessing BBC tv, however it is all the other branches of the organisation that are getting overlooked when people are questioned about it.

It stands to reason that people will only comment on the area of the corporation they access, that’s the only bit they know. So what of the BBC do I regularly access.

  • BBC tv, admittedly I don’t watch as much as I used to, but I do watch numerous dramas series whether it’s weekly ones like Holly City, serial dramas like Peaky Blinders, or one off dramas like the Christine Keeler story; several quiz shows fun ones like Richard Osman’s House Of Card and impossible ones like Only Connect; a lot of the tennis especially Wimbledon; and films. I watch things live as well as via the iPlayer.
  • BBC radio. I listen to The Archers each week, and often listen to panel games, comedies and dramas on BBC Sounds. I used to listen to BBC2 daily when I spent mornings at my desk but it’s a habit that has been broken. As a child it was the local BBC station we had on for news, weather, traffic, to hear if my school was closed on snow days, etc.
  • BBCNews. Generally I tend to avoid the news but I do tend to watch my local BBC programme most nights, and tend to catch the BBC headlines. I find the delivery (if not the content) less sensationalised. I will often peruse the website for info, but find the content dated compared to some news sites.

Making the BBC a commercially motivated business will have an impact on the quantity, quality and variety of out put. It was interesting to read via some tweets areas that didn’t immediately spring to mind, such as The Proms and national and local orchestra funding, children’s tv, the nature and history out put, local news and magazine interest reports both local tv and radio, the publications available, these kinds of areas that cannot stand alone as viable businesses but can collectively support each other.

What I didn’t realise until today was that about half of my license fee covers salaries and pensions – that is staggering.

What worries me is how any change would affect what’s freely available, how much content would be lost, how it will significantly narrow what is produced being lead by what cheap to make and easy to mass sell.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2020 in General, In The News

 

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Fair Winds Following Seas – Farewell Friend

I’m saying good bye to another old friend, a tangible piece of my life’s adventure.

The Jubilee Sailing Trust operates two tall ships that are designed to accommodate many forms of disability, not only things like deafness and sight impaired, but also stroke victims, amputees, wheelchair users and mental health sufferers. We are all involved within the watch rota to sail the ships and keep them shipshape. Across her thirty year history STS Lord Nelson known as “Nellie”, has circumnavigated the globe, chased icebergs, clipped the Bermuda Triangle, tamed the China Seas, she has raced as part of the tall ship fleets and been the floating ambassador and has touched hundreds of thousands of mixed ability lives for the better.

A family friend passed a brochure to me in the eighties and I had toyed with the idea of running away to sea, so when Nellie visited my home port I secretly took myself off, explored her and spoke to a volunteer crew member, over a mug of hot tea and freshly baked cake we chatted, mused, discussed and laughed. After that I made up my mind to throw myself fully into this once-in-a-lifetime-never-to-repeat adventure and booked a four-week passage from Southampton to Gran Canaria via Lisbon.

The experience was nerve wracking, exhilarating, daunting, engaging, challenging, educational, but filled with hilarity, congeniality, and above all else, equality. We were just a bunch of people sailing together. I enjoyed myself so much that I repeated the experience another two times on Nellie before my last voyage on the sister ship Tenacious. The atmosphere and camaraderie onboard is indescribable and so special. It’s where I learnt to tie a bona fide hangman’s noose, take down the shipping forecast, complete obs for the Met Office. I’ve hauled ropes, peeled potatoes, polished brass, coiled ropes, swabbed decks, scrubbed toilets, pulled ropes, brewed tea, repaired flags, and messed about with ropes. I’ve been man handled, hauled, shoved, shifted, and tied down, I’ve laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed; I’ve helmed, watched, hauled, radioed, taught navigation rhymes, learnt a bewildering language of terms and created a few specific to Nellie and many other such useful/less life skills. I even have a qualification, the Department of Transport Steering Competency (sailing) Certificate from time at the helm before the mast. I’ve made friends I still keep in touch with. I’ve had conversations and shared experiences (like being at the helm when we were struck by lightning, playing with dolphins, counting shooting stars). There are anecdotes galore, not all repeatable in polite company.

Recently the Trust has been forced to look hard at its future running. A promised significant donation from a business source failed to materialise resulting in the Trust nearly folding (we raised £1 million in a week to save it). Subsequently the decision has been sadly made to decommission Nellie.

I kept a detailed diary, my (dis)abled seapersons twig (as opposed to captains log) for two of my voyages are on my website www.amgroves.com It’s on my list to add the others.

It is unknown what her next adventure will be, but I wish her fair winds and following seas, as we salty dog types say; and another piece of my heart is broken and another tear will fall.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2019 in In The News, Life, people, Projects, Website

 

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Reporting Menacing Phish


Well, it’s not exactly what I had planned for my afternoon.  Firstly, I am fine, these things don’t bother me.

Today I was intending to do a spot of cyber housework (it’s easier than off screen house work). I logged into the server and headed to the emails, a mixed bunch of fan query, fan fawning and spam, but there was one that caught attention.  I knew it was phishing for personal details, financial fraud, general trickery but it was the manner and topic that was a little different.  It threatened to release to all my contacts a video of me that was sexually explicit, as well as pornographic images and spread rumour of deviancy with children unless I sent x-thousand via Bitcoin to a specified account.  The hacker generously explained how the deadline could be extended and even bragged about being able to hide his identity, seek sanctuary from all laws because they were not in my country, and that any ‘federal’ involvement would mean the stuff would be circulated immediately.

As this particular webmail client is tricky to manage, junk wise, I get regular emails from phishing fake accounts trying to get me to click a link, rearrange courier delivery, download court non-payment papers, etc.  Apart from being quite a savvy person, I know these are scams as the email address isn’t really used for anything other than web site business, so they get deleted and a new junk filter created to redirect others.

However, the particularly articulate, menacing, intimidating language of this email made me stop and think, hmmm I can fully see why the more nervy would fall for this, panic and stress over this, maybe send funds, even if they are completely innocent of all allegations (mud sticks and all that), so I decided to file a report with the Cyber Crimes people.  It was very straight forward, we shall see what occurs (if anything).

Well, well, hmm, there ya go!

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2019 in General, In The News, Tech, Website

 

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Remembrance


As per my tradition, I always watch the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance and the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph.  It is important to remember and reflect the sacrifices, trials and hardships of these two most gruesome of wars.  Whilst I am humbled and thankful to all those men and women who chose and still choose our amazing armed forces as a career path, I always specifically think about the hundreds and thousands of people who were conscripted to join the war effort, those who during war time volunteered to join, ordinary people who didn’t have a tantrum of ‘it’s not fair’, who didn’t have the modern day selfish, I’m owed privilege, but with pride, patriotism and sense of duty went to defend their way of life, and our future.

As I watch ‘the old guard’ march past the Cenotaph, I remember the remembrance service I stood at in November 1994.  I cannot tell you where I was, because I was standing at the bow of STS Lord Nelson as Captain John Fisher led us.  My voyage was in its second week, so likely just off the coast of Portugal.  As we sailed the Atlantic Coast with the sun shining around the white clouds, as we crested the rolling waves, my buddy and I trying not to burst into giggles at the thought of a crashing wave washing the foredeck at the bowsprit.  Trying to keep to the tune and timing of “those in peril on the sea” hymn without any accompaniment.  Quite poignant and moving to be so isolated on the vest ocean, yet knowing such services were taking part all over the globe.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2018 in General, In The News, Life, people

 

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Plastics Parasitical Paradox


The plastics industry does not want you to stop needing plastic products, it stands to simple basic business reason. Until such time as scrap waste has a commercial value, on a global scale, there will be no drive or strive for improvement.  Also, the reliance on plastic is a global issue, we may be doing our bit by putting our empty bottles in the recycling bin at home, but what about when you are out and about? Do you bring your empty bottle home to put in your recycle bin or bung it in the first available everything and anything trash unit?  Whilst we in the UK are ‘doing our but’, what about some of these emerging, growing, economic countries, we’ve seen the photos of the Mayan river choked with discarded rubbish.

Think it’s not such a big deal? Back about a couple of decades or so ago, before home recycling really took off, many charities would collect old newspapers, when they had a car full off they’d drive to a centre who would weigh it and give them a cheque – it became a highly lucrative income stream. Paper had a commercial value, it was worth collecting. Then all of a sudden it became worthless, a happenstance that could be attributed to the following. American was in an economic depression (what’s that to do with me dog eared copy of Pigeon Fanciers Gazette). Well you see folks, because the jolly US of A peeps weren’t out spending, there was less being imported, significant quantities coming from China, therefore less cartons, boxes and packaging were produced which were made from recycled paper. Old paper and cardboard was exported to China from many corners of the globe, for recycling and then used to produce more boxes and packaging.  

So you see, so much of things are commercially driven.  Currently there is a commendable movement to reduce ‘single use plastics’, there is hardly a product in our home now that doesn’t have a plastic element. It will take decades, a lot of joined up thinking and action before anything will change.  The general public consumer is being told to choose the non-plastic version, take your own country cup to the coffee shop, recycle your old/used items, but unless those items are readily available at a comparable price, it will be slow going, and incredibly minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

Many more of our daily use items (I’m envisioning toothbrushes, food containers, picnic sets, children’s toys, garment hangers etc) are made of an un-recyclable plastic. This is where business needs to do its part, research and develop a recycling method for that plastic, find the market for the recycled plastic to be used or switch to a recyclable plastic version. All this is beyond the realm of we mere consumers. 
Until everybody, everywhere, gets onboard, we will still continue choking.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2018 in In The News

 

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She’s Wrong/He’s Right


Ain’t social media fun!  Recently Kirstie Allsopp was lambasted in the media, which the Twitterarty then jumped on the bandwagon and went fully armed negative, because she has replied to a question. But as ever the media and rwitterees only cherry picked the tiny bit that they objected to and bashed away madly.  In a nut shell Kirstie said she flew “Premium Economy” (that’s not first class nor business class) but her tweenie and teenage children went economy because they needed to understand that a privilege should be earned.  Okay, what wasn’t taken onboard, well, often the distance between the rows may have been about 4/6 roes, the kiddos were accompanied with adult step children, when boarding Kirstie introduces herself to the cabin crew and adults seated near children and let them know where she is, during the flight she regulars walks down to check on them.  Her children are not annoyed by the seating arrangements, infact they prefer it as Mum isn’t constantly overseeing everything they do. She’s never been called back because of unruly behaviour.

As for people’s comments, you’d have thought she’d let them play on the motorway, swigging vodka, juggling razor blades! They were truly rude, condemning and highly critical of her parenting ability, I’m sure threats to call Social Services were made.

Her tv presenter partner Pip on the other hand remarked “We leave the kids at home to look after the dogs!” … Has he been called the demon of dads? Has he been bombarded with comments of how disgusting he is? Nope.

To me, it’s yet another example of gender hypocrisy.  Mum’s are wrong, Dad’s are applauded.

It’s the ‘men sow ya oats, women be pure and virtuous’, double standard.

There never will be equality across the sexes.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2018 in In The News, people

 

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