State of the Nation

It’s 3PM and I’m standing in a neatly pressed, starched and pretty damned uncomfortable uniform trying not to move. The Sergeant Major is walking round checking the rank and file… One unlucky sod a couple up from me gets the blunt end of a pace stick rammed against his cap badge, reason unknown. He passes me without comment and I breathe a sigh of relief; too early as it turns out. As the burly Scotsman passes to my rear I feel a sharp pain across my palms;

Straighten your bloody fingers! You’re at ease, not easy!

It’s 1980 and I’m 10 years old.

I attended a military boarding school in Scotland and, from the age of 10, attended drill 3 times a week. We started cadets at about 13 and the drill continued throughout our time at school, increasing during the Summer each year prior to the Grand Day parade where the march past and salute was taken by various dignitaries who, during my time, included Princess Anne, Prince Phillip, the CGS and various others.

It’s 3AM and I’m sitting watching a movie; it’s the end of an era. Just as the end credits start rolling the door opens, a beam of light breaks the tension and Ben Phillip’s baritone cracks into room

I’ll see the gentlemen who ‘stole’ Mr William’s car in my office at 11AM or the police would be involved.

Eight hours later I’m standing outside said office awaiting my just deserts. 6 of the belt later and I’ve got blue bruises and red welts across both my palms and I can’t feel my fingers. Not a good position to be in with my place in the pipe band for the Grand Day parade, especially as we’re getting presented with new colours by the Duke of Edinburgh!

It’s 1987 and, officially, I’ve already finished school.

Between these two tales of ‘hardship’ the world outside has changed. Corporal punishment has been banned, first in England and then in Scotland, but we voted, along with our parents, to retain it as a means of short, sharp, shock or, perhaps worse, the mornings in the gym suffering stress positions, circuits to exhaustion or a simple good old beating (if you weren’t liked).. Better that than the pointless tedium of lines.

Two of my Aunt’s were in education, one a teacher and the other a head teacher, and they both quit once their ability to discipline their students was removed.

During those seven years I’d witnessed the Falkland’s War, the Miner’s Strike and various other forms of conflagration. In each case the ‘trouble’ was met with the force necessary to resolve the situation. In the case of the Malvinas it was the British military who (just) taught the Argentines not to mess with British Sovereign territory; in the case of the miners the police used intimidation and, at times, violence to break the spirits of individuals and pickets.

Over the quarter of a century since these events the strength of our Nation as a whole, and the power of those in positions of responsibility; teachers, police, the military, courts, councils and even the Government, have been continually eroded by those advocating liberal softness in the name of human rights; therefore removing our ability to discipline people or groups as needed.

Education standards have slipped. I have relatives and friends in teaching and I know I’ll rile them by saying this, but they have. Despite the ever increasing amount of A’s and A*’s attained the actual level of education has fallen. Basic knowledge of things like geography, history and RS/RE have fallen to appalling levels, and please don’t get me started on either spoken or written English!

Armed to the teeth. And toothless as ever.

The powers of the police have been eroded to the point where they are unwilling to intervene in situations for fear of recrimination.

The world wide frenzy for the improvement in health and safety and human rights mean that the courts are unable to treat those who break the law in the manner in which they deserve. It’s a sad state of affairs when the Government are forced into improving the lot of our soldiers serving in a conflict overseas because someone has pointed out in the national press that people serving at Her Majesty’s pleasure get more of a phone allowance than those fighting for the nation’s liberty.

ASBOs, curfews, community service, restraining orders. They are all toothless. And they are the reason the events of the last few days were destined to happen.

As long as the British government operates in fear of the European Court of Human Rights, the liberals in our own country and the opinion of the wider international community we will continue to see events as we have in Tottenham, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and other towns and cities in our country.

I’m watching these shameful events from afar in a country which, by rights, has far more reason to rise up and carry out the kind of violence that I am seeing on TV an in the newspapers in the place I call home. It’s abhorrent and someone needs to do something.

As Kenny Everett used to say:

Round ’em up, put ’em in a fields and bomb the bastards!

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Bargain Basement Bureaucracy

There’s much in the news these days about the Military Covenant. Spoutings about the government pushing it through to make it law, promises of change, consideration to family members… And it’s been so for months now, if not years.

And it’s all bollocks.

Pardon my French, but this is really beginning to piss me off!

As mentioned in my previous post; I’m off to pastures new. There’s a lot more involved in the realisation of that statement than just upping sticks and moving house. Of primary concern to me at the moment is the welfare of my eldest child. Yes, in the eyes of the law she’s an adult, but to me she’s my little girl.

My wife and I have always made it a point to ensure that our children are independent, self sufficient and educated. More fool us!

My eldest has just completed a college course and is now looking for employment and, due to my impending departure, accommodation. And here’s where the trouble begins…

I’m not wealthy. I’m comfortable, yes. But I’m not wealthy. As a result I’m not able to help much with my daughter’s search for a new place to live; at least not in a financial sense. As a result we’re looking at council accommodation to help her get started on her own. Or I should say we were looking.

Despite the fact that I’m leaving in a fortnight and the rest of the family will be following a few weeks after that which will leave my daughter ‘of no fixed abode‘, she will not be considered a priority for housing as she’s (a) not pregnant, (b) not a drug addict and (c) not a criminal, oh, and she’s over 18! Add to that the fact that, despite having grown up in York and having completed all her secondary education (including college) here, she apparently has insufficient ties to the area to warrant her being considered a priority. This taking into consideration that she has never lived anywhere else as long and, were she to stay with us (which she’s unable to do, but that’s another story) probably never would again.

In short my daughter is being penalised for the lifestyle my profession has forced upon my family. And yes, I do say ‘forced’, as were we to live separately then many of the benefits of this life are removed.

This is unacceptable, especially as she is not officially allowed to come with us due to her being over 18 and not in tertiary education.  So. On the one hand the government are saying “tough, you’re big enough and ugly enough to go it alone” while on the other they’re saying “sorry, but you you’re not a priority for us to house even though we’ve (ostensibly) made you homeless ourselves”.

It’s shit, and it’s another reason I was so close to taking the ‘six clicks to freedom’ earlier this year.

I just hope that, when they finally get the balls to let the Military Covenant become law they do, in fact, let some high paid, pro-military, barristers get their hands on it first and therefore tie down all the bureaucratic aresholes to actually putting their money where their mouths are.

Of course, there’s another side to this. I should have had the balls to stick to my guns in February and not buckled at the offer of two years in the Sun. At least then my daughter wouldn’t be facing joining the ranks of Britain’s homeless at my hand…