Tuesday, 19 February 2019

An opportunity presents itself


In any situation, it pays to take a step back and review a dilemma at arm’s length.
In this instance, I have in mind a major problem with which Chris Grayling, Minister for Transport, is undoubtedly grappling.
     It is called HS2, the High Speed rail link that is rapidly spiraling in projected cost and is in danger of being cancelled.
     I ask the fundamental question: is rail travel the only way forward? My arm’s length view is that it is fast becoming obsolete, in comparison with road travel. Its infrastructure is costly, its dependence on schedules is unnecessary, and it is a noisy intrusion for those who dwell on its borders and have to be compensated to move elsewhere. Andy Burnham, now Mayor of Manchester, believes that other rail routes in the north are much more needed and less costly than a link to London that ultimately only really benefits the latter city.
      The question is: will Chris Grayling press on regardless with what increasingly looks like becoming a white elephant?
     As suggested before, apparently without the notion being investigated for its feasibility, the government should ditch the current approach, whilst it is in its virginity, and compare the total cost with that of a special type of road. On its surface, in both directions, would run an endless, high-speed stream of self-drive vehicles, with stations en-route feeding people and cargoes into feeder lanes. At each terminal station, the incoming vehicles would loop back to an outgoing, low kerbside platform for completion of the loop.
     It would be entirely automated and driverless, with no schedules, no empty seats, and stockyards nearby for temporary storage of the rolling stock.
     The vehicles would be self-charging, guided along the roadways by the equivalent of cats’ eyes, to replenish and guide them on their way, using the same technology as developed for unconventional railways, like maglev; see
This uses two sets of magnets, one set to repel and push the train up off the track, then another set to move the 'floating train' ahead at great speed taking advantage of the lack of friction. Along certain "medium range" routes (usually 200–400 miles) maglev propelled vehicles could compete favorably against high speed trains and airplanes. Thus, a maglev propelled vehicle could silently transport passengers and goods, the latter at separate and less busy times of the day and night, along dedicated routes at far lower cost than that of railways.
     The beauty of the revised HS2 project is that it would lend itself to development of a project that would not have built-in obsolescence, would be a showcase for British engineering in the same mould as engineering projects by Isambard Brunel, and is not so revolutionary as to strike fear in the heart of a timid Minister of Transport (not necessarily the present incumbent).
     In addition, an interim version of this system could rapidly be adopted to address the severe overcrowding and delays on commuter rail services into some parts of London.

At the start of this article, I stated that, “An opportunity presents itself”. What better opportunity could there be than for the government to assume responsibility for the Honda plant being vacated in Swindon? They could then invite tenders to supply self-drive electric vehicles for the new style of transport on special routes.
   A triple whammy if ever I saw one.



Sunday, 17 February 2019

How many dimensions are there in real life?


I give you a quote by Jenni Young:
"Pause and Remember: Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way." – Jenni Young
Then I ask the question how many dimensions are there in real life?
To my way of thinking, there is more to life than the simple choices that this quote presumes.
I give you another quote from the same font of wisdom:
“Pause and remember— No one is coming to rescue you from yourself; your inner demons, your lack of confidence, your dissatisfaction with yourself and life. Only self-love and good decisions will rescue you.” – Jenni Young 2014
To my pragmatical way of thinking, these two quotes embody a parochial attitude that is unreal and two-dimensional. There are those who may say the equivalent of ‘amen’ to such sentiments. They are, in my not so humble view, either expressing sorrow for those who repeat the quotes mindlessly, or who swallow them hook line and sinker whilst peeling veg at the village trough, metaphorically speaking.
I retort, using key points strategy,
- If a loved one dies, is that physically temporary?
- If a bayonet is being shoved into and twisted in your belly, for target practise, is that physically temporary?
- After death, do we really have a comforting expectation that we will reunite in a place we could regard as heavenly?
Life itself is surely temporary, not just the episodes in it, so how can anyone be assured that better days are on the way? One might as well pronounce that when life is good you’d better make the most of it because it won’t last forever. It’s the same thing, isn’t it? Amen to that too!
     Now in case any of you think that I am being morbid, rest assured that I have no inner demons, nor do I lack confidence, and my satisfaction with life is relatively high, given the fact that with longer life comes the normal wear and tear. I equate self-love with egoism, and have learnt to live with my decisions, good and bad.
     ‘Each to his own!’ as one sour recipient of my pearls of counter-wisdom riposted, when I had the temerity to question her lofty, self-deluding preachings, in Jenni Young’s vein, from a false pulpit.
     I consider myself lucky not to be living in a settled country, where scorched earth policies are not practiced against minorities, where starvation and poverty is not the rule of life, and the likes of me can scorn at the shallow quotes of sheltered, harmless nonces like Jenni Young without fear of retribution. Or can I? there are militant vegans around who are increasingly strident in their demands that I adopt a diet that meets with their approval.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The power of the human brain


There are those who are convinced, beyond all reasonable logic, that the power of the human brain can be harnessed to overcome physical ailments.
     This may be true, if the advocate of alternative treatments and their small army of believers are in robust good health, but what if they aren't? Self-belief is one thing, achievement another. I commented about this recently on Facebook to one adherent of this belief, to receive a comment by someone else, a lady , stating that her husband was told by his doctor that he would die soon. Yet, he was still alive and with his family umpteen years later. Medical misdiagnosis? Possibly yes, but blind faith expressing a miracle is one thing, malpractice another. There are too many cases I’ve read of desperate people who are terminally and irrefutably ill, but who invariably die as forecast.
     I will always do my utmost to be positive if similarly afflicted, but why is it I come across people in robust good health who are inclined to give false hope to others who may be at death’s door?
     In contrast, I have come across one person whose healing powers seem to be legendary. What I saw on TV convinced me that he is a genuine healer, not yet another charlatan preaching to the converted from a false pulpit. His name is Chrissie Goldsmith. See https://www.charliegoldsmith.com/.
     On the other hand, I have met someone else who firmly believes that the brain has the ability to overcome health problems, based on his own experiences, like cataracts evaporating of their own accord.
      This person, in his eighties, suffers badly from the shakes. It is a spectacle to observe him reading a tract from a sheet of paper. I have a theory on how he copes with this disability so well. It goes like this:
     A gun synchronizer, sometimes rather less accurately called an interrupter, is attached to the armament of a single-propeller aircraft so it can fire through the arc of its spinning propeller without bullets striking the blades.
    The man I am referring to has clearly used his brain to achieve this synchronization, and thus continues to read without stuttering or spluttering. It is a sight to behold. I only hope I don’t have to adapt my brain to use my withering body in a similar way.

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Thought for the day

Taken from the sugar sachets I use in Spanish caf├ęs. This one reads,
"Life is like riding a bicycle. You press on, pedalling to maintain equilibrium,  until you reach your destination."

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

“We have no desire to return to a hard border”

Today, on the 23rd January 2019, as reported by the ever gullible Kay Burley, this was the theme of local farmers’ representatives in Northern Ireland.
     As she waved gaily in the direction of the border leading to Southern Ireland, she was blissfully unaware of the partially-screened official vehicle parked facing incoming traffic.
On its roof was a whopping satellite dish.
     No hard border? Who’s kidding whom? No wonder they’ve had recent successes in snaring illegal trafficked goods.
     Keep up the good work, NI’s border guards, it’s only the EU that is capable of distracting the likes of Olly Robbins, May’s disciple, into making it into a big issue. There must be something bigger in the wings that will cause Barnier’s team to chortle if they succeed.


Saturday, 19 January 2019

A determined way to end the Brexit infighting

The temptation to call a snap election, to take effect in early April, should be irresistible to any truly resolute leader in May's dilemma. It would ensure the UK falls out of the EU by default, as Article 50 kicks in. The country would then have the chance to clear out MPs who are not fulfilling their roles on behalf of the majority of their constituencies.
     Simply announce it shortly in advance, to see how the EU responds. In the meantime, start wooing the young voters into understanding that a seat at the EU table is not all that it is cracked up to be.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

May's version of Brexit


It reminds me of Wind in the Willows
Can someone tell me precisely where the shortcomings are in May's draft treaty? I hear a lot of MPs saying they exist, but give no supporting evidence.
     Granted, the small print was drafted by the ultimate arch Remainer, Oliver Robbins. Granted, May listens to all who she encourages to consult her, but then she seems to ignore them, anyway.
     Her vacillations are public knowledge. There is no telling what concessions will be made to appease those who are hostile to Brexit and the ultimate bargaining tool of No Deal. Without this hanging over the EU's head, what chance do the dunces who oppose it think we will have, by way of leverage? If it happens, it will be because of EU intransigence, not that of the UK.
     I see nowt wrong with abiding by WTO rules. The squabbling MPs who oppose it must be the worst negotiators imaginable.
     I fear that our PM lacks the commitment to truly do what is best for the UK.
Come the next election, I sincerely hope the electorate will vote to clear out the weasels and stoats that represent us in both houses.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Rising costs and rotten services bedevil Rail Transport


I have a revolutionary proposal. Implement an entirely new approach to this costly and inefficient service.
     Instead of running trains on lines, start replacing them with communally-shared self-drive cars perpetually running on the same routes. The tracks and power lines would be ripped up, to provide a smooth surface for the new vehicles to drive on, electrically powered. They would be fitted with sensors in order to maintain safety and no other types of traffic would be permitted to use these routes.
     Stations would exist en route, with journeys terminating in selected major towns, where they would loop back to make return journeys on parallel ‘roads’.
     Done sensibly, this system would do away with timetables and smoothen the travel experience.
      I call them cars, but as long as they are standardized in size and appearance, it doesn’t matter. They should also be bulk-purchased from major companies for rental to commuters and users in general.

Monday, 24 December 2018

A Heart-Warming Story for Xmas


This is based on a true event that happened a few days ago.
     Our son-in-law and elder daughter came to stay with us six months ago, partially to help us care for ourselves in our dotage, but also to start a new business.
     After much research, they chose empty premises close to our town’s basilica, a Roman Catholic Church of prominence. The choice of business was a retail shop, specializing in upmarket clothing and aromatic soaps. It is going great guns and the locals have taken our sociable couple to their bosoms, especially the Spanish with whom they are integrating.
     One late afternoon, during the traditional two hour siesta period, my son-in-law had closed the front shutters between the shop entrance and the pavement, to enjoy a nap, hidden and undisturbed behind them. He heard young adult voices outside, possibly of two couples, speaking in Spanish and mischievously joined in the banter. After a while, one of the women asked him, “Excuse me, but do you speak English?”
     “Yes, I am in fact English,” he replied.
     “We are from Venezuela,” she asked. “Do you know anything about the church by you, in the plaza?”
     “Yes, I am a Roman Catholic myself, and the priests there blessed our shop.”
     “Well, it is a beautiful church and the minute I saw it, I chose it as the place where I want to get married.”
     “To me!” one of the men laughed, joining in the conversation.
     “Then speak to one of the priests there. I am sure they would be delighted to conduct the ceremony. Father Josef is the young priest and I regard him as a friend. He is learning English.”
     The woman said, “Thank you for your help, we’ll go there now. Goodbye!”
     They departed, never having met face to face, the young woman intending to confirm a date for her proposed wedding.
     When our proud owners of their new shop first came to Spain, their knowledge of Spanish was negligible, but with the help of a female assistant who was brought up in Spain, coupled with their need and determination to succeed in Spain, they are coming along in leaps and bounds as they integrate with the locals. My hat is doffed to them in admiration.
     For those of you who do not know about the current situation in Venezuela; it is an oil-rich, disastrously run, strife-ridden and economically bankrupt nation where people are starving. I have no doubt that these youngsters fled it as needy refugees but will make the transition successfully. My son-in-law may never have met them, but I have no doubt he will be monitoring their progress and we hope to see at least one couple walk down the aisle.

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

At last, someone else in the family has seen a UFO!


At last, another member of our family has seen a UFO! It was shooting around high in the sky over our house, zigzagging at high speed before stopping.
     Yesterday morning, my son-in-law, who is in his fifties and has never seen anything unconventional in our skies, noticed a round object at great height. It didn’t leave any vapour trail as it moved around, before disappearing in plain sight.
     I mentioned to him that what he described had also appeared over Los Angeles this year, He looked it up, compared it against the photos he had taken of it using his mobile phone, and confirmed that it was identical, with portholes visible above as it dipped onto its edge.
     It makes me feel less vulnerable to the flat-earth brigade who mock people like me.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Perverse Power of the British Parliament

I cannot help but have a quiet chuckle at the antics of our Members of Parliament.
     In taking full advantage of their powers to keep Theresa in check, do those who voted Remain realise the extent to which they are demonstrating the absolute need to keep the very controls they wish to give away to the bureaucrats in Brussels?
     I would urge both sides in the great debate of Brexit to take stock before taking different paths to achieve the same aim. In reality, this is no more than using the means within their grasp, thus demonstrating how important it is to have this degree of control available to our elected MPs firsthand.
     Being part of a larger trading block is all well and good, but the EU is proving to be intransigent, riven with dissent and run by unelected, quarrelsome uncivil servants who treat the UK as a vassal state. 

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Mummy, I see dead people!

These apparently true events may (or may not) interest you.

     These children all have invisible friends who really existed - and can give details about them that they would have no way of finding out for themselves
     Rosalyn, three, revealed she had 'dead' friends to her mother, Rebecca Evans.
Mrs Evans, a journalist, said she had never talked to her daughter about death.
Records show children with names of 'dead' friends lived at the house in 1800s.
     My three-year-old daughter, Rosalyn, is happily chatting away as we walk through countryside near our home. She is telling me about her morning at pre-school, the games she played and how she wants pasta for dinner, flitting from one subject to another in her usual excitable babble.
     ‘I’ve got a new best friend,’ she announces. ‘How lovely,’ I say. ‘What’s her name?’
     ‘Tilly. She lives in our house,’ comes the reply. ‘She’s my friend, and she’s dead. Alex is my friend, too. He lives here. He died. His mummy and grandad died, too. We play babies together,’ she announces, before moving on to the merits of strawberry ice cream over chocolate.
     I decided to do some digging, in an effort to convince myself that there is nothing to Rosalyn’s imaginings. I wish I hadn’t.
     Census records for 1861 show there was a ten-year-old boy called Alexander Turner living here. And records for 30 years later, in 1891, list a Matilda Oke, aged 20. Records are patchy from this time, so it’s very likely that Matilda was living here when she was much younger.

     Take the mother-of-six Katie Jones, 33, a carer from Canterbury, Kent. She has an 11-year-old daughter Alice, who, from the age of two, has spoken of seeing people who are no longer here. Katie, who is married to landlord Gareth, 47, explains: ‘When Alice was two, she started to cry a lot, saying there were two men in her room staring and shouting at her, and she didn’t like it.
     ‘She then started to say that a girl called Sheila sat at the bottom of her bed crying for her mummy. I looked in old newspaper cuttings and found that there was a girl of that name murdered here. It chilled me to the core.
     ‘Alice then told me that my grandmother, also named Alice, who died a year before my daughter was born, was coming into her bedroom. She said that Nanna had told the girl and the men to go away, and they had.’
Katie says Alice would accurately describe the clothes her grandmother wore, something she couldn’t have known.

Mother-of-two Tricia Jordan is not clairvoyant, but she is in no doubt that her son talks to the dead.
     The 32-year-old medical secretary says her seven-year-old son, Luca, has been ‘seeing’ her dead grandmother since he was a baby, which used to scare her, but she now feels comforted by it.
     Tricia, from Newport, Gwent, who is married to postman Stuart, 37, and also has a four-year-old son, Bobby, says: ‘My grandmother passed away when Luca was 18 months old. He had just started to speak, and the first thing he told me was how Granny would tuck him up in bed. I found it really strange. It used to scare me, and I’d change the subject.
     ‘One of the eeriest things was him singing The Big Ship Sails On The Ally-Ally-O, which she always sang to me. He would sing it over and over, and tell me how Granny was there. I had never sung it to him. There is no way he could have known this song.
‘As time went on, I realised he wasn’t scared so it was all right.’
  
Thinking about it? It makes me wonder.
Want to read more incidents that have been checked?
     See the book The Children That Time Forgot, researched by Peter and Mary Harrison. It’s on Amazon.
     I once had a memorable discussion with my best friend’s mother when I was about five years old, tucked up in bed when she came into my room, where my pal was having a sleepover. She’d died the night before.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Is Chequers really that bad?


To those of you who insist it is, answer with the facts supporting this premise.
     I heard May defending herself yesterday in parliament and heard no inconsistencies whatsoever in her current and previous statements of intent.
      What the draft agreement with the EU supposedly achieves is in line with what Brexit was voted for in the referendum.
      Therefore, the devil must lie in the details, that is to say the small print in what is a lengthy document. What I see happening is nitpicking by her hostile would-be backers in the Tory party. If the intent of the wording is not clear to those who read it, it is because they don’t believe May, the daughter of a vicar, who they fear is being duplicitous and colluding with Barnier and his team.
     I’m happy to dispute these exaggerated interpretations, since they do not bear close inspection. So is May, by the sound of it. She is happy with the way things are going and, to my ears, is sincere in that belief while those around her are losing their sense of proportion.
      If she remains resolute and wins through, time only will tell if she is what she could really be, that is an honest broker. She has the makings of a steely leader. I say this having consistently wanted her to go.


Thursday, 18 October 2018

A double-edged Sword?

The EU representatives are being noticeably obdurate in their determination to create their own army. Why, you may ask yourself?
    Could it be their desire to control internal dissent, especially when it arises in the minnow countries within the union? How would any leader react, given the means, if someone chooses to protect their borders by erecting razor-wire fences? “Send in the troops!” will be the rallying call, to protests that will not be heeded, in the name of unity.
     It will put the already undemocratic EU in the enviable position of not only being directly unelected, it will be in charge of a legitimised weapon-toting force that is akin to an armed gang. Its legitimacy will be legalised by powerful nations like France, hoping to restore itself to its former glory.
     Why is it that physically small men like Napoleon, Putin and Sarkozy seek and attain power so easily? France itself was angry that Poland cancelled the Airbus helicopter deal. Now it wants a European army. Ever wondered why?

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Review of Future World Rolls! by Literery Titan


Science fiction fans who enjoy lively plots and bigger-than-life characters will find Tumbler’s works meet all of their expectations and more. Tumbler writes beautifully and manages to pull off humor in the most eloquent of ways possible. Some science fiction books are fraught with terminology and processes that overwhelm the reader. Tumbler combats all of that with his stunning cast of characters and an upbeat tone that is set from the first chapter.

Pages: 314 | ASIN: B07H4QQR8K

See full review on