What the political analysts missed.

Polling chartYesterday England went to the polls in local elections for it’s Metropolitan and District Councils. This did not include the counties of England often referred to as ‘The Shires’ as they are on a different electoral timetable.

Prior to the elections, one party in particular was boasting of the large landslide wins it expected to make and most of the media got caught up in a lot of this speculative hype. However irrelevant of what popular media might think, the electorate has its own unique  way of of determining what they want, not what the political parties of media think they should have.

Well the aspired to political landslide eventually turned out to no more than a few grains of sand rolling down the proverbial hillside. One political party was all but wiped out of local affairs and the seats they previously held fell reasonably evenly to the two main political parties dependent on a particular area. Overall the local political map was neither painted with large new areas or Blue, Red or Orange, but with few exceptions on either side, the political map remained more-or-less as it had been prior to the election.

Political analysts are busy beavering away with their charts, swingometers, statistics and graphs trying to make sense of what happened and what this means to the future fortunes f the political parties and their leaders.

One thing I find the political analysts tend to overlook is the mood of the electorate as a whole, which is more likely to make more sense of yesterdays voting trends than anything else. Something I have sensed for a long time is a complete lack of trust in any political party. Many voters now have a feeling they have been completely disenfranchised by parties that seem to have long ago forgotten who they represent other than themselves. If that is correct, then no political party can in future rely on any form of support from traditional supporters, as dependent on any given local area, the vast numbers of voters who feel they have become disenfranchised will no longer vote for a given party, but are more likely to vote for what it sees as the best of a bad bunch at the time.

All political parties are very inventive in their dialogue and the popular flavour of the month, particularly after an election, is talk of ‘re-engaging’ with the electorate. These are however just words, words the electorate are becoming weary of and it is likely that political futures will now be made or broken depending on which way the wind is blowing at the time. One thing the electorate do know is they voted by a majority for Brexit in a referendum, and all they have seen is politicians constantly trying to undermine the majority decision. It is unlikely a future wind will blow favourably on such politicians and more than likely our second chamber,  the unelected House of Lords will face calls for its abolition after they decided by a large majority to attempt to impose what is effectively a Brexit wrecking measure.

The seasonal clock is running late.

Spring clockAlthough I am not a farmer, one is still influenced by the seasons when one lives in the countryside. Farmers, be they agricultural or livestock based are reliant on the seasonal clock being accurate for lambing, sowing, moving livestock into fields, harvesting, milking and so on. Unlike regular employees who can guarantee a regular income, the faming community must bear its own losses.

Certainly Somerset like many other counties has received more than its normal share of rainfall this winter, coupled with”The Beast from the East” cold weather. This has led to waterlogged land still unfit for sowing. Cattle unable to be released into Spring pastures meaning winter feed has either run low, or become completely exhausted, forcing farmers to dig deep into their own pockets to buy feed at inflated prices. Overall most farmers say they are running about a moth behind time, precious time that is difficult to make up.

I probably like most of us have been craving for better weather for those more open-air pursuits one associates with non-winter months. A few weeks ago was the Easter Weekend break when it feels as if whole nation is on the move like a sudden uncoiled spring. Everyone is seeking to escape the long winters clutches for a few day. From my home, I can observe in the distance the A303, one f the main routes from London to the West Country. The continual flow oh headlights throughout the night could be seen from cars with their urban escapees. Unfortunately to accompany this flood of headlights was a even heavier deluge of non-stop rain that lasted the entire Easter break. It was almost as if Mother Nature was saying that she will tell everyone when they can enjoy themselves and not before.

Well today eventually feels at long last like something of a Eureka moment with the long awaited arrival of warm sunshine. Suddenly gardening chores that have been on hold finally become doable like mowing the lawns. Up until today the grass had already started its Spring spurt, but was still soaking wet not allowing cutting. Now after a few hours work the garden suddenly looks transformed and awaiting ‘Teas on the Lawn’ weather.

Ford Kuga 03I shall also be taking possession of a new SUV car later this week. My present car although still very reliable, I have had for a long time and finally it is time to move on. My first impression when taking the model of car I am buying out for a test drive from the dealers was similar to that what pilots must experience entering a air-line cockpit. I am impressed though by all the safety features in modern cars, even those that cannot be seen but never the less help drivers avoid getting into trouble. All far removed from more basic vehicles I have driven years ago with crash gearboxes and the like.Vehicles where the only hint of modernity was an open-glass temperature gauge   stuck on the outside radiator.

The new vehicle should however allow me io get into a few more off-road location than present, something I am certain my dog will appreciate. I just hope todays pleasant weather now continues onto into the Summer. Not only for my say but also for the farmers and all those seeking some form of away break.

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As time goes by.

2015 On Athletics All Weather Running TrackYesterday was my 72nd birthday and many thanks to all those that sent me birthday wishes. This morning when I awoke for some reason the thought immediately crossed my mind of how different, if not alien, the world I was born into must seem to someone born today. I was born just after the end of the war in 1946.A little simple arithmetic shows deducting my 72 years from that date is equivalent to a person being born in 1874 when I first entered the world.

The oldest person I knew in my family was my paternal grandmother who was born in 1881 and I am now talking of a time before even that year.

To me like I suppose it must seem to all of us old un’s, that I remember my childhood well, my school days, my early working life, followed by my fire service career until I eventually retired. Again I suppose like most of us it still seems like yesterday but the world I was born in must appear as alien to a youngster today as the world of someone born in 1874 must have seemed to me.

I don’t want to hark on about the tin bath hanging on an outside wall, the outside toilet, gas lamps or coal fired cooking range which many of us grew up with. but for many born in 1874, even these basics must have seemed a modern luxury compared with the like of the no sanitation at all world they were born into.

Many of us grew up in a victorious but war torn nation. The war heavily influenced our childhood with hundreds of thousands of servicemen who had experienced its horrors coupled with a recently Blitz blasted civilian community fresh in everyone minds. Now 72 years on, the vast majority of those people and their memories have now passed on. To many youngsters today, WW2 must now seem as remote to them as the battlefields of 1874 would have seemed to me. As an example, the Zulu wars did not occur until 1879.

My grandmother was born in Camberwell, south London in 1881 an maps of the time show almost everything south of the Peckham Road was open land containing many market gardens. All that had disappeared under rapid urban expansion by the time I was born, but likewise much open land I knew as a youngster has equally disappeared. It is as difficult for a youngster today to visualise the open fields I once knew as it is for me to visualise the open fields of my grandmothers time.

One only has to look at a zoomed out aerial view on Google of London and the southeast to see the blur created by buildings now runs almost unchecked from Heathrow in the west, to Shoeburyness in the east, bar for a small break in the middle. Compare that against a immediate post-war map showing buildings to see just how much land a rapidly ever growing population is gobbling up. I do not know what the remote future will hold, but it is things like the above example of the rapidly disappearing countryside that tell me it will not be in the too distant future, that governments will seriously be debating birth control measures.

No doubt in another 72 years, those newcomers to the world being born now will also have similar thoughts.

Yes in the past 72 years the world has changed a lot. But I cannot help but think when compared of my imaginary 1874 predecessors or what the great as yet unborn will face, we probably have experienced the best of it.

Conkers – Are they now a thing of the past?

SDC11269I took my dog for a long walk this afternoon in the fields that surround my village. The warm autumnal sunshine was quite pleasant too. Two of the fields are divided by the River Yeo with a bridge which has hunters gates at either end linking the two.

Part of the route brings me to a disused footbridge which once was the primary connection to the adjoining village of Limington. A footpath used to run between the footbridge and Yeovilton Weir. Years ago a new road using a slightly different route between the two villages was constructed and the footpath and footbridge fell into disuse. The line of the footpath can still be seen however where it ran through a field as it was lined with horse chestnut trees. I walked along the line of the old footpath today and below the mighty horse chestnut trees thousands of conkers lie strewn on the ground. The trees still carry thousands of conkers waiting to fall and while I was there, continual soft dull thuds could be heard as even more fell to the ground.t

The sight of so many thousands of conkers, all in pristine condition just lying around, untouched and uncollected I find sad. As a schoolboy such a treasure would have carried enormous street credit if you could find them, but now they are like a disused currency not wanted by anyone. In some ways it is like finding the Count of Monte Cristo’s treasure and leaving it where it is as worthless junk.

SDC11275I did bring a few home as my wife believes that new conkers placed on the window sill act as a spider deterrent.

I suppose in some ways it is a sign of how things change with time and could not but help be left wondering, that if there was such a thing as a Iphone tree, whether future generations would not be bothered to pick those ‘old things’ up.

History – Gone in a instant.

IMGP0820A recent event in a neighbouring village suddenly thrust to the front of my mind a though I have had in the back of my head for sometime. In the historic village of Ilchester in Somerset, the Market Cross which has stood since 1795, was destroyed in seconds by an allegedly drunken driver. Hopefully it can be restored but only time will tell.

The incident however does illustrate how fragile and transient in nature historical objects are. Once they are gone, they are gone forever and can never be replaced. As much as mankind may seek to protect ancient artefacts and buildings, it is a war that is gradually being lost in the passage of time as catastrophes like fire, earthquakes, accidents, natural weathering or even wanton destruction by extremist groups with warped ideologies as happened at Palmyra in Syria, gradually take their toll on ancient structures.

IMGP4042I suppose in some ways, the knowledge of historical events is far more enduring than physical objects, but again that is reliant in those who are interested in preserving that knowledge. As time passes, events that were of great importance to the people who lived through them, can become increasingly less important in the perception of future generations. Events that happened say two thousand or more years ago with Mediterranean rulers and  armies establishing Empires through conquest and the like are still of interest today, but are not of the same importance to the current generation as those who lived through and experienced those times.

One cannot help but wonder if the human race survives for say another 100,000 years, what importance or interest, if any, our current world events will be to that very remote future generation? In one hundred millenniums time, in such a future generations perception of the past, they would probably consider us to be much closer to the ancient Romans than we do ourselves. Our current world is still heavily influenced by the events of the two Great Wars, but to far distant generations, they might not be more than interesting points to note, like grains of sand on the beach, in the great tide of history that has yet to be created between now and 100 millenniums in the future.

It it also quite probable that just as the great empires of the past have vanished, the great nations of today will also have vanished or changed into something unrecognisably different. Human aspirations and needs are always something of a constant great melting-pot of change, and political thoughts and divisions have always been a great driving force for internal change within countries. As the saying goes, ‘Nothing is forever’.

I cannot help but speculate that if time travel were possible, (and I do not believe it is), and those distant future generations could be visited to be asked what they thought about the UK’s struggles in leaving the E.C. or Russia and the USA being at constant loggerheads with each other, the ego-deflating response would likely be one of, “Who”.

Sea-Vixen pilot performs perfect Belly-Landing

 

One does occasionally see interesting events living next to the Royal Naval Air Station at Yeovilton (RNAS Yeovilton). One such recent occasion was when the hydraulic landing gear system o the only flying Sea-Vixen apparently failed when it was returning to the base. As the video shows, the pilot, Cdr Simon Hardgreaves performed a perfect wheels-up landing.

The Sea-Vixen which is based at RNAS Yeovilton as part of their historic flight was due to perform at Yeovilton’s renowned forthcoming International Air Day. But the question on everyone’s lips at the moment is how badly was the aircraft damaged and will it ever fly again? I do hope so as this was such a iconic aircraft that once represented a significant partof the UK’s military air power.

The aircraft remained on the runway where it landed directly opposite my home until recovery teams were in a position to move it. That did give me the opportunity to taken a number of pictures of the recovery exercise.

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General Election Fever

Election BinWhether we like it or not, for the next month the media will be filled with General Election news from the hustings as to which political party has promised this or that, which ones have dropped a gaffe, (and there has been a few already), and their grandiose visions for the future of Britain.

It does seem to me that one thing that is certain, lessor political parties can promise the world knowing that as they unlikely to achieve sufficient votes to form a government, their promises will never come to anything.

Because the current snap General Election caught all political parties by surprise, most have feverishly been cobbling together their election manifestoes over the last two weeks and dependent on how active or moribund those parties are in your local area, those manifestoes will soon be dropping through our letter boxes. As can be see from my cover picture, I am well prepared for them.

Already on a number of occasions when asked in news interviews about salient political points, the response has been that it will be covered in the parties manifesto. That rather begs the questions why they do not know now and what have they been doing for the last couple of years if important issues are only now being rapidly discussed simply because a snap election is forthcoming?

The one thing I am always wary about any politician at election time is those that use the words ‘pledge, promise or commitment’. Such words are already being bandied about in terms of the ‘triple-lock’ on pensions and I cannot help but recall the Lib/Dems pledge on no increases in university tuition fees, which must be on record as one of the most short lived pledges ever. Tax the rich to pay for various election promises is another old idea also doing the rounds at the moment. However that always sounds like the accumulation of wealth is a crime to be heavily penalised apart from it being a disincentive for accumulating wealth in the first place. I always wonder when politicians decide to slice up the financial cake how they end up with more slices that actually exist than the totality of the cake itself. Well that’s politics for you.

Every political party will have the question of housing in their manifestoes usually in the form of promises of how many homes they will build if they come to power. All this always ignores the fact that housing is a issue that can never be solved as the population is growing faster than houses can be built. There is also a limit to how much land is available or desirable to build on in such a small island.

Brexit which is a relatively new thing in elections will form a large part of election speeches, ranging from those politicians determined the will of the people will be upheld, to those who will be trying to save the British public from themselves as they claim they did not know what they were voting for. Perhaps those same politicians will want a re-run of the General Election if they lose for the same reason.

There does come a point where many people will simply become desensitised to all the political rhetoric that is bound to come and will treat it like background traffic noise. That is to say it is something that is always there but nothing can really be done to stop it. However after a period of time, no one hears it anymore. For anyone suffering from insomnia, perhaps listening to politicians pledges, commitments and promises might be a good cure.

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