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Monday, 28 March 2011


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I once had a friend, gone to god now, sadly, who, after many years of being an accountant and company director and all kinds of important things, decided to give it all up and become a bum.
Moved to a beachside resort town in Queensland and applied for the dole, telling the nice lady behind the counter his preferred employment was as a philosopher.
Then he married a lady who owned a pub and had to give it all up so he could be mine host. He was good at that too.
A man of many talents... you'd have liked him.

"Then he married a lady who owned a pub"

Shrewd fella', I'd say!

When I was an undergraduate I remember turning up outside Claridge's to demonstrate against (or was it for?) Queen Frederika of the Hellenes concerning imprisonment with/without trial in Greece. Anyway, when the demo got a bit rowdy (bags of flour being slung over the heads of the police and bursting against those hallowed portals) the police (who were not, I think, in any form of special riot gear) gave the demonstrators an (unofficial) ultimatum: disperse quietly or get a going-over in the police vans parked nearby + detention at the local nick until an appearance at the magistrates court the next morning.

The more sensible among us (the vast majority) repaired to the pub (or tea at Fenwicks in Bond Street): the others got what they'd been promised. There were, I think, questions asked in Parliament about the demo and an apology (for the noise?) was given to QF by the then government.

Life and demos are different now, but in the early 60s both sides knew the ground-rules. Also, by the time I had left, the demo had made it's point and the journalists attending had all the interviews/pictures required for that evening's papers. The idiots (the spiritual ancestors of the "anarchists" at Saturday's demo) who wished to continue - and smash a couple of windows - were dealt with . . . er . . robustly by the police. It was mostly (as they say) fairly good-natured.

BTW, it seems to me that the police were bigger then: I'm just short of 6 feet but I had to keep looking up to talk to any policeman (there were no policewomen in evidence): perhaps another reason police were more respected.

I am rather concerned about the scatological theme running through some of your recent blogs, Duff: have you not thought of consulting a Freudian analyst to discover the deep seated (ha) cause all these potty mouthed allusions? Just a thought.

Yes, it's funny that but everytime I see one of those mouth-dribbling retards smashing up property and attacking policemen the word 'shit' instantly leaps into my mind. I think it must be Freudian image/word association. Incidentally, Mrs 'A', I think your Freudian analyst might be better employed working out why some people positively thrill to the chance to take part in a demo and become part of a mob. Could it be that they're lonely and unable to stand their own company, or is it their inability to think for themselves without the visual aid of a placard with some moronic message and the comfort of several thousand other people all chanting the same gibberish?

I think you are raising an interesting point, Mr Duff. Such people are intruders, not engaging in this sort of activity through any real association with a stated set of principles, whether they are found in left wing demos, BNP rallies or football matches. They are simply enjoying themselves, having found an opportunity for violent behaviour, in the midst of the relative anonymity of a crowd. There have also been some fascinating studies of the pschology of mob behaviour, the ways in which people renounce individual responsiblity to the larger identity of a crowd. In such cases, people who perhaps normally would not behave violently are encouraged to misbehave. And I am afraid to say that I think it is self evidently an innate tendancy of the male of the species to resort to violence in circumstances where normal restraints may not apply.

You touch upon some serious points, Mrs 'A', which coincide with a very interesting essay I am reading and upon which I intend to post in the very near future.

In the meantime I would urge you and any others of my readership to go to this link and take a long careful read. I sympathise with much of what he writes but disagree with much of it, also. But more later . . .

hmm: interesting issue. We are living in a time now when there are few still alive who have taken part in the act of killing in a time of war. It is something which I have often wondered about within the context of my own family: my grandfather must have taken the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people as a bombardier in the RA in the first WW, and my father in law was repsonsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of deaths in his time with Bomber Command. How did they cope with this, in a time when post traumatic stress syndrome and a debate on the morality of killing on active service did not exist? Well, they did not cope with it. My grandfather spent the rest of his life in an alcoholic haze, and my father in law's guilt lived with him for the rest of his life. Such a legacy of psychological damage was not acknowledged, of course. There is an excellent poem by John Wain, I think, about the man who dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and took in later life to petty shop lifting as if to incur some sort of punishment for the crime against humanity that he felt himself to have committed. Perhaps such behaviour is the mark of a decent man, and marks the difference between him and a man without conscience, who would flourish in a time of war, and appear to survive unscathed.

Mrs. 'A', I have taken the debate further in posts up above. There is no accounting for personal feelings of guilt over actions in war for the simple reason that they are personal. For every soldier who regrets what he did there are probably several others who are proud of their service.

As for the A-bombs, for myself, I am deeply grateful to the men who decided to drop them on Japan and also to the men who carried it out. It was both necessary and justified.

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