Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Today, the world is a cleaner place.

I have always hated Ian Brady and Myra Hindley. The children they murdered so brutally were of my generation, just a few years older than me.

I was absolutely delighted when Hindley died in prison just days before she was due to be released - there is true justice indeed. A life sentence no longer means 'life', but for Hindley it did.

Brady was ill for a long time, and we can but hope that he suffered agony and loneliness as he waited to go to Hell, strapped to a stretcher and force fed adulterated food. In a way it is a shame that his agonies did not go on for longer.

We all hoped that on his deathbed he would reveal the whereabouts of young Keith Bennett's body: the young lad was murdered in June 1964, and his body is believed to be on Saddleworth Moor in Yorkshire, a bleak and vast place. It was not be be, and our generation will always be haunted by the black and white image of a young child tortured and murdered

Brady and Hindley, both sexual perverts of the most disgusting kind, tormented Keith Bennett's family until the end. The young man's mother went to her grave heartbroken that she could not give her son a proper Christian burial.

It is quite probable that the reason the disgusting pair did not want the body found was that they did not want the world to know what they did to the poor boy.

One should not mock the afflicted, and Brady was a mentally ill cripple and Hindley was little more. However, their capacity for evil and the nature of their crimes exempt them from any human sympathy.

They recorded on tape the final moments of at least one of their victims, Lesley Ann Downey, aged 10.

"At their trial in 1966, all-male jurors fell silent for 16 minutes as the tape recording of Lesley Ann Downey’s terrified last moments was played to the court.
The tape was played at full volume and the chilling sounds of screaming echoed through the court before only the footsteps and soft voices in the background could be heard.
Harrowing passages could be heard including “Don’t undress me, will you?” and “I want to see mummy”. The haunting sound of the 10-year-old’s throat being slit was also played to the court."
I do not advocate capital punishment, but given the fact that pedophiles and murderers are the two groups of offenders most likely to commit further crimes after their release, and the fact that no dead man ever re-offended, we might want to consider how we, as a society, deal with scum like Brady and Hindley in the future.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Teddy Boys Will Never Die

To be frank, if I had to choose the three worst places in the world as I have seen it, they would be the Falls Road in Belfast in the late 70s-early 80s, Beirut in 1982, and Harlow in Essex at anytime.

But how delighted I was to bump into this guy in Harlow town centre yesterday.

Black Teddy Boys are few and far between, but they are out there. I remember so well the guy who was always at the Royalty in Southgate, North London, in the late 70s and early 80s, who was totally deaf. He danced like a maniac to the beat of the music. I don't recall his name, but he was just great.

I tried to talk to this guy in Harlow, but nothing would stop him bopping.

The track, by the way, is 'Shake your money maker', by Elmore James (1961).

Friday, 5 May 2017

If it's 2500 bc it must be Cornwall.

Just a stone's throw from my brother's home on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall this gem can be found. It is a late-Neolithic burial chamber, and is in remarkably good condition considering that it is at least 4,500 years old.

There are actually lots of sub-chambers underneath where the more important members of Stone Age society were interred. The proletariat of the day were simply laid out on the big stone on the top (which weighs around 20 tons) and left for the birds, after which their bones were put underground via a chute.

This is pretty impressive stuff for people who had only access to the most primitive technology of all.

There are countless such constructions on Bodmin, along with simple stone circles, and early Christian monuments, usually dedicated to local chieftains. The latter are fairly recent additions to the Cornish landscape, being a mere thousand years old or so.

If you find yourself exploring this area, take care. There are many long-forgotten disused tin mines, some dating back to the Roman era, and people do occasionally stumble upon overgrown shafts.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Exploring Antwerp's Nazi Bunkers

George and I like to explore, with both of us displaying equally childish enthusiasm, albeit yours truly with somewhat less energy.

And so, how could we possibly resist Second World War Nazi bunkers?

In Antwerp's City Park there are three bunkers, part of a network that made up the headquarters of the 89th Corps of the German Army.

The two rather large and ominous looking ones are 'ST 608' battle headquarters bunkers. Sadly, for us, they are sealed up. The remains of the third, an 'ST 622' twin group bunker, which I would assume was used for accommodation of troops, are accessible.

There are some interesting brick works here; I may be wrong, but I suspect that there may be the remains of what was a platform for an anti aircraft gun.

The 622 was on two levels, and a number of the underground rooms remain accessible, as long as one is prepared to overlook the somewhat murky legal area that is known as 'trespassing'.

Anybody looking to investigate this slice of history should look for a derelict cafe on the west side of the park.

Behind this there is an overgrown area which is fenced off, but the intrepid amongst us will overcome that little obstacle in moments and with little effort. There you will see some stairs leading underground - beware, the steps are very slippery and if you get into trouble down there, you are on your own.

Its a mess down there, and very dark and damp. In more recent times it appears that heating and water pipes have been routed through the bunker, presumably for the cafe.

The two 608s are also worth close inspection: the central bunker clearly took some heavy fire from the west side at some point, judging from the size of the shell marks and the grouping, clearly in threes, I would guess a .50 cal HMG.

The British 2nd Army, with the help of the Belgian resistance, liberated Antwerp on September 4th 1944, and these are certainly scars from that time. These bunkers are minutes from the centre of the city, so this would likely have been towards the end of the action.

The City Park itself is worth a visit. Small, and it has seen better days, but very peaceful, with a small lake. Its about 10 minutes walk from the Central Station, which is something of a Mecca for railway buffs.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Rockin' At The 2 i's

It is, quite possibly, one of the most iconic spots in Soho, if not in the whole of London. At least it is if you are a Teddy Boy. 

This is the very place where a young Tommy Hicks (better known to the world as Tommy Steele) took to the stage in 1956 and introduced England to a genre of music he had picked up whilst working as a cabin boy on an ocean liner plying its trade between London and the USA. It was called Rock n Roll. The rest is history.

Old Compton Street has changed a lot since those halcyon days, but I was delighted to note that the site of the 2 i's coffee bar again displays the old neon sign (a replica, of course, but a very good one).

Inside, the music is retro, but of course not as it was in those early days. Rock n Roll is probably not so commercial, and this is a high rent district now, and today's teenage audience has a collective memory that goes back no further than breakfast time.

It is now, as before, a theatre district, full of music and quality entertainment. It was lovely to see this little Rock n Roll footprint in such a great place.

This great track is by Wee Willie Harris, one of the first English Rock n Roll stars, and like Tommy Steele a Bermondsey boy. Willie still lives in the area, and can sometimes be tempted out of retirement. I remember him performing in Southwark Park a few years ago, and an audience of thousands would not let him off the stage. Great man, Wee Willie....

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Marine 'A' still behind bars despite his conviction being overturned. Why?

Sgt Alexander Blackman, often referred to as 'Marine A', was expected to be released from jail last week following the overturning of his scandalous murder conviction, appears to still be in the cells.

We are now told that he can expect to be released within the next two weeks.

Why was his release delayed?

Was it because of last week's attack in Westminster by an Islamist terrorist?

Perhaps it was thought that the release of Sgt Alexander, who - quite rightly in my opinion - sent another Islamist terrorist off to paradise on the battlefield of Afghanistan - might upset Muslims?

How spineless our country has become.

Monday, 27 March 2017

"No Motive" for London Terror attack. Really...?

So let us get this right: six weeks ago so-called 'Islamic State' outlined, via mobile phone messages to their supporters, a list of possible victims and 'perfect targets' in Britain including politicians. 

In the post was an illustration - titled 'Fight Them' -  of an ISIS terrorist dressed like Jihadi John holding a sword in front of Big Ben, as a fireball engulfed the background with a tattered Union Flag flying in the wind.

Six weeks after this call to arms was posted via Telegram, terrorist Khalid Masood, who converted to Islam and was radicalised in prison, like many of them, launched his  attack on the Houses of Parliament, in the shadow of Big Ben, killing four people and injuring many more.

(Despite the fact that Masood was implicated in a plot, as recently as 2010, involving a planned bomb attack on a Territorial Army base in Luton, and despite the fact that he had visited Saudi Arabia twice, "after carrying out a risk assessment and looking into his background, it was decided he did not pose a terror threat." - the police and the Home Office will be working frantically behind closed doors to cover their politically correct backs even as I write).

Telegram was also used by fanatics before the attacks on Nice in July 2016 and Berlin in December last year.

And the Metropolitan Police are saying that they may "never find out" the motive for this mass murder.

Are they stupid?

Apart from the background of Masood, who ticks just about every box as far as Jihadists go, can I offer the Metropolitan Police another clue as to his motive?

The website al-Islam proclaims that "Jihad (Holy Struggle) is an Obligatory Duty". They justify this by referring to their holy book “O Prophet! Strive hard agaunt the infidels and the hypocrites, and be firm against them, and their abode is hell, and evil is their resort.” Holy Qur'an (66:9)

Just to simplify this for their more simple readers, they go on to say that "Muslims should defend themselves if being attacked in order to preserve their faith, spread Islam, and stand against tyrants and oppressors. Allah made jihad obligatory, in all its forms, whether it is the jihad of society or self, speaking a word for the sake of preserving Islamic call Da'wah, or defending the sanctuaries of the Muslim nation. Jihad is considered among the best forms of worship with Allah, the Most High... The martyr who sacrifices himself and dies for the sake of his faith finds his place in Paradise."

Al-Islam describes itself as being the "official website of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community - an Islamic organization, international in its scope, with branches in over 200 countries".

This is quite an old group, founded in India in the 19th century. It teachings all assume that Islam is practiced in the context of a Caliphate. The stated aim of Islamic State is the creation of a new Caliphate.

I could go into far more detail, but should Scotland Yard's finest read this, they might find the clue they are looking for regarding a motive for Wednesday's attack.

Its really not that hard, Sherlock.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Legacy of Martin McGuinness

I would not ordinarily wish death upon even my enemies, but in the case of Martin McGuinness I have long made an exception. 

I took great pleasure in writing his obituary yesterday, it is a shame it took so long. I look forward to doing the same for Gerry Adams.

I wish for his surviving family members, and his close friends, the same fate that he inflicted upon his victims, many of them children.

The front page of today's Daily Mail sums up what this piece of uneducated shit brought to the world.

McGuinness claimed to be a practicing Roman Catholic. If so, I hope that in accordance with his superstitions he is now learning just how hot the fires of hell can be.

Read: Martin McGuinness Dead http://eutoday.net/news/mcguiness

Monday, 20 March 2017

Hieronymous Bosch at Eurantica

The gentleman in the picture with me is Rob Camp-Vos, a Belgian art dealer with a passion for Early Modern prints, and with a particular penchant for, and a great knowledge of, the Dutch masters.

We met him at Eurantica, an annual fine arts fair in Belgium just a few days ago.

The print he is holding is a 17th century Hieronymous Bosch. So it is rather late, but in superb condition, and very rare.

He was not only happy to talk about this extremely rare print, he even took it out of its frame and allowed us to touch it. If it was mine, I wouldn't let anybody else even look at it.

To describe Rob as passionate about his subject is really an understatement, and it is no surprise that having gone from start-up to where he is now as an art dealer has taken just 14 years. The collection he casually offers to buyers is superb, and he knows the story behind every single print.

This particular print has stood the test of time well, but has undergone some slight restoration on one corner, but I certainly couldn't see it. Therefore it is for sale at what is a very reasonable price for a Bosch print of that era - €25,000.

You can contact Rob through: www.lex-antiqua.be

Learn more about Eurantica at: http://www.eurantica.be/

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Meeting a Living Legend

Very lucky to get to meet and talk with Ivan Marchuk a couple of days ago in Bruges. 

He is one of Ukraine's most famous artists, and in 2007 was named by the Daily Telegraph as one of the top 100 geniuses of our time.

During the Soviet era he was banned from painting - his work was considered to be 'too patriotic', in that it was highly evocative of Ukrainian traditions, and folk culture. The Kremlin had a history, of course, of stifling Ukrainian culture, and tradition it continues to this day.

The exhibition 'Looking into infinity' was held to mark 25 years of Ukrainian diplomacy in the EU.

Marchuk in Bruges: Art Expo Marks 25 Years Of Ukrainian Diplomacy In EU

Monday, 13 March 2017

Today Is Commonwealth Day!

Today, March 13th, marks Commonwealth Day. When I was at primary school in the 1960s this was a great event - we would write letters in advance of the day to schools in Australia, NZ, Rhodesia, Canada, India, etc,etc,etc.... and we would receive their news by post as well.

Then we sold the Commonwealth out big time by joining what was then the Common Market, abandoning our traditional partners, causing economic problems for them, and leaving them to find their own way out of the mess. NZ in particular, with its vital sheep farming sector, lost its biggest market almost overnight, despite promises to the contrary.

I had always assumed that there would be no way back from that betrayal. I was wrong.

The British Commonwealth survived by re-inventing itself as the Commonwealth of Nations, always receiving the greatest attention from Queen Elizabeth II, whose enthusiasm for the Commonwealth has never diminished in the slightest.

Following the Brexit vote, the first countries to come knocking on the door of 10 Downing Street (figuratively, and in at least one case, literally) were the Commonwealth nations - the big ones!

52 countries, 2.2 billion people, almost all of them young and rapidly developing economies.

And as was once said of the British Empire - The Sun never sets on the Commonwealth!

Friday, 10 March 2017

Sweet Gene Vincent

George and I went to the theatre tonight to see High School Musical. It was great. Full of energy, and the mostly teenaged cast gave a superb performance.

And I found a little gem......

In the foyer and bar of the Rhodes Arts Centre in Bishop's Stortford there is a collection of memorabilia, mainly old posters of some of the acts who have performed there over the years - some big names.

But this one really caught me, as I am a big fan of Gene Vincent.

This poster dates from 1964, when Gene was recording for Columbia records. It was a difficult time for him.

He had been seriously disabled in an accident during his service with the US Navy. His left leg was in a brace, and was in constant pain. Performing onstage was an agony for him. He was also still suffering emotionally from the death, in 1960, of his close friend, the Rock n Roll legend Eddie Cochran. They were involved in a car crash near Chippenham, in England, in which Eddie sustained injuries from which it was impossible to recover. He was just 21 years old.

Gene never recovered from this incident psychologically, and his physical condition deteriorated.

However, England and France loved him, and although his career waned in his home country, the USA, he played to packed houses in Europe until the end.

He died in 1971, a broken, but much loved, man.

I love the line at the bottom of the poster that states the first 50 girls will be admitted to the concert free of charge. Gene had a bit of a reputation in that department, but 50....?