Thursday, 20 October 2016

Molar Panels

As a child medic's came to my school to check us over regularly.  They were looking for Tuberculosis (TB or Consumption) in the time before antibiotics. They were neurotic about this and my school was labelled high risk because of migrants fleeing the London Blitz.

If diagnosed you were banged up either in the local Open Air Residential School for as long as it took or an isolation ward if serious. My teeth were checked for signs of this or that. When selected for a secondary school education, another check including my teeth, the advanced thinking local authority having health as a priority before the NHS was created. There were later checks.

When conscripted for the Army, everything was checked, I spare you the details. This happened again when posted out of the UK, twice more and then later before demob' for all of us. The Army was neurotic about Venereal Disease, STI or STD nowadays, especially syphilis, there was a lot of it about, including the Tertiary form. The Secret files I read during boring duty weekends were fascinating in their accounts of the relevant issues.

In London afterwards the reported roundups of street sex workers for medical checks by The Met' Police were said to be triggered by yet another Tory minister having caught a dose of something nasty. These involved mouth checks due to their curious habits. See the 1959 Butler Street Offences Act.

For my first job, another set of checks, for later jobs more checks.  Along with this toothy experience were at least a dozen dentists here and there prodding and searching about and then endlessly reminding me it was time for another go.

In later life there has been an interesting selection of hospitals, all of which wanted to examine the anatomy on an extensive basis, including teeth. If I could have claimed to be a refugee child interested only in slave or sex trafficking, terrorism, gang warfare, death to the infidels and such like, it would have been a lot easier.

In the present furore it seems to have been forgotten that many cases of young migrants will be obviously children. Equally it ought be obvious that some are not. The cases needing a check will be the rather fewer marginal ones and those where there is cause for doubt.

But and it is a very big but, there is the far more difficult question of many people coming from high risk areas in which there are serious health issues, including diseases that we have been desperate to eliminate in the past, especially where new forms have developed.

Such as drug resistant TB.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Old Habits Die Hard

There has been comment recently about Anti-Semitism in the Labour Party and elsewhere. The form it has taken relates to how things are now, but there is nothing new about this. It would take a long post to go through it all from the Middle Ages to the 19th Century.  Then the Tsar's of Russia expelling populations with the effect on other countries that in many towns in Britain had the effect of sparking resentment and antipathy.

After this came the relatively recent history since the First World War. When Britain came away from the Versailles Conference and treaties with the Mandate for Palestine there may have been rapture in the chapels and valleys of Lloyd George's Wales that Jerusalem was now cared for by the wise and just UK.  The reality was very different.

Wikipedia has an article on this, Mandatory Palestine if you have the time to read this long and complicated article. To fully grasp it will need many clicks on a lot of the links. Twenty five years after LG's triumph at the negotiating tables we fully realised the scale and nature of the disaster he had visited on us in the late 1940's.

For my generation of conscript soldiers, Palestine, along with Malaya (then the Straits Settlements) and Korea were at the top of list for being the worst places to be sent to. Other Middle East locations were also highly placed. Yet we all knew about what had happened in Germany.

I recall early in 1945 going to see a comedy film only to be faced with the Pathe news from Belsen-Bergen. It was 11 Armd Div that arrived there and I can imagine what they had to deal with.  A few years later I was with 7 Armd Div and the location and nearby garrison were in our area. Indeed the 4th Hussars were there, Churchill's regiment of which he was the honorary Colonel in Chief.

Yet various forms of Anti Semitism were common enough in Britain.  Only months after the end of the war I was at a variety hall when on came a comic for his usual routine replete with Jewish jokes. Did it ever occur to him to change the routine? Did it not occur to the management to haul him off?

The Suez Crisis of 1956 was part and parcel of the troubles we took on ourselves in the Middle East. Mercifully, I was not there but I did see the military files. My mate, the General Officer Commanding, who had commanded a Parachute Brigade at Arnhem in 1944 had visits from Montgomery, his old mate, and Hugh Stockwell who had drawn the short straw of being the British Commander having done time in Palestine not long before. My experience is that what was in writing and what they said to each other were quite different things, but Stockwell had the politicians and the gung ho French to deal with.

A few years later a friend, good honours degree and a fine teacher was advised that because he was a Jew, apart from a handful of areas in London and a couple of towns he had no chance of being a Head or Deputy. From the school I attended the few Jewish pupils went into traditional medical etc. work but none could expect jobs say, with the local authority or in some areas of professional work.

So what has happened in the last half century? Perhaps there  a couple of decades when this was relegated or began to be forgotten and even the BBC cut out the Anti Semitism routines in its comedy shows. Now it is back for a simple reason. In a way we are recreating the old Palestine problem in our own back yard.

For some 160 years or more we have been involved with the Middle East and elsewhere and seemed to have learned nothing. It was inevitable that encouraging large scale Muslim movement to come to the UK would bring with it a new cultural dimension and revive an old one, Anti Semitism.

As soon as enough had the vote we would have politicians and others for whom Anti Semitism would become necessary in their personal interest.

And did those feet in ancient time..........

Friday, 14 October 2016

Nonsense Of Identity

If, according to the BBC, the Scottish National Party is represented by a gorilla, see Kumbuka above, the London Zoo escapee; perhaps wanting to be at the concert at the Wigmore Hall, then which political parties are the primate species below?

Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and UKIP are the choices.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Sing A Song Of Soccer

Looking for something completely different, came up with the news that Nottingham will mark the centenary of the death of Herbert Kilpin, a founder, possibly the key man, of the AC Milan football club, one of the greats of Europe.

Given the British upper classes fascination with Italy and its culture I assumed that he would be one of those or at least the younger son of a clergyman, wrong again.

It was not the case. In fact he was of humble origins. He was born in a butcher's shop, his father, Edward, being the butcher, before becoming a leading footballer, perhaps a high protein diet might have helped.

From the same patches as his family a more recent football personality has emerged, Gary Lineker. It is only an outside chance of a any connection, although some of that name were around the same place at the same time.

Before become a butcher, Edward was listed as an Ag. Lab., that is an agricultural labourer, as I have said the holy grail of ancestry.  Moreover his wife, married 1854, Sarah Smith, was the daughter of an Ag. Lab.

The Kilpin's were sons of the soil and no doubt proud of it. Edward was born in Stoke Goldington in Buckinghamshire of a local yeoman family.  The Smith's were from Baggrave in Leicestershire, not far from Lineker's Thurmaston.

And now Herbert Kilpin is buried among the good and the great of Milan and of Italian music, culture and thought.

Did he ever have tickets for La Scala?  If he was at the disaster of the world premiere of "Madama Butterfly" on 17 February 1904 he might have been given more applause than the opera.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Not The Way To Do It

Tuesday 8th November cannot come soon enough.  The real issue is how did Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton become the two major candidates for the Presidency of the USA?

The USA is a major state with hundreds of millions in population including some of the best brains in the world and also some of the most able and skilled. Is this the best it's proud democracy can do?

It is more Charlie Chaplin than Alexander Hamilton. Something is badly wrong. There are other candidates, but the way the US system works in they have little chance of success or even having any impact.

What catches the eye are that so many are over 60. And the old shall inherit the earth?

Vote Evan McMullin and Mindy Finn.

Monday, 10 October 2016

How To Break An Economy

Looking back at the last couple of decades and more one of my regular questions about the state and nature of the UK economy is what happened to the UK Mittelstand? That is all the middling, smaller and upcoming companies that are necessary to the future and for a healthy balance in the economy.

This is what happened to so many of them.  This longish article on the subject of the extent and purpose of the destructive raiding of ordinary businesses  by RBS tells the basic story.  But RBS was not alone.  Most big banks were doing this as were others in the financial sector to one degree or another.

Essentially, for some forty or so years now the way the State sector has been run and the way the private sector has been governed and regulated has been relentlessly in favour of the limited number of big financial firms close to the politicians and with revolving doors with the civil service.

In the meantime we are being told that two thirds of the jobs that will be available in twenty to thirty year's time have not been created yet.

The way the UK is and is going they will not be created at all.

Friday, 7 October 2016

The Work Ethic

Another person offered an honour has declined it on the grounds that it is one of the Empire category and the British Empire once had many slave owning and trading colonies until the late 18th and  early 19th centuries when along with others it ended it.  This was an extension of the forms of slavery and serfdom that had existed in the Atlantic Isles in the millennia before.

The Irish and Scots might argue that these lasted in one form or another until the 19th Century when between famine and rapid economic change they began to collapse. Our new Prime Minister, Ms. May, could claim that she has family who were in a condition of slavery in this period up until 1799. She has Paterson's in her ancestry who were mine workers in Scotland, Clackmannanshire.

Under an Act of 1606 of the then  Scottish Parliament, there was a category of "bound labour" in Scotland that applied to colliers and salters. The Scots are in no doubt that this was a form of slavery under which these men and their families suffered and if you apply the test of what the conditions etc. were of those affected, I would agree.

But there are the wider issues arising from servitude, serf status and other labour conditions that for the individual at the bottom of the heap amount in effect to slavery. There is indentured labour, contract labour and the Padrone System (see Wikipedia) of employment that in theory are not slavery in that there is supposed to be a time condition or other means of ending.

But all too often these become a lifetime of serfdom of which debt bondage is all too common or the liabilities or problems of moving meaning people have no effective choice.  Indentured labour along with convicts from The Atlantic Isles ran parallel to that of slave labour in America and the Caribbean West Indies.

In England into long in the 19th Century the Acts of Settlement applied by which people could be forcibly sent to what the law specified was their home Parish.  Once there it could be the Workhouse and in those places and under the Poor Law of 1834 for those at the benches, in the fields or breaking rocks it was a form of servitude hard to escape.

It went on until late in the 19th Century and the conditions for orphans or other children became a scandal.  In particular the use of what were in theory apprenticeships was a form of forced labour beyond ordinary servitude.  Even for what appear to be ordinary workers it could be oppressive. Mill owners for example, with company housing, company shops and being local magistrates could leave a family with very little money and no choices.

Even for ostensibly free people in some villages and estates the landowners could regard the lower orders as in effect serfs, those who could not get away were trapped. For many men the only way out was to take The Kings Shilling and join the Army or to volunteer for The Navy, another form of unfree condition but for many better than staying where you were in many rural areas.

The question of military service raises other questions.  For a long period the Royal Navy used impressment to man its ships, that is forced labour for uncertain periods.  Also, men might be called for The Militia, many of who then were packed off into the regular Army, again for periods fixed in theory but not in practice.

In the 20th Century we have had conscription.  In theory this is not forced labour but during my time at least I would have argued that it was.  To argue or disobey could mean time banged up which added to the length of the service. Military service meant that some did not come back, or did as casualties.  But this is true in the past of some of the more onerous and demanding types of forced labour.

One person I knew, whose calling was to be a minister of a dissenting congregation, did not do this service but was obliged to spend three years working in a mental hospital to discharge his liability. The common element is being forced under law to give time or even a life time to work that you did not choose and perhaps did not want to continue with.

It has long been my opinion that our honours system is well overdue for revision, going back even to the 60's. At the present, what is a grim irony, is that some of those who complain about the past have clothing and footwear that come from the Far East from factories and locations whose labour conditions are little different to those of the slaves of the past.