Friday, 10 June 2016

A Chance Encounter With A Moggie......

What a delight to see this absolutely pristine Morris Minor, a 'Moggie', as we used to call them, parked just a few yards from my home.

This model, with the wooden trim, was actually known as a 'Traveler'.

My uncle had one, I remember it well. In the early 70's my father had a dark blue Moggie van, which he fitted out with two London bus benches in the rear. I have fond memories of driving to the seaside at the weekend with my brother and cousins, it was before my sister was even born, in the back of that classic old car. I loved it, and I used to clean it every Saturday morning.

After all these years I can even remember the registration number - 219 HLE. This  dates the car as being originally registered before 1963.

The Moggie was designed by Alex Issigonis, who also designed the Mini. The car was conceived in 1941, when Morris were concerned with war production. However, thinking ahead and knowing that they had massive production capacity due to military requirements, they wanted a 'ready to go' design for a civilian vehicle to go into production as soon as the war ended. And so Issigonis, who was a junior designer, was given the job of designing a car that could be built without requiring too much retooling of the existing production lines.

This particular car, which has Belgian plates, is a Minor 1000, which entered into production in 1956. It is so perfect that it looks like it has just come out of the factory. Even in my childhood I didn't such a perfect example as this, and it sent a shiver up my spine just to touch it. It brought back many memories.

The interior of the car is as perfect as is the exterior, and the tyres are the original crossplies. Somebody has invested a huge amount of time, money, and love into this car. Note the British tax disc on the windscreen - the car was clearly registered in the UK until at least 2014.

George was very impressed, it was the first time he had seen one of these in real life. The tiny chrome windscreen wipers he was particularly impressed with.

The Moggie was never the safest of vehicles. It had a rigid construction, and did not absorb impact well. It was only in the mid-60s that modifications were made to the design to allow for the fitting of seat belts.

More than 1.3 million Moggies were produced as far as we know, but there was also some production in India, and total production there is somewhat uncertain.

Fings ain't wot they used to be.........

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Global Warming Spoils My Plans For The Weekend

Climate change brings with it an increase in extreme weather events. The recent flooding in Paris attracted a great deal of media attention, but how many people are aware of the flooding of homes in the provincial areas of Holland just one week earlier?

But now it has become really serious.

Climate change has landed on my doorstep. My local Petanque pitch is flooded.

I must admit that the reflection of the moon and the trees in the water at 9.30 this morning was rather pleasing, but my son and I were planning on a few games at the weekend. This is a ritual that involves the odd tipple, some snacks, and a small wager (which I always seem to lose).

I appreciate that the increased precipitation in Belgium as a direct result of increased temperatures is nothing compared to a Tsunami, or a hurricane, but it does illustrate how changing weather patterns are now affecting even the little details of our everyday lives.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom

I was really pleased to meet recently with Evgeny Afineevsky, producer and director of the Oscar nominated documentary movie Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom, when he presented his work at the Ukrainian embassy in Brussels

This is an account of the events of the Euromaidan protests of 2013 -14, when student led protests called for an end to the Russian backed regime of Viktor Yanukovich, and for a Ukrainian future as part of the European family of free and democratic nations.

Evgeny filmed the resulting tragedy as it unfolded before his eyes.

This is a somewhat hard film to watch: some of the scenes are extremely harrowing, and interviews with some of the peaceful protesters are shown alongside footage of those same innocent people being taken down by snipers.

The file is brutally honest, and Evgeny spoke openly about his feelings after the event. Such sights and sounds cannot help but traumatise those who witness them. I know that only too well.

The movie is available on Netflix, where it has attracted huge attention.

These things should not happen in 21st century Europe, but they do. We must not turn our eyes away.

Farage Aide Exposed As Irish Republican Sympathiser

UKIP Press Officer Hermann Kelly Exposed As Republican Sympathiser
A key aide to Nigel Farage is a hardline Irish Republican who was caught spending a boozy night in a Brussels bar as other drinkers sang pro-IRA songs, the Daily Mirror has reported.
Londonderry-born Hermann Kelly was pictured sitting among a 10-strong party in the Ketje pub just moments from the European Parliament, where he is the UKIP leader’s most senior political adviser.

During a near 45-minute rendition the group belted out openly inflammatory songs, including one written after a bid to blow up the RUC, which called on England to “take your murderers out of Ireland”.
When quizzed about the gathering by the Sunday Mirror, Kelly insisted he had been drinking with three UKIP party employees. But he finally admitted sitting at the same table as the pro-IRA group – who he described as a visiting delegation – adding: “I know two of these people. I’m sitting here having a drink”.
Kelly, UKIP ’s Director of Communications in Brussels, was introduced to a Daily Mirror reporter by a political pal who joked: “Meet Hermann, the only Irish Republican on Nigel Farage’s payroll. Now that’s a story!”
Confirming that he did hold Republican beliefs, Kelly said this stemmed from his roots in Northern Ireland’s second largest city and asked: “What else do you expect from a man from Derry?” Insisting his views represented “Irish Catholic nationalism” he likened the Irish cause to that of the Brexit campaign in next month’s EU referendum, saying: “Self-determination is what it’s all about.”
Kelly claimed that Farage was aware of his sympathies.
Like Farage, Kelly has blamed “the horrific act of terrorism” in Brussels which killed 34 people on EU migration rules.
Kelly is a former editor of The Irish Catholic, a newspaper founded by Timothy Daniel Sullivan, who was convicted and jailed for crimes relating to his Republican activities.
This article was originally published by EU Today.