millennial-christmas.jpgLet’s hear it for tat?  Millennials are buying non-traditional Christmas decorations this season – choosing to decorate their trees with unicorns and mermaids rather than tinsel, new research has found.[i]  The research found that 45% of the UK’s households will be overlooking Santa Claus and his reindeer in favour of more interesting decor.

Unicorns will also be nestled amidst tree branches leading up to Christmas as 24% of the 2,000 people surveyed said they plan to decorate with the mythical creatures.  Others from the younger generation have decided they will express their Christmas spirit through mermaid, dinosaur, and prosecco bottle ornaments.

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Grandfather’s dog-tags

It is an odd thing: the British Empire’s first shots against Germany were in Africa (Togo).  And last shots were in Africa (Tanzania).  Remember, remember the eleventh of November.  What do we remember?  Neither Togo not Tanzania spring to mind, do they?  Alongside the grieving, for many nations there were hopes in that season.

I felt quite emotional today.  But that was because in my head I am remembering not just those of my family who saw active service in The Great War – but those who were drawn into “round two” as well? I suppose it was a kind of grieving for family members past and passing.

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Nothing To Fear

Posted: 2 November 2018 in Cultural, Prisons, Understanding Others
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Mounir el-Motassadeq

I haven’t posted anything for a while, but The Daily Mail provoked me.  Their recent headline “Terrorist back and treated like a hero”, about a 9/11 plotter just released from a German prison and his return home, to Morocco.  We should fear Morocco?  So it’s full of zealots then?  I detected quite the reverse when I was there in recently.

The Daily Mail was outraged that his wife was pleased to see him.  That his mother thanked God for his return.  What mother wouldn’t?  Or wife?  Warmer the better I’d say.  I know from our own prisons, that offenders are less likely to commit new crimes after their release if their family connections are strong.  Mounir el-Motassadeq will be less likely to restart terrorist-jihad if his wife and three children really connect with him, and look to him to stick to more orthodox Islam instead.

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Future-of-banking“I’ll be informing our Fraud Department about you” said the bank call centre to me.
“You’ll be in breach of our Terms & Conditions” said another.
Welcome to the world of bank switching.

They say we change banks less often that we change spouses.  For me so far: banks 4, wives 1.  I started off life with Oldlands Bank Ltd.  Then off to Northshires Building Society.  Followed by Widget International Offset Mortgages.  Now Nu Bank PLC.

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170719203040-john-mccain-07-19-2017-super-tease.jpgWhen there seems so little to admire about US politics at the moment, the death today of John McCain reminded me why there is much to admire as well.  And a personal example we could copy here in UK.

The Arizona Senator died today.  I remember standing in my kitchen on 5th November 2008, in Kisiizi Hospital, Uganda.  Listening to his concession speech to Barak Obama. Generous, big hearted.  Conceding that something and positive had just happened in the result, despite the difference in politics.  It was wonderfully put.

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Germany about to go out. As watched on Hospital Cashier

A shout goes up from the Hospital Cashiers.  Here in Haiti, I have heard shouting in Cashiers before. Angry patients, or cries of despair over the death of a loved one.  But while grappling deeply with a knotty problem, my concentration was broken, and the shouting went on and on.  It was not consternation, but excitement.  South Korea were about to knock out Germany in The World Cup, and the queues in Cashiers were watching it on the Cashiers TV. Shrieking and shouting.

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Double Lives

Posted: 10 June 2018 in Understanding Others
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Jim Boyling, ex-undercover police

Undercover work was not meant to like that.  Last week high-street retailer “Lush” was forced to abandon its undercover police campaign.  Last month DC Jim Boyling was sacked by The Met for gross misconduct – for having sexual relations with 3 women activists, subject of his undercover investigations, and then lying to the authorities.  We also saw also the biography of one of Britain’s notorious traitors published: Donald Maclean[i].  And the republishing of Kim Philby’s autobiography[ii], another double agent.  Two of “The Cambridge Five”, Soviet spies, men of affluence, arrogance and indulgence.  Leading double (or more) lives.

My mother knew them (The Cambridge Five, not The Met spies).  During The War, working for the BBC World Service Spanish service, she went to the World Service Read the rest of this entry »