Tuesday, 28 August 2007
Can anyone else achieve that?
Monday, 27 August 2007
Tony Blair is so well meaning in his warlike actions. He greatly respected Mgt Thatcher's premiership and she was a great fan of Churchill who authorised the overthrow of democratically elected Mosadeq in Iran in 1953 and supported our attack on Egypt in 1956 over the Suez Canal. This tradition of 60 years of warfare, of using the military on foreign soil, greatly helped our Anglo Catholic Tony to join conservative evangelical George W in launching the war of terrorism on 10/7 after the criminal act on 9/11! Bouncy, chuckly, irrepressible Tutu said 9/11 was a criminal act rather than an act of war. However, our Tony being well intentioned, charming, nice and such a superb speech maker is not good enough, me thinks. But it is for the Labour Party who adore him!
Tony is simply the latest in a long line of British PMs who love warfare or, war fighting as he prefers to call it. Churchill, even after our very necessary victory in 1945; Eden, with Egypt; Wilson in supporting the USA over Vietnam but without sending troops; Thatcher with the Falklands War and that unlikely victory for us Brits; Major with the 1991 war to oust Iraq from Kuwait; Blair with his wars until he came badly undone with his last attack on an independent, sovereign nation in March 2003.
Centuries of warfare amongst the W European nations and taking their wars abroad to win their empires around the world, culminated in the not so grand climax of the World War in two halves. That finally silenced their guns at each other and the EU was born with the Treaty of Rome.
Our centuries of violent history in W Europe - we alone had many wars with France, Spain and the Netherlands - culminated in the British concentration camps of the Boer War and deaths of more than 20,000 Boer women and children, alone! If that wasn't enough, we joined in the foolish Great War to end all wars, with our young men rushing to the Front to join in the warring fun. They thought it would all be over by Christmas 1914!
Former Conservative leader, Sir Ian Duncan Smith, has acknowledged that that war led to the 2nd World War. Therefore, I think it is legitimate to say that Hitler was the consequence of centuries of warfare in W Europe. The men of violence and the nations of violence, like our own, were entirely responsible for this monster of our own making, with their predilection for aggression, killing and murder. Therefore, one could further argue, it was only right that they should sort out Hitler, rather than the people of non-violent direct action, like me!
Attack on Egypt over Suez: A disproportionate response by the UK, France and Israel that was such a crime of aggression that it did not even get the approval of the USA! There was deception in the House of Commons and support by Churchill and both main political parties. Many more Egyptians killed than on our side.
Vietnam War: According to Dennis Healey, he dissuaded Harold Wilson from joining the US by saying that we were fully engaged in fighting Communism elsewhere in SE Asia and, therefore, could send no troops. 3-4m men, women and children - and mainly civilians -slaughtered by ourselves in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, alone! In shocking contrast, only 58,000 American soldiers and, virtually no American civilians died. Our side used WMD - "tens of million of gallons of agent orange dioxin was sprayed on Vietnam and babies with hideous deformities are still being born", said Christopher Hitchens on 'Start the Week' on 30.5.05.
Cambodian civil war may have been one unintended consequence of our warring in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. We certainly did not set the Khmer Rouge a good example!
War on Iran: We used a surrogate, Iraq to attack our old enemy, Iran. 1m young men on both sides died from our weapons between 1980 and 1988. Saddam Hussein, who was "a bitch but he was our son of a bitch", very kindly did our dirty work for us! Unlike ourselves, Iran has not attacked another country for over 200 years!
Diego Garcia: We ejected the Chagos Islanders from Diego Garcia to make way for our best buddy's military air base - fully supported by the voters of our two main political parties that always get by far the bulk of the votes!
Falklands War: A war that Argentina should easily have won had General Galteiri been more ruthless and competent and determined to keep the islands. His exocets might have been used to sink the troop carrying 'Canberra' before the soldiers disembarked. Our unlawful sinking of the 'Belgrano' led to over 400 sailors drowning and freezing to death. And, then,we rejoiced at our mighty victory and gave thanks to God, in St Paul's Cathedral, for his help!
There is a widespread complacency that our actions are wholly admirable. When they turn out not to be, we were well intentioned, thoroughly sincere and we only wanted, after all, the very best for the other country. "It wasn't my fault, guv!" Blair said, time and again, "I did what I considered to be right for the country and my party"!
We can do what we like around the world because we are democrats; we know best for other cultures, religions and political systems. After all, they could not possibly refuse our democratic ways and our God, even if it must be forced on them down the barrel of a gun! Paddy Ashdown said, "International law is made by the strong and powerful. It is what they can get away with!"
Saturday, 25 August 2007
Later, out on some hill, I met Geoff Wood of Bolton who talked of the thrill of nearing a summit when the immediate skyline finally falls away all around you! He was using the only available list of hills over 2,000 feet at that time, in 1980, by George Bridge, 'The Mountains of England and Wales'. I, too, bought the book. Those hills I completed in 1990 and I returned to Scotland to work through all the Munros and Tops in earnest. In total, they make for well over 900 summits over 2,000 feet in England and Wales and over 3,000 feet in Scotland. I have three left at the time of writing. (Now, all completed as of 8 June 2008, when I am updating this.)
FINAL SUMMIT 527 IS A VERY CLOSE SHAVE!
or, Knight's Peak - on our way to our very last summit - bowled a boulder down on us and Becky dodged death by a hair's breadth!
I was with my daughter, Becky and her boyfriend, Tim on 2 June 2008, having just soloed Bhasteir Tooth via the Lotta Corrie route. We were in the gully between Sgurr nan Gillean and my final Top, Knight's Peak, on Pinnacle Ridge. Tim was leading and stepped off a huge boulder wedged in the gully. That extra little push off sent the boulder but not Tim, thankfully, hurtling down. It missed me on my left side but Becky, who was bringing up the rear, had to step smartly to the left as the thing went thundering down in a cloud of dust down her right side. It missed her by centimetres. It was like something out of an Indiana Jones adventure film. The one with the boulder hurtling down, or rather chasing, Harrison Ford! (Becky's account went, "Tim tried to kill me ... I leapt dramatically out of the way!") From then on, we were rather more zealous in checking for loose rock before using it for a handhold or foothold - for the whole of the rest of the week!
THE BOTHY WITH THE TENT INSIDE!
In March 1992, I had two nights at the Hutchison Memorial Hut in the Cairngorms. Except, such was the filth of the place I actually put the tent up inside the bothy when I was ready to sleep in it! On the second night, I didn't bother and simply slept in the tent outside the bothy, on its lee side.
A shower booth door in Aviemore was completely smashed when I slipped and fell through it. I also hit a deer driving to the next hill but, no pheasants!
MOST BIZARRE ITEM, UNINTENTIONALLY CARRIED IN MY RUCSAC
This was a pillow that was in my bivy/sleeping bag when I hurriedly rolled it up from sleeping in the car the previous night. A quick, and late, decision to go led to an inadequate lunch. Later, I felt really weak and unwell until I realised I needed more food and finally stopped! Then, that evening, in the dark, at the summit of some 3,000 footer I couldn't get the tent pole through the sleeve. I finally managed it when I put my back to the wind that had been keeping the sleeve so tightly shut the pole could not be pushed through.
In Knoydart, I kept on meeting up with the same four guys but, I always got to the first summit of the day before them! Thereafter, they soon pulled ahead and were always far ahead of me for the rest of the day. For three mornings that happened. The reason was that although we were all going in the same direction, they had to peel off from the ridge to get to their bothy for the night. I put the tent up exactly where I had reached by the end of the day, with no diversion! On the final morning, I followed them back to their bothy where one of them took pity on my diet of sandwiches and cereal with dried milk and gave me my first hot food (of soup) for four days. Far better, they kindly gave me a lift back to where I had left my car by the dam and where they had left their second car. Otherwise, I would have been out for a fifth day and night just to do the long road walk back. A coincidence was that all four men came from either my home town or near abouts and I met two of them again at a quarterly meeting of the Halesowen Wildlife Group! On this expedition, I lost my rucsac for a few minutes as I hunted round rocks to find it on returning from doing the Munro that looks like a stuck up thumb and far too steep to climb.
DRIVING NAKED THROUGH THE SCOTTISH NIGHT!
Off the A74 in the Southern Uplands, my night's sleep was disturbed by a whirring sound just as I was getting back into my sleeping bag. I thought it was some engine that had started up in the nearby compound. I got into the driving seat and found a quieter spot to park up and sleep. Except, when I switched the engine off, I still had the whirring. I discovered that it was my electric toothbrush that I had put my hand on squeezing back into the sleeping bag! (I no longer bother with such excesses - the elecy toothbrush; not the sleeping bag!)
SAVED BY AN ICE AXE
This was on the N ridge ascending Ben Hope, many winters ago. There was a steep section in the way. Realising that I might slip, I had the ice axe ready to arrest my fall. Just as well I did because I did slip and the ice axe definitely saved me. I was shocked and shaken but soon recovered sufficiently to climb away onto safer ground where I thankfully collapsed into the snow to eat my lunch. I then retreated back to the car that was my base camp. The next day, I climbed Ben Hope successfully from the south in cloud and snow.
Monday, 20 August 2007
Soon, Terry and Georges came striding onto the platform after the warm up man had done his job and introduced them. At the end of the meeting, both men marched off, never to be seen again. They disappeared into a back room and never met their supporters and their most generous donors who had dug deep into their pockets only a few minutes earlier! No personal thanks from Terry who is directly funded by the gifts of the faithful, like those in the packed meeting tonight. I did track the men down and gave Georges the following question:
“Caiphas believed, ‘It is expedient for one man to die for the people.’ You believe it is expedient for 655,000 Iraqis to be slaughtered in less than 4 years, a million severely wounded, over 2m who have fled Iraq and nearly 2m Iraqis displaced within their country. All that was to enable our one time good friend and arms customer to be removed from power. Is that really what Jesus would have done? Don’t you want morality rather than expediency?”
I did not think that Terry was being sincere when he apologised that there was no time for audience questions to either Georges or himself. He stage managed the meeting from beginning to end and the spinning could not allow any risk of an awkward question! From the outset, he had no intention of allowing questions, it seemed to me.
Terry and Georges enthusiastic supporters were loud in their acclamation of Georges' work and for standing up to Saddam Hussein. He was given a standing ovation at one point. Yet, if he knew that there were WMD (actually, chemical weapons) why did he not tell the weapons inspectors and, single-handedly, stop the war? Was it not because he strongly wanted the war to oust his former President - and our one time friend and good arms purchaser? Georges was desperate for the overthrowing of the tyrant. The Bible believing Christians in the meeting were desperate to be reassured that there were WMD, for they had so strongly supported the 19 March 2003 attack!
This great gathering of true Christian believers, believe in evil to overthrow evil; that the ends justify the means but, for me, this is the antithesis of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It is far from paradise.
Sunday, 19 August 2007
Great coastal walk and views of sea stacks and a fourth that was being formed. We found a private beach that could, perhaps be carefully descended down a very steep grass gully to the pebbly beach. Safe in the dry with the studs of fell running shoes, certainly! Then a rock scramble up a ridge of cliff would be an alternative way out.
We came across the white house, with its blue, red and yellow doors. It was called the West End, on National Trust land. There was a superb photo for the taking if the sun had been shining, the blue door closed and if we had our cameras! A gentle curve of quarriers' cottages high above our footpath was also a sight to behold. Outside the village, as we walked through a field, a car driver with dog stopped and asked, "Can I help you?" He sounded and looked somewhat inebriated but was in charge of both dog and car for a dog walk when the car might have been left behind on the village side of the gate! Here, I discovered Colin's bottle of squash had leaked in my rucsac and, thereafter he had the two poly bags to carry himself!
We enjoyed watching the local lads playing football in Tefor. Colin's TV viewing of the professionals at work every week, for him, showed the chasm in performance between the amateurs and professionals.
In the evening, the superb entertainment of Tim Emmett and Julia Bradbury doing Commando Ridge, Crackstone Rib and the Old Man of Storr. Tim jumped into quarry lake, swam with a rope across open sea to the Storr and performed his party trick balancing on a tightrope with a climbing rope slung between car wheel and rock!