The Governor of the Bank of England and the Nazis in 1934

Monty* says that Hitler and Schacht** are the bulwarks of civilization in Germany and the only friends we have.

*Montagu Norman, Governor of the Bank of England
**Hjalmar Schacht, President of the Reichsbank (He was found not guilty of crimes against humanity at Nuremburg.)

Ron Chernow The House of Morgan 1990

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Toxic elitism in British grammar schools in the 1950s

” In the sixth form we were divided into subject based groups on a very traditional basis. The academically brilliant were encouraged to enter Sixth Classics to study [ancient] Greek and Latin. The next most able were encouraged to go into Sixth History…. The reasonably competent found themselves in Sixth Science doing physics, chemistry and maths. The comparative duffers were put in to Sixth Economics because it was assumed that they would only be suitable for jobs in business and banking.”

Ken Clarke  Kind of Blue: a political memoir p16

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The lottery winner and his wife

Jack returned from a journey after trying to empty the train bar. He was greeted by his obviously unhappy wife as he staggered and weaved off the train She immediately laid into him about his drunkenness.

He tells her he’s celebrating a lottery win. He asked her candidly ” What do you have to say now?”

She replies “I’ll take half and divorce you.

Without blinking an eye Jack says ” Right oh, I won £10, Here’s a fiver , now off you go.


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Our intolerant society: a rough sleeper in our tower block

On our Council estate in north-east London we have a diverse group of people including some very obnoxious individuals. At the repulsive end of the spectrum our caretaker came across a woman sleeping rough in the basement of one of our tower blocks. She was sleeping on a two seater sofa and smelt to high heaven. When challenged she was clearly either drunk or on drugs. Notwithstanding the famous film The Lady in the Van which portrayed the kindly, tolerant Alan Bennett she wasn’t dealt with in that way. She was a nuisance to be removed as quickly as possible. A knee jerk reaction but what did it reveal about us and our society?

Give our caretaker his due he persisted in a non-aggressive way as he knew she wasn’t a resident. She claimed to have been visiting friends. This proved to be true when the woman actually named two of our residents. He reported back to the office, and our Estate Manager immediately contacted the police.

This was the first step. Already the rough sleeper had been promoted to being a threat when in reality all she was was a vulnerable person with catastrophic low self-esteem. She was only a threat to herself as anyone could see. But no steps were taken to ascertain what simple, compassionate things could be done for her. Simple non-threatening things like showing her where the shower was; getting her a sandwich and a cup of tea; asking if anyone could come and pick her up and whether she was on a social worker list. No. The police were called to potentially criminalise her.

The second step happened when the police arrived. Our Manager and a woman PC went to see if she was still there. She was. Whilst being spoken to by the police officer, the Manager noted how filthy she was and she had horribly ulcerated legs. When asked how she came to be on the sofa, she said “a bloke had dragged it out of one of the pram sheds for her.” The officer was reluctant to arrest her, and the Manager only wanted her off the estate, so she was told to go! Everyone in authority wanted to sweep this woman under the carpet- Out of sight, out of mind. So even though they knew that she had been rejected by her friends and was clearly ill the solution was to put her back on the streets.

The woman’s friend told us that the woman had a serious drug and drinking problem. So much so that she had slept around in order to raise cash for her habits. Her ‘social’ life resulted in her having seven children over the past ten years. Whilst she was living in her own council flat, she had gotten into trouble several times for shop-lifting. However, with the drinking and the unruly behaviour she was evicted for non- payment of the rent. Everyone knew that she led a chaotic undisciplined life but they still applied the ‘rules’ associated with making yourself intentionally homeless. Without cash or savings she was now homeless and the downward spiral of her life accelerated.

She tried a housing associations and two charities but the court order was implemented in two weeks leaving this vulnerable woman on the streets. The system was hostile to her. At rock bottom of the ladder called humanity she once again turned to prostitution to finance her life.

Alan Bennett showed that even the most vulnerable and weakest members of society deserve compassion but I’m afraid that he is very much the exception. This vulnerable woman wandered off the estate to everyone’s relief and became a problem for someone else.


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Book Review: The Carl Hiaasen Omnibus~ Tourist Season, Double Whammy, Skin Tight

This omnibus edition hits our value for money target and, even better, they are an excellent read. Hiaasen satirises Florida: this is basically impossible as Florida is self-satirising. Hiaasen’s targets are politicans, developers, criminals, businessmen, tourists and the annual influx of people escaping winter. They’re all devastating Florida, which would be an environmental paradise if it weren’t for them. Hiaasen loathes them and you too will loathe them after you’ve read these books. Satire like jokes don’t always travel well. Go for it!

Why you should read these books: They’re very, very funny.
Why you shouldn’t read these books: Kindle readers will be disappointed that it’s a real life book with pages that you have to turn.


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Seconds turn to minutes
Minutes the whole hour through
Days pass so fast, don’t you know it
In time, another year, is anew.

So the decades slip by
The young think a decade is ages
Plenty of time to plan
Perhaps to achieve in stages
That life has just begun.

But time is a thief of ambition
It mocks at your naked resolve
Take into account your condition
Only to see your best plans dissolve.

The old, know that their time is fading
Both body and mind grow feeble
In age they become less active
They’re no longer seen as attractive.

Hair turns from grey to white
Hand and legs, often shake
Sit down to put your socks on
Every muscle and bones ache.

Words like “leave that to me
or I’ll see to that that”
No longer apply to the old
No more, their wonders to behold.

There comes a time to rest
In the arm-chair by the fire
Chill-out, be no longer stressed
Some day, to soon, you will expire.

Let the seconds, minutes and days go
Months and years, laughter – tears
They all fade away – that’s fine
It’s how it has to be – in the fullness of time.


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A robot bartender chats to customers

The robot bartender says, “What will you have?”
The robot brings back his drink and asks, “What’s your IQ?”
“168” comes the smirking reply.
They then chat about physics, space exploration, and medical technology.

After the guy leaves he starts thinking about it. He goes back.

The robot says, “What’s your drink?”
The robot returns with his drink and asks, “What’s your IQ?”
“100” comes the modest reply.
They then chat about Formula One, Budweiser and TV shows.
He finishes his drink and leaves. He’s now fascinated and decides to
try again.

He enters the bar and, as usual, the robot asks him what he wants to drink.
The robot brings the drink and asks, “What’s your IQ?”
“50” comes the grunted reply.
The robot leans in real close and asks,


Ray H.

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