Oh to be in England

A Londoner moves to Scotland …

20 DEC It’s 6pm and starting to snow; the first of the season and the first snowfall seen in years. The wife and I took our hot toddies and sat on the porch, watching the soft flakes drift down from the gloomy sky. It was a beautiful sight watching the flakes cling to the trees and slowly cover the ground.

24 DEC We awoke to a lovely blanket of crystal white snow covering the landscape. What a fantastic sight! Every tree and bush was covered with a beautiful white mantle. I shovelled the snow for the first time and loved it, clearing both the driveway and the pavement. Later a snowplough came along and accidentally covered up our driveway with compact snow from the street. The driver smiled and waved. I waved back and shovelled the snow away again.

26 DEC It snowed an additional 5 inches last night and the temperature dropped to around -8C. Several branches on the trees and bushes snapped due to the weight of the snow. I shovelled our driveway once more. Shortly afterwards, the snowplough came by and did his trick again. Much of the snow is now brownish-grey!

1 JAN Happy New Year! It warmed up enough during the day to create some slush which soon became ice when the temperature dropped again. Went out and bought snow tyres for both our cars. Fell on my arse in the driveway. Paid £100 to a physiotherapist but thankfully nothing was broken. More snow and ice expected.

5 JAN Still cold. Sold the wife’s car and bought her a Land Rover so she could get to work. She slid into a motorway barrier causing a considerable amount of damage to the front wing. Had another 8 inches of the white stuff in the night. Both vehicles are covered in salt and iced-up slush. More shovelling in store for me as the snowplough came by twice during the day.

9 JAN It’s -15C outside. More bloody snow. There’s not a tree or bush on our property that hasn’t been damaged. Power was off most of the night. Tried to keep from freezing to death with candles and a paraffin heater which tipped over and nearly burnt the house down! I managed to put out the flames but suffered second degree burns to my hands and lost all my eyelashes and eyebrows. The car slid on the ice on the way to A&E and was written off.

13 JAN The bloody white stuff keeps coming down! Have to put on all the clothes we own just to get to the post box. If I ever catch the arsehole that drives the bloody snowplough, I’ll chew open his chest and rip out his heart. I think he hides around the corner and waits for me to finish shovelling before coming down the street at 100mph and burying our driveway again!!

17 JAN Another 16 inches of bloody snow, sleet, ice and God knows what other kind of white stuff fell last night. I wounded the bloody snowplough driver with an ice axe but he got away. The wife left me. The car won’t start. Think I’m going snow blind. Can’t move my bloody toes. Haven’t seen the sun in weeks. More snow predicted. Temperature -20C … I’m moving back to Clapham!

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Not-so-Great Britain

Some thoughts on the recent riots, looting and arson across much of England.

“We are reaping what has been sown over the last three decades of creating a grotesquely unequal society with an ethos of grab as much as you can by any means. A society of looters created with MPs and their expenses, bankers and their bonuses, tax-evading corporations, hacking journalists, bribe-taking police officers, and now a group of alienated kids are seizing their chance” John McDonnell MP speaking on 9 August 2011.

This effectively sums up the situation with the moral decay of our society being as bad at the top of the social spectrum as the bottom. No decent person would condone the actions of the past week as the actions perpetrated by looters and arsonists was both criminal and despicable. They have shown total disrespect for authority and for the lives of the innocent people who have had their livelihoods either tarnished or ruined by their acts of destruction.

Parliament was recalled from its summer recess for an emergency debate on the crisis situation and almost unanimously MPs denounced the actions as being totally alien and unacceptable to society. Sadly, however, they were quick to criticise sections of society and third class neighbourhoods and suggest that these people were entirely to blame. Of course, there is an element of truth in that, as many offenders live in rundown communities and see little hope of a rewarding life ahead of them. Furthermore, it is highly likely that some of the looters come from fragmented family units, many without a father figure, a person who will more likely help instil discipline in the household.

Perhaps our MPs should be looking a little closer to home before castigating other members of society. Many of our politicians come from wealthy backgrounds and know little of the reality of living in today’s world. In the last couple of years, we have witnessed the expenses scandal which revealed that numerous privileged parliamentary members have screwed the country by falsifying claims. How can underprivileged people be expected to behave impeccably when our elitist government and opposition lie and cheat? These people are witnessing a culture of selfishness and greed surrounded by ever-falling moral standards.

Let’s take a look at the world around these looters and rioters. They are being told what to do by law breakers. Constant media advertising suggests that their lives are meaningless without the latest must-have gadget. They witness corruption in our police forces. Huge 4×4 vehicles driven by the vulgar rich threaten to mow them down if they don’t get out of their way. Footballers and A-list celebrities flaunt their wealth, most of it gained from their exploitation of ordinary men and women. Then there is the banking fiasco! In essence, the world before them says that success depends upon money and greed. What sort of morals are these to be influencing today’s society?

a symbol of despair

The actions of these rioters must be seen in perspective. They are a minority of society who have either chosen or been influenced through peer pressure to ignore the law and follow the example of short-term greed as promoted by successive elitist governments. It was encouraging to see so many more young people turning out to help clear up after the riots, compared with the numbers actually involved in the fracas. Sadly, not everyone can react in the same way, and society and government needs to address this problem.

Political correctness is now beyond a joke. Parents need to be allowed to use reasonable force to discipline their children. Schools need the cane as a meaningful deterrent to unruly and disrespectful behaviour. I grew up in an era where the cane was used quite regualrly. It did me no harm at all and made me a stronger and law-abiding individual. Furthermore, we need to see effective punishment handed out for crimes and to bring to an early end this nanny state syndrome which now pervades! Perhaps conscription or something similar should be reintroduced.

There are many theories being banded about as to what caused the riots in the first place. Some suggest it was the shooting of a man, believed to be armed, in Tottenham, and what started as a protest simply escalated across many towns and cities. Many of the looters were young teenagers so why weren’t they safely in the charge of their parents? Undoubtedly the ineffective police tactics deployed on the first two nights were a catalyst to subsequent disturbances.

This moral decline of what was once Great Britain has been in the making for over a quarter of a century. Capitalism and greed has been king with the social divide between rich and poor becoming ever wider. Of course people should be rewarded for their hard work and commitment but it should also be acknowledged that many people do not have the same advantages or lucky breaks through no fault of their own. A fairer distribution of wealth should be a priority of government, with an escalating taxation system rather than fixed cut-off points, and a realistic living minimum wage introduced. Depressed inner-city areas should be redevloped instead of green belt land being commisioned for building so that the heart of city communities can be re-established.

Britain isn’t yet broken but it’s moral fabric is certainly crumbling. Fortunately the vast number of people in our country are honest and decent human beings and live their lives in accordance with the law. Perhaps we should all unite and show our politicians, the Sloane Square chavs and the minority of misguided youth how to live a life based on morals rather than greed.