Humility, humanity and self-image

My natural inclination is to be shy, some might say withdrawn. Shyness puts you on the edge, the periphery, and you rely on others to draw you in, to a certain extent. It also makes you aware of your own abilities because shy people cannot bluff successfully. We tend to know our limitations and are unwilling to dupe people into thinking otherwise. The reason we know our limitations is because we recognise and admit to our failings and failures. This general lack of arrogance and excessive pride is called humility. Our peripheral position has two outcomes. The first is that we will be welcomed into a group because of the contribution we can make to it. We never seem to be part of it, or integral. We will soon be forgotten when the need for us diminishes. It is a state we are accustomed to. The second outcome is our READ MORE

Times change

It doesn’t do to dwell in the past. Generally comparisons are unreal and unfair. Societies were different, beliefs were different, fears were different. So comparing my life as a young man in the 1970s to the life of someone in their 20s today is a pointless exercise. But history gives us one important lesson. Times change. They definitely changed when the great plague wiped out a third of the population. They changed when whole streets of young men and husbands were wiped out in the first World war. They changed when the male workforce went off to the second World war and women proved they could do the job and began a slow march to equality. They changed when our coal, steel and other manufacturing industries were wiped out by the lack of raw materials, technological advances and internal market forces. I don’t recall any furlough scheme for the miners READ MORE

Meddling, tinkering and headless chickens

It’s probably of little interest to non-football followers, but Tottenham Hotspur were denied a victory because of a handball decision. It was so outrageous that even the manager of the opposition criticised it and the whole football punditry world joined in. It was not the first time this season that the new handball laws have been questioned. In an effort to clarify things, the lawmakers have added confusion and nonsense to a law that has worked pretty well for decades. Though their intentions were probable laudable, the tinkering of the powers that be has proved to be a disaster. And that tinkering is the point. Back in the day when you could open the bonnet of a car and recognise the components contained therein, when you didn’t need a diagnostic computer to tell you that a bulb had blown and four hours of labour to fix it. Back in the READ MORE

What happened to honesty and the law?

In criminal law, incitement is the encouragement of another person to commit a crime. It’s quite simple. It shouldn’t need explanation. If we accept the considered legal opinion of all the senior Conservative lawyers and barristers who have resigned, we can be in little doubt that breaking the Brexit Agreement is illegal. It therefore follows that anyone encouraging the breaking of that law is guilty of incitement. If you do it in the House of Commons there is probably some parliamentary privilege that excuses your actions, but doing it on television is not in parliament and, if we follow the logic, any number of ministers including the Prime Minister are now openly inciting the nation to break the law. Surely they should be taken to court and sent to prison. But they are politicians I hear you say. In the law cases that have been successfully tried set a precedent, READ MORE

Getting what we deserve

It’s odd, our never ending dissatisfaction with life. No matter how much we have now, it’s never enough. We were satisfied with two tv channels (us old folk), now we have hundreds and still struggle to find anything to watch. We were satisfied with one television, but society now seems to demand one in every room. We were happy to have a meal on the table, but now we want the widest variety of meals delivered to our door. We were happy to have a week at Butlins or in a caravan by the coast, but now nothing less than a fortnight in some Mediterranean or Caribbean resort is regarded as the norm. The mere fact we had hospitals that would try and help was a godsend, now we are unhappy that they can’t cure everything and give us an appointment in a few days when, if we’re brutally honest, READ MORE

The question of respect

When I was a youth, generally you respected your elders. They had more experience of life and the workplace than you. You felt that you could trust them. Of course, there was only a newspaper to read and one news bulletin that lasted ten minutes in those days because there were only two tv channels and there were better things to watch, so we thought, than the boring news. Now we have 24 hour news, somebody sneezes in Little Snoring and someone will record it with a tweet or facebook post and, if it’s a really big sneeze, it will make it on to the BBC website and maybe the tv news. The upshot is that no one can get away with anything now. Our ‘elders’ probably had flaws but we didn’t know about them so our respect was never seriously threatened. Conversely, now when you choose to put yourself READ MORE

Left or right

It’s a tough ask, trying to dodge being put into a category, avoiding a label. Everything has a label nowadays we are all classified in every possible way. There was a time when age and gender were enough, unless you were a boy at school and then your ‘team’ counted. In my youth you always supported your local team, so it was never really an issue, but in this age of adopt-a-team even if they are in a different country, things aren’t so simple. In school we had a few kids who were a bit ‘slow’ and those that ‘messed’ around, that was as far as the label went. They were fine, they were our friends and generally got hauled along in terms of performance and behaviour. Now they will be labelled and assigned to one ‘spectrum’ or another, which turns out to be a life sentence because these labels READ MORE

U turns or not

Governments get criticised for U turns, which is not always fair. Sometimes things change so quickly in this world that you may be obliged to change policies on the fly. What is not acceptable is a lack of planning. When we decide to replace our kitchen, we think about it well in advance. We probably have an idea when we want the work done and gear our efforts so that everything is in place for the big day. We went into lock down in March. We knew that A-level results would be out in August. That leaves four months to plan, It’s four months to construct an algorithm that, at least, mimics the final results of last year. It’s four months in which to run last year’s data through it and see if it comes up with the same results. There will inevitably be some winners and losers, but they READ MORE