An Australian golfers priorities

A Catholic priest, an Indian doctor, a rich Chinese businessman and an
Australian professional golfer were waiting for a particularly slow group of golfers in front of them.

The Aussie fumed, ‘What’s with those blokes? We must have been waiting
for fifteen minutes!’ The Indian doctor chimed in, ‘I’ve never seen such poor golf!’ The Chinese businessman called out ‘Move it, time is money’
The Catholic priest said, ‘Here comes George the green keeper. Let’s
have a word with him.’

‘Hello, George,’ said the Catholic priest. ‘What’s wrong with the group
ahead of us?

George the green keeper replied, ‘Oh, yes. That’s a group of blind fire
fighters. They lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last
year, so we always let them play for free any time.’

The group fell silent for a moment. The Catholic priest said, ‘That’s
so sad. I think I will say a special prayer for them tonight.’ The Indian doctor said, ‘Good idea. I’m going to see if there’s anything I can do for them.’ The Chinese businessman added, ‘I’ll donate £50,000 to the fire-fighters charity in honour of their bravery.’

The Aussie said, ‘Why the fuck can’t they play at night?’

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An Irish painter by the name of Murphy was a gifted portrait artist

Murphy’s fame grew rapidly and soon people from all over Ireland to get him to paint their likenesses.

One day, a beautiful young English woman arrived at his house in a stretch limo and asked if he would paint her in the nude. This being the first time anyone had made such a request he was a bit perturbed, particularly when the woman told him that money was no object; in fact, and she was willing to pay up to £10,000.

Not wanting to get into any marital strife, he asked her to wait while he went into the house to confer with Mary, his wife. They talked much about the Rightness and Wrongness of it. It was hard to make the decision but finally his wife agreed, on one condition.

“It would be me pleasure to paint yer portrait, missus,” he said. “The wife says it’s okay. I’ll paint you in the nude all right; but I have to at least leave me socks on, so I have a place to wipe me brushes.”

Chris

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The Sledgehammer and the Scalpel: Hamburg 1943 and Amiens 1944

Introduction

The Germans achieved a stupendous military victory in the summer of 1940 leaving Britain isolated behind the English Channel, which acted as a ‘moat’. It quickly became apparent the Germans couldn’t invade Britain and vice versa. A military impasse ensued which was conceptually similar to the First World War. No senior military leader or politician looked back on that war with fondness. A solution had to be found.

Bombing as a solution

Sir Arthur Harris, Marshall of the RAF and Commander in Chief Bomber Command 1942 – 45 believed that he:

As commander of Bomber Command …. could put into operation his belief that an enemy could be bombed into submission – a ploy he called ‘area bombing’. Harris believed that if the morale of civilians was destroyed as a result of their city being attacked, they would put pressure on their government to capitulate. The first raids were on Lubeck and Rostock. Here the bombers dropped incendiary bombs and these raids did a great deal of material damage to both cities. In May 1942, a massive 1000 bomber raid on Cologne did vast damage to the city for the loss of just 40 planes. Such a small rate of loss was considered extremely good especially when the government took into account the ‘feel good’ factor of the raid – the boost it gave to Britain’s civilians knowing that Germany was being bombed just as London had.*

The sledgehammer: Hamburg 1943**

The bombing of Hamburg, beginning on 24th July 1943, lasted eight days and seven nights. Its outcome was 40,000 dead and 900,000 displaced German families. The Hamburg raids produced ‘firestorms’, which slaughtered the population. This outcome was planned by Harris and as such made him a war criminal. The twin objectives of smashing both industry and infrastructure was achieved but probably more significantly was the disruption of the population. Nearly a million people were directly affected with the ripple effect sweeping through the city. Hamburg took months to re-establish anything like the necessary productivity needed for the German war effort. Despite this massive slaughter there was no uprising against the German government however thereby refuting Harris’s principal strategic aim.

The scalpel: Amiens 1944***

Precision bombing of the Gestapo prison Amiens

 

The bombing of the Amiens Gestapo Prison, 18th February 1944, was timetabled. The bombers took out the north and east walls and destroyed the guards’ mess hall killing those who were having lunch. This was a remarkable piece of precision bombing and timing. The thirteen Mosquito fighter-bombers weren’t part of the main RAF bomber command but were widely believed to have been part of the British secret service (MI6). 255 out of 717 French Resistance prisoners escaped though sadly most were recaptured shortly afterwards. There were no ‘collateral deaths’ in the city of Amiens. There were some deaths amongst unfortunate French prisoners, though their deaths were seen as acceptable as they were likely to be executed anyway.

Conclusion

The bombing of Britain demonstrated that bombing couldn’t win a war. Notwithstanding the Blitz, British military industrial capacity was unimpeded. ‘Bomber’ Harris believed, against all the evidence, that bombing could win the war. He based his entire strategy on gigantic bombing raids. The destruction of the morale of the German population cannot be underestimated and the impact of German productivity was an important factor in ultimate victory. But neither the sledgehammer or the scalpel was decisive. Only invasion could beat Hitler, which left Harris’s strategy in tatters. Nonetheless he persisted to February 1945 with the massacre of Dresden, which was entirely inexcusable and definitely a war crime.

*http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-two/military-commanders-of-world-war-two/air-marshal-arthur-harris/ and also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Arthur_Harris,_1st_Baronet

**Hamburg July 1943 https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/05/the-carpet-bombing-of-hamburg-killed-40000-people-it-also-did-good/#

***For Amiens see https://www.raf.mod.uk/history/bombercommandattackonamiensprison18thfebruary1944.cfm

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Peter Crouch: Stoke City superstar

Peter Crouch at his majestic best

“…Peter Crouch is essentially a humorous player, a 6ft 7in (2 metres) centre forward made of elastic bands and old deckchair parts who resembles less a real-life Premier League all-star than a satirical cartoon of an English footballer produced by some particularly acerbic French caricaturist.”

Barnay Ronay The Guardian Sport Section 20th May 2017

Chris

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The honey bee’s demise

Well I never!
Is that a stinger –
stuck in
my arm, no less?
I resent this unjust ingress
into my innocent flesh.

Did I wrong the creature?
“Not guilty, Your Honour!
It was not I
who breached the rules of cohabitation.
You will surely concur, indeed, that
I am a victim of violation; hence
my righteous indignation.”

And yet, truth be told,
(the sting now subsiding)
I would be hard pressed deciding
whether my greater distress
lay not in the bee’s weaponry,
but in her fatal, ill-judged temerity.

J.G.

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A Compassionate Irishman

Paddy phones an ambulance because his mate’s been hit by a car.

Paddy: ‘Get an ambulance here quick, he’s bleeding from his nose and I tink both his legs are broken.’

Operator: ‘What is your location sir?’

Paddy: ‘Outside number 28 Eucalyptus Street.’

Operator: ‘How do you spell that sir?’
Silence …. and after a minute.

Operator: ‘Are you there sir?’

More silence and another minute later.

Operator: ‘Sir, can you hear me?’
This goes on for another few minutes until….

Operator: ‘Sir, please answer me. Can you still hear me?’

Paddy: ‘Yes, sorry bout dat. .. I couldn’t spell eucalyptus, so I just dragged him round to number 3 Oak Street. 

Chris

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The tragic death of Martin Walker: a Hackney Dustman

I first met Martin in 1977 when I was foreman plumber at the Defoe Road depot in Stoke Newington, Hackney. He was a plumbers mate on my team. He wasn’t a skilled man but he was essential to us plumbers and ‘he was willing to learn,’ as the saying goes.

My small team of five plumbers worked from the Gilpin Road depot in Clapton Park and I placed him with Harry ‘Agee’ Gee who the best man to be his workmate and mentor. Martin was a bit immature but knew the area well as he’d lived there all his life. Once when we were in the car I said “You must be pleased to have got this job as there were a lot of candidates for it.” He replied that “To be honest, this is only a job to keep me off the dole.” I was totally shocked because this was a highly sought after job.

He went on to say, “My granddad and dad were both dustmen and I want to be a dustman as well. The only way to get the job is to have your name put forward when your are still at school! The ‘ganger’ will only take you on if your dad and/or granddad were good grafters. In other words jobs are inherited.”

I couldn’t believe that anyone would ‘fight’ to be a dustman. Martin explained exactly why being a dustman was sought after. He said, “Well you can usually finish your round just after midday. On top of that there are trinkets and knick-knacks that we get to see first. Sometimes there can be valuable stuff, which we sell as a sort of bonus!” Up to then I’d only ever thought of being a dustman as a dirty hard, smelly job that no-one would want to do.

Martin had settled in working alongside Agee, and after a couple of years he told me he’d got a job as a dustman. Since he was only transferring from one team of Hackney workers to another, I said “I don’t think you need to give any notice.” There were no objections and Martin transferred the following week.

Two years later I was told Martin had suffered a heart attack and dropped dead on his round. He was only 24 years old but the constant brutally hard physical work had killed him. In those days dustmen had bins full of ash from the coal fires as well as thrown away food. The bin itself was metal and very heavy. Martin was a strong lad but probably didn’t know how to pace himself over a working week and a hidden defect in his heart was triggered. I sometimes wondered if he’d have had a longer life if he’d continued as a plumbers mate with me but who’s to know?

Martin’s funeral was packed with family and friends as well as my team of plumbers and his fellow dustmen from his round who remembered him as such a nice lad.

Mike

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