Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tom Brown on the Luddites.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"If you're going to take me you'll need reinforcements."
Our six-year-old grandson stayed over last night while his parents were involved in hospital visiting. I was subjected to a short course in superhero identification. This also involved the naming of their enemies, known to my grandson as "the bad guys". It seems that the USA has an endless supply of superheroes and supervillains (if the latter can be so called).
I tried to memorise as many names as possible, but they came thick and fast. One thing I picked up on; anyone bearing the title "Doctor" is a villain. I remember Dr. Octopus and Dr. Doom.
So let's see how many I can remember -
Spiderman, Iron Man, The Hulk, Robot Hulk, Captain America, Wolverine, Green Lantern (the good guys).
The aforementioned doctors, Sandman, Abomination, Bane, Mister Mysterio, the Question (the bad guys).
Electro, Magneto, Strongman (I can't remember which group these should be assigned to).
Battledroids; these may not belong here, but grandson informed me that they are useless, because they run away or fall down.
Additional useful information: Mister Mysterio (Misterio?) has a round head with no eyes, nose or mouth; the Question has an oval head with just a nose.

It seems that there are toy versions of all these creatures, and electronic games involving them. So dig deep, parents of boys.

Note: my grandson uses the word "guys". English language courtesy of Hollywood.

Addendum: Ghost Rider. Sounds like a baddie, but I'm not sure. Either wears a skeleton suit or is a skeleton, memory failure again. Head is on fire, Arthur Brown style.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Yesterday I read of the death of a US author named Henry Bernstein who was first published at the age of 93. I was going to comment that I might get published yet, but I've no intention of writing anything, so why pretend.
It's a little like my missus talking of what she would do with a big lottery win in spite of not participating in "the tax on stupidity" (Adam Smith?).
Thinking about the whole business of authorship and publication brought to mind an occasion when I was called on to be a literary midwife (so to speak).

A mate of mine of a criminal bent, in and out of prison for various acts of dishonesty, turned up at my gaff one day with a sheaf of grubby notepaper and a biro. "Me and you's gonna write a play" he declared.
"What are you on about?" was my first question.
Well, I've just seen in the paper about this jam duff who got murdered by his boyfriend. He'd written a play, and it said it was making so much money he wouldn't have to do a stroke for the rest of his life."
He was referring to the recent murder of the playwright Joe Orton, murdered by his lover who then committed suicide. "Jam duff" was my mate's term for a homosexual, rhyming slang that only works for Northerners.
"What are you going to write about?" I asked.
"Oh, I've got plenty of ideas. I just need you to do the spelling and put in the full stops and stuff like that."
He outlined one story, a revenge yarn, a sort of "Count of Monte Cristo" in a modern setting. He jawed on for what seemed like hours without writing a single word. Then, thinking of something else he had to do, he gathered up his writing materials and left.
I didn't see him again for a few months. When I ran into him I asked him how the play was going. The desire for literary fame and fortune had not lasted. Nothing had made it to paper. Another moneymaking scheme had been conceived, far less honest than play writing. Was I interested in joining him in its operation. I was not.

Another time I met him in a pub with his wife. He'd just come out of prison. "Show him that poem I wrote to you while I was in there" he said to the missus. She pulled out a letter and handed it to me. The poem began as expected.
I love you X I really do.
You know I always will be true.
That kind of thing for about six lines, then it turned very literary, obviously written by a real poet.
"Get out of it", I said, "you didn't write that." His wife couldn't hear, of course.
"I copied it out of a book in the prison library" he admitted. "Good though, innit."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The three young Germans in the photograph were executed by the Nazis in 1943 for their resistance activities, mainly distributing anti-Nazi literature. The reason I post it is that I was exercised by something I'd seen on BBC Channel 4 on Saturday.
For three successive Saturday evenings the BBC has shown a German mini-series, "Generation War: Our Mothers, Our Fathers". It was pretty harrowing stuff, but the so is war, so is enemy occupation.
The story was about five young friends, c.20 years old. Two of them are soldiers about to depart for the Eastern Front. The third male is Jewish, and is planning to leave for France. One of the two females, in love with one of the soldiers, has become a military nurse, the other is a singer, and the lover of the Jewish lad, Viktor. Initially all but Viktor are loyal Germans, accepting Nazi rule without any fanaticism. They accept too the necessity of war while regretting the separation it brings.
Gradually, as the story progresses, disillusion sets in along with the realisation that defeat is inevitable. The struggle to survive becomes the main motivation.

Immediately after the final episode a discussion of the series took place, in true BBC fashion. There was a line to be followed. The main theme of the party line was that it was impossible for Germans of that age to feel as they did, to have second thoughts about the regime and the war. All would have been educated under the Nazis and been enlisted in the Hitler Youth.
The story of the White Rose resistance group gives the lie to the BBC line. That is why I feature it here.
A second gripe from the assembled revisionists; the portrayal of Polish partisans as anti-Semitic. Not so, they claimed. Well there were Jewish partisan groups, and there were Communist partisans who would have suppressed any open anti-Semitism in their ranks. But there were anti-Communist, anti-Semitic partisan groups who regarded Jews and Communists as being out of the same belly. Anti-semitism was prevalent in Poland, as elsewhere in Eastern Europe.To deny this is dishonest, but deny they did.
One member of the panel was Eva Hoffmann, a historian whose work I've enjoyed. She did suggest that anti-Semitism existed in Poland, but didn't make much of it. Perhaps she felt that a little soft pedalling was in order.
Now I have to admit that, being sickened by the falsity of the discussion, I gave up on it after the anti-Semitism, or NO anti-Semitism, discussion.
I had expected a further gripe.
In the final episode Viktor returns to Berlin and begins the search for Greta, his lover. In the course of his enquiries he visits an office run by the occupying Americans. There he comes face to face with the SS officer who had sent him to the death camp (he escaped en route). This man was now working for the Americans. Viktor informed the US officer in charge of the SS man's identity, and was ignored.
The employment of Nazis as administrators by the occupying forces is well known. One reason was that most of those opposed to the former regime were mainly Communists and not trusted by the allies.
I'm sure that this allusion to the reinstatement of the recent enemy would not have been allowed to stand by the historical revisionists. Some things, well known to historians, are not for widespread dissemination. The makers of the film would, I'm sure, have been criticised for that scene, historically accurate as it was.

The following is about the White Rose group.
Today in Mighty Girl history, one of Germany’s most famous anti-Nazi heroes, Sophie Scholl, was born in 1921. As a university student in Munich, Scholl, along with her brother, Hans, and several friends, formed a non-violent, anti-Nazi resistance group called the White Rose. The group ran a leaflet and graffiti campaign calling on their fellow Germans to resist Hilter's regime.
Scholl became involved in resistance organizing after learning of the mass killings of Jews and reading an anti-Nazi sermon by Clemens August Graf von Galen, the Roman Catholic Bishop of M√ľnster. She was deeply moved by the "theology of conscience" and declared, "Somebody, after all, had to make a start. What we wrote and said is also believed by many others. They just don't dare express themselves as we did."
In 1943, Scholl and the other members of the White Rose were arrested by the Gestapo for distributing leaflets at the University of Munich and taken to Stadelheim Prison. After a short trial on February 22, 1943, Scholl, her brother Hans and their friend Christop Probst, all pictured here, were found guilty of treason and sentenced to death.
At her execution only a few hours later, Scholl made this final statement: "How can we expect righteousness to prevail when there is hardly anyone willing to give himself up individually to a righteous cause. Such a fine, sunny day, and I have to go, but what does my death matter, if through us thousands of people are awakened and stirred to action?"
Following the deaths of the White Rose's leaders, their final leaflet was smuggled to England. In mid-1943, Allied Forces dropped millions of copies of the "Manifesto of the Students of Munich" over Germany. Scholl is now honored as one of the great German heroes who actively opposed the Nazi regime.
For two books for adult readers about Sophie Scholl and the White Rose, check out "Sophie Scholl and the White Rose" ( and "The White Rose: Munich, 1942-1943" (
For an excellent film about Scholl's incredible story, we highly recommend "Sophie Scholl – The Final Days" which received an Oscar nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2005. The film, recommended for viewers 13 and up, is an excellent way to introduce teens to the bravery and perseverance of those who resisted the Nazi regime -- learn more at
For books for both children and teens about girls and women who lived during the Holocaust period, including stories of other heroic resisters and rescuers, check out our post for Holocaust Remembrance Week at
For our recommendations of the best books and films about another real-life Mighty Girl who lived during this period, visit our tribute to Anne Frank: "Hope in a Hidden Room: A Mighty Girl Salutes Anne Frank" at
To browse our entire "WWII/Holocaust", visit
For more true stories of heroic girls and women, visit A Mighty Girl's "Heroes" section in biographies at

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Moving Target.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Jeremy Paxman leaving the BBC - Director General Tony Hall called him "a rare and dazzling talent". Imagine how pathetic the rest of the BBC crew are. "Rare" probably means he's not a paid up member of the Conservative Party (though one can never be sure).

Consider the fact that as of 2011 (the point at which they stopped counting) the actual figure of those lost due to the actions of the Tories stood at 10,600 people dead, so that figure is going to be a great deal higher now. Therefore, this list is not an exhaustive one as it shows only those names that have been reported upon via the press and media.

It will be added to as new victims come to light.

Thanks to Paul Smith for most of these names...

Terry McGarvey, 48. Dangerously ill from polycytheamia, Terry asked for an ambulance to be called during his Work Capability Assessment. He knew that he wasn't well enough to attend his WCA but feared that his benefits would be stopped if he did not. He died the following day.

Elaine Lowe, 53. Suffering from COPD and fearful of losing her benefits. Committed suicide.

Mark Wood, 44. Found fit for work by Atos, against his Doctors advice and assertions that he had complex mental health problems. Starved to death after benefits stopped, weighing only 5st 8lb when he died.

Paul Reekie, 48, the Leith based Poet and Author. Suffered from severe depression. Committed suicide after DWP stopped his benefits due to an 'Atos fit for work' decision.

Leanne Chambers, 30. Suffered depression for many years which took a turn for the worst when she was called in for a WCA. Leanne committed suicide soon after.

Karen Sherlock. Multiple health issues. Found fit for work by Atos and denied benefits. Fought a long battle to get placed into the support group of ESA. Died the following month of a heart attack.

Carl Payne, 42. Fears of losing his lifeline benefits due to welfare reform led this Father of two to take his own life.

Tim Salter, 53. Blind and suffering from Agoraphobia. Tim hanged himself after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Edward Jacques, 47 years old and suffering from HIV and Hepatitis C. Edward had a history of severe depression and self-harm. He took a fatal overdose after Atos found him fit for work and stopped his benefits.

Linda Wootton, 49 years old died just nine days after the government found her fit for work.

Steven Cawthra, 55. His benefits stopped by the DWP and with rising debts, he chose suicide as the only way out.

Elenore Tatton, 39 years old. Died just weeks after the government found her fit for work.

John Walker, 57, saddled with debt because of the bedroom tax. He took his own life.

Brian McArdle, 57 years old. Suffered a fatal heart attack the day after his disability benefits were stopped.

Stephen Hill, 53. Died of a heart attack one month after being found fit for work even though he was waiting for major heart surgery.

Jacqueline Harris, 53. A former Nurse who could hardly walk was found fit for work by Atos and her benefits withdrawn. She took her own life.

David Barr, 28. Suffering from severe mental difficulties. Threw himself from a bridge after being found fit for work by Atos and failing his appeal.

David Groves, 56. Died of a heart attack the night before taking his work capability assessment. His widow said it was the stress that killed him.

Nicholas Peter Barker, 51. Shot himself after being told his benefits were being stopped. He was unable to work after a brain haemorrhage left him paralysed down one side.

Mark and Helen Mullins, 48 and 59 years old. Forced to live on £57.50 a week and make 12 mile trips each week to get free vegetables to make soup. They both committed suicide.

Richard Sanderson, 44. Unable to find a job and with his housing benefit cut forcing him to move, but with nowhere to go. He committed suicide.

Martin Rust, 36 years old. A schizophrenic man who killed himself two months after the government found him fit to work.

Craig Monk, 43. A vulnerable gentleman and a partial amputee slipped so far into poverty that he hanged himself.

Colin Traynor, 29, who suffered from epilepsy, stripped of his benefits. He appealed. Five weeks after his death his family found he had won his appeal.

Elaine Christian, 57 years old. Worried about her work capability assessment, she was found at Holderness drain, drowned and with ten self inflicted wrist wounds.

Christelle and Kayjah Pardoe, 32 years and 5 month old. Pregnant, her benefits stopped, Christelle, clutching her baby son jumped from a third floor balcony.

Mark Scott, 46. His DLA and housing benefit had been stopped. Sinking into deep depression, he died six weeks later.

Cecilia Burns, 51. Found fit for work while undergoing treatment for breast cancer. She died just a few weeks after she won her appeal.

Chris Cann, 57 years old. Found dead in his home just months after being told he had to undergo a medical assessment to prove he could not work.

Peter Hodgson, 49. Called to JCP to see if he was suitable for volunteer work. He had suffered a stroke, a brain haemorrhage and had a fused leg. His appointment letter arrived a few days after he took his own life.

Paul Willcoxsin, 33 years old. Suffered with mental health problems and worried about government cuts. Committed suicide by hanging himself.

Stephanie Bottrill, 53. After paying £80 a month for bedroom tax, Stephanie could not afford heating in the winter, and lived on tinned custard. She chose to walk in front of a lorry.

Larry Newman suffered from a degenerative lung condition. His weight had dropped from 10 to 7 stone. Atos awarded him zero points, he died just three months after submitting his appeal.

Paul Turner, 52 years old. After suffering a heart attack, he was ordered to find a job in February. In April he died from ischaemic heart disease.

Christopher Charles Harkness, 39. After finding out that the funding for his care home was being withdrawn, this man who suffered with mental health issues, took his own life.

Sandra Louise Moon, 57. Suffering from a degenerative back condition and depression worried about losing her incapacity benefit. Sandra committed suicide by taking an overdose.

Lee Robinson, 39 years old. Took his own life after his housing benefit and council tax were taken away.

David Coupe, 57. Cancer sufferer found fit for work by Atos in 2012. Lost his sight, then his hearing, then his mobility, and then his life.

Michael McNicholas, 34. Severely depressed and a recovering alcoholic. Michael committed suicide after being called in for a WCA by Atos.

Victor Cuff, 59. Suffering from severe depression. Hanged himself after the DWP stopped his benefits.

Charles Barden, 74. Committed suicide by hanging due to fears that the Bedroom Tax would leave him unable to cope.

Ian Caress, 43. Suffered multiple health issues and deteriorating eyesight. Found fit for work by Atos, died ten months later having lost so much weight that his family said he resembled a concentration camp victim.

Ian hodge, 30. Suffered from the life threatening illness, Hughes Syndrome. Found fit for work by Atos and benefits stopped, he took his own life.