The case for the legalisation of drugs: the marketplace has spoken

In the recent Global Survey on Drugs, cocaine users around the world reported, that their most recent cocaine order was delivered in less time, on average, than their most recent pizza order.


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Football Review: England vs Tunisia 18th June 2018

The bookmaker Paddy Power is offering odds of 250-1 on England winning the World Cup: 250-1 for new customers.1 The form-book is the FIFA world rankings: England at 12th with Tunisia lagging at 21st. Sure enough the form came through with an England win of 2-1 but this game might also show that Paddy Power aren’t actually generous. For the first time spectators did the dreaded Mexican Wave, which is normally interpreted as a raspberry. (There wasn’t a Mexican Wave in the Spain/Portugal match the spectators were too engrossed.)

If one of the key performance indicators is that of pass success then the England backs must be on a bonus. At one stage there were ten cross field balls in their own half. The BBC’s commentators grumbled about the speed of England’s play in the second half. Unfortunately it sounded like whining, “It’s very hot down at pitch level.” There were also midges that were sabotaging the shimmering skills of Sterling, who looked hapless.

Both England goals were scored by Harry Kane who in truth did very little else- why should he? The Tunisian goal was a penalty, which the commentators acknowledged was indeed a penalty. This momentary lapse into objectivity was quickly rectified when they then went on to claim that England should have had at least one penalty but England never get the rub of the green.

Given the failure of the giants2 of the World Cup England’s result is decent and I look forward to their next game.

1 Old customers have to make do with 16-1. This sort of discrimination, in a sane world, would be outlawed.

2 Germany being defeated by Mexico; Brazil’s draw against Switzerland; and France’s narrow win against Australia via an own goal. I draw a veil over Spain/ Portugal, which was a brilliant game but I don’t suppose Paddy Power are offering 250-1 on either of them.


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Small little boy

In scuffed shoes, baggy and unkempt
Grey flannel trousers passed on as ‘hand me down’
A shirt and jumper, much the same,
School jacket, too big to fit.

The boy was considered, frail
With weak eyesight and limited learning
He struggled at school, had to strive at lessons
Was intimidated by teachers
Not much liked by other children.

He was bullied, by the education system
Tormented by bigger class pupils
The boy’s life was miserable
Nowhere to find solace
Except in story books.

Soon he became introspective, alienated
Eventually managed to cry
In silence, away from those tormentors
The nasty ones the, spiteful ones
All left him out of their playground games.

An avid reader, his contentment came in stories
Mostly adventure, sometimes fantasy
He was unhappy in his solitude
He wasn’t a man, he was a frightened
Little boy in darned socks, too big for him.

But with time, the years elapsed
He filled out, what was once too big
All to soon became embarrassingly small
He found swimming and diving easy
He made a school friend who could dive.

Together, they visited swimming baths and lidos
All over London. Spending hours perfecting
Techniques and acrobatics off the high spring board
As a result the boy became, broad shouldered
Barrel chested and super fit.

Eventually he found he was popular
Even girls started to notice him
Gradually he flourished with confidence
No longer left in solitude
That small little boy, found that he liked life.


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A Statue meets the good fairy

Good fairy: “I’ll give you one wish.”

Statue: “I’d like to stretch my legs, runabout, shout and scream.”

Good fairy: “Your wish is my command.” And the statue immediately starts running around. Then he ran into the bushes and the fairy heard hysterical laughing from the statue. “What were you doing?” The fairy asked when the statue came back.

Statue:  “It was wonderful, wonderful. I can’t thank you enough.”

Good fairy: “What did you do?”

Statue: “I got my own back on the birds.”


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Women of the French Resistance 1940-45

After France was crushed, resistance to the German conquerors came from two principal sources: Communists and the Gaullist Free French. French women were critical to the entire resistance movement as they exploited their femininity. Women moved messages and small arms around towns and cities, provided safe houses and did opportunistic spying. These were all capital offences for which many women died. Their story is glorious even if it didn’t include ‘death or glory’ acts of valour. Women were the backbone of the resistance movement but were under-regarded and treated contemptuously by de Gaulle in the immediate post-war period.

The demographics of France in 19401 suggested that women would lead the resistance fighters. This wasn’t to be. Both Nazis and the resistance groups shared the same gender biases. The Nazi gender bias enabled women to use their femininity to evade close scrutiny. This was critical as there were numerous check points manned with the Gestapo in attendance. Many female resistance activists began as couriers. Being couriers meant much more than carrying messages. They transported messages and small items, which could be discreetly hidden.

Cécile Rol-Tanguy… for instance, worked as the personal Agent de Liaison for her husband Henri Rol-Tanguy, carrying orders around Paris in the bedding of her baby’s pram, as well as revolvers, grenades and ammunition hidden in potato sacks2.

Cecile was a resistance fighter quite prepared to exploit her baby in her resistance activities.

Lucie Aubrac famously duped the Gestapo and rescued her husband. She led a double life as a mother and resistance fighter3. The Nazi ‘Kinder, Kirche, Kuche’ policy stereotyped women4, which framed their biases towards French women. As the war progressed, it became clear that the Germans had lost. From then on, both French civilians and resistance fighters were brutally treated. Madeleine Truel’s expertise was forgery.

Madeleine´s job was to forge documents, especially passports, which were delivered to Jewish fugitives and allied soldiers that had parachuted over the French capital5. Madeleine was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and died on the infamous Death March6 as the Nazis tried to outrun the advancing Soviet Army.

Simone Seqouin began her resistance career at the end of the war in 1944 as an 18 year old woman. She too began with courier work but transitioned to ‘death or glory’ sabotage and shoot-out battles with Wehrmacht soldiers7. These famously courageous women shouldn’t over-shadow the courage of women who did wonderful acts of bravery over extended periods of time. The reseaux de sauvetage was a network of safe houses mostly for Jewish children whilst reseaux d’evasions moved people through France and safely out of the country. Both relied on women risking the well-being of themselves and their families. The penalty for failure was death.

Andree Peel (ne Virot) was in the resistance from the beginning of the occupation. Her activities typified General de Gaulle’s concept of a resistance fighter, apart from her being a woman.

Virot’s team, which ran the VAR escape route across the beaches of northern Brittany, used torches to guide allied planes to improvised landing strips for Special Operations Executive drops and pick-ups and smuggled fugitive airmen on to submarines and gunboats along remote parts of the coast. All of this work was extremely hazardous; capture would result in torture and probable execution. During Virot’s time in charge, 102 allied airmen passed through her section to freedom.

She was betrayed immediately after D-Day, tortured, sent to Ravensbruck concentration camp and then on to Buchenwald. Andree cheated death in a way which fiction writers might reject as being implausible.

It was here, while being lined up to be shot with other internees by the retreating SS, that she cheated death once more thanks to the arrival of a detachment of American troops from the 9th Armoured Infantry Battalion8.

Andree Peel wasn’t one of the six women who received medals from General de Gaulle after the war9. Crippling gender biases survived the trauma of war. French women resistance fighters were deliberately marginalised by de Gaulle, notwithstanding the fact that their contribution was critical to the success of the resistance itself. Women were in the forefront of the resistance regardless of de Gaulle’s petty biases. Those memorialised here are the tip of a huge number of silently courageous women who routinely exposed themselves and their families to lethal danger over a considerable period of time.

Addendum: French resistance demographics 1940-44

The defeat of the French army in 1940 led to 70,000 being evacuated to Britain. There were a further 2.5 million prisoners of war held in Germany some of whom were used as forced labour from 1943. The Germans passed the so-called Service du Travail Obligatoire, which demanded ‘volunteer’ workers for their economy. About 600,000 Frenchmen were sent to Germany under the provisions of this law. (Women were unaffected.) Consequently there were few men of fighting age in France in this period, which underlines the power of gender biases in the resistance as there was no increase in the numbers of women leaders.

1 Section on declining fertility long-term.


3 “Aubrac’s account…. offers many examples of the ways she mobilised her femininity to dupe the Germans.”

4 See


6 For Death marches see





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Worrying is for losers as Trump would say

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America’s school shootings

This year, going to school has involved more fatalities than serving in the US military.”


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